Jul 17 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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New York Times Editorial: The Power of Anonymity

Two years ago, Congress came within a single Republican vote in the Senate of following the Supreme Court’s advice to require broad disclosure of campaign finance donors. The justices wanted voters to be able to decide for themselves “whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” [..]

The ability to follow the money has never been this important since the bagman days of the Watergate scandal. But when the Democratic Senate majority made a fresh attempt to enact a disclosure bill on Monday, the measure was immediately filibustered to death by Republicans, like other versions.

Dean Baker: California Gold Rush? Righting Underwater Mortgages

Ever since the housing bubble collapsed, the Federal government has refused to take major initiatives to help underwater homeowners. As a result, we are likely to see close to one million foreclosures both this year and next, with the numbers only gradually slipping back to normal levels by the end of the decade.

The inaction cannot be attributed to a lack of opportunity. At the time the TARP bailout was being debated in the fall of 2008 many progressive members of Congress wanted to have a provision that would at least temporarily alter bankruptcy law to allow judges to rewrite the terms of a mortgage.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Slick “No Labels” Plan to Duck Debate, Cut Social Security and Coddle the 1%

The Jeff Daniels character from The Newsroom would know what to ask the operators of an allegedly “grass roots” group called “No Labels”:

“Why won’t you publish your list of donors?”

“What’s wrong with having legislators debate the issues publicly? Isn’t that how representative democracy works?”

“How can you call yourself ‘centrist’ when so many of your ideas are unpopular, and in fact are too conservative for most Tea Party members?”

He might have another question, too:

“What’s wrong with labels? Don’t they let us know what we’re buying?”

The Newsroom is fiction, of course. But then, so is “No Labels.” It’s the creation of overpaid political insiders who work hand in glove with longtime opponents of Social Security and Medicare, pushing the agenda of the wealthiest among us by exploiting the public’s understandable frustration with gridlocked government.

Gary Younge: The Democrats Can’t Lecture Romney About Firing People

Obama himself has never challenged the kind of rapacious capitalism he is desperate to associate with his opponent

Following the stock market crash of 1987 the US House subcommittee on telecommunications and finance needed an expert to explain the underlying impulses that had brought capitalism to the brink. So they asked a criminal. Dennis Levine, once a prominent player in mergers and acquisitions, was coaxed out of prison in New Jersey, where he was serving two years for insider trading, in return for a Big Mac, fries and a chocolate shake.

After explaining how the market was rigged, he was asked what the government should do about it. “You need to send out a slew of indictments, all at once, and at 3pm on a sunny day, have federal marshals perp walk 300 Wall Street executives out of their offices in handcuffs and out on the street with lots of cameras rolling,” he said. “Everyone else would say: ‘If that happened to me, my mother would be so ashamed.’ “

Mark Weisbrot: Ecuador Should Grant Political Asylum to Wikileaks Founder v

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where according to Ecuadorian authorities he is “under the protection of the Ecuadorian state,” as he awaits the government’s decision on his application for political asylum. If you have been relying on the mass media for information about why he is there or what he is being protected from, you may have no idea what is going on.

Much of the media has reported or given the impression that Assange is facing “charges” in Sweden and is therefore avoiding extradition from the UK to that country.  In fact, Julian Assange has not been charged with any crime.

Instead, he is only wanted for questioning by a Swedish prosecutor.  Now, why can’t he simply be questioned in the UK where he is?  Try to find the answer to that question in all the “news” reporting on the case.  Former Stockholm Chief District prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem testified that the decision of the Swedish government to extradite Assange is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate,” because he can be easily questioned in the UK.  These simple facts make it clear that the Swedish attempt to extradite Assange has nothing to do with any criminal investigation.

Chris Hedges: The Battle of Blair Mountain

Joe Sacco and I, one afternoon when we were working in southern West Virginia on our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt,” parked our car on the side of a road. We walked with Kenny King into the woods covering the slopes of Blair Mountain. King is leading an effort to halt companies from extracting coal by blasting apart the mountain, the site in the early 1920s of the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War.

Blair Mountain, amid today’s rising corporate exploitation and state repression, represents a piece of American history that corporate capitalists, and especially the coal companies, would have us forget. It is a reminder that citizens have a right to resist a corporate machine intent on subjugating them. It is a reminder that all the openings of our democracy were achieved with the toil, anguish and sometimes blood of radicals and popular fronts, from labor unions to anarchists, socialists and communists. But this is not approved history. We are instructed by the power elite to worship at approved shrines-plantation estates erected for wealthy slaveholders and land speculators such as George Washington, or the gilded domes of authority in the nation’s capital.