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Aug 22 2010

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 Week with Christiane Amanpour:

Lots of exclusive interviews this Sunday, Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai and Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, a lead organizer of the controversial Islamic center near Ground Zero who will be joined by Rabbi Joy Levitt, head of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, considered a model for the Islamic center.

The Roundtable with the usual suspects, George Will, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour and Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, who will look at the Iraq withdrawal and the Afghanistan surge.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer:

His guests are Gen. Ray Odierno, Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Greg Mortenson, Author of “Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools”.

The Chris Matthews Show:

Mr. Matthews guests will be Gloria Borger, CNN, Senior Political Analyst, Dan Rather, HDNet, Global Correspondent, John Heilemann, New York Magazine, National Political Correspondent and Michele Norris, NPR

Host, All Things Considered. They will discuss 50 years since the historic Kennedy-Nixon Campaign: parallels for Obama and will the GOP yield to its right wing as it did in the Goldwater year?

Meet the Press with David Gregory :

Mr. Gregory’s guest will be GOP Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell who talk about the up coming November elections. Fmr. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) versus Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI). will debate spending and your taxes & the Tea Party’s impact on the future of American politics.

Later the Roundtable discussion on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, the controversy over a Muslim groups plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, and the renewed economic downturn with Republican Candidate for New York Governor, Fmr. Rep. Rick Lazio, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg; The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot, and BBC World News America’s Katty Kay.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley:

U.S. Commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno will join Ms Crowley to discuss the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and the future of the region. Then former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers (Ret.), former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and the former Commander of U.S. Central Command Admiral William Fallon (Ret.) will discuss Iraq. Then she will be joined former Democratic National Cmte. Chairman Howard Dean  on the upcoming midterm elections, the Obama administration’s economic agenda, and his recent comments regarding the proposed Islamic Center at Ground Zero.

Let’s see if Dr. Dean can explain exactly what he meant by “compromise”.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS:

Mr. Zakaris is joined by Peter Beinart of the Daily Beast and Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal in an intelligent debate on why the project should or shouldn’t go forward. Imran Kahn, the cricket legend and now one of Pakistan’s most prominent politicians, will discuss the devastating floods in Pakistan and just how poor the Pakistani government’s response has been.

The GPS panel, including Niall Ferguson of Harvard University, looks at what the future holds for China and just what this means for the United States.

Alberto Gonzales: Changing the 14th Amendment won’t solve our immigration crisis

Most recently, some politicians and concerned citizens have expressed a desire to amend the 14th Amendment of our Constitution, which says in Section 1, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Proponents want to discourage undocumented mothers from crossing our borders to give birth to children derogatorily referred to as “anchor babies,” who by law are American citizens. Such a change is difficult to carry out, as it should be, requiring a new amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states.

I do not support such an amendment. Based on principles from my tenure as a judge, I think constitutional amendments should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances that we cannot address effectively through legislation or regulation. Because most undocumented workers come here to provide for themselves and their families, a constitutional amendment will not solve our immigration crisis. People will certainly continue to cross our borders to find a better life, irrespective of the possibilities of U.S. citizenship.

As the nation’s former chief law enforcement officer and a citizen who believes in the rule of law, I cannot condone anyone coming into this country illegally. However, as a father who wants the best for my own children, I understand why these parents risk coming to America — especially when there is little fear of prosecution. If we want to stop this practice, we should pass and enforce comprehensive immigration legislation rather than amend our Constitution.

Frank Rich: How Fox Betrayed Petraeus

THE “ground zero mosque,” as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room. It’s not going to determine President Obama’s political future or the elections of 2010 or 2012. Still, the battle that has broken out over this project in Lower Manhattan – on the “hallowed ground” of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory store one block from the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s ClubHere’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right – abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats – that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?  – will prove eventful all the same. And the consequences will be far more profound than any midterm election results or any of the grand debates now raging 24/7 over the parameters of tolerance, religious freedom, and the real estate gospel of location, location, location.

(emphasis mine)

Nicholas D. Kristof: Taking Bin Laden’s Side

Is there any doubt about Osama bin Laden’s position on the not-at-ground-zero mosque?

Osama abhors the vision of interfaith harmony that the proposed Islamic center represents. He fears Muslim clerics who can cite the Koran to denounce terrorism.

It’s striking that many American Republicans share with Al Qaeda the view that the West and the Islamic world are caught inevitably in a “clash of civilizations.” Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who recruits jihadis from his lair in Yemen, tells the world’s English-speaking Muslims that America is at war against Islam. You can bet that Mr. Awlaki will use the opposition to the community center and mosque to try to recruit more terrorists.

In short, the proposed community center is not just an issue on which Sarah Palin and Osama bin Laden agree. It is also one in which opponents of the center are playing into the hands of Al Qaeda.

Thomas L. Friedman: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

I just saw the movie “Invictus” – the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as president of South Africa, enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. The almost all-white Springboks had been a symbol of white domination, and blacks routinely rooted against them. When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team’s name and colors, President Mandela stopped them. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”

I love that line: “We have to surprise them.” I was watching the movie on an airplane and scribbled that line down on my napkin because it summarizes what is missing today in so many places: leaders who surprise us by rising above their histories, their constituencies, their pollsters, their circumstances – and just do the right things for their countries.

David Sarota: Military Leaders on Iraq Combat: “Our Mission Has Not Changed”

While it may be comforting to see all the “Breaking News” graphics implying that the Iraq War is effectively over, and while it may be reassuring to watch punditry portraying war analysis as a post-mortem, the reality is that this war continues.

Maureen Dowd: Going Mad in Herds

The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown, with the right spreading fear and disinformation that is amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment.

The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven’t flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems – making them easy prey for fearmongers.

Many people still have a confused view of Muslims, and the president seems unable to help navigate the country through its Islamophobia.

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