Aug 28 2010

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

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: Ms. Amanpour will take a look at Education in the classroom and lunchroom. Her guests will include: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers; and Bringing a Food Revolution to America’s Schools with Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This week Mr. Schieffer’s will have a exclusive with Joe Miller, Candidate for Senate in Alaska. His other guests will include Rep. Kendrick Meek, Florida Democratic Senate Nominee, Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour, Chairman, Republican Governors Association and Fla. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Vice Chair.

The Chris Matthews Show: Heading up discussion with Mr. Matthews will be Joe Klein, TIME Columnist, Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent, Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent and Reihan Salam, The Atlantic Associate Editor. The questions that will be discussed are Who Gains from the Divisions in the Country? and Will The Right Stuff For The GOP This Year Actually Help Obama in 2012?.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: In a special live edition from New Orleans on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Meet the Press will be hosted by Brian Wiliams, NBC’s anchor for Nightly News. He will speak with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He will also interview actor Brad Pitt, founder of the Make It Right Foundation and the effort to build 150 green, affordable, high-quality design homes in the neighborhood closest to the levee breach, the Lower 9th Ward. Mr. Williams will host a discussion with New Orleans native, a star of HBO’s “Treme”, President of the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation, Wendell Pierce, Long-time New Orleans journalist and Host of WWL-Radio’s “Think Tank”, Garland Robinette and historian, former Professor at Tulane University and author of “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast”, Douglas Brinkley.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: The housing crisis is the topic with guest host Ed Henry talks with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan about the state of the anemic housing market and the struggling economy.

Then how are states coping at a local level, we’ll look at Florida, one of the hardest hit states, with two Florida Senate candidates Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D).

Finally, what does this all mean? CNN’s Ali Velshi joins us to break it all down.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS:

Are China and the U.S. on a collision course? Is a confrontation inevitable? No, we’re not talking about economies here. This is about militaries. China is busy beefing up its navy, buying new ships and weapons. What does it all mean for the world’s biggest superpower – the U.S.? Geo-strategist Robert Kaplan tells us the answer and explains why the South China Sea will soon be the most important place on earth.

Then, What in the World? Do you know the significance of the number 311? It’s not just a phone number any more. It might be a key number for reducing America’s nuclear arsenal.

And is the Internet really dead as Wired Magazine claims? Is it really making us dumber? Internet guru Clay Shirky on the state of technology in our culture today…and what the future will bring.

Then, is there a bright side to the recession? Author and economist Richard Florida on the change that always comes with economic crisis…and the good things that he thinks will come out of this one.

And finally, the Last Look: the next big idea in military fashion.

Queen Noor of Jordan: Ramadan Lessons for All of Humanity


True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west — but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance — however much he himself may cherish — it — upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God. (2:177 [Asad])

In a sense this beautiful verse is its own commentary, and for a Muslim these exhortations are among the most familiar commandments in their religious life. It is one of those verses where several strands of the Quran’s teachings interlace. Each phrase, taken alone, repeats an idea that is found throughout Islam’s sacred text, and taken together they form a kind of summary of the teachings of Islam.

It is from passages such as this one that Muslims find their main articles of faith: belief in the one God, the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter, the existence of the angels, revelation in the form of sacred books, and the messengers and prophets who have borne that revelation to humanity from Adam until the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon them all.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic year. We observe it this year against a backdrop of intensifying global human suffering, caused by economic hardship, human rights abuses, military conflict and terrorism, and the rapidly multiplying disastrous consequences of climate change. Muslims have an opportunity to use the days of this month as God intended: to reflect on our own humanity and our collective duty towards our fellow human beings. True religion isn’t built of the manifestations of piety through prayer — turning faces towards the east or west — but requires good deeds and action that manifest and express the essential values of our faith.

Janet Napolitano: Improving America’s Disaster Response

As we approach the fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it’s important to note how far our nation has come in improving our ability to respond to and recover from disasters and the progress we’ve made in helping our Gulf Coast recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has made Gulf Coast rebuilding a top priority. Over the past 20 months, we’ve obligated more than $2.5 billion in funding for new schools and universities, fire houses, police stations, and critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, hospitals and public health assets across the Gulf.

Kathleen Sebelius: Strengthening the Gulf’s Health-Care Infrastructure for Generations to Come

We can’t look back on the five years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama’s Gulf Coast communities without recognizing the extraordinary determination of the people who live there. When the wind subsided and the clouds cleared, more than 1,800 people had lost their lives, and property damage was as high as $75 billion. But folks rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

Our job at the Department of Health and Human Services was to make sure the health system was there for them. There are families who have called the Gulf region home for generations, and they aim to call it home for generations to come. That’s why this Department worked quickly in the immediate aftermath of the storm to provide emergency services and supplies to the region, and it’s why we have set out to rebuild the health-care infrastructure to meet Gulf communities’ long-term medical needs.

Earlier this week, we announced an additional $25 million in newly-approved funding for rebuilding projects in Louisiana and Mississippi, the latest in a series of Gulf Coast recovery projects. These resources are helping revitalize communities, cut through red tape, and get long-delayed construction projects off the ground.

Glenn Greenwald: Racial and ethnic exploitation of economic insecurity

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, today:


Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities — often lopsided majorities — oppose President Obama’s social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.

Yahoo! News, August 12, 2010:


A new CNN poll has found that most Americans think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married. . . . As polling-statistics blogger Nate Silver points out, the margin of error [as well as the poll’s status as the first to find majority approval] means we can’t assume that a majority of Americans support gay marriage, but it is “no longer safe to say that opposition to same-sex marriage is the majority position . . . . “

That particular factual inaccuracy, which I am 100% certain will never be corrected by the Post, is the least of the problems with Krauthammer’s column today.  Above all else, he seeks to delegitimize concerns over the Right’s intensifying use of racially and ethnically divisive tactics as nothing more than the last refuge of a Democratic Party which, he argues, espouses unpopular policies and thus has no means of winning an election other than by falsely accusing its opponents of bigotry.

Joe Conanson: Our new welfare queens, the undeserving unemployed

Economic punditry on the right offers an insidious meme: The jobless are scamming, so why extend benefits?

Neither party has advanced a sufficiently ambitious plan to stimulate the economy and put Americans back to work, but only the Republicans have argued against extending federal assistance to the unemployed. Loud voices among them — notably those of Sharron Angle and Rand Paul — think the jobless are “spoiled” and that there are plenty of jobs for those who are willing to work.

Such ideas are akin to the view that dinosaurs coexisted with humans or that global warming will prove beneficial. But the urge to demonize the unemployed is so powerful on the right that even conservatives who understand the grim realities perfectly well cannot resist it.

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