Sep 26 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Better Bargain: Transaction Tax, not Austerity

On the eve of Occupy Wall Street’s first anniversary, Congressman Keith Ellison introduced a much-needed common sense bill: HR 6411, the Inclusive Prosperity Act. The bill taxes financial transactions to generate revenue for social needs. Amid our consensus-narrowed, deficit-obsessed political debate, it’s a call to arms, and a breath of fresh air.

As I’ve often argued, a financial transaction tax is deeply pragmatic, broadly popular and sorely needed. At a time when budget slashing is a bipartisan obsession, it offers vital revenue. As we struggle to escape the recession wrought by the 1 percent, it presents a simple solution to discourage speculation. As progressives fight too many defensive battles, the financial transaction tax presents an urgent opportunity to go on offense.

Bryce Covert: A Gaffe Is When a Republican Tells the Truth

This Sunday, I attended a panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival in which moderator Ta-Nehisi Coates started out with a question for the panelists: Does this campaign season matter? Are we learning anything about the candidates? I was in the audience, but my response would be: Yes, it matters, and we’re learning a great deal. But it’s mostly about what the Republican Party really thinks.

While this election season may appear gaffe-tastic, the most viral moments weren’t misspoken words. Rather, they reveal what’s deep in the conservative heart-opinions that many had warned existed for a long time (and had even appeared in real-life legislation) but have now been put into stark relief for the general public. This election season has been highly instructional about deep-seated beliefs on the right.

Jessica Valenti: Feminism’s War on Penises

Rush Limbaugh is worried about penises. Specifically, he’s concerned that feminism (I’m sorry, ‘feminazis’) have contributed to decreasing penis size. Responding to an Italian study that reports penises are 10 percent smaller than they were fifty years ago, last week Limbaugh pointed to feminism, feminazis and “chickification” as the cause.

Ladies, the cat is out of the bag. Our cover of fighting for equal social, political and economic opportunities for women has been blown. The phallus has always been the centerpiece-and the target-of all feminist thought. The upside is that we can finally be open about our true agenda: A small dick on every man. (‘Cause who likes a big one, amirite?!)

This isn’t the first time someone has caught on to feminism’s real goal, of course. The world has a long history of outfoxing Operation Chestnut.

Anna M. Clark: America’s Miasma of Misinformation on Climate Change

With serious reporting of global warming by US media virtually nonexistent, it’s no wonder Americans are paralyzed in denial

Since 1950, humans have manufactured more goods than have ever existed in history. Our consumption of those goods – a highly inefficient use of our natural capital – has wrought a long list of environmental consequences. Staggering deforestation, check. Increasing greenhouse gas emissions, check. Rising heat, sea level, and incidence of extreme weather events – check, check and check.

To environmental experts, such evidence is the proverbial writing on the wall: we must transition to a low-carbon economy, stat, in order to avoid irrevocable damage. As President Obama affirmed, upon accepting his party’s nomination for president, no less:

   “Climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.”

The president’s choice of words seemed a pointed response to Republican Senator James Inhofe, author of The Greatest Hoax and, it’s worth noting, recipient of $1.3m in campaign contributions from the oil and gas lobby.

Hilary Matfess: The TPP: A Quiet Coup for the Investor Class

The Obama administration’s trade negotiators are quietly selling out workers and the environment in a massive Bush-style trade agreement.

It would be a relief to report with any certainty that the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)-a massive proposed free-trade zone spanning the Pacific Ocean and all four hemispheres-are definitely empowering corporations to the detriment of workers, the environment, and sovereignty throughout the region. Unfortunately, the secretive and opaque character of the negotiations has made it difficult to report much of anything about them.

What can be confidently reported about the TPP is that, in terms of trade flows, it would be the largest free-trade agreement yet entered into by the United States-and, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, that the ministers negotiating the agreement “have expressed an intent to comprehensively reduce barriers in goods, services, and agricultural trade as well as rules and disciplines on a wide range of topics” to unprecedented levels. Yet despite these grandiose ambitions, details of the negotiations and drafts of the text have been purposefully withheld from Congress and American citizens.

Phyllis Bennis: The Middle East in Turmoil Once Again: And It’s Not All About Us

When are we going to learn that it’s not all about us?

Certainly a lot of the current turmoil in the Middle East has something to do with the consequences of U.S. policy there. But still. The front page article in last Sunday’s New York Times led with concern that the current turmoil will test “President Obama’s ability to shape the forces of change in the Middle East.” Yikes. This is a disaster in the making.

Trying to renew U.S. control of a region finally claiming its 21st century independence from mainly U.S.-backed governments, is completely wrong-headed. After two or three generations of U.S. support for brutal military dictatorships and absolute monarchies because they were willing to toe the line on Israel, oil, and military bases, do we really want to put Washington back in charge of “shaping” the change that people across the region are fighting for?