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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Alan Grayson; On Syria Vote, Trust, but Verify

THE documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.

On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.” [..]

My position is simple: if the administration wants me to vote for war, on this occasion or on any other, then I need to know all the facts. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

New York Times Editorial Board: Can Mr. Obama Avoid Mission Creep?

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday on his plans for using military force in Syria. He will have a hard time persuading a skeptical Congress and an equally skeptical American public.

There are numerous reasons that so many Americans are opposed to or ambivalent about bombing Syria, even when they can agree that the provocation – a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime that killed more than 1,400 people last month – was a barbarous act that violated international treaties. At the top of the list: the concern that the United States will inevitably become mired in another costly Middle East war.

There are good reasons to worry, particularly with Pentagon planners possibly moving to broaden military options and targets.

Jeff Jarvis: Welcome to the end of secrecy

The real lesson of the Snowden leaks is not the threat to privacy. It is the NSA’s losing battle against the new agents of openness

It has been said that privacy is dead. Not so. It’s secrecy that is dying. Openness will kill it.

American and British spies undermined the secrecy and security of everyone using the internet with their efforts to foil encryption. Then, Edward Snowden foiled them by revealing what is perhaps – though we may never know – their greatest secret. [..]

Openness is the more powerful weapon. Openness is the principle that guides, for example, Guardian journalism. Openness is all that can restore trust in government and technology companies. And openness – in standards, governance, and ethics – must be the basis of technologists’ efforts to take back the the net.

Dean Baker: The media’s disgraceful acquiescence to Larry Summers’ White House boosters

Summers’ record should bar him from the Fed chair. Why is the press letting anonymous administration officials promote him?

Selling Larry Summers as the successor to Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve Board is a tough job. The basic problem is that Summers has a dismal track record to overcome, while his main competitor, Janet Yellen, the current vice-chair, has an outstanding record.

Summers was a big supporter of financial deregulation in the 1990s and 2000s. He pooh-poohed concerns over the stock and housing bubbles. He thought the over-valued dollar and resulting trade deficit (and loss of millions of jobs) was great. He was a protector of the Wall Street banks when they were flat on their backs, and he thought the economy could get back to full employment without additional stimulus. And he has the distinction of being effectively fired as president of Harvard.

David Sirota: What Happened to the Anti-War Movement?

A mere 72 hours after President Obama delivered an encomium honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, he announced his intention to pound yet another country with bombs. The oxymoron last week was noteworthy for how little attention it received. Yes, a president memorialized an anti-war activist who derided the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Then that same president quickly proposed yet more violence-this time in Syria.

Among a political press corps that rarely challenges the Washington principle of “kill foreigners first, ask questions later,” almost nobody mentioned the contradiction. Even worse, as Congress now debates whether to launch yet another military campaign in the Middle East, the anti-war movement that Dr. King represented-and that so vigorously opposed the last war-is largely silent. Sure, there have been a few perfunctory emails from liberal groups, but there seems to be little prospect for mass protest, raising questions about whether an anti-war movement even exists anymore.

So what happened to that movement? The shorter answer is: It was a victim of partisanship.

George Lakoff: Obama Reframes Syria: Metaphor and War Revisitednm

President Obama has reframed his position on Syria, adjusting the Red Line metaphor: It wasn’t his Red Line, not his responsibility for drawing it. It was the Red Line drawn by the world, by the international community – both legally by international treaty, and morally by universal revulsion against the use of poison gas by Assad. It was also America’s Red Line, imposed by America’s commitment to live up to such treaties. [..]

The new version of the metaphorical policy has broad consequences, what I have called systemic causation (that goes beyond the immediate local situation) as opposed to direct causation (in this case applying just to the immediate case of Assad’s use of sarin).

Some will call the reframing cynical, a way to avoid responsibility for his first use of the Red Line metaphor. But President Obama’s reframing makes excellent sense from the perspective of his consistent policy of treaties and international norms, which he has said was the basis for the Red Line metaphor in the first place.

Jim Goodman: Passage of Trans Pacific Partnership Would Be Win for Corporations, Loss for the 99%

In the early years of the United States we had, and enforced, strong trade tariffs, it was necessary to protect farmers and businesses from unfair foreign competition.

Now, that we are an Empire, we demand free access to foreign markets for our small businesses and farmers. No, we demand market access for our corporations. Trade agreements are written with the financial interests of corporations in mind.

This is not new, trade policy, when imposed by an Empire, is not for the benefit of the people, but rather the Empire or those who control it.