Daily Archive: 01/08/2013

Jan 08 2013

BCS: Alabama v. Notre Dame

So last night Notre Dame got crushed by Alabama 42 – 14 and I for one was not unhappy with that result.

Why I won’t be cheering for old Notre Dame

Posted by Melinda Henneberger, The Washington Post

December 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm

What’s really surprising me are those who believe as I do that two players on the team have committed serious criminal acts – sexual assault in one case, and rape in another – but assumed that I’d support the team anyway, just as they are.

“Aren’t you just a little bit excited?” one asked the other day. There are plenty of good guys on the team, too, I’m repeatedly told. And oh, that Manti Te’o is inspiring. I don’t doubt it. But as a thought exercise, how many predators would have to be on the team before you’d no longer feel like cheering?



Two years ago, Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at Saint Mary’s College, across the street from Notre Dame, committed suicide after accusing an ND football player of sexually assaulting her. The friend Lizzy told immediately afterward said she was crying so hard she was having trouble breathing.

Yet after Lizzy went to the police, a friend of the player’s sent her a series of texts that frightened her as much as anything that had happened in the player’s dorm room. “Don’t do anything you would regret,” one of them said. “Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.”

At the time of her death, 10 days after reporting the attack to campus police, who have jurisdiction for even the most serious crimes on school property, investigators still had not interviewed the accused. It took them five more days after she died to get around to that, though they investigated Lizzy herself quite thoroughly, even debriefing a former roommate at another school with whom she’d clashed.



A few months later, a resident assistant in a Notre Dame dorm drove a freshman to the hospital for a rape exam after receiving an S.O.S. call. “She said she’d been raped by a member of the football team at a party off campus,” the R.A. told me. I also spoke to the R.A.’s parents, who met the young woman that same night, when their daughter brought her to their home after leaving the hospital. They said they saw – and reported to athletic officials – a hailstorm of texts from other players, warning the young woman not to report what had happened: “They were trying to silence this girl,” the R.A.’s father told me. And did; no criminal complaint was ever filed.

Notre Dame and Penn State: Two Rape Scandals, Only One Cry for Justice

Dave Zirin, The Nation

January 7, 2013 – 10:25 AM ET

Two storied college football programs. Two rape scandals. Only one national outcry. How do we begin to explain the exponentially different levels of attention paid to crimes of violence and power at Penn State and Notre Dame?

At Penn State, revered assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was raping young boys while being shielded by a conspiracy of silence of those in power at the football powerhouse. At Notre Dame, it’s not young boys being raped by an assistant coach. It’s women being threatened, assaulted, and raped by players on the school’s unbeaten football team. Yet sports media that are overwhelmingly male and ineffably giddy about Fighting Irish football’s return to prominence have enacted their own conspiracy of silence.



But this conspiracy of silence and slander is bigger than just the school. Deindustrialized South Bend, Indiana, is a company town, and the company is Notre Dame football. The football program in 2012 was valued by Forbes as the third "most valuable" in the country, behind far larger state universities in Texas and Michigan. This is just the formal economy. Informally, every hotel, every bar, every kid at the side of the road selling bottled water depends on Notre Dame football. Home games generate $10 million in local spending for a community of just 100,000 people. It is the beating economic heart of South Bend and women have become, in this sclerotic set up, the collateral damage.

But the cone of silence that surrounds a company college football town is not enough to understand why Penn State’s rape scandal was front-page news the second the Sandusky scandal went public and Notre Dame has been largely protected by the press. The only answer that makes sense is that raping women has become “normalized” in our culture, while raping little boys has not. The only answer that makes sense is that the rape of a young boy sets all sorts of alarms of horror in the minds of the very male sports media, while the rape of women does not. The only answer that makes sense is that it’s been internalized that while boys are helpless in the face of a predator, women are responsible for their assault. The accusers are the accused.

