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Sep 23 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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Dave Johnson: Who Gets Rich Harvesting Burger King and the American Economy?

As fast-food workers across the country strike for decent pay, Burger King is still preparing to abandon the U.S. as its home country. How does a burger company get flipped like this and who gets rich when it happens? [..]

The company has been stripped, financialized and any remaining value is ultimately being moved across the border. The story of what is happening with Burger King is the story of what American capitalism and its financial speculation has been and is doing to the American economy. It is being done to the company and to us by the financiers. In this case it is names like Goldman Sachs, TGP Capital, Bain Capital, 3G Capital — all playing games with Burger King, other companies the American economy and our lives. And the latest plunderer, Bill Ackman and his Pershing Square Capital Management, is a financial manipulator who when he sees a company’s carcass worth plundering, goes after it — even if it involves betting on a company’s stock going down and then working to drive the company into the ground.

Nathan Schneider: Climate change is war – and Wall Street is winning

We shouldn™’t reward polluters with profit

Among the most iconic images to emerge from Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the Eastern Seaboard in 2012 were those of the Goldman Sachs building lit up like a torch by its own generator while a blackout left the rest of lower Manhattan in the dark. This proved a sign of things to come: Within days, the financial district was back to work, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed far slower to notice what had befallen other areas of the city. He sought to go through with the annual New York Marathon just a week after the storm, until residents and runners rallied to inform him that coastal neighborhoods of his city had been devastated.

The images stuck in my mind from that period are of the devastation: Whole blocks burned down by electrical fire, overturned cars in the streets, sick people trapped in pitch-black buildings without medication, ruined furniture stacked in the front yards of uninhabitable homes, neighbors uniting around makeshift supply depots in church halls.

I no longer saw the warming oceans that exacerbate storms such as Sandy as abstractions or a matter of merely the environment or nature. Climate change is a crisis of justice among human beings. We all depend on this planet, but some are more insulated from its undoing than others. Some will be bailed out, but most won’t. Some will find a way to profit as the waters rise, but many more will drown. The challenge of stemming climate change is not just a matter of raising consciousness and spreading awareness; it is a struggle for democracy and survival.

Rich Benjamin: Ferguson versus Whitopia

Focus on police bias obscures meaningful debate on structural racism that perpetuates racial injustice and inequality

In the wake of the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, the public has heard quite a bit about the town, its residents and their supposed violence.

But about half an hour drive west of Ferguson, along a highway straddling the Missouri River, you will come to what may seem a planet away: St. Charles County.

St. Charles is a “Whitopia” – a predominantly white county that has posted 6 percent population growth since 2000 and exhibits an ineffable charisma, as well as a pleasant look and feel. An outer-ring suburb of St. Louis, St. Charles is 91 percent non-Hispanic white, visibly whiter than its surroundings. Its metropolitan region is 77 percent non-Hispanic white in a state that is 81 percent Caucasian. Home to about 76,000 residents, St. Charles is the wealthiest and one of the fastest growing counties in Missouri.

Its quiet invisibility stands in stark contrast to the dramatic images we saw during the protests after Brown’s death. As the nation and world gawk at Ferguson, we need to train our eyes on St. Charles County too, for St. Charles’ economic and political realities contextualize the plight of Ferguson. It embodies the severe economic and racial segregation that harmed Brown long before Wilson ever fired a shot.

Robert Reich: Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn’t

Thirty years ago, on its opening day in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor at Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza, celebrating his new investment as the finest building in Atlantic City and possibly the nation.

Last week, the Trump Plaza folded and the Trump Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, leaving some 1,000 employees without jobs.

Trump, meanwhile, was on Twitter claiming he had “nothing to do with Atlantic City,” and praising himself for his “great timing” in getting out of the investment.

In America, people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble.

The laws protect them through limited liability and bankruptcy.

But workers who move to a place like Atlantic City for a job, invest in a home there, and build their skills, have no such protection. Jobs vanish, skills are suddenly irrelevant, and home values plummet.

They’re stuck with the mess.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Mystifying Election

There is something deeply satisfying about the troubles punditry is having in nailing down exactly what’s happening in the 2014 elections.

The careful statistical models keep gyrating on the question of whether Republicans will win control of the Senate this November. The prognosticators who rely on their reporting and their guts as well as the numbers are sometimes at odds with the statisticians.

The obvious reason for the uncertainty is that many of the key Senate races are still very close in the polls. This should encourage a degree of humility among those of us who love to offer opinions about politics. Humility is a useful virtue not always on display in our business. The unsettled nature of the election also sends a salutary signal to the electorate. As Howard Dean might put it: You have the power. Voting will matter this year.

It is not my habit to agree with Karl Rove, but he was on to something in his Wall Street Journal column last Thursday when he wrote that “each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.”

Joe Conason: American Amnesia: Why the GOP Leads on National Security

If the latest polls are accurate, most voters believe that Republican politicians deserve greater trust on matters of national security. At a moment when Americans feel threatened by rising terrorist movements and authoritarian regimes, that finding is politically salient-and proves that amnesia is the most durable affliction of our democracy.

Every year around this time, ever since 2001, we promise never to forget the victims of 9/11, the courage of the first responders and the sacrifice of the troops sent to avenge them all. Our poignant recollections seem to be faulty, however, obliterating the hardest truths about that terrible event, as well as the long aftermath that continues to this day. The result, attested to by those polls, is that Republicans escape responsibility for the derelictions and bad decisions of their party’s leaders at crucial moments in the recent past.