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Aug 23 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.

Chris Cillizza: Poll numbers in 1994, a bad year for Democrats, don’t bode well for them in 2010

Is it deja vu all over again for Democrats?

Some neutral observers and senior strategists within the party have begun to believe that the national political environment is not only similar to what they saw in 1994 — when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate — but could in fact be worse by Election Day.

A quick look at the broadest atmospheric indicators designed to measure which way the national winds are blowing — the generic ballot and presidential approval — affirms the sense that the political environment looks every bit as gloomy for Democrats today as it did 16 years ago.

“President Obama’s job [approval] number is likely to be as bad or worse than [Bill] Clinton’s when November rolls around, the Democratic generic-ballot advantage of plus 12 to plus 15 in 2006 and 2008 is now completely gone, and conservatives are energized like 1994,” said Stu Rothenberg, an independent political analyst and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a well-read campaign tip sheet.

Dick Cavett: Real Americans, Please Stand Up

I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion – never mind the right of eminent domain and private property.

A heyday is being had by a posse of the cheesiest Republican politicos (Lazio, Palin, quick-change artist John McCain and, of course, the self-anointed St. Joan of 9/11, R. Giuliani). Balanced, of course by plenty of cheesy Democrats. And of course Rush L. dependably pollutes the atmosphere with his particular brand of airborne sludge.

Sad to see Mr. Reid’s venerable knees buckle upon seeing the vilification heaped on Obama, and the resulting polls. (Not to suggest that this alone would cause the sudden 180-degree turn of a man of integrity facing re-election fears.)

I got invigorating jolts from the president’s splendid speech – almost as good as Mayor Bloomberg’s

– but I was dismayed, after the worst had poured out their passionate intensity, to see him shed a few vertebrae the next day and step back.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Why won’t the GOP say ‘no’ to extremism?

In an election, a solid “no” usually beats an uneasy “yes, but.” That’s the heart of the problem Democrats and President Obama face this fall.

The advantage of saying no without equivocation is that a significant share of the electorate is usually ready to shout the word from the rooftops, especially when the economy is as bad as it is now. Both parties have regularly offered variations on George C. Wallace’s brilliant slogan, “Send them a message.” The catchphrase leaves voters free to define who “them” is and to fill in the message themselves.

Democrats know this, since the power of negative thinking won them back both houses of Congress in 2006. Their supporters swarmed the polls to say no to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

That’s why identifying the GOP as “the party of no” won’t do the Democrats as much good as they’d like to think. With more than a third of conservative Republicans declaring that our Christian president is a Muslim, just saying no to him is a more than adequate motivation to spend a few minutes with a ballot.

Glenn Greenwald: The “mosque” debate is not a “distraction”

Opponents of the Park51 Islamic community center held a rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan, and a 4-minute video, posted below, reveals the true sentiments behind this campaign.  It has little to do with The Hallowed Ground of the World Trade Center — that’s just the pretext — and everything to do with animosity toward Muslims.  I dislike the tactic of singling out one or two objectionable people or signs at a march or rally in order to disparage the event itself.  That’s not what this video is.  Rather, it shows the collective sentiment of those gathered, as well as what’s driving the broader national backlash against mosques and Muslims far beyond Ground Zero.

The episode in the video begins when, as John Cole put it, “some black guy made the mistake of looking Muslimish and was harassed and nearly assaulted by the collection of lily white mouth-breathers at the event . . . At about 25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that ‘All y’all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit’.”  As this African-American citizen (whom the videographer claims is a union carpenter who works at Ground Zero) is instructed to leave by what appears to be some sort of security or law enforcement official, the crowd proceeds to yell:  “he musta voted for Obama,” “Mohammed’s a pig,” and other assorted charming anti-mosque slogans.  I really encourage everyone to watch this to see the toxicity this campaign has unleashed:

Robert Reich: Corporate Rotten Eggs

There are rotten apples in every industry. Or perhaps I should say rotten eggs.

One especially rotten egg is Jack DeCoster, whose commercial egg agribusiness, which goes under the homey title “Wright County Egg,” headquartered in Galt, Iowa, sends eggs all over the country under many different brands. Those eggs have now laid low thousands of Americans with salmonella poisoning, and may well infect thousands more.

DeCoster is recalling 380 million eggs sold since mid-May. Another commercial egg company, also headquartered in Iowa, and in which DeCoster is a major investor, is recalling hundreds millions more.

It’s not clear how recall rotten eggs are recalled. They’re not like Toyotas. They’re already in our food supply.

But this is only the beginning of the story.

David Sirota: A Cautionary Tale About the Perils of Coronations & Uncompetitive Elections

Other than perhaps drug policy reform and some civil liberties issues, I rarely agree with the Denver Post’s conservative/libertarian columnist Vince Carroll on policy issues. However, his recent piece  on what voters should be able to expect from candidates is right-on. Indeed, it is a must-read jeremiad against the perils of uncontested elections and, ultimately, against the kind of red-versus-blue tribalism that increasingly strips substance out of our (allegedly) democratic process.

Using the recent campaign ad by Colorado gubernatorial frontrunner John Hickenlooper (D) as a jumping-off point, Carroll notes that the Denver Mayor’s spot isn’t saying we need a governor “to make tough but unavoidable cuts in government spending” – Hickenlooper is, instead trumpeting a broad ideological mantra against the very concept of government spending. Additionally, Hickenlooper has spent recent months criticizing Colorado Democrats’ energy and regulatory policies; opposing Democratic legislators’ efforts to end corporate welfare subsidies and raise revenues; and flip-flopping on the issue of global climate change.

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