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Apr 09 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”

Joe Conason: Ryan’s Plan Neither Serious Nor Courageous

What the meteoric career of Paul Ryan demonstrates is how easily impressed we are whenever a politician purports to restore solvency by punishing the poor and the elderly (while coddling the rich). The Wisconsin Republican congressman’s fiscal plan has won rave reviews from both the usual right-wing suspects and some self-styled centrists, who have praised him and his proposals as “serious,” “courageous” and even “uplifting.”

By now, however, those who have actually examined the Ryan plan with care and competence know that those acclamations are highly exaggerated, which is probably a far too polite description.

Paul Krugman: The Value of an Educated Mind in a High-Tech World

And now for something completely different. About 15 years ago, before I became a regular columnist, The New York Times asked me and other people to contribute to a special edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Sunday magazine. The stated rule was that the pieces should be written as if submitted in 2096, looking back at the magazine’s second century.

As I recall, I was the only contributor who obeyed instructions; everyone else was too concerned about loss of dignity. Anyway, I decided to write the piece around a conceit: that information technology would end up reducing, not increasing, the demand for highly educated workers, because a lot of what highly educated workers do could actually be replaced by sophisticated information processing – indeed, replaced more easily than many types of manual labor. It was titled “White Collars Turn Blue.”

So here’s the question: Is this starting to happen?

Dave Johnson: Republican Shutdown Shuts Down the Economy – So Do the Cuts They Demand

Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minnesota), and other members of the Progressive Caucus react to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

Here we are only four months into Republican control of the House of Representatives and the government is shutting down! When you give power to people who hate the government, what do you think they’re going to do? Since the election the Republicans have been itching to gut or shut the government. It has been a drumbeat that they either get everything they want or shut it down. And getting everything they want guts the government.

Either way our economy takes a big, big hit.

John Nichols: GOP Clerk ‘Finds’ Votes to Reverse Defeat of Conservative Wisconsin Justice

Suppose the Democratic governor of Illinois had proposed radical changes in how the state operates, and suppose anger over those proposed changes inspired a popular uprising that filled the streets of every city, village and town in the state with protests. Then, suppose there was an election that would decide whether allies of the governor controlled the state’s highest court. Suppose the results of that election showed that an independent candidate who would not be in the governor’s pocket narrowly won that election.

Then, suppose it was announced by a Democratic election official in Chicago that she had found 14,000 votes in a machine-controlled ward that overwhelmingly favored the candidate aligned with the Democratic governor. And suppose the Democratic official who “found” the needed ballots for the candidate favored by the Democratic governor had previously been accused of removing election data from official computers and hiding the information on a personal computer, that the official’s actions had been censured even by fellow Democrats and that she her secretive and erratic activities had been the subject of an official audit demanded by the leadership of the Cook County Board.

Jodi Jacobson Averting a Government Shutdown? GOP Says Over Your Dead Body. And They Mean It

As of this morning, we are in a situation that could have been predicted at least two months ago when the first loud whispers of government shutdown became routine among members of the GOP/Tea Party in Congress, a situation that became a virtual certainty after a rally last week in which Tea Party members shouted like drunken frat boys to “shut it down.”

What is that situation? A government shutdown that the radical right now governing the House of Representatives says can only be averted by one thing: Accepting policies that will destroy the health and wellbeing of American citizens.

In short, the GOP/Tea Party has two words for the American people: Drop Dead.

Patrice Woeppel: One Hundred Years After the Triangle Fire, Disregard for Worker Safety Still the Rule

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, killed 146 young women, most between the ages of 14 and 23. It was a Saturday, the shorter eight-hour day of their six-day work week. On the entire nine-floor factory, only one door was unlocked, and that opened inward; only a few workers were able to escape.

A small number made it into the elevator. Fire ladders were unable to reach beyond the sixth floor, fire escapes collapsed and 27 buckets of water – the only fire prevention available – was no match for the conflagration. Many of the young women burned to death. Most leaped to their deaths in desperate attempts to escape the flames by the fire ladders or the fire blankets, the latter of which collapsed from the weight of their falls.

In the previous year, a successful union movement had established the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City. The Triangle Factory was a holdout, leaving these young women at the mercy of unscrupulous owners and unsafe working conditions.

Michelle Chen: States’ Shameful Trade-Off: Putting Prisons over Public Schools

The state lawmakers who are pushing hard for “austerity” aren’t so much enemies of government “waste” as they are expert money launderers in the business of politics. Education is at the center of their shell game.

Across the country, conservatives are fixated on a curious formula for deficit reduction: wholesale disinvestment in schools (coupled with erosion of union rights and working conditions for teachers), plus a race to pump tax breaks for the rich and stifle health care for the poor. And in many areas, one sacred cow continues to fatten while students starve: our bloated prison system.

Thom Hartmann: With or Without a Government Shutdown – Republicans have Already Won the Debate

With or without a government shutdown, Republicans have already won the debate on our nation’s budget. Why? Because the corporate media is on their side.

Make the wealthy pay their fair share.

A budget shouldn’t just focus on spending cuts directed at the poor and middle-class – it should also include revenue raisers like closing corporate loopholes and asking millionaires and billionaires to cough up a few extra bucks a year. Let’s cut some wasteful spending, but let’s also raise a few taxes. But this common sense narrative has been lost inside the main stream corporate media – where there’s only one question that’s being asked today, and that is “how much spending needs to be cut?”

David Sirota: The Real Madness of March

Lowell Bergman is the rare skunk who regularly finds his way into the power elite’s garden parties. As tobacco executives celebrated huge revenues in the 1990s, he was the journalist whose reporting about cancer and nicotine addiction stopped the festivities. As credit card executives toasted their holiday-season profits, his 2004 New York Times investigation humiliated the lending industry by showing how it traps unsuspecting consumers in perpetual debt. So it was no surprise that as the sports establishment concluded its perennial orgy of profit known as March Madness, Bergman was at it again, this time exposing the corruption beneath all the school spirit.

In Bergman’s damning special now available on PBS’s “Frontline” website, viewers are shown the side of “amateur” athletics that’s almost never discussed inside the beery bubble of sports media. We see, for instance, an NCAA that makes billions off television contracts, while student athletes receive only a tiny fraction of that revenue in the form of scholarships. We see coaches making millions off long-term contracts, while players remain perpetually at risk of losing their meager financial aid. We see, in short, an Athletic-Industrial Complex that turns schools into support systems for sports – rather than the other way around.

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