Dec 25 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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: During the holidays, remember our ‘least’

As we celebrate the holiday season, we are instructed by virtually all faiths to turn our thoughts to the “least of these.” January will mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, but most notable today is how impoverished our discussion of poverty is.

Political leaders in both parties pledge to save the “middle class,” because polls show that most Americans consider themselves part of the broad middle. Democrats tout their “middle out” economics against Republican “trickle-down” economics. Republicans claim to be fighting to save small businesses and middle-class homeowners from the rapacious demands of government. Very little attention is given to the poorest among us.

Heather Long: The Brits have it right: forget Happy Holidays, just wish people Merry Christmas

I’d rather be able to wish people in the US a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended

Personally, I think the Brits have this one right. I’d rather be able to wish people a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended. I’d also rather have people wish me Happy Hanukkah, Happy Diwali or Eid Mubarak when those holidays come around. It makes me feel more a part of their celebration. Let’s call each holiday what it is instead of trying to lump Jewish, Christian and even the Kwanzaa ritual together. If we need a generic holiday, we’ve already got the New Year, which touches all people and cultures.

Telling someone to “enjoy your holiday” or worse, sending them “seasons greetings” are cop-outs. Instead of feeling more diverse and inclusive, it just feels like someone took a bit of sparkle out of the December festivities.

Amy Goodman: Obama’s New Normal: The Drone Strikes Continue

There has been yet another violent attack with mass casualties. This was not the act of a lone gunman, or of an armed student rampaging through a school. It was a group of families en route to a wedding that was killed. The town was called Radda-not in Colorado, not in Connecticut, but in Yemen. The weapon was not an easy-to-obtain semiautomatic weapon, but missiles fired from U.S. drones. On Thursday, Dec. 12, 17 people were killed, mostly civilians. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has consistently tracked U.S. drone attacks, recently releasing a report on the six months following President Barack Obama’s major address on drone warfare before the National Defense University (NDU) last May. In that speech, Obama promised that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured-the highest standard we can set.” The BIJ summarized, “Six months after President Obama laid out U.S. rules for using armed drones, a Bureau analysis shows that covert drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed more people than in the six months before the speech.” In a nation that abhors the all-too-routine mass killing in our communities, why does our government consistently kill so many innocents abroad?

Becky Garrison: Conservatives’ Quagmire: The War on Christmas

Right wingers preach the Gospel according to Fox News. Their cries of holiday persecution just make them look more foolish

The annual “war on Christmas” took an unexpected twist this holiday season, when the UK-based website the Freethinker published the ironic headline “First known casualty in America’s 2013 ‘War on Xmas’ turns out to be a Salvation Army member”. A woman attacked a bell ringer in Phoenix, Arizona because she was angry at being wished a “Happy Holidays” instead of honoring Jesus’ birth by saying “Merry Christmas”. In another act of Christmas violence, unidentified arsonists tried to torch one of the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s billboards that proclaimed “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” – a reference to an ancient celebration of the Roman god of agriculture.

The Gospel According to Fox News preaches a tale of Christian persecution running rampant through America. While others around the world face imprisonment or even execution for their religious beliefs, Christians in the states suffer the indignity of facing a holiday season sans baby Jesus Christ’s omnipresence in the public square. Instead of sharing parables of the Beatitudes in practice, Fox’s Meghan Kelly’s chose to push forth the blatantly racist proposition that Jesus and Santa are white; the line between Fox News and the Daily Show’s parodies have now become almost indistinguishable.

Jill Filipovic: Sorry marriage traditionalists, young people shouldn’t rush to the altar

Old views prioritise finding a spouse. But couples who focus on educational and professional development first are happiest

Do conservatives think young men are wayward children, needing women to manipulate and direct them into decent behavior? That’s New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s opinion, at least, and he chalks it up to traditional values. On that point, he’s not wrong: traditional values do situate young men simultaneously as future patriarchs and foolish chumps needing the allegedly more moral, family-centric female to civilize them. Douthat’s argument is about as offensive to women as his usual writing – which is to say, very – but men, you should take note also: a retreat to strict gender roles insults you, too. [..]

Douthat and conservatives like him don’t seem to believe men to be complex at all. They seem to think that men fundamentally dislike women, and need to be sexually and socially coerced into pairing with one in any way that’s more committed than intercourse.

Perhaps that says more about them than it does about men, 30-something single Brooklynites, or even our Republican-voting parents.

Natalia Antonova: Now Pussy Riot are free, Russia’s culture wars must end

The radical Orthodox backlash sparked by Pussy Riot has been disturbing. Now the band is free I hope we can all move on

As the result of a general amnesty, Pussy Riot rockers Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have been set free. In case you’re just joining us from outer space, these women had been serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism and incitement to religious hatred after performing an anti-Putin song at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in downtown Moscow.

Although they were originally due for release in March, just a few months from now, it’s good that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina came out early, for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. [..]

As an Orthodox Christian, I don’t want some glassy-eyed guy screaming at me to “repent” when I go to the theatre. I don’t want to be lectured about the “forces of darkness” that will surely consume Russia for holding an Olympic torch relay. At the end of the day, I want there to be at least a measure of healing – for everyone involved. An amnesty is the perfect excuse to move on.