Jul 08 2010

Punting the Pundits: Not Your Usual Suspects

Pour a cup of coffee or brew some tea and try not to get too depressed

Glen Greenwald continues holding journalists feet to the fire on transparency

Adventures in media transparency

Journalists like to claim that they are devoted to transparency, but it’s striking how so many of them exempt themselves and their own media outlets from those “principles.”  Here are five recent, somewhat similar episodes illustrating that syndrome:

Joe Conason tells us to listen to Niall Ferguson on the Federal deficit and then ignore his bad advice

Sure, listen to Niall Ferguson — but always ignore his bad advice

Before the inquiring minds at the Aspen Ideas Festival go totally gaga over Niall Ferguson, perhaps they ought to know a little more about the British historian’s keen desire to punish our pampered working families, and how he would prefer to see us spend our dollars.

As a celebrity intellectual, Ferguson much prefers the broad, bold stroke to the careful detail, so it is scarcely surprising that he endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s “wonderful” budget template, confident that his audience in Aspen would know almost nothing about that document. For Ferguson, the most beguiling quality of Ryan’s budget must be its bias against the working and middle classes and in favor of the wealthy. But as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities revealed in a scorching review, the plan doesn’t work even on its own terms.

Robert Sheer, veteran journalist and editor of Truthdig.com, advises President Obama to give Tim Geithner and Larry Summers the McChrystal treatment for a coulpe of reasons.

Two More Candidates for the McChrystal Treatment

It’s not working. Time for the president to concede that the economy is at best stagnating and at worst about to take another steep nose dive. I don’t know if we are headed for another Great Depression, as Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman dared suggest recently, but it is amply clear that the Obama strategy, inherited from George W. Bush, of bailing out Wall Street in the forlorn hope that it would repair the economic damage the fat cats inflicted on the rest of us has not worked.

The housing market remains in dire shape, and with it the nest eggs of Americans who are responding by squelching their appetite for consumption. The Wall Street hustlers were made whole, but not so the people whose home mortgages the banks are foreclosing, or businesses and their customers looking for the credit that the banks had promised to free up.

The president conceded last week that our economy is 8 million jobs in the hole despite his bailout and stimulus program. With deficits running wild, heartless Republicans get to claim that six months more of unemployment insurance to 1.7 million out-of-work people whose benefits have ended is more than we can afford.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed the “Bring Your Guns to Church Law”.

State Representative Henry] Burns’ [R-Haughton] bill would authorize persons who qualified to carry concealed weapons having passed the training and background checks to bring them to churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship as part of a security force.

Jason Linkins of Huffington Post wonders

I am only too sure that a law allowing mosque-goers to carry guns to service will not rile up Louisiana’s paranoiacs at all!

Joan Walsh also weighs in on The terrible politics of deficit reduction

Obama is helping the GOP by rolling over on unemployment benefits and talking tough about spending


On both policy and politics, the administration’s unwillingness to commit to a full court press to revive the economy — extending unemployment benefits both to keep people alive and to inject more money into the parched consumer economy, increasing aid to states and cities so they can avoid laying off cops, firefighters and teachers, maybe even a second stimulus and a public works jobs program — is a huge disappointment, hurting the unemployed and the overall economy, as well as Democrats. I’m not sure it’s possible to be both craven and politically stupid at the same time, but the Obama White House may yet show us how.

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