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Apr 10 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Social Security’s needed expansion

On the very day that a bleak jobs report showed how feeble the recovery is, the White House revealed that the president will propose a budget that features cuts in Social Security. This was designed to get Republicans to agree to negotiate a grand bargain on deficit reduction – or to prove that they are obstructing any deal. [..]

The exchange has Republicans salivating. Cutting Social Security becomes the president’s choice, not something extorted by Republicans. If Democrats stand for anything, it is defense of Social Security and Medicare, the United States’ most beloved and vital social programs, a proud legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. The president’s negotiating ploy puts every Democrat supporting the president’s budget in a contested reelection race at peril in 2014. Democrats will face a flood of ads accusing them of wanting to cut Social Security and face the wrath of seniors who constitute a greater percentage of the vote in midterm elections.

If Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have any sense, they will organize their entire caucuses and pledge to oppose any deal that cuts a dime from Social Security benefits.

Lois Beckett: Voter Information Wars: Will the GOP Team Up With Wal-Mart’s Data Specialist?

The Republicans have admitted it (pdf): They need to get serious about collecting and analyzing voter data.

Well, you can’t get much more serious than talking to Teradata, the “data warehousing” company that helps Wal-Mart, Apple and eBay store massive amounts of information about the behavior of their customers.

Teradata is just one of the major data outfits with which leading Republican strategists are talking in their declared effort to match Barack Obama’s big data campaign tactics, according to one person with knowledge of the strategy discussions.  

Tory Field and Beverly Bell; Farmers and Consumers V. Monsanto: David Meet Goliath

Bordering an interstate highway in Arkansas, a giant billboard with a photo of a stoic-looking farmer watches over the speeding traffic. He’s staring into the distance against the backdrop of a glowing wheat field, with the caption “America’s Farmers Grow America.” It’s an image to melt all our pastoral hearts.

Until we read the small print in the corner: “Monsanto.”

The maker of Agent Orange, Monsanto’s former motto used to be, “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible.” Today its tag line is “Committed to Sustainable Agriculture, Committed to Farmers.” Its website claims the company helps farmers “be successful [and] produce healthier foods… while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.” It even boasts of the corporation’s dedication to human rights.

Col. Ann Wright: Families of Flotilla Dead Want More Than an Apology

Representatives of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), the Turkish nongovernmental organization that coordinated the passengers on the ship Mavi Marmara that was part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, say that families of the nine passengers killed by Israeli commandos have rejected the country’s recent apology.

The eight Turkish citizens and one American were killed during a nonviolent mission to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, and the families do not consider either an Israeli government apology or the offer of compensation for the death of their loved ones a fulfillment of their mission.

Abby Quillen: Why the Most Powerful Thing in the World is a Seed

“The Seed Underground” is a love letter to the quiet revolutionaries who are saving our food heritage.

Janisse Ray celebrates the local, organic food movement but fears we’re forgetting something elemental: the seeds. According to Ray, what is happening with our seeds is not pretty. Ninety-four percent of vintage open-pollinated fruit and vegetable varieties have vanished over the last century. [..]

But, according to Ray, when the dwindling number of farmers who stayed on the land gave up on saving seeds and embraced hybridization, genetically modified organisms, and seed patents in order to make money, we became slaves to multinational corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, which now control our food supply.

Jill Richardson: A Recipe for a Sounder Diet

There are ways to make healthy food affordable that don’t require abusing farmworkers.

Healthy food is expensive and telling people to eat organic, local food is elitist. Have you heard that argument before?

It’s true. Healthy, organic, local food is expensive. Calorie for calorie, you get more for your money at a fast food drive-thru than at a farmer’s market. And the fast food will be cooked and ready to eat, whereas you might need to take your fresh, organic produce home to cook it.

Now, you might say, that’s only a short-term calculation. Today, a $5 burger, fries, and large soda looks like a better deal than a few ounces of spinach, a handful of dried beans, and a bunch of carrots for the same price. But that overlooks the health consequences of either meal. One of these meals, if eaten regularly, will land you in the hospital someday. The other won’t