This is not just a Notre Dame issue. At too many universities, too many football players are schooled to see women as the spoils of being a campus god. But it’s also an issue beyond the commodification of women on a big football campus. It’s the fruit of a culture where politicians can write laws that aim to define the difference between “rape” and “forcible rape” and candidates for the Senate can speak about pregnancy from rape being either a “gift from God” or biologically impossible in the case of “legitimate rape.” It’s a culture where comedians like Daniel Tosh or Tucker Max can joke about violently raping, as Max puts it, a “gender hardwired for whoredom.” The themes of power, rape and lack of accountability are just as clear in the case of the Steubenville, Ohio, football players not only boasting that they "so raped" an unconscious girl but feeling confident enough to videotape their boasts.

As Jessica Valenti wrote at TheNation.com, “It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance. Rape is as American as apple pie-until we own that, nothing will change.”

Jan 08 2013

John Brennan, Torture Advocate, Nominated to Head CIA

While the traditional MSM has been kvetching over the selection of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, President Barack Obama another far more controversial nomination. True to form of favoring George W. Bush’s war criminals, the president nominated his counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan to head the CIA. Brennan, who endorsed Bush’s torture program and illegal surveillance, has also been completely in charge of the president’s drone and targeted assassination programs. It was because of that and his approval of NSA illegal wire taping and the immunization of the telecommunication companies that Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2009 was withdrawn by the fledgeling Obama administration. How soon, not just the media, so-called progressives have forgotten its outrage over the criminality of the Bush/Cheney regime.

John Brennan’s extremism and dishonesty rewarded with CIA Director nomination

by Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Obama’s top terrorism adviser goes from unconfirmable in 2008 to uncontroversial in 2013, reflecting the Obama legacy

Prior to President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, a controversy erupted over reports that he intended to appoint John Brennan as CIA director. That controversy, in which I participated, centered around the fact that Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program. As a result, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration, issuing a bitter letter blaming “strong criticism in some quarters prompted by (his) previous service with the” CIA.

This “victory” of forcing Brennan’s withdrawal proved somewhat Pyrrhic, as Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser, where he exerted at least as much influence as he would have had as CIA Director, if not more. In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”. Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency. {..}

It is a perfect illustration of the Obama legacy that a person who was untouchable as CIA chief in 2008 because of his support for Bush’s most radical policies is not only Obama’s choice for the same position now, but will encounter very little resistance. Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus. Then again, given how the CIA operates, one could fairly argue that Brennan’s eagerness to deceive and his long record of supporting radical and unaccountable powers make him the perfect person to run that agency. It seems clear that this is Obama’s calculus.

The Seduction of John Brennan’s “Moral Rectitude”

by Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel

FWIW, having John Brennan in a position where he will be subject to Congressional oversight – rather than the oversight-free and more expansive position he’s in now – might not be an entirely bad thing. And after the DiFi-Jose Rodriguez smackdown, I’m not sad to see (CIA Acting Director Michael) Morell get passed over, because I don’t think he has sufficient independence from people like Rodriguez. {..}

So I can’t help but think the people hailing his “moral rectitude” have been seduced by an old spook. Because every story that claims Brennan has some kind of higher ethics or a plan to put order to our out-of-control CT programs is either followed-or has the proof within itself-that the moral rectitude is the PR, whereas the embrace of unchecked power seems to be backed by his actions.

This statement from the ACLU on Brennan’s nomination, expressed there concerns:

WASHINGTON – President Obama this afternoon nominated his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, had the following concerns with the president’s choice to fill this critical national security post.

Despite media reports that Brennan continually raised civil liberties concerns within the White House, noted Murphy, the Senate should not move forward with his nomination until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program. [..]

“The Senate should not move forward with his nomination until all senators can assess the role of the CIA-and any role by Brennan himself-in torture, abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary rendition during his past tenure at the CIA, as well as can review the legal authorities for the targeted killing program that he has overseen in his current position,” Murphy said. “This nomination is too important to proceed without the Senate first knowing what happened during Brennan’s tenures at the CIA and the White House, and whether all of his conduct was within the law. ”

Murphy also added that a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report could be used to determine the extent of Brennan’s role in these programs.

“To the extent these questions can be answered by the Intelligence Committee’s still-undisclosed report on the CIA’s role in torture, the Senate should use the report to determine what role Brennan had and whether his conduct was consistent with both the law and American values,” Murphy said.

