Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis 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.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This is Ms. Amanpour’s debut as the anchor person for a Sunday talk show.

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: Coming Up Exclusive interviews House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Round table with George Will, Donna Brazile, Paul Krugman and Ahmed Rashid.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; Richard Haass, President, Council On Foreign Relations; Thomas Saenz, President, Mexican American Legal Defense And Education Fund.

Chris Matthews: Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press; Dan Rather, HDNet, Global Correspondent; Rick Stengel, TIME’ Managing Editor; Helene Cooper, The New York Times, White House Correspondent.

CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  They’ll discuss the war in Afghanistan as the U.S. experiences its deadliest month in the country. Topics will also include the wiki leaks incident, immigration and the economy.

Later, discussion about the passing week’s main political issues with New York Times correspondent, Peter Baker, and Washington Post editor Dan Balz.

Fareed Zakaria – GPS: Senator John Kerry — the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to talk about the Wikileaks and, more broadly, the war in Afghanistan; about Iran and whether we should be engaging that nation; and about U.S. politics.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. responds directly to the accusations in the war logs that his intelligence service has been colluding with the Taliban.

Finally a panel of experts featuring Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, Reuters’ global editor-at-large Chrystia Freeland, and Ross Douthat of the N.Y. Times on the Obama’s administration is handling the crises that seem to keep coming at them.

Daniel Ellsberg’s WikiLeaks wish list

The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified reports on the Afghan war last week by WikiLeaks has been compared, rightly or wrongly, to the release in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. “The parallels are very strong,” Pentagon Papers contributor and leaker Daniel Ellsberg told The Washington Post on Monday. “This is the largest unauthorized disclosure since the Pentagon Papers.”

But perhaps not large enough? Outlook asked Ellsberg for his wish list of documents to be leaked, declassified or otherwise made public, documents that could fundamentally alter public understanding of key national security issues and foreign policy debates. Below, he outlines his selections and calls for congressional investigations


David Cole: Eight years after the torture memo, Obama should take a hard look back

Eight years ago today, two Justice Department lawyers — John Yoo and Jay Bybee — put the finishing touches on a secret memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales with the anodyne title “Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. § 2340-2340A.” With this document, better known as the “torture memo,”  and a second memo issued the same day approving specific interrogation techniques, the United States officially authorized torture for the first time in its history — including sleep deprivation for up to 11 days straight, confinement in cramped boxes, the use of painful stress positions for hours at a time and waterboarding.

Today, Jay Bybee is a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. John Yoo is a tenured law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. And no one responsible for authorizing these tactics has been held to account: not Yoo, not Bybee, not Daniel Levin and Stephen Bradbury, the Justice Department lawyers who succeeded them and continued to authorize brutal techniques until President Obama took office, and not former president George W. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney, both of whom have, since leaving office, admitted in public statements to giving these tactics the green light.

 Frank Rich: Kiss This War Goodbye

IT was on a Sunday morning, June 13, 1971, that The Times published its first installment of the Pentagon Papers. Few readers may have been more excited than a circle of aspiring undergraduate journalists who’d worked at The Harvard Crimson. Though the identity of The Times’s source wouldn’t eke out for several days, we knew the whistle-blower had to be Daniel Ellsberg, an intense research fellow at M.I.T. and former Robert McNamara acolyte who’d become an antiwar activist around Boston. We recognized the papers’ contents, as reported in The Times, because we’d heard the war stories from the loquacious Ellsberg himself.

But if we were titillated that Sunday, it wasn’t immediately clear that this internal government history of the war had mass appeal. Tricia Nixon’s wedding  in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday received equal play with the Pentagon Papers on The Times’s front page. On “Face the Nation” the guest was the secretary of defense, Melvin Laird, yet the subject of the papers didn’t even come up.

Thomas L. Friedman: The Great (Double) Game

The trove of WikiLeaks about the faltering U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has provoked many reactions, but for me it contains one clear message. It’s actually an old piece of advice your parents may have given you before you went off to college: “If you are in a poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s probably you.”

In the case of the Great Game of Central Asia, that’s us.

Best I can tell from the WikiLeaks documents and other sources, we are paying Pakistan’s Army and intelligence service to be two-faced. Otherwise, they would be just one-faced and 100 percent against us. The same could probably be said of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai. But then everyone out there is wearing a mask – or two.

Nicholas D. Kristof: Another Pill That Could Cause a Revolution

Could the decades-long global impasse over abortion worldwide be overcome – by little white pills costing less than $1 each?  

