“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”.
Paul Krugman: Freezing Out Hope
Freezing Out HopeOn Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking – successfully, it seems – to destroy him.
So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.
About that pay freeze: the president likes to talk about “teachable moments.” Well, in this case he seems eager to teach Americans something false.
Glenn Greenwald: The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics
Time‘s Joe Klein writes this about the WikiLeaks disclosures:
I am tremendously concernced [sic] about the puerile eruptions of Julian Assange. . . . If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in “freedom” stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He’s the one who should be in jail.
That’s quite a rigorous moral standard. So let’s apply it elsewhere:
What about the most destructive “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” the planet has known for at least a generation: the “human disaster” known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn’t result in the imprisonment of “a single foreign national,” but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” — or at least those responsible for its execution — also “criminals who should be in jail”?
Eugene Robinson: Tax cut fight highlights Democrats’ missing convictions
Why did Republicans go to the trouble and expense of winning the midterm elections? It looks like they’re about to prove, once again, that you can get your way in Washington without a congressional majority – if you have a firm sense of purpose. Maybe the Democratic Party will find one someday.
Or maybe not. Sigh.
What has me exercised – okay, frothing – is the ongoing fight over the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which are set to expire at the end of the year. By all rights, this shouldn’t be a fight at all. The Republican position is so ludicrous that it beggars belief.
Dan Froomkin: An Example Of How Civil Political Discourse Threatens Modern Conservatism
WASHINGTON — The conventional wisdom among this city’s elite is that if liberals and conservatives would only sit down and actually listen to each other, they would find common ground somewhere in the middle.
Actually, it’s a belief that goes beyond conventional wisdom — it is an object of faith, the central tenet of the inside-the-Beltway religion known as High Broderism.
And it is most devoutly held when it comes to the subject of the national deficit — as demonstrated by the recent orgiastic coverage of President Obama’s deficit-hawk-heavy fiscal commission.
One of the latest attempts to support this position comes courtesy of , a group heavily funded by billionaire deficit propagandist Pete Peterson’s eponymous foundation. The group, which sponsored an exercise in deliberative democracy earlier this year, was out with a press release Thursday declaring: “LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES FIND COMMON GROUND ABOUT HOW TO RESOLVE NATIONAL DEBT.”
Daphne Eviatar: Wikileaks Cables Reveal Obama Administration Tried To Thwart Torture Prosecutions
Earlier this week we learned from Wikileaks that the Bush Administration tried to stop Germany from investigating the CIA’s alleged torture of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who’d been mistaken for an al Qaeda terrorist and imprisoned in Afghanistan. I observed that the Obama Administration would have been hard-pressed to take a different position, given that it’s refused to investigate (or allow others to sue over) those claims itself.
Now, David Corn in Mother Jones has documented that the Obama administration has, in fact, done just what I thought it would: it’s continued the Bush policy of interfering in other countries’ attempts to apply the rule of law.
Laura Flanders: WikiLeaks’ Economic Warfare
So far, WikiLeaks have concentrated their efforts on U.S. foreign policy, from wars to diplomacy. Though little concrete action appears to have been taken in response to the leaks, their next target may spark a different reaction.
Bank of America shares fell 3 percent on Tuesday after Julian Assange hinted that he had as much as 5 GB worth of their documents revealing some shady behavior.
“We know they’ve made horrific acquisitions… taken massive write-downs… if they actually had to report that, they’re probably technically insolvent,” financial blogger Barry Ritholtz told cable news.
But we already know there’s been plenty of mismanagement and even fraud on Wall Street, so what could Assange have on the Bank that we don’t already know? Given their shameless theft of US assets, what could possibly embarrass them?
Mark Weisbrot: Haiti’s Sham Election Shames US
Washington cannot confer legitimacy on this flawed election that does nothing for Haitians living under tarps, menaced by cholera
The “election” in Haiti shows once again how low Washington’s standards are for democracy in countries that they want to control politically. And there is no doubt who is in charge there. There is a government, to be sure, but since the elected government in 2004 was overthrown, and even more since the earthquake, it is the “international community” that calls the shots – Hillary Clinton’s code for the U.S. State Department.
The election was a farce to begin with, once the non-independent CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) decided to exclude the country’s largest political party from participating – along with other parties. Fanmi Lavalas is the party of Haiti’s most popular political leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has won every election that it has contested. Aristide himself remains in exile – unable to return since the U.S.-sponsored overthrow of his government in 2004.
Imagine holding an election in the United States with both the Democratic and Republican parties prohibited from participating. If we look at other troubled elections in the world – Iran in 2009, or Afghanistan more recently – Haiti’s is even less legitimate. It is perhaps most comparable to the recent election in Burma.
Glen Ford: The Non-Election for the Non-Government of the Non-Sovereign State of Haiti
The multitudinous assaults on Haiti’s dignity reached a crescendo with this weekend’s elections, imposed by foreigners for the benefit of foreigners against the wishes of the Haitian people and even of most of the candidates. It is as if severely wounded and sick hospital patients – make that prison hospital patients – were ordered to dance and sing for the pleasure of rich visitors. As should have been expected, most Haitians refused to perform like circus animals, on demand.
The Haitian sham elections for president and most of the legislature may go down as the most bizarre and macabre exercise in hypocrisy in the history of U.S. imperialism. Haiti’s most popular political party – no, the ONLY political party with a truly mass following – the Fanmi Lavalas organization of exiled president Jean Bertrand Aristide, was barred from running. By the time Sunday rolled around, 12 of the 19 candidates for president were denouncing the government for perpetrating a “massive fraud” on the citizenry. Turnout was probably not much more than single digits – which is actually the usual for Haitian elections in which Aristide’s party is not allowed to participate – an electoral travesty equivalent to outlawing the Democratic Party in New York City, Boston or Chicago.