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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New York times Editorial Board: Donald Trump and Chris Christie Start a Bully Bromance

Those who have witnessed Gov. Chris Christie’s performance both in New Jersey and in the national arena over the past couple of years almost could have seen Friday’s sweaty embrace of Donald Trump coming. Almost.

Once upon a time, the governor put his state first, for good and ill. Today, he is driven by twin demons: national political ambition and vengefulness. By cozying up to Mr. Trump, he feeds both.

Having staked his presidential hopes on the New Hampshire primary only to finish in sixth place, and facing the end of a so-far disastrous second term as governor, Mr. Christie needs a new job. Perhaps he’s hitching his ambitions to Mr. Trump because he’s promised to make him a winner, like Mr. Trump promises America. Mr. Trump, at least, has managed to do what Mr. Christie couldn’t: hoodwink his way to the front of the Republican presidential pack. [..]

After his performance on Friday, Mr. Christie had better hope that Mr. Trump, wherever he winds up, can find a little something for his new apprentice to do. If Mr. Trump should win the presidency, he might want to consider Mr. Christie for transportation secretary, since he already knows so much about traffic patterns on commuter bridges.

Gail Collins: Trump Meets the Mean Boys

Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump! Well, really, what did you expect? He’s a sworn enemy of Marco Rubio, and we have long since established that nobody likes Ted Cruz.

Rubio was the star of the latest Republican debate, having finally learned Trump’s key to success: Avoid being distracted by discussions of actual policy and concentrate on inflicting death by insult.

But Christie, who did exactly the same thing to Rubio in New Hampshire, claimed the senator was throwing “flailing punches in the last days of a losing campaign.” We will not linger on the irony. [..]

The debate itself more closely resembled a Quentin Tarantino movie, in which a group of men are stuck together for what seems like eternity, and try to break the monotony by yelling a lot.

(People, this is just an aside, but why do you think these debates now go on for two and a half hours? Do you think it’s some kind of test to make sure the final nominee is physically fit? It seems a little strange that in our Twitter-centric age — when, according to one recent study, the average attention span of an adult is shorter than that of a goldfish — we’re presuming the voting public wants longer programming.)

Michael Winship:Does Mitch McConnell Really Give a Damn About the Supreme Court?

Many years ago, I worked on a documentary about the how and why of political TV ads. The primary focus was on two media consultants: the late Bob Squier, a Democrat; and Bob Goodman, Republican.

One ad of which Goodman was especially proud was for a fellow in Kentucky running against Todd Hollenbach, Sr., the incumbent judge/executive of Jefferson County. Produced in 1977, the spot featured a farmer complaining about taxes that he claimed Judge Hollenbach had raised and then lied about.

As he mucked out a barn and his faithful horse whinnied, the farmer declared, “Maybe Hollenbach ought to have my job, because in my business, I deal with that kind of stuff every day.”

Then he threw a shovel of manure right at the camera.

Hollenbach lost to the candidate who approved this message: Mitch McConnell.

McConnell has been shoveling it ever since, but perhaps never as stunningly as on Tuesday, when he spoke from the floor of the US Senate. The now-majority leader of the so-called greatest deliberative body in the world blustered, as he has several times in the last couple of weeks, that Senate Republicans would never, ever consider an appointment by President Obama to replace the still-dead Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Peter van Buren: Texas Academics Told to Avoid ‘Sensitive Topics’ to Prevent Angering Armed Students

Here’s another swanky benefit of our out-of-control gun culture: university professors should be aware that their students might shoot them.

The Texas state legislature voted last year to allow students to carry concealed handguns into classrooms, dorms, just about anywhere on campus, a practice with roots to when Socrates taught Aristotle.

If students packing seems like a bad idea to you, imagine how you’d feel if you were a professor. There’s nothing quite like the free exchange of ideas when everyone is armed in math class.

How about armed Texans in classes that teach Arabic, or Islamic Studies, or Hebrew, or evolution? Some good times ahead. The academic chilling effect seems pretty obvious. One wonders how many brilliant teachers will move to campuses in less-armed states, and how many researchers will avoid Texas for creating an academic environment incompatible with academics. It is possible that overall Texas will become even dumber.

Stacy Mitchell: With 269 Stores Closing, Is this the Beginning of the End for Walmart?

All great empires eventually fall. This is as true in retail as it is in geopolitics. Often the descent into oblivion takes decades. A&P, which was once such a formidable market power that it was the subject of antitrust hearings in Congress, began to falter in the 1950s, some 80 years after cloning its first store. At the time, it was by far the largest grocer in the country. It would remain the industry leader for another quarter of a century, even as its stores seemed increasingly outdated and its corporate practices inexplicably unable to keep up. After several rounds of store closures in the 1970s and 1980s, and a bankruptcy filing in 2010, A&P finally threw in the towel for good just last year. By then, it was a two-bit player in the grocery business, its once continent-spanning empire now confined to the Northeast. [..]

And so when Walmart, which turns 54 years old this year, announced that it would close 269 stores, including 154 in the U.S., one had to wonder if this might be the beginning of the chain’s inevitable end. We’ll only know for sure in hindsight, perhaps decades from now.

Ray McGovern: The Unique Resource Available to All 2016 Candidates: VIPS

A Memo to: Dr. Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill Stein, and Donald Trump

The media brouhaha over naming your campaign advisers on foreign policy prompts this reminder of a unique resource available, gratis, to all of you. That resource is our nonpartisan group – Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). If we were into self-promotion, we would add to our (virtual) letterhead: “serving satisfied customers since 2003.”

We are about apolitical analysis; we are into spreading unvarnished truth around; we do not shape our analysis toward this or that debating point. Thus, we eschew the moniker “campaign adviser.” But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t provide apolitical and unvarnished advice to anyone who seeks it.

Unique? We are on the outer edge of atypical in the sense that we are a fiercely nonpartisan, tell-it-like-it-is group of professionals with long experience in intelligence and related fields and with no policy or personal axes to grind. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Abundant proof that party preference plays no role in our analysis can be seen in our enviable record – in the substantive work we have produced over the past 13 years – both before and after the ill-advised attack on Iraq in March 2003.