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Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes—Stranded by Sprawl:

Detroit is a symbol of the old economy’s decline. It’s not just the derelict center; the metropolitan area as a whole lost population between 2000 and 2010, the worst performance among major cities. Atlanta, by contrast, epitomizes the rise of the Sun Belt; it gained more than a million people over the same period, roughly matching the performance of Dallas and Houston without the extra boost from oil.

Yet in one important respect booming Atlanta looks just like Detroit gone bust: both are places where the American dream seems to be dying, where the children of the poor have great difficulty climbing the economic ladder. In fact, upward social mobility — the extent to which children manage to achieve a higher socioeconomic status than their parents — is even lower in Atlanta than it is in Detroit. And it’s far lower in both cities than it is in, say, Boston or San Francisco, even though these cities have much slower growth than Atlanta.

Leo Gerard at In These Times writes—Who Will Stand Up to Wall Street?:
Wall Street held itself a big fat profit party last week. The nation’s six largest banks reported $23 billion in profits. That’s for one quarter—three months. Pop the champagne. Buy another Lamborghini.

Well, if you’re a Wall Street banker, that is. Not if you’re a college student looking for a loan. Because bankers and Congress don’t intend to give you a break today.

Not if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed because of the sequester. Because Congress has no intention of charging highflying banks a financial transaction tax, the revenues from which could prevent many of those cuts.

Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald writes—‘McBudget’ an insult to those living in poverty:
Look, there are many reasons people wind up in poverty. Sometimes they make bad life choices — they drop out of school without salable skills, or they become teen parents. Often, it falls on them from the sky in the form of illness, injury, addiction or financial reversal.

However they got into poverty they all need — and deserve — the same things: a way to work their way out and to be accorded a little dignity while they do so. The former comes with paying a living wage, the latter by treating people with respect and not presuming to teach them what they could teach you. McDonald’s fails on both counts.

The McBudget is a McInsult.

Some other pundits can be read below the fold.

Ari Melber at the New York Daily News writes—Weiner defies the sex police :

The calls for him to withdraw — from most of his opponents and institutional voices and editorial boards including the Daily News — are wrong, anti-democratic and strangely puritanical for a New York City election in 2013.
We have elections so that voters can decide who should lead. Sure, there are a few requirements to get on the ballot — like being a resident and collecting petition signatures — but beyond that, we leave it to the voters to decide who is legit.
The voters don’t need to be shielded by a paternalistic, pre-election consensus reached by the city’s elites. They can figure out whether or not to reject Weiner for themselves.
Yochai Benkler at The Guardian writes—Manning and Snowden light path for the US to return to its better self:
The closing arguments in the trial of Bradley Manning, where prosecutors are trying to persuade the judge that leaking to the press constitutes the treasonous act of aiding the enemy, came fast on the heels of the most significant bipartisan response to leak-based national security journalism that we have seen since the 1970s: Wednesday's vote on the Amash amendment in the House. At no time since the Obama administration launched its war on national security journalism and its sources has the critical role of leaks and journalism been clearer. Without Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and Glenn Greenwald's reporting, NSA surveillance would still have been in the dark, protected by secrecy and bolstered by the "least untruthful" lies James Clapper delivered to Senator Ron Wyden.

Wednesday's vote in the House may well yet turn out to be a turning-point on much more than just NSA surveillance – because dragnet surveillance of phone metadata is only one manifestation of our post-9/11 constitutional PTSD.

Doyle MacManus at the Los Angeles Times writes—Obama's defensive offensive:
Obama is doing everything he can to cast the opposition as being obstructionist. But will his return to the campaign trail have any real effect on Congress?

The too-easy answer is no. He's given speeches like these before. He's got no new proposals to unveil. And the House members who stand in his way aren't worried about pressure from voters who support the president; they are more worried about primary challenges from even more conservative Republicans to their right. Speeches from the president aren't going to change their minds.

But that's not what Obama's campaign is about. On one level, it's about influencing votes in the Senate, not the House. And on another, it's about making sure that if this fall's budget battles do result in a government shutdown or, even worse, a financial crisis over the debt ceiling, the president and his party don't get blamed.

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post writes—The GOP's new normal:
The bad news is that approval ratings for both the president and Congress are sinking, with voters increasingly frustrated at the bitter, partisan impasse in Washington. The worse news is that in terms of admiration for our national leaders, these may come to be seen as the good old days.
Rebecca Kemble at The Progressive writes—Why My Parents Just Got Arrested in Madison:
My parents were arrested yesterday. They are 85 and 80 years old. Their crime was singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol without a permit.

Tom and Joan Kemble moved to Madison two years ago when they realized that the steady march of time meant it would not be long before their physical ability to tend to their 20-acre organic farm they had so lovingly cultivated for three decades would decline. [...]

Before they moved here, Mom thought that my description of post-2010 political conditions in Wisconsin as proto-fascist was overblown rhetoric. But over the past two years, my parents have attended numerous public hearings and legislative sessions at the capitol, where they have seen first-hand the corporate control of state government and the authoritarian use of force employed to back it up.

Now Mom says, “I know what you mean.”

Robert Dreyfuss at The Nation writes— The Costly Failure of Missile Defense :
Never mind that no one is firing ICBMs at us. It’s been three decades since Ronald Reagan cooked up his cockamamie plan to shoot down missiles in the sky, and while technology has improved incalculably since then, after countless billions of dollars—according to The  New York Times, it’s $250 billion—the damn things still don’t work.

Last week, following yet another failure, and as if it just occurred to him, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency—yes, it has a whole “agency”—said that he’d look into it:

Following recent testing failures, the director of the Missile Defense Agency told Congress today that he is committed to a full evaluation of the way forward for the nation’s ballistic missile defense system.
Of course, he added, the evaluation will cost money, too.
—Asawin Suebsaeng at Mother Jones writes—Obama Says Ho Chi Minh Was Inspired by Founding Fathers, Conservatives Freak Out:
Yes, it is true that the United States once waged a disastrous, pointless, and horrific war against Ho Chi Minh and the people of Vietnam. But Obama's comment wasn't a gaffe or insult to American war vets, as much as someone like Allen West would like it to be. What Obama said is literally a historical fact. In September 1945, Ho Chi Minh delivered the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi to a crowd of nearly a million Vietnamese. Not only was the "The Star-Spangled Banner" played by a Vietnamese band during his address, but he opens his speech by quoting Thomas Jefferson.
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