“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.
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Trevor Timm: If this is what an anti-war presidency looks like to you, you’re detached from reality
Nothing sums up the warped foreign policy fantasy world in which Republicans live more than when House Speaker John Boehner recently called Obama an “anti-war president” under which America “is sitting on the sidelines” in the increasingly chaotic Middle East.
If Obama is an anti-war president, he’s the worst anti-war president in history. In the last six years, the Obama administration has bombed seven countries in the Middle East alone and armed countless more with tens of billions in dollars in weapons. But that’s apparently not enough for Republicans. As the Isis war continues to expand and Yemen descends into civil war, everyone is still demanding more: If only we bombed the region a little bit harder, then they’ll submit.
In between publishing a new rash of overt sociopathic “Bomb Iran” op-eds, Republicans and neocons are circulating a new talking point: Obama doesn’t have a “coherent” or “unifying” strategy in the Middle East. But you can’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy in an entire region that is almost incomprehensibly complex – which is why no one, including the Republicans criticizing Obama, actually has an answer for what that strategy should be. It’s clear that this new talking point is little more than thinly veiled code for we’re not killing enough Muslims or invading enough countries.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: Big-Bank Bad Guys Bully Democracy – And Blow It
For so-called “masters of the universe,” Wall Street executives sure seem touchy about criticism. It seems they don’t like being painted as the bad guys.
But if they don’t like being criticized, why do so many of them keep behaving like B-movie villains? That’s exactly what executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America looked after an article appeared last week detailing their coordinated attempt to intimidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats who want to fix the mess on Wall Street.
They’ve cheated customers and defrauded investors. Now they want to use our legalized system of campaign-cash corruption to protect themselves from the very government which rescued them.
: Don’t Worry About the Robots, the Fed Might Take Your Job
It is rare that a week goes by when we don’t hear a story warning us that robots are going to be taking our jobs. (For example, here , here, here .) This is bizarre, even as measured by a standard of economic reporting that allowed an $8 trillion housing bubble to grow largely unnoticed.
The basic point is a simple one: there is no real evidence that robots are displacing workers on any substantial scale. The other part of the story that makes the robot discussion so annoying is that the Federal Reserve Board is actively debating policy that has the explicit purpose of taking away people’s jobs and almost no one seems to care. [..]
The robots may not be likely to take our jobs, but there is a real risk that the Federal Reserve Board will. There is a regular drum beat in the business press about the need for the Fed to start raising interest rates. In fact the Fed itself is telling us to expect higher rates, the question is how much higher and how fast we get there.
David Sirota: The SEC Illustrates the Danger of Regulatory Capture
The phrase “regulatory capture” shrouds a serious problem in vaguely academic jargon, making it seem like unimportant esoterica rather than anything noteworthy. But the phenomenon that the euphemism represents is, indeed, significant: When a government agency is effectively captured by-and subservient to-the industry that agency is supposed to be objectively regulating, it is a big deal.
A perfect example of regulatory capture came earlier this month from the Securities and Exchange Commission-the law enforcement agency that is supposed to be overseeing the financial industry.
As part of that responsibility, the agency’s top financial examiner, Andrew Bowden, warned last year of rampant fraud, corruption and abuse in the private equity industry, which today manages tens of billions of dollars of public pension money for states and cities across the country. [..]
That, unto itself, doesn’t sound like regulatory capture-in fact, it sounds like quite the opposite. But that’s just the prelude to the real story.
Robert Reich: The Rise of the Working Poor and the Non-Working Rich
Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”
In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week — yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.
In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.
The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-working rich — is relatively new. Both are challenging the core American assumptions that people are paid what they’re worth, and work is justly rewarded.
Why are these two groups growing?
Mike Lux: The Angst Of The Rich And Powerful
There have been a couple of recent articles that relate to money and politics that, while infuriating on many levels, have also struck me as very funny.
One of them came out last week, a broadside no doubt planted by a Wall Street lobbyist intending to frighten Democratic party leaders into trying to shut up Elizabeth Warren (good luck with that!), Sherrod Brown, and other populists who challenge banking malfeasance. It is a classic story about today’s bizarro world of big money dominated politics: [.]]
The Wall Street lobby is the richest and most powerful constituency in DC, and they have been pretty successful over the last couple of decades at getting their way on policy and shutting up politicians who take them on. This kind of ham-handed threat might have worked in the past, but we are living in a new era where the progressive movement, in combination with leaders like Warren and Brown, isn’t backing down. It is worth noting this article, though, and keeping it in your favorite clips file: this kind of moment is one to be savored. There will be more to come as the challenges to the Wall Street establishment keep growing.