Daily Archive: 09/20/2013

Sep 20 2013

What We Really Should be Yellin About When it Comes to Who Runs the Fed

Effective regulation, and on that note, it is a positive thing that the Summers of our discontent can finally be laid to rest. After all the damage Larry Summers has caused in being one of the architects of this crisis, from boxing in Brooksley Born and ignoring her warnings with regard to derivatives which brought down Long Term Capital Management during the Clinton administration, to his sexism among everything else. He has now thankfully taken himself out consideration for the job.

It’s a good thing he did. Rather than fighting for something or someone that helps people suffering from this economic crisis, President Obama strongly recommended and fought for Larry Summers to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a guy who lost a billion dollars as President of Harvard betting on interest rates. Yeah, let that sink in for awhile.

It’s really not OK. This is why making excuses for everything the President does, as too many Democrats do without thinking of the damage, is dangerous, immoral, and unprincipled. Now it looks like the front runner to replace Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve is going to be Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and once President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Janet Yellin. Unlike Larry Summers, she at least saw the crisis coming as early as 2005.

Sep 20 2013

The Cost of Doing Business Duex

I could probably do one of these every day.

Anthony Badalamenti, Former Halliburton Employee, Charged With Destroying Gulf Oil Spill Evidence

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Huffington Post

09/19/13 05:12 PM ET ED

A former Halliburton manager was charged Thursday with destroying evidence following BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a case that coincides with a guilty plea to a related charge by the Houston-based oilfield services company.

Anthony Badalamenti, who had been the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., was charged in federal court with instructing two other employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out well.



Also on Thursday, a federal judge accepted a plea agreement that calls for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti’s alleged conduct.



The plea deal has its critics, however. Allison Fisher, an outreach director for the Public Citizen nonprofit advocacy group, called it a “travesty.”

“Rather than rubber stamp the plea agreement,” she said in a statement, “the court should have rejected the bargain-basement deal because it fails to hold the corporation accountable for its criminal acts and will not deter future corporate crime.”

Unlike BP and rig owner Transocean Ltd., Halliburton was not charged with a crime related to the causes of the disaster. The fine Halliburton agreed to pay is the statutory maximum for the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized destruction of evidence.

The deal announced in July also calls for Halliburton to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.



BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine await a trial next year on manslaughter charges stemming from the rig workers’ deaths. Prosecutors claim they botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the well blowout.

Former BP executive David Rainey is charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing from the blown-out well in 2010. Former BP engineer Kurt Mix is charged with deleting text messages and voicemails about the company’s response to the spill.

DOJ Gives Halliburton A Pass On Destroying Evidence In BP Oil Spill

By: DSWright, Firedog Lake

Friday September 20, 2013 8:06 am

Halliburton Inc. will not be held accountable for criminal acts committed by its employees under a plea agreement with the Department of Justice now accepted by a judge – the firm will pay a fine for a misdemeanor.



Weak does not even begin to describe this deal. Not only was Halliburton instrumental in causing the disaster, the firm then destroyed evidence of their involvement in helping cause the spill.

But in a move reminiscent of the Fabrice Tourre and Goldman Sachs case – where a small fish stands in for the big fish that got away – one of Halliburton’s employees will face prosecution.



Another pathetic prosecution under Eric Holder’s Justice Department where no matter how horrendous the crime the big players get to walk away unscathed. But if the PR is bad enough a small time fall guy can be found. Which of course means there is no disincentive for further criminal conduct by the big players who know they will never be held accountable.

This is what happens when you make a corporate lackey Attorney General. PR prosecutions and no justice.

It’s good to be the King.  No Justice?  No Peace!

Sep 20 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”.

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Bruce A. Dixon: What “Sanctions” Will Happen if the Rebels Are Shown To Have Used Sarin Gas?

President Obama still wants his war in Syria. To get him what he wants, the language in the agreement signed by the US and Russia over chemical weapons in Syria is sown with vague terms having multiple and contradictory definitions and nearly un-meetable conditions, all presented in a framework of blatant lies.

The language in the framework agreement says the Syrians must hand over not just their chemical weapons, but all “delivery systems” for such weapons. Is this a reasonable condition in an era when virtually every artillery piece from mortars on up can be loaded with chemical weapons? Is the Syrian army supposed to strip itself down to rifles and small arms to somehow prove a negative – something they will no more be able to do than Saddam Hussein could?

Most glaringly of all, there are pockets of Syria under control of the so-called rebels, many of them mercenary jihadists, armed, supplied and financed by the US, the Saudis, the Turks and the Israelis. Syria’s rebels are widely believed to possess their own stocks of chemical weapons, and since they are losing the war, they have an urgent need to provoke the US into heavier involvement to rescue them from defeat by the Syrian regime. The rebels have not signed this agreement, or even been asked to.

Paul Krugman: The Crazy Party

Early this year, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, made headlines Nonetheless, Republicans did follow his advice. In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.

I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown – and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default – the time for euphemism is past.  by telling his fellow Republicans that they needed to stop being the “stupid party.” Unfortunately, Mr. Jindal failed to offer any constructive suggestions about how they might do that. And, in the months that followed, he himself proceeded to say and do a number of things that were, shall we say, not especially smart.

New York Times Editorial Board: Another Insult to the Poor

In what can be seen only as an act of supreme indifference, House Republicans passed a bill on Thursday that would drastically cut federal food stamps and throw 3.8 million Americans out of the program in 2014.

