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Oct 18 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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New York Times Editorial: Mr. Romney’s Version of Equal Rights

It has dawned on Mitt Romney that he has a problem with female voters. He just has no idea what to do about it, since it is the result of his positions on abortion, contraception, health services and many other issues. On Tuesday night, he bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility.

In the midst of their rancorous encounter at Hofstra University, President Obama attacked Mr. Romney for vowing he would end federal support of Planned Parenthood and for criticizing the provision in the health care law that requires employers – except churches and religiously affiliated institutions – to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Amy Goodman: Binders Full of Women, and Two Women Bound

You may have noticed that the Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, was absent from the “town hall” presidential debate at Hofstra University the other night. That’s because she was shackled to a chair in a nearby New York police facility, along with her running mate, Green Party vice president nominee Cheri Honkala. Their crime: attempting to get to the debate so Stein could participate in it. While Mitt Romney uttered the now-famous line that he was given “whole binders full of women” while seeking staff as newly-elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, the real binders were handcuffs used to shackle these two women, who are mothers, activists and the Green Party’s presidential ticket for 2012. [..]

Even if Stein and Honkala hadn’t been hauled off a public street and handcuffed to those chairs for eight hours, Stein’s exclusion from the debate was certain. The debates are very closely controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which excludes third-party candidates, among other things. George Farah is the founder and executive director of Open Debates, and author of “No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates.” Farah told me on the morning of the Hofstra debate about how the CPD gained control over the debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters: “We have a private corporation that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties called the Commission on Presidential Debates. It seized control of the presidential debates precisely because the League was independent, precisely because this women’s organization had the guts to stand up to the candidates that the major parties had nominated.”

Jill Richardson: The Risky Business of Eating in America

How can eating too much rice can give you cancer?

Long before human beings decoded the human genome or split the atom, they discovered that arsenic is very good at killing things. The ancient Romans prized it as a murder weapon because it could be mixed into food or drink without altering its color, taste, or smell. Plus, a tiny dose kills without fail.

What the Romans didn’t know about arsenic, and what scientists didn’t discover until the 20th century, is that a form of it – inorganic arsenic – causes cancer. And in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences found that the amount of arsenic legally allowed in U.S. drinking water posed serious cancer risks.

Since then, the U.S. government slashed the amount allowed in drinking water from 50 micrograms per liter to just 10. The potent carcinogenicity of arsenic was what Donald Rumsfeld might call an “unknown unknown” for most of human history. So was the fact that Americans can consume dangerous amounts of inorganic arsenic in one of our most common foods: rice.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: For the Unemployed, Romney’s Debate Was Full of “Wind Jobs”

Mitt Romney’s “binder full of women” comment has gone viral, which is pretty entertaining but has had the unfortunate side effect of crowding the phrase “wind jobs.” That’s a real loss, because that term could become a very useful part of our political vocabulary. Tech people talk about “vaporware,” and Tuesday night Mitt Romney showed us the “wind job:” a gust of air intended to seem like something substantial, especially regarding employment.

Here’s an example: “I appreciate wind jobs in Iowa and across our country,” said Romney. But his campaign has stated unequivocally that he would end the Wind Production Tax Credit that helped create those Iowa jobs.

In another blast of hot air, Romney said he wants to grow Pell grants for students — even though his own campaign paper says sneers at those grants and says he’ll cut them back. Even worse, Mitt Romney says in that paper that they’re part of our country’s “expanding entitlement mentality.

Dan Froomkin: The Big Chill: How Obama Is Operating in Unprecedented Secrecy — While Attacking the Secret-Tellers

It’s a particularly challenging time for American national security reporting, with the press and public increasingly in the dark about important defense, intelligence and counterterrorism issues.

The post-post-9/11 period finds the U.S. aggressively experimenting with two new highly disruptive forms of combat — drone strikes and cyberattacks — for which our leaders appear to be making up the rules, in secret, as they go along.

Troubling legal and moral issues left behind by the previous administration remain unresolved. Far from reversing the Bush-Cheney executive power grab, President Barack Obama is taking it to new extremes by unilaterally approving indefinite detention of foreign prisoners and covert targeted killings of terror suspects, even when they are American citizens.

Jim Hightower: The Dirty Little Secret of Private Equity Profits

Today, for the first time, I am officially notifying the honchos of Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and other big-time private equity funds that I am available. My little company, Saddle Burr Productions, can be had. For a price.

I publish this notice in response to a recent news item revealing that these firms have a unique and perplexing problem: They have too much money on hand. In all, they’re holding a cool trillion dollars that super-rich speculators, banks and others have entrusted to them. Private equity funds are corporate predators that borrow huge sums from these richies, using the cash to buy out targeted corporations, dismantle them and sell off the parts to make a fat profit for the investors and themselves.

However, in these iffy economic times, these flush funds have hesitated to do big takeovers, so they’ve just been sitting on all that money (which the predators refer to as “dry powder”). The problem is that, under the rules of this high-stakes casino game, the firms have to spend their borrowed money by a set time – or give it back. And the clock is ticking.