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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Katrina venden Heuvel: How Romney’s extreme policies insult us all

At first glance, it might seem as if Mitt Romney’s path – from voting in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary to being the 2012 Republican presidential nominee – was linear. But over the past, winding, 20 years, Romney has held every possible view on every possible issue – often at the same time. When it comes to policy, he’s been downright promiscuous.

He was for a woman’s right to choose before he was against it. He was for tax cuts for the rich before he was against them. He was for – no, he wrote – health reform before he was against it … before he was for the parts that everybody liked.

This isn’t a platform – it’s a punchline.

Bryce Covert: Why Romney and Ryan’s ‘Reforms’ of Medicaid Would Likely Destroy It

Not only did we get sparks at the vice-presidential debate last week, we got a good deal of substance. The social safety net inevitably came up, and Biden and Ryan sparred over Social Security (the one drawing a hard line on making changes to benefits, the other refloating the idea of privatization) and how to reform Medicare, with the word “voucher” tossed back and forth.

One major program that didn’t get much airtime, though, was Medicaid. Perhaps it gets less play because it’s targeted at those living in poverty, not necessarily the middle class politicians so love to love. The program provides healthcare for low-income people through both federal and state financing. Currently, the federal government gives states money with requirements attached for maintaining a certain level of benefits and eligibility. While Social Security and Medicare get the spotlight, this program is in serious danger, as past experience with Romney and Ryan’s preferred “reforms” shows.

Carolina Rossini: Canada-EU Trade Agreement Replicates ACTA’s Notorious Copyright Provisions

The shadow of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is back in Europe. It is disguised as CETA, the Canada-European Union and Trade Agreement. As reported by EDRI, a rather strange and surprising e-mail was sent this summer from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to the Member States and the European Commission. The e-mail explained that the criminal sanctions provisions of the draft CETA are modeled on those in ACTA.

A comparison of the leaked draft Canada-EU agreement shows the treaty includes a number of the same controversial provisions, specifically concerning criminal enforcement, private enforcement by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and harsh damages. These provisions are particularly problematic, and were the key reasons why the European Parliament rejected ACTA. However, given the lack of transparency associated with the CETA discussions (both Canada and EU insist that the draft text remain secret), the concerns that CETA may replicate ACTA appear to be very real despite denials from some members of the European Commission.

Sarah Anderson:European Victory on Taxing Speculation

The goofy stunts weren’t the only game-changers.

European campaigners for a financial transaction tax have done some awfully goofy things over the past three years.

At one French demonstration, they stripped down to their skivvies to emphasize the small size of the tax (0.1% on trade of stocks and bonds and 0.02% on derivatives under the European Commission’s proposal). In Germany, they rented a limo and crashed the Berlinale film festival, dressed as Robin Hood characters. In many countries, they’ve gotten elected officials to pose with silly hats and fake bows and arrows.

But after this week, the opponents of the financial transaction tax (aka Robin Hood Tax) will no longer snicker at such antics. At a meeting of European finance ministers on October 9, 11 governments committed to implementing the tax. This is two more than the minimum number needed for an official EU agreement. And it is a huge victory for those of us — not just in Europe but also in the United States and around the world — who’ve been pushing for such taxes as a way to curb short-term speculation and generate massive revenue for job creation, global health, climate, and other pressing needs.

Kristin Moe: Much at Stake as Possibility of Tar Sands Pipeline Looms

Pumping diluted bitumen to Portland presents the risk of a major spill tainting Sebago Lake or Casco Bay

Conservation groups recently held a news conference to sound the alarm over an oil pipeline project that isn’t even officially on the table. What’s the big deal?

It seems simple: Take an existing oil pipeline that connects tankers in Casco Bay to refineries in Montreal and pump a different kind of oil through it in the opposite direction. The difference seems minor.

The difference is that this is no ordinary oil. It’s called “diluted bitumen,” and it’s highly toxic, corrosive and hot — and, according to a recent report by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, three times more likely to spill than conventional crude.

A spill would threaten Sebago Lake, where Greater Portland gets its drinking water, or even Casco Bay and its fisheries. One spill here could be devastating.

Laurie Penny: The Golden Dawn: Neo-Fascists Rise in a Greece Mired in Austerity Pain

The economic ethos of European neo-fascism, from the Golden Dawn to the British National Party, has historically been anti-neoliberal and anti-globalisation

The Golden Dawn does not behave like a party that has much respect for the parliamentary process. It first came to international attention before the May elections when one of its figureheads physically assaulted a left-wing female politician on live television. As an organisation which is fundamentally anti-democratic, there is a ponderous question-mark over whether the Golden Dawn should have been allowed to stand in representative elections in the first place.

The mockery the 18 Golden Dawn MPs currently sitting in the Hellenic parliament continue to make of the democratic process is painfully felt by many Greeks who pride themselves on their nation’s role as the ‘cradle of democracy.’

However, there’s one area where the parliamentary strategy of the Greek far-right seems remarkably consistent: its selective support for neoliberal economic policymaking. Golden Dawn MPs in parliament have voted consistently against the proposals of the larger parties – the left-leaning Pasok and the centre-right New Democracy – except when it comes to the privatisation of public banks like ATEbank, with its assets of over €33bn.