“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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New York Times Editorial: A Big Storm Requires Big Government
Most Americans have never heard of the National Response Coordination Center, but they’re lucky it exists on days of lethal winds and flood tides. The center is the war room of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where officials gather to decide where rescuers should go, where drinking water should be shipped, and how to assist hospitals that have to evacuate.
Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it. At a Republican primary debate last year, Mr. Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the states. He not only agreed, he went further.
Bill McKibben: Why ‘Frankenstorm’ Is Just Right for Hurricane Sandy
Watching Sandy on her careening path toward the Eastern Seaboard scares me more than it would have 15 months ago. That’s because my home state took the brunt of Irene, last year’s “sprawling,” “surly,” “record-breaking” Atlantic storm. I know now exactly how much power a warm sea can contain and how far that pain can spread.
And in the process, feeling that fear, I begin to sense what the future may be like, as more and more of the world finds itself facing ever-more-frequent assaults from the amped-up forces of the not-so-natural world.
You can’t, as the climate-change deniers love to say, blame any particular hurricane on global warming. They’re born, as they always have been, when a tropical wave launches off the African coast and heads out into the open ocean. But when that ocean is hot-and at the moment sea surface temperatures off the Northeast are five degrees higher than normal-a storm like Sandy can lurch north longer and stronger, drawing huge quantities of moisture into its clouds, and then dumping them ashore.
Who would have thought that a late-season hurricane would sweep up the East Coast of the United States on the eve of one of the closest election contests in the country’s history?
Not, presumably, Mitt Romney. [..]
Romney says he “absolutely” wants to decrease the role of FEMA in particular, and the federal government in general, when it comes to dealing with natural disasters. Specifically, he wants to shift more responsibility for responding to storms to the states-despite the fact that, as Hurricane Sandy well illustrates, storms do not respect political jurisdictions. And he appears to be enthusiastic about the idea of substantial privatization of relief initiatives.
Paul Greenberg: An Oyster in the Storm
DOWN here at the end of Manhattan, on the border between evacuation zones B and C, I’m prepared, mostly. My bathtub is full of water, as is every container I own. My flashlights are battery-ed up, the pantry is crammed with canned goods and I even roasted a pork shoulder that I plan to gnaw on in the darkness if ConEd shuts down the power.
But as I confidently tick off all the things that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recommends for my defense as Hurricane Sandy bears down on me, I find I’m desperately missing one thing.
I wish I had some oysters.
I’m not talking about oysters to eat – although a dozen would be nice to go with that leftover bottle of Champagne that I really should drink if the fridge goes off. I’m talking about the oysters that once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.
Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger: 10 Filthy-Rich, Tax-Dodging Hypocrites Pushing Disastrous Austerity on America
The Fix the Debt coalition is using the so-called “fiscal cliff” to push the same old corporate agenda of more tax breaks while shifting the burden on to the rest of us.
Brace yourself for one of the most aggressive corporate lobbying campaigns of all time. And one of the most hypocritical.
“Fix the Debt” is a coalition of more than 80 CEOs who claim they know best how to deal with our nation’s fiscal challenges. The group boasts a $60 million budget just for the initial phase of a massive media and lobbying campaign.
The irony is that CEOs in the coalition’s leadership have been major contributors to the national debt they now claim to know how to fix. These are guys who’ve mastered every tax-dodging trick in the book. And now that they’ve boosted their corporate profits by draining the public treasury, how do they propose we put our fiscal house back in order? By squeezing programs for the poor and elderly, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Michael T. Klare: Romney’s Extremist Energy Plan and the Systematic Plundering of America
As he seeks the support of undecided voters in key swing states, Mitt Romney is portraying himself as a centrist at heart-not as the “severely conservative Republican” he said he was during the hard-fought GOP primaries. This kinder, gentler Romney was very much on display in his televised debates with President Obama. But a close examination of his energy plan, released on August 23, reveals no such moderation; rather, it is a blueprint for the systematic plunder of America’s farm and wilderness areas, coupled with a neocolonial invasion of Canada and Mexico. [..]
Read between the lines, however, and the predatory nature of his vision becomes evident. Essentially, the plan is intended to remove most impediments to the exploitation by US energy firms of untapped oil, gas and coal fields in the United States, Canada and Mexico, regardless of the consequences for national health, safety or the environment. In particular, the plan has five key objectives: eliminating federal oversight of oil and gas drilling on federal lands; eviscerating all environmental restraints on domestic oil, gas and coal operations; eliminating curbs on drilling in waters off Florida and the east and west coasts of the United States; removing all obstacles to the importation of Canadian tar sands; and creating an energy consortium with Canada and Mexico allowing for increased US corporate involvement in-and control over-their oil and gas production.