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Jul 06 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.

Taylor Marsh: Obama’s ‘Deal of the Century’ for Republicans

If you want one reason why Barack Obama doesn’t deserve reelection this is it.

  “If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.” – The Mother of All No-Brainers

The bookend to David Brooks is Frank Rich, who evidently has finally awakened to the actual Barack Obama, 3 years too late. This was after appalling political analysis that should not only have gotten him laughed out of the opinion racket, but rendered his views worthless. Rich preferred to play games in the primaries rather than learn, then help readers understand Barack Obama’s political philosophy:

   “But as long as the likely Democratic nominee keeps partying like it’s 2008 while everyone else refights the battles of yesteryear, he will continue to be underestimated every step of the way.”

One of the people who underestimated Barack Obama was Frank Rich, but not in the manner he originally meant. It’s because he was too besotted to identify candidate Obama’s squishy Republicanism.

Amy Goodman: WikiLeaks, Wimbledon and War

Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organization started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, “Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this.” Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.

Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Invoke the 14th – and end the debt standoff

On its current course, the United States is four weeks away from defaulting on its debt for the first time in its history. If that happens, businesses will fail. Financial institutions will fail. Home values will decline. Mortgage rates will skyrocket. Spending and investment will all but disappear. Social Security checks will stop being mailed. Everything from military pay to food inspection will be compromised, if not fully cut off. The millions upon millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed will be joined by millions more.

Across the world, America’s second financial collapse in three years will drag down already fragile economies in Europe, Latin America and Asia, potentially creating a “worldwide depression,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described it. In short, we would be thrown back deep into economic turmoil – only this time with even fewer tools to crawl our way out.

Joan Walsh: Standing up to hostage-takers

The president has already compromised too much over a debt ceiling that was raised seven times under President Bush

Over the weekend Massachussetts Gov. Deval Patrick had a fascinating op-ed in the Washington Post, describing a 2003 Harvard reunion with GOP anti-tax fanatic Grover Norquist (they were classmates). Norquist was bragging about creating a permanent Republican majority in America, and when some dreamer suggested there might be a Democrat in the White House again someday, Norquist made this promise: “We’ll make it impossible for him to govern like a Democrat.”

Norquist and his anti-tax jihadists made good on their word. President Obama is backing a debt ceiling “compromise” that is a fundamentally Republican, proposing $6 in spending cuts for every dollar in “revenue enhancement,” and even the little bit it does in the tax code only closes loopholes; it doesn’t touch tax rates, even on top earners. (But former Joe Biden economic advisor Jared Bernstein laid out a way to raise $1 trillion in revenue without even touching tax rates, and [it’s worth a look http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/… The GOP insists that closing tax loopholes must be paid for with a cut in tax rates, so the plan can stay “revenue neutral” – which is central to the “No Taxes Pledge” Norquist makes Republicans sign in blood. The wealthy in this country, along with corporations, now pay the lowest effective tax rates than they have for 50 years – and some still want more.

Amanda Marcotte: Because of The Implication

There’s no small amount of irony in the fact that I published this article about how the atheist movement dovetails with other social justice movements this particular week.  I was actually feeling pretty good about the whole thing, because I was writing it while traveling to CONvergence to speak at the invitation of Skepchick about the feminist depths of this issue, on a panel called “Women vs. God”, where we discussed fighting the religious right.  Talking about my commitment to feminism through an atheist angle always pleases me, since the two are firmly intertwined in my mind—religion and patriarchy are so intertwined as to be functionally the same thing in most ways, especially in the context of history.  Pulilng down one means pulling down the other, and I think it’s naive when anyone denies that and instead claims that there’s a way to preserve religion without patriarchy or vice versa.  I’m thinking long term here; obviously in the short term there are religious feminists and sexist atheists.

In fact, what makes all this ironic is I did get an eyeful this weekend of how serious the problem of sexism in the atheist/skeptical movement really is, and how much hard work needs to be done to get a male-dominated movement to take the problem of sexual harassment and female alienation seriously.

Theresa de Langis: Why Women Need to Be Part of the Peace Process

What is wrong with this picture?

After all, it looks like a typical photo of world leaders making decisions for their countries. That is precisely the problem. What’s wrong is the total absence of women-at the table, in the room, and, as a result, from the agenda at this meeting and too many meetings like it.

I worked with the United Nations in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2010 with women human rights defenders. Since coming back to the US, I am aware of the urgency in public calls to end our military involvement in Afghanistan, which means increasing pressure to negotiate with the Taliban for a political power sharing deal. Yet, I also hear in the back of my head the voices of Afghan women, who have warned all along, Don’t wager human rights, especially the fragile ones of women, for the sake of political expediency in striking a peace deal.

The photo portrays a three-way summit on June 24 hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart, President Hamid Karzai. The goal of the meeting was to discuss “concern over a rising lack of security, extremism and terrorism,” and the need for “cooperation to combat these phenomena.” The day following the photo, Presidents Zardari and Karzai attended an international anti-terrorism conference, again hosted by Ahmadinejad. Also present was Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur, where rape was used rampantly as a weapon of war.

Linda McQuaig: Canada: Pomp, Pageantry and Unions

We surely seem to be living in conservative times – with the NDP trying to distance itself from all things socialist and the public apparently unable to sate its appetite for all things royal.

Certainly it’s easy to get the impression from the media that Canadians, content with their capitalist bounty, are primarily focused on the activities and outfits of the Royal Family.

So perhaps it’s out-of-sync with the times to suggest that we’re actually in the middle of a class war, and that it’s been heating up lately.

Of course, the genius of the architects of today’s conservative revolution has been to obscure the class war they’ve been quietly waging, keeping us distracted with foreign military ventures, royals and other celebrity sightings.

Behind all these diversions, the class war has been relentlessly proceeding. While incomes at the top have steadily climbed, incomes of ordinary Canadians have steadily eroded. The real median Canadian family income hasn’t risen since the late 1970s – even though today’s typical family now has two earners, compared to just one earner 30 years ago. In other words, Canadian families are working about twice as hard to keep up to where they were a generation ago.