Sep 03 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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Juan Cole: On Syria: The U.S. Is No Lone Ranger and Should Put That Six Shooter Away

The odd discourse in Washington around President Barack Obama’s determination to bomb Syria over the country’s use of chemical weapons assumes a moral superiority on the part of the United States and its allies on this issue that can only astonish anyone who knows the history. At the same time, the most propagandistic allegations are being made about Iran. The creation of a fetish around some sorts of weapons (i.e., chemical ones) takes the focus off others that are just as deadly to innocents. The U.S. has had a checkered history in the use of unconventional arms, and is still among the most dedicated to retaining the ability to make, stockpile and use weapons that indiscriminately kill innocent noncombatants.

Wadah Khanfar: Syrians want rid of President Assad, but without US bombs

There’s little trust in America’s motives, and an airstrike would not stop the brutal slaughter of civilians. Far better to help the rebels directly

The Arab world has longed to get rid of the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad for years. In their minds it represents absolute evil. Future generations will remember the savage massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime and the images of women and children who were slaughtered. But this strong desire to eradicate the regime will, for the most part, never be translated into support for American military intervention. That is because of misgivings and mistrust concerning US motives.

New York Times Editorial Board: Debating the Case for Force

President Obama made the right decision to seek Congressional authorization for his announced plan to order unilateral military strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons. There has to be a vigorous and honest public debate on the use of military force, which could have huge consequences even if it is limited in scope and duration. [..]

It is unfortunate that Mr. Obama, who has been thoughtful and cautious about putting America into the Syrian conflict, has created a political situation in which his credibility could be challenged. He did that by publicly declaring that the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line that would result in an American response. Regardless, he should have long ago put in place, with our allies and partners, a plan for international action – starting with tough sanctions – if Mr. Assad used chemical weapons. It is alarming that Mr. Obama did not.

Chris Hedges: The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA

An “anti-terrorism” provision permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely. If the Supreme Court refuses to take up an appeal that I and fellow plaintiffs are filing, our nation will become a militarized state where all dissent is stifled. [..]

The Supreme Court takes between 80 and 100 cases a year from about 8,000 requests. There is no guarantee our appeal will ever be heard. If we fail, if this law stands, if in the years ahead the military starts to randomly seize and disappear people, if dissidents and activists become subject to indefinite and secret detention in military gulags, we will at least be able to look back on this moment and know we fought back.

Dean Baker: Fed Taper Talk Bursts Bubble

The Fed may have accomplished a remarkable feat last month: a quick and relatively painless bursting of an incipient bubble in many local housing markets. The July data on new home purchases, which showed a sharp 13.4 percent drop from June, indicates that the rise in mortgage rates seriously altered the dynamics in the housing market.

The basic story is straightforward. The collapse of the bubble in 2007-2010 sent prices plummeting nearly everywhere. Not every market was over-valued to the same degree, but nearly every market was over-valued at the peak of the bubble in 2006. [..]

Fortunately, the Fed’s taper talk at the end of June appears to have taken the air out of this bubble before it had a chance to get out of hand. The fear of an early end of quantitative easing sent mortgage rates soaring to over 4.5 percent. This quickly led to anecdotal accounts of investors fleeing the market and houses beginning to sit for longer periods of time.

This is all for the good. Anyone who lived through the collapse of the housing bubble should not want to see another one develop. House sales and prices are back at trend levels.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Contemplating War

Once again our nation is contemplating an act of war, entering into one of the most solemn debates a society can have. It’s worth restating some fundamental principles as that debate begins, especially for those of us who support economic justice, progressive ideals, and the reinvigoration of American democracy.

The first principle is respect for the Constitution.

Whatever your opinions about the President’s national security policy, he unquestionably did the right thing this week when he affirmed Congress’ role in matters of war. That’s a clear break from the practices of the recent past, and he deserves praise for it. [..]

The eighth and final principle is respect for human life, now and in the future.

The debate we’re about to have will affect the lives of many people, and will determine whether fellow human beings live or die. It may shape the geopolitical conflicts of the future. What’s more, the way we choose to conduct that debate will help shape the kind of country we become. A decision this grave can’t be made in haste, or out of anger. It must be considered and discussed carefully and thoroughly.

There are moments in history when we’re called upon to act as if the future is watching us — because it is.