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Sep 15 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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Trevor Timm: Obama’s legally dubious Isis campaign is just a way to continue perpetual war

The question isn’t whether this is war. It is. The question is how long until we’re clamouring for ground troops in Iraq again

In a speech that would make Dick Cheney proud, the president told us (and the Pentagon repeated) this week that we are at war with Islamic State (Isis) “in same way we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates” – a war that will go on indefinitely, is based on a strategy that’s been failing for over a decade and will never legally be called a war.

What Obama really did, however, was confirm for everyone what the late Hunter S Thompson recognized, shortly after 9/11, when he wrote, “We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.” [..]

The president also announced that he wouldn’t be needing congressional approval for prolonged airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, ignoring both their constitutional obligations and his … and that we’d be funneling more weapons to a group of “moderate” fighters that hardly anyone believes is moderate nor particularly good at fighting, including Obama.

Legal scholars on the left and the right denounced the president’s unconstitutional decision to bypass Congress and authorize military action unilaterally by pinning it to the 13 year-old Authorization for Use of Military Force against al-Qaida – which expelled Isis months ago.

Rebecca Burns: Wall Street’s teetering new rental empire

The rise of rent-backed securities ensures we’ll have another crash

History may repeat itself, but in few places are its cycles so maddeningly short as on Wall Street, where the recent advent of rent-backed securities has whipped financiers into another feeding frenzy. The innovators of this hot new financial product have found a way to slice, dice and repackage debt tied to thousands of real-estate-owned (REO) homes – a process that may sound awfully familiar.

That’s because it is: Rent-backed securities are the direct descendants of the mortgage-backed securities that crashed the economy in 2008. This time, however, investors’ income streams are coming not from monthly payments on frequently predatory mortgages but from the rent checks of thousands of ordinary tenants in single-family homes.

When rent-backed securities premiered on the market in October 2013, the $479 million offering from the private equity giant Blackstone Group generated more demand from investors than the private equity firm could accommodate. Since then, Blackstone and several other firms specializing in the rental of single-family homes have sold more than $3 billion of these bonds. REO-to-rental securitization has been hailed as an exciting new asset class, with financial analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods estimating that it could swell into a nearly $1 trillion industry over the next six years.

Eugene Robinson: What If This Doesn’t Work?

President Obama has committed the United States to another open-ended Middle East war in which the potential for doing harm rivals the possibility of doing good.

That’s the bottom line from Obama’s sober address to the nation. The president made his decision cautiously, reluctantly, even painfully. But make no mistake: The pledge to “destroy” the Islamic State is a long-term commitment, and success will depend on a host of partners that may be unreliable. [..]

To ask the even more obvious: Once you get involved in the Syrian civil war, how on earth do you get out?

David Sirota: Shareholders’ Quest for More Transparency

If you own a share of a company, how much information about the company are you entitled to? That is the question embedded in the debate over a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would force publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending to their shareholders.

As of this month, a 2011 petition to the SEC proposing the rule has received more than 1 million comments-most of them in favor of the mandate. Supporters of the rule, some of whom demonstrated outside the SEC last week, say that’s the highest number of public comments ever submitted in response to a petition for a SEC rule. That level of public engagement, the proponents say, means the agency must stop delaying and implement the proposal. They also say that as hundreds of millions of dollars flood into politics through anonymous “dark money” sources, the rule is more needed than ever.

Joe Conason: Republicans’ Reaction to Obama Speech Reveals Much-About Them

Minutes after President Barack Obama concluded his strong and sensible address explaining how he intends to destroy the terrorist organization the Islamic State, Republicans popped up on television like political snipers. He should have kept a “residual force” in Iraq, complained Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and he is to blame for the Islamic State’s advances. He sounds just like George W. Bush, gloated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and he is reluctantly enacting the advice of Dick Cheney.

None of those remarks was accurate, but the falsehoods revealed once more the irrepressible Republican impulse to slur a Democratic president-even when the nation faces a serious security threat. In this instance, as the president attempts to unite us and bring together a broad coalition of allies, their behavior is worse than inappropriate. Indeed, were the roles reversed, the Republicans would surely describe such conduct as unpatriotic.