Punting the Pundits

Punting the Pundits is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever yoHe was not the only lawmaker to solicit donations in this manner, his lawyers argue, saying that peers who did the same thing were not punished.

Bob Herbert: A Sin and a Shame

The treatment of workers by American corporations has been worse – far more treacherous – than most of the population realizes. There was no need for so many men and women to be forced out of their jobs in the downturn known as the great recession.

Many of those workers were cashiered for no reason other than outright greed by corporate managers. And that cruel, irresponsible, shortsighted policy has resulted in widespread human suffering and is doing great harm to the economy.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Andrew Sum, an economics professor and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. “Not only did they throw all these people off the payrolls, they also cut back on the hours of the people who stayed on the job.”


There can be no robust recovery as long as corporations are intent on keeping idle workers sidelined and squeezing the pay of those on the job.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Germany and Japan, because of a combination of government and corporate policies, suffered far less worker dislocation in the recession than the U.S. Until we begin to value our workers, and understand the critical importance of employment to a thriving economy, we will continue to see our standards of living decline.

Being one of those short women, thanks, Gail.

Gail Collins: Let’s Make It Real

At the beginning of his much, much, much discussed visit to “The View,” Barack Obama squished himself into a long, low banquette where the five women who converse on the program were seated.

I cannot tell you how happy this moment made me. During the presidential campaign, whenever Obama was sharing a stage with Hillary Clinton, the seating arrangement always seemed to involve high stools. He draped his tall, lanky frame over his stool gracefully. Clinton, who would have looked like a middle-aged schoolgirl doing detention if she perched up there, opted to stand and be uncomfortable.

On behalf of all the short women of America I say – go for it, women of “The View.” I’m sure you did not want to cause the president of the United States any distress, but he was so totally due.

Paul Krugman: Bad for the Jews

Outside my usual beat, but the statement from the Anti-Defamation League opposing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero is truly shocking. As Greg Sargent says, the key passage – it’s a pretty short statement – is this one:


Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.


One thing I thought Jews were supposed to understand is that they need to be advocates of universal rights, not just rights for their particular group – because it’s the right thing to do, but also because, ahem, there aren’t enough of us. We can’t afford to live in a tribal world.

Fred Kaplan: Reading the Intelligence

Why spies, counterspies, and counter-counterspies are so popular right now.

It shouldn’t be so surprising that spies and paranoia are back in popular culture or that they’ve made a rousing comeback in the news.

The box-office hit Salt stars Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent who turns out to be (spoiler alert, but much slighter than it sounds) a sleeper-agent for the KGB, trained from her youth to infiltrate American power centers and await the signal for “Day X,” when she’ll help the Russian empire rise again and destroy its enemy. A new AMC series, Rubicon, has something to do-it’s not yet clear what-with spy networks and paranoia. (“Not all conspiracy theories are theories,” the ads intone.) In June, the real-life FBI arrested 10 Russian sleeper-spies who’d been living for years Virginia and New Jersey suburbs (though, again, it’s unclear what they were supposed to be doing besides living high on the American hog). And just this month, an Iranian nuclear scientist, who defected to the United States after serving as a CIA informant, redefected to Tehran, where his bosses now say he was a double-agent, feeding misinformation to Langley, Va., all along. It’s a producer’s dream of good timing-a new movie and TV show, both with preposterous plotlines, coming out at the same time that uncannily similar plotlines are splashed on front-page headlines and take up hours of cable newscasts.

R. Jeffrey Smith: Rangel says colleagues who similarly sought donations were not punished

Rep. Charles B. Rangel  (D-N.Y.) has chosen a less-than-collegial defense to charges that he violated House ethics rules when he asked corporate donors with legislative interests to give to an academic center bearing his name.

He was not the only lawmaker to solicit donations in this manner, his lawyers argue, saying that peers who did the same thing were not punished.

With a trial of Rangel by the House ethics committee possible by mid-September, his legal team reached across the Capitol to point a finger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who helped raise money for a center named for him at the University of Louisville. Rangel’s team cited similarities with the recently deceased Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and with former Republican senators Trent Lott (Miss.) and Jesse Helms (N.C.).

“These activities have never been regarded as creating an improper benefit to a Member,” the lawyers said in their 32-page rebuttal. The logic apparently figured heavily in Rangel’s reluctance to negotiate a settlement to 13 charges of ethical misconduct, even when colleagues said Friday they had been ready to impose only a reprimand: Why should he be singled out when others haven’t?

Zachary A. Goldfarb and Philip Rucker: Wyly brothers built an empire side-by-side

Born during the Depression in a northeast Louisiana plantation town of 3,000, Charles Wyly and his younger brother Sam have been inseparable since childhood: numbers 3 and 13 on the state-championship high school football team, business partners who turned ideas into billion-dollar companies, philanthropic champions and benefactors of politicians, including the Bush political dynasty. Now the brothers are co-defendants in a far-reaching securities fraud suit.

The reclusive pair, who both settled in Dallas, amassed extraordinary wealth after starting a software company during the computer industry’s infancy and investing their earnings in other technology firms, restaurant chains, clothing stores and energy companies. They showered money on environmental causes, public broadcasting, arts groups, charities and Republican and conservative causes in Texas and nationwide.

But their wealth — and largess — had a dark side, according to a fraud suit filed Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The charges, culminating a six-year probe, accuse the brothers of creating an elaborate network of overseas accounts and companies through which they made illegal trades, reaping more than a half-billion dollars in hidden profit. The Wylys deny the charges, according to a spokesman, who said they have always supported causes in which they believe and relied on their lawyers and accountants in structuring business arrangements.

1 comment

    • TMC on 07/31/2010 at 18:20

    From the Dalai Lama:

    The more we expand our focus to include others’ interests alongside our own, the more securely we build the foundations of our own happiness


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