Oct 10 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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Kay Tillow: Beware the ‘Grand Bargain’: Post-Election Deficit Deal Threatens Medicare and Social Security

The solution is Improved Medicare for All

After the November election, there will be a major effort in Congress to pass a budget deal that will make cuts in Social Security, raise the Medicare and Social Security eligibility age, and perhaps more-unless we act to stop it with a solution that is close at hand.

There is agreement from the Wall Street Journal‘s David Wessel to liberal economists Dean Baker and Paul Krugman that the pressure will be on to reach a Simpson/Bowles type of compromise.  Such a bipartisan plan would damage our most cherished programs and excuse the dastardly deed by asserting that the cuts are small and necessary because of the deficit.

Those who relentlessly scream at us and finance ads to persuade us that the deficit threatens our grandchildren are obscuring the truth.  The fact is that the transfer of wealth from public funds and the rest of us to the super rich is the real crisis.  But those who have gorged themselves on this massive transfer of wealth also seek to undermine the Medicare and Social Security which are our grandchildren’s heritage from generations of struggles for a better life.

Katrina vanden Heuavel: Mitt Romney’s Twentieth-Century Worldview

Like a caveman frozen in a glacier, Mitt Romney is a man trapped in time-from his archaic stance on women’s rights to his belief in Herbert Hoover economics.

And now it appears his foreign policy is stuck in the past, as well.

This week, Romney is on a six-day, three-nation tour. The trip comes days after he promised in a speech on international affairs to usher in another “American century.

What does Romney’s American century look like? His speech and his itinerary tell us volumes.

Romney’s world is one of special relationships, particularly with Britain, Israel and Poland-the three nations he’s visiting. It’s also a world of special enmities-against Iran-and unending suspicions-about China and Russia. For Romney, there are three types of countries: countries that are with us; countries that are against us; and countries that will be against us, sooner or later.

Joan Walsh: Mitt’s Magical Thinking on Foreign Policy

Romney’s VMI speech hints at more war in Iraq and Afghanistan — and demands that Europe spend more on defense

Mitt Romney’s hailed foreign policy speech combined magical thinking and mendacity, with promises or threats to maintain, restore, escalate or commence military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran, at minimum. Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney had to have his audience of cadets wondering how many wars he’d commit them to if elected. [..]

Perhaps fittingly for a guy who has staffed his foreign policy team with Bush retreads, Romney got high praise from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who tweeted: “Terrific, comprehensive speech by Gov. Romney at VMI. He knows America’s role in the world should be as a leader not as a spectator.”

Doreen T. Warren: Go for the Jugular: What a Real Attack on Mitt Romney and the 1% Could Look Like

I agree with Deepak Bhargava that President Obama’s record “is more mixed” than critics and admirers admit, that progressives must refocus our attention on Congress and statehouse elections, and that elections are a “necessary but not sufficient condition for a revival of progressive politics.”

While Bhargava is right that we need to build a “deep alliance of movement forces” to pursue and win on a progressive agenda, we also need to become more hard-nosed, strategic and indeed ruthless in our effort to weaken the legitimacy and power of the right. Much as conservatives went for our collective jugular after the 2010 midterm elections by targeting the public sector labor movement, we must be willing to go for theirs-regardless of how much more money and power they might have.

What would a principled attack strategy look like? It must proceed on at least three tracks: ideological, organizational and structural. On all three, the Occupy movement has been a spark in jump-starting such a national campaign.

Bryce Covert: Why We Should All Care About the Walmart Strikers

As Josh Eidelson reported last week in Salon, retail workers at Walmart walked off the job in a strike for the first time in the company’s fifty-year existence. And he reports today that the strikes have spread: workers in Dallas, Texas, and Laurel, Maryland, have joined the original strikers in Southern California stores, and workers in other cities are expected to join in. Walmart is famous (or infamous) for successfully warding off unionization at its stores during its entire history, and these strikes were, as Eidelson reports, “in protest of alleged retaliation against their attempts to organize,” as well as a call for improved benefits and staffing.

While not a union making formal demands, the group behind the strikes, OUR Walmart, presented a “Declaration of Respect” to the company in June. It called for, among other things, a minimum of $13 per hour, full-time jobs for those who want them, predictable work schedules, affordable healthcare and wages and benefits that don’t mean employees have to turn to government assistance to fill in the holes. Walmart says the average hourly wage for its full-time workers across the country is $12.40, but an IBISWorld report put that figure at $8.81, barely above the minimum wage. And studies have shown that Walmart workers are more likely than others in the industry to rely on government benefits. In California, for instance, where the strike started, employees’ families use 40 percent more publicly funded healthcare and 38 percent more public assistance programs than the average employee at a large retail company. Walmart, for its part, has told Eidelson that the company “has some of the best jobs in the retail industry-good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement.”

Leslie Savan: Why Mitt Likes to Say ‘I Like’

I’m not sure if I like the way Mitt Romney likes things. As the newly empathic candidate was promising to kill Big Bird at Wednesday’s debate, did you notice how he backed into it?  

“I like PBS,” Romney started out. “I love Big Bird. I actually like you [to moderator Jim Lehrer] too. But I’m not going to-I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.”

“Like” is a decaffeinated form of “love” when Mitt uses it, but it’s also a mild protest, a plea for understanding. He usually lays a slight stress on the word, as if he’s revealing some vaguely surprising truth-“You may see me as an unfeeling, uncaring, bottom-line guy, but let me tell you, I enjoy life. I like things.” This man, who is so buttoned-up he can’t be honest about what he’s running on-like whether or not he’d cut taxes for the rich or cover pre-existing conditions in his health plan-uses like to establish his personal bona fides. I’m like you, he’s saying, I have “likes.”

Jessica Valenti: I’m Not a ‘Mother First’

Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said it was better for children to have a parent at home. “To have one parent to stay closely connected and at home during those early years of education can be very very important,” he said. It’s not hard to imagine which parent he’s talking about.

Romney’s statement didn’t elicit much in the way of outrage, a sign that American women have one more hurdle to overcome on the way to equality: the sexism of mom-ism. It’s no longer enough that women love their children. To be a truly committed parent, women are expected to be mothers above all else-we’re “moms first.”

Michelle Obama says that despite all her accomplishments, her “most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief’.” Ann Romney told the crowd at the Republican National Convention that it’s mothers “who really hold this country together.”

“We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters.”

The sentiment may seem innocuous, but there’s a danger in returning to an ideal where women’s most important identity is relational rather than individual. If we want equality, women with children would be better served calling themselves people first, moms second.