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Jun 19 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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Robert Sheer: Up Close and Personal With George W. Bush’s Horrifying Legacy

The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush’s enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama presidency is obscene nonsense. This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush’s quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies.

This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with the invented weapons of mass destruction threat that Bush, were he even semi-cognizant of the intelligence data, must have known represented an egregious fraud. So was his nonsensical claim that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when in fact he was Osama bin Laden’s most effective Arab opponent.

The New York Times Editorial Board: Slurs Don’t Deserve Trademark Protection

Will the Washington Redskins Change Its Name Now?

There is no question that the term “redskin” has been used as a racial slur for American Indians for hundreds of years and is on par with offensive terms used to denigrate blacks and Hispanics. And it is also clear that federal law prohibits the Patent and Trademark Office from registering trademarks that disparage people or bring them “into contempt, or disrepute.”

That is why the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board was right in ruling on Wednesday that six trademarks granted to the owners of the Washington Redskins football team should be canceled because the name is disparaging to many American Indians. [..]

There is little anybody can do legally to force Mr. Snyder and National Football League to change the team name. But they should realize that even if they successfully challenge the trademark board’s decision, using a term that so clearly offends so many people undermines the value of the team and the league.

Chris Weigant: Biden Was Right

Vice President Joe Biden was right. Let’s begin with that.

Biden, back in 2006, was the leading proponent (together with Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations) of a scheme to divide Iraq into three largely autonomous states: a “Kurdistan” in the north, and a region each for the Sunnis and Shi’ites. This plan was, needless to say, not adopted. Instead, America bet on the political prowess of prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, who was going to form a “reconciliation” government which would give all three groups a share of governmental responsibility in a power-sharing coalition government. This, as it turns out, was a bad bet. If America had forced the Biden plan on Iraq back then, we might be in a radically different place than we find ourselves now.

Or maybe not. It is absolutely impossible to predict the future, especially in the Middle East. Nobody can really say what will happen (or what would have happened) with any degree of certainty. But it’s pretty easy to see now that what may be next for Iraq is a de facto implementation of Biden’s original plan. The violence which is happening now might have been largely avoided, if the division of Iraq had happened when America still had an overwhelming military presence in the country (say, back in 2006). The Sunni section might have had the time to build up its own governmental and security services, which might have precluded the militant takeover which is happening now. I realize that’s a lot of “mights” and “maybes,” but that’s about as good as you can get in making Middle East predictions, as I mentioned. All you can definitively say is that the chances for a much better outcome would have been higher. Which is, in and of itself, enough to now say that Biden was right.

Amy Goodman: Heed the Voices For Peace Amid the Tragedy of Iraq

It didn’t take long this week for the architects of the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to apply their makeup and jump before the cable news television cameras. The militia group known as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has swept across Iraq, conquering city after city and stopping short of Baghdad in what has been described as a “lightning advance,” summarily executing people in its wake. ISIS emerged from the festering civil war in Syria, and has exploited the instability in that country, along with the weak and famously corrupt central Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. With just several thousand armed troops, ISIS has managed to rout the Iraqi army with its hundreds of thousands of soldiers trained and equipped by the U.S. occupying forces at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Cronies of George W. Bush, like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol and Paul Bremer, have been given airtime on the networks and space in the opinion pages to lambast President Barack Obama for the current crisis in Iraq. These pundits and politicians are no less wrong today than they were when selling the Iraq War back in 2003.

Noel Ortega: What Piketty Forgot: The Crisis of Capitalism Isn’t Just about Inequality

It’s not just about the distance between rich and poor, but about the gap between what’s demanded by our planet and what’s demanded by our economy.

By now, it’s no secret that French economist Thomas Piketty is one of the world’s leading experts on inequality. His exhaustive, improbably popular opus of economic history-the 700-page Capital in the Twenty-First Century-sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for weeks. Some have called it the most important study of inequality in over 50 years.

Piketty is hardly the first scholar to tackle the linkage of capitalism with inequality. What sets him apart is his relentlessly empirical approach to the subject and his access to never before used data-tax and estate records-that elegantly demonstrates the growing trends of income and wealth inequality. The database he has compiled spans 300 years in 20 different countries.

Exactingly empirical and deeply multidisciplinary, Capital is an extremely important contribution to the study of economics and inequality over the last few centuries. But because it fails to address the real limits on growth-namely our ecological crisis-it can’t be a roadmap for the next.

Robert Reich: How America’s Real Business Leaders Want to Save Capitalism

A few weeks ago I was visited in my office by the chairman of one of the country’s biggest high-tech firms who wanted to talk about the causes and consequences of widening inequality and the shrinking middle class, and what to do about it.

I asked him why he was concerned. “Because the American middle class is the core of our customer base,” he said. “If they can’t afford our products in the years ahead, we’re in deep trouble.”

I’m hearing the same refrain from a growing number of business leaders.

They see an economic recovery that’s bypassing most Americans. Median hourly and weekly pay dropped over the past year, adjusted for inflation. [..]

These business leaders know the U.S. economy can’t get out of first gear as long as wages are declining. And their own businesses can’t succeed over the long term without a buoyant and growing middle class.

They also recognize a second danger.

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