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David Kirp at The New York Times acknowledges the problems critics have raised against Head Start have some merit, but says there are reasons for those problems and that they can be fixed in The Benefits of Mixing Rich and Poor:

For one thing, it has gotten considerably better in the past few years because of tougher quality standards. For another, researchers have identified a “sleeper effect” — many Head Start youngsters begin to flourish as teenagers, maybe because the program emphasizes character and social skills as well as the three R’s. Still, few would give Head Start high marks, and the bleak conclusion of the 2012 evaluation stands in sharp contrast to the impressive results from well-devised studies of state-financed prekindergartens.

Head Start, a survivor of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, enrolls only poor kids. That’s a big part of the problem — as the adage goes, programs for the poor often become poor programs. Whether it’s health care (compare the trajectories of Medicare, for those 65 and older of all incomes, and Medicaid, only for the poor), education or housing, the sorry truth is that “we” don’t like subsidizing “them.” Head Start is no exception. It has been perpetually underfunded, never able to enroll more than half of eligible children or pay its teachers a decent wage.

If Head Start is going to realize its potential, it has to break out of the antipoverty mold. One promising but unfortunately rarely used strategy is to encourage all youngsters, not just poor kids, to enroll, with poor families paying nothing and middle-class families contributing on a sliding scale. Another is to merge Head Start with high-quality state prekindergarten.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times, much of whose commentary these days starts out with (or somewhere contains) a major eyeroll does so again in Crazy Climate Economics:
Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t—but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere—for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”

So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme—why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.

And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.

Below the fold are more pundit excerpts.

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post says a positive declaration of their successes seems to remain submerged beneath The Democrats’ strategic ambiguity:

Obama’s be-happy-but-worry theme is justified by the facts, but it leads to a peculiar imbalance in the campaign dialogue. Republicans rail against everything Obama has done. Their agenda may look like a catalog of Fox News obsessions—last month it was Obamacare, currently it’s Benghazi. But they will not stop blaming Obama and his party for all the country’s shortcomings. Democrats, by contrast, feel constrained from offering an unambiguously sunny rebuttal.

The long-term stall in middle-class incomes Obama described is one reason they can’t. Most Democrats also have a philosophical commitment to reducing inequalities. They may hold the White House but they are not championing the status quo.

The party’s candidates fear that if they are too upbeat, they’ll look out of touch with a country whose spirits aren’t very high. The RealClearPolitics polling averages show that over the last month, only 28 percent of Americans saw the country as being on the right track; 63 percent said it was moving in the wrong direction.

Dan Barker at The Progressive has some suggestions on How to Fight Back Against the Court’s Prayer Decision:
This week’s Supreme Court decision allowing some sectarian prayer at city council meetings is a deeply disappointing betrayal of America’s honored progressive values. Once again, the lopsided conservative majority proudly announced that it is on the wrong side of history. [...]

We can fight back.

Before these bad laws are eventually overturned by a more enlightened future Supreme Court, we seculars and progressives can use the same opportunity given to Christian clergy: We can ask for our own equal-time free-speech chance to give freethinking and nonreligious invocations before those very same city council meetings.

According to Kennedy’s decision, all Americans, not just Christians, have the right to address their secular government.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian discusses how The Emily Letts abortion video gives voice to women in the shadows:
Emily Letts breathes through a minutes-long procedure, humming softly at times. When it's over, she smiles and says, "I feel good." Letts, a counselor at Cherry Hill Women's Clinic in New Jersey, has just had an abortion. And in an attempt to destigmatize the procedure, she filmed her experience and shared it on YouTube.

"We've been taught that abortion is a scary thing, and it's totally inaccurate," Letts told me on Wednesday. [...]

It's acceptable in most of America (barely) to have an abortion if you've been raped, if your life or health is in danger – or at least if you are permanently devastated and repentant afterward. But to have an abortion simply because you don't want to be a parent? Let alone to feel good about your decision? You're vilified as a monster.

In an interview last year with Merritt Tierce, the executive director of Texas Equal Access Fund, about abortion restrictions in her state, she told me that, if we want to end abortion stigma, we need to tell all abortion stories - not just the most "sympathetic."

