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Aug 20 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: An Unserious Man

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate led to a wave of pundit accolades. Now, declared writer after writer, we’re going to have a real debate about the nation’s fiscal future. This was predictable: never mind the Tea Party, Mr. Ryan’s true constituency is the commentariat, which years ago decided that he was the Honest, Serious Conservative, whose proposals deserve respect even if you don’t like him.

But he isn’t and they don’t. Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket.

Let’s talk about what’s actually in the Ryan plan, and let’s distinguish in particular between actual, specific policy proposals and unsupported assertions. To focus things a bit more, let’s talk – as most budget discussions do – about what’s supposed to happen over the next 10 years.

New York Times Editorial: Robo Redux

Each day in Civil Court in Brooklyn, Judge Noach Dear presides over as many as 100 credit card collection cases, a scene repeated day in and day out in courtrooms across the country.

The borrowers typically do not show up to defend themselves. Many do not know they are being sued, others are too poor or too intimidated to fight back. The result, in an estimated 95 percent of the cases, is a default judgment in favor of the bank or other debt collectors. [..]

According to Judge Dear, in roughly 90 percent of credit card lawsuits the plaintiffs cannot even prove that a person owes the debt. Which is another way of saying that the courts are often being used as de facto debt-collection mills, allowing banks and others to seize money in violation of basic protections.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.: Looking for terrorism in all the wrong places

Can we finally say the thing we have not said so far?

Last week, a white supremacist shot up a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, killing six people and wounding three. It is considered likely that the shooter mistook the Sikhs, whose men wear beards and turbans, for Muslims. The massacre came a few weeks after a characteristically baseless charge by Michele Bachmann and several other conservative legislators that a Muslim aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ties to Islamic extremism.

The juxtaposition of those two events is emphatically not meant to suggest Bachmann somehow “caused” the Wisconsin rampage. No, the point is that we are looking for terror in all the wrong places. Or, perhaps more accurately, that we are not looking for it in all the right places.

Peter J. Hotez: Tropical Diseases: The New Plague of Poverty

[..] Poverty takes many tolls, but in the United States, one of the most tragic has been its tight link with a group of infections known as the neglected tropical diseases, which we ordinarily think of as confined to developing countries.

While immigration is sometimes blamed for introducing neglected tropical diseases into the United States, the real issue is that they are now, to varying degrees, also being transmitted within our borders. Without new interventions, they are here to stay and destined to trap people in poverty for decades to come. Fifty years ago, Michael Harrington’s book “The Other America: Poverty in the United States” became a national best seller. Today more people than ever before live in poverty in this country. We must now turn our attention to the diseases of this Other America.

Baher Azmy: Obama turns back the clock on Guantanamo

New rules from the Obama Justice Department threaten to return Guantanamo Bay to the legal black hole it was in during the early days of the George W. Bush administration. The rules, which began trickling out in May, are to be reviewed Friday in a hearing before a federal judge in Washington. They restrict lawyers’ access to detainees who have lost their initial habeas corpus petitions. The effect would be to wrest control of attorney-client access away from the courts and give the military nearly complete discretion to dictate if and when attorneys can visit detainees, how many attorneys may work on a case, what information lawyers may obtain and use in representing their clients, and where and how this information can be used.

In other words, far from closing the prison camp as he promised, President Obama is steadily returning Guantanamo to the secretive and hopeless internment camp that he vilified as a candidate. […]

Torture was President Bush’s legacy at Guantanamo. I hope that President Obama’s legacy will not be that he legitimized indefinite detention without charge and made Guantanamo a place where the United States sends Muslim detainees to grow old and die.

Carl Gibson: What Do Stoners and Mitt Romney Have in Common?

Every smart weed smoker knows that while you’re applying for jobs, it’s best to stay clean. While all smokers have unique remedies they swear to when it comes to getting THC out of your system in a hurry, we all know it’s best to just lay off until after passing that drug test when you’re looking for work. Mitt Romney should’ve kept his financial records clean in preparation for applying for the nation’s toughest job.

Mitt Romney has been eyeing the presidency for the better part of a decade. Knowing that his dad set a precedent with presidential candidates releasing multiple years of tax returns, one would think Romney would use the years in between presidential runs to be honest with his accounting and file clean tax returns if he really wants the nation’s highest office. There’s no test tougher than the arduous ones presidential candidates take, and a smart candidate would make sure he “pisses clean” when it comes to his own finances.