Daily Archive: 08/22/2014

Aug 22 2014

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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Yves Smith: The “Holder Doctrine”: Bank “Settlements” With No Prosecutions

Even though there is tacit acceptance, or perhaps more accurately, sullen resignation, about regulators’ failure to make serious investigations into financial firm misconduct (probes on specific issues don’t cut it), occasionally a pundit steps up to remind the public of the farce that passes for bank enforcement.

William Cohan tore into Attorney General Eric Holder, and by implication the Administration, for its raft of bank “settlements” which have come is a sudden spurt, no doubt intended to boost the Democrat’s flagging standing in the runup to the Congressional midterms. We’ve pointed out that the comparatively few commentators who have looked past the overhyped Department of Justice press releases into the details of the agreements have been appalled at the embarrassing lack of detail, meaning the almost total absence of any admission of wrongdoing. It’s critical to understand why this silence is important. It means that regulators have accepted as a condition of the settlement that they are to protect the bank from private suits by remaining as silent as possible about precisely what horrible things were done. The absurd part is that regulators and prosecutors could easily call the banks’ bluff by threatening to go a few rounds in court: “Would you rather have us start discovery and see what we can get in the record, or would you rather make some admissions right now?”

But of course, the dirty secret here is the Administration is not just protecting the banks. It now also needs to hide how cronyistic its behavior has been.

Paul Krugman: Hawks Crying Wolf

According to a recent report in The Times, there is dissent at the Fed: “An increasingly vocal minority of Federal Reserve officials want the central bank to retreat more quickly” from its easy-money policies, which they warn run the risk of causing inflation. And this debate, we are told, is likely to dominate the big economic symposium currently underway in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

That may well be the case. But there’s something you should know: That “vocal minority” has been warning about soaring inflation more or less nonstop for six years. And the persistence of that obsession seems, to me, to be a more interesting and important story than the fact that the usual suspects are saying the usual things. [..]

Even monetary doves like Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, generally acknowledge that there will come a time to take the pedal off the metal. And maybe that time isn’t far off – official unemployment has fallen sharply, although wages are still going nowhere and inflation is still subdued.

But the last people you want to ask about appropriate policy are people who have been warning about inflation year after year. Not only have they been consistently wrong, they’ve staked out a position that, whether they know it or not, is essentially political rather than based on analysis. They should be listened to politely – good manners are always a virtue – then ignored.

Michael Winship: Ferguson Is About Net Neutrality, Too

The tragedy and ensuing crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, have shown the ability of social media to get the story told. David Carr wrote in The New York Times that, “Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations, a way to see into stories even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable.”

Also contemplating the situation in Ferguson, Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy noted, “It seems like a world ago in which such places, and such incidents, would be buried in silence, though, of course, residents knew of their own ignored plight. Now, we expect documentation, live-feeds, streaming video, real time Tweets.”

Which is a reason why the new generation of civil rights leaders – despite opposition from legacy groups like the NAACP that have received significant funding from the media and telecommunications conglomerates – recognizes that maintaining an Internet accessible to all is crucial. “…Keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue,” Tufekci writes. “… How the Internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.”

Bradford Betz: The Same Hashish They Give Out

As the public release of the Senate’s report on a four-year investigation into the CIA’s torture program approaches, John Brennan, the agency’s director, is in an uncomfortable spotlight. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the CIA, has accused the agency of abusing its power. [..]

The ease with which Brennan lies about spying domestically and killing civilians abroad is quite disturbing. If John Brennan remains in power, furtherdisaster lies in wait.

While the CIA continues to operate beyond the bounds of legality, the smoke they create will blemish our integrity around the world. If the United States’ reputation can be rehabilitated, we must neither lie about nor trivialize what we are doing or what we have done.

“If I did something wrong,” Brennan said in an interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, “I will go to the president, and I will explain to him exactly what I did and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.”

Perhaps it is time for the president to take Brennan up on his offer.

