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.

Eugene Robinson: Even Beck can’t mar King’s legacy

The majestic grounds of the Lincoln Memorial belong to all Americans — even to egomaniacal talk-show hosts who profit handsomely from stoking fear, resentment and anger. So let me state clearly that Glenn Beck has every right to hold his absurdly titled “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday.

But the rest of us have every right to call the event what it is: an exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale. I half-expect Beck to appear before the crowd in a bicorn hat, with one hand tucked into the front of his jacket.

That Beck is staging his all-about-me event at the very spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech — and on the 47th anniversary of that historic address — is obviously intended to be a provocation. There’s no need to feel provoked, however; the appropriate response is to ignore him. No puffed-up blabbermouth could ever diminish the importance of the 1963 March on Washington or the impact of King’s unforgettable words.

Lincoln and King will always have their places in American history. Beck’s 15 minutes of fame and influence are ticking by.

Joan Walsh Beck has a scheme

Promote Palin at an event he says isn’t political, on a day he says he didn’t know was the MLK speech anniversary

(But) my friend Melissa Harris-Lacewell cautioned me and Chris Matthews against giving Beck and Palin too much credit for winning people over to their crazy racial views. She’s right: It’s increasingly clear that the Tea Parties and Palin power are just more exciting names for an old political phenomenon: the aging, white, anti-government Republican base. They have more acolytes than I wish they did but fewer than they’ll need to transform the country, especially if Democrats remember what they’re fighting for in November. Harris-Lacewell also compared King’s incomparable words to the word salad normally tossed by Palin, and that made me laugh. Put the “I Have a Dream” speech side by side with whatever Palin says Saturday, and you’ll create instant civil rights believers among whoever reads through both.

Peter Daou: The “nutcase defense” – The DNC creates the RNC’s November ad campaign

Progressive activists have been raising the red flag for almost two years. The message to Democrats has been simple: if you don’t present a grand unified vision of what Democrats stand for, the rightwing noise machine will step into the vacuum and frame everything you do as part of a liberal conspiracy to destroy America.

The progressive message has not gotten through. The result is now a wave election, with Democrats scrambling to avoid a total wipeout. In this state of chaos and confusion, Democrats are now resorting to the “nutcase defense” – trying to tell voters that they are ‘crazy to vote for crazy people.’ But this is a gross misreading of the rise of the Tea Party, the age of Palinmania and America’s sudden rightward shift.

Greg Sargent: Will Glenn Beck rally help Dems tar GOP as extreme?

It isn’t every day that Democrats go out of their way to hype Glenn Beck’s activities, but Dems think the Beck rally scheduled for this Saturday — on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech — gives them an opportunity to push the line that the GOP is hostage to intolerants and extremists.

Dems are gleefully noting to reporters that Beck intends to rally the faithful from the Lincoln Memorial — the very spot where King gave his speech 47 years ago. And with turnout estimates running as high as 300,000, Dems say they hope they can wrest some political advantage from what they hope will amount to a massive show of Tea Party force that’s rife with ugly Obama-bashing.

Ellen Goodman: The Equal Rites Awards-Again

And so we rise to celebrate Aug. 26, the 90th anniversary of the day American women finally won the right to vote. It took nine decades to get a third woman on the Supreme Court. But in politics, alas, we have gone from radical women chaining themselves to the White House fence to conservative women serving tea. Or at least the tea party.

   What would Susan B. Anthony make of Sarah Palin as arguably the most (in)famous female politician in the land with her menagerie of groupies? The former leader of “pit bulls with lipstick” is now a “Mama Grizzly” intent on escorting a “stampede of pink elephants”-aka ultraconservative female Republicans-to Washington.

   The Year of the Pink Elephant Women was enough to force our one-woman jury back to its annual task. Once more we celebrate suffrage by giving out the much-prized Equal Rites Awards to those who did their best over the past 12 months to set back the cause of women.

   Before we get trampled, the envelopes please.

Joe Conason: Harbingers of violence in anti-mosque movement

The top organizer of the Sept. 11 rally against the “ground zero mosque” praises racist thugs in England

Pamela Geller furiously rejects any responsibility for the threatening, racially charged tenor of yesterday’s incident. But should anti-Muslim protesters here emulate her thuggish allies in the United Kingdom, nobody should be surprised when disorder and even bloodshed follow.

Geller has declared herself a proud supporter of the English Defence League, a far-right street movement that sprang up in the United Kingdom earlier this year to protest planned construction of mosques and to stoke fear of Islam more broadly. She isn’t troubled by the EDL’s shadowy leadership, nor by its connections with English fascist organizations and propensity for violence against bystanders, counter-protesters and the police.

Timothy Egan: Building a Nation of Know-Nothings

It would be nice to dismiss the stupid things that Americans believe as harmless, the price of having such a large, messy democracy. Plenty of hate-filled partisans swore that Abraham Lincoln was a Catholic and Franklin Roosevelt was a Jew. So what if one-in-five believe the sun revolves around the earth, or aren’t sure from which country the United States gained its independence?

But false belief in weapons of mass-destruction led the United States to a trillion-dollar war. And trust in rising home value as a truism as reliable as a sunrise was a major contributor to the catastrophic collapse of the economy. At its worst extreme, a culture of misinformation can produce something like Iran, which is run by a Holocaust denier.

It’s one thing to forget the past, with predictable consequences, as the favorite aphorism goes. But what about those who refuse to comprehend the present?

David Sarota: Lessons from a Low-Impact Week

“Will you join me in lowering our impact?”

That was the subject line on a recent e-mail I sent out to family, friends, column readers and radio listeners asking them to join me for a week in trying to reduce our individual environmental footprint. Inspired by Colin Beaven’s prophetic book “No Impact Man,” I proposed four pollution- and waste-reducing steps many people could try for a few days: Stop consuming meat, devote one meal a day to eating only locally grown products, avoid producing non-recyclable garbage and refrain from riding in a fossil-fuel burning vehicle with fewer than three people.

Having now completed this Low-Impact Week, I can report that it was not easy and that I did not achieve perfection-not even close. However, I can also say I learned a few things beyond how to manage bicycle-seat discomfort.

For one, I discovered that you can find affordable food that isn’t flown in at great energy expense-but it takes initiative. You have to check food labels at the grocery or hunt down a farmers market.

I was also reminded that we waste an obscene amount of paper and plastic. Coffee cups, disposable utensils, food wrappers-this offal is everywhere and most of it is used for less than 15 minutes and then discarded. Avoiding this trash for a week makes you think about the monstrous amount of energy used in producing, distributing and tossing it.

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    • on 08/27/2010 at 21:51

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