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”.

Bruce Fein: Slouching Towards Tyranny

The state of civil liberties and national security in the United States is alarming. . . . . .

The United States was founded on the idea that the individual was the center of the nation’s universe; and, that freedom was the rule and government restraints grudging exceptions. The right to be left alone was cherished above all others. The national purpose was not to build an Empire by projecting military force throughout the planet, but to revere due process and the blessings of liberty at home.

These ennobling ideas have been abandoned for the juvenile thrill of domination for the sake of domination and a quest for absolute safety that elevates vassalage to the summum bonum.

Where are the leaders to awaken America to its philosophical peril? Who has the courage to preach, “Better free than safe,” “As we would not be tyrannized, so we shall not be tyrants,” and, “due process is a higher life form than vigilante justice?”

If not us, who? If not now, when?

New York Times Editorial:  Civil Rights in California

However the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rules in California’s pivotal same-sex marriage battle – and it should uphold the civil rights of Americans – the court has already set one standard that the Supreme Court should follow.

Lawyers on both sides of the struggle sparred over questions of legal procedure and civil rights for two intense hours on Monday – and the whole country had a chance to watch, thanks to the court’s decision to allow C-Span to televise the argument. The dignified proceeding only increased our regret over the moment that was lost in January when the Supreme Court abruptly intervened to block the planned broadcasting of the trial that led to the appeal. The court has persisted far too long in its refusal to allow unobtrusive camera coverage of its own oral arguments.

The central issue before the appellate court was whether Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, violates the United States Constitution. In August, in Federal District Court, Judge Vaughn Walker held that it did. After a nearly three-week trial, Judge Walker found no rational basis for the proposition’s inherent discrimination, which he said violated rights to equal protection and due process of law.

Gail Collins: My Favorite War

Well, here’s some good news for a change. The Holiday Parade of Lights in Tulsa, Okla., has been saved!

know you’ve been worried.

The Tulsa City Council has voted to allow the parade to go forward Saturday night, despite protests against the disappearance of the word “Christmas” from its name.

It’s not entirely clear that the council actually could have stopped it, or even whether the parade ever officially had Christmas in its name. But Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is outraged.

Inhofe was away from home last December, stuck in Washington trying to kill off health care reform. Now he’s back, and he’s noted a dwindling in the parade’s religious angle. “I just don’t like what’s going on in America today, all over the country, with the aversion some people seem to have toward Christ,” he said in one of his many interviews explaining that he will no longer ride his horse in any holiday event that isn’t named for Christmas.

Go to it, Senator Inhofe! I love this controversy, and only in part because it diverts Oklahoma’s senior senator from his normal day job of trying to convince the world that global warming doesn’t exist.

Mark Engler: Obama’s Tax Cut Debacle: When Compromise is the Enemy of the Good

I think we need a new aphorism or analogy to counter the old saying, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” This is the principle that President Obama has once again offered up, this time after disastrously caving in to the Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.

A new, contrary adage should warn against compromising to the point at which you end up supporting something vile.

Jeff Cohen: President Nafta Backs President Shafta

It was a stunning spectacle this afternoon when former President Clinton took the podium from President Obama in the White House briefing room to help shove the Obama-GOP tax deal down the throats of Democratic activists and Congress members.

It was a fitting spectacle too (carried live on CNN) — since Bill Clinton paved the way in teaching how a Democratic president can win battles through the votes NOT of his own party but the Republicans.

Remember NAFTA, the trade deal loved by big business and Republicans — and opposed by Democratic constituencies like unions, environmentalists and consumer advocates? Clinton passed NAFTA with the votes of nearly 80 percent of GOP senators and almost 70 percent of House Republicans. Meanwhile, House Democrats opposed NAFTA by more than 3 to 2.

Laura Flanders: Attacks On Government Workers in Tax Deal

Republican activist Grover Norquist once famously declared that he’d like to shrink the federal government to the point where he could drown it in a bathtub — but a little-noticed provision in the “tax cut compromise” we discussed today with Bernie Sanders might well drain the states’ sinks first.

Yves Smith and Reuters blogger James Pethokoukis report that the billionaires-for-benefits compromise effectively ends the Build America Bonds program. That’s the program which makes it easier for states to borrow money to cover their budget shortfalls — estimated at $140 billion just next year.

Who are the victims when the states can’t borrow? Bill Fletcher reminded us this week of the attacks on public employees’ pay. Public employee retirement benefits will probably be the first to go — estimated at $750 billion to more than $3 trillion.

Pethokoukis further notes that legislation amending bankruptcy law is in the works, possibly permitting states to declare bankruptcy. And if they declare bankruptcy, just like GM, workers’ benefits are the first thing on the chopping block.

Janet Redman: Cancun: Can We Avert Climate Chaos?

Arm twisting and back-room pressure tactics will backfire.

Rumors running through the halls of the Moon Palace, the Cancun resort where delegates from the 192 countries that belong to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting, paint a bleak picture of the possibility of moving toward a fair and effective climate deal in the near future.

Civil society groups expressed caution in Cancun that Mexico, thiis climate convention’s host, must avoid invite-only conversations with a small group of countries aimed at agreeing on the most sensitive topic on the table: the question of who will be responsible for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and by how much.

Many developing countries worry that a small group could be pressured by powerful players to accept a deal that undercuts ecological stability, human security, and equity. They’re concerned that if a bad deal is put on the table in the final week of negotiations, governments that voice dissent will be portrayed as villains.


  1. The commentary by Bruce Fein is well worth reading. He is not a progressive, although many of us on the left have a deep respect for his opinions.

    If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Fein, he is a conservative Constitutional lawyer, graduate of Harvard Law, who has worked for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation both conservative think tanks. He is a principal in a government affairs and public relations firm, The Lichfield Group, in Washington, D.C.. He is also a resident scholar at the Turkish Coalition of America.

    He is active on the issues of civil liberties and was a top DOJ official in the Reagan administration. He has been critical of every American President.

    He wrote the Clinton articles of impeachment and called for the simultaneous impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

    Fein criticized President Barack Obama for declining to prosecute Bush administration officials for composing CIA memos justifying torture during interrogations.

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