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Mar 22 2014

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”.

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Charles M. Blow: Paul Ryan, Culture and Poverty

Paul Ryan continues to be flogged for disturbing comments he made last week about men “in our inner cities” and their “culture” of not working.

In a radio interview with Bill Bennett, Ryan said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.” [..]

But this is in part the problem, and danger, of people like Ryan: There is an ever-swirling mix of inspiration and insult, where the borders between the factual and the fudged are intentionally blurred and cover is given for corrosive ideas.

Ryan is “one of the good guys,” a prominent Republican operative explained to me last week. Maybe so, but even good people are capable of saying and believing bad things, and what Ryan said was horrific.

Eugene Robinson: Malaysia Airlines: Into the Twilight Zone

Let me go out on a limb: The Malaysian airliner did not get sucked into a black hole, vanish over the Indian Ocean equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle or crash-land on the spooky island from “Lost.”

Those “theories” were actually discussed on CNN this week. Host Don Lemon dismissed them as “preposterous” before asking one of his assembled “expert” guests-there were six of them waiting expectantly in their boxes on the screen-whether, you know, such ideas really were so preposterous.

At which point the nonstop coverage of this tragedy entered the Twilight Zone.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is pretty close to a pure mystery. The news media-especially the cable television networks-have responded with an orgy of what can only be called pure speculation. Far too often, as every journalist knows, the facts get in the way of a good story. In this case, there aren’t any indisputably consequent facts except one: On March 8, a jetliner with 239 people aboard went missing.

Ralph Nader: Obama to Putin: Do as I Say Not as I Do

Dear President Obama:

As you ponder your potential moves regarding President Vladimir V. Putin’s annexation of Crimea (a large majority of its 2 million people are ethnic Russians), it is important to remember that whatever moral leverage you may have had in the court of world opinion has been sacrificed by the precedents set by previous American presidents who did not do what you say Mr. Putin should do – obey international law.

The need to abide by international law is your recent recurring refrain, often used in an accusatory context toward Mr. Putin’s military entry in Crimea and its subsequent annexation, following a referendum in which Crimean voters overwhelmingly endorsed rejoining Russia. True, most Ukrainians and ethnic Tatars boycotted the referendum and there were obstacles to free speech. But even the fairest of referendums, under UN auspices, would have produced majority support for Russia’s annexation.

Every day, presidential actions by you violate international law because they infringe upon national sovereignties with deadly drones, flyovers and secret forays by soldiers – to name the most obvious.

Joe Conason: Framed for Crimea: Obama’s Critics Issue Hollow Indictments

To hear the Republicans shrieking about Crimea-from those howling simpletons on Fox News to the churlish statesmen of the United States Senate-all blame rests with President Barack Obama. In the midst of a real and potentially dangerous crisis, every opportunistic politician and pundit on the right excoriates him as a president so “weak” that he practically invited Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

Aggression is an apt description of the Russian takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, despite the complexity of the events and history that led here-and despite the evident enthusiasm of the Crimean population. Like many borders drawn on maps, this one was far from indisputable in moral or political terms. And without endorsing Russia’s questionable version of events, it is also true that the overthrow of the Yanukovych regime and the inclusion of neo-fascist elements in Kiev’s new government raised real issues of legitimacy and security.

Yet those questions cannot excuse Russia’s military intimidation of Ukraine or the staged and stampeded referendum that led to annexation. What Putin is doing violates basic international norms, which demand respect for national sovereignty and democratic processes.

Lee Fang: How the Gas Lobby Is Using the Crimea Crisis to Push Bad Policy and Make More Money

A small group of pundits and politicians with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are using the crisis in Crimea to demand that the United States promote natural gas exports as a quick fix for the volatile situation. But such a solution, experts say, would cost billions of dollars, require years of development, and would not significantly impact the international price of gas or Russia’s role as a major supplier for the region. Rather, the move would simply increase gas prices for American consumers while enriching companies involved in the liquified natural gas (LNG) trade.

On Capitol Hill, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) was among the first to use the crisis in Ukraine to demand that the Department of Energy speed up the approval process for new LNG terminals. “Now is the time to send the signal to our global allies that US natural gas will be an available and viable alternative to their energy needs,” said Upton in a statement. As we’ve reported, Upton’s committee is managed in part by Tom Hassenboehler, a former lobbyist who joined Upton’s staff last year after working for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the primary trade group pushing to expand natural gas development and LNG exports.