Murphy remarked that the CIA can take two actions now to help restore the rule of law.

“The Senate should not move forward with the nomination of John Brennan until it is clear that he is committed to making sure that the CIA will end its targeted killing program, and agree to work with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the declassification review and disclosure of the committee’s report on the CIA’s past role in torture and abuse,” she said. “These steps would help assure all Americans that the past wrongs of the CIA have ended, and won’t be brought back.”

Brennan will most likely be confirmed by the Senate with far less “fireworks” than the Hagel nomination. I have no doubt that it will be done under the cloak of secrecy, invoking “national security”, aka, covering war crimes and the perpetrators.

Jan 08 2013

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Joseph Stiglitz: Climate Change and Poverty: The Post-Crisis Crises

An economic and political system that does not deliver for most citizens is one that is not sustainable in the long run

In the shadow of the euro crisis and America’s fiscal cliff, it is easy to ignore the global economy’s long-term problems. But, while we focus on immediate concerns, they continue to fester, and we overlook them at our peril.

The most serious is global warming. While the global economy’s weak performance has led to a corresponding slowdown in the increase in carbon emissions, it amounts to only a short respite. And we are far behind the curve: because we have been so slow to respond to climate change achieving the targeted limit of a 2C rise in global temperature will require sharp reductions in emissions in the future.

Some suggest that, given the economic slowdown, we should put global warming on the backburner. On the contrary, retrofitting the global economy for climate change would help to restore aggregate demand and growth.

John Nichols: When the Great Judgment Call Came, Hagel Handed Bush a Blank Check

If President Obama is determined to select a former senator to serve as secretary of defense, the ideal pick would be someone who at the very least saw through the flimsy arguments for authorizing George Bush’s war with Iraq.

That excludes Chuck Hagel, the Vietnam veteran and former Republican senator who Obama has tapped for the Pentagon post. [..]

When the neocons rally on one side, it can lead liberals (and even some progressives) to instinctually go to the other side. And that’s happening with the Hagel nomination. To be sure, liberals will find Hagel pronouncements that are appealing, such as his assertion in his autobiography: “Not that I’m a pacifist, I’m a hard-edged realist, I understand the world as it is, but war is a terrible thing. There’s no glory, only suffering,” And a 2011 reflection on his own Vietnam service, in which Hagel said: “We sent home almost 16,000 body bags that year [1968]. And I always thought to myself, ‘If I get through this, if I have the opportunity to influence anyone, I owe it to those guys to never let this happen again to the country.'”

Matt Stoller: Lazy Corporate Monopolies Are Why America Can’t Have Nice Things

Throughout much of the United States, cell phone service is terrible (so is broadband, as Susan Crawford shows). And not just in rural or sparsely populated areas, but cell phone calls routinely drop in major metropolitan areas. You can’t use your phone underground in New York, and there are plenty of places on Capitol Hill you can’t get service. I actually once had trouble getting service near the Federal Communications Commission. This is a result of a lack of competition and increasingly poor regulatory policies. In the late 1990s, 50 percent of wireless revenues were invested in wireless infrastructure. By 2009, that number dropped to a little over 10 percent. What is it today? We don’t know, because the FCC no longer even collects the data. The result is that your cell phone drops calls. Cell phone service is also expensive, and the companies nickel and dime you — America is one of two countries where the person receiving the call has to pay for the call. A rough calculation shows that up to 80 percent of the cost of your cell phone service comes from corruption. [..]

Antitrust is the core problem here. Without restraint on behavior, corporate executives will work to grab as much market and political power as possible, because only market power and political power allows them to have pricing leverage without investment, risk, or innovation. Competition is the enemy of these businessmen. America has a long tradition of monopoly power and anti-monopoly sentiment and activism. From the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt to the early 1980s, America had a strong tradition of antitrust regulation rooted in the understanding that too much market power led to inefficiency and price gouging. This tradition ended under Reagan. [..]

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Real Deficit Argument

Should our politicians dedicate themselves to solving the problems we face now? Or should they spend their time constructing largely theoretical deficit solutions for years far in the future to satisfy certain ideological and aesthetic urges?

