“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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Kristen Breitweiser: Droning On — But Where’s the Dialogue?
This morning the topic of drones was raised on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. I never thought I’d actually agree with Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough, but I do.
Scarborough courageously spoke the truth about the long-term dangerous effects of ANY U.S. President’s use of drones. And he went further by saying that it was time Americans started educating themselves and having a serious dialogue about our nation’s drone use overseas. I couldn’t agree more with him.
Joe Scarborough said what few Democrats or Republicans are willing to say because they either fear publicly criticizing “their own” President or appearing in any degree soft on extremism. [..]
As a 9/11 widow, I am no shrinking violet when it comes to defending ourselves against extremists; I’m all for being tough on terrorists. But, in my opinion, no U.S. President should ever have the sole sweeping power to assassinate anyone without others–including to some degree the rest of the world– looking over their shoulder.
Jessica Valente: Ending Rape Illiteracy
This week, a DC-based feminist group projected the phrase “rape is rape” onto the US Capitol building. The action was meant to highlight survivors’ stories and bring attention to the way rape is often mischaracterized. The sentiment may seem an obvious one-who doesn’t understand what rape is?-but the message, sadly, is much needed. It was only this January that the FBI updated its archaic definition of rape, male politicians’ “gaffes” about rape have become par for the course, and victim-blaming in the culture and courts runs rampant.
Feminists have done a lot to change policies, but not enough to change minds. Despite decades of activism on sexual assault-despite common sense, even-there is still widespread ignorance about what rape is, and this absence of a widely understood and culturally accepted definition of sexual assault is one of the biggest hurdles we have in chipping away at rape culture.
Haven’t read Lee Fang’s excellent expose on the lobbyists controlling the Presidential Debate Committee? You should. Then imagine what these debates would be like if things were very different. For one thing, there might be more parties’ candidates included.
Thanks to Democracy Now!, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party have been able to take part in three virtually expanded debates. On no occasion was the contrast greater than in the foreign policy debate Tuesday night. While the word clouds over the Obama/Romney debate screamed “crippling, kill, world leader, Israel,” the debate over at Democracy Now! kept coming back to international law, climate change, morality and human rights. [..]
For democracy to flourish, we need not only a corporation-free debate committee, we need a way to break through the monopoly of the two-party system. That problem’s only gotten harder as the wealth gap has grown and the cost of competing for office in this country has skyrocketed. What’s the number-one security threat facing American democracy? If last night’s debate is anything to go by, it’s the narrow range of policy alternatives on basic issues brought to us by Big Money in politcs.
Katrina vanden Heuvel; Paul Wellstone – 10 years later
It’s been ten years since we lost Paul Wellstone, a relentless champion, a true public servant and one of the very few social movement senators we’ve ever had. He was the first politician whose death made me weep. But in an era of craven compromises and bipartisan austerity, it seems almost unfair to call Paul Wellstone a politician at all. [..]
But Wellstone’s legacy is equally clear in the work of an array of grassroots organizations inspired or re-invigorated by his efforts. Among the most significant is Wellstone Action, which happily labors year in and year out, training organizers, activists and candidates (55,000 and counting) in electoral and issue organizing. Wellstone Action Executive Director Ben Goldfarb says that as an alternative to “triangulation,” the group is fostering “the Wellstone triangle: connecting ‘core community organizing,’ ‘engaging directly in elections [as] an arena in which you can actually build and demonstrate power’ and ‘a public policy agenda.’ ” He adds that there are “a lot of folks who believe you can make change in one of those three, or two of those three, and very few who really get how to weave them all together. That was something [Wellstone] showed, and taught and talked about his entire life.”
Leslie Savan: Sweaty vs. Steady: Body Language in the Third Debate
Mitt Romney’s calling card has always been his corporate crispness, at least from the chest up. His finely tailored suit jackets made his shoulders look broad and his chest solid; he was all jaw with a slap of bracing aftershave that you could almost smell through the TV. Fresh and ready to command his morning board meeting, Romney “looked like a president,” as pundits repeatedly declared and as he did, in fact, look in the first debate.
Last night, he was crumpled and rumpled. He forgot Rule #1 for males who sit before TV cameras: sit on the tail of your jacket so it doesn’t bunch up around your shoulders. It bunched. And instead of Old Spice, he wore fresh sweat. [..]
At the end of the debate, Obama was the first to stand up. Romney stood a beat later, and started to come around the back of the table for the ritual handshake and shoulder grab. Obama quickly pointed to the front of the table and walked there.
Romney took his directions and followed.
Jane Gleeson-White: Is GDP’s Reign as the Only Measure of Wealth Coming to an End?
Challenges to the supremacy of gross domestic product, which ignores natural and household contributions, are growing
Britain has now posted three consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product – the most recent figures show the economy has shrunk by 0.5%. With the latest set of GDP figures due to be released later this week, the nation remains sunk in the longest recession since the second world war.
But GDP is also coming under a different sort of scrutiny in these days of economic woe. GDP measures all legal transactions in the financial economy – no more and no less. And yet, since its inception in the 1930s, it has become the single most important policy tool for governments, financial institutions and corporations. Governments and many people believe that only this one miraculous figure can really show whether things are getting better or getting worse.
But GDP is a partial and misleading measure of national wealth and wellbeing. The problem is that it does not measure key goods in our economy, those unpriced but priceless services carried out by domestic workers and by nature – for example, the coastal defence of coral reefs, the pollution-filtering of wetlands, the nutrient recycling done by the soil and the unpaid work we do in our homes.