Nov 10 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Pundits is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Joseph C. Wilson: George Bush’s Deception Points

Having read that people began lining up in front of bookstores before former President Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, was due to be released, I hurried off to purchase mine early on November 9, arriving about fifteen minutes after opening time. I have the distinction of being the first person to purchase Bush’s book in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I have a special interest in understanding how the former president sees his decision to invade Iraq and his use of intelligence to justify the invasion. I have also been curious about what he might have to say about the betrayal of a CIA covert officer’s identity, my wife’s, by, among others, two senior members of his staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove. I had seen his interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer in which he volunteered that Scooter Libby was a “loyal” American who had been somehow caught up in the Valerie Plame affair. I was thunderstruck by his description of a man convicted of four counts of lying to federal officials, perjury, and obstruction of justice, the chief of staff to the Vice President who knowingly offered up Valerie Plame’s name to a New York Times reporter, and who was so obsessed with destroying my reputation that he kept a three-ring binder on me and an annotated copy of my book. My expectations for truthful revelation in Bush’s book, after his comment, were naturally low. I have not been disappointed. In fact, Deception Points might have been a more appropriate title.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Sit! Stay! A New York Times Chew Toy for Blue Dogs

The conservative wing of the Democratic Party just drove it over a cliff, but you’d never know if from reading Matt Bai’s latest New York Times piece. It’s the latest in a series of Bai paeans to that odd mix of ideologies and opportunism that Washington types persist in calling “centrism,” despite its ever-increasing distance from the real center of American opinion.

How is a Blue Dog different from all other dogs? Apparently when you love a blue dog, you lick it.

Like so many other commentators these days, Bai’s so enmeshed in personalities and labels that he never gets around to the issues. In his piece the liberals are fighting with the centrists, Howard Dean’s supporters don’t like Rahm Emanuel, and it’s all a reporter can do just to keep score. Unfortunately he never pauses to consider the possibility that policies, not personalities, might have been the key to victory.

Richard Norton-Taylor: Waterboarding is no basis for truth

George Bush’s defence of torture relies on a belief in information that our intelligence agencies treat with deep scepticism

Bush cannot be allowed to get away with making these kind of claims about information based on torture, information that Britain’s security and intelligence agencies treat with deep scepticism and – as far as the supposed links between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq are concerned – incredulity

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Republicans About to Show True Colors

Voters delivered an understandable rebuke to Democrats — 30 million people looking for work, wages declining, millions of homes under water. The economy is a mess; it hasn’t be fixed. Democrats paid the price.

Republicans ran as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sobered by Tea Party challenges in their primaries, Republican candidates suddenly became populist tribunes. They indicted Democrats for running up deficits to bail out the banks without doing anything about jobs, even as incoming House Speaker John Boehner gathered the bank lobbyists together to offer Republicans as their protectors.

Now voters will see the sheep garb discarded and the wolf come out. Remember the talk about deficits? Forget about it — the first Republican priority is to extend all the Bush tax cuts, adding a trillion to the deficit over 10 years to pay for the extra tax cuts provided those making over $250,000 a year. The second is to gut the estate tax that applies only to the wealthiest families in America. This is solemnly described as defending small businesses and small farms from tax increases in a recession. But we’re talking corporate lawyers and affluent doctors here, not mom-and-pop stores.

David Weigel: The Peterson Principle

Pete Peterson’s unserious campaign to get America to think seriously about the national debt.

You win, Pete Peterson. I’m writing about you. The $6 million you’re spending on your latest campaign will not be wasted. You are getting Media Attention. This piece can be printed out and put in a binder, which can then be used to gain further Media Attention.

I can’t ignore this campaign because it’s so obvious and pandering. It is called “OweNo,” with the “o” in “no” actually designed as red “no” symbol, as in “No smoking” or “No shirts, No shoes, No service.” It’s ostensibly a vehicle for the presidential campaign of Hugh Jidette, whose name is supposed to (but doesn’t quite) sound like “huge debt,” who promises to spend lots of money without raising taxes, and who launched his campaign to a cheering crowd of fellow actors who really needed the work.

And so it’s a ploy to promote the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is scheduled to release its recommendations for a long-term debt reduction plan by Dec. 1. We are at “a unique, historic moment in American politics,” Peterson said today. “I heard the voters say, enough is enough,” said Peterson. “Enough of the bluffing. Enough of the meaningless generalities that obscure more than they reveal.”

John Kaufman: What’s Wrong with Wisconsin?

Having elected its second millionaire to the U.S. Senate and sending its most courageous and progressive congressman home, having installed a Republican governor and Republican majorities to both houses of the state Legislature, Wisconsin has in the name of a “populist” uprising put into power a party totally opposed to the best interests of those most in need of real populism and government-led defense: rural and inner-city people. In a state with a prominent progressive tradition, what happened on Nov. 2 was a tragedy, but not a very surprising one

Sadly, the red tide of Republican victory across the state includes most of Wisconsin’s rural counties, as well as the expected wealthy suburbs. And while urban voters, according to exit polls, preferred Democrats by a large margin, statewide families making less than $50,000 voted for Republicans and Democrats in nearly equal numbers.

How did this happen?

Matthew Rothschild: Rand Paul’s Lack of Class

Kentucky’s newly minted Senator is not ready to play nice.

Appearing on “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour on Sunday, Paul boasted that the tea partiers have will not be coopted by the Republican Party but vice versa. “The tea party is coopting Washington,” he said. “We’re proud, we’re strong, we’re loud, and we’re going to coopt. And in fact, I think we’re already shaping the debate.”

He’s shaping it in such an ugly way, too.

David Smith-Ferri: Drones Cannot See What Afghan Civilians See

KABUL, Afghanistan – “We live in constant fear of suicide attacks,” said Laila, an Afghan woman who lives in Kandahar city and who visited with us yesterday. “When will the next one strike and where?”

“Twelve days ago,” she continued, “a good friend was walking home from the mosque. A four-minute walk. An IED was detonated, and my friend lost half his face. Another man lost his leg, and his son lost his leg, too. We live with that kind of uncertainty, when you don’t know what is going to happen from one moment to the next.”

Laila’s descriptions of living with fear and violence in Kandahar contradict the mild U.S. descriptions of the “security situation” there. “The Taliban do not control the city,” said Army General Stanley McChrystal, in a May 13, 2010 briefing concerning a “much-anticipated” military operation in Kandahar. “You can walk around the streets of Kandahar, and there is business going on. It is a functioning city.”

Compare McChrystal’s blithe comments with Laila’s experience. “In Kandahar city, you don’t know what’s going to happen, minute to minute. Every single minute that we live – if you can call it living – every single second there is the thought that this is going to be my last second.”

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