This is one of the two central choices the country faces at the beginning of President Obama’s second term. The other is related: Will the establishment, including business leaders and middle-of-the-road journalistic opinion, stand by silently as one side in the coming argument risks cratering the economy in an effort to reverse the verdict of the 2012 election? Yes, I am talking about using the debt ceiling as a political tool, something that was never done until the disaster of 2011.

My first questions are, admittedly, loaded. They refer to a difference of opinion we need to face squarely.

Wendell Potter: One of the Most Helpful Parts of ObamaCare Just Kicked In, Despite Fierce Opposition From Insurers

You probably missed it because of the media’s focus on the fiscal cliff, but a provision of ObamaCare took effect on January 1 that can help you avoid making costly mistakes when you sign up for health insurance. At the very least you’ll be able to understand what you’re actually signing up for.

From now on, health insurers will have to provide us with information in plain English, and in no more than four pages, about what their policies cover and how much we’ll have to pay out of our own pockets when we get sick. And they’ll have to provide it in a standard format that will enable us to make apples-to-apples comparisons among health plans. Click [here v] to see an example of what the plan descriptions must now look like.

As you can imagine, insurers fought hard to kill that part of the law. That’s because they’ve profited for years by using legalese and gobbledygook in describing their policies, and also by purposely withholding information we really need to make informed coverage decisions.

Ralph Nader: Who Can Stop the People?

If your next-door neighbors were the U.S. Congress, spending your income and using their power to influence your life, would you pay close attention to them?

Over the past several weeks, Congress has been the focal point of much controversy for its inability to come together on a comprehensive fiscal cliff deal until the absolute final hour. More and more Americans are becoming aware — and upset — about the systemic gridlock in Congress, which results in the failure to solve or even address numerous major problems that plague our country. Issues such as the stagnant minimum wage, the bloated military budget, undeclared wars, the corporate crime wave, the business plunder of Medicare, corporate welfare sprees and many others. Consider the governing power that Congress possesses — the power to raise or lower taxes, the power to spend, the power to declare war, the power to give away your public lands, airwaves, and taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations looking to widen their profit margins, the power to investigate and hold hearings, the power to oversee the executive branch, the power to impeach, and the power to confirm cabinet nominees and federal judges. Congress is the most powerful branch of government which is why it’s the branch with the most dire need for citizen oversight.

Jan 08 2013

Actually, this is a good thing.

Crossposted from DocuDharma

Are ‘grand bargains’ still possible?

By Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post

Jan 06, 2013 06:14 PM EST

Here’s a radical idea: What if a “grand bargain” – or any sort of large legislative measure requiring significant bipartisan compromise – simply isn’t possible anymore?



There’s plenty of reason to believe that the idea that the government can, will – or even wants to – rise to the occasion (as Boehner and Obama have advocated in recent days) is a total fallacy.



All signs point to the fact that if the grand bargain isn’t dead, it’s darn close. Miraculous comebacks happen in politics, which makes it worth watching, but they are the exception, not the rule. Given that, it may be time to accept that the idea of Washington doing big things in a bipartisan way is a thing of the past – perhaps never to be recovered.

Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.

Jan 08 2013

On This Day In History January 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 8 is the eighth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 357 days remaining until the end of the year (358 in leap years).

On this day in 1877, Crazy Horse and his warriors–outnumbered, low on ammunition and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves–fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.

Six months earlier, in the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his ally, Chief Sitting Bull, led their combined forces of Sioux and Cheyenne to a stunning victory over Lieutenant Colonel George Custer (1839-76) and his men. The Indians were resisting the U.S. government’s efforts to force them back to their reservations. After Custer and over 200 of his soldiers were killed in the conflict, later dubbed “Custer’s Last Stand,” the American public wanted revenge. As a result, the U.S. Army launched a winter campaign in 1876-77, led by General Nelson Miles (1839-1925), against the remaining hostile Indians on the Northern Plains.

