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”.

Robert Reich: Why the Obama Tax Deal Confirms the Republican Worldview

Apart from its extraordinary cost and regressive tilt, the tax deal negotiated between the president and the Republicans has another fatal flaw.

It confirms the Republican worldview.

Americans want to know what happened to the economy and how to fix it. At least Republicans have a story — the same one they’ve been flogging for thirty years. The bad economy is big government’s fault and the solution is to shrink government.

Here’s the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.

David Sirota: Watch the Outfielders In Baseball, Watch the Corporate Lobbyists On Taxes

When I went to Phillies games as a kid, my dad would always remind me that if you want to know what’s going on in the game, its more important to watch the fielders than to watch the ball after the ball is hit. Watching the fielders like Von Hayes and Lenny Dykstra and how they reacted told you if the ball hit by Tim Raines or Ron Gant was going to be a foul, an out, a base hit or a homer.

It’s sorta the same thing in politics – if you want to know what a bill really does, it’s more important to watch corporate lobbyists’ reaction than to listen to the politicians pushing the bill. That’s because whereas politicians have a vested interest in making themselves look good for purposes of reelection and party advancement, lobbyists jealously represent Big Money, without regard for partisanship or electoral maneuvering.

Michael Winship: The Heartbreak of Premature Capitulation

There’s this old joke about the French Revolution. A group of prisoners is lined up before the guillotine. One by one, their heads are lopped off. Then, the next man is put in place. The lever is pulled, but the blade stops just inches above his neck. This must be a sign of divine intervention, the judge in charge declares, and the man is freed.  

The same thing happens to the next prisoner, and the next and the next. Finally, as the very last man is prepared for execution, he looks up at the mechanism and exclaims, “Wait! I think I see your problem!”  

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you President Barack Obama, providing needless aid and comfort to those who would do him wrong, handing over his own head without a fight, afflicted with a curious syndrome we men of science have decided to call Premature Capitulation.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Casting liberal allies aside will hurt Obama in the long run

What does President Obama think of those who fought and bled to pass his bills in Congress (in some cases losing in this year’s election for their pains) while also defending him against wild charges from the right wing? Are they among the liberals he described as “sanctimonious,” who long for the “satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people”?

Obama’s comments make you wonder: Whom does he think he can count on when conservatives try to repeal the health-care law, force cuts in programs he supports, investigate his administration down to the last pencil and continue to denounce him as an un-American socialist?

Robert Sheer: From Jefferson to Assange

All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Feinstein, who strongly supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, has the audacity to call for the imprisonment of the man who, more than any other individual, has allowed the public to learn the truth about those disastrous imperial adventures — facts long known to Feinstein as head of the Intelligence Committee but never shared with the public she claims to represent.

Feinstein represents precisely the government that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said, in defense of unfettered freedom of the press, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Cenk Uygur: The Hidden Cost of Capitulation

Now that the president has signaled yet another collapse in agreeing to tax cuts for the rich, there is a hidden cost to this capitulation. He is now stuck defending this deal for the rest of his term. I predicted this on the show yesterday and today it’s playing out exactly the way I imagined, with the [president sending out advisers to talk about what a great idea it is to give tax cuts to the rich].

Once you sign off on a political position, you own it. This could be a corollary to Colin Powell’s doctrine on foreign policy. Powell said if you break it, you own it. In this case, if you make it, you own it.

The president claims he will fight hard against these same tax cuts two years from now. It’s hard to stop laughing long enough to make a point against that, but I will try. If you are sending out your people to talk up polls about how right the Republicans were on the tax cuts for the rich now, how are you going to send out the same people to talk about how wrong they were – and how wrong you were – two years from now?

Ari Berman: Obama Supporters ‘Dismayed, Betrayed, Insulted’ by Tax Deal

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama testily defended his tax cut deal with Republicans and labeled Democratic opponents of the plan “sanctimonious” and “purist.”

So do Obama supporters agree with the president’s assessment that this was the best compromise he could get and he did all he could to fight for middle-class tax cuts and not those for the wealthy?

The answer seems to be a pretty resounding no. A poll commissioned by MoveOn.org yesterday found that 74 percent of Obama volunteers or financial backers in ’08 oppose the deal. More than half said they’d be less likely to support Democrats in 2012 who back the compromise and would be less likely to donate to Obama’s re-election campaign. Pretty sobering statistics for the president and his team.

John Nichols: What Elizabeth Edwards Did for the Antiwar Movement

Elizabeth Edwards was a distinct political figure-the wife of a vice-presidential nominee and leading presidential contender who was consistently willing to stake out more dynamic and detailed positions than her husband. She was, for instance, dramatically more supportive of gay rights than John Edwards-so much so that when the former senator was asked about the issue during 2008 presidential debates he ended up having to explain why he had not yet “evolved” toward Elizabeth’s more enlightened stances in favor of same-sex marriage and rescinding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I always enjoyed interviewing Elizabeth more than John because Elizabeth, who has died at age 61 after a long battle with cancer, was so much more likely to say something that mattered. And where Elizabeth Edwards said the most that mattered during the time of her greatest political prominence was in her embrace of the anti-war movement at a point when her husband and other leading Democrats remained troublingly tentative.

Always more deeply and specifically critical of the Iraq War, Elizabeth Edwards played an essential role in moving her husband toward a more aggressively anti-war position as he prepared for his 2008 presidential run. But it was not just John Edwards that Elizabeth moved. With a specific act in the aftermath of the 2004 presidential contest, the wife of the Democratic party’s vice presidential candidate in that race gave a sort of official blessing to a more militant-and meaningful-anti-war activism.


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