“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”.
Robert Reich: Greece’s Choice – and Ours: Democracy or Finance?
Which do you trust more: democracy or financial markets?
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou decided in favor of democracy yesterday when he announced a national referendum on the draconian budget cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding from Greece in return for bailing it out.
(Or, more accurately, the cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding for bailing out big European banks that have lent Greece lots of money and stand to lose big if Greece defaults on those loans – not to mention Wall Street banks that will also suffer because of their intertwined financial connections with European banks.)
If Greek voters accept the bailout terms, unemployment will rise even further in Greece, public services will be cut more than they have already, the Greek economy will contract, and the standard of living of most Greeks will deteriorate further.
If Greek voters reject the terms and the nation defaults, it will face far higher borrowing costs in the future. This may reduce the standard of living of most Greeks, too. But it doesn’t have to. Without the austerity measures the rest of Europe and the IMF are demanding, the Greek economy has a better chance of growing and more Greeks are likely to find jobs.
Richard Reeves: American Decline Is Crushing the Middle Class
LOS ANGELES-By chance, the three things that landed in my inbox-that’s a polite euphemism for “pile”-on Tuesday were these:
The Hill, one of Washington’s all-politics-all-the-time journals, with a headline that read: “Most Voters Say the U.S. Is in Decline.”
Under that was Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum’s new book, “That Used to Be Us-How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented.”
And there was a tear sheet from the Los Angeles Times that hit me especially hard. The headline: “Access to Community Colleges May Be Rationed: After years of cuts, the state’s open-door system must change, a task force suggests.”
The smaller headline on the Hill piece was: “The Hill Poll shows that the American spirit has been sapped. An overwhelming number of voters believe the current troubles presage a longer, deeper fall.” The “overwhelming number” was 69 percent, including an astounding number of Republicans, 90 percent, thinking we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. Only 21 percent of all respondents think the lives of their children will be better than their own.
Important News You May Have Missed Dept.: While you and I have been spending the fall worrying about the secret talks of the Congressional supercommittee or trying to determine whether it would be a fun idea to dress as Rick Santorum for Halloween, other even more fascinating news events have been occurring.
I am thinking in particular of a recent story out of Dallas: “Man Allegedly Beat Woman With Frozen Armadillo.”
Here’s a test. Would you rather hear some details about the Congressional supercommittee or more about the armadillo? I thought so.
Sexual harassment is a serious subject. But Herman Cain isn’t. Honestly, I tried. I read his book. I watched the debate. Had many interesting conversations. But I can’t go there anymore. I do not believe that under any circumstances the Republicans are going to vote for a motivational speaker who seems to regard running for president of the United States as an expanded book tour.
A Herman Cain presidency is much less likely than the chances you’ll be thunked by an armor-plated piece of chili meat while shopping for dinner. So, really, I think I’m done.
Robert Sheer: Too Big to Jail
Can we all agree that a $1 billion swindle represents a lot of money, and the fact that Citigroup agreed last week to pay a $285 million fine to settle SEC charges for “misleading investors” demonstrates a damning admission of culpability?
So why has Robert Rubin, the onetime treasury secretary who went on to become Citigroup chairman during the time of the corporation’s financial shenanigans, never been held accountable for this and other deep damage done to the U.S. economy on his watch?
E.J. Dionne, Jr.: Romney and the South Carolina Conundrum
COLUMBIA, S.C.-Can Mitt Romney be dislodged as the fragile but disciplined front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination? If he can, South Carolina is the best bet for the role of spoiler.
Republican primary voters here have historically ratified establishment choices, but the old establishment has been displaced by new forms of conservative political activism, the tea party being only the latest band of rebels.
South Carolina conservatives also seem representative of their peers around the country in being uncertain and more than a trifle confused about the choices they have been handed. They are skeptical of Romney, disappointed by Rick Perry’s early performance, were enchanted by Herman Cain-a spell that may soon be broken-and are not sure what to make of the rest of the field.
For the austerity class in Washington, yesterday was high theater. The Congressional supercommittee on deficit reduction heard hours of testimony from people who served on other deficit commissions about how best to cut the government’s budget. Both Alan Simpson and Erksine Bowles, of the Bowles-Simpson Commission, testified, as did Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici, who have their own deficit reduction plan.
A morality play about the evils of national debt unfolded: the scene, as set by Domenici, was a fiscal house in disarray-“We have rats, holes in the roof and grass growing window high,” he said. Bowles-a board member at Wall Street megafirm Morgan Stanley-invoked his grandchildren and told the supercommittee not to “fail the country” by not agreeing on a major deficit reduction plan. Rivlin, who helped Representative Paul Ryan craft his Medicare privatization plan, proclaimed that “this committee can change the course of economic history for the better.”
William Rivers Pitt: Republicans Crack Me Up
Upon cracking open the Washington Post home page early Tuesday morning, I counted no less than eleven stories about GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain’s not good very bad day on Monday. That bad day started with a Politico article detailing two separate incidents of accused sexual harassment leveled at Cain in the 1990s. Before anyone had a chance to decide whether or not the charges had merit, Mr. Cain and his people took the report and transmogrified it into the one thing the Washington press corps loves above all else: a juicy cover-up story.
To wit: Mr. Cain and his people changed their minds about how to respond to the Politico report, quite literally, every fifteen minutes or so. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo succinctly summed up the run of the Cain crew’s reaction throughout the day: “1. Politico allegations are false. Story is crap; 2. Yes, there were allegations. But they were false; 3. Yes there were allegations that were false and I don’t know what money was paid; 4. I don’t know whether money was paid. And it would be wrong for me to find out whether money was paid because it’s confidential; 5. There was a in-depth investigation. And I was cleared. But I don’t know anything about it; 6. Here’s the gesture that led to my getting accused of harassment; 7. Okay, I remember some discussion of a settlement number.”