«

»

Feb 26 2011

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”

Charles M. Blow: The G.O.P.’s Abandoned Babies

Republicans need to figure out where they stand on children’s welfare. They can’t be “pro-life” when the “child” is in the womb but indifferent when it’s in the world. Allow me to illustrate just how schizophrenic their position has become through the prism of premature babies.

Of the 33 countries that the International Monetary Fund describes as “advanced economies,” the United States now has the highest infant mortality rate according to data from the World Bank. It took us decades to arrive at this dubious distinction. In 1960, we were 15th. In 1980, we were 13th. And, in 2000, we were 2nd.

Laura Flanders: Crushing Workers in Wisconsin Has National Effects

So that’s what they mean by from welfare to work. First you go force the poorest Americans into the workforce, then you go after their bargaining power. Wisconsin has long been the eye of this storm.

“We have an environment in Wisconsin in which any poor family can climb out of the despair of poverty and pursue the American dream.”

So said former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, singing his own praises to the Heritage Foundation back in the early ’90s.  By the time Bill Clinton ended the federal welfare program in ’96, Wisconsin’s W-2 program had already cut off AFDC entitlements and forced poor moms to work for benefits. That pushed thousands of poor women into the labor market. Average wages were around $7 an hour; homelessness rose, as did the number of children in foster care; Milwaukee’s black infant mortality rate went up 37 percent, and as soon as the ’90s bubble burst, unemployment and poverty swelled.

Robert Reich: The Republican Shakedown

You can’t fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top — and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation’s bills — Republicans will convince people it’s all about government and unions.

Republicans claim to have a mandate from voters for the showdowns and shutdowns they’re launching. Governors say they’re not against unions but voters have told them to cut costs, and unions are in the way. House Republicans say they’re not seeking a government shutdown but standing on principle. “Republicans’ goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government,” says House leader John Boehner, “not to shut it down.” But if a shutdown is necessary to achieve the goal, so be it.

The Republican message is bloated government is responsible for the lousy economy that most people continue to experience. Cut the bloat and jobs and wages will return.

Bob Herbert: Absorbing the Pain

Lynda Hiller teared up. “We’re struggling real bad,” she said, “and it’s getting harder every day.”

A handful of people were sitting around a dining room table in a row house in North Philadelphia on Wednesday, talking about the problems facing working people in America. The setting outside the house on West Harold Street was grim. The remnants of a snowstorm lined the curbs and a number of people, obviously down on their luck, were moving about the struggling neighborhood. Some were panhandling.

The small gathering had been arranged by a group called Working America, which is affiliated with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., but the people at the meeting did not belong to unions. They were just there to talk in an atmosphere of mutual support.

Dana Milbank: Scott Walker’s unprincipled rigidity

“He’s not one of us.”

That phrase, uttered in the fourth minute of what Scott Walker believed to be a private phone conversation, tells you everything you need to know about the rookie governor of Wisconsin.

Walker thought he was talking to a patron, conservative billionaire David Koch, but thanks to the amateurish management that seems to be a hallmark of his governorship, he was instead being punked by an impostor from a liberal Web site.

In the recorded call, Walker praised a centrist state senator, Tim Cullen, as “about the only reasonable one” among the 14 Democratic legislators who fled the state to deny Walker the quorum he needs to destroy Wisconsin’s public-sector unions. But when the fake Koch offered to call Cullen, Walker discouraged him:

“He’s pretty reasonable, but he’s not one of us. . . . He’s not there for political reasons. He’s just trying to get something done. . . . He’s not a conservative. He’s just a pragmatist.”

“Just a pragmatist” – as if it were an epithet. “Just trying to get something done” – as if this were evidence of a character defect.

John Nichols: Wisconsin Governor May Have Violated Labor Law in Koch Call

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker discussed strategies to lay off state employees for political purposes, to coordinate supposedly “independent” political expenditures to aid legislatures who support his budget repair bill and to place agent provocateurs on the streets of Madison in order to disrupt peaceful demonstrations, he committed what the former attorney general of Wisconsin says could turn out to be serious ethics, election law and labor violations.

While much of the attention to the “prank” call that the governor took from a blogger who identified himself as billionaire David Koch has focused on the bizarre, at times comic, character of the discussion between a blogger posing as a powerful political player on the right and a governor whose budget repaid bill has sparked mass demonstrations in Wisconsin communities and a national outcry, the state’s former chief law-enforcement officer described the governor’s statements as “deeply troubling” and suggested that they would require inquiry and investigation by watchdog agencies.

Richard RJ Escow: The War Against the Republic: The Battle Of Madison

Sometimes it’s worth looking at current events through the eyes of a historian chronicling the end of an age, or those of a district attorney in a time of corruption. Come to think of it, the two perspectives aren’t all that different.

However you look at it, calling the Wisconsin struggle a “labor dispute” is like calling the Battle of Normandy “a fight over a beach.” There’s a war going on, one that’s best understand by using an Latin expression popular among prosecutors: Cui bono? Who benefits? Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting budget contains buried goodies for somebody, including possibly the Koch Brothers who paid to have it drafted. More importantly, it’s another step toward replacing the American dream of prosperity for all with imperial visions of massive wealth for the few.

The heavily-financed army behind Scott Walker has as its ambition the death of the American Republic. If that sounds like rhetorical overkill, then it’s worth remembering the words of someone who watched a republic fall. “The enemy is within the gates,” said Cicero. “It is with our own opulence, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend.”

2 comments

  1. TMC
  2. BobbyK

    I’m feeling better now.

Comments have been disabled.