Peter Beinart at The Atlantic writes Run, Joe, Run: Why Democrats Need a Biden Candidacy:
Clinton is not a “neocon.” Unlike many in the Republican Party, she’s sympathetic to international institutions and international law. But there’s a reason that in the Senate she got along so well with John McCain, and that in 2007 she attacked Obama as “irresponsible and frankly naïve” for proposing direct talks with the leaders of Iran. Compared to many in her party, she sees the world as a Hobbesian place that can only be held in check by American power.

Clinton is not a “neocon.” She’s sympathetic to international institutions and law. But there’s a reason she gets along so well with John McCain.

Biden’s worldview, by contrast, is more shaped by what came before and after the Clinton years. In a 2012 interview with James Traub, he mentioned his reverence for George Kennan, who for decades during the Cold War warned that global containment was producing American overstretch. Traub notes that Biden’s “foreign-policy heroes—men like Brent Scowcroft and James Baker—are, in effect, Kennan’s sons.” Scowcroft and Baker, it’s worth remembering, resisted the intervention in Bosnia that helped make Clinton a hawk. Nor did not they pursue Saddam Hussein’s ouster at the end of the Gulf War, something to which Bill Clinton committed himself in 1998.

Marc Tracy at The New Republic writes When the Pope Speaks, Liberals and Conservatives Only Hear What They Want To Hear:
When Pope Francis speaks about inequality, as he does frequently—and most recently Friday in an address to several United Nations agency heads in Rome—liberals and conservatives gather and, like the blind men with the elephant, claim that the singular thing he has just said means completely different things. (Author Elizabeth Stoker has fashioned another analogy: a Bingo card. Which parts of Francis’ remarks did you hear?)

I doubt Francis is particularly engaged with the debate over inequality in the Democratic Party, or in the United States. I would not guess he knows how to calculate a Gini coefficient. Heaven help us (literally, I guess) if he ever mentions Thomas Piketty. What Francis is, obviously, is extremely knowledgeable and authoritative on the Catholic tradition of social justice as well as the Catholic tradition of the “culture of life,” which, in Catholic teaching, are two intimately interconnected things.

Cole Stangler at In These Times eulogizes a radical organizer in The Political Legacy of Tim Carpenter:
In many respects, in his politics, Tim carried the torch from his mentor Michael Harrington, the idiosyncratic author of The Other America and founder of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Harrington called for activists to work with federal and state-level Democrats as a means of shifting the mainstream political agenda towards the left. When I interviewed Tim for In These Times’ December 2013 issue, we talked about his involvement in DSA as a young organizer, as well as his roots in the Catholic Worker movement and the impact of red-baiting in American political life.

That’s when I first came to understand that Tim was essentially a radical—a socialist who didn’t call himself a socialist.

“When I was younger, when I was hanging out with Michael Harrington and was a member of DSA in my 20s and 30s, I was very proud of the label [socialist],” Tim told me.

However, he pointed out, the specific word is far less important than the cause it represents. “I’ve learned as I got older, as I battled a lot of my illnesses, is what little time we have,” he continued. “I would rather have folks debate the merits of what it is we’re fighting for, whether it be single-payer or a redirection of military spending to meeting human needs, than the definition of socialism.”

Juan Cole at Informed Comment laments that the White House there is No Sense of Urgency: Obama’s New Solar Energy Commitments are still Just Baby Steps:
Since the president faces an extremely hostile House of Representatives that would gladly ingest arsenic if Obama spoke out against the dangers of arsenic, he has little hope of enacting new legislation on renewables. Therefore on Friday, President Obama used policy directives and executive orders to push for more solar energy aimed at helping the solar industry finally take off.

This set of commitments is very welcome, but it just has to be said that it isn’t nearly enough and does not express the sense of urgency on this issue that climate scientists such as James Hansen have insisted is necessary. In the medium term, Obama’s use of the Environmental Protection Agency to close the dirtiest coal plants will reduce CO2 emissions far more than will the new solar panels Obama is seeking to install or facilitate the installation of.

Joe Conason at Alternet writes How Monica Lewinsky Deserves to Be Remembered:
notwithstanding the hysteria she provokes in Joe Scarborough and other outraged luminaries, the story of Lewinsky has nothing to do with illicit sex—and everything to do with the nihilist temperament of the modern Republican Party.  If we are heading back toward the bad old days of scandal and impeachment, as now seems inevitable, then it is vital to put our returned heroine in her true context.

