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Dec 24 2010

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 you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Pail Krugman: The Humbug Express

Hey, has anyone noticed that “A Christmas Carol” is a dangerous leftist tract?

I mean, consider the scene, early in the book, where Ebenezer Scrooge rightly refuses to contribute to a poverty relief fund. “I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he declares. Oh, wait. That wasn’t Scrooge. That was Newt Gingrich – last week. What Scrooge actually says is, “Are there no prisons?” But it’s pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that?

As you can see, the fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug – which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote – has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.

Jim Hightower: Obama to the Corporate Powers: I Feel Your Pain

Guess who’s whining the loudest these days, wailing that they’re getting a raw deal from Barack Obama.

Good grief! Friendlier than Obama’s Wall Street reform that coddled the big banksters, or his health care reform that further entrenches profiteering insurance giants inside the system? Or the tax bill cave-in that needlessly awards billions of dollars in special breaks for corporations and rich CEOs?

Yes. So friendly that Obama is now holding an ongoing series of closed-door policy meetings with assorted CEOs. So friendly that he’s already delayed regulations to strengthen anti-pollution rules. So friendly that his deficit-reduction panel proposes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 26 percent. So friendly that he’s planning to put a high-powered CEO right inside the White House with him, as demanded by the whining corporate powers who say they’re not getting enough love from the president.

Why do they get a special presidential slot? Why not one for labor, small farmers, consumers, the unemployed? Remind me again — is this guy a Democrat?

Bill Quigley and Vince Warren: Obama’s Liberty Problem: Why Indefinite Detention by Executive Order Should Scare the Hell Out of People

The right to liberty is one of the foundation rights of a free people.  The idea that any US President can bypass Congress and bypass the Courts by issuing an Executive Order setting up a new legal system for indefinite detention of people should rightfully scare the hell out of the American people.  

Advisors in the Obama administration have floated the idea of creating a special new legal system to indefinitely detain people by Executive Order.  Why?  To do something with the people wrongfully imprisoned in Guantanamo.  Why not follow the law and try them?  The government knows it will not be able to win prosecutions against them because they were tortured by the US.  

Guantanamo is coming up on its ninth anniversary – a horrifying stain on the character of the US commitment to justice.  President Obama knows well that Guantanamo is the most powerful recruitment tool for those challenging the US.  Unfortunately, this proposal for indefinite detention will prolong the corrosive effects of the illegal and immoral detentions at Guantanamo rightly condemned world-wide.

The practical, logical, constitutional and human rights problems with the proposal are uncountable.

Jonathan Battaglia and Robert Weiner: Social Security’s Future at Risk With New Tax Deal

Under the radar screen, the new tax deal is threatening the livelihood of America’s present and future seniors – to line the pockets of millionaires.

If made permanent, a new Social Security “payroll tax holiday,” reducing the “match” employers pay from 6 percent to 4 percent of salary, will drop the solvency of the program 14 years, from 2037 to 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office. At the same time, Congress agreed to increase high-end loopholes in the estate tax, exempting 39,000 estates worth as much as $5 million.

This bill puts in motion two devastating policies: lowering taxes for the rich and destabilizing the financing of Social Security. Without sufficient worker and employer matching money, which has kept Social Security solvent for 75 years and helped millions of Americans live out their senior years in comfort, the program could be doomed. Congress and the White House say they want to “protect Social Security’s solvency,” but this action does just the opposite.

Eric Boehlert: Jon Stewart Did What Pundits and Reporters Should Have Done

By dedicating even a few minutes of his show to the bill and by interviewing key players in the saga, Stewart instantly lapped most of the Beltway press corps.

There’s lots of media chatter about Comedy Central host Jon Stewart in the wake of yesterday’s Senate vote to pass the 9/11 first responders bill. The chatter surrounds what appears to be the central media role Stewart played in shining a spotlight on how Republicans were blocking the legislation and, just as importantly, how the Beltway press was, inexcusably, ignoring the unfolding story.

Joe Conason: Sept. 11 Heroes Disdained on the Right

To understand the depths of shame and cynicism in the partisan stalling of health legislation for 9/11 first responders, it is only necessary to recall how eagerly Republican politicians once rushed to identify themselves with New York City’s finest and bravest.

Nothing was easier, during the months and years that followed the terror attacks of September 2001, than to cloak oneself in the nobility of the police officers, firefighters and construction workers who rushed to the smoking ruins-and the leaders of the Republican Party never hesitated to use them and the city as symbols, culminating in the party’s 2004 national convention in Manhattan.

Unfortunately for those heroes, they are no longer so fashionable in right-wing circles and neither is their hometown. Even as they suffer from the cancers and pulmonary illnesses that have beset them as a result of their service, they seem to be scorned among conservatives in Congress as just another “special interest” seeking a new “entitlement.”

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