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Apr 23 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”

Glen Greenwald: Nobel Peace Drones

A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed 23 people this morning, and this is how The New York Times described that event in it headline and first paragraph:

Drone Strikes Militants in Northwest Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – An American drone attack killed 23 people in North Waziristan on Friday, Pakistani military officials said, in a strike against militants that appeared to signify unyielding pressure by the United States on Pakistan’s military amid increasing opposition to such strikes.

When I saw that, I was going to ask how the NYT could possibly know that the people whose lives the U.S. just ended were “militants,” but then I read further in the article and it said this:  “A government official in North Waziristan told Pakistani reporters that five children and four women were among the 23 who were killed.” So at least 9 of the 23 people we killed — at least — were presumably not “militants” at all, but rather innocent civilians (contrast how the NYT characterizes Libya’s attacks in its headlines: “Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas”).

Can someone who defends these drone attacks please identify the purpose?  Is the idea that we’re going to keep dropping them until we kill all the “militants” in that area?  We’ve been killing people in that area at a rapid clip for many, many years now, and we don’t seem to be much closer to extinguishing them.  How many more do we have to kill before the eradication is complete?

Allison Kilkenny: Town Hall Meltdowns, Hundreds Protest Cuts

It appears the GOP plan for slashing budgets isn’t receiving the warmest of welcomes from its constituents. Earlier in the week, a town hall audience booed Representative Paul Ryan when he defended tax breaks for the rich.

That backlash was one of several town hall meeting eruptions that occurred across the country. Freshmen Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) both received hostile greetings from citizens of their respective states. Dole caught flack for supporting corporate tax breaks and voting to end Medicare.

Glen Ford: Black Caucus Overwhelmingly Supports “People’s Budget”

When the enemy convinces us that his victory is inevitable, then he has already won the psychological war. Wall Street, which owns the White House, most of both Houses of Congress and, quite literally, the corporate media, is in a mad rush to save itself from its own contradictions by dismantling or privatizing much of the government, while cutting taxes for its own class to the bone. At the same time, under the canard of national defense, the U.S. military spends as much as the rest of the world combined to bring the entire planet under the Pentagon’s full spectrum dominance. The ever-expanding war budget is justified on national security grounds, while the destruction of the domestic social safety net is supposedly unavoidable because…well, because the government is broke.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Emperor Trump Has No Clothes

For a media that loves infotainment, the horse race and spectacle-and has trouble tackling real policy issues and digging deep-Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving: all spectacle, all the time.

Now he’s out there on his ugly birther trip, riding it to the top of the polls amidst a GOP presidential field in disarray. And other than a few notable exceptions, the media is largely playing the role of cheering spectator for Trump’s latest self-aggrandizing parade-none more so than Fox, which has treated his birtherism-based candidacy as a cause célèbre. Media Matters notes thirteen Trump appearances on the network since March 20.

Alexander Cockburn: The Bloody War That Millions of Americans Prefer to Overlook

For a nation that that loves anniversaries, the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War — April 12, 1861 — crept by on tiptoe, like a burglar slipping through a darkened house. Yet the Civil War was, given the size of the population at the time, a fearful killer. All told, at least 630,000 died; at Gettysburg, the single bloodiest engagement of a war that ran from 1861 to 1865, around 50,000 fell across the three-day battle, nearly the entire body count of Americans in the Vietnam War. The Civil War defined American politics for the next hundred years and is still a

The reason for this eerie silence is not hard to find. The Civil War is contested political terrain, particularly in the racist backwash after the 1960s and the civil rights movement, which naturally looked back on the Civil War as one in which tens of thousands of Americans gave their lives for the principle that all are born free and slavery is a shameful blot on any society.

David Swanson: The Cure for Plutocracy: Strike!

How do you get politicians living off legalized bribery to criminalize bribery? How do you persuade the corporate media to report on the interests of flesh-and-blood, non-corporate people? How do you take over a political party when the only other one allowed to compete is worse? These are not koans, but actual problems with a single solution.

It might seem like there are a million solutions: pass state-level clean election laws, build independent media, build a new party, etc. But the fundamental answer is that when the deck is stacked against you, you insist on a new deck. Power, as Frederick Douglas told us, concedes nothing without a demand. We cannot legislate our way out of plutocracy. Instead, we the people must seize power.

Ari Berman: News for Obama: Public Cares About Jobs, Not Deficit

Two major new polls show that Americans are increasingly anxious about the direction of the US economy. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll earlier this week, 44 percent of Americans said the economy was getting worse, not better, while 57 percent disapproved of President Obama’s handling of the issue. Now comes a New York Times/CBS News poll indicating that “Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office.” A stunning 70 percent of Americans believe the country is headed on the wrong track. And only 29 percent of Americans think that a major reduction of the federal budget deficit-the stated top priority of leaders of both parties-will create jobs. Fifty-six percent of Americans say cutting the deficit will cost jobs or have no impact.

That stat alone provides what Greg Sargent calls “the clearest evidence yet that official Washington’s prioritization of the deficit over jobs is completely out of sync with public opinion.” It also lends credence to John Judis’s argument that “Obama has chosen the wrong economic message.”

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