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Feb 28 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”

Paul Krugman: Leaving Children Behind

Will 2011 be the year of fiscal austerity? At the federal level, it’s still not clear: Republicans are demanding draconian spending cuts, but we don’t yet know how far they’re willing to go in a showdown with President Obama. At the state and local level, however, there’s no doubt about it: big spending cuts are coming.

And who will bear the brunt of these cuts? America’s children.

Now, politicians – and especially, in my experience, conservative politicians – always claim to be deeply concerned about the nation’s children. Back during the 2000 campaign, then-candidate George W. Bush, touting the “Texas miracle” of dramatically lower dropout rates, declared that he wanted to be the “education president.” Today, advocates of big spending cuts often claim that their greatest concern is the burden of debt our children will face.

In practice, however, when advocates of lower spending get a chance to put their ideas into practice, the burden always seems to fall disproportionately on those very children they claim to hold so dear.

Robert Kuttner: The Left Edge of the Possible

My friend, the late Mike Harrington, used to describe his politics as “on the left wing of the possible.” It’s a fine aspiration. But if anything, economic problems have become more politically intractable since Mike died in 1989.

Scanning the various economic ills afflicting our Republic and its citizens, it’s evident that nearly all of the solutions lie beyond what is currently deemed thinkable in mainstream politics — beyond the left edge of the possible.

It’s not that my own views and values have become more radical in two decades. What has changed is that the American political center has shifted further to the right, while the twin assault on the good society by the private financial system and the organized right has become more intense.

Dana Milbank: Scott Walker’s unprincipled rigidity

“He’s not one of us.”

That phrase, uttered in the fourth minute of what Scott Walker believed to be a private phone conversation, tells you everything you need to know about the rookie governor of Wisconsin.

Walker thought he was talking to a patron, conservative billionaire David Koch, but thanks to the amateurish management that seems to be a hallmark of his governorship, he was instead being punked by an impostor from a liberal Web site.

Frank Rich: Why Wouldn’t the Tea Party Shut It Down?

No one remembers anything in America, especially in Washington, so the history of the Great Government Shutdown of 1995 is being rewritten with impunity by Republicans flirting with a Great Government Shutdown of 2011. The bottom line of the revisionist spin is this: that 2011 is no 1995. Should the unthinkable occur on some coming budget D-Day – or perhaps when the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling arrives this spring – the G.O.P. is cocksure that it can pin the debacle on the Democrats.

In the right’s echo chamber, voters are seen as so fed up with deficits that they’ll put principle over temporary inconveniences – like, say, a halt in processing new Social Security applicants or veterans’ benefit checks. Who needs coddled government workers to deal with those minutiae anyway? As Mike Huckabee has cheerfully pointed out, many more federal services are automated now than in the olden days of the late 20th century. Phone trees don’t demand pensions.

Glenn Greenwald: The Military/Media Attacks on the Hastings Article

Last June, when Rolling Stone published Michael Hastings’ article which ended the career of Obama’s Afghanistan commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal — an article which was just awarded the prestigious Polk Award — the attacks on Hastings were led not by military officials but by some of Hastings’ most celebrated journalistic colleagues.  The New York Times‘ John Burns fretted that the article “has impacted, and will impact so adversely, on what had been pretty good military/media relations” and accused Hastings of violating “a kind of trust” which war reporters “build up” with war Generals; Politico observed that a “beat reporter” — unlike the freelancing Hastings — “would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks”; and an angry Lara Logan of CBS News strongly insinuated (with no evidence) that Hastings had lied about whether the comments were on-the-record and then infamously sneered:  “Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.”  Here’s Jon Stewart last year mocking the revealing media disdain for Rolling Stone and Hastings in the wake of their McChrystal story.

Nicholas D. Kristof; Unfit for Democracy?

Is the Arab world unready for freedom? A crude stereotype lingers that some people – Arabs, Chinese and Africans – are incompatible with democracy. Many around the world fret that “people power” will likely result in Somalia-style chaos, Iraq-style civil war or Iran-style oppression.

That narrative has been nourished by Westerners and, more sadly, by some Arab, Chinese and African leaders. So with much of the Middle East in an uproar today, let’s tackle a politically incorrect question head-on: Are Arabs too politically immature to handle democracy?

John Nichols: Upwards of 125,000 March in Madison, as Activists Rally Nationwide to Back Wisconsin Workers

It began outside the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union. A few dozen members of the Teaching Assistants Association, the oldest graduate employee union in the world, rallied to object to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s plan to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights. The message from the TAA was blunt: “All public sector workers are under attack. Faculty and staff are under attack. The UW as a whole is under attack. With these extreme acts, Scott Walker is seeking to undermine the labor peace of 50 years…. You need to get active now!”

It worked.

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