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: Medicare and Mediscares
Yes, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a sore loser. Why do you ask?
To be sure, Mr. Ryan had reason to be upset after Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District. It’s a very conservative district, so much so that last year the Republican candidate took 76 percent of the vote. Yet on Tuesday, Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, took the seat, with a campaign focused squarely on Mr. Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.
How did Ms. Hochul pull off this upset? The Wisconsin congressman blamed Democrats’ willingness to “shamelessly distort and demagogue the issue, trying to scare seniors to win an election,” and he predicted that by November of next year “the American people are going to know they’ve been lied to.”
E.J. Dionne Jr.: In a New York election, talking back to the Tea Party
When Richard Nixon won his 49-state landslide over George McGovern in 1972, Pauline Kael, the legendary New Yorker film critic, was moved to observe: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon.”
All of us can have our vision distorted by the special worlds we live in, and what was a problem for Kael in 1972 is now an enormous obstacle for conservative Republicans.
Both the leaders and rank-and-file of the Republican Party devoutly believe “the people” gave them a mandate last November to slash government, including that big-government health-care program known as Medicare. And never mind that many Republican candidates in 2010 criticized President Obama’s health-care law for reducing Medicare expenditures.
JANUARY was the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and the planet nearly stopped turning on its axis to recognize the occasion. Today is the 100th anniversary of Hubert H. Humphrey’s birth, and no one besides me seems to have noticed.
That such a central figure in American history is largely ignored today is sad. But his diminution is also, more importantly, an impediment to understanding our current malaise as a nation, and how much better things might have been had today’s America turned out less Reaganite and more Humphreyish.
Our forgotten man was born in eastern South Dakota to a pharmacist, a trade the son took over after the family moved to Minnesota. That biographical fact was the source for the derisive title of a 1968 biography, “The Drugstore Liberal” – that is to say, like a “drugstore cowboy,” a small-timer, not really a liberal at all, at a time, quite unlike our own, when a liberal reputation was a prerequisite for the Democratic presidential nomination. The unfairness was evident only in retrospect.
Johann Hari: A Turning-Point We Miss at Our Peril
We have the choice of burning all the oil left and hacking down all the remaining rainforests – or saving humanity
Sometimes, there are hinge-points in human history – moments when we have to choose between an exuberant descent into lunacy, and a still, sober voice offering us a sane way out. Usually, we can only see them when we look back from a distance. In 1793, the great democrat Thomas Paine said the French Revolution shouldn’t betray its principles by killing the King, because it would trigger an orgy of blood-letting that would eventually drown them all. They threw him in jail. In 1919, the great economist John Maynard Keynes said the European powers shouldn’t humiliate Germany, because it would catalyse extreme nationalism and produce another world war. They ignored him. In 1953, a handful of US President Dwight Eisenhower’s advisers urged him not to destroy Iranian democracy and kidnap its Prime Minister, because it would have a reactionary ripple effect that lasted decades. He refused to listen.
Another of those seemingly small moments with a long echo is happening now. A marginalised voice is offering us a warning, and an inspiring way to save ourselves – yet this alternative seems to be passing unheard in the night. It is coming from the people of Ecuador, led by their President, Rafael Correa, and it would begin to deal with two converging crises.
Ruth Marcus: Nancy Pelosi’s Donna Reed moment
Nancy Pelosi didn’t really say that, did she?
The Democratic House leader had a back to the 1950’s moment Thursday as she gushed over the special election win for a New York House seat by Democrat Kathy Hochul.
“She is a mom, two kids, two young children,” Pelosi said, then corrected herself. “Not young children – college age. To all the people out there who wonder who’s going to take care of her children – they’re college age.”
Whoa! Paging Donna Reed! Back in the day, Pelosi did not launch her career in elective office until her children were grown. But, note to the former speaker: Times have changed. Voters don’t freak out at the notion of mothers of young children working, as they say, outside the home. Even, in fact, in the House. You might want to check with, say, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who’s got three young children.
Joe Conason: The Gingrich Style
It is hard to see why anyone was surprised by Newt Gingrich’s self-ignited implosion in the earliest hours of his presidential candidacy. The career of the former House speaker and Georgia congressman is practically bursting with proof that he suffers from chronic paranoid hysteria — a condition that has done more to advance than diminish his status among conservatives.
They loved him until he aimed his vitriol against one of their own, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, deriding the Wisconsin Republican’s plan to gut Medicare as “right-wing social engineering.”
Inundated by denunciations from every quarter of his party and movement, Gingrich swiftly backtracked and apologized and tried to blame the media. But his former fans are perhaps beginning to realize what most Americans understood about him years ago — that he is wholly untrustworthy and unfit for leadership.