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Jul 10 2010

Punting the Pundits: Saturday Round Up

Round ’em up. Pour your favorite beverage and put your feet up.

Paul Krugman asks us to Pity the Poor C.E.O.’s

Job creation has been disappointing, but first-quarter corporate profits were up 44 percent from a year earlier. Consumers are nervous, but the Dow, which was below 8,000 on the day President Obama was inaugurated, is now over 10,000. In a rational universe, American business would be very happy with Mr. Obama.

Who ever said American business was rational?

David Sirota wonders if Are low taxes exacerbating the recession?

As the planet’s economy keeps stumbling, the phrase “worst recession since the Great Depression” has become the new “global war on terror” – a term whose overuse has rendered it both meaningless and acronym-worthy. And just like that previously ubiquitous phrase, references to the WRSTGD are almost always followed by flimsy and contradictory explanations.

Republicans, who ran up enormous deficits, say the recession comes from overspending. Democrats, who gutted the job market with free trade policies, nonetheless insist it’s all George W. Bush’s fault. Meanwhile, pundits who cheered both sides now offer non-sequiturs, blaming excessive partisanship for our problems.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/…

Does anyone in the Republican Party hear Joe Conason’s warning about responsible Republicans facing extinction?

What defines a “responsible” Republican in the era of Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle and Rand Paul? Ask Bob Inglis, soon to depart from Congress after six terms as a Republican representative from South Carolina. Having suffered a landslide defeat in a primary this year — largely because he challenged the extremism of the far right and refused to pander to the “birthers” in his district — Inglis is now speaking out about the direction of his party.

In what amounts to an exit interview with the Associated Press, Inglis warned that the GOP’s eager embrace of a motley crew of media frothers, ideological fanatics and bizarre conspiracists is inflicting grave damage on the party’s integrity.

snip

As a white Southerner, Inglis said he is also sadly convinced that racism is among the motives of the most fanatical Obama opponents. He recalled being “shocked” as he watched Tea Party protesters heckling Rep. John Lewis in the Capitol last spring. Although he was too far away to hear the alleged racial slurs hurled at Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement in the South, he saw that the behavior of the mob was “threatening and abusive.” At the time he said to Lewis — who was beaten by racists in 1961 in Inglis’ home state as he tried to register black voters — “John, I guess you’ve been here before.”

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post echoes Conason’s warning For the GOP, a risky wave to ride or turn back

The Republican Party is ascendant, emboldened — and on the verge of debilitating mistakes.

There is little doubt about Republican ascendance. In June 2008, Democrats enjoyed a nearly 20-point lead in the generic congressional ballot; today they are behind. Approval for President Obama among independents has fallen below 40 percent for the first time in his presidency. Vice President Biden recently protested that he saw no “grand debacle” coming in November for Democrats, thereby giving a name to Democratic fears. A debacle seems precisely what’s in store.

snip

The response of many responsible Republicans to these ideological trends is to stay quiet, make no sudden moves and hope they go away. But these are not merely excesses; they are arguments. Significant portions of the Republican coalition believe that it is a desirable strategy to talk of armed revolution, embrace libertarian purity and alienate Hispanic voters. With a major Republican victory in November, those who hold these views may well be elevated in profile and influence. And this could create durable, destructive perceptions of the Republican Party that would take decades to change. A party that is intimidated and silent in the face of its extremes is eventually defined by them.

This is the challenge of a political wave. It requires leaders who will turn its energy into a responsible, governing agenda. So far — in Congress, among conservative leaders, among prospective presidential candidates — that leadership has been lacking.

And so the Republican Party rides a massive wave toward a rocky shore.

This was scary. Michael Steele making a coherent point and Democrats response sounding like Republicans from E.J. Dionne asking to Let Michael Steele speak

It’s easy to understand why Democrats want Michael Steele to stay in the news. The Republican National Committee chairman is a wonderful distraction.

But Steele recently scored a victory of sorts, even though you wouldn’t know it from the coverage: His comments on Afghanistan got Democrats to recite GOP talking points from the Bush era. Of course, those can be turned against anyone in either party who dares to question the direction of the war.

The most incendiary words came from the indefatigable Brad Woodhouse, the Democratic National Committee spokesman, who accused Steele of “betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan.

snip

Yet Steele’s point – that Obama had criticized the war in Iraq “while saying the battle really should (be) in Afghanistan” – was accurate enough. Obama had a choice, and he chose to escalate.

Personally, I’m still hoping that Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan will work. But it is maddening that Congress can appropriate $33 billion more for Afghanistan without anyone asking where the funds will come from even as self-styled deficit hawks insist on blocking money for the unemployed unless it is offset by budget cuts.

But the issue here is less about Afghanistan than about dissent in time of war. Even if Steele was just popping off, he had a right to offer his opinion without being accused of undermining our troops or “rooting for failure.”

The War Room at Salon is one of the best places for a Friday Link Dump that has

Flag errors, homeopathic nonsense at HuffPo, and what to do about all the people without jobs

Some of the links are “priceless”. Enjoy