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: Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted

Robert Benmosche, the chief executive of the American International Group, said something stupid the other day. And we should be glad, because his comments help highlight an important but rarely discussed cost of extreme income inequality – namely, the rise of a small but powerful group of what can only be called sociopaths. [.]]

So here’s what Mr. Benmosche did in an interview with The Wall Street Journal: He compared the uproar over bonuses to lynchings in the Deep South – the real kind, involving murder – and declared that the bonus backlash was “just as bad and just as wrong.” [..]

This is important. Sometimes the wealthy talk as if they were characters in “Atlas Shrugged,” demanding nothing more from society than that the moochers leave them alone. But these men were speaking for, not against, redistribution – redistribution from the 99 percent to people like them. This isn’t libertarianism; it’s a demand for special treatment. It’s not Ayn Rand; it’s ancien régime.

Vanessa Barbara: Have a Nice Day, N.S.A.

Like most Brazilians, I was annoyed to learn that the American government might have been gathering data from my computer and phone calls. But on the bright side, I am hoping that it has kept a backup of my files, since a few months ago I realized that I could no longer find an important video anywhere in my computer. (Mr. Obama, if you’re reading this, please send me the file “summer2012.wmv” as soon as you can.)  [..]

But for now, we citizens have our own plan. It has become something of a joke among my friends in Brazil to, whenever you write a personal e-mail, include a few polite lines addressed to the agents of the N.S.A., wishing them a good day or a Happy Thanksgiving. Sometimes I’ll add a few extra explanations and footnotes about the contents of the message, summarizing it and clarifying some of the Portuguese words that could be difficult to translate.

New York Times Editorial Board: A Republican Ransom Note

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent the House a very serious warning that, for the first time, the United States would be unable to pay its bills beginning on Oct. 17 if the debt ceiling is not lifted. House leaders responded on Thursday with one of the least serious negotiating proposals in modern Congressional history: a jaw-dropping list of ransom demands containing more than a dozen discredited Republican policy fantasies. [..]

But the absurdity of the list shows just how important it is that Mr. Obama ignore every demand and force the House extremists to decide whether they really want to be responsible for an economic catastrophe. He made a mistake by negotiating in 2011, hoping to reach a grand bargain; that produced the corrosive sequester cuts.

To prevent the House from making every debt-ceiling increase an opportunity to issue extortionist demands for rejected policies they can achieve in no other way, the president has to put an end to the routine creation of emergencies once and for all by simply saying no.

John Nichols: House GOP Debt-Ceiling Plan: Paul Ryan’s Losing Ideas From 2012

Was there a presidential election in 2012? Yes.

Who won? Barack Obama.

Who was elected vice president? Joe Biden.

Who lost for president? Mitt Romney.

Who lost for vice president? Paul Ryan.

Cool, just wanted to get that straight.

The latest scheme (pdf) from House Republicans might have confused folks.

House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan are not quite done threatening a government shutdown as part of the “Defund Obamacare” debacle. But they are already on to their next project: holding hostage any agreement to allow the debt-ceiling to rise.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Robots Are Coming – Now What?

A new study says that nearly half of all American jobs may soon be performed by robots. And the White House has just announced the formation of “the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee ‘2.0,’” which it describes as “part of a continuing effort to maintain U.S.leadership in the emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance America’s global competitiveness.”

That seems like a good idea, but it raises a number of questions. There is only one labor representative on the committee, as compared to eleven corporate CEOs, and it would be good to know why. What’s more, labor isn’t acknowledged in the President’s statement that “industry, academia, and government must work in partnership to revitalize our manufacturing sector.”

That’s unfortunate, because the working people of America should have a strong voice in designing the future of our manufacturing sector. In fact, that role is more important than ever, as a manufactured product – a range of devices commonly described as “robots” – may change the face of work in America.

Jill Filipovic: The way America eats is killing us. Something has to change

Another report confirms: we’re the United States of big meals, yet we do little to change our disastrous corporate food culture

It will shock no one to hear that Americans are remarkably unhealthy eaters. A new American Diet Report Card (pdf) confirms it: we eat far too much cheese, sugar, starch and red meat. We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. We consume almost 500 more calories per day than we did in the 1970s.

Our eating habits are poor, but it’s not because we’re a nation of lazy fools jonesing for our daily Big Mac fix, health be damned. It is because we are far too deferential to the interests of big companies, too invested in a corporate-serving narrative of personal responsibility with no parallel requirement of social responsibility, and too culturally wedded to a food model of quantity over quality. [..]

The message is getting through, but slowly: the way we’re eating is killing us. Something has to change.