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Mar 05 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”

Eugene Robinson When Cuts Don’t Cut It

After slamming Democrats for not focusing on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” Republicans have decided to ignore their own winning message in favor of “cuts, cuts, cuts.” This is bad economics-and bad politics.

If you don’t believe me, read a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, published Thursday, that has what should be sobering news for Republicans who keep telling us that their radical assault on the size and scope of government has the support of “the American people.”

It doesn’t, according to the survey-not even philosophically. When asked whether government, in general, is trying to do too much or not doing enough, 51 percent said government should do more. That’s not exactly a mandate for slashing federal, state and municipal programs and trying to turn public employees into a caste of untouchables.

Bob Herbert: College the Easy Way

The cost of college has skyrocketed and a four-year degree has become an ever more essential cornerstone to a middle-class standard of living. But what are America’s kids actually learning in college?

For an awful lot of students, the answer appears to be not much.

A provocative new book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” makes a strong case that for a large portion of the nation’s seemingly successful undergraduates the years in college barely improve their skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing.

Gregg Mitchell Bradley Manning and the Tomb of the Well-Known Soldier

Ten  months after he was arrested for allegedly leaking classified material, including diplomatic cables, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was very much in the news this week — with the military bringing 22 new charges against him, including “aiding the enemy” (unspecified) to being stripped naked for seven hours at the prison the past two nights.  His supporters and attorney David Coombs continued to charge that the conditions of his confinement were overly harsh and punitive, while the Pentagon continues to deny that.

With Manning gaining wide attention now, it’s worth recalling that three months ago he was largely forgotten. How did so much change?  Here’s some background if you have just tuned into Manning’s case recently:

Jamie Henn: Tim DeChristopher’s Speech After Guilty Verdict for Climate Civil Disobedience

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On Thursday, a jury in Salt Lake City declared climate activist Tim DeChristopher guilty for his interference with an oil and gas auction held at the end of the Bush administration. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years, to be determined by a judge.

The following is a transcript and video of Tim’s speech outside of the courthouse after the guilty verdict was handed down. Tim’s words are reminiscent of the heroes of other social movements that used civil disobedience to achieve their ends. And they’re a challenge to all of us working to solve the climate crisis to consider our own willingness to go to jail for our beliefs (in fact, a website, Climate Direct Action, has been set up for people to sign up to learn more about how to take part in civil disobedience for the climate).

Joe Conanson: Don’t Believe the (Union-Busting) Hype

If you are a normal, trusting consumer of American journalism, you might well have gotten the impression by now that the current attempt to break public-sector unions-with its epicenter in Wisconsin-is overwhelmingly supported by the nation’s voters.

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But if you believe that the American people are now eager to follow Gov. Scott Walker’s example, in Wisconsin or across the nation, it turns out that you (and those who have misinformed you) are unmistakably and profoundly wrong. For as one poll after another has indicated over the past two weeks, Americans soundly reject Walker’s union-busting gambit.

David Sirota: State Crises Mean New Language of Deceit

For most of history, we had undebatable definitions of words such as bailout and bankruptcy. We understood the former as an undeserved public grant, and the latter as an inability to pay existing bills. Whatever your particular beliefs about these concepts, their meanings were at least agreed upon.

Sadly, that’s not the case during a deficit crisis that is seeing language redefined in ideological terms.

Bailout was the first word thrown into the Orwellian fire. As some lawmakers recently proposed replenishing depleted state coffers with federal dollars, the American Conservative Union urged Congress to oppose states “seek[ing] a bailout” from the feds. Now, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says, “Should taxpayers in Indiana who have paid their bills on time, who have done their job fiscally, be bailing out Californians who haven’t? No.”

Ryan, mind you, voted for 2008’s TARP program-a bank bailout in the purest sense of the term. But one lawmaker’s rank hypocrisy is less significant than how the word bailout is being used-and abused. Suddenly, the term suggests that federal aid would force taxpayers in allegedly “fiscally responsible” Republican states to underwrite taxpayers in supposedly irresponsible Democratic ones.

Stanley Kutner: Walker Does ‘Something Big’

The tea-party-enabled Wisconsin Legislature is working overtime to protect its governor. On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that protests at military funerals are protected speech, two of the more benighted majority Republican state legislators offered their version of protected speech. They introduced a bill to prohibit telephone callers from lying about their identity as well as giving a false number, subject to a $10,000 fine. The Wisconsin legislators said that “while the use of spoofing is said to have some legitimate uses, it could also be used to frighten, harass and potentially defraud.”

The bill’s authors predictably insisted the proposal was unrelated to last week’s now-viral prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in which the governor, believing he was talking to David Koch, the prominent moneyman for conservative causes, bragged about his unwillingness to budge in his stand against public employees. “I would be willing to sit down and talk to the [Democratic and Republican legislative] leaders. …  [T]alk, not negotiate,” he emphasized. The governor is not reticent about his anti-union credentials. He thanked “Koch”-“one of us”-for “all the support,” and added that “it’s all about getting our freedoms back.” There we have Scott Walker unplugged, defrocked just as the Wizard of Oz.

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