“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: We Are the 99%
“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general.
If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent – the richest one-thousandth of the population.
And while Democrats, by and large, want that super-elite to make at least some contribution to long-term deficit reduction, Republicans want to cut the super-elite’s taxes even as they slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of fiscal discipline.
You’ve been seeing this across the country … Americans assaulted, clubbed, dragged, pepper-sprayed … Why? For exercising their right to free speech and assembly – protesting the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top. [..]
Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities – where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct – peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray. [..]
How are Americans to be heard about what should be done about any of this if they are not allowed to mobilize and organize? When the freedom of speech goes to the highest bidder, moneyed interests have a disproportionate say.
President Obama’s Thanksgiving proclamation for 2011 reprises the boilerplate language employed in his previous seasonal statements. His messages have been a bit more historically and anthropologically detailed than those of his immediate predecessors – for instance, this year’s proclamation makes reference to how the feast of 1621 “honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska natives.”
Obama’s 2011 proclamation is even more religious in tone than Obama’s earlier ones – abandoning his previous bows to universalism in favor of more references to God and grace.
With each passing year, Obama’s proclamations become more generic. They are no more poetic, no more adventurous, than those issued by George W. Bush.
For Americans who think that Obama ought to use the bully pulpit more ably than his immediate predecessor, and than those Republicans who are campaigning so ardently to replace him, this is disappointing.
Michelle Chen: Washington’s Debt Panic and the Real Social Debt in America
In the wake of the Congressional Supercommittee’s collapse, we finally have consensus on both sides of the aisle: the lawmakers orchestrating the partisan drama are, behind the scenes, happy to collaborate on destroying economic security for all but the wealthiest Americans.
Though the debt hysteria made good political theater, the main immediate impact on the budget is simply to prolong the sense of doom hovering over struggling households. The budget problem those families face isn’t some theoretical future debt crisis but the possibility of losing unemployment checks when a year-end legislative deadline hits.
Federally funded unemployment benefits, which conservatives dismiss as a fluffy cushion for shiftless poor, have been a lifeline for some 17 million Americans in the past three years. In addition to helping individual households pay their bills, the benefits have had a ripple effect on cities and towns battered by an anemic job market, “contributing nearly $180 billion in hard cash to those communities struggling with severe unemployment,” according to a report issued in October by the National Employment Law Project.
Robert Sheer: Thanks for What?
I love Thanksgiving for its illusion of abundance. It brings back early childhood memories of the one day each year during the Depression when the food on my family’s table was not the leftover produce that my Uncle Leon could no longer sell at his stall, or the nearly spoiled organ meats that our local butcher offered at a steep discount.
But Thanksgiving day was quite the opposite, and while I obviously can’t recall what was served in 1936, the year I was born, the holiday was soon seared into my childhood memory as the day when the good times looked upon us in the form of charity gift baskets from philanthropists of various religious and political orders, much like the needy will be served today in volunteer kitchens across America and just as soon will be forgotten.
Joe Conason: Realism and Compassion: Unacceptable in Today’s GOP
Tasteless and questionable as it was for CNN to “co-sponsor” a Republican presidential debate with a pair of right-wing Washington think-tanks, at least the branding was accurate. There among the honored interlocutors were the authors of dismal failure and national disgrace in the Bush era, such as Paul Wolfowitz and David Addington, whose presence helpfully reminds us that to elect a Republican risks a presidency that will make the same gross moral and strategic errors, or worse. Listening to them talk about Iran, a nation that unlike Iraq or the Taliban is a real military power, it was clear that we will certainly edge closer to another war with almost any Republican in power.
What the debate also revealed again is that a Republican who dares to utter a few words of compassion or realism is likely to prove unacceptable to the base of that party.
E.J. Dionne, Jr.: Obama’s Catholic Friends and Enemies
Any time the Obama administration touches issues related to the Roman Catholic Church, it seems to get itself caught in a rhetorical and moral crossfire that leaves all involved wounded and angry. This is what’s happening in the battle over how contraception should be covered under the new health care law.
Partly because it mishandled the issue at the outset, the Obama team seems destined either to leave supporters in the reproductive rights community irate, or to put the president’s Catholic sympathizers in a much weakened position.