Jan 04 2012

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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Voting Rights, Super PACs and the Media Cloud the Election

Does Iowa matter? Maybe, maybe not. From the round-the-clock polling analysis, detailed delegate projections, and tweeting and retweeting, you’d think the political press corps was readying for the first leg of the Triple Crown. My advice for Tuesday and in the weeks to come: Don’t let the giddiness of the coverage distract from what will matter far more than whether Michele Bachmann beats Rick Perry for the fifth-place slot.

Instead, pay attention to three issues that could affect the outcome of the election, even though they have nothing to do with the campaigns themselves:

First, a surge in voting restrictions [..]

Second, the rise of super PAC spending [..]

Third, the media’s obsession with false equivalence: How the election is covered will almost certainly have a measurable impact on its outcome.

Dean Baker: Climate Change – Our Real Bequest to Future Generations

Deficit hawks try to scare us about the debt we’re leaving. That’s economic nonsense – unlike the costs of global warming

It is remarkable how efforts to reduce the government deficit/debt are often portrayed as a generational issue, while efforts to reduce global warming are almost never framed in this way. This contrast is striking because the issues involved in reducing the deficit or debt have little direct relevance to distribution between generations, whereas global warming is almost entirely a question of distribution between generations.

Seeing the debt as an issue between generations is wrong in almost every dimension. The idea that future generations will somehow be stuck with some huge tab in the form of the national debt suffers from the simple logical problem that we are all going to die. At some point, everyone who owns the debt being issued today, or over the next two decades, will be dead. They will have to pass the ownership of the debt to someone else – in other words, their children or grandchildren. This means that the debt is not money that our children and grandchildren will be paying to someone else. It is money that they will be paying to themselves.

Harold Meyerson: No longer the land of opportunity

“Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society,” Mitt Romney wrote in USA Today last month. The coming election, Romney told Wall Street Journal editors last month, will be “a very simple choice” between Obama’s “European social democratic” vision and “a merit-based opportunity society – an American-style society – where people earn their rewards based on their education, their work, their willingness to take risks and their dreams.”

Romney’s assertions are the centerpiece of his, and his party’s, critique not just of Obama but of American liberalism generally. But they fail to explain how and why the American economy has declined the past few decades – in good part because they betray no awareness that Europe’s social democracies now fit the description of “merit-based opportunity societies” much more than ours does.

Matt Taibbi: Iowa: The Meaningless Sideshow Begins

The 2012 presidential race officially begins today with the caucuses in Iowa, and we all know what that means …


The race for the White House is normally an event suffused with drama, sucking eyeballs to the page all over the globe. Just as even the non-British were at least temporarily engaged by last year’s royal wedding, people all over the world are normally fascinated by the presidential race: both dramas arouse the popular imagination as real-life versions of universal children’s fairy tales.

Instead of a tale about which maiden gets to marry the handsome prince, the campaign is an epic story, complete with a gleaming white castle at the end, about the battle to succeed to the king’s throne. Since the presidency is the most powerful office in the world, the tale has appeal for people all over the planet, from jungles to Siberian villages.

Paul Krugman: When Economics Gets Political

David Warsh finally says what someone needed to say: Friedrich Hayek is not an important figure in the history of macroeconomics [..]

These days, you constantly see articles that make it seem as if there was a great debate in the 1930s between the economists John Maynard Keynes and Mr. Hayek, and that this debate has continued through the generations. As Mr. Warsh says, nothing like this happened. Hayek essentially made a fool of himself early in the Great Depression, and his ideas vanished from the professional discussion.

Ari Berman: Romney Narrowly Wins First GOP Contest, But Obama Has Advantage in Iowa

In the end, Mitt Romney won Iowa by a staggeringly close eight votes and will likely be the GOP presidential nominee. But we already knew that heading into last night. How Romney gets the nomination, and what shape he’s in when he faces off against Barack Obama, will be the real story of the GOP race. Based on his performance last night, Romney’s showing in Iowa doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his campaign.

Fawaz Gerges: Debunking the Terrorism Narrative

The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

The popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have not only shaken the foundation of the authoritarian order in the Middle East, but they have also hammered a deadly nail in the coffin of a terrorism narrative which has painted Al-Qaeda as the West’s greatest threat. At least, they should have.

Yet despite Osama bin Laden’s killing in May, the dwindling of his group to the palest shadow of its former self and the protest of millions across the Arab world for whom the group never represented, Al-Qaeda holds a grasp on the Western imagination. Few Americans and Westerners realize the degree to which their fear of terrorism is misplaced, making closure over to the costly War on Terror difficult, if not impossible. Shrouded in myth and inflated by a self-sustaining industry of so-called terrorism “experts” and a well-funded national security industrial complex whose numbers swelled to nearly one million, the power of Al-Qaeda can only be eradicated when the fantasies around the group are laid to rest.

Maureen Dowd: Oedipus Rex Complex

American politics bristles with Oedipal drama.

Sons struggling to live up to fathers. Sons striving to outdo fathers. Sons scheming to avenge fathers. Sons burning to one-up fathers. Sons yearning to impress fathers who vanished early on. Sons leaning on fathers. Sons using fathers as reverse-play books.

John McCain was the raffish and rebellious Navy flier son of a stern four-star admiral who commanded the Vietnam theater where McCain was a P.O.W. Al Gore was the wooden good son of a Tennessee senator who was a fiery orator.