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Apr 20 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”

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day. Scroll down for the Gentlemen. (click on images to enlarge)

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Obama needs a budget to match his progressive ideals

For perhaps the first time since being sworn into office, President Obama has articulated, in eloquent terms, what it means to be a progressive. In his budget speech last week, he spoke of our obligation to the broader community to provide a basic level of security and dignity. Speaking of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, he said what every good progressive believes: “We would not be a great country without those commitments.”

e fused a defense of progressive governance with a scathing critique of Paul Ryan’s cruel budget, which all but four Republican House members have now voted for. And he demanded that the rich finally pay their fair share, vowing to let the Bush tax cuts expire. It was a powerful speech, in many ways reassuring to progressives who have been demoralized by a president who appeared missing in action.

But rhetoric and policy are not the same thing. And in this case, as in far too many, the policy agenda the president has laid out is not worthy of, in his words, “the America we believe in.”

Pamela Merritt: The Anti-Choice Movement: A Dangerous Place for African American Women

A racist, anti-choice billboard has been placed in my city, in a neighborhood less than 20 minutes from my home. Yeah, it’s hard to put into words just how disgusted and insulted I am.

In 2010 I had the honor of participating in the founding of the Trust Black Women Partnership, when I was invited to a meeting of women of color in Atlanta Georgia.  Reproductive justice activists had recently defeated race-baiting anti-choice legislation that came on the heels of a billboard campaign that advertised “black children are an endangered species” and “the most dangerous place for an African-American baby is in the womb.”  The Trust Black Women Partnership is a long-term strategy to ensure that black women can mobilize wherever such campaigns appear in African American communities, and to generate deeper discussions about black women’s autonomy and human rights.  Instinct fueled me to action, since I knew my home state of Missouri was likely to see a similar campaign in the future.  So, I returned home and immediately reached out to the reproductive justice community to share what we learned from the Georgia campaign and to organize women of color in St. Louis city and Missouri.

Dahlia Lithwick: The Death of Roe v. Wade

Supporters and opponents of abortion seem to agree: It’s no longer the law of the land.

Supporters and opponents of abortion agree on nothing. One side says this is a conversation about fertilized eggs; the other says it’s about fetuses. One side says the debate is about personal autonomy; the other says it’s about murder. One side sees exceptions to abortion restrictions for reasons of maternal life or health as necessary to protect life; the other sees them as cunning “loopholes.”

Increasingly, however, there is a fundamental assumption both sides seem to share, even if they don’t say so, and it may well shape the future of abortion rights in America: Opponents and supporters of abortion appear to have taken the position that Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land.

Laura Flanders: Demonizing Taxes, Heightening Inequality

Yesterday was Tax Day in the US, and that’s almost universally greeted with groans and complaints. That tax word’s been so effectively demonized that it may be there’s no coming back. Is it time for a new word?

Some research by Duke University’s Dan Ariely suggests it might be.

Ariely’s study showed that Americans actually want a more equitable society-in fact, they think they have one.  When asked to identify their homeland from a list of nations described only by their level of equality–a majority of those polled picked Sweden, thinking it was the US. When asked to create their ideal society, Democrats, Republicans, men and women, the rich and the poor all created a distribution of wealth that is much more equal than the one we’ve got.

All that “social mobility, low inequality” stuff–Americans love it. They just don’t have it. In fact, social mobility here’s been shriveling, as the wealth gap’s been opening up.

Daphne Wysham: Obama’s Dirty Energy Fixation

As radioactivity levels continue to spike in Fukushima, Obama’s support for nuclear power is unwavering.

Just days after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami unleashed a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, President Barack Obama signed a nuclear power cooperation agreement with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Like Japan, Chile is seismically active. It suffered the sixth-most powerful earthquake–8.8–ever recorded on a seismograph only last year.

The irony of peddling nukes in an earthquake zone after a devastating nuclear accident was apparently lost on Obama.

A few weeks later, he called for lowering the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, as well as aiming to reduce it by one-third by 2025. But in the course of doing so, he perpetuated some tired ideas about what’s possible with our energy matrix.

Donna Smith: Why Is a Trump Bankruptcy (or Two) OK?

Donald Trump has benefited from bankruptcy twice.  Donald Trump has grown his personal fortune following his two bankruptcies and now may run for President of the United States.  Clearly, the rules for Donald Trump in the aftermath of bankruptcy are not the same as for the rest of us.

And is this what we want in terms of leadership for the nation?  Someone who is smart enough to mow right over the realities the rest of us face when financial disaster looms?  Someone who bellies up on hundreds of millions is better than someone like me who goes broke for want of several thousand dollars following medical crisis?  My credit as a bankrupted person should be ruined forever and keep me from working some jobs or ever owning a home again while Donald Trump’s bankruptcies catapult him to the Presidency and great personal wealth and the building of Trump structures all over the country?

Ari Berman: Obama vs. Ryan: Who’s Winning the Deficit Debate?

Democratic strategists believe that House Republicans committed political suicide by voting to approve Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan last week. “When we win back the majority, people will look back at this vote as a defining one that secured the majority for Democrats,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent.

Obama skillfully framed Ryan’s budget during a major speech on the deficit earlier in the week, contrasting his vision of “shared sacrifice” with Ryan’s “deeply pessimistic” plan to gut the social safety net and redistribute income upwards. After a week of enjoying the limelight, the “bold” and “courageous” Mr. Ryan, an instant media darling, suddenly looked like something of a fool. Ryan complained that Obama had characterized his proposal as “basically it’s un-American.”

Ralph Nader: Waiting for the Spark

What could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism? Imagine the arrogance of passing on to already cheated working people and the jobless enormous corporate losses? This is achieved through government bailouts and tax escapes.

History teaches us that the spark usually is smaller than expected and of a nature that is wholly unpredictable or even unimaginable. But if the dry tinder is all around, as many deprivations and polls reveal, the spark, no matter how small, can turn into a raging inferno.

The Boston Tea Party lit up the American Revolution. Storming the hated Bastille (prison) by impoverished Parisians launched the French Revolution. More recently, in December 1997, an Israeli military vehicle rammed a civilian van in the West Bank killing seven occupants and igniting the first Intifada.

Mark Bittman: What’s Worse Than an Oil Spill?

A year ago, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, gushing nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before it was finally capped three months later. It was by most accounts a disaster. But when it comes to wrecking our oceans, the accidental BP spill was small compared with the damage we do with intent and ignorance.

I recently talked about this with two men who specialize in ocean affairs: Carl Safina, the author of “A Sea In Flames” and the president of the Blue Ocean Institute; and Ted Danson, (yes, that Ted Danson), who recently published Oceana (the book) and is a board member of Oceana, the conservation organization he helped found. As Safina said, “Many people believe the whole catastrophe is the oil we spill, but that gets diluted and eventually disarmed over time. In fact, the oil we don’t spill, the oil we collect, refine and use, produces CO2 and other gases that don’t get diluted.”

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