Jan 13 2014

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: Enemies of the Poor

Suddenly it’s O.K., even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor. This is easy for Democrats, who can go back to being the party of F.D.R. and L.B.J. It’s much more difficult for Republicans, who are having a hard time shaking their reputation for reverse Robin-Hoodism, for being the party that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

And the reason that reputation is so hard to shake is that it’s justified. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology, which is why recent speeches by leading Republicans declaring that they do too care about the poor have been almost completely devoid of policy specifics.

Let’s start with the recent Republican track record.

John Nichols: A ‘Fast Track’ to Less Democracy and More Economic Dislocation

The framers of the Constitution were wise to include Congress in the process of framing and approving trade agreements made by presidents. That authority to provide advice and consent should, the wisest legislators have always argued, be zealously guarded.

Unfortunately, in recent decades, Congress has frequently surrendered its authority when it comes to the shaping of trade agreements. By granting so-called “fast-track authority” to the White House, Congress opts itself out of the process at the critical stage when an agreement is being struck and retains only the ability to say “yes” or “no” to a done deal.

The result has been a framing of US trade agreements that is great for multinational corporations but lousy for workers, communities and the environment. Instead of benefitting the great mass of people in the United States and countries with which it trades, deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the permanent normalization of trade relations agreement with China de-emphasize worker rights, human rights, environmental and democracy concerns and clear the way for a race to the bottom.

Jonathan Turley: Big money behind war: the military-industrial complex

More than 50 years after President Eisenhower’s warning, Americans find themselves in perpetual war.

In January 1961, US President Dwight D Eisenhower used his farewell address to warn the nation of what he viewed as one of its greatest threats: the military-industrial complex composed of military contractors and lobbyists perpetuating war. [..]

Even with polls showing that the majority of Americans are opposed to continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new military-industrial complex continues to easily muster the necessary support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. It is a testament to the influence of this alliance that hundreds of billions are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq while Congress is planning to cut billions from core social programmes, including a possible rollback on Medicare due to lack of money. None of that matters. It doesn’t even matter that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called the US the enemy and said he wishes that he had joined the Taliban. Even the documented billions stolen by government officials in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated as a mere cost of doing business.

It is what Eisenhower described as the “misplaced power” of the military-industrial complex – power that makes public opposition and even thousands of dead soldiers immaterial. War may be hell for some but it is heaven for others in a war-dependent economy.

Robert Kuttner: A Sick Job Market — and How to Cure It

Something is horribly wrong with both America’s employment situation and with the way we measure it. In case you missed the news, the economy generated just 74,000 payroll jobs in December, but the unemployment rate dropped by three tenths of a percentage point, from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent.

How can that be? Simple: more and more people have just given up looking for work. The percentage of prime age people in the active work force is now just 62.8 percent, the lowest since 1978, a time when far fewer women worked. And the proportion of long term unemployed remains stuck at historic highs.

It’s a scandal that Republicans in the House keep blocking an extension of normal and customary unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. But unemployment compensation is a poor substitute for a job.

There are there convenient myths going around to explain what is occurring.

William K. Black: Rejoice! Chris Christie Will Never Be President

Christie’s aides should have read the Mitt Romney memo from 2012.

This week, Governor Chris Christie’s campaign for the presidential nomination blew itself up.  The suicide bomb was delivered by Christie’s staff and it was a variant on the same bomb that Mitt Romney triggered to destroy his campaign for the presidency.  Putting aside Romney’s vile dismissal of 47% of Americans as supposed freeloaders who take no personal responsibility, his most shameful and revealing phrase was “my job is not to worry about those people.”  The job of an elected official, of course, is to worry about all the people regardless of whom they voted for in an election or were even old enough to vote in the election.  An official who cannot get that most basic aspect of their job statement correct without hesitation is unfit for any position.  He is profoundly anti-American and he cannot honor any oath of office he takes.  Romney made clear that he flunked this most basic test.

