«

»

Dec 08 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Hilary Leila Kreiger: The True Meaning of Hanukkah

WHEN my brother was in kindergarten, where he was the only Jewish student, a parent organizing enrichment activities asked my mother to tell the class the story of Hanukkah. My mother obligingly brought in a picture book and began to read about foreign conquerors who were not letting Jews in ancient Israel worship freely, even defiling their temple, until a scrappy group led by the Maccabee family overthrew one of the most powerful armies in the world and won their liberty.

The woman was horrified.

The Hanukkah story, she interrupted, was not about war. It was about the miracle of an oil lamp that burned for eight days without replenishing. She urged my mother to close the book. My mother refused.

The woman wasn’t alone. Many Americans, Jews as well as Christians, think that the legend of the long-lasting oil is the root of Hanukkah’s commemoration. And perhaps that mistake is no surprise, given that for many the holiday has morphed into “Christmas for Jews,” echoing the message of peace on earth accompanied by gift giving. In doing so, the holiday’s own message of Jewish survival and faith has been diluted.

Paul Waldman: It’s Time to Kill the Debt Ceiling

Let’s use this opportunity to end the prospect of future economic hostage crises.

There are a number of strange aspects to the negotiation/maneuvering/posturing now taking place between the White House and congressional Republicans about the Austerity Trap (a.k.a. fiscal cliff), but one that hasn’t gotten much attention is the disagreement over the debt ceiling. As part of their initial offer, the White House included something I and other people have been advocating for some time: Just get rid of the debt ceiling altogether. The Republicans, particularly in the House, don’t seem to be interested. But we should take a good look at how crazy their position on this issue is.

In an ordinary negotiation, each side has things it wants, while it dislikes some or all of the things the other side wants. A union wants higher wages for its workers, while the company doesn’t want to pay the higher wages. You’d rather have your partner do the laundry while you do the dishes, but your partner doesn’t like doing the laundry either. The White House wants to increase taxes on the wealthy, which Republicans don’t like, while Republicans want cuts to social programs, which the White House doesn’t like.

Charlotte Silver: Normalising death: The business of drones

As the leading suppliers, users and developers of drones, the US and Israel have defined the landscape of the industry.

As the two leading suppliers, users and developers of drone technology, the US and Israel have defined the landscape of the industry. While this leads to an inherent competition, the industries maintain a more co-operative than adversarial relationship.

American drone manufacturers have benefitted widely from the kind of warfare and attendant weaponry that Israel has helped pioneer. Not only did America’s initial drone capabilities come from Israel, but the policy of targeted assassinations, under which 300 American drone strikes have been deployed by the Obama administration, was instigated by Israel. [..]

In 2005, Forbes magazine named the Jewish state as the “go-to country for anti-terrorism technology” and today, Israel is very well the go-to country for drone technology. The country’s academic institutions are principally to thank for that grand achievement. This symbiotic relationship between academia and drone warfare may well be coming to the US.

Assisting the US drone industry in its efforts to rebrand its unsavoury image, Israel is helping drone makers to align themselves with academic and philanthropic institutions.

Robert Kuttner: Folks Like Me

Obama should retire his line about needing to pay more taxes, and start focusing more on the mega-rich.

When President Obama calls for raising taxes on the top 2 percent, he has a habit of declaring that, “Folks like me” should pay higher taxes. He used the phrase dozens of time during the campaign, and just this week again in an interview on Bloomberg.

Either someone on the president’s speechwriting staff has a tin ear, or Obama himself does.

For starters, the comment puts unnecessary distance between the president and the citizenry. It signals: I am not like most of you. I am far wealthier.

But the phrase, “folks like me,” is wildly misleading. The people whose taxes really need to rise are not folks from the professional class like Barack Obama. They are folks like Mitt Romney and Pete Peterson-people with net worth in the billions or hundreds of millions; people behind the corporate Fix the Debt campaign; people like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson.

Robert Reich: Today’s Job Numbers Show Why Job-Creation Must Take Precedence Over Deficit Reduction

Today’s jobs report shows an economy that’s still moving in the right direction but way too slowly, which is why Washington’s continuing obsession with the federal budget deficit is insane. Jobs and growth must come first.

The cost of borrowing is so low — the yield on the ten-year Treasury is near historic lows — and the need for more jobs and better wages so high, and our infrastructure so neglected, that it’s insanity not to borrow more to put more Americans to work rebuilding the nation.

Yes, unemployment is down slightly and 146,000 new jobs were created in November. That’s some progress. But don’t be blinded by the hype coming out of Wall Street and the White House, both of which want the public to believe everything is going wonderfully well.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Tea Party Quitter DeMint Cashes In, Exposing DC’s Dark Side

They say “walk before you run,” but for politicians like Jim DeMint it’s the other way around. First you run, then you walk — walk out, that is, on your commitment to serve.

But DeMint’s performed one public service by abandoning his post: He’s given us a glimpse of a half-hidden Washington where leaders don’t lead, think-tankers don’t think, and the house always wins.

DeMint’s leaving to run the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing Reagan-era “think tank.” Is he a policy expert, a problem solver, a “thinker”? What was DeMint’s professional background before he entered politics?

Sales. DeMint ran a small marketing group (one to four employees, according to business databases) in Greenville, South Carolina.[..]

These politicians aren’t leaders. They’re corporate America’s sales force.

“Will You Help Save the American Dream?” asks the Heritage Foundation website. But that’s just another sales ploy. These politicians have already cashed in on their dreams — by selling yours.