Sep 23 2015

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.

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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: As the 2016 Campaigns Heat Up, the Moment Still Belongs to the People

Maybe the wave of vertigo washed over me the evening one of the cable channels ran the caption, “Awaiting Donald Trump’s National Security Address on the USS Iowa.” Or, perhaps my bout with vertigo this season has simply been caused by all the events I try to make sense of in my job as the Nation’s editor. Just think about what we are witnessing in these vertiginous days: [..]

After all, around the world, there is an uprising against austerity and status-quo politics, and it is having a powerful impact in the United States as the 2016 election campaigns heat up. What seemed impossible – the development of new political movements in Greece and Spain, the selection of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party in Britain, the growing political potency of the New Democrats in Canada, the radical politics of South America, the rise of new radical movements in South Africa and many other examples – is playing out in real time. The rules are not merely being rewritten elsewhere; they are being rewritten in the United States. What we know for certain is that this is a moment of political upheaval. A movement moment. Yet, where this moment takes the United States is still an open question, especially in the midst of a campaign that has given us both the unexpectedly strong candidacy of Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination and the unsettlingly strong candidacy of Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.

What I hope, and increasingly believe, is that this is a vertiginous moment of political possibility and change for the United States.

Amanda Marcottr: How Ted Cruz Gave Away The GOP’s Muslim Strategy

This week has epitomized the bizarro world American politics has become. It’s a week during which the media and politicians have been enraptured by a debate over whether or not a Muslim could become president. [..]

Nope, our entire national press has to be riveted to a hypothetical question for which there is already an answer.

Why? Well, Ted Cruz’s answer to a question about this new controversy hinted at what is really going on here. After affirming that he can read by noting that the constitution requires no religious test for office, Cruz said, “The broader question, and what I think Ben was trying to get at, is what are the consequences been in the last six and a half years of the Obama presidency?”

Say what? Carson said he didn’t think Muslims should be allowed into the office and then he backtracked saying that he just meant that members of that mythical cabal of sharia-law-in-America politicians should be barred. Obama is neither a Muslim nor part of a larger conspiracy to impose sharia law on the United States. So how, exactly, was Carson talking about him?

Obviously the answer is that both Carson and now Cruz are referencing the widespread belief amongst conservatives that Obama is secretly a Muslim but is concealing his true beliefs for nefarious reasons, possibly to impose sharia law on the nation. (Any day now.) The last public poll on this belief showed that 86 percent of Republicans are warm to it, with 54 percent believing that Obama is a Muslim and 32 percent saying they are unsure. Only 14 percent of Republicans correctly describe Obama’s religion as Christian.

In other words, the belief that Obama is a Muslim is an entrenched “fact” on the right, much like the belief that global warming is a hoax or Planned Parenthood is a for-profit company that makes its money selling fetal parts. Carson and Cruz aren’t really talking about a hypothetical Muslim president in some future world. This is all a coded way to talk about Obama.

Ellen Brown: Time for the Nuclear Option: Raining Money on Main Street

Predictions are that we will soon be seeing the “nuclear option” – central bank-created money injected directly into the real economy. All other options having failed, governments will be reduced to issuing money outright to cover budget deficits. So warns a September 18 article on ZeroHedge titled “It Begins: Australia’s Largest Investment Bank Just Said ‘Helicopter Money’ Is 12-18 Months Away.”

Money reformers will say it’s about time. Virtually all money today is created as bank debt, but people can no longer take on more debt. The money supply has shrunk along with people’s ability to borrow new money into existence. Quantitative easing (QE) attempts to re-inflate the money supply by giving money to banks to create more debt, but that policy has failed. It’s time to try dropping some debt-free money on Main Street.

Heather Digby Parton: Ted Cruz’s diabolical shutdown strategy: Why the GOP senator wants to watch the world burn

The government is hurtling towards yet another shutdown this fall. The man with the most to gain: Ted Cruz

The conventional wisdom says that these GOP shutdowns in off-years work a lot better than they would in a presidential year due to the Republican turn out advantage in mid-terms. And it’s fairly certain that the disastrous Obamacare website rollout stepped on the story of Republican overreach in 2013. Nonetheless the right wing is convinced that this is a big winner for them – and frankly, even if it isn’t, they don’t care. To people who believe in the marrow of their bones that government is a bad actor designed to make their lives miserable, shutting it down, even temporarily, is a good thing in and of itself. And who knows? It might just make the other side break one of these days.

So, here we are in the fall, once again, facing a government shutdown. The committees have not done their jobs, there is no budget, and the expiration of the current budget appropriations is almost upon us. In normal times the congress would simply pass a continuing resolution and get back to work to run the government. Instead, we are facing another “showdown”.

Jess Zimmmerman: Apple, your anti-choice tendencies are showing in your app store

Lady Parts Justice, a self-described “cabal” of pro-choice comedians, released a satirical app called “Hinder” that lets you left-swipe through a whole three-ring circus of conservative politicians bent on curtailing reproductive freedom. Each pol’s profile has more information on his (or her, but probably his) bad opinions on abortion, sex education and women in general. You can play with it on the Lady Parts Justice site, if you want to (or not! They support your choice). But you can’t find it on Apple’s App Store. Apple rejected Hinder this month, even though its guidelines explicitly allow political satire. [..]

But being merely an all right app is not what kept Hinder out of the App Store. (If that were the standard of inclusion, there would be way fewer apps overall.) Rather, it’s been barred under Apple’s rule against anything “defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm’s way.” Let me repeat: an app that accurately states politicians’ publicly held positions on reproductive rights and sex education is considered “mean-spirited” and “defamatory”.

Nobody who followed the “Siri, find me an abortion” story thinks this is about “defamatory” content. (If you missed it: Apple’s virtual personal assistant refused to find abortion clinics and occasionally directed people to “crisis pregnancy centers”, which push an anti-choice agenda in the guise of safeguarding women’s health.) And it’s definitely not about a little salty language. This is a symptom of Apple’s ongoing hostility towards reproductive rights.

Victoria Bassetti: Beware the Billionaire Gunslinger

With his blowsy hair, pinstripe suits, and brash New York attitude, Donald Trump resembles nothing so much as a gunslinging cowboy. Rick Perry may have presented himself as the real Westerner in the Republican presidential primary, but it’s the Donald’s campaign mythos that most closely resembles a classic Western.

He is the bronco-buster striding into town, looking for justice, willing to stand up to the corrupt sheriff and the local railroad bossman.

The Donald has freely accused his opponents of being part of the corrupt town gang he’s here to stare down.

Hilary, Jeb and Scott and Marco: “It’s like puppets…bing, bing,” Trump says. “They’re totally controlled, totally controlled by special interests, lobbyist, and donors. They’re totally.”

But not the Donald. He wears a white ten-gallon hat.