Christie’s staff has made clear that it flunked the same test.  His entire group of aides flunked it after they had seen the disastrous results of Romney’s failure.  Recall the remedial humaneness training that the Republican “autopsies” of the 2012 election-cycle recommended?  Christie and his team missed the memo, missed the class on empathy, and channeled their inner Mittnasty to lash out at the people of their own state through an act of domestic terrorism.  They did not set out to kill and maim, but they did deliberately try to make the lives of tens of thousands of people miserable and they succeeded in doing so.  They did so in a manner so reckless that they put lives at risk and may have killed people.


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  1. MO Blue

    Democracy and the Christie phenomenon

    Arun Gupta:

    [T]hese days Americans have as much familiarity with democracy as they do with homesteading on the frontier. We like to imagine ourselves as pioneering statesmen, hewing a sturdy nation from the simple tools democracy has bequeathed us – messaging, voting, debates, elections, law-making – but we are lost in the wilderness when it comes to discovering the essence of democracy.

    Christie taps into something dark in the American political soul – a desire not just for order or efficiency, but pleasure in humiliating the weak. Is it surprising women are a frequent target of his abuse, who are pathologized in our society as weak?


    As Eric Boehlert illustrates here, one of the necessary first steps is to do something about the political press which has shown over and over again its propensity for immature storylines that explain nothing of importance and leave the people relating to their politics as a TV show. And boy did they love them some Chris Christie:


    Here’s Time from last November’s celebration: “He’s a workhorse with a temper and a tongue, the guy who loves his mother and gets it done.” That, of course, is indistinguishable from a Christie office press release. But it’s been that way for years.


    The man acted like a thug and a jackass in public repeatedly, in ways that foreshadowed this scandal to a t, and yet this was how the media chose to portray him. No wonder our democracy’s in trouble.

    Recommend reading all of digby’s post and the linked articles.

  2. TMC

    should shut up and die.

    The elite way to die

    by digby

    This story about Bill Keller and his wife’s crude, and tone deaf  public scribblings about how a total stranger should react to her struggle with cancer is simply stunning.  Evidently a woman named Lisa Adams has been tweeting her experience dealing with metastatic cancer, partially for her own sake as well as an educational insight into how someone deals with such a challenge.  She is a young person with three kids at home and is doing everything in her power to stay alive. This offended the Kellers who recently went through the illness and death of Mrs Keller’s elderly Dad, also from cancer.  They seem to believe that Ms Adams is being a diva, not just for tweeting about her illness but for her desire to struggle against the disease to the very end. They advise that she should go gently into this good night instead — much as an elderly person who has reached the natural end of his life evidently. That these privileged jerks should even venture an opinion about how someone else should deal with a life-threatening illness reveals exactly what’s so wrong with our elites. It really is all about them — even how we should die.

    I don’t know how I would face that challenge, but I do know that I would really like to be able to make that decision myself without jerks like the Kellers offering up advice about my bad manners in the way I choose to do it. Whether you want to use all means available  and tweet about it or decide to eschew tratment and keep it all private — or anything else — it’s your choice, nobody else’s and certainly not Bill and Emma Keller’s, of all people.

    Why these two would feel the need to air an opinion in public on this matter is beyond me. Why would they think that using their perches at the top of the media food chain to bully some poor woman who is dealing with a deadly disease is even slightly appropriate? It’s just bizarre.

  3. MO Blue

    is a well established fact. What Klugman is ignoring is that fact that Obama and many Democratic Congresscritters have joined with their Republican brethrens in their “reverse Robin-Hoodism” taking from the poor and to give to the rich.

    One only has to look at all the cuts to various domestic programs and Obama’s unrelenting attempts to cut SS and Medicare to know that the Republicans are not the only “enemies of the poor.”  

  4. MO Blue

    in his assessment that

    This week, Governor Chris Christie’s campaign for the presidential nomination blew itself up.

    In a reasonable world that that statement would probably be true but in the U.S. I doubt that it is true. The corporate media is controlled by those who dictate what information is dissimulated to the public and too many believe that if they hear it on their TV it has to be true. The PR campaign currently being waged is turning his tactics into “strengths” and the American people have not been known to call BS and go against the powers that be.

    While not a supporter of a Hillary for President campaign in 2016 there is currently a full course press to eliminate her as a candidate  in the media.  

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