“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 Naiman: Mohamed ElBaradei: ‘If Not Now, When?’
If Western leaders, who have backed the dictator Mubarak for 30 years, cannot stand before the Egyptian people today and say unequivocally, “we support your right of national self-determination,” when can they do it?
That’s the question that Egyptian democracy leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has put before Western leaders today.
Speaking to the Guardian in Cairo, before the planned protests today, ElBaradei stepped up his calls for Western leaders to explicitly condemn Mubarak, who, as the Guardian noted, has been a close ally of the US.
Dana Milbank: Glenn Beck vs. the rabbis
After MSNBC let go Keith Olbermann last week, Glenn Beck couldn’t resist celebrating. “Keith Olbermann is the biggest pain in the ass in the world,” he judged.
But Olbermann’s departure really should give Beck pause: With political speech coming under new scrutiny, how much longer can Beck’s brutal routine continue at Fox News?
The latest omen of Beck’s end times came on Thursday — Holocaust Remembrance Day — when 400 rabbis representing all four branches of American Judaism took out an ad demanding that Beck be sanctioned for “monstrous” and “beyond repugnant” use of “anti-Semitic imagery” in going after Holocaust survivor George Soros.
A Fox News spokesman brushed off the complaint in the usual fashion, attributing it to a “Soros-backed left-wing political organization.” But that’s not going to fly: The statement’s signatories included the chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and his predecessor, the dean of the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical school, and a number of orthodox rabbis.
This has not been a good week for the Obama administration, at least when it comes to responses to the popular revolt that has swept Egypt
First, President Obama failed to make mention the mass street demonstrations in Cairo and other Egyptian Tuesday in his State of the Union Address. No one expected the president to declare his solidarity with the Egyptian people. . . . .
At least Obama’s silence allowed him to avoid saying something he would soon regret.
That’s not the case with Vice President Joe Biden.
Asked about developments in Egypt during a PBS NewsHour interview this week, Biden said Mubarak should retain his grip on power.
The vice president also rejected the use of the term “dictator” to describe the Egyptian strongman who has held power for three decades, banned political parties, jailed opponents, censored the press, groomed his son for dynastic succession and unilaterally dissolved and appointed governments.
Ari Berman: Egypt’s K Street Connections
Given that the repressive government of Egypt received $1.5 billion in military and economic aid from the US government in 2010, it’s not surprising that it is also well represented in Washington’s lobbying community on K Street.
Chris Good of TheAtlantic.com notes that since 2007 the Egyptian government has paid the DC-based lobbying firm PLM Group $1.1 million per year. PLM is run by Democratic powerbroker Tony Podesta (whose brother John is a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and current head of the Center for American Progress), former Democratic Rep. Toby Moffett (who represented Connecticut’s 6th district from 1975-1983) and former Republican Speaker of the House Bob Livingston. According to their contract, PLM was hired to provide assistance in all facets to the Egyptian embassy and “identify, as early as possible, any weakness and/or problem areas in Egypt’s image within Congress or the Executive Branch and advise on ways to deal with such areas of concern.” Presumably that image makeover is kicking into high gear right now, as the Egyptian government attempts to downplay the images of tear gas being directed at pro-democracy protesters in the streets of Cairo.
Richard (RJ) EscowThe Wall Street Empire Strikes Back
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released its report today, and it’s already under attack by the Four Horsemen of the Economic Apocalypse: the Ideologue, the Lobbyist, the Think-Tanker, and the Politician. We’ve already seen the Maestro transformed into Edith Piaf, Phil Angelides cast as the info-terrorist from Australia, and two dissenting reports that do a great job of debunking … each other.
And this is just the first day.
Those of us who weren’t intrepid enough to get an advanced copy of the report are still reviewing it in detail, but many of its findings were foreshadowed by its interim reports and the testimony of witnesses. The Commission has concluded that the economic crisis was not “unavoidable,” as many have claimed. The report describes the housing bubble as the “spark” that ignited the crisis, but suggests it only became a firestorm because of a misguided philosophy of deregulation, years of regulatory irresponsibility, failed ratings agencies, and reckless and unethical banking behavior.
Richard Wolff and Max Fraad Wolff: The Consequences of Our Tax Cowardice
If we permit public-sector workers to be scapegoated for state and city budget crises, we all stand to lose
A national campaign is now fully launched to make local public-sector employees pick up a major share of the costs of economic crisis. Years of rising spending and falling revenue have carved a path of destruction through federal, state and local budgets. Deficits and debts have mounted eroding taxpayer support for government spending in general, and for public employees particularly. In response to deep economic pains in middle-class communities, major efforts are under way, from California to Maine, to balance budgets through major cuts in services, wages, benefits and employment.
Federal, state and local governments are staggering from reduced tax revenues because of unemployment, reduced production, lower investment and the housing collapse. Washington borrowed huge sums from foreign investors, domestic big business and the rich. These funds went to bailout select businesses and to help (partially and temporarily) broken state and local government budgets. Because Democrats and Republicans agreed last December not to increase income, estate and capital gains taxes, broken state and local budgets face declining federal support. This is driving governors, mayors and state legislatures to raise taxes and/or to slash payrolls and programmes.
Of course, some cutting and tax increases are required. The real social decisions involve what to cut, how much, for whom, and whose taxes to increase.
New Rule: With the Super Bowl only a week away, Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism. That’s right, for all the F-15 flyovers and flag waving, football is our most successful sport because the NFL takes money from the rich teams and gives it to the poor teams… just like President Obama wants to do with his secret army of ACORN volunteers. Green Bay, Wisconsin has a population of 100,000. Yet this sleepy little town on the banks of the Fuck-if-I-know River has just as much of a chance of making it to the Super Bowl as the New York Jets – who next year need to just shut the hell up and play. . . . . .
So, you kind of have to laugh – the same angry white males who hate Obama because he’s “redistributing wealth” just love football, a sport that succeeds economically because it does exactly that. To them, the NFL is as American as hot dogs, Chevrolet, apple pie, and a second, giant helping of apple pie. But then again, they think they’re macho because their sport is football, when honestly – is there anything gayer than wearing another man’s shirt?