“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”.
Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt
The conservative defense for climate denialism is at odds with political ideology
Conservatives like to project themselves as lovers of the free market. They believe that everyone should go out and fend for themselves, that the government shouldn’t be getting in the way of those with talent and ambition – and that it shouldn’t be wasting “their” tax dollars on people who are too lazy to get off their rears and earn their keep.
That story has a certain simplistic appeal and apparent logical consistency. Unfortunately it also has almost nothing to do with the reality of where conservatives actually stand on major political issues.
We got a rare chance to see the ugly truth behind the “rugged individualist” story earlier this year when the rancher Cliven Bundy briefly became a hero to the libertarian-leaning right. The government was harassing a hard-working rancher, went the story – a man who simply wanted to feed and water his cattle.
Paul Krugman: Interests, Ideology And Climate
There are three things we know about man-made global warming. First, the consequences will be terrible if we don’t take quick action to limit carbon emissions. Second, in pure economic terms the required action shouldn’t be hard to take: emission controls, done right, would probably slow economic growth, but not by much. Third, the politics of action are nonetheless very difficult.
But why is it so hard to act? Is it the power of vested interests?
I’ve been looking into that issue and have come to the somewhat surprising conclusion that it’s not mainly about the vested interests. They do, of course, exist and play an important role; funding from fossil-fuel interests has played a crucial role in sustaining the illusion that climate science is less settled than it is. But the monetary stakes aren’t nearly as big as you might think. What makes rational action on climate so hard is something else – a toxic mix of ideology and anti-intellectualism.
In what critics call its War on Journalism, the Obama administration has pursued leaks aggressively, bringing criminal charges in eight cases, compared with three under all previous administrations combined. It has also denigrated First Amendment jurisprudence by threatening journalists with criminal prosecution, including under the Espionage Act (a capital offense), for using leaked information. Raids of press offices and confiscation of reporters’ computers and notebooks have also occurred, revealing the divide between words and deeds.
The Fourth Circuit’s 2-1 ruling which the Supremes let stand, overturned the Virginia trial court verdict ruling that Risen was protected by a reporter’s privilege and could not be compelled to reveal the identity of his source for his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration which told of a bungled CIA effort in 2000 to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.
Why is it so important? The 4th Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Virginia and Maryland, which is where the CIA and NSA are headquartered and where many national security reporters live and work. By eviscerating the privilege there, the government has made national security reporting that much harder at a time when other tactics such as mass surveillance are being used to scare off journalists’ sources. In fact, the Risen subpoena may be one of the last seen, as Big Brother will no longer even need to ask the reporter – as it will already know the source of the leak via its own snooping.
As the agency strives to craft a cuddly new image, we mustn’t allow it to whitewash its history of torture and murder
In the latest CIA coup, America’s leading spooks have sent the Twittersphere into a frenzy with their chucklesome debut on social media: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” How droll! More than a quarter of a million people have retweeted what has been described as “the best first tweet possible”. No wonder: it’s one of the world’s most secretive organisations being self-deprecating, light-hearted, even – dare I say it? – cute. [..]
The agency’s first tweet provoked the New York Review of Books to launch a Twitter war, exposing the CIA’s recent record. The CIA had interfered with a recent Senate investigation into torture, the magazine pointed out, in CIA secret prisons established by President Bush. CIA operatives were given clearance to deprive suspects of sleep, slam them against walls, and use waterboarding and other forms of torture.
It’s in the CIA’s interests to craft a cuddly new image: as a team of glamorous, James Bond-style spooks who can take a joke. Given the abject failure of much of the western media to scrutinise its actions – at least until it’s too late – it may believe it can get away with it. But its record of torture, murder and subverting democratic governments speaks for itself. However savvy its Twitter campaign, that must not be forgotten.
Both political parties seek hawkish reputation
We all know our left from our right, don’t we? This skill, difficult enough in salsa dancing, turns out to be even trickier when applied to American foreign policy, where the difference between left and right is anything but simple.
Remember how in 2008, the candidate promising to expand the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan was Barack Obama, to the horror of GOP candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney? How come the most popular anti-war politician of the past 10 years isn’t a Democrat or even Ralph Nader but Ron Paul, a paleoconservative Texas Republican? How does it happen that Pvt. Chelsea Manning, a WikiLeaks source, gets far better treatment in the pages of The American Conservative, founded by Pat Buchanan, than in liberal Salon? Not even highbrow intellectuals are immune to this disorientation: The late ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain, sympathetic biographer of left reformer Jane Addams, thought the Iraq War was swell and proceeded to muse about “just war” rationales for strikes against Iran. Historian and retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich, an uncompromising anti-war public intellectual, identifies himself as a Catholic conservative.
What’s going on here? The difference between war lover and anti-interventionist, hawk and dove, is clearly more complicated than a simple left-right divide. We need a better map for this quirky landscape. Here are three things that scramble the tidy left-right spectrum in U.S. foreign policy.
Ray McGovern: Leaving the USS Liberty Crew Behind
Justifying the swap of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bergdahl, President Obama cited a principle of never leaving U.S. soldiers behind, but that rule was violated in the shabby treatment of the USS Liberty crew, attacked 47 years ago by Israeli warplanes
On June 8, 1967, Israeli leaders learned they could deliberately attack a U.S. Navy ship and try to send it, together with its entire crew, to the bottom of the Mediterranean – with impunity. Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, a state-of-the-art intelligence collection platform sailing in international waters off the Sinai, killing 34 of the 294 crew members and wounding more than 170.
On the 47th anniversary of that unprovoked attack let’s be clear about what happened: Israeli messages intercepted on June 8, 1967, leave no doubt that sinking the USS Liberty was the mission assigned to the attacking Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats as the Six-Day War raged in the Middle East. Let me repeat: there is no doubt – none – that the mission of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was to destroy the USS Liberty and kill its entire crew.
Referring last week to the controversy of the swap of five Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bode Bergdahl, President Barack Obama claimed, “The U.S. has always had a pretty sacred rule: We don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind.” The only exception, he might have added, is when Israeli forces shoot them up; then mum’s the word.
Mr. President, try explaining that “pretty sacred rule” to the USS Liberty survivors. I know them well enough to sense the hollow echo that Obama’s claim will leave in their ears – and in the ears of the families of those who did not survive.