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Oct 29 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: Surveillance and Accountability

Nearly seven years after the disclosure of President George W. Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans without a warrant, the Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on whether judges can even consider the constitutionality of doing this kind of dragnet surveillance without adequate rules to protect people’s rights.

President Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., will be calling on the court to toss out the case based on a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected that avoidance of accountability, and so should the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit the Justice Department is trying so hard to block concerns the 2008 statute amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The new law retroactively approved Mr. Bush’s legally dubious warrantless wiretapping and conferred immunity from prosecution on the telephone companies that cooperated in the program.

Robert Kuttner: Obama and the Economy

Thanks to his exceptional luck in drawing Romney as his opponent, Obama will probably win a narrow re-election despite the dismal recovery. But on Wednesday morning, a struggle begins within the Democratic Party to save him (and us) from himself — to keep him from agreeing to a budget deal that will only slow growth, needlessly sacrifice Social Security and Medicare, and make the next four years much like the last four years.

What a waste, what a pity. Progressive Democrats should be resisting the economic lunacy and political sway of an extremist Republican Party. Instead, they will be working to keep their own president from capitulating to fiscal folly.

Paul Krugman: Medicaid on the Ballot

There’s a lot we don’t know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes he would close to make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts; his economic “plan” is an empty shell.

But one thing is clear: If he wins, Medicaid – which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform – will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.

So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program.

Juan Cole: Candidates Flee East Coast as Frankenstorm Takes Revenge for their Ignoring Climate Change

Mitt Romney and Joe Biden have canceled campaign events planned for this weekend at Virginia Beach as a massive storm bears down on the east coast of the US. The candidates are fleeing from the East Coast, even though they won’t talk about the key environmental issue of our time.

The candidates in this year’s presidential election completely ignored climate change in their debates and their campaigning, even thought it is the most deadly issue facing this country and all humankind. Human beings are dumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning coal, natural gas and petroleum at feverish rates. They have already increased temperatures significantly since 1750, and are on track to put up the average surface temperature of the earth by 5 degrees C. or 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, enough to turn everyplace on earth over time into a sweating tropics, melt all surface ice, and, over the long term, submerge a third of the current land mass. A global state of emergency would be necessary to keep the temperature increase to 2 degrees C. or less, but the window is rapidly closing for this curbing of disaster.

Tony Norman: [And Now, a Word from Mr. Mourdock’s God And Now, a Word from Mr. Mourdock’s God]

God’s metaphorical ears must be burning these days. On Tuesday night Richard Mourdock, a Republican Senate candidate from Indiana, did something that would have given pause to even the medieval scholastics who speculated about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

With less than two weeks left in a contentious and hotly contested election, Mr. Mourdock speculated about what God’s will would be if a woman became pregnant as the result of rape. [..]

Over the years, we’ve heard about a deity who countenances the invasion of Muslim countries and the forced conversion of its leaders from the likes of “believers” like Ann Coulter. We’ve heard about the god who hates abortion but loves capital punishment. We hear that he even gives absolution to the killers of abortion doctors even though they’re effectively murdering full-grown fetuses.

Michelle Chen: World Bank’s Anti-Labor Index Is a Dirty Business

It’s a 2012 campaign mantra: On Day One, the new president will reboot the economy by spurring businesses to grow and thrive. Both mainstream candidates have vowed to achieve this, in part by eliminating onerous regulations to “unleash” the long-suppressed power of American industry.

The story is surprisingly similar across the pond. The financial giants of Europe’s troika pummel Greece and other struggling Eurozone countries with a blitzkrieg of kamikaze deregulation, conditioning financial “rescue” on giving markets free rein to work their magic, unencumbered by law. The flipside of this celebration of the Invisible Hand is, inevitably, a merciless beatdown on labor, stripping protections like unemployment aid and wage standards.

The World Bank has taken the extremely dubious science of deregulation one step further by creating a guide, known as the Doing Business report, that quantifies the regulatory “burden” that investors may face in various countries. The 2013 report was released this week.