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Dec 02 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: Better Pay Now

‘Tis the season to be jolly – or, at any rate, to spend a lot of time in shopping malls. It is also, traditionally, a time to reflect on the plight of those less fortunate than oneself – for example, the person on the other side of that cash register.

The last few decades have been tough for many American workers, but especially hard on those employed in retail trade – a category that includes both the sales clerks at your local Walmart and the staff at your local McDonald’s. Despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis, America is a much richer country than it was 40 years ago. But the inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade – who weren’t particularly well paid to begin with – have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973.

So can anything be done to help these workers, many of whom depend on food stamps – if they can get them – to feed their families, and who depend on Medicaid – again, if they can get it – to provide essential health care? Yes. We can preserve and expand food stamps, not slash the program the way Republicans want. We can make health reform work, despite right-wing efforts to undermine the program.

And we can raise the minimum wage.

New York Times Editorial Board: Debt and Taxes

The debacle of the housing bust is not over. In addition to 10 million borrowers who have already lost their homes, nearly nine million still owe some $500 billion more on their mortgages than their homes are worth and, of them, 2.3 million are in or near foreclosure.

Making matters worse, help is about to get even harder to come by. Unless Congress acts soon, a debt-relief law – the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, enacted in 2007 – will expire at the end of 2013, leaving homeowners without the legal protection they need to manage their overwhelming mortgage debt. [..]

If the relief act is not renewed, the potential tax bill on many such modifications will force hard-pressed homeowners to turn down the help. As a result, the aid will flow to higher-income borrowers who can afford the taxes, leaving lower-income borrowers to face foreclosure.

Glen Ford: Obama’s Ludicrous Afghanistan Declarations

“Since when has the U.S. voluntarily left anyplace it has forcibly occupied?”    

The most ridiculous actor in the fictitious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is not President Hamid Karzai, the hustler the U.S. installed as its puppet after the American invasion in 2001. The real clowns in this charade are those Americans that pretend to believe President Obama when he says the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end on the last day of next year. Obama is, of course, lying through his teeth. The United States and its NATO allies plan to keep 10,000 to 16,000 troops in the country, occupying nine bases, some of them set aside for exclusive American use – and would remain there at least ten years, through 2024. Shamelessly, Obama claims these troops – including thousands from the Special Operations killer elite – will have no “combat” role. It’s the same lie President Kennedy told in 1963, when he called the 16,000 U.S. troops then stationed in Vietnam “advisors,” and the same bald-faced deception that Obama, himself, tried to pull off, unsuccessfully, in Iraq – until the Iraqis kicked the Americans out.

Barack Obama has arrogated to himself the right to redefine the very meaning of war, having two years ago declared that the 7-month U.S. bombing campaign against Libya was not really a war because no Americans were killed. In Afghanistan, Obama waves his semantic magic wand

to transform the past 12 years of war into 10 more years of not-war, simply by changing the nomenclature. This is hucksterism from Hell.

Nafeez Ahmed: The War on Democracy

How Corporations and Spy Agencies Use ‘Security’ to Defend Profiteering and Crush Activism

A stunning new report compiles extensive evidence showing how some of the world’s largest corporations have partnered with private intelligence firms and government intelligence agencies to spy on activist and nonprofit groups. Environmental activism is a prominent though not exclusive focus of these activities.

The report by the Center for Corporate Policy (CCP) in Washington DC titled Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage against Nonprofit Organizations draws on a wide range of public record evidence, including lawsuits and journalistic investigations. It paints a disturbing picture of a global corporate espionage programme that is out of control, with possibly as much as one in four activists being private spies.