01/12/2015 archive

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: United in Outrage

The solidarity march of more than one million people in Paris on Sunday was rich in placards and symbols but appropriately devoid of speeches. Like many in the vast throng that filled the broad boulevards between Place de la République and Place de la Nation, the world leaders who marched a portion of the route with President François Hollande locked arms and embraced. But there was no podium, no pulpit, only ubiquitous signs reading “Je suis Charlie.” For the moment, that said it all. [..]

Perhaps the greatest danger in the wake of the massacres is that more Europeans will come to the conclusion that all Muslim immigrants on the Continent are carriers of a great and mortal threat. Anti-immigrant sentiments were already at a dangerous level, making it essential for national and pan-European leaders in coming days to underscore that extremism is not inherent to the Muslim faith, and that the Islamists themselves are hardly a single entity.

That point was searingly made by the brother of Ahmed Merabet, a French police officer who was one of the people gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo attack. “My brother was Muslim,” said Malek Merabet, “and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims.”

Charles M. Blow: Tamir Rice and the Value of Life

An extended video released last week of the shooting death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland appears to show an unconscionable level of human depravity on the part of the officer who shot him, a stunning disregard for the value of his life and a callousness toward the people who loved him.

His black life didn’t seem to matter. But it does. [..]

It is hard to think of the gravely injured boy and the aloof officers who’d done the deed but withheld their help, and not reach a white-hot level of righteous indignation.

Tamir was a human being, a child – who could have been any of our children, and who was robbed of his life and therefore his future. Twelve years old. That’s just a baby, a baby with a hole in his belly. This wrong must be made right.

There is a basic respect for life that should have governed that day, and which seems, in the video, shockingly absent from it.

Not only is the shooting itself disturbing, but the failure to render aid is unconscionable. And this didn’t just happen in Tamir’s case. The same apathy about the immediate administration of care is echoed in other cases where black boys and men lay dying.

TRevor Timm: The Charlie Hebdo attack was a strike against free speech. So why is the response more surveillance?

As politicians drape themselves in the flag of free speech and freedom of the press in response to the tragic murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, they’ve also quickly moved to stifle the same rights they claim to love. Government officials on both sides of the Atlantic are now renewing their efforts to stop NSA reform as they support free speech-chilling surveillance laws that will affect millions of citizens that have never been accused of terrorism.

This is an entirely predictable response – as civil liberties advocates noted shortly after Wednesday’s tragic attack, the threat of terrorism has led to draconian laws all over the world over the last decade – but this time around, the speed and breadth by which politicians praised free speech out of one side of their mouths, while moving to curtail rights out of the other, has been quite breathtaking.

Richard (RJ) ESkow: Populism Rises — And the ‘Center’ Strikes Back

“Americans don’t want angry, defensive figures running for president,” Democratic operative Will Marshall told McClatchy’s David Lightman this week. But who, precisely, is angry and defensive? As the pushback to Wall Street’s influence on government grows stronger, it is the banking industry’s supporters who sound enraged. And as economic populism gains traction in Democratic circles, it is corporate Democrats like Marshall who find themselves increasingly on the defensive. [..]

Why are right-leaning Democrats like Marshall so worried? The answer may lie in the shifting internal dynamics of the Democratic Party itself. The financial crisis of 2008, the long-term economic issues which continue to plague the nation, and a growing public awareness of wealth inequality have all contributed to the consolidation of public opinion along economically populist lines.

Robert Kuttner: Make No Little Plans

I recently got an email invitation from a Democratic congressional office to come to a “watch party” to view President Obama’s State of the Union address. His “fourth-quarter priorities,” according to the White House-inspired talking points of the message, are “home ownership, free community college, and high-paying jobs.”

That sounds pretty good. But if you unpack the specifics, the president is offering pretty weak tea. [..]

In other words, Obama is bold when it doesn’t require taking on corporate America or Wall Street.

This president is also an incrementalist by temperament. Politically, he has always viewed incremental reform as a way of building consensus.

