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May 25 2013

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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Joe Nocera: Obama’s Gitmo Problem

It isn’t Congress’s fault that the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, hasn’t closed. It’s the president’s.

It is my belief, shared by many lawyers who have followed the legal battles over Guantánamo, that the president could have shut down the prison if he had really been determined to do so. One reason innocent detainees can’t get out is that the courts have essentially ruled that a president has an absolute right to imprison anyone he wants during a time of war – with no second-guessing from either of the other two branches of government. By the same legal logic, a president can also free any prisoner in a time of war. Had the president taken that stance, there would undoubtedly have been a court fight. But so what? Aren’t some things worth fighting for?

Whenever he talks about Guantánamo, the president gives the impression that that’s what he believes. The shame – his shame – is that, for all his soaring rhetoric, he has yet to show that he is willing to act on that belief.

New York Times Editorial Board: Scouting’s Move Toward Equality

The Boy Scouts of America voted on Thursday to discard part of its discriminatory policies about gay Americans and to allow openly gay boys to participate in its activities. The decision was made by about 1,400 delegates attending a national convention in Grapevine, Tex. It was a major step for one of the country’s oldest and most influential youth organizations that as recently as a year ago rejected any change in its membership policies.

But, at the same time, the Boy Scouts did not take the next and necessary step to end the exclusion of openly gay and lesbian adults as troop leaders. There is reason to celebrate the first turn toward inclusion, but the message to young people will still be: if you’re gay, keep quiet because there is something wrong with you. And gay boys and teenagers who love scouting and are courageous enough to be open about their sexual identity know that when they turn 18 and want to serve as a pack or troop leader, they will be forced out of the organization.

Medea Benjanib: Why I Spoke Out at Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech

On why Obama’s policies themselves, not those who speak out against them, are rude

Having worked for years on the issues of drones and Guantanamo, I was delighted to get a pass (the source will remain anonymous) to attend President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University. I had read many press reports anticipating what the President might say. There was much talk about major policy shifts that would include transparency with the public, new guidelines for the use of drones, taking lethal drones out of the purview of the CIA, and in the case of Guantanamo, invoking the “waiver system” to begin the transfer of prisoners already cleared for release.

Sitting at the back of the auditorium, I hung on every word the President said. I kept waiting to hear an announcement about changes that would represent a significant shift in policy. Unfortunately, I heard nice words, not the resetting of failed policies.

Gail Collins: The Women Versus the Ted

The Senate seems a bit less polarized and more productive this session. Is that because there are more women in power or is it thanks to Ted Cruz?

Let’s discuss how much better Congress would work if most of the members were women.

The Senate seems to be a tad less polarized since the female population rose from 17 to 20 this year. It’s also possible that there’s been more productivity since women got more power. For instance, the Budget Committee has a new chair, Patty Murray of Washington, and it has produced a budget for the first time in four years.

Bill Blum: Three Questions Left Unanswered by Obama’s Counterterrorism Speech

In the midst of his carefully scripted counterterrorism address Thursday at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., President Obama encountered an unexpected speed bump in the form of Medea Benjamin, the highly animated 60-year-old co-founder of anti-war group Code Pink whose track record for crashing high-profile political events and heckling speakers has earned her the reputation of being the country’s most disruptive protester.  [..]

Although the major media thus far have treated Benjamin’s antics as an amusing sideshow, the questions she raised about the legal basis for the administration’s policies are anything but funny or anywhere close to being resolved. Indeed, far from succeeding as a reassuring second-term milestone, the president’s speech left at least three core issues in the war on terror entirely unsettled: [..]

Robert Reich: Why Democrats Can’t Be Trusted to Control Wall Street

Who needs Republicans when Wall Street has the Democrats? With the help of congressional Democrats, the Street is rolling back financial reforms enacted after its near meltdown.

According to the New York Times, a bill that’s already moved through the House Financial Services Committee, allowing more of the very kind of derivatives trading (bets on bets) that got the Street into trouble, was drafted by Citigroup — whose recommended language was copied nearly word for word in 70 lines of the 85-line bill.

Where were House Democrats? Right behind it. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, a major recipient of the Street’s political largesse, co-sponsored it. Most of the Democrats on the Committee, also receiving generous donations from the big banks, voted for it. Rep. Jim Himes, another proponent of the bill and a former banker at Goldman Sachs, now leads the Democrat’s fund-raising effort in the House.