The vote came two weeks after the Agriculture Department reported that 17.6 million households did not have enough to eat at some point in 2012 because they lacked the resources to put food on the table. It came two days after the Census Bureau reported that 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, live in poverty.

Glen Ford: Black America More Pro-War Than Ever

Barack Obama has proven to be a warmongering thug for global capital, many times over. The question is: Have African Americans, his most loyal supporters, joined the bi-partisan War Party, rejecting the historical Black consensus on social justice and peace (or, at least, the “peace” part)?

Ever since national pollsters began tracking African American public opinion, surveys have shown Blacks to be consistently clustered at the left side of the national political spectrum. More than any other ethnicity, African Americans have opposed U.S. military adventures abroad, by wide margins. Indeed, the sheer size of the “blood lust” gap between the races indicates that the Black international worldview differs quite radically from white Americans and, to a lesser but marked degree, from Hispanics.

That is, until the advent of Obama.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The House’s Un-American Activities

The Constitution does an admirable job of describing the way our government is supposed to operate, and nowhere does it say the House of Representatives has the power to shut it down in order to revoke a law that displeases it. In fact, it makes it clear that this is not how our system works.

And yet that’s exactly what House Republicans under John Boehner and Eric Cantor are attempting to do, through a series of arcane procedural maneuvers which involve a Continuing Resolution this Friday and an upcoming fight over the government’s debt ceiling. The Republicans are attempting to use these administrative processes to revoke or neutralize duly enacted legislation, and perhaps to hijack the governance process in other ways as well.

The Constitution doesn’t give the House that kind of unilateral power. It does, however, include these words: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned … and all executive and judicial Officers … shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.

Norman Solomon: Next Step for Peace in Syria – Stop the “Lethal Aid”

Now that public pressure has foiled U.S. plans to bomb Syria, the next urgent step is to build public pressure for stopping the deluge of weapons into that country.

Top officials in Washington are happy that American “lethal aid” has begun to flow into Syria, and they act as though such arms shipments are unstoppable. In a similar way, just a few short weeks ago, they — and the conventional wisdom — insisted that U.S. missile strikes on Syria were imminent and inevitable.

But public opinion, when activated, can screw up the best-laid plans of war-makers. And political conditions are now ripe for cutting off the flow of weaponry to Syria — again giving new meaning to the adage that “when the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Sep 20 2013

Defining Journalism and Who Is a Journalist

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Bill to protect journalists clears Senate panel

by David G. Savage, The Los Angeles Times

The Senate Judiciary Committee approves a media shield bill to keep ‘real reporters’ from having to testify on their work.

Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday.

But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.”

Senate sponsors of the bill and a coalition of media groups that support it hailed Thursday’s bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee vote as a breakthrough. [..]

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website. [..]

Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.

But the bill also makes it clear that the legal protection is not absolute. Federal officials still may “compel disclosure” from a journalist who has information that could stop or prevent crimes such as murder, kidnapping or child abduction or prevent “acts of terrorism” or significant harm to national security.

At Esquire’s Political Blog, Charles Pierce argues that if we accept a shield law then we must accept who that law protects thus giving government the power to define who is a journalist. We have a shield law for the press, it’s called the First Amendment and whether Dianne Feinstein likes it or not, we bloggers are journalists and protected.

Jesus H. Christ on a 4000-euro claimer, I leave the country for a week and Dianne Fking Feinstein gets to redefine my profession?

Hey, Dianne, here’s the thing on that First Amendment business. I get to define what you do for a living. And if I decide to define what you do for a living is to be a mewling apologist for the national-security community and a lapdog for the surveillance state, I get to do that, and I get to do it in a newspaper, or video, or on-line, or on a pamphlet stapled to a telephone pole outside your door, if I so choose. You get to sit there, collect your government salary, raise money from plutocrats, and shut…the…hell…up.

Which part of “Congress shall make no law…” do you not understand? [..]

It has been argued — and, occasionally, by me — that the worst thing that ever happened to journalism was that it became the professionalized province of the educated. [..]

There are far too many people right now in Washington who are far too comfortable in being a de facto part of the country’s power structure. Their profession is not mine. Let me be quite clear. If you accept the Congress’s right to define what a journalist is, you are a miserable traitor to the profession you presume to practice. You have, quite simply, become something less worthy than an informer, something lower than a jailhouse snitch. I’ll leave it to my man Chuck Todd to take the king’s shilling. Me? I’ll stand with the 17-year old and his own website, and, with all the faith I ever have had in my constitutional right to do so, we both will tell Dianne Feinstein to fk off, thank you. Stuff your privilege. I have my rights.

Thanks Charlie and f**k you, Dianne.

(All emphasis in aerticle is mine)

Sep 20 2013

On This Day In History September 20

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.

September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 102 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California) is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She won 12 Grand Slam  singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an advocate against sexism in sports and society. She is known for “The Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men’s singles champion.

King is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis, which she founded with her former husband, Lawrence King.

Despite King’s achievements at the world’s biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers her for her win over Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Riggs had been a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1939, and was considered the World No. 1 male tennis player for 1941, 1946, and 1947. He then became a self-described tennis “hustler” who played in promotional challenge matches. In 1973, he took on the role of male chauvinist. Claiming that the women’s game was so inferior to the men’s game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players, he challenged and defeated Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. King, who previously had rejected challenges from Riggs, then accepted a lucrative financial offer to play him.