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Nov 14 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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Katrina vanden Huevel: Grand Bargain Is the Wrong Solution

Americans, listening to the intensifying debate about the fiscal showdown in Washington, must think they’ve entered an “Alice in Wonderland” world. The lame duck Congress only returns to Washington this week, but already the lame is drowning out the logical.

Americans have just voted to reelect the president with clear priorities. They want Washington to get to work creating jobs and economic growth. They expect the president to raise taxes on the richest two percent in order to invest in areas vital to our future, as he pledged repeatedly across the country. They didn’t hear much about the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the election campaign, but their opinions on what is acceptable in any grand bargain are very clear.

In the election eve poll done by the Democracy Corps for the Campaign for America’s Future (disclosure: I serve on the board of the Campaign’s sister institution, the Institute for America’s Future), voters were asked what would be unacceptable in a large deal to reduce deficits. Seventy-nine percent found cuts to Medicare benefits unacceptable; 62 percent found cuts to Social Security unacceptable. And a stunning three in four found across the board domestic cuts that didn’t protect programs for “infants, poor children, schools and college aid” unacceptable.

Naomi Klein: Hurricane Sandy and Disaster Capitalism

Less than three days after Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute blamed New Yorkers’ resistance to big-box stores for the misery they were about to endure. Writing on Forbes.com, he explained that the city’s refusal to embrace Walmart will likely make the recovery much harder: “Mom-and-pop stores simply can’t do what big stores can in these circumstances,” he wrote.

And the preemptive scapegoating didn’t stop there. He also warned that if the pace of reconstruction turned out to be sluggish (as it so often is) then “pro-union rules such as the Davis-Bacon Act” would be to blame, a reference to the statute that requires workers on public-works projects to be paid not the minimum wage, but the prevailing wage in the region.

The same day, Frank Rapoport, a lawyer representing several billion-dollar construction and real estate contractors, jumped in to suggest that many of those public works projects shouldn’t be public at all. Instead, cash-strapped governments should turn to “public private partnerships,” known as “P3s.” That means roads, bridges and tunnels being rebuilt by private companies, which, for instance, could install tolls and keep the profits.

Joan Walsh: The Real Petraeus Scandal

Worse than the Petraeus affair? How a cyber-harassment complaint triggered a dragnet that toppled a CIA director

It’s hard to stay focused on what really matters in the unfolding David Petraeus story, but there’s one issue that every juicy new tidbit only underscores: the way a strange complaint to a lone FBI agent led to an electronic dragnet that toppled the CIA director and may yet bring down the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

I’ll admit to rubbernecking at each crazy new detail that emerges – the unnamed FBI agent who trigged the Petraeus probe had earlier sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the woman who asked for his help with anonymous harassing emails? Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody case on behalf of Kelley’s sister? Kelley, who is of Lebanese Catholic descent, is “a self-appointed go between” with Lebanese and other Mideastern officials? She once cooked alligator on the Food Network?

But the real scandal is the way a complaint about cyber-stalking from a Tampa socialite unleashed the power of the modern surveillance state on Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell – and ultimately, ironically or not, on the top spook himself.

Rebecca Solnit: The fourth horseman of the apocalypse: Hurricane Sandy rides in

Hurricane Sandy did what no activist could have done adequately: Put climate change back on the agenda.

The first horseman was named al-Qaeda in Manhattan, and it came as a message on September 11, 2001: Our meddling in the Middle East had sown rage and funded madness. We had meddled because of imperial ambition and because of oil, the black gold that fuelled most of our machines and our largest corporations and too many of our politicians.

The second horseman came not quite four years later. It was named Katrina, and this one too delivered a warning. Katrina’s message was that we needed to face the dangers we had turned our back on when the country became obsessed with terrorism: Failing infrastructure, institutional rot, racial divides and poverty. And larger than any of these was the climate – the heating oceans breeding stronger storms, melting the ice and raising the sea level, breaking the patterns of the weather we had always had into sharp shards: Burning and dying forests, floods, droughts, heat waves in January, freak blizzards, sudden oscillations, acidifying oceans.

The third horseman came in October of 2008: It was named Wall Street, and when that horseman stumbled and collapsed, we were reminded that it had always been a predator, and all that had changed was the scale – of deregulation, of greed, of recklessness, of amorality about homes and lives being casually trashed to profit the already wealthy. And the fourth horseman has arrived on schedule.

We called it Sandy, and it came to tell us we should have listened harder when the first, second and third disasters showed up. [..]

Mary F. Mulcahy: Planning for the inevitable: Taking time for end-of-life decisions

Advance care planning is crucial for preparing for the inevitable.

Americans are embedded in a death-defying culture. Extreme sports earn accolades in real life and on video screens as cosmetics promise age-defying results. But in reality, death is inevitable.  

Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeastern United States recently claimed the lives of 110 people unexpectedly and within a very short time. About 600,000 people die of heart disease and 570,000 people die of cancer in the United States every year.

Everyone who is born will ultimately die. Who are these people? They are the family breadwinners, parents, caregivers, children, community leaders, schoolteachers and activists. They are young, old, ill, well, they are you and me.

Whether it comes about suddenly without warning as in the recent hurricane or after a chronic, progressive illness, every day, families are struck by the loss of a loved one and as a result, their lives change directions.  

Yet, while we may prepare for financial security for our family, we often fail to prepare for medical treatment choices – leaving our loved ones to make decisions that they may be ill-equipped to make.