“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”.
Paul Krugman: America Held Hostage
Six months ago President Obama faced a hostage situation. Republicans threatened to block an extension of middle-class tax cuts unless Mr. Obama gave in and extended tax cuts for the rich too. And the president essentially folded, giving the G.O.P. everything it wanted.
Now, predictably, the hostage-takers are back: blackmail worked well last December, so why not try it again? This time House Republicans say they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling – a step that could inflict major economic damage – unless Mr. Obama agrees to large spending cuts, even as they rule out any tax increase whatsoever. And the question becomes what, if anything, will get the president to say no.
Chris Hedges: The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic
No one grasps this tragic descent better than West, who did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”
“When you look at a society you look at it through the lens of the least of these, the weak and the vulnerable; you are committed to loving them first, not exclusively, but first, and therefore giving them priority,” says West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University. “And even at this moment, when the empire is in deep decline, the culture is in deep decay, the political system is broken, where nearly everyone is up for sale, you say all I have is the subversive memory of those who came before, personal integrity, trying to live a decent life, and a willingness to live and die for the love of folk who are catching hell. This means civil disobedience, going to jail, supporting progressive forums of social unrest if they in fact awaken the conscience, whatever conscience is left, of the nation. And that’s where I find myself now.”
It’s almost enough to give socialism a bad name.
We don’t know whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn – who heads the International Monetary Fund and, until a few days ago, was likely to be the Socialist Party candidate for president of France – is guilty of the alleged sexual assault for which he was arrested. Like anyone, he is presumed innocent until court proceedings prove otherwise.
We do know, however, that at the time of the reported incident on Saturday, Strauss-Kahn was resident in a $3,000-a-night luxury suite at a posh midtown Manhattan hotel. We also know that when he was taken into police custody hours later, aboard a Paris-bound jetliner that was moments from takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport, police found him comfortably ensconced in the first-class cabin.
I didn’t think this was how socialists were supposed to roll.
Laurence Lewis: Of Abbottabad: The questions are more important than the answers
There has been much debate and discussion over the nature of President Obama’s order that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad. Based on different reporting, different people claim to know for a fact that it was a kill order, a kill-or-capture, or a capture-or-kill. And but for those involved in the raid, the truth probably won’t be known for many years. It is the seeking that is most interesting. As if knowing the nature of the order will establish some level of moral clarity. And as is too often the case, many seem to want such clarity mostly for personality-based reasons- to understand or cast judgment upon the president and his staff, or even the people with whom they are arguing. But lost amidst many of these personality arguments are the larger moral issues themselves. What does it say if the president did order a kill rather than a capture-or-kill? Many would have supported such an order in the first place, so for them the truth shouldn’t much matter beyond establishing historical accuracy. But many would not have supported such an order. And that is where the real source of discussion ought to begin.
Robert Parry: Mitch Daniels, Architect of US Debt Crisis
To hear Official Washington tell it, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is the new “serious” Republican presidential contender. He’s praised as a “fiscal conservative” who isn’t obsessed with the Right’s divisive social agenda nor marred by the crazy “birther” conspiracy theories.
Mentioned only in passing is a key fact that – in a saner world – would disqualify him from holding any government office: Mitch Daniels was President George W. Bush’s original budget director in 2001.
In other words, the “fiscal conservative” Daniels oversaw the federal budget as it was making its precipitous dive from a $236 billion surplus – then on a trajectory to eliminate the entire federal debt in a decade – to a $400 billion deficit by the time he left in June 2003.
Plus, because of proposals developed on Daniels’s watch – such as tax cuts favoring the rich and unpaid-for projects, including the invasion of Iraq and a new prescription drug plan – the fiscal situation of the federal government continued to sink over the ensuing years, plunging to a trillion-dollar-plus annual deficit by the time Bush left office in 2009.
Protest fatigue? Not in Wisconsin.
Three months after Governor Scott Walker proposed to strip state, county and municipal employees and public-school teachers of their collective bargaining rights, the governor’s agenda remains stymied. Legal challenges,moves to recall Republican legislators who have sided with the governor and the fear on the part of legislative leaders of mass protests have prevented implementation.
That fear is well-founded.
The Wisconsin protests have inspired similar demonstrations in states across the country, including state Capitol confrontations in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and, most recently, California and New York.
Yet, the energy in Wisconsin remains unmistakable, and unrelenting.
Michael Keegan: State Budget Battles are about More than Cutting Deficits
Assaults on middle-class Americans are spreading rapidly.
Earlier this year, people across the country were riveted to the politics of Wisconsin. Claiming to address the state’s budget crisis, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed eliminating the right of public workers to unionize. Wisconsin’s citizens immediately took to the streets in massive protests – only to see the union-busting legislation pushed through by the state senate in a late-night surprise vote. Although Madison’s capitol building is now cleared and most of the news teams have bolted, the issue of public unions is far from over in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, it has just begun for the rest of the country.
The dire budgetary situations many states find themselves in are real problems, and they require real solutions. But some state leaders are proposing “solutions” that are forcing social policy shifts and making political power plays that will do nothing to reduce deficits.