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Apr 26 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 1 Percent’s Solution

Economic debates rarely end with a T.K.O. But the great policy debate of recent years between Keynesians, who advocate sustaining and, indeed, increasing government spending in a depression, and austerians, who demand immediate spending cuts, comes close – at least in the world of ideas. At this point, the austerian position has imploded; not only have its predictions about the real world failed completely, but the academic research invoked to support that position has turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.

Yet two big questions remain. First, how did austerity doctrine become so influential in the first place? Second, will policy change at all now that crucial austerian claims have become fodder for late-night comics?

Ralph Nader: Boston, Texas and Corporate Criminal Justice

The Boston Marathon bombings killed three and injured more than 180. The West, Texas industrial explosion killed at least 14 and injured more than 180. Guess which one drew the greater media and law enforcement response?

If it turns out that the West, Texas explosion is the result of a “terrorist act,” expect federal law enforcement officials and the mass media to fly to Texas from Boston. But until then, don’t expect much.

One reason — our two tier criminal justice system. One tier for individuals. Another for corporations.

Jodie Evans and Charles Davis: Let George W. Bush Discuss His Legacy However He Likes… from the Hague

George W. Bush presided over an international network of torture chambers and, with the help of a compliant Congress and press, launched a war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. However, instead of the bloody details of his time in office being recounted at a war crimes tribunal, the former president has been able to bank on his imperial privilege – and a network of rich corporate donors that he made richer while in office – to tell his version of history at a library in Texas being opened in his name.

Kill a few, they call you a murderer. Kill tens of thousands, they give you $500 million for a granite vanity project and a glossy 30-page supplement in the local paper.

Jill Richardson: The High Price of Our Fertilizer Addiction

Compared to the lifetime of grieving ahead for the people of West, Texas, a few years of reduced crop yields is a small price to pay for converting from “conventional” to organic farming.

My heart aches for the people of West, Texas, the tiny town where a fertilizer plant recently blew up. Many of the folks who perished in the blast were heroic volunteer firefighters who ran into danger instead of away from it.

With 14 dead and 200 injured, and a nearby nursing home, school, and apartment complex either badly damaged or destroyed, West’s brave citizens have hard work ahead. [..]

This tragedy is even more painful because the factory was making a product – nitrogen fertilizer – that perhaps should not be used at all.

Here’s a big question we should all be asking: Why do Americans use so much nitrogen fertilizer in the first place?

Norman Solomon: ‘Terrorism’ and the Perpetual Emotion War Machine

As a perpetual emotion machine — producing and guzzling its own political fuel — the “war on terror” continues to normalize itself as a thoroughly American way of life and death. Ongoing warfare has become a matter of default routine, pushed along by mainline media and the leadership of both parties in Washington. Without a clear and effective upsurge of opposition from the grassroots, Americans can expect to remain citizens of a war-driven country for the rest of their lives.

Across the United States, many thousands of peeling bumper stickers on the road say: “End this Endless War.” They got mass distribution from MoveOn.org back in 2007, when a Republican was in the White House. Now, a thorough search of the MoveOn website might leave the impression that endless war ended with the end of the George W. Bush presidency.

Todd Gilin: Is the Press Too Big to Fail? It’s Dumb Journalism, Stupid

Everyone knows this story, though fewer and fewer read it on paper.  There are barely enough pages left to wrap fish.  The second paper in town has shut down.  Sometimes the daily delivers only three days a week.  Advertising long ago started fleeing to Craigslist and Internet points south.  Subscriptions are dwindling.  Online versions don’t bring in much ad revenue.  Who can avoid the obvious, if little covered question: Is the press too big to fail?  Or was it failing long before it began to falter financially?

In the previous century, there was a brief Golden Age of American journalism, though what glittered like gold leaf sometimes turned out to be tinsel.  Then came regression to the mean.  Since 2000, we have seen the titans of the news presuming that Bush was the victor over Gore, hustling us into war with Iraq, obscuring climate change, and turning blind eyes to derivatives, mortgage-based securities, collateralized debt obligations, and the other flimsy creations with which a vast, showy, ramshackle international financial house of cards was built.  When you think about the crisis of journalism, including the loss of advertising and the shriveled newsrooms — there were fewer newsroom employees in 2010 than in 1978, when records were first kept — also think of anesthetized watchdogs snoring on Wall Street while the Arctic ice cap melts.