“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: Pink Slime Economics
The big bad event of last week was, of course, the Supreme Court hearing on health reform. In the course of that hearing it became clear that several of the justices, and possibly a majority, are political creatures pure and simple, willing to embrace any argument, no matter how absurd, that serves the interests of Team Republican.
But we should not allow events in the court to completely overshadow another, almost equally disturbing spectacle. For on Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.
New York Times Editorial: Their Contributors’ Bidding
Don’t they ever learn? Large bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate have now passed the deeply flawed JOBS Act and President Obama is expected to sign it soon. The full name is equally seductive: Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act. What it is is an invitation to a fresh round of financial malfeasance. It rolls back important investor safeguards from the post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley law and the post-financial crisis Dodd-Frank law.
The official justification for the legislation – debunked in expert testimony – is that rules on disclosure, accounting and auditing make it unduly difficult for new companies to raise money by issuing stock. The real driving force behind the bill is the eagerness of politicians in both parties to please bankers and business executives who relentlessly demand deregulation and have the deep pockets to get their way, especially in an election year.
Luxury retailers are smiling. So are the owners of high-end restaurants, sellers of upscale cars, vacation planners, financial advisors, and personal coaches. For them and their customers and clients the recession is over. The recovery is now full speed.
But the rest of America isn’t enjoying an economic recovery. It’s still sick. Many Americans remain in critical condition.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter (far better than the measly 1.8 percent third quarter growth). Personal income also jumped. Americans raked in over $13 trillion, $3.3 billion more than previously thought.
Chris Hedges: Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You
The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists. And now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it. Our 16 national intelligence agencies and army of private contractors feed on paranoia, rumor, rampant careerism, demonization of critical free speech and often invented narratives. They justify their existence, and their consuming of vast governmental resources, by turning even the banal and the mundane into a potential threat. And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Right’s Stealthy Coup
Right before our eyes, American conservatism is becoming something very different from what it once was. Yet this transformation is happening by stealth because moderates are too afraid to acknowledge what all their senses tell them.
Last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on health care were the most dramatic example of how radical tea partyism has displaced mainstream conservative thinking. It’s not just that the law’s individual mandate was, until very recently, a conservative idea. Even conservative legal analysts were insisting it was impossible to imagine the court declaring the health care mandate unconstitutional, given its past decisions.
Sam Parry: If the Supreme Court Goes Rogue
What happens to a Republic under a written Constitution if a majority of the Supreme Court, which is empowered to interpret that Constitution, goes rogue? What if the court’s majority simply ignores the wording of the founding document and makes up the law to serve some partisan end? Does that, in effect, turn the country into a lawless state where raw power can muscle aside the democratic process?
Something very much like that could be happening if the Supreme Court’s five Republicans continue on their apparent path to strike down the individual mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, they will be rewriting the Constitution’s key Commerce Clause and thus reshaping America’s system of government by fiat, rather than by the prescribed method of making such changes through the amendment process.
Michael T. Klare: Welcome to the New Third World of Energy, the United States
How Big Energy Companies Plan to Turn the United States into a Third-World Petro-State
The “curse” of oil wealth is a well-known phenomenon in Third World petro-states where millions of lives are wasted in poverty and the environment is ravaged, while tiny elites rake in the energy dollars and corruption rules the land. Recently, North America has been repeatedly hailed as the planet’s twenty-first-century “new Saudi Arabia” for “tough energy” — deep-sea oil, Canadian tar sands, and fracked oil and natural gas. But here’s a question no one considers: Will the oil curse become as familiar on this continent in the wake of a new American energy rush as it is in Africa and elsewhere? Will North America, that is, become not just the next boom continent for energy bonanzas, but a new energy Third World?
Brian Moench: Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?
A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, “Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism.” This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert. A more obscure story on the same day read: “New pesticides linked to bee population collapse.” If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama. A common denominator may underlie both headlines. [..]
How does this relate to vanishing bees and our food supply? Two new studies, published simultaneously in the journal Science, show that the rapid rise in use of insecticides is likely responsible for the mass disappearance of bee populations. The world’s food chain hangs in the balance because 90% of native plants require pollinators to survive.