Jan 12 2011

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”.

Dean Baker: The Progressive Case Against Obama’s New Team

Most reports on the selection of William Daley as President Obama’s new chief of staff and Gene Sperling as the head of his National Economic Council included a few lines of criticism from progressives who were unhappy with these picks. Since there was not much space for the argument, these lines probably left many readers wondering why progressives don’t like Daley and Sperling.

To remove this sense of wonder, I will spell out the progressive case against the new team. (I get to do it because this is my column.)

Both Daley and Sperling were major actors in the Clinton administration. At the center of the Clinton administration’s economic policy was the idea that reducing the budget deficit was the key to boosting the economy. He held the view that if the deficit fell, then the private sector could be counted on to provide the demand to fill the gap created by less demand from the public sector.

Eugene Robinson: Guns and responsibility

We may not be sure that the bloodbath in Tucson had anything to do with politics, but we know it had everything to do with our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns. . . . .

We must recognize the obvious distinction between rifles, shotguns and target pistols used for sport on the one hand, and semiautomatic handguns designed for killing people on the other. We must decide that allowing anyone to carry a concealed weapon, no questions asked, is just crazy. And for heaven’s sake, we must demand that laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics be enforced.

Giffords is a supporter of responsible gun ownership. If we force our elected officials to act responsibly, the next senseless massacre just might be prevented.

Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation

Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You’re wrong. There’s more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here’s the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.

It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.”

Greg Sargent: Mental illness expert: We should be asking whether political climate helped trigger shooting

“It’s a reasonable question to ask,” Dr. Marvin Swartz, a psychiatry professor at Duke University who specializes in how environment impacts the behavior of the mentally ill, said in an interview this morning. “The nature of someone’s delusions is affected by culture. It’s a reasonable line of inquiry to ask, `How does a political culture affect the content of people’s delusions?'”

“Studying the cultural influences on people’s delusions or persecutory thinking, and looking at different aspects of culture and how they effect people’s behavior, is a legitmate area of inquiry,” Dr. Swartz said.

In other words, even if the shooter is a complete nut, we should be asking whether the tone of our political discourse might also have played a role in triggering the shooting — and if so, whether such a thing could happen again.

George Packer: Arguing Tucson

. . . It won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. . . . . .

In fact, there is no balance-none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Dana Milbank: For Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, a McKinley moment?

If any good can come of the horror in Tucson, it will be that this becomes a McKinley moment for Sarah Palin and her chief spokesman, Glenn Beck.

One hundred and ten years ago, during another low point in the nation’s political discourse, newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst – who was angling for a presidential run in 1904 – published a pair of columns fantasizing about violence against President William McKinley.

Have we finally tired of such words? Last week, the New York Daily News reported that AM talk-radio station WOR was dropping Beck’s show because of low ratings.

And that was before the McKinley moment. While Republican congressional leaders joined President Obama in Monday morning’s moment of silence, Beck mocked it as an Obama photo-op. His show was on commercial break during the silence, and when he returned to the air, he said: “It wasn’t silent in Washington – it was just the sound of cameras being snapped.”

Maybe Beck and Palin will be good enough to show us what a real moment of silence is – by having themselves a nice long one.

1 comment

  1. TMC

    The snow stopped here in NYC early this AM. There is only about 8 to 9 inches here but New England is getting slammed right now. Our dead end street & the cul de sac have already been plowed. Regardless, I am way done with snow and cold. Only 65 days until Spring.

    I heard about Sarah Palin’s “Blood Libel” speech. She has to be the on of the most incredibly ignorant politician. Using an antisemitic phrase to make excuses for her violent rhetoric is vile. This is tantamount to yelling “Fire” in a movie theater and then offer condolences to the families of victims that were trampled. This woman will never take responsibility for her own actions

Comments have been disabled.