Patrick Cokburn: Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed

There are extraordinary elements in the present U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The U.S. would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities. [..]

The reality of U.S. policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well.  This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

Joe Sexton: Paying Jabbar Collins $10 Million Doesn’t Address Problems With Prosecutors

The dollar figure was so large and the public statements of vindication and concession so harmonious, one might have been tempted to think the system had actually worked.

A wrongly convicted Brooklyn man had won his freedom when a federal judge called out a local prosecutor for misconduct. And then, this week, with the help of an able lawyer, the freed man won a $10 million settlement from New York City, gaining possible financial security for life.

But ProPublica’s reporting over the last two years suggests that any such temptation to think the system worked in the case of Jabbar Collins should be resisted.

The system for identifying and punishing misconduct by prosecutors is badly broken, our reporting shows, and with the Collins case settling, a crucial channel for exposing systemic problems and ensuring they don’t recur may close as well.

So many shortcomings spotlighted by the Collins case remain unresolved.

Aug 22 2014

The Breakfast Club: 8-22-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Aug 22 2014

On This Day In History August 22

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.

August 22 is the 234th day of the year (235th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 131 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American on the US Tennis Tour.

On this day in 1950, officials of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accept Althea Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, making her the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Growing up in Harlem, the young Gibson was a natural athlete. She started playing tennis at the age of 14 and the very next year won her first tournament, the New York State girls’ championship, sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was organized in 1916 by black players as an alternative to the exclusively white USLTA. After prominent doctors and tennis enthusiasts Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson took Gibson under their wing, she won her first of what would be 10 straight ATA championships in 1947.

In 1949, Gibson attempted to gain entry into the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills, the precursor of the U.S. Open. When the USLTA failed to invite her to any qualifying tournaments, Alice Marble–a four-time winner at Forest Hills–wrote a letter on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine. Marble criticized the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members, suggesting that if Gibson posed a challenge to current tour players, “it’s only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts.” Gibson was subsequently invited to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, where she earned a berth at Forest Hills.

snip

Though she once brushed off comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing black baseball player, Gibson has been credited with paving the way for African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and, more recently, Venus and Serena Williams. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at the age of 76.

Ms. Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association  tour, in 1963, retiring in 1978.

Aug 22 2014

Ferguson’s War on Freedom of the Press

Reporting the events by the news media in Ferguson, MO has become very problematic with the police limiting not only the press access to the demonstrations on the ground but the Federal Aviation Administration has created an unprecedented “no fly zone” over the town. The excuse is “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement operations.” The same reasoning was given repeatedly by Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson who has also threatened and ordered arrests of reporters.

The situation was so bad last week that on August 14 the ACLU sued the town and county and won a court order from a judge telling police that they cannot bar journalists from reporting which was promptly ignored.

Why is this happening? Of course the police excuse is that they are “protecting” the reporters and have also made the unsubstantiated accusation that the press is interfering with police operations. The real reason is they don’t want a free press to record any brutality on the part of the police in containing the demonstrators, peaceful or otherwise. Nor do they want the entrapment tactics, like blocking egress at both ends of the streets refusing to allow protestors to exit, then arresting them when they try to pass through to go home.

The bogus press conference that Capt. Johnson held in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, displaying a Molotov cocktail and other items confiscated from alleged “agitators,” was contrived to justify the use of tear gas, smoke bombs, rubber bullets and other military type weapons. It was fairly obvious from a trained observer that the way the “evidence” was handled – no gloves – and displayed – not bagged and tagged – that these were just props in the side show. Yes, capt Johnson, I call you on your preprocessed bovine waste (thank you, John Oliver).

Published on Aug 21, 2014

With 11 journalists arrested thus far, Truthout.org investigative reporter Mike Ludwig describes how Ferguson police are using intimidation tactics against journalists.



Transcript can be read here

Restricting and harassing the free press is a cover up of police criminality of the first order and it is being aided and abetted by the state government of Missouri and Federal government.