Jul 09 2012

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”.

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Paul Krugman: Mitt’s Gray Areas

Once upon a time a rich man named Romney ran for president. He could claim, with considerable justice, that his wealth was well-earned, that he had in fact done a lot to create good jobs for American workers. Nonetheless, the public understandably wanted to know both how he had grown so rich and what he had done with his wealth; he obliged by releasing extensive information about his financial history.

But that was 44 years ago. And the contrast between George Romney and his son Mitt – a contrast both in their business careers and in their willingness to come clean about their financial affairs – dramatically illustrates how America has changed.

Simon Johnson: Banks’ Living Wills Don’t Defuse Systemic Risk

On July 3, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve made public portions of the “living wills” developed recently by major U.S. financial institutions. The documents are the first suggestions from those organizations of what they believe should happen when insolvency looms.

The living wills were prepared in compliance with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and are a major step forward in terms of revealing how global megabanks are structured. Yet they are shockingly incomplete and flawed in one crucial aspect: They neglect to explain how cross- border assets and liabilities would be handled in different legal jurisdictions.

The plans should be rejected by officials and sent back to the banks to be revised. As these proposals now stand, they are a blueprint for further financial disaster, and additional taxpayer-backed bailouts.

New York Times Editorial: Cover-Ups, Justice and Reform

The guilty verdicts in two major child sex abuse cases, and the e-mails revealing the extent of the cover-up in one of the cases, the Penn State nightmare, could be more than just examples of justice delivered – if they provide impetus for new accountability and deterrence. [..]

Children who are sexually abused can take many years to speak about their ordeals, if they ever do. Much of the evidence for the cover-up in the Lynn case came from victims barred from bringing criminal charges or civil claims under the applicable statute of limitations.

Existing laws need to be recalibrated to make them more protective of children and less protective of adults who prey on them. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders have failed to heed rising calls for such reforms. But some other jurisdictions are beginning to take action.

Robert Reich: The Wall Street Scandal of All Scandals

Just when you thought Wall Street couldn’t sink any lower — when its myriad abuses of public trust have already spread a miasma of cynicism over the entire economic system, giving birth to Tea Partiers and Occupiers and all manner of conspiracy theories; when its excesses have already wrought havoc with the lives of millions of Americans, causing taxpayers to shell out billions (of which only a portion has been repaid) even as its top executives are back to making more money than ever; when its vast political power (via campaign contributions) has already eviscerated much of the Dodd-Frank law that was supposed to rein it in, including the so-called “Volcker” Rule that was sold as a milder version of the old Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment from commercial banking — yes, just when you thought the Street had hit bottom, an even deeper level of public-be-damned greed and corruption is revealed.

Sit down and hold on to your chair.

Joe Conason: Defining American Exceptionalism

The Fourth of July is the birthday of American exceptionalism-originally, the idea cherished by the nation’s Revolutionary Founders that the practice of liberty, equality and democracy in these United States would kindle hope in a world downtrodden by every form of despotism, hierarchy and oppression.

Independence Day marked the determination of a new and diverse people to throw off the old yoke of hereditary rule, with all its attendant traditions of social and economic stratification. The Founders believed that America would inspire other nations as an ally and friend, rather than dominate them by force of arms or money. They did not regard their weak new republic as intrinsically superior or chosen by God to rule the world-but argued instead that the ideals of popular sovereignty and constitutional freedom represented the natural rights and the future of humanity everywhere.

Robert Parry: The Silence on Global Warming

Harrowing predictions of climate scientists are coming true, as glaciers melt, forests burn, heat waves proliferate and freakish weather strikes in unexpected places. But the propagandists of global-warming denial have succeeded in silencing most politicians and the mainstream press

Something called a “derecho” – a fast-moving line of thunderstorms – strikes the Washington area knocking out power for days. Massive forest fires ravage Colorado. A record heat wave covers much of the country. The U.S. press treats these events as major stories, but two words are rarely mentioned: “global warming.”

What has become most striking about the growing evidence that climate change is a clear and present danger – indeed an emerging existential threat – is the simultaneous failure of the U.S. news media to deal seriously with the issue, another sign of how the Right can intimidate the mainstream into going silent.

We have seen this pattern before, as the Right sets the media agenda by bullying those who threaten its ideological interests. Before the Iraq War, anyone who dared raise questions about the Bush administration’s justifications could expect to be marginalized or worse. Just ask Phil Donahue, Scott Ritter and the Dixie Chicks.