On January 8, 1877, General Miles found Crazy Horse’s camp along Montana’s Tongue River. U.S. soldiers opened fire with their big wagon-mounted guns, driving the Indians from their warm tents out into a raging blizzard. Crazy Horse and his warriors managed to regroup on a ridge and return fire, but most of their ammunition was gone, and they were reduced to fighting with bows and arrows. They managed to hold off the soldiers long enough for the women and children to escape under cover of the blinding blizzard before they turned to follow them.

Though he had escaped decisive defeat, Crazy Horse realized that Miles and his well-equipped cavalry troops would eventually hunt down and destroy his cold, hungry followers. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led approximately 1,100 Indians to the Red Cloud reservation near Nebraska’s Fort Robinson and surrendered. Five months later, a guard fatally stabbed him after he allegedly resisted imprisonment by Indian policemen

Jan 08 2013

Krugman Calls for President to Mint the Coin

Sign the petition to Mint the Coin

US Mint Platinum CoinThis past week calls by Republicans to not raise debt ceiling got little push back from the talking heads this Sunday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the morning rounds insinuating that it might not be so bad. Lets get something straight that the MSM village is allowing to happen here. The Republicans are conflating passing a budget bill (future spending) with making the payment on those expenditures (past spending). Those two things are NOT the same. The debt ceiling addresses the later and the consequences of even threatening to not pay US debts would have the same, if not greater, negative results as it did in 2011 when the feral children of the House held it hostage. The result of that debacle was the current sequestration bill and “fiscal cliff” crisis.

The inflation that everyone from the Federal Reserve to Wall St. wants to the one thing that would put the US in the same boat as Greece, facing increasingly higher interest rate payments. In other words the debt ceiling and the budget resolution are NOT the same and should not be treated the same.  The sequester and the budget resolution are negotiable; the debt ceiling is not.

This idea of holding the debt ceiling is in fact so dangerous to the world economy that politicians, economist and pundits are calling for President Barack Obama to act by using possibly the only legal means he may have, mint a Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin. Even New York Times columnist and economist, Paul Krugman has change his mind calling for the president to be ready to mint that coin:

Should President Obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if Republicans try to force America into default? Yes, absolutely. He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious. [..]

It’s easy to make sententious remarks to the effect that we shouldn’t look for gimmicks, we should sit down like serious people and deal with our problems realistically. That may sound reasonable – if you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years.Given the realities of our political situation, and in particular the mixture of ruthlessness and craziness that now characterizes House Republicans, it’s just ridiculous – far more ridiculous than the notion of the coin.

So if the 14th amendment solution – simply declaring that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional – isn’t workable, go with the coin.

If you think that this possibility isn’t serious, consider the fact that the feral children of the House now do introducing legislation to prevent the president from minting the coin

And now a US Congressman has come out against the coin idea and is proposing a law to ban it (via Matthew O’Brien). Ironically, this action actually legitimizes the coin option. [..]

In the past, hiking the debt ceiling was pretty painless, but some in the GOP are staunchly opposed to doing it, raising the specter that the US will default on its obligations.

It’s because of this that some people are getting more excited about the “Platinum Option,” which refers to a technical loophole in the law that allows the Treasury to create platinum coins in any denomination, theoretically up to a trillion and beyond. [..]

We’ve posted his full press release below, but the key thing here is that the idea is now legitimized, as a GOP Congressman implicitly acknowledges that the coin idea is currently legal.

Note that in his press release, the Congressman uses the flawed analogy of comparing the US government to a small business. Unlike governments, small businesses can’t print money. And small businesses can’t “deficit spend,” the way governments can.

The opponents of this idea are also wrong. Josh Borrow, who writes at Bloomberg‘s The Ticker, enumerates why their arguments are all wrong and concludes:

Minting the platinum coin would be less economically damaging than any of the above options, which is why Obama should announce he will pursue it if the debt ceiling is not raised. Hopefully, inflation hawks will be so alarmed by the president’s intention to use his direct monetary authority that they will choose to cut a deal and we’ll never actually get to the minting stage.

But if Republicans call Obama’s bluff, he should be ready to mint that coin – – and to save the economy by doing so.

Sign the petition to Mint the Coin