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Jul 02 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”.

Dean Baker Deficit Talk Distracts, Employment Works

How to Make Short Work of Unemployment

Washington always does a superb job of focusing intently on problems that are of little importance. The current, end-of-the-world debt/deficit negotiations is a great case in point. President Obama and the Republican congressional leadership are heatedly negotiating a deal on the deficit that has almost nothing to do with the country’s real economic problem: mass unemployment.

The whole effort is a ridiculous charade that is intended to fix a problem that does not exist. There is no story of runaway spending or deficits, as everyone who has ever looked at the budget numbers knows. The deficit exploded, beginning in 2008, because the economy collapsed: end of story. Anyone who says otherwise either has never looked at the budget or is not being honest.

Charles Davis: Obama Loses His ‘Constitutional Law Professor Hat’

As a candidate for president, Barack Obama was a Distinguished Constitutional Scholar. As a president waging an illegal war, he’s just some guy who, gosh, isn’t really in a position to talk about that complex document he took an oath to uphold and defend.

At a press conference this week, NBC correspondent Chuck Todd — presumably under strict orders not to ask about Newsweek’sPrincess Di cover — questioned the erstwhile legal scholar about whether he felt the War Powers Resolution, which forbids the president from deploying troops without congressional consent except in cases of imminent danger to national security, and even then for only 60 days, passed constitutional muster.

Well, the president replied, “I’m not a Supreme Court justice, so I’m not — I’m not going to put my constitutional law professor hat on here.” And so he didn’t, declaring it irrelevant — “I don’t even have to get to the constitutional question” — as he was already abiding by the law in question, rejecting the claim his actions “in any way violate the War Powers Resolution.”

John Nichols: Medicare’s Still Delivering After 45 Years; The Only Serious Threat to Its Future is Paul Ryan

Forty-five years ago this week, the first Medicare checks were delivered, and the United States made a great leap forward.

Before Medicare was implemented – as a social-welfare program designed not just to deliver care but to poverty — one in five Americans lived below the poverty line.

After the program was implemented, and after related “War on Poverty” initiatives were developed, that number was cut almost in half. Poverty among seniors dropped by two thirds.

Why? Before Medicare, millions of elderly Americans could not afford to buy health care. They did not have access even to basic care. When they needed treatment for the inevitable ailments that are associated with aging, they and their families spent down what meager savings that retained and a stumble into poverty soon followed.

Allison Kilkenney: Budget Nightmares: Government Shutdowns, Slashed Tax Credits

Protesters flooded Minnesota’s Capitol grounds yesterday on the eve of a government shutdown in response to tense budget negotiations. The governor and Republicans must close a $5 billion gap for the next two-year budget cycle, but legislators are torn over how to accomplish that goal.

Though government officials and Governor Mark Dayton have kept the details of the negotiations largely secret, Minnesotans were quite vocal in their demands. Activists stated that they’re open to compromise, but don’t think the burden of the state’s budget woes should be dumped exclusively upon the shoulders of the poor.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap : Movement to Abolish Corporate Personhood Gaining Traction

In the year and a half since the Citizens United decision, Americans from all walks of life have become concerned about corporate dominance of our government and our society as a whole. In Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court (in an act of outrageous “judicial activism) gutted existing campaign finance laws by ruling that corporations, wealthy individuals, and other entities can spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Throughout the country people have responded by organizing against “corporate personhood,” a court-created precedent that illegitimately gives corporations rights that were intended for human beings.

The movement is flowering not in the halls of Congress, but at the local level, where all real social movements start. Every day Americans experience the devastation caused by unaccountable corporations. Thanks to the hard work of local organizers, Boulder, CO could become the next community to officially join this growing effort. Councilmember Macon Cowles is proposing to place a measure on the November ballot, giving Boulder voters the opportunity to support an amendment to the U. S. Constitution abolishing corporate personhood and declaring that money is not speech.

Michelle Chen: Pesticides and Farm Labor Yield a Bitter Harvest

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of card check legislation underscores the priorities of the powerful

Shortly after the group of Mexican “guestworkers” arrived at a Tennessee tomato farm, they realized that their job was killing them, literally. In addition to being crowded into filthy trailers with no source of clean water, they and their living quarters were regularly showered with poison. Despite requirements for protective equipment, they had to go into the fields while exposed to pesticides. Risking abuse and retaliation for challenging their boss, some tried to use cellphones to record the spraying. In the end, they got their evidence, but then got fired.

The workers’ struggle, which led to a lawsuit filed earlier this year, illustrates all the paradoxes of America’s natural bounty. No form of labor is more ingrained in humanity than farm work, but the people who grow our food are being eaten alive every day by the toxins of modern industrial farming. Though consumers are more anxious than ever these days about the effects of pesticides on the food we eat, they seldom consider the health hazards facing the workers who feed our consumption. Yet the further you get up the production chain, the greater the danger.

Maura Stephens: Gov. Cuomo: Do Not Lift Fracking Moratorium

Urgent Open Letter to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo: Do Not Lift Fracking Moratorium

Dear Governor Cuomo,

We just got word that you’re about to lift the fracking moratorium in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. I’m almost apoplectic from shock, anger, grief, and terror.

A former farmer and trained environmentalist, researcher, and independent journalist, I have spent much of the last three years learning and writing about fracking. I am a cofounder of the Coalition to Protect New York, among other actively engaged organizations working to ban fracking in our state and elsewhere.

We do not trust the Department of Environmental Conservation to get things right on fracking. Even if it were a reliable and trustworthy agency, the DEC’s budget has been cut so drastically and its workforce decimated to the point that it’s virtually hamstrung.

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