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Oct 31 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”.

Paul Krugman: Bombs, Bridges and Jobs

A few years back Representative Barney Frank coined an apt phrase for many of his colleagues: weaponized Keynesians, defined as those who believe “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.”

Right now the weaponized Keynesians are out in full force – which makes this a good time to see what’s really going on in debates over economic policy.

What’s bringing out the military big spenders is the approaching deadline for the so-called supercommittee to agree on a plan for deficit reduction. If no agreement is reached, this failure is supposed to trigger cuts in the defense budget.

New York Times Editorial: Flat Taxes and Angry Voters

By wide margins, Americans are now telling pollsters they want a tax system that raises more money and is more fair by asking the rich to pay more. They are connecting the dots between the lavish high-end tax cuts of the past decade and today’s serious problems – including widening inequality and mounting deficits – and demanding change. The Republican presidential candidates aren’t listening.

Take the flat tax plan of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. For all his talk about how it would make filing easier – that is dubious – what it would really do is give high-income Americans a big tax break, while almost everyone else could expect relatively modest tax savings or none at all.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: 3 Signs Anti-Wall Streeters Are Succeeding

We may be reaching an inflection point, the moment when the terms of the political argument change decisively. Three indicators: An important speech by Rep. Paul Ryan, the increasingly sharp tone of President Obama’s rhetoric, and the success of Occupy Wall Street in resisting attempts to marginalize the movement.

The most telling was Ryan’s address at the Heritage Foundation last week. House Republicans regard Ryan as their prophet, their intellectual and their resident wonk. Usually, he carefully lays out the numbers and issues visionary promises of how cutting government (and taxes on the wealthy) will lead us down a blissful path to prosperity. He’s sunny when everyone else is grumpy.

John Nichols: ‘Idolizer of the Market’: Paul Ryan Can’t Quite Hear the Catholic Church’s Call for Economic Justice

Paul Ryan accuses President Obama of engaging in “sowing social unrest and class resentment.” The House Budget Committee chairman says the president is “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment.”

Paul Ryan accuses Elizabeth Warren of engaging in class warfare. The House Budget Committee chairman the Massachusetts US Senate candidate is guilty of engaging in the “fatal conceit of liberalism.”

But what about the Catholic Church, which has taken a far more radical position on economic issues than Obama or Warren? What does the House Budget Committee chairman, a self-described “good Catholic,” do then?

If you’re Paul Ryan, you don’t decry the church for engaging in class warfare. Instead, you spin an interpretation of the church’s latest pronouncements that bears scant resemblance to what’s been written-but that just happens to favor your political interests.

Leslie Savan: The ‘War on Halloween’: A Trick or a Treat for Conservatives?

Have you heard? The War on Halloween is on! But, unlike other culture wars, this one could become very confusing for conservatives to decide which side they’re on.

The “War on Halloween” is not as simple as the “War on Christmas,” that package of phony fury O’Reilly and Limbaugh give to the nation annually. The politics of that holiday are clear-cut: Christmas=America. Those who don’t obey the equation are essentially crucifying Christ, nailing Him to the cross with the dozens of flag pins they ripped from the lapels of His tunic.

But Halloween is a trickier matter. Many on the religious right have long shunned the holiday as a force of evil. As a Christian website puts it, “Halloween is based upon modern Wiccan interpretations of pre-Christian paganism and involve occultic rites and practices that Christians should have no dealings with.”

Francis Beinecke: One More Reason to Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline: Questions about State Department Handling of Review

On Friday, I joined several environmental leaders in calling for the State Department to conduct an investigation into the department’s handling of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. More than a dozen members of Congress also requested an inquiry into potential conflicts of interest.

Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth examined relevant documents and found that TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, was allowed to screen the companies bidding to do the project’s environmental impact study; the company that was chosen listed TransCanada as a “major client.” It also does business for many of the same oil companies that stand to benefit from the pipeline.

Meanwhile, State Department officials coached TransCanada on messaging-and seemed to be in cahoots with them on skirting safety protections.  From the start, they have shown a disposition towards the pipeline proponents at the expense of public – exemplified by the Secretary’s comments a year ago that she was “inclined” to approve it.

Danny Schetcher: The Question OWS Hears Most: ‘What’s Your Agenda?’

One of the most frequently repeated, recycled and dismissive questions about Occupy Wall Street is its supposed lack of an “agenda.”

The “what do you people want” question has featured in media interviews almost to the exclusion of all others.

It’s as if the movement won’t be taken seriously by some, unless and until, it enunciates list of “demands” and defines itself in a way that can allow others, especially a cynical media, to label and pigeonhole it.

Many are just frothing at the mouth for some political positions they can expose as shallow or absurd. Teams of pundits are being primed to go on the attack once they have some bullet points to refute.