«

»

Dec 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Inequality: Government Is a Perp, Not a Bystander

In his speech on inequality earlier this month, President Obama proclaimed that the government could not be a bystander in the effort to reduce inequality, which he described as the defining moral issue of our time. This left millions convinced that Obama would do nothing to lessen inequality.

The problem is that President Obama wants the public to believe that inequality is something that just happened. It turns out that the forces of technology, globalization, and whatever else simply made some people very rich and left others working for low wages or out of work altogether. The president and other like-minded people feel a moral compulsion to reverse the resulting inequality. This story is 180 degrees at odds with the reality. Inequality did not just happen, it was deliberately engineered through a whole range of policies intended to redistribute income upward.

Gail Collins: An Ode to Spam

I would like to take time now to thank everyone who sent me holiday messages via the Internet: The wishes of good cheer, the reports of family achievements in the year past, and the multiple requests for my email or bank password. [..]

Also, I had immediate doubts about a message from another prominent author I know, offering to help me turn my computer “into a money-making machine.” And I quickly figured out that the email I appeared to have sent myself, offering an inside track on “male penis meds” did not really come from me.

I have been feeling pretty darned proud of my own increasing technological sophistication. True, I am still not fully skilled in the operation of our home television, but I blame that on Time Warner Cable, which is responsible for half the problems in our modern world. Someday, we’re going to find out it was Time Warner Cable that screwed up the Obamacare website and then I will say that I told you so.

New York Times Editorial: An Epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorder

The hard-sell campaign by drug companies to drive up diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., and sales of drugs to treat it is disturbing. The campaign focused initially on children but is now turning toward adults, who provide a potentially larger market. [..]

Curbing the upsurge in diagnoses and unwarranted drug treatments will require more aggressive action by the F.D.A. and the Federal Trade Commission, which share duties in this area. It will also require that doctors and patients recognize that the pills have downsides and should not be prescribed or used routinely to alleviate every case of carelessness, poor grades in school or impulsive behavior.

Michael Winship: Campaign Cash Rules Drown in the Bathtub

I’m speculating here, but as we approach year’s end, I assume that Grover Norquist hasn’t been visited by Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and found spiritual redemption. Nonetheless, I’m betting that Grover Norquist feels pretty good. Just not in a Santa Claus kind of way; more like one of those evil geniuses in bad movies who rubs his hands together and cackles, “At last, my plan is working!”

Norquist, president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, is infamous for his expressed desire to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” And even though the new budget deal takes a feeble swipe at sequestration and the indiscriminate slashing of government funds, his wish may be coming true.

This thought springs from recent indications that what little power the government still has to regulate campaign finance donations – already whittled to a minimum by Citizens United and other court decisions – is being steadily eroded by funding cutbacks, intimidation, bureaucracy and an inability or refusal to enforce the few rules we have left.

Stanley Kutler: Why Are We in Afghanistan?

Fifty years not-so-long ago, under the umbrella of the Cold War, we were embroiled in the quicksand-“quagmire” was the term of choice-of Vietnam. By 1965, with upward of half a million troops “in-country,” skeptics and critics began to seriously question the war. The U.S. government, however, countered with the “domino theory,” contending that unless stopped in Vietnam, hordes of Chinese-led communists would overrun Southeast Asia, leapfrog to Japan, the Philippines, and eventually Hawaii and the beaches of La Jolla. But no dominoes fell. [..]

Historical analogies are treacherous, yet the past can inform subsequent events. In Vietnam, we had Nguyen Ngo Diem-“the George Washington of Southeast Asia”-and his family as our allies, but more often than not resistant to our will. Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, for peculiar reasons of his own, likes to appear as an ingrate, adept at ignoring our advice, and undoubtedly corrupt. Most of all, both interventions have had little to do with our national interests.