Jan 13 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”.

Robert Sheer: Perps in the White House

While it is widely recognized that the banking meltdown has left enormous economic pain and political upheaval in its wake, it is amazing that the folks who created this mess are rewarded with ever more important positions in our government. Yet the recent appointments of Gene Sperling and William Daley, key Wall Street-connected perps of this crisis, to the most critical positions in the Obama White House have not generated much controversy.

The justification for the media’s indifference appears to be that the new appointees can hardly be worse than the hustlers they replaced. From its beginning, the Obama administration has been flooded with veterans of the Clinton White House who pushed through the radical deregulation that Wall Street had long sought and were rewarded with fat fees from the big banks when they left government.

Nancy Goldstein: Will Bush’s Torture Memo Team Face Justice in Spain?

There may yet be justice for the victims of the post-9/11 US torture program. Just not in the United States.

Here, our previous president is enjoying terrific sales for a memoir where he boasts about having authorized waterboarding. The current administration’s commitment to “moving past” the illegalities incurred on its predecessor’s watch is so hardcore that the Department of Justice decided late last year against prosecuting anyone from the CIA for destroying ninety-two videotapes that showed the torture of prisoners detained as suspected terrorists. Which leaves Attorney General Eric Holder more time to subpoena Twitter records and figure out how to criminalize Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for promoting government transparency.

But perhaps there will be justice in Spain. This past Friday, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed papers urging Judge Eloy Velasco to do what the United States will not: prosecute the “Bush Six,” the group of senior Bush-era government lawyers led by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, for violating international law by creating a legal framework that aided and abetted the torture of suspected terrorists.

Leonard Pitts Jr: Censoring N-word in Mark Twain’s ‘Huck Finn’ is ridiculous

. . . . . (It) is troubling to think the state of reading comprehension in this country has become this wretched, that we have tweeted, PlayStationed and Fox Newsed so much of our intellectual capacity away that not only can our children not divine the nuances of a masterpiece, but that we will now protect them from having to even try.

Huck Finn is a funny, subversive story about a runaway white boy who comes to locate the humanity in a runaway black man and, in the process, vindicates his own. It has always, until now, been regarded as a timeless tale.

But that was before America became an intellectual backwater that would deem it necessary to censor its most celebrated author.

The one consolation is that somewhere, Mark Twain is laughing his head off.

Mike Lux: Obama, Daley, and Progressive Strategy Now

A lot of progressive leaders and writers, yours truly included, have expressed concerns about Bill Daley’s appointment as COS. One of the most depressing pieces was written by Simon Johnson, the former IMF chief economist who has written brilliantly and compellingly over the last couple of years about banking issues. His entire piece is well worth reading, especially in light of the mess these uber-powerful big banks have made of the housing, mortgage, and foreclosure situation. With judges increasingly incredulous and angry at the fraud and shoddy record keeping of the banks and their lawyers, and an ever wider spectrum of economists and bank analysts increasingly alarmed by the implications of the foreclosure crisis, and the size and economic dominance of the big banks, it is not surprising that folks like Simon are expressing these concerns.

Robert L. Cavnar: Missed Opportunity: Spill Commission Rejected by Drillers

Today, the presidential oil spill commission issued its final report concluding that the blowout of BP’s Macondo well was certainly preventable, was caused by identifiable mistakes made by BP and its contractors, and resulted from complacency and poor risk management–placing doubt on the safety culture of the oil and gas industry as a whole.  The commission also pointed out that the regulatory agencies charged with oversight were outclassed by the industry and failed to keep up with rapidly developing technologies of deepwater exploration.  The combination of these failures resulted in the BP disaster.

William Rivers Pitt: Poor, Poor Sarah

So let me get this straight.

Twenty people were gunned down at a supermarket in Arizona on Saturday. Six were killed, including a nine-year-old girl. Fourteen others were wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was the main target of the attack, and who was shot through the head. She is currently lying in a hospital bed with half of her skull removed because brain swelling from her bullet wound could kill her.

Twenty people shot.

Six killed.

Fourteen wounded.

And guess what?

It appears Sarah Palin is the principal victim of the shooting.

No, really.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video she posted to her Facebook page. There she sits, in front of a fireplace and beside an American flag like some cruel joke on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, wreathing herself in pity because people are coming to the conclusion that politicians like her – the ones who have spent the last two years talking about guns and civil war and reloading and such – should bear some of the blame for what happened in Arizona.

How on Earth could anyone come to such an irresponsible and reprehensible conclusion?

Dahlia Lithwick: The Insanity Defense

If the Arizona gunman is too insane to be influenced by anyone, he’s too insane to be executed

One of the great ironies of the Tucson shootings is that the initial call for everyone in America to simply talk more civilly to one another has mainly resulted in everyone in America becoming angrier and crazier. Every attempt to turn the conversation in a more “constructive” direction-be it to criticize Arizona’s gun laws or to question the state of political discourse-has been condemned by those who scoff at the sin of politicizing a personal tragedy that is merely the result of one man’s obvious insanity. There is some truth to this criticism. In the absence of a coherent explanation, many of us have used this tragedy as we use every national tragedy: as an excuse to talk more about ourselves or our favorite cause.

But if it’s true that we can draw no more political meaning from Saturday’s tragedy than we can from a Jackson Pollock painting-if David Brooks is correct in his assertion today that absolutely everything you need to know about Jared Loughner’s lethal shooting spree is attributable to “the possibility that Loughner may be suffering from a mental illness like schizophrenia”-then this is also true: This apolitical explanation of Loughner’s actions should also serve as a legal defense of them.


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