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: America Isn’t a Corporation

“And greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.”

That’s how the fictional Gordon Gekko finished his famous “Greed is good” speech in the 1987 film “Wall Street.” In the movie, Gekko got his comeuppance. But in real life, Gekkoism triumphed, and policy based on the notion that greed is good is a major reason why income has grown so much more rapidly for the richest 1 percent than for the middle class.

Today, however, let’s focus on the rest of that sentence, which compares America to a corporation. This, too, is an idea that has been widely accepted. And it’s the main plank of Mitt Romney’s case that he should be president: In effect, he is asserting that what we need to fix our ailing economy is someone who has been successful in business.

Amy Goodman: Guantanamo at 10: The Prisoner and the Prosecutor

Ten years ago, Omar Deghayes and Morris Davis would have struck anyone as an odd pair. While they have never met, they now share a profound connection, cemented through their time at the notorious U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Deghayes was a prisoner there. Air Force Col. Morris Davis was chief prosecutor of the military commissions there from 2005 to 2007.

Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to the U.S. military. He told me: “There was a payment made for every person who was handed to the Americans. … We were chained, head covered, then sent to Bagram [Afghanistan]-we were tortured in Bagram-and then from Bagram to Guantanamo.”

At Guantanamo, Deghayes, one of close to 800 men who have been sent there since January 2002, received the standard treatment: “People were subjected to beatings, daily fear … without being convicted of any crime.”

Joe Conason: Bitter Primary Reveals the Real Romney

For Mitt Romney, Tuesday night’s triumph in the New Hampshire primary offered a tempting opportunity to gloat. Such unattractive conduct is no longer surprising from the Republican front-runner, who is enduring the gradual disclosure of his personality.

The hot Romney video of the moment displays him telling the Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” and went viral not because of its specific context, which wasn’t particularly damning, but because the public perceives the remark as a distillation of elite heartlessness. Every decent person who has had to fire someone knows that doing so-under almost any circumstances-is unpleasant, difficult and frequently wrenching. To boast that you “like to fire people” after observing years of economic pain among the jobless suggests a deep defect that, to most Americans, may disqualify Romney from the presidency.

Of course, that quote could have been a peculiar gaffe or a meaningless slip, but it wasn’t. There is no shortage of evidence, emanating mostly from his own mouth, that privilege, arrogance and entitlement are major features of Romney’s character.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Is This Land Made for You and Me – or for the Super-Rich?

The traveling medicine show known as the race for the Republican presidential nomination has moved on from Iowa and New Hampshire, and all eyes are now on South Carolina.  Well, not exactly all.  At the moment, our eyes are fixed on some big news from the great state of Oklahoma, home of the legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose 100th birthday will be celebrated later this year.

Woody saw the ravages of the Dust Bowl and the Depression firsthand; his own family came unraveled in the worst hard times.  And he wrote tough yet lyrical stories about the men and women who struggled to survive, enduring the indignity of living life at the bone, with nothing to eat and no place to sleep.  He traveled from town to town, hitchhiking and stealing rides in railroad boxcars, singing his songs for spare change or a ham sandwich.  What professional success he had during his own lifetime, singing in concerts and on the radio, was often undone by politics and the restless urge to keep moving on. “So long, it’s been good to know you,” he sang, and off he would go.

John Nichols: Walker, Texas (Money) Ranger: Can Lone-Star Cash Save Anti-Labor Governor?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is scared, so scared that he is calling in a posse of Texas billionaires to try and save his political skin.

Facing the threat of a recall election, Walker poured money into a television advertising campaign to convince Wisconsinites that his attacks on collective bargaining rights, his budget cuts for education and local services, and his pay-to-play approach to politics are good things.

Wisconsinites weren’t buying what Walker was selling. On Tuesday, the recall campaign mounted by United Wisconsin will submit not just the 540,000 signatures needed to recall Governor Walker but hundreds of thousands more.

This fight is going to happen. Walker knows he faces an accountability moment that threatens to end his long political career.

But he is not giving up easily. The governor is arming himself with all the money he can get his hands on. Big money. Texas money.

Mark Weisbrot: The Economic Idiocy of Economists

The American Economic Association’s Annual Meeting is Red-letter Day for ‘the Dismal Science’. And Dismal it Proved

The American Economic Association’s annual meetings are a scary sight, with thousands of economists all gathered in the same place – a veritable weapon of mass destruction. Chicago was the lucky city for 2012 this past weekend, and I had just finished participating in an interesting panel on “the economics of regime change”, when I stumbled over to see what the big budget experts had to say about “the political economy of the US debt and deficits”.

The session was introduced by UC Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach, who put up a graph of the United States’ rising debt-to-GDP ratio, and warned of dire consequences if Congress didn’t do something about it. Yawn.

But the panelists got off to a good start, with Alan Blinder of Princeton, former vice-chairman of the US Federal Reserve, describing the public discussion of the US national debt as generally ranging from “ludicrous to horrific”. True, that. He asked and answered four questions.

Isabeau Doucet: Haiti’s Hard Road to Recovery

Two years after the earthquake life is improving, but the nation still faces a cholera epidemic and a huge rebuilding challenge

In Haiti, you’ll see a young man sitting on a crumbled wall blasting a song out of a bashed-up radio and singing along – apparently without irony – lyrics that just repeat “I love my life”. You’ll see a woman trying to peddle half-rotten papayas from a basket on her head, dancing to kompa on a pile of sewage-soaked rubble and trash. You’ll see a barefoot six-year-old boy flying a homemade kite wearing a T-shirt that says “Save Darfur”. You can be sure that if your motorcycle, car or SUV breaks down in the potholes of Port-au-Prince, any one of these folks will bend over backwards to help, rather than pose any threat to your safety.

What’s remarkable about Haiti is that despite the devastating earthquake, tent camps, cholera, political instability and chronically corrupt and neglected judicial institutions, it couldn’t be further from the orgy of violence people around the world associate with it. The United Nation’s latest homicide statistics show that Haiti is one of the least dangerous places in the Caribbean region with a murder rate on a par with the US.