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Aug 02 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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Gail Collins: For God, Texas and Golf

Texas Republicans have just nominated a Senate candidate who is promising to protect America’s golf courses from the United Nations.

This is not actually the most important point about Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite who scored a dramatic upset victory over the state’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday. But we don’t really need to go over his basic agenda because you can pretty much guess it. (Hint: cutspendingshrinkgovernmentrepealObamacare.) Also, he memorized the Constitution in high school. And he wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

But about golf: In a blog posting early this year, Cruz vowed that as senator he would fight against “a dangerous United Nations plan” on environmental sustainability that he said was aimed at abolishing “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” He blamed all this on the Democratic financier-philanthropist George Soros.

Gore Vidal: We Are the Patriots

The following essay appeared in the June 2, 2003 edition of The Nation magazine, and we reprint it today following news that Gore Vidal died yesterday at the age of 86.

I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that’s that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity–Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century–and I lived through three-quarters of it–we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation–of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace–demonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded.

Matt Stoller: Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

Glen Ford: Romney and the “Culture” of White Supremacy

“For the Mormon American multimillionaire, human destiny and divine will are revealed in macroeconomic data.” But Mitt Romney’s assertion that Palestinian underdevelopment is proof of Israeli cultural superiority is no more racist than the usual celebrations of western wealth, power and so-called “civilization.” In the U.S., most whites view economic disparities between races “as more a natural phenomenon than evidence of cumulative injustice.”

White supremacy is Mitt Romney’s religion, although I’d be willing to bet he has not uttered the epithet “nigger” since reaching adulthood. For Romney and his ilk, it is axiomatic that God’s blessings are manifest in the world through the distribution of wealth. Had God not favored Europeans, He would never have allowed them to expropriate the vast bulk of the Earth’s bounty. They have prospered because their ways are righteous – or, in more modern, secular terms, they possess a superior “culture.”

Jim Hightower: A Wall Street Devil Gets Religion … and an Apt Epitaph

Hallelujah and Holy Smokes! Wall Street has had a “come to Jesus” moment – the biggest sinner on the Street has repented!

He is Sandy Weill, the once-lionized dealmaker who turned our banks into financial “supermarkets” that tie us everyday depositors and Main Street borrowers to the profiteering schemes of unbridled Wall Street traders and the whims of global speculators. Thanks, Sandy – for nothing.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Weill went on a decade-long merger binge, taking over Travelers Insurance, Smith Barney, Aetna, Solomon Brothers and other powerhouses of high finance, culminating in 1998 with his grabbing of Citibank. The whole empire was named Citigroup, Weill was paid a king’s ransom, and his conglomerated entity was widely hailed as a work of genius. Only one problem: It was illegal.

George Zornick: It’s Time for Obama to Fire DeMarco-Will He?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t reduce the principal of underwater homeowners-FHFA head Edward DeMarco made that official yesterday. Despite the fact that FHFA analysts concluded this week that forgiving certain mortgage debts could save public money, DeMarco said yesterday he would not allow it because of the “costs and risks”-he is particularly concerned that people might strategically default to qualify for help. [..]

Progressives have been pushing hard on the White House to replace DeMarco-and now that DeMarco has dug himself in, why not do that, especially now that he has gone through the motions of considering and then denying write-downs.

Many progressive critics of the administration correctly note that for years, the administration opposed principal reduction too, and has only recently come around to it. So was that a true policy evolution, or political theatre in an election year? Forcing in an FHFA chief who will do principal reduction-or failing to install that person-would go a long way to answering that question.