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.

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Dean Baker: Romney’s Success at Bain Capital: The Business as Scam Model

Mitt Romney is basing his presidential campaign largely on his success as a businessperson building Bain Capital into a leading private equity company. While it is questionable how much success in business prepares a person for success in the White House (Herbert Hoover was the last president with notable success as a businessperson), it is important to understand that Mr. Romney is not a successful business person in the same way as other people who have built successful companies. [..]

Private equity companies like Bain Capital are not primarily about producing wealth. They profit largely by siphoning off wealth created elsewhere in the economy. There are many different ways in which this diversion of wealth is accomplished. [..]

In short, Bain Capital is not about producing wealth but rather about siphoning off wealth that was produced elsewhere in the economy. There is no doubt that one individual or one company can get enormously wealthy if they are able to do this successfully. However you cannot have an entire economy that is premised on the idea that it will siphon off wealth produced elsewhere. It is not clear that Mitt Romney understands that fact, but certainly the general public should when it goes to vote this fall.

George Zornick: Progressives Want a Stronger Focus on Protecting the Safety Net

The Democratic Party platform released this week ahead of the national convention in Charlotte laudably opposes any privatization of Medicare and Social Security, and doesn’t mention those programs in the section on deficit reduction. But it doesn’t explicitly say Democrats will protect those programs from cuts-only that trimming them can’t be the “only” solution. That’s an important distinction, given the upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations and recent willingness by the administration to discuss, for example, raising the Medicare eligibility age.

I asked Representative Keith Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, about the platform language yesterday. Speaking outside a church on the outskirts of downtown after a Progressive Democrats of America forum, he told me that nobody should worry too much about what the platform left out, but that he still wished it included stronger language on the safety net.

Glen Ford: What Obama Has Wrought

The meticulously scripted spectacles of the two corporate party conventions are very poor backdrops for clear thinking – but luckily, the ordeals are almost over. What remains after the tents are folded, are the crimes of this administration and its predecessor: both horrifically evil in their own ways. History will mark Obama as the more effective evil, mainly because of the lack of opposition. [..]

It is as useless to anchor a serious political discussion to this year’s Democratic and Republican convention speeches, as to plan the liberation of humanity during Mardi Gras. Truth is no more welcome at the former than sobriety is at the latter. So, forget the conventions and their multi-layered lies. Here are a few highlights of what Barack Obama has inflicted on the nation and the world . . .

Robert Reich: The Most Important Political News This Week

The biggest political news this week won’t be the Democratic convention. It will be Friday’s unemployment report.

If the trend is good — if the rate of unemployment drops and the number of payroll jobs is as good if not better than it was in July — President Obama’s claim we’re on the right track gains crucial credibility. But if these numbers are moving in the wrong direction, Romney’s claim the nation needs a new start may appear more credible.  

Gail Collins; Bill, Barack and Us

On Wednesday, the Democrats got to the point.

That was thanks to Bill Clinton, Beloved Democrat, a man who got negative ratings from only 27 percent of Americans in one recent national poll. There are pictures of kittens that get worse grades. [..]

So, we’re almost done, convention-wise. We’ve learned that both parties like God and moms, particularly moms with humble roots. They both have faith that people who work hard and play by the rules can overcome exposure to secondhand furniture while they’re in college. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of whether you want to raise taxes and balance the budget like Clinton, or cut taxes and plunge us into a hopeless sea of debt, like Bush. Let the fight begin.

Robert Kuttner: Party Animals

“I’m not a member of any organized political party,” Will Rogers famously declared,  “I’m a Democrat.”

Rogers would not recognize the 2012 Democrats.

I’ve been attending conventions since 1964, when as a student I smuggled floor passes to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party insurgents in Atlantic City. And I’ve never seen anything as well choreographed and unified as night one of the 2012 convention. [..]

After decades and decades of being internally divided, the Democrats are stunningly unified and almost shockingly professional, yet without sacrificing genuine passion. Though an incumbent’s convention with no real business to transact can be criticized as just another stage show, there are good shows and bad ones. This one is off to a great start.

Robert Blum: Is John Roberts Coming for Your Vote?

Watching the almost uniform sea of white faces in attendance at the 2012 Republican National Convention called to mind one of the defining hallmarks of all reactionary movements of the modern era: Whatever their particular social and historical contexts, they seek not a new future free of past injustices but a return to mythologized past glories. [..]

Contrary to the right’s mythology touting the virtues of our lost democracy, voting was never a truly public pastime during the nation’s formative period. As political scientist Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has noted, only 4 to 6 percent of the eligible electorate (which did not include women, black slaves and in many states white men without property) turned out to vote in the country’s first five presidential elections. And although voter turnout grew markedly after 1824, Jim Crow policies implemented after the Civil War caused turnout rates to nosedive again.