Yes, our heroine—and that is not meant sardonically. For at the moment of crisis, when Linda Tripp treacherously exposed her, Lewinsky behaved more courageously and nobly than anyone could reasonably have expected.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The links to several articles connect back to the (6+ / 0-)

    "Abbreviated Pundit Roundup" instead of linking to the article.

    Please, call me "Loris."

    by s l o w loris on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:56:28 AM PDT

    •  head start (0+ / 0-)

      Anyone that thinks repubs care about low income kids really lacks understanding of the mentality of their voters.

      As America goes private with their schools profits is what Americans care about not education.

      Americans treat capitalism as an absolute not to be questioned.

  •  I guess Lewinsky isn't the monster some would (9+ / 0-)

    make her out to be; I admire her for not cooperating with Kenneth Starr and his ilk.

    •  She practically went head-to-head with a (8+ / 0-)

      top D.C. prosecutor team and gave them almost nothing.

      Like her or hate her, that's impressive for a 20-something.

      Most people would crack like eggs under that pressure.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:03:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course I always imagine (0+ / 0-)

      Bill's reaction if it had been Chelsea getting hit on. I am bothered about the dis-proportionality of power and status between a President and an intern or a CEO and a secretary or a General and a Lieutenant.  
      We say by definition a minor cannot give consent.  But a "minor" in an economic or work or military environment?
      I know the UCMJ takes a different view of superior - subordinate relationships in the letter of the law if not the execution.  Bill was Commander in Chief after all and she an intern.
      Feel free to flame and name all the Republicans who weaseled out of situations like this.  Still does not make it right.
      I maintain Bill should have resigned. Gore would have went in to the next election as the sitting president and history may have been very different. Maybe no Iraq and concerted early action on climate change.

  •  guardian chats with Glenn Greenwald. (0+ / 0-)

    and one pic with three woozles.

    book coming soon !!

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:06:10 AM PDT

  •  RE: Head Start and other examples of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski, Laconic Lib

    social parasitism in our country, wingers are fond of complaining the poor are parasites.  I found this today as a response to your fave winger's plaint about parasites in our society:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/...
    Sorry but I can't get it to embed

  •  Oh, dear Goddess, will we EVER be rid of Monica? (8+ / 0-)

    So tired of old scandals being raked up and new un-scandals being manufactured by the Rethugs.

    When are the RWNJs going to blame the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls on our Kenyan-Socialist-Muslim president?

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a country in which (1) the trad. med. were responsible and objective, and (2) the political discourse was rational and focused on real issues?

    Okay, that's it for morning prayers. Thanks for the roundup, MB!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:10:14 AM PDT

    •  The RWMSM is paid to not be responsible (0+ / 0-)

      I voted tuesday because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

      by a2nite on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:59:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that they already have (0+ / 0-)

      linked the president to Boko Haram through his sneaky support of Sharia law - I don't have the link handy, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:10:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Krugman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid, Laconic Lib

    Obama should have given Krugman Geithner's appointment in 2009--or at least some other high level appointment.  Now, Paul should consider running for the Democratic presidential nomination--yes, he's geeky--yes he's less than charismatic--and, yes, he's the best person for the job.  If you're now rolling your eyes because he's not electable, well, now you see why our country is doomed.  As empire's age, the best person available loses out to the best connected.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:11:06 AM PDT

    •  Krugman himself has stated he has no executive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, Meteor Blades

      or administrative ability, and would be a terrible fit running an agency or the country.

      He is an academic, through and through, and his best place is right where he is - giving fact-based, independent advice and critiques of economic policy.

  •  Scarborough : Democrats want you believe in their (7+ / 0-)

    form of climate change.

    What the heck does that even mean?

  •  Salon explains (9+ / 0-)

    Fox News’ magic trick: How right-wing conspiracies became actual news
    Network's Benghazi craze is just the latest in a series of fever dreams dating back to the Clinton administration

    Now, fast-forward to the never-ending Benghazi feast of outrage. Today, that far-right tale is amplified via every single conservative media outlet in existence, and is powered by the most-watched 24-hour cable news channel in America. A news channel that long ago threw away any semblance of accountability.

