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Dec 21 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”.

Starhawk: Out of darkness, light: Solstice and the lunar eclipse

Winter Solstice–the shortest day and longest night of the year. For Pagans, Wiccans and Goddess worshippers, this is one of our most sacred holidays. As winter closes in, the darkness grows and the light recedes. For Pagans, darkness is the necessary balance to light. We don’t conceive of the dark as evil, but as a place of potential, of gestation–the black, fertile soil where the seed puts forth roots and shoots, the dark womb where new life is nurtured. But being humans, we also have a natural affinity for the light, the time of growth and new beginnings, of warmth and color and bright new hopes. Solstice reminds us that no darkness, no loss, no grief or disappointment is final. Out of darkness, light is born. Every ending gives rise to a new beginning. Out of disappointment and despair comes new courage, new hope.

Dean Baker: Saving Social Security: Stopping Obama’s Next Bad Deal

President Obama insists that he is a really bad negotiator, therefore the deal he got on the 2-year extension of the Bush tax cuts and the 1-year extension of unemployment benefits was the best that he could do. This package also came with a 1-year cut in the Social Security tax.

This cut will seriously threaten the program’s finances if next year, the Republican Congress is no more willing to end a temporary tax cut than this year’s Democratic Congress.

The logic here is straightforward. Under the law, the Bush tax cuts were supposed to end in 2010. Tax rates returned to their pre-tax cut levels in 2011. However, the Republicans maintained a steady drumbeat about the evils of raising taxes in the middle of a downturn, even if the tax increase would just apply to the richest 2 percent of the population.

Jane Hamsher: Barack Obama and the Art of Negotiation

The President is “moving quickly” to reassure liberals that he has “not abandoned them” in the wake of the tax cut deal, according to the Washington Post.

But liberals shouldn’t be concerned that Obama has “abandoned them.”  They should be far more worried if he’s actually on their side, and simply losing one fight after another.

The White House has been working to smooth the ruffled feathers of liberals that Obama dismissed as “sanctimonious” in his spur-of-the-moment press conference two weeks ago. But having watched the event, I have to say that I was personally far less concerned about Obama’s attack on his liberal critics than I was about the signals he sent to anyone who ever negotiates against him.

Michael Whitney: Obama Administration Sets New Deportation Record to Appease GOP

In an effort to win GOP favor on immigration legislation in Congress, the Obama Administration stepped up ICE deportations of undocumented workers to record levels. More than 800,000 immigrants were moved out of the United States in just two years by President Obama to appease Republicans, according to the Washington Post. . . . .

Playing with the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of human beings is a despicable political ploy for any politician, let alone a Democratic President. And the “strategy” predictably failed, as with every other move to appease Republicans. This weekend’s defeat of the DREAM Act in the Senate shows the complete fallacy of racing to ruin the lives of immigrants in pursuit of legislative compromise with the GOP.

Paul Rosenberg: Misinformation is ubiquitous, but Fox leads the way, new study shows

On Countdown Friday, Chris Hayes reported on a new study from the Program on International Policy Attitudes and WorldPublicOpinion.org at the University of Maryland, dealing with media misinformation and the 2010 elections. The poll found that “9 in 10 voters said that in the 2010 election they encountered information they believed was misleading or false, with 56% saying this occurred frequently.”  It also found that voters were widely misinformed on a number of commonly-discussed issues.  There was a clear pattern of increased misinformation with Fox viewers–the more they watched, the less they knew.  But misinformation was so widespread that it simply has to be regarded as a feature of our current media system, not a bug.  On six of the eleven questions asked, a majority of respondents gave incorrect answers–in some cases up to 80 and 90%–even higher. And as such–although MSNBC viewers are actually less misinformed than most overall–this segment on Countdown unfortunately misses the mark, even though what it reports is substantially true:

Doug Kendall: The Chamber and the Court

Adam Liptak’s must-read, front-page story in this past Sunday’s New York Times examines in significant and compelling detail the increasingly favorable disposition of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Robert towards corporate interests, highlighting a newly released empirical study by Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) that tracks the success of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before the Court over most of the last 30 years.

Great as Liptak’s story is, it doesn’t come close to conveying the richness of the data in three studies we have now released on the Chamber’s success before the Supreme Court. Collectively, these studies document: (1) that the Chamber’s success rate before the Court has risen in straight-line progression from 43% during our study of the Burger Court, to 56% during our study of the Rehnquist Court, to 68% during our study of the Roberts Court; and (2) the emergence, for the first time in the Roberts Court, of a stark ideological divide on the Supreme Court in business cases. In our study of the Roberts Court, the conservative bloc of the Court favored the Chamber position 74% of the time, compared to 43% of the time for the moderate/liberal bloc. This 31-point difference is nearly triple what we found in our study of the Rehnquist Court and the Burger Court.

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