We should be grateful, I suppose, that at the beginning of his seventh year Obama has belatedly realized that there is no consensus to be had; that he is moving boldly in at least some areas, whether the Republicans like it or not.

But given that Congress is going to pass just about nothing that he proposes (with the exception of odious trade legislation designed by and for multi-national corporations), and given that his little plans, in Burnham’s famous phrase, “will not be realized,” Obama might as well think even bigger.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Hunt Terrorists, Don’t Scapegoat Muslims

The instant the horrific news hit that yet another pack of seemingly deranged nut cases debased Islam by shooting up the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish grocery store, nearly every Muslim organization, diplomat, and head of state, no matter their political views, roundly condemned the attacks. All were careful to point out that heinous murders, indeed any killing of innocent civilians, under the pretense of defending Islam, does just the opposite. It distorts it, mocks it, and fuels anti-Muslim hysteria. [..]

The maniacal terror attacks in France were clearly hate driven acts perpetrated by loose-hinged individuals. But they are just that, individuals. The swift condemnation of the mass carnage they wreaked by countless Muslim groups proved that. The harsh reality, though, is that it didn’t and won’t stop the anti-Muslim haters from twisting the murders to fuel their anti-immigrant hate campaigns. This makes it even more crucial for governments to hunt terrorists, and not scapegoat Muslims.

TBC: Morning Musing 1.12.15

I have 4 articles for you this morning!

First, 3 regarding free speech, consistency, and hypocrisy in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings:

These are the biggest hypocrites celebrating free speech today in Paris

But as Daniel Wickham points out (as amplified by the journalist Glenn Greenwald), many of the 40 leaders attending the rally in Paris don’t have the best record of defending the principle of free speech so viciously attacked earlier this week:


On This Day In History January 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 12 is the 12th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 353 days remaining until the end of the year (354 in leap years).

On this day in 1932, Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (February 1, 1878 – December 21, 1950), a Democrat from Arkansas, becomes the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Hattie Wyat was born near Bakerville, Tennessee, in Humphreys County, the daughter of William Carroll Wyatt, a farmer and shopkeeper, and Lucy Mildred Burch. At the age of four she moved with her family to Hustburg, Tennessee. After briefly attending Ebenezer College in Hustburg, she transferred to Dickson (Tenn.) Normal College, where she received her B.A. degree in 1896. She taught school for a time before marrying in 1902 Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, whom she had met in college; they had three children, Paul, Forrest, and Robert. The couple moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home and her husband practiced law and started a political career.

The Caraways settled in Jonesboro where he established a legal practice while she cared for the children, tended the household and kitchen garden, and helped to oversee the family’s cotton farm. The family eventually established a second home Riversdale at Riverdale Park, Maryland. Her husband, Thaddeus Caraway, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1912, and he served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until he died in office in 1931. Following the precedent of appointing widows to temporarily take their husbands’ places, Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office on December 9. With the Arkansas Democratic party’s backing, she easily won a special election in January 1932 for the remaining months of the term, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate. Although she took an interest in her husband’s political career, Hattie Caraway avoided the capital’s social and political life as well as the campaign for woman suffrage. She recalled that “after equal suffrage I just added voting to cooking and sewing and other household duties.”

n May 1932 Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term in the upcoming election, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside. She told reporters, “The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job.” When she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. Populist Louisiana politician Huey Long travelled to Arkansas on a 9-day campaign swing to campaign for her. She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee (Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills). Lacking any significant political backing, Caraway accepted the offer of help from Long, whose efforts to limit incomes and increase aid to the poor she had supported. Long was also motivated by sympathy for the widow as well as by his ambition to extend his influence into the home state of his rival, Senator Joseph Robinson. Bringing his colorful and flamboyant campaign style to Arkansas, Long stumped the state with Caraway for a week just before the Democratic primary, helping her amass nearly twice as many votes as her closest opponent. She went on to win the general election in November.