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Dec 28 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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Paul Krugman; Is Growth Over?

The great bulk of the economic commentary you read in the papers is focused on the short run: the effects of the “fiscal cliff” on U.S. recovery, the stresses on the euro, Japan’s latest attempt to break out of deflation. This focus is understandable, since one global depression can ruin your whole day. But our current travails will eventually end. What do we know about the prospects for long-run prosperity?

The answer is: less than we think.

The long-term projections produced by official agencies, like the Congressional Budget Office, generally make two big assumptions. One is that economic growth over the next few decades will resemble growth over the past few decades. In particular, productivity – the key driver of growth – is projected to rise at a rate not too different from its average growth since the 1970s. On the other side, however, these projections generally assume that income inequality, which soared over the past three decades, will increase only modestly looking forward.

New York Times: Time to Confront Climate Change

Four years ago, in sharp contrast to the torpor and denial of the George W. Bush years, President Obama described climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing challenges and pledged an all-out effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill limiting greenhouse gas emissions. [..]

Since his re-election, Mr. Obama has agreed to foster a “conversation” on climate change and an “education process” about long-term steps to address it. He needs to do a good deal more than that. Intellectually, Mr. Obama grasps the problem as well as anyone. The question is whether he will bring the powers of the presidency to bear on the problem.

Shannyn Moore: My Guns Are Less Regulated Than My Uterus

I’m old enough to remember when the NRA was invited into our schools to educate students on gun safety. Yes, I’m old, and I grew up in rural Alaska, but the NRA as an institution has changed as much as everything else has since then. It now operates as a lobby for gun manufacturers rather than for responsible gun owners who grew up with the traditions of hunting and shooting. [..]

In Alaska, many of us need guns to fill our freezers, but if you need a 30-round clip you’re a pretty poor hunter. If you are hoarding automatic (yes, they are legal) or semi-automatic weapons, you need Viagra. [..]

I’m not advocating for no guns. I like mine and am not about to give them up. But in this country, my uterus is more regulated than my guns. Birth control and reproductive health services are harder to get than bullets. What is that about? Guns don’t kill people — vaginas do?

When the cottonwood is flying and Alaskans are all lined up for Sudafed, we have to get it from a pharmacist, give them our identification, and the state keeps track of how much we’re consuming just so they’re sure we’re not running a meth lab. I get it, meth is bad, but I can buy bullets right off the shelf.

Dean Baker: Washington Post Pushes Mayan End of the World Story on “Fiscal Cliff”

Yes, the Washington Post is getting very worried that it will have egg all over its face if January 1 comes with no budget deal and we don’t get its promised recession. The paper pushed this line yet again, telling readers:

“Unless the House and the Senate can agree on a way to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will take effect next year, potentially sparking a new recession.”

Of course the potential for a new recession does not refer to missing the January 1 deadline. It is the risk the country faces if we continue well into 2013 paying higher tax rates and with large cuts in spending. This is an enormously important distinction.

Trevor Timm: Why We Should All Care About Today’s Senate Vote on the FISA Amendments Act, the Warrantless Domestic Spying Bill

Today is an incredibly important vote for the future of your digital privacy, but some in Congress are hoping you won’t find out.

Finally, after weeks of delay, the Senate will start debate on the dangerous FISA Amendments Act at 10 am Eastern and vote on its re-authorization by the end of the day. The FISA Amendments Act is the broad domestic spying bill passed in 2008 in the wake of the warrantless wiretapping scandal. It expires at the end of the year and some in Congress wanted to re-authorize it without a minute of debate.

The good news is-thanks for your phone calls, emails, and tweets-Congress will now be forced to debate it, which means we can affect its outcome. [..]

Any Senator who wants to stay true to the Constitution should vote no on its re-authorization, but in the alternative, there are four common sense amendments up for debate today that would go a long-way in curbing the law’s worst abuses

Joe Conason: Veterans Denounce Neoconservative ‘Swiftboating’ of Chuck Hagel

If Chuck Hagel is nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Defense, there will be at least three compelling arguments in his favor. He served with distinction in the military and would, like Secretary of State nominee John Kerry, bring a veteran’s perspective to his post. He has adopted and articulated a sane perspective on the grave foreign policy blunders whose consequences still haunt the nation, including the Iraq and Vietnam wars. And as we have learned ever since his nomination was first floated, he has made all the right (and right-wing) enemies. [..]

The “swiftboating” of Hagel is being mobilized by the likes of William Kristol, the “Weekly Standard” editor, who managed to avoid service in Vietnam but still believes that bloody tragedy was a great idea. Kristol and his ilk have been so wrong about every policy issue over the past four decades that their angry opposition to Hagel is a sterling endorsement of him.