Dec 28 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”.

Bob Herbert The Data and the Reality

I keep hearing from the data zealots that holiday sales were impressive and the outlook for the economy in 2011 is not bad.

Maybe they’ve stumbled onto something in their windowless rooms. Maybe the economy really is gathering steam. But in the rough and tumble of the real world, where families have to feed themselves and pay their bills, there are an awful lot of Americans being left behind.

A continuing national survey of workers who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, conducted by two professors at Rutgers University, offers anything but a rosy view of the economic prospects for ordinary Americans. It paints, instead, a portrait filled with gloom.

Thom Hartman: Cool Our Fever

We live in a democracy and policies represent our collective will. We cannot blame others. If we allow the planet to pass tipping points…it will be hard to explain our role to our children. We cannot claim…that “we didn’t know.”

– Jim Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies1

But during the past decade, as the train rolls along eastward from Frankfurt, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the scenery and the landscape. First there were just a few: purplish-blue reflections, almost like deep, still water, covering large parts of the south-facing roofs as I looked north out the window of the train. Solar panels.

Then, over the next few years, the purplish-blue chunks began to spread all over, so now when I travel that route it seems like about a third-and in many towns even more-of all the roofs are covered with photovoltaic solar panels.

Eugene Robinson Danger ahead for the GOP

It’s been not quite two months since Republicans won a sweeping midterm victory, and already they seem divided, embattled and – not to mince words – freaked out. For good reason, I might add.

Sen. Lindsey Graham captured the mood with his mordant assessment of the lame-duck Congress: “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch.” Graham’s complaint was that the GOP acquiesced to a host of Democratic initiatives – giving President Obama a better-than-expected deal on taxes, eliminating “don’t ask, don’t tell,” ratifying the New START treaty – rather than wait for the new, more conservative Congress to arrive.

It was a “capitulation . . . of dramatic proportions,” Graham said in a radio interview last week. “I can understand the Democrats being afraid of the new Republicans. I can’t understand Republicans being afraid of the new Republicans.”

Oh, but there’s reason to be very afraid.

Cenk Uygur: GOP Not Allowed to Talk About the “Will of the Public”

John Boehner can’t stop talking about the “will of the public” these days. Now that the Republicans have won the House, he keeps saying over and over that the Democrats must go along with Republican plans from now on because they have to listen to the… will of the public.

Well, here’s what I don’t remember — the Republicans giving a damn about the will of the public after the 2008 elections. The American people spoke as loudly and clearly as I have ever seen in any election in my lifetime. They gave the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins to the Democrats. They also gave the Democrats the White House, and along with it, complete control of Washington. And did the Republicans listen to the will of the public, then? No, they blocked that will at every turn.

Richard (RJ) Escow: Samuelson on Social Security: An Artifact From a Strange Year

Historians of the future will look back on this year as a turning point in the drive to dismantle a popular, self-funded program by convincing people that it’s a “big government” initiative that “costs too much.” Ours will be remembered as a time when superstition ruled the land, just as it did in ancient Europe – except that today we make sacrifices on the altar of tax magic, not black magic.

Whenever that day arrives, Robert J. Samuelson’s latest Washington Post editorial will be a useful artifact for students of this demon-haunted time.

Words Matter

Samuelson’s been on a thirty-year quest to destroy Social Security – a program which he clearly despises on a visceral as well as an ideological level – and 2011 may be the year he sees his dream come true. But, like any true believer, he’s never satisfied.

Johann Hari David Cameron’s Anti-Government, Tea Party Agenda Is Built on Lies

The year 2010 began with David Cameron looking into a TV camera and pledging to the British people: “If any cabinet minister comes to me and says ‘Here are my plans’ and they involve frontline reductions, they’ll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.” The year ended with him as British prime minister pushing through the most severe cuts to British frontline services — care for the sick and disabled, education, police — in living memory. He promised to be nothing like the Tea Party before the election, and then immediately unleashed a Tea Party wet dream.

It is now clear that David Cameron systematically lied to the British electorate. He said it was “sick” and “frankly disgusting” to say he would end the National Health Service guarantee for cancer patients to be seen by a doctor within two weeks — and then scrapped NHS guarantees, so that the number of patients waiting months before their cancer is detected has doubled. He said hospitals were “my No 1 priority” to be “totally protected” — and then slashed 20 percent from the budget of specialist hospitals across the country. He said he would “protect the poor” from cuts — and then slashed the income of each poor family by £1,000 ($1,500) and began forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

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