“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.
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Paul Krugman: The Fear Economy
More than a million unemployed Americans are about to get the cruelest of Christmas “gifts.” They’re about to have their unemployment benefits cut off. You see, Republicans in Congress insist that if you haven’t found a job after months of searching, it must be because you aren’t trying hard enough. So you need an extra incentive in the form of sheer desperation.
As a result, the plight of the unemployed, already terrible, is about to get even worse. Obviously those who have jobs are much better off. Yet the continuing weakness of the labor market takes a toll on them, too. So let’s talk a bit about the plight of the employed.
Some people would have you believe that employment relations are just like any other market transaction; workers have something to sell, employers want to buy what they offer, and they simply make a deal. But anyone who has ever held a job in the real world – or, for that matter, seen a Dilbert cartoon – knows that it’s not like that.
New York Times Editorial Board: New Victories for Marriage Equality
With every new court ruling or legislative enactment or popular vote affirming Americans’ fundamental right to marry, the arguments against same-sex marriage sound increasingly desperate and hollow.
Those arguments were dealt multiple blows in the past few days, first last Friday when a federal district judge in Utah invalidated the state’s constitutional amendment and laws prohibiting marriage between anyone other than a woman and a man. The suit had been brought by three lesbian and gay couples, but Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling immediately allowed same-sex couples to marry statewide, and by Christmas Day about 700 had.
On Monday, another federal district judge, Timothy Black, ruled that Ohio, which also does not permit same-sex marriage, must recognize such marriages performed in other states. [..]
If Utah’s appeal is heard by the Supreme Court, the court should extend its repeated invocation of the equal dignity of gays and lesbians and strike down all bans on same-sex marriage.
As we gather for the holidays, we remember the empty chairs at far too many holiday tables: for servicemembers killed overseas, children slain by gun violence, and loved ones lost to AIDS, cancer and other diseases due to stigma and poverty — and we recommit ourselves to the work we must do to advocate for policies in diplomacy, safety, healthcare, and opportunity that reflect our highest American values of peace and equality. [..]
That is why all I want for Christmas are my voting rights from which all other rights flow. Without voting rights, our struggle for women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights and workers’ rights is just a conversation. We know that a handful of voter fraud cases have been used to silence millions of voices and we must change that.
On August 8, 2006, something world-historical happened in Connecticut: Joe Lieberman was kicked out of the Democratic Party as punishment for the crime of supporting the Iraq war. The retribution delivered to Lieberman established a “red line” for “blue state” Democrats: support the Iraq war, and something like this could happen to you. [..]
What if we could make examples of some blue state Democrats who are vulnerable to pressure from the pro-war forces – not punishment examples, but deterrence examples? What if we could show by example that engagement by Democrats can keep these blue state Democrats from going over to the pro-war side? [..]
What if Ohio Democrats decided that they weren’t going to allow Sherrod Brown to go over to the pro-war side this time? Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Democratic friends don’t let Democratic friends support wars of choice. What if, for example, some brothers and sisters in the Ohio labor movement would sidle up quietly next to Senator Brown and say, “hey, Sherrod, you’re not thinking of screwing the President on this, are you?”
William Pfaff: We Need Your Prayers This Season, Pope Francis
Christmas this year seems more the occasion of religious war than of the peace to which the greeting cards routinely allude. Peace talks, such as the “5 plus 1” talks seeking reconciliation with Iran to eliminate the threat of war from or against that country, are the subject of sectarian and political attack inside the U.S. Congress and in Israel. Who wants peace if you can have the rewarding destruction of a rival? [..]
The United States, according to President Obama, is the “greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known.” He doesn’t mention peace, since the United States during the last two decades has chosen to be constantly at war.
The only man of peace for whom there currently seems universal admiration and deference is Pope Francis. For most West European and American admirers, that seems less to be because they want the peace the Pope calls for in his Christmas declaration, but because they want women and married priests-and because the Pope has asked who is he to pass judgment on homosexuals who are believing Christians.
No doubt he nonetheless is praying for all of us this Christmas. We need the prayers.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The De Blasio-Bloomberg Paradox
he standard line on New York City’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who takes office next Wednesday, is that he’s the antithesis of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That’s not quite true, and New York’s voters probably hope it isn’t. In electing de Blasio, they were looking for a course correction from the Bloomberg years, not a repudiation.
Change they’ll certainly get. Bloomberg is a billionaire who lives in Manhattan’s upscale precincts. De Blasio is a progressive populist who hails from middle-class Brooklyn. He campaigned on his “tale of two cities” divided between the very rich and everyone else. [..]
But the larger point is that the most heralded progressive politicians have been those who married their quest for social justice with reform-minded efficiency. It would be good for the country if the leader of the town that includes Wall Street became a powerful national voice against inequality. The paradox is that a touch of Bloombergism could make de Blasio a more effective populist mayor.