That seems possible, for these pills are beginning to revolutionize abortion around the world, especially in poor countries. One result may be tens of thousands of women’s lives saved each year.

Five-sixths of abortions take place in developing countries, where poor sterilization and training often make the procedure dangerous. Up to 70,000 women die a year from complications of abortions, according to the World Health Organization.

But researchers are finding an alternative that is safe, cheap and very difficult for governments to restrict – misoprostol, a medication originally intended to prevent stomach ulcers.

Chris Cillizza: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Charlie Rangel’s unlikely inquisitor

Quick, name the head of the House ethics committee.  

Can’t do it? Don’t beat yourself up too much; the ethics committee (or the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the stuffed shirts call it) is not only one of the least prominent committees on Capitol Hill but, if recent history is any indication, one of the most feckless, too.

But every committee has a chair, and in this case it’s Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a loyal lieutenant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow California Democrat.

Lofgren’s low profile is about to be ruined by the congressional trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) on allegations that he failed to report personal income and misused his office to aid companies to which he had ties.

Steven Simon and Ray Takeyh: If Iran came close to getting a nuclear weapon, would Obama use force?

Imagine a moment when President Obama has only two alternatives: prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran or embark on the perilous path of military action to stop it.

Imagine that diplomacy has run its course, after prolonged and inconclusive negotiations; that surging international oil prices have undercut the power of economic sanctions against Tehran; and that reliable intelligence says the Islamic republic’s weapons program is very close to reaching its goal.

Facing such conditions, would Obama use force against Iran?

William G. Gale: Five myths about the Bush tax cuts

The tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, known as the Bush tax cuts, are set to expire Dec. 31, and the fight over what to do is increasingly heated. Should the tax cuts expire, as some Democrats have said? Should they be extended, as most Republicans maintain? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between, as the Obama administration, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, has argued in recent weeks?

The cuts lowered tax rates across the board on income, dividends and capital gains; eventually eliminated the estate tax; further lowered burdens on married couples, parents and the working poor; and increased tax credits for education and retirement savings. Obama’s proposal would extend most of these reductions, allowing only those for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 to expire.

Complicating the debate is a gloomy economic and fiscal outlook, one that is decidedly different from the rosy scenario that prevailed at the beginning of the last decade. That outlook has given rise to a number of stubborn myths about what extending the Bush tax cuts would — or wouldn’t — do.


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    • TMC on 08/01/2010 at 18:09
  1. Not bad for a debut, but there is room for improvement. I didn’t care for her style in the Pelosi interview; reminded me of Tweety with the interruptions.

    I also don’t give a rat’s ass about what a Pakistani journalist thinks about the US economy. If this is indicative of the style of the show going forward, I’ll not likely watch.

    • TMC on 08/01/2010 at 18:28

    Wikileaks vs The Pentagon – INTERNET WARS

    1. I forgot about the Sunday morning shows until 11am, then I watched Meet the Press.

      I didn’t realize that this was the first week for Amanpour, or I would have made a point to watch it.

      Instead I head from Alan Greenspan.  It boggles the mind that this man is still sought for expert opinion in the media.  Still, he is interesting to watch, even though logically I object to giving him a megaphone for advice on the economy.  Today he was asked about a double dip recession.  He said that if housing prices stabilize and remain stable, we can avoid disaster.  He seemed to think that this might be possible.  I cannot understand how this is possible when real incomes for average Americans continues to decrease, and when we are expecting a long-term period of high unemployment.  But Greenspan didn’t mention that.

      Later he was asked about tax cuts.  They talked about the Bush tax cuts and tax cuts in general.  Greenspan said that he’s a big fan of tax cuts, but that tax cuts that are not paid for and add to the deficit are bad for the economy.  Should be obvious, but apparently it’s not obvious to David Gregory.  He pushed Greenspan with a very forceful follow up question asking if the Republicans were wrong in saying that tax cuts would stimulate the economy.  Greenspan offered made it very clear that he did not agree with that position.  Credit to him for that.

      One thing I can say for Greenspan is that he is much easier to understand these days.  A big fat dose of reality seems to have done wonders for him.  Shame it didn’t do wonders for so many millions who suffer for his fantastical musings of the past and for the seemingly infinite repercussions of his mistakes.

      • TMC on 08/01/2010 at 19:26

      blogging from the Marina. No TV.  

      • TMC on 08/01/2010 at 21:03

      I’ll have to watch later. Nap time soon, covering the overnight in the little ER by the Sea.

      This Week with Christiane Amanpour

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