“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 you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.
Laurence Lewis, aka Turkana: The Political Fights the President Chooses
When a president tells Congressional members of his own party that his presidency depends on a bill’s passage, said president is holding back nothing. He is laying himself bare. That President Obama reportedly did so for the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the first-ever reduction in Social Security funding, and but a year’s worth of unemployment benefits, reveals his political desperation. It also puts the lie to the claim often made by some of the president’s most ardent defenders that he is at the mercy of a broken Congress, that a president can’t or shouldn’t interpose in the process of legislating. A president can and should, and every president has. And this president does. As he just did. Now, for this bill.
This bill is not the saviour of the Obama presidency. It could be the beginning of its end. From the day of the inauguration, if any single bill was going to have the greatest impact on the success or failure of the Obama presidency, it was going to come early and it was going to be on the economy. Not this bill. The stimulus bill. The president’s first opportunity to do something about the disaster he inherited from Bush and Reagan and Milton Friedman. That was when he should have used every means at his disposal to enact what would come to define his first, and possibly only, term in office. He was enormously popular. His predecessor was enormously unpopular. People were scared. They knew something fundamental was broken. They were ready for transformational change. They believed in change. They had the audacity of hope.
Nouriel Roubini: How To Save Europe
How the Continent’s stronger economies can rescue its weaker ones.
After the Greek and Irish crises and the spread of financial contagion to Portugal, Spain, and possibly even Italy, the eurozone is now in a serious crisis. There are three possible scenarios: muddle through, based on the current approach of “lend and pray”; breakup, with disorderly debt restructurings and possible exit of weaker members; and greater integration, implying some form of fiscal union.
The muddle-through scenario-with financing provided to member states in distress (conditional on fiscal adjustment and structural reforms), in the hope that they are illiquid but solvent-is an unstable disequilibrium. Indeed, it could lead to the disorderly breakup scenario if institutional reforms and other policies leading to closer integration and restoration of growth in the eurozone’s periphery are not implemented soon.
Sen. Al Franken: The Most Important Free Speech Issue of Our Time
This Tuesday is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.
As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.
This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.
Joe Ciricione: GOP Senators Swing Back to Military, Boost New START Prospects
Forced to choose between the recommendations of the U.S. military and the extreme views of Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), enough Republican senators are going military to win Senate approval of the New START treaty this week.
The treaty makes modest reductions in the deployed long-range nuclear weapons of the United States and Russia, restores critical inspections and opens the way for greater global action on the key threats of Iran, North Korea and nuclear terrorism. It leaves both the U.S. and Russia with “more than enough” weapons, in the words of Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. That would be 1550 hydrogen bombs each, or enough to destroy the world several times over.
Carole Joffe: For “Pro-Life” Republicans, Human Life Is Cheap
What it means for a lawmaker to be “pro-life” is not a rhetorical question any more. The refusal of Senate Republicans, nearly all of whom identify as pro-life, to support the 9/11 First Responders bill, also known as the James Zadroga bill-a measure that would provide funding for healthcare for firefighters, police and others who became ill as a result of their 9/11 related work—gives this question new urgency.
The shameful spectacle of antiabortion Republicans preventing, as of this writing, the possibility of even a vote for this measure before the holiday recess also makes clear that this movement has gone beyond its historic valuing of the life of a fetus over that of a woman. Now it is mainly the male 9/11 workers whose lives are apparently expendable, because they cannot afford their own health care.
Starhawk: The rich benefit from society and should give back
In a time of economic turmoil and record poverty levels, are tax cuts for the wealthy moral?
In a time of massive unemployment, huge deficits and falling income for the middle class and the poor, tax cuts for the wealthy are a form of legalized theft. In the last decades we have seen an unfathomable transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich. The income gap has grown astronomically. Middle class income has not risen in thirty years, while the speculators and the loan sharks who are responsible for this current crisis still get their inflated bonuses.
Interconnection and interdependence are the bases for true abundance. If the bulk of the people have no money, who will buy goods? In a forest, trees that grow in the sunlight actually send nutrients to trees that grow in the shade–even trees of a different species–through the underground network of mycorrhizal fungi that links root systems. They know that sharing resources creates more resilience and benefits for all.
Moral people give back. Moral people care for others, sharing both wealth and burdens. Moral people ask, not “What more can I take from society” but “What more can I contribute?”
Richard Cohen: There Goes the Sun
WHAT is the winter solstice, and why bother to celebrate it, as so many people around the world will tomorrow? The word “solstice” derives from the Latin sol (meaning sun) and statum (stand still), and reflects what we see on the first days of summer and winter when, at dawn for two or three days, the sun seems to linger for several minutes in its passage across the sky, before beginning to double back.
Indeed, “turnings of the sun” is an old phrase, used by both Hesiod and Homer. The novelist Alan Furst has one of his characters nicely observe, “the day the sun is said to pause. … Pleasing, that idea. … As though the universe stopped for a moment to reflect, took a day off from work. One could sense it, time slowing down.”
Andy Worthington: Is Bradley Manning Being Held as Some Sort of “Enemy Combatant”?
In disturbing reports from the US, it appears that Private First Class Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst accused of leaking the Afghan and Iraqi war logs, the US diplomatic cables and the “Collateral Damage” video, which have dominated headlines globally since WikiLeaks began making them available in April this year, is being held in conditions that bear a marked and chilling resemblance to the conditions in which a handful of US citizens and residents were held as “enemy combatants” under the Bush administration.
Manning, whose 23rd birthday was on Friday, has been held in solitary confinement for seven months since he was seized in Kuwait, where he was held for the first two months prior to his transfer to a military prison in Quantico, Virginia. According to David House, a computer researcher from Boston who visits him twice a month, his “prolonged confinement in a solitary holding cell … is unquestionably taking its toll on his intellect.” House explained how Manning “was no longer the characteristically brilliant man he had been, despite efforts to keep him intellectually engaged.”