Jan 18 2013

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: The Dwindling Deficit

It’s hard to turn on your TV or read an editorial page these days without encountering someone declaring, with an air of great seriousness, that excessive spending and the resulting budget deficit is our biggest problem. Such declarations are rarely accompanied by any argument about why we should believe this; it’s supposed to be part of what everyone knows. [..]

It’s true that right now we have a large federal budget deficit. But that deficit is mainly the result of a depressed economy – and you’re actually supposed to run deficits in a depressed economy to help support overall demand. The deficit will come down as the economy recovers: Revenue will rise while some categories of spending, such as unemployment benefits, will fall. Indeed, that’s already happening.

Vicki Devoli: Who Says You Can Kill Americans, Mr. President?

President Obama has refused to tell Congress or the American people why he believes the Constitution gives, or fails to deny, him the authority to secretly target and kill American citizens who he suspects are involved in terrorist activities overseas. So far he has killed three that we know of.

Presidents had never before, to our knowledge, targeted specific Americans for military strikes. There are no court decisions that tell us if he is acting lawfully. Mr. Obama tells us not to worry, though, because his lawyers say it is fine, because experts guide the decisions and because his advisers have set up a careful process to help him decide whom he should kill.

He must think we should be relieved.

Yves Smith: GOP May Back Away from Debt Ceiling Theatrics, But Plutocrats Still Calling the Shots

A important shift in the Republicans’ negotiating stance over the austerity fight (do we go Dem lite or Republican high test?) was duly noted in the Financial Times a day ago, but a search in Google News (“debt ceiling”) suggests a lot of other commentators have not yet digested its significance, so it seemed worthy of a short recap here.

Although extremism and brinksmanship have become preferred negotiating tactics of the Republicans, the most relentless practitioners are under the sway of libertarian funders and stealth organizers, primarily the Koch brothers, and intellectual leaders (not quite an oxymnoron) like Grover Norquist. In the new year, some elements of the Republican party have been taking more and more extreme positions, even saying that defaulting on US Treasuries would be a good idea, hewing to the “execution at dawn focuses the mind” school of thought.

Leslie Watson Malachi: What Happened to the Violence Against Women Act?

Republican efforts to prevent expanded protections for these at-risk groups made all women lose important protections.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are having a hard time agreeing on anything these days. But there are some things that should never fall victim to partisan bickering. One of these is protecting women against domestic violence and sexual assault.

But for Republicans in Congress, apparently, it isn’t that simple. Thanks to the extremism of House Republicans, the Violence Against Women Act expired this month after 18 years of saving women’s lives.

David Korten: What Would a Down-to-Earth Economy Look Like?

How did we end up with Wall Street when models for a healthy economy are all around us?

With proper care and respect, Earth can provide a high quality of life for all people in perpetuity. Yet we devastate productive lands and waters for a quick profit, a few temporary jobs, or a one-time resource fix.

Our current expansion of tar sands oil extraction, deep-sea oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction, and mountaintop-removal coal mining are but examples of this insanity. These highly profitable choices deepen our economic dependence on rapidly diminishing, nonrenewable fossil-energy reserves, disrupt the generative capacity of Earth’s living systems, and accelerate climate disruption.

A global economy dependent on this nonsense is already failing and its ultimate collapse is only a matter of time. For a surprisingly long time, we humans have successfully maintained the illusion that we are outside of, superior to, and not subject to the rules of nature. We do so, however, at a huge cost, and payment is coming due.

Leslie Savan: If at First You Don’t Secede…

…then grab your gun, run for the hills, and hole up in a right-wing paranoid paradise, complete with post-Waco lifestyle amenities like condos, media centers, and arms factories.

The secessionist movement may have peaked, what with the White House last week rejecting petitions from eight states to leave the union. But just in time comes word of two new planned communities that offer a kind of internal secession: You’d get to retain your citizenship and the benefits it confers (like the right to chant “USA! USA!”), but you could at least feel free from liberals, socialists and other vermin as you defiantly stand your ground with like-minded folks who fear the thumb of the feds.