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Jun 30 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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Those Reckless Republicans

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked out of the debt-ceiling negotiations last week in a hissy fit, he once more dramatized the simple truth that cannot speak its name. This Republican Party is addled by an extremist ideology and cankered by a vengeful partisanship. In a time of national crisis, it is locked into ideological litmus tests – no new taxes – and opposed to anything the “Kenyan, socialist” president might propose.

This makes the routine difficult and the necessary impossible. Republicans threaten to blow up the world economy by refusing to lift the debt limit without getting drastic cuts in the deficit. Puffed up with locker-room bravado, they set a high bar – more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, a dollar or more for every dollar hike of the debt limit.

John Nichols: Obama: ‘It’s Only Fair’ to Ask Rich to Give Up Tax Breaks

Rejecting Republican demands for massive cuts in federal programs while maintaining tax breaks for the wealthy as not “sustainable,” President Obama used a press conference Wednesday to argue that serious negotiations about balancing the budget and addressing deficits and debt must include plans to end tax breaks for “millionaires and billionaires, oil companies and corporate jet owners.”

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So Obama’s strong stance on tax breaks is to be celebrated. It is the right one. But his talk of compromise and negotiation ought to be viewed cautiously. Some compromises will be necessary, But any compromises on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will hand the Republicans, the insurance industry and Wall Street the keys to the US Treasury that they have for so long coveted.

Robert Sheer: Yes to Violence, No to Sex

This American life of ours has long been pro-violence and anti-sex, unless the two can be merged so that violence is the dominant theme. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that historical record on Monday in declaring California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors unconstitutional while continuing to deny constitutional protection to purely prurient sexual material for either minors or adults.

The California law that the court struck down prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to minors “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,” unless the work, taken as a whole, possessed redeeming literary, artistic or social value-qualities that limit censorship of sexually “obscene” material.

Maria Margaronis: Greece in Crisis: Protest, Violence and Necessity

The Greek parliament has just passed the package of savage austerity measures and privatizations required to get the last tranche of a 110 billion euro loan from the EU and IMF; without it, the country would have been broke by mid-July. Outside in Syntagma Square, protesters in cycling masks are running from clouds of teargas. Since yesterday, the square has been filled with surging crowds pushed back by riot police; Greek TV reports that 500 people aged between 15 and 65 have been treated in the metro station for respiratory problems and injuries.

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The tragic flaw is in Greece’s own responsibility for its problems, which has allowed Northern European pundits and politicians to demonize its people as incorrigibly lazy, feckless, criminal and corrupt: There simply wasn’t enough solidarity from outside the country to support a heroic last stand against austerity, the banks and the IMF. Perhaps political and economic pressure will soften the measures and ease the terms of Greece’s loans; perhaps, when default eventually comes, Greece will be better prepared to weather it. Perhaps the sight of a European country being forced to its knees might prompt a belated rethinking of the European project and the relationship between democracy and the markets. Perhaps. Otherwise, as one tweet coming out of Athens put it, “You are all in Syntagma Square. You just don’t know it yet.”

Amy Goodman: ‘Food Terrorism’ Next Door to the Magic Kingdom

Think of “food terrorism” and what do you see? Diabolical plots to taint items on grocery-store shelves? If you are Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Fla., you might be thinking of a group feeding the homeless and hungry in one of your city parks. That is what Dyer is widely quoted as calling the activists with the Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs-“food terrorists.” In the past few weeks, no less than 21 people have been arrested in Orlando, the home of Disney World, for handing out free food in a park.

Food Not Bombs is an international, grass-roots organization that fights hunger. As the name implies, it is against war. Its website home page reads: “Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?” The Orlando chapter sets up a meal distribution table every Monday morning and Wednesday evening in the city’s Lake Eola Park.

Adam Sanchez: Taking on Big Coal’s Curriculum

For years dirty energy corporations have created education materials marketed to young children in an attempt to shape the discussion around environmental issues. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon created a lesson plan “about the healthy, flourishing wildlife in Prince William Sound, Alaska, which showed beautiful eagles, frolicking sea otters, and sea birds in their habitat.” Last year, oil giant BP was exposed for helping to write California state’s environmental curriculum for over six million children. So it should come as no surprise that Scholastic recently partnered with the American Coal Foundation to produce “The United States of Energy,” a 4th grade curriculum designed to boost the “clean” image of dirty coal.

Scholastic, a $2 billion corporation whose educational materials are in 9 out of 10 classrooms in the United States, is no stranger to partnering with the corporate world to market products and brands to children. Last year Scholastic teamed up with SunnyD, the juice company whose product has been labeled by consumer groups as “junk juice” because of its high sugar and very low fruit juice content despite being marketed as a “real fruit beverage.” Marketing the campaign through their Parent & Child magazine, Scholastic agreed to donate 20 books to any class that sent in 20 UPC labels of SunnyD drinks. The ten schools that collected the most labels (ranging from 13,000 to 30,000 SunnyD labels per school!) were awarded hundreds of books.

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