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Sep 24 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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Phyllis Bennis: “There Is No Military Solution” – But Obama Launches a New U.S. War in Syria

President Obama’s decision to bomb Syria stands in stark violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. It contradicts his own commitment, stated a year ago in the UN General Assembly, to reverse Washington’s “perpetual war footing.”

And it portends disaster for the people of Syria, the region, and much of the world.

The White House stated goal is to destroy the headquarters of the violent and extremist ISIS militia. But you can’t bomb extremism out of existence. The U.S. bombs do not fall on “extremism,” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people – men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.

President Obama was right when he said there is no military solution to the ISIS crisis. Bombing Syria, without Congressional authorization, without United Nations approval, in direct opposition to the stated position of Syria’s government, will only make that crisis worse. It will give ISIS and its allies a new basis for recruitment, it will strengthen the repressive Syrian government, it will undermine Syria’s struggling non-violent opposition movement, and it will further tighten the links between ISIS supporters in Syria and in Iraq.

Karyn Strickler: Fear This, Congress: The People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March has permanently changed national and international perception and proven that Americans care passionately about the climate issue. The diverse sea of black, brown and white people who flooded the streets of New York sent the message that climate change is a political issue for all Americans, with signs reading, “Vote Climate.” A young woman of East Indian descent carried a hand-painted, blue and green sign that said, “Change Politics, Not the Climate.”

The crowd was loud with drumming, singing and chanting. A favorite moment came when an eerie hush suddenly descended. I ducked and looked skyward, thinking something must be wrong. You could hear a cheer rise-up from miles away and cascade through the crowd. When the wave hit our section it got so loud that I’m certain the world leaders, gathered for the global summit on climate change, could hear us roar. [..]

U.S. politicians take note. Congress generally operates on two basic principles: fear and greed. U.S. Congressional leaders chase the almighty dollar to pump-up their campaign coffers, that’s the greed part. But they can’t get the vote if they don’t follow the will of the people, that’s the fear part. Yesterday’s March indicates that it’s time for politicians to wake-up and follow the people on the issue of climate change or fear for their election prospects.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: New Deal Liberalism Lives On

n the age of trickle-down economics and unrelenting attacks on the social safety net, there have been few greater champions of progressive values than Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who hosted his final Steak Fry this year as the senior senator from Iowa. Throughout his storied career, Harkin has remained a “prairie populist.” From his landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, to his principled vote against Clinton-era financial deregulation, to his recent sponsorship of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, Harkin has always been unapologetically loyal to the fundamental belief that government can – and should – play a role in improving people’s lives. And for Harkin, who proudly displayed his father’s Works Progress Administration card on his office wall, this brand of progressivism was deeply rooted in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal philosophy. [..]

Our current political battles, as they have been for the past 70 years, are largely defined by the right’s bitter desire to roll back the gains of the New Deal and the Great Society. And as Harkin prepares to retire next year, many have been writing obituaries for his brand of progressive politics. “Today he is seen as one of a dying breed of Democrats,” The Post’s Dan Balz observed. “[H]e remains an unabashedly and old-fashioned liberal.”

But the would-be eulogists predicting that these ideals will follow Harkin into retirement are wrong. While Harkin’s departure will be a loss, the mantle of New Deal liberalism that he proudly carried has been passed on. In recent years, what the late Sen. Paul Wellstone called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” hasn’t lost its way; on the contrary, it has found it.

Jessica Valenti: Roger Goodell wants YOU to accept his nightmare of violence and sexism

Throwing money at women’s rights groups is not how you fix a fundamentally misogynist institution

In the wake of the Ray Rice horror show, and the Adrian Peterson horror show, and the Greg Hardy horror show, and the Ray McDonald horror show, and the Daryl Washington horror show, and the Jonathan Dwyer horror show, and the 725 other arrests among the players who make money for him, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Friday afternoon in a mea culpa press conference that all 32 teams and their employees must attend educational sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault. Sounds promising, until you get to the part where it’s the NFL itself that’s designing the program. Will there be sessions on “hiding videos for beginners?” A lunch program on crafting the perfect tweet to blame a player’s battered spouse? How to blame your parents for beating your four-year-old son?

I understand that these programs are likely the first of many stops on the NFL apology tour, but I find it difficult to believe the answer to all of this drawn-out wrongdoing will be found in NFL locker rooms, with employees listening to mandatory NFL-designed domestic violence speakers. According to Goodell’s announcement, these compulsory programs are being developed by the NFL Players Association and a “top group of experts” that the NFL hired last week. And the woman in charge of one anti-violence organizations the NFL plans to “partner” with told me Sunday night that, as of right now, the relationship is purely financial.

This is what Roger Goodell and the NFL are asking of us: to accept their nightmare of violence, sexism and cover-ups with the hope that a dash of contrition and remedial classes on why hitting women is wrong will make everything OK.

Joan Walsh: The Dick Cheney view of presidential power is winning

Feckless Congress campaigns instead of voting on Syrian airstrikes, while McCain and Graham want to move on Assad

President Obama warned earlier this month that he intended to use airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Immediately the New York Times as well as legal scholars shrieked that the president needed to seek authorization of any Syria strikes from Congress. “Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris,” wrote Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman.

But Congress shrugged. After voting to fund the training of Syrian rebels, both the Senate and the House departed to campaign in the 2014 midterms.

Now that the bombs are dropping, few in Congress are even bothering to argue that they ought to deal with the question when they get back after the election. Sen. Tim Kaine is an exception: he is accusing his colleagues of accepting Dick Cheney’s view of the president’s power to wage pre-emptive war.

Heather Digby Parton: The right’s new religious war: Why they see ISIS as Christianity’s big threat

From Ann Coulter to Ted Cruz, a new strain of far-right thinking is developing a scary foreign policy

   “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while…

   – George W. Bush, September 16, 2001

Most people probably recall that comment pretty vividly as it provoked an outcry among America’s allies in both Europe and the Middle East for obvious reasons. The word “crusade” in that particular context is an explicit historical reference that places the “war on terrorism” in the category of a religious conflict. Bush, to his credit, never used the word again and went out of his way throughout his term to downplay any talk that he was waging a religious war.

Not that it stopped the usual suspects from saying so, of course. Ann Coulter issued a notorious cri de guerre on behalf of the entire conservative movement in October of 2001 saying, “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity!” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, whose radio show is frequented by Republican officials and conservative luminaries has been preaching this gospel for some time as well.