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”

George Zornick: The Tables Turn in Town Halls, and Maybe DC

In the summer of 2009, raucous town halls were a central turning point in the healthcare reform debate, as angry constituents bombarded legislators with furious monologues and protests over the legislation.

Many of the protests were organized by lobbyist-run groups like Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which was busing in people to crash the meetings and providing them with guidelines on how to do so.

Over the past two weeks, town halls are once again a big political story. Ever since Republicans in the House of Representatives passed Representative Paul Ryan’s draconian budget, which cuts taxes on top earners while essentially ending Medicare, there have been widespread reports of angry voters challenging Republicans who voted for it.

This time, to the extent AFP is involved, they are mainly playing defense. The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Hari Sevugin  tweets that AFP may be busing some people to Ryan town halls to help him counter the constituents that are critical of him.

Mike Hendricks: Pfc. Bradley Manning’s new ‘home’

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley lost his job last month for committing one of Washington’s greatest sins – telling the truth.

The military’s treatment of alleged WikiLeaks leaker Army Pfc. Bradley Manning had, up to that point, been “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” Crowley said. Thus the Pentagon took the unusual step Thursday of taking the press on a tour of Manning’s new home, for now.

“We want people to understand what the facts are,” Col. Tom Collins told me as we walked behind a pack of 14 other journalists at the medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth.

By “facts,” Collins meant the facts since Manning arrived in Kansas last week to await trial on charges of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as sensitive diplomatic cables and details about Guantanamo detainees.

Collins was not referring to the “facts” to which Crowley was referring when commenting on Manning’s treatment in recent months at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

Eileen Appelbaum and Lonnie Golden: Eileen Appelbaum and Lonnie Golden

The most recent national jobs reports show improvements in the labor market, but the employment gains and the falling unemployment rate are still largely the result of a decline in layoffs and firings of workers.

Hiring remains weak as the latest government report on job openings and labor turnover shows. In a job market still facing challenges, reducing the number of workers who are laid off or fired is essential to building a healthier labor market, strengthening the recovery and spreading its benefits. Mandating paid sick days is one policy that will help employers keep workers in jobs.

Job retention is as important as job creation in getting the economy back on track. That’s why it’s critical to have a better understanding of the policies that will help employers keep workers in jobs, including paid sick days policies.

David Sirota: Why the Fat Guy Should Lose His Privilege

“Obesity is a national health crisis. … If current trends continue, it will soon surpass smoking in the U.S. as the biggest single factor in early death, reduced quality of life and added health care costs. … Obesity is responsible for more than 160,000 excess deaths a year. … The average obese person costs society more than $7,000 a year in lost productivity and added medical treatment.”-Scientific American, January 2011

Considering those troubling statistics, Advertising Age’s headline this week is welcome news: “Weight Watchers Picks a New Target: Men.” The story details how the nation’s biggest diet company is using the NBA playoffs to launch its first male-focused advertising campaign. Sounds great-except for one thing: Why only now?

This is a significant question in a country whose debilitating weight problem is more male than female-and “more” means a heckuva lot more. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 70 percent of men are overweight, as compared with 52 percent of women. Yet, somehow, 90 percent of the commercial-weight-loss industry’s clients are female and, somehow, this industry hasn’t seen males as a viable business. How can that be?

Eugene Robinson: ‘Oh Yeah, Prove It’

Let’s see: The Arab world is in tumult, with worrying signs that a Libya-style descent into civil war may be happening in Syria, where the stakes are unimaginably higher. Nearby, the warring Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, may be forming a united front. Closer to home, new leaders are being tapped for the Pentagon and the CIA. The government is fast approaching its legal debt ceiling. Painfully high gasoline prices have put the nation in a sour mood. Tornadoes are wreaking death and destruction across the South.

So the leader of the free world summons the media for an important announcement-but not about war, peace or the economy. It’s about his birth certificate.

Gail Collins: Introducing the Things of Spring

Springtime Progress Report: Early this year, we learned that Utah was considering a bill to name a Browning pistol its official state firearm. Meanwhile in Washington, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was pushing for a bill that would make it more difficult to sell guns to people on the terror watch list. I am excited to report that one of these pieces of legislation finally has been passed into law.

Yes! Utah now has an official state gun. It beat out Arizona, which this week bestowed its honor on the Colt Single-Action Army pistol.

Lautenberg’s bill, meanwhile, has gone nowhere whatsoever. It would require that gun purchases by people on the terror watch list be vetted by the attorney general’s office to make sure that arming the individual in question would not pose a danger to homeland security. Opponents point out that the terror watch list is not always reliable, and the bill might therefore force innocent Americans to go through an entire additional step while purchasing armaments and explosives.

Charles M. Blow: Silliness and Sleight of Hand

On Wednesday, he released his long-form birth certificate, but not without chiding the media and his detractors for their “silliness” in forcing the issue.

No sooner had he released it than Donald Quixote was off to his next windmill: the president’s college grades.

Donald Trump is still playing to suspicions of President Obama. And it’s no longer theoretical. It’s theological. For them, truth is no longer dependent on proof because it’s rooted in faith: faith that American exceptionalism was never truly meant to cover hyphenated Americans; faith in 400 years of cemented assumptions about the character and capacity of the American Negro; and faith that if the president doesn’t hew to those assumptions then he must be alien by both birth and faith.

This just in: President Obama has proved, yet again, that he is a natural-born citizen of the United States. Which we already knew-“we” meaning those of us who believe there is such a thing as objective reality.

Greg Mitchell: At 8th Anniversary of Bush’s Landing on the Deck: ‘Mission’ Still Not ‘Accomplished’

Sunday marks the 8th anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day, or as it might better be known, Mission Accomplished (NOT) Day. Coming on a weekend, there will be even fewer mentions of this in the national media than last year, and Keith Olbermann will not be on the air to update the usual close to his telecast when he marks exactly how many days since Bush declared victory (you do the math).

In my favorite antiwar song of this war, “Shock and Awe,” Neil Young moaned: “Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/ our chief was landing on the deck/ The sun was setting/ behind a golden photo op.” But as Neil added elsewhere: “History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.”

Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in the media coverage of the event. Even today, nearly eight years later, the often “overconfident” reporting from Baghdad and Kabul sometimes takes your breath away.   At least two U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq this week so far, and over 45,000 or our troops remain there today. (For a full accounting of costs of all sorts, go here [1].) .  So let’s return to the days of Mission Accomplished….


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    • on 04/30/2011 at 19:57

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