Dec 05 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Spoiling for a filibuster fight

Perhaps it was inevitable that a parliamentary rule named after pirates would metastasize into an untamed menace.

Throughout its unlikely history, the filibuster has been – depending on the moment – lauded and scorned and even immortalized by Hollywood. A Senate relic, dry as parchment, has gained the sort of colorful reputation normally reserved for troubled starlets (or troubled generals).

Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposes, as others have in the past, to finally rein in the beast. It won’t be easy. Previous efforts to change the filibuster have failed in the face of opposition from whichever party is in the minority and fearful of losing their right to stand up to-and in the way of-majority will.

But this time might be different, because the 113th Congress will be different.

Ruth Marcus: The shifting line on tax cuts

Memories are short, which is lucky for politicians. Consider the current debate over letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and the largely forgotten rationale for cutting taxes in the first place.

Hint: It wasn’t because rates were too high. It was because the surplus was too big. [..]

Nearly a dozen years and trillions of dollars in debt since the Bush tax cuts, no one invokes the now-vanished surplus. But proponents argue with equal vigor that rates cannot be allowed to rise.

The justification shifts, yet the bottom line remains the same.

Bryce Covert: Conservative Birthrate Panic: Our Hope for Better Work/Family Policies?

The ladies aren’t having enough babies and conservatives are sad. That was basically the gist of Ross Douthat’s column this weekend, which riffed off of new birthrate numbers from Pew showing that we’re at a record low. Douthat’s primary concern seems to be the false notion that demography is destiny-that our “demographic edge” means we can pwn all fellow nations and without it, a more fruitful nation is eating our lunch. (If this were true, Niger, which has the world’s highest birthrate, would have enslaved us all. We clock in at a meager 124.) But there is good reason for conservatives and progressives alike to be concerned about a falling birthrate. Many of our public policies, most notably the social safety net, are designed to have one generation support the older one-but that gets mighty top heavy with a declining number of people doing the supporting. As Douthat puts it, “Today’s babies are tomorrow’s taxpayers and workers and entrepreneurs.” That’s real. Nancy Folbre even calculates that a parent who raises a child contributes $200,000 more to net taxes than a nonparent, given what that child will pay when it grows up.

So what can we do about bringing that rate up? Douthat goes off the rails when attributing the decline in births to a cultural “decadence” in which women can’t get beyond themselves to think about the future. But what’s exciting about Douthat’s column is that parts of it expose a place of common interest between liberals and conservatives that could further the feminist project of implementing real work/family policies in America.

Allison Kilkenny: Citizens Protest Looming ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Budget Cuts

For the past several weeks, clusters of citizens have been protesting the opportunistically named “fiscal cliff” budget cut talks. Even though the “fiscal cliff” is really more of a fiscal curb or fiscal slope, conservative lawmakers have seized upon the media-generated panic surrounding the doomsday January 1 cutoff date as an excuse to inflict further cuts and steer the conversation away from ending tax breaks for the one percent.

The push back from citizens began when activists from ACT UP protested the possible inclusion of cuts to AIDS funding during the negotiations. Activists arranged a table and chairs outside Senator John Kerry’s home in Boston as part of a mock Thanksgiving meal during which they put pill bottles on plates instead of food, saying they want Kerry to fight to fully fund AIDS programs during the negotiations.

Michelle Chen: Foodies Get Wobbly

Food supply chain workers adopt the IWW’s radical actions to fight abusive employers.

Once upon a time in the labor movement, a rebellious vanguard emerged at the margins of American industry, braiding together workers on society’s fringes-immigrants, African Americans, women, unskilled laborers-under a broad banner of class struggle.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or Wobblies, raised hell in the early 20th century with unapologetically militant protests and strikes.

Their vision of a locally rooted, globally oriented anti-capitalist movement was eclipsed by mainstream unions, which had more political muscle. But grassroots direct action is today undergoing a resurgence in the corners of the workforce that have remained isolated from union structures.

Princess Lucaj : Celebration, Sacredness, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

It is the holiday season and in Alaska we have much to be grateful for and much to celebrate. On December 6th we will be celebrating the birthday of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was on this date in 1960 that President Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Range (later named Refuge) “to preserve its unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values”. In 1980, Congress expanded the refuge to encompass more winter habitat of the Porcupine Caribou Herd and the refuge purpose to provide for continued subsistence uses was specified.

But the longer history of this special place belongs to the indigenous people of Alaska. The term nan kat in Gwich’in Athabascan translates into ‘on the land’.

It is this land, today referred to as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that is the home to hundreds of species of birds and animals and it is the coastal plain of the Refuge that is the birthplace and nursery grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Each spring, between 40-50,000 calves are born there. It is because of the vadzaih – the caribou – that we as Gwich’in people have been able to maintain our way of life. For thousands of years we depended upon this herd for our sustenance, for clothing, shelter, tools and even games. To this day, the Porcupine Caribou now 170,000 strong continues to feed thousands of Gwich’in men, women, and children living in the remote Arctic villages scattered along the migratory route of the herd in both Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada.