“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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New York Times Editorial Board: Racial Discrimination in Stop-and-Frisk
Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in New York upheld the bedrock principle of individual liberty on Monday when she ruled that the tactics underlying New York City’s stop-and-frisk program violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens. She found that the city had been “deliberately indifferent” to police officers illegally detaining and frisking minority residents on the streets over many years. [..]
Mayor Bloomberg, who has steadfastly supported this corrosive and socially damaging program, seemed unchanged on Monday. He arrogantly dismissed the suit and this ruling as the work of “one small group of advocates – and one judge,” repudiating the outrage about stop-and-frisk that has been growing in the city for years.
He has promised to appeal, but, fortunately, he will be leaving City Hall soon. His successor should retract the appeal and begin the process of bringing New York City’s police practices in line with the Constitution.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: What Should We Think About the Arrests at JPMorgan Chase?
Four years after Wall Street’s malfeasance dealt a telling blow the economy, and long after tens of billions of dollars have been paid out for banker fraud, reports say that we’re about to see the first arrests of Wall Street bank employees. What’s more, the suspects work at JPMorgan Chase — a bank which, ironically enough, politicians and pundits insisted was the “good bank” after the financial crisis hit in 2008.
In fact, Chase CEO Jamie Dimon spent years speaking out forcefully against additional bank regulation. (Lately, not so much…)
Financial cases can seem complicated. What should we think about these recent announcements in the “London Whale” case?
Does President Barack Obama think we’re stupid?
That’s the only conclusion possible after watching Friday’s bravura performance in which the president announced a set of proposals meant to bring more transparency to the National Security Agency – and claimed he would have done it anyway, even if Edward Snowden had never decided to leak thousands of highly sensitive documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
But even as he grudgingly admitted that the timing, at least, of his suggestions was a consequence of Snowden’s actions, the president declared, “I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.” When you look at what has changed over the past two months, though, it’s hard not to wonder, “What could be more patriotic than what Snowden did?”
Robert Reich: Why the Anger?
The last time America was this bitterly divided was in the 1920s, which was the last time income, wealth, and power were this concentrated.
When average people feel the game is rigged, they get angry. And that anger can easily find its way into deep resentments — of the poor, of blacks, of immigrants, of unions, of the well-educated, of government.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Demagogues throughout history have used anger to target scapegoats — thereby dividing and conquering, and distracting people from the real sources of their frustrations.
Make no mistake: The savage inequality America is experiencing today is deeply dangerous.
I have done a series of articles about the efforts of honest appraisers (which began in 2000) and loan brokers to alert the lenders, the markets, and the government to the twin fraud epidemics (appraisals and “liar’s” loans) committed by lenders’ controlling officers that drove the financial crisis.
Honest appraisers could have profited greatly by becoming dishonest appraisers who would be given the lucrative assignments by fraudulent lenders’ controlling officers and their agents. Instead, honest appraisers suffered serious losses of income because they refused to succumb to the extortion efforts of the fraudulent lenders and their agents.[..]
What about corporate lawyers? I get the same answer about heroes when I speak to legal groups made up of professionals who represent corporations. On August 9, 2013 I had an opportunity to test the accuracy of this answer when I participated in a meeting of nearly 20 law professors who teach white-collar crime classes. Some of these professors teach at schools that regularly send their graduates to Wall Street. The hot business in white-collar crime is corporate investigations. I asked my counterparts if they could name a hero among corporate counsel — any counsel who stopped a control fraud at a major firm or who was fired trying to stop the fraud. No one could think of a corporate counsel (in-house or outside counsel) who had done so. As lawyers and teachers of lawyers we must be both horrified and energized (to change how we teach) by that answer. (I hope that there are corporate lawyers who were heroes we have not heard of yet.)
Dean Baker: The Smart Boys: Larry Summers and Jeff Bezos
The news in the last couple of weeks has had endless references to two people who we have been repeatedly told are brilliant: former Treasury Secretary and top Obama advisor Larry Summers and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The paeans to the genius of both men say a great deal about the quality of public debate in elite circles. [..]
It will be a big step forward when reporters and columnists are able to look at the people they consider brilliant with open eyes and talk about their accomplishments and failures in a serious way. In the recent Summers and Bezos chapters, they have been awed into vapidity.
Manning, Snowden and Trayvon Martin: a series of legal cases is making US citizens re-evaluate what the state is really for
Those who defend this version of the all-powerful, all-caring state have little choice but to demonise those who oppose it. They assume their powers on the basis that they are best qualified to know what’s best for the public, even when the public thinks differently. Those who challenge such hubris are dealt with severely. The enemy in the NSA scandal is not those who are spying on you and lying about it, but the one who tells you about it. The criminal, in the Manning case, is not the soldiers who murder innocent civilians and laugh about it or the politicians who sent them to war but the young man who exposes their crimes.
The state is right to be worried. For while it has aggregated power, it has failed to garner the influence to sustain or justify it. Manning said he hoped by releasing the cables he would spark “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”. The leaks informed the Arab spring, revealing the venality of the leaders and the complicity of the US. When Snowden came out as a whistleblower, he said his greatest fear was “that nothing will change”. As Obama moves to modestly reform the NSA, the public he claims to be protecting shows growing support for Snowden. Neither the government nor the judiciary has been able to point to a single credible example of how its secrecy, neglect, deception or persecution in these cases has protected anybody or anything. When they insist such measures are crucial for security, they evidently mean security of the state – not the people who live in it.