    So yes, Fox News is what’s changed between 1994 and 2014, and Fox News is what has elevated Benghazi from a fringe-type “scandal” into the pressing issue adopted by the Republican Party today. (“Benghazi” has been mentioned approximately 1,000 times on Fox since May 1, according to TVeyes.com)

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:11:33 AM PDT

  •  Shorter Joe Conason: Lewinsky as Heroin (0+ / 0-)
    —and everything to do with the nihilist temperament of the modern Republican Party

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:15:54 AM PDT

  •  ? converted to Islam ? kidnapped girls ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    will be rescued, somehow, and safely, i do hope.

    there are many futures at stake.

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:17:23 AM PDT

  •  Good to see Santorum and Will linked together. (13+ / 0-)

    For too long Will seemed to be riding along as if W.F.Buckley was his doppelganger but an idiot like Santorum or better yet Palin is a far better match. Not that I have any admiration for Buckley, he was an anti Semitic, slobbering, twit whose doppelganger would be someone like Margaret Thatcher.
    These folks who think that unregulated capitalism is the answer to all the suffering in the world really need to do a few shifts in a sweat shop in Bangladesh...make that a few thousand shifts....fuckers.  

  •  interesting article (6+ / 0-)

    about Monica Lewinsky and I am so grateful for the reassessment.  I spent most of that time trying to avoid the story, because I felt sorry for everyone involved and because I had a boyfriend who would fly into a frenzy of anti-Clinton rage every time it came up.  I didn't know the particulars about the pressure from Starr and his office.  Good for her.

    •  Remember, they sent Susan McDougal to prison (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FogCityJohn

      for not giving false testimony in the actual Whitewater investigation.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:13:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think most of us knew it (0+ / 0-)

      The image that filtered down to most Americans was that Lewinsky was a 20-something wannabe femme fatale. Instead, Joe Conason's article shows that she was a person who made a bad decision & found herself betrayed & thrust into the limelight -- then stood up to some serious pressure to tell all.

      The fact she tried to parlay her notoriety into a few millions didn't help her reputation -- but 20-somethings have been known to make bad decisions.

  •  A note on this: (5+ / 0-)
    “I would rather have folks debate the merits of what it is we’re fighting for, whether it be single-payer or a redirection of military spending to meeting human needs, than the definition of socialism.”
    Notice, that conservatives prefer exactly the opposite. They would rather run around slapping labels on everything and start arguments over definitions, than actually discuss problems, or, heaven forbid, try to solve them.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:00:26 AM PDT

  •  Marc Tracy, ha (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jabus, Laconic Lib, Eric Nelson
    What Francis is, obviously, is extremely knowledgeable and authoritative on the Catholic tradition of social justice as well as the Catholic tradition of the “culture of life,” which, in Catholic teaching, are two intimately interconnected things.
    Translation: when the Pope talks about social justice he's really talking about the evils of abortion.  Dream on, Marc.

    And why should "heaven help us" if the Pope reads Piketty?  Do you really think it bad to have a Pope educated in something other than 19th century Catholic dogmatics?

  •  Cosmos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone, Meteor Blades

    Did last night's episode around Faraday. I had affinity with the class issues, the speech defect and trouble with school, and being a bit betrayed by somebody he believed in. Double points because that somebody felt a little threatened.

    Oh yeah, I have a small pile of salvaged capacitors spread out across a few junk boxes....

    Then the local news came on and things got ugly. Ads jockying for who's the mostest truest conservative that's right for Nebraska versus the other less pure pretend Conservative guy who's really just a Liberal sell out. How much they're against Obama and a whole strawman army of Liberal Washington insiders. And how they are just itching to repeal that there ruinious Obamacare....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:37:55 AM PDT

  •  Obama need to give that Arsenic Speech before the (5+ / 0-)

    midterms.

    Since the president faces an extremely hostile House of Representatives that would gladly ingest arsenic if Obama spoke out against the dangers of arsenic

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:42:27 AM PDT

  •  Lewinsky as crack (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Laconic Lib

    since her first flirtation with Bubba was flashing her thong at him

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:14:54 AM PDT

  •  Nothing important to say. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, rja, Meteor Blades

    Just pointing out that the headline, "baby steps on solar" can be read two different ways.

