Sep 11 2014

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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Ali Soufan: The sad legacy of 9/11: Isis and al-Qaida are stronger than ever

We haven’t been fighting a 13-year war. We’ve been fighting a new one-year war, 13 times. What now?

In the years leading up to the attacks of 11 September 2001, the west saw al-Qaida rising but didn’t address the threat in time. My colleagues and I in the FBI and over at the CIA had been focused on al-Qaida since the mid-1990s. The true threat, however, came from the ideology, not the group.

In the first years after 9/11, the west focused too much on Osama bin Laden and not enough on the bin Ladenism he spawned. We mistook killing the messenger for killing the message. The tactics were understandable – repeated targeted strikes at key individuals to keep al-Qaida off balance – but our strategy was based on just that: “our” understanding of “them”, rather than “their” understanding of “us”[..]

Thirteen years later, it’s becoming clear that we have not fought a 13-year war so much as a one-year war, 13 times. It is the sad legacy of our tactic-driven response to 9/11 that bin Ladenism has spread far beyond Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams.

Trevor Timm: The American fear-mongering machine is about to scare us back into war again

Thanks to a say-anything media, hawkish politicians and an Orwellian administration, a war-weary public is terrified. Are there any red lines anymore – or just launch buttons?

Did you know that the US government’s counterterrorism chief Matthew Olson said last week that “there’s no credible information” that the Islamic State (Isis) is planning an attack on America and that there’s “no indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters operating in the United States”? Or that, as the Associated Press reported, “The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there are no specific or credible terror threats to the US homeland from the Islamic State militant group”?

Probably not, because as the nation barrels towards yet another war in the Middle East and President Obama prepares to address that nation on the “offensive phase” of his military plan Wednesday night, mainstream media pundits and the usual uber-hawk politicians are busy trying to out-hyperbole each other over the threat Isis poses to Americans. In the process, they’re all but ignoring any evidence to the contrary and the potential hole of blood and treasure into which they’re ready to drive this country all over again.

Dave Johnson: Why Is SEC Sitting On Corporate Transparency Rules?

Are We the People the boss of the corporations, or are the corporations the boss of We the People?

Are We the People the boss of the corporations, or are the corporations the boss of We the People? The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) needs to be reminded which way that question is supposed to be answered.

The SEC is the agency pset up by We the People http://www.sec.gov/about/whatw… to “protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.” The SEC states that “all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals, should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it. … Only through the steady flow of timely, comprehensive, and accurate information can people make sound investment decisions.” [..]

But so far the SEC is not asking corporations to provide investors and the public with this information. Don’t shareholders — and We the People — deserve to know what these companies are really doing and how much they are really making?

Micheal Keegan: The First Amendment, According to Mitch McConnell

A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they’re saying. Another good rule in politics is not to trust what Mitch McConnell says about money in politics.

Because, yes, that’s what we’re talking about here. Not a secret new Orwellian regime. Not a new anti-pastor task force. What we’re talking about is simply limiting the amount of money that corporations and wealthy individuals can spend to influence our elections.

This week, the Senate is debating a constitutional amendment that would overturn recent Supreme Court decisions that have paved the way for an explosion of big money in politics. In those decisions, including Citizens United and this year’s McCutcheon, the Supreme Court radically redefined the First Amendment to allow corporations and the wealthy to drown out the speech of everyday Americans with nearly unlimited political spending. The Democracy for All amendment would restore to Congress and the states the power to impose reasonable restrictions on money in politics, just as they had before the Supreme Court started to dismantle campaign finance laws.

So, what are Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz so scared of?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Dems Can Win on Social Security — By Fighting to Increase It

A new poll confirms that voters don’t just want their Social Security benefits protected, they want them expanded – in overwhelming numbers, across geographical distances, and crossing all party lines. It’s not just “liberals” who feel that way. Three out of four Republican voters support it.

What’s more, voters say they’re far more likely to vote for candidates who vote to increase Social Security benefits. This is a winning issue for Democrats who are willing to take a firm stand as defenders – and expanders – of Social Security. [..]

Republicans have become shapeshifters on the issue of Social Security. Looking at poll numbers like these, it’s easy to understand why. Fortunately, Democrats can easily reveal them for what they are, by backing a fair sensible policy for increasing Social Security benefits – one which can help avert a retirement crisis in this country.

These “overwhelming” poll numbers make it clear that Democrats have everything to gain if they do.

James Rucker: Net Neutrality, Civil Rights, and Big Telecom Dollars

You might not know it, but the reason you’re able to read this article, the reason you found out about happened in Ferguson when you did and how you did, the reason you’re able to participate in activism on the Internet, is because of the way the Internet has worked since its inception — as an open platform free from corporate censorship and free from discrimination by gatekeepers at the network level.

This open nature of the Internet is again under attack, and it was years ago, with the corporate players behind the push using key voices in our community to further their interests, while at the same time undermining ours.

I actually thought this would be an old story given the sunlight that was shown four years ago during the 2010 Open Internet proceedings at the FCC. On display were the connections between civil rights organizations (like the NAACP, LULAC, National Urban League) who received significant funding from the big telecom players like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, and their policy positions favoring those companies.

But I guess four years is long time: long enough for some folks to forget, and long enough for the people and organizations implicated to brazenly go on offense.