Jan 16 2016

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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Amanda Marcotte: Carly’s sexist strategy: Fiorina mistakes election for a Best Wife Ever contest and attacks Hillary Clinton’s marriage

Carly Fiorina’s poll numbers have plunged so low that she got booted to the undercard debate Thursday night, and in her last, grasping attempt at relevance, she is trying to trick voters into thinking she’s running for the Wife of the Year contest, instead of the presidency. Fiorina kicked off the debate with standard issue bragging about being “blessed” and not being a “political insider” before pivoting to an embarrassing bit of naked pandering.

“And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband,” she crowed.

It is also worth noting that this can also be said of all her Republican competitors, as well. Not a one of them enjoys spending time with his husband. If only this contest really were for Wife of the Year! She’d have it in the bag. [..]

Of course, the various attacks on Clinton for being a wife are just proxy attacks on her for being a woman. It’s a way to draw attention to her gender and to invoke still active social anxieties about women refusing to be second banana to their husbands.

Being a woman who validates and advances misogynist narratives has long been a path to power on the right. You are forgiven for your ambition as long as you’re useful as a prop, putting a female face on the justifications for sexism. But there’s obviously a hard limit on how close you get to the top by being the woman who hates other women, which Fiorina is finding out as her star quickly fades.

Joe Conason: New York Values: What Tiny Ted Cruz Will Never Get About the Big Town

Exactly what does Ted Cruz mean when he sneers about “New York values” as a reason to reject Donald Trump? Disparaging New York has long been a favorite trope for reactionary loudmouths, always with an ugly undertone of bigotry against racial, ethnic, religious and, more recently, sexual minorities.

Demagogues denigrating New York come and go with boring predictability—and the nation’s greatest city will continue to thrive long after the Texas senator is merely an unpleasant memory. But in the meantime, his cheap insult tells us much more about him than about his target.

For someone who went to the very best schools—and flaunted his academic elitism until that no longer served his ambition—Cruz is remarkably narrow in his outlook, or at least he pretends to be. While he reeks of phoniness, perhaps he truly is so small-minded that he cannot comprehend just how large New York really is, in every way.

Eugene Robinson: Bernie Sanders’ Run Is No Fairy Tale

If you thought the political landscape couldn’t be more unsettled, think again. In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders is surging. Hillary Clinton now faces not a coronation, not a cakewalk, but a contest—one she could lose.

Has there ever been a worse election to be an establishment candidate? Certainly not in my lifetime. When a pitchfork-populist billionaire is leading one party’s race and a self-described socialist is rapidly gaining ground in the other, I think it’s safe to say we’re somewhere we haven’t been before.

For much of the past year, Clinton led Sanders in national polls by more than 20 points. Now, according to the Real Clear Politics average, her lead has shrunk to less than nine points—and the most recent survey, a CBS/New York Times poll released this week, showed just a seven-point gap.

Josh Sugarman: Gun Deaths Now Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in 21 States

When President Obama took part in the recent CNN town hall on gun violence in America, he noted, “There’s nothing else in our lives that we purchase where we don’t try to make it a little safer if we can.” It’s a fact that in the United States, the federal government regulates every consumer product for health and safety, except for one: guns.

In fact, guns are specifically exempt from federal health and safety regulation. While the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is charged with enforcing the federal gun laws on the books, it lacks the health and safety powers routinely granted other federal regulatory agencies, such as standard setting, recall capability for defective products, and comprehensive data collection.

To understand how this contrast plays out in the real world, look no further than how we regulate motor vehicles. We’ve spent decades making improvements in vehicle and highway design to protect public safety. As a result, as President Obama said, “Traffic fatalities have gone down drastically during my lifetime.” And while the actions of the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have made motor vehicles safer, the gun industry has gone in the opposite direction: embracing heightened lethality as its driving force.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Tell the Truth About Bernie’s Health Care Stand

The Clinton campaign just made a serious mistake.

They sent Hillary and Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea out on behalf of her mother to bash Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of health care.

What’s so wrong with that? Don’t all candidates use family surrogates when and where they can? The Kennedys, for example, deployed a horde of kinfolk for Jack’s campaign for president, then Bobby’s, then Teddy’s.

But when it’s the first time (as this was for Clinton the younger), the surrogate should be sure whereof she speaks, and had better stick to talking about her candidate, not the opponent. Unfortunately, Chelsea Clinton misrepresented Senator Sanders’ position, and her premiere performance on the stump backfired, producing a flood of political donations to Sanders.

Dana Milbank: Trump’s rivals help him hijack the GOP

“I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.”

Thus did Donald Trump react to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who in her Republican response to the State of the Union address bravely called on Americans to resist the temptation “to follow the siren call of the angriest voices.”

And nobody wears the mantle of anger as well as Trump. The rest of the Republican presidential contenders, acolytes in anger all, seem happy to help him on with the cloak, to hem the sleeves and let out the waist until the fury fits perfectly.

Republicans like to blame Trump for hijacking the party, but equally to blame are the others in the race for letting it happen — and continuing to do so, now just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses. Thursday night’s debate was another depressing development: Any of four men on the stage — Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich — could have been a viable alternative to the fear and demagoguery offered by Trump and Ted Cruz. Instead, they cluttered the stage and quarreled among themselves, offering little beyond faint echoes of Trump’s rage.

A crystallizing moment came when each was asked about Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from immigrating.