  •  While I admire Krugman (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid, Laconic Lib, Meteor Blades

    It's sad that even he seems to conflate Marxism with Communism. Even worse, he conflates Marx with Stalin. Marxism is synonymous with "the gulag"?

    He's correct in that the right's obsession with Marx is laughable, primarily because it's clear that they have almost no idea what Marx actually wrote. Unfortunately, neither do a lot of people on the left who unconsciously accept the right's framing of Marx as somehow evil.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:25:56 AM PDT

  •  "Heroine" was provocative to say the least (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    but reading the article was an important reminder of how easy it is to forget important facts.  While I've recognized the PulicanTs as nihilists since Captain Video's inauguration and recall that their nihilism reached it's crescendo during their pursuit of Clinton virtually from his election, I had forgotten many of the salient facts of the Lewinsky aspect of that pursuit.  (In fact, I followed that "story" essentially from headlines choosing not to waste time on the lubricious details--I prefer my porn unhypocritical--which may have something to do with it.)  As Mr. Conason makes clear, Ms Lewinsky was courageous indeed.  I'm also pleased that she continues to state that hers was a consensual involvement.

    However, Lewinsky was a victim in two respects.  First, of course, is her betrayal by Linda Tripp, among the pettiest of individuals to achieve notoriety.  Second was her seduction at the hands of a most charming and powerful predator.  Even accepting her assertion of consent, given her youth and vastly disproportionate position, that consent is difficult to fathom in any but the strictest sense.  For this reason, I have long empathized with her as a tragic figure who continues to be the subject of use/misuse for political gain and poor humor.  It had been my hope that with her graduate degree from the London School of Economics she'd have achieved a level of success and comfort.

    Apparently Lewinsky will continue as the tragic figure of the conservative nihilists.  Even John Dean has managed a resurrection...

    One irony that continues to trouble me is that the judge who eventually cited Clinton for contempt ruled irrelevant to the investigation the entirety of the Lewinsky proceedings.

  •  Juan Cole has a good point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    While Cole recognizes the bulk of the problem comes from the RWNJ's:

    Obama’s relatively lackadaisical approach to climate change was challenged a few days ago  by his own office’s report on the problem. It is said that Obama was disturbed by the White House report and feels a new urgency to move on the green energy front.

    Since the president faces an extremely hostile House of Representatives that would gladly ingest arsenic if Obama spoke out against the dangers of arsenic, he has little hope of enacting new legislation on renewables. Therefore  on Friday, President Obama used policy directives and executive orders to push for more solar energy  aimed at helping the solar industry finally take off.

    The small steps could be made into larger steps with a message - imo - like this. Juan Coles personal story:  
    Even in the upper midwest, my 16 rooftop solar panels nowadays are generating 90% of my electricity needs and also fueling my hybrid electric plug-in car (a Chevy volt). Why everyone who can afford it doesn’t do this (it saves money in the medium to long term) is beyond me.

    That's an economic argument for individuals that's universal. Saves every person money. Then there is the national story. Saves the country money, and creates a whole new industry of jobs for the future. A clean future, perhaps a future period
    10 percent of Germany’s electricity now comes from solar. In the US it is still only 1.13 percent– even thought the PV panels are much cheaper now than when Germany put most of its in.
    Do many jobs just waiting to be done here at home. Don't even need a TPP for that kind of a re-tooling move. The power grid infrastructure for homeowner net metering which would diversify electrical sources and decentralize economic power too. A hard thing with the Koch's of the world against losing their petrochemical hold on energy. Make that part of the campaign - Freedom from Big Oil monopolizing our energy choices
  •  "only 28 percent of Americans saw the country... (0+ / 0-)

    as being on the right track; 63 percent said it was moving in the wrong direction."

    I believe that the county is on the wrong track because of the Republican obstructionism in both houses and the conservative dominance of the court and it's penchant for legislating from the bench, not Obama.

  •  Stay classy, Santorum! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Mon May 12, 2014 at 01:35:44 PM PDT

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