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Jul 19 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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Mark Bittman: The Endless Summer

Here’s what American exceptionalism means now: on a per-capita basis, we either lead or come close to leading the world in consumption of resources, production of pollutants and a profound unwillingness to do anything about it. We may look back upon this year as the one in which climate change began to wreak serious havoc, yet we hear almost no conversation about changing policy or behavior. President Obama has done nicely in raising fuel averages for automobiles, but he came into office promising much more, and Mitt Romney promises even less. (There was a time he supported cap and trade.) [..]

The climate has changed, and the only remaining questions may well be: a) how bad will things get, and b) how long will it be before we wake up to it. The only sane people who don’t see this as a problem are those whose profitability depends on the status quo, people of money and power like Romney (“we don’t know what’s causing climate change“), most of his party, and Rex Tillerson, the Exxon chairman, who called the effects of climate change “manageable.”

Robert Greenwald and John Amick: Military Industry Descends on Capitol Hill to Fight for Their Perceived Right to Profit

You know it’s a big moment for defenders of the United States’ bloated military budget when some of the all-time superstars of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex descend on Capitol Hill to fight for their perceived right to profit.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to address the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill beginning Wednesday, which will go a long way in framing the later debate on automatic cuts to defense set to happen on January 2, 2013. The “sequester” was set into law – via the Budget Control Act – last year in an effort to compel Congress to reach a deficit-reduction plan. The automatic cuts would take the Pentagon’s requested FY 2013 budget of $526 billion to $469 billion, reducing Department of Defense spending by around $1 trillion over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office says that amount is “larger than it was in 2006 (in 2013 dollars) and larger than the average base budget during the 1980s.” If you recall, 2006 wasn’t such a bad year to be a defense contractor.

Paul Krugman: Mitt Romney: Not Exactly a Captain of Industry

It appears that the Obama campaign has decided to ignore the queasiness of Democrats who have Wall Street ties and go after Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. And rightly so!

After all, what is Mr. Romney’s case – that is, why does he want us to think he should be president? It’s not about ideology: Mr. Romney offers nothing but warmed-over right-wing platitudes with an extra helping of fraudulent arithmetic and it’s fairly obvious that even he himself doesn’t believe anything he’s saying.

Instead, his thing is competence: Supposedly, his record as a successful businessman should tell us that he knows how to create jobs. And this in turn means that we have every right to ask exactly what kind of businessman he was.

Michelle Chen: Hating in Athens

Douglas Kesse, a Ghanaian asylum seeker who recently landed in Greece, was bewildered by how he was received in the cradle of Western Civilization. Reflecting on the epidemic of anti-immigrant attacks, he told human rights investigators, “As human beings, we shouldn’t be treated like this…. I am not an animal to be chased with sticks.”

When anti-immigrant violence flares up in our communities, it may seem irrational, crazy, sometimes outright barbaric. But there’s one universal rule that holds true around the world: xenophobic riots, purges, and state crackdowns throughout history have hewed to a chilling logic; people respond to real threats-primarily economic instability or social upheaval-by lashing out at make-believe threats-like the neighbor who came from Mexico to build your other neighbor’s house. This is hardly unique to the U.S.: the anti-immigrant hatred that has erupted across Europe is actually a chilling parallel to the bigotry exhibited toward immigrants in places like Arizona. And in a place like Greece, where economic crisis is tearing society apart, it’s open season for xenophobia.

Robert Naiman: It’s a Great Day to Act to Cut the Pentagon Budget

Until now, the GOP leadership position has been that cuts in military spending are off the table.

Until now, the Democratic leadership position has been more murky. The Democratic leadership – and the big Democratic constituency groups – have emphasized the need for revenue increases. But no one thinks the final deal is going to meet deficit reduction targets with revenue increases alone. That means that there are still going to be cuts, and those cuts are going to be cuts in military spending, or they are going to be cuts in domestic spending. Every dollar that isn’t cut from the military budget is going to be cut from the domestic budget.

So, you might think that Democratic leaders and the big Democratic constituency groups – who don’t want to cut the domestic budget – would be very vocal right now about the need to cut the military budget.

Eugene Robinson: Problem of His Own Making

Mitt Romney has every right to cloak his personal and professional finances in secrecy — and voters have every right to assume he has something embarrassing to hide. If this seems unfair, Romney has only himself to blame.

Through a series of miscalculations, Romney has managed to turn what should have been a minor hiccup into what may be a defining moment, and not in a good way. Attacks by President Obama’s campaign serve mainly to draw attention to the train wreck.

On the Sunday morning talk shows, even Republicans urged Romney to release more tax returns while wondering what secrets he’s trying to keep. And the campaign’s latest attempt to explain how and when Romney left Bain Capital — he’s supposed to have “retired retroactively” at some unspecified date — became an instant punch line.

If Romney really does have the power to bend time and space, he might want to retroactively clean up the mess he’s made.