Jul 11 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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New York Times Editorial Board: You’ve Been Warned

With two bad rules adopted on Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission has all but invited hucksters, rip-off artists and other bad actors to prey on individual investors. The new rules are another disturbing sign that under the leadership of the new chairwoman, Mary Jo White, the S.E.C. will pursue deregulation at the expense of investor protection.

One rule concerns “general solicitation”, or the mass advertising of investments in companies that are not publicly traded. Until last year, federal securities laws had long banned general solicitation – and for good reason. Private securities offerings – say, by hedge funds, venture capital firms and start-ups – are not subject to disclosure rules and other investor protections that apply to publicly held companies; as a result, they are difficult if not impossible to evaluate without inside knowledge and are especially prone to fraud

John Nichols: To End Abuses of Workers, the Senate Must End Abuses of the Filibuster

For the first time since the New Deal era, the United States could, by the time Labor Day 2013 rolls around, find itself entering into an extended period without either a secretary of labor or a functioning National Labor Relations Board.

The prospects are dire for working people and for the unions that represent them.

But Senate majority leader Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues have the power to avert the crisis created by Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism. [..]

This is no longer merely about filibuster reform or arcane Senate rules. McConnell’s obstructionism now threatens to render the NLRB dysfunctional – and to make the enforcement of rules protecting American workers dramatically more difficult.

This is about a lot more than politics. It is about whether the government will function as it has under Democratic and Republican presidents, under liberals like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and conservatives like Ronald Reagan. It is about whether the constitutionally defined responsibility of the Senate to provide advice and consent, to approve or disapprove presidential appointments, is respected. And it is about whether working Americans will have a government that watches out for them-as opposed to Mitch McConnell’s corporate campaign contributors.

Heidi Moore: How the SEC is enabling Wall Street’s fungal creep into Main Street

New rules allowing hedge funds to advertise encourage baby-boomers to bet their pensions. What could possibly go wrong?

For most people in the US, Wall Street is not an everyday concept. It’s more like a haunted Victorian mansion on the edge of town where your 401(k) retirement plan lives: it takes a long time to understand how to get there and you’re pretty sure something’s not right about it, but you’re too scared to get close enough to check. [..]

Wall Street is in your bank account, charging you fees on your checking account; it’s in your driveway, where your car sleeps as you pay off your auto loan – a debt that has already been sliced and diced and sold to a trader at a bank somewhere. Wall Street is in your house – which it probably owns a part of – and because the interest rate on your mortgage bill was likely set by 18 traders in London one day a few years back.

As a result, Wall Street is not so much like a haunted Victorian mansion as a quiet, creeping fungus right where you live: it grows fast and takes root everywhere, silently.

Mona Eltahaway: Egypt needs a revolution against sexual violence

New reports of sexual assault against female protesters in Tahrir mirror my traumatic experience in 2011. Women deserve justice

This isn’t an essay on how Egyptian regimes like Mubarak’s targeted female activists and journalists as a political ploy. Nor is it about how regimes like Morsi’s largely ignored sexual violence, and even when it did acknowledge it, blamed women for bringing assaults upon themselves. Nor is it an article about how such assaults and such refusal to hold anyone accountable have given a green light to our abusers that women’s bodies are fair game. Nor will I tell you that – were it not for the silence and denial surrounding sexual assault in Egypt – such assaults would not be enacted so frequently on women’s bodies on the Egyptian streets.

I don’t know who is behind those mob assaults in Tahrir, but I do know that they would not attack women if they didn’t know they would get away with it and that the women would always be asked “why didn’t you resist?”

From the ground up, we need a national campaign against sexual violence in Egypt. It must push whoever we elect to govern Egypt next, as well as our legislators, to take sexual assaults more seriously.

Robert Reich: Where Are the Voices of Republican Senators Who Still Care About Democratic Institutions?

Before January 2009, the filibuster was used only for measures and nominations on which the minority party in the Senate had their strongest objections. Since then, Senate Republicans have filibustered almost everything, betting that voters will blame Democrats for the dysfunction in Congress as much as they blame the GOP.

So far the bet is paying off because the press has failed to call out the GOP — which is now preventing votes on the president’s choices for three D.C. Circuit Court nominees, the Labor Department and the EPA, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and the National Labor Relations Board. (The GOP has blocked all labor board nominees, some to whom the president gave recess appointments, but he’s now asking approval for all.) [..]

Harry Reid may now be able to summon 51 votes to abolish the filibuster, at least for cabinet officials and other high-level policy makers. But that shouldn’t be considered a victory. It’s a sad commentary on where we’ve come to.

Norman Solomon: Denouncing NSA Surveillance Isn’t Enough-We Need the Power to Stop It

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?

Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers-past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient. [..]

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state-and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory-is government itself.