“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the t 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.
Dana Milbank: John Maynard Keynes, the GOP’s latest whipping boy
“In the long run we are all dead,” the great 20th-century economist John Maynard Keynes once stipulated.
As usual, Keynes was right, and in this case it’s probably for the better: Keynes didn’t live to see the Republicans of 2010 portray him as some sort of Marxist revolutionary. . . . .
Or perhaps, more ominously, these Republicans know exactly what they are saying when they reject Keynesian intervention: that the government should do nothing to help the millions out of work or to rebuild confidence in the economy.
Glen Greenwald: America the Exceptional
Even for those who believe they’re inured to the absurdities of imperial irony, this is almost too extreme to process:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information. . . .
“To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court,” [the ACLU’s Ben] Wizner said. . . . “If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers.”
Iraq to pay $400 million for Saddam’s mistreatment of Americans
Iraq has quietly agreed to pay $400 million in claims to American citizens who say they were tortured or traumatized by Saddam Hussein’s regime after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
But we invade, occupy and destroy Iraq — while severely abusing, torturing and killing their citizens — and then demand, as a condition for our allowing the end of crippling sanctions, that they fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American torture victims, even though it all happened 20 years ago, under an Iraqi regime that no longer even exists. They hate us for our Freedoms.
Nicholas D. Kristof: Is This America?
For a glimpse of how venomous and debased the discourse about Islam has become, consider a blog post in The New Republic this month. Written by Martin Peretz, the magazine’s editor in chief, it asserted: “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.”
Mr. Peretz added: “I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”
Thus a prominent American commentator, in a magazine long associated with tolerance, ponders whether Muslims should be afforded constitutional freedoms. Is it possible to imagine the same kind of casual slur tossed off about blacks or Jews? How do America’s nearly seven million American Muslims feel when their faith is denounced as barbaric?
This is one of those times that test our values, a bit like the shameful interning of Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the disgraceful refusal to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe.
Frank Rich: Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back
NO, he can’t. President Obama can’t reverse the unemployment numbers by Election Day. He can’t get even a modest new stimulus bill past the Party of No, and even if he could, there would be few jobs to show for it until (maybe) 2011. Nor can he rewrite the history of his administration. Its signal accomplishments to date are an initial stimulus package that was overrun by the calamity at hand and a marathon health care battle as yet better known for its unseemly orgy of backroom wrangling than its concrete results. While that brawl raged, the White House seemed indifferent to the mounting number of Americans being tossed onto the Great Recession scrapheap. . . . .
As many have noted, the obvious political model for Obama this year is Franklin Roosevelt, who at his legendary 1936 Madison Square Garden rally declared that he welcomed the “hatred” of his enemies in the realms of “business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.” As the historian David Kennedy writes in his definitive book on the period, “Freedom from Fear,” Roosevelt “had little to lose by alienating the right,” including those in the corporate elite, with such invective; they already detested him as vehemently as the Business Roundtable crowd does Obama.
Though F.D.R. was predictably accused of “class warfare,” his antibusiness “radicalism,” was, in Kennedy’s words, “a carefully staged political performance, an attack not on the capitalist system itself but on a few high-profile capitalists.” Roosevelt was trying to co-opt the populist rage of his economically despondent era, some of it uncannily Tea Party-esque in its hysteria, before it threatened that system, let alone his presidency. Only the crazy right confused F.D.R. with communists for taking on capitalism’s greediest players, and since our crazy right has portrayed Obama as a communist, socialist and Nazi for months, he’s already paid that political price without gaining any of the benefits of bringing on this fight in earnest.
F.D.R. presided over a landslide in 1936. The best the Democrats can hope for in 2010 is smaller-than-expected losses. To achieve even that, Obama will have to give an F.D.R.-size performance – which he can do credibly and forcibly only if he really means it. So far, his administration’s seeming coziness with some of the same powerful interests now vilifying him has left middle-class voters, including Democrats suffering that enthusiasm gap, confused as to which side he is on. If ever there was a time for him to clear up the ambiguity, this is it.