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Oct 07 2013

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 thea Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: The Boehner Bunglers

The federal government is shut down, we’re about to hit the debt ceiling (with disastrous economic consequences), and no resolution is in sight. How did this happen?

The main answer, which only the most pathologically “balanced” reporting can deny, is the radicalization of the Republican Party. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it last year in their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” the G.O.P. has become “an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

But there’s one more important piece of the story. Conservative leaders are indeed ideologically extreme, but they’re also deeply incompetent. So much so, in fact, that the Dunning-Kruger effect – the truly incompetent can’t even recognize their own incompetence – reigns supreme.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Republicans Discover Government, Promptly Convene ‘Imperial Congress’

Picture a lone Republican running through the darkened hallways of power, paraphrasing Soylent Green‘s climactic line as he shouts the news to his peers:

“It’s people! The Federal government is people!”

That insight seemed to strike Hill Republicans last week, if only briefly: Our government is made up of people helping other people. But don’t count on seeing a new era of conciliation or a new embrace of democratic processes. Instead Republicans seemed to renew their commitment to the principle that only one branch of government — their branch — should control it.

Call it the Imperial Congress, and this week it tried to invent a new form of governance.

Michael Smerconish: What Do Socialists Think of Obamacare?

You know who should be angry about Obamacare? Real socialists. The tea party opponents of the Affordable Care Act promised them a government incursion that the new law does not deliver.

Think back to the rallies of 2009 and 2010. All those signs mocking President Obama with the word socialist emblazoned upon them were as common as Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) flags. But the health-care exchanges that launched Tuesday bear no resemblance to what Merriam-Webster defines as “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.”

And actual socialists have noticed.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: The Tea Party’s Last Stand

If the nation is lucky, this October will mark the beginning of the end of the tea party.

It is suffering from extreme miscalculation and a foolish misreading of its opponents’ intentions. This, in turn, has created a moment of enlightenment, an opening to see things that were once missed.

Many Republicans, of course, saw the disaster coming in advance of the shutdown. But they were terrified to take on a movement that is fortified by money, energy and the backing of a bloviating brigade of talk-show hosts. The assumption was that the tea party had become invincible inside the GOP.

Robert Kuttner: What if Obamacare Is Popular?

Public opinion seems to be moving against the Republicans. The question is no longer whether they will continue their suicidal gambit but when they will cave and on what terms.

Weirdly, by threatening to shut the government unless Obama killed the Affordable Care act, they got the opposite of what they sought. The rest of the government is closed, and Obamacare is open for business.

And, while Republicans and movement conservatives have spent the better part of a year demonizing Obama’s health reform, the more people become familiar with it, the more people will appreciate it — leaving the Republican alarmism with no clothes.

Michael Winship: Playing Chicken with Food Safety

The other day there was this guy in a chicken suit on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting outside the White House. Silly, but the reason the chicken and other demonstrators had crossed the avenue was to deliver a petition of more than half a million names, speaking out against new rules the US Department of Agriculture wants to put into effect – bad rules that would transfer much of the work inspecting pork and chicken and turkey meat from trained government inspectors to the processing companies themselves. Talk about putting the fox in the henhouse! [..]

Add to this the controversy over growth-enhancing drugs and hormones, the danger of genetically modified foods, the cruelty of big business factory farms: how can measures like these sound like good ideas to anyone other than those who would put profits above public health? It’s called “runaway capitalism,” and the time has come to stop this free market fundamentalism gone amok.

It’s enough to make you sick.