“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.
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Paul Krugman: Wall Street’s Revenge
Dodd-Frank Damaged in the Budget Bill
On Wall Street, 2010 was the year of “Obama rage,” in which financial tycoons went ballistic over the president’s suggestion that some bankers helped cause the financial crisis. They were also, of course, angry about the Dodd-Frank financial reform, which placed some limits on their wheeling and dealing.
The Masters of the Universe, it turns out, are a bunch of whiners. But they’re whiners with war chests, and now they’ve bought themselves a Congress. [..]
And sure enough, Citigroup literally wrote the deregulation language that was inserted into the funding bill.
Again, in itself last week’s action wasn’t decisive. But it was clearly the first skirmish in a war to roll back much if not all of the financial reform. And if you want to know who stands where in this coming war, follow the money: Wall Street is giving mainly to Republicans for a reason.
It’s been less than one week since the US Senate released its devastating report on CIA torture and criminality, but if you turned on the television Sunday morning, it looked frighteningly like the year 2002. Virtually all the Sunday talk shows led off not with those who documented the CIA’s depravity, or the victims of such abuse, or those who objected to torture when it wasn’t fashionable to do so. Instead, they instead continued to pump up the former Bush administration architects of this illegal program, so they could once be given a platform to defend it.
The US news media has treated Dick Cheney and Michael Hayden better in interviews this week than they treat British royalty on an American vacation. [..]
From Meet the Press to Morning Joe and elsewhere on the pundit circuit, it’s the deflecting question Bush administration supporters have been sarcastically asking about Obama: Where’s the drone report?
The question is meant as a sardonic insult to avoid any responsibility for the CIA’s crimes during the Bush years, but it’s also a valid one. There should be a comprehensive investigation – right now, rather than a decade from now – into drones. Unfortunately, the people in charge of American accountability on torture are also the CIA’s biggest allies when it comes to American ingenuity in killing.
Just because Obama and Brennan haven’t experienced a reckoning for their robotic assassination program – yet – doesn’t mean we should excuse away the things done in our name now. Dick Cheney belongs in jail, not in a comfy chair on national television. No amount of deflecting will change that.
In principle, Saturday’s vote to keep the government open should be the perfect curtain-raiser for the political debates between now and the 2016 election. As their price for averting a government shutdown, Republicans demanded and got a gutting of one of the most important provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, preventing banks from speculating with government insured money. [..]
So a terrific debate is set in motion for the next two years, smoking out which side the Republicans are really on. Right?
If only. For in the great budget sellout of December 2014, fully 57 House Democrats voted with the Republicans to narrowly pass this deal. Key Senate Democrats close to Wall Street, such as Chuck Schumer of New York, were its enablers.
In the end game, President Obama, continuing his signature fighting style, blinked first. He evidently feared that another government shutdown would be blamed more on him than on the Republicans; or that even worse would be in store after January. The Republicans, once again, played chicken and prevailed.
Following the long awaited release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s “Committee Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” President Barack Obama proclaimed, “Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values.” [..]
I include these lengthy remarks because this is not an analysis of the findings detailed in the torture report. There are plenty of articles that detail such analysis. Rather, this is a call for an end to the high-minded, sanctimonious rhetoric that we are constantly bombarded with. I am tired of listening to our officials say things that are simply and obviously in direct contradiction with what we actually do. Enough is enough. It is time to stop pretending we are something that we are not.
President Obama claimed that some of the actions that were taken (note past tense), were contrary to our values. What seems to be lost on the President is that values are not something one professes; values are established through one’s actions
Alex Gourevitch and Corey Robin: The New Republic dug its own grave
The magazine’s centrist-neoliberal politics embraced forces that eventually destroyed it
“When intellectuals can do nothing else they start a magazine,” socialist critic Irving Howe, an erstwhile contributor to The New Republic, said. If he’s right, what does it mean when that magazine dies? That intellectuals have something else to do? Or that it’s no longer an intellectual magazine?
In the last week, The New Republic has seen a wave of resignations – two-thirds of the names on the masthead, at last count – in response to the decision of owner Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, to push out editor Franklin Foer and, with the help of new CEO Guy Vidra, transform the magazine into a “vertically integrated digital media company.” What that transformation amounts to, no one can say, but many observers have declared the publication dead. And though the magazine’s ex-staffers insist they are not averse to the imperatives of the market or demands of new media, they have labeled the overhaul a victory of clickbait over content, commerce over culture. [..]
But the oft-observed irony that the magazine has been buried by the very class it was meant to contain is no irony at all. For The New Republic had a hand in its undoing. One of the forces that gave the magazine ballast was the left’s messy social movements and collective struggles, which its editors so often tried to hold at bay. Though the magazine claimed to “believe in a capitalism that is democratically regulated,” as its editors opined in 2011, it frequently sought to exorcise the very voices-such as the Occupy movement-that brought the “democracy” to that “regulated capitalism”
Dustin Axe: Ferguson: Revolution, Democracy, and Empire
Many people might be shocked and even appalled to see such a fervent national reaction to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. There have not only been weeks of demonstrations and marches around the nation but Ferguson itself experienced days of rioting. Corporate media outlets have covered protests in places like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Oakland with enthusiasm, and Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have each spoken extensively about it. Media coverage and national outrage have also brought to light other killings of black people at the hands of police, events that might not otherwise get attention. The choke hold death of Eric Garner and the shooting death of Tamir Rice have each received considerable amount of coverage.
Why did the killing of one black man by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, trigger such a severe reaction? After all, events like this are regular occurrences. [..]
We are witnessing the legacy of both slavery and segregation, and we are experiencing a well established new racial caste system. Africans were bought and sold by the millions to work on colonial plantations, and our nation’s founding documents preserved slavery as an institution. When the Constitution was ratified black people were considered to be three fifth of a person, not real human beings. When the Civil War ended and slavery was outlawed, it was not entirely clear socially, politically or economically what would happen to the 4 million newly freed slaves. The answer was Jim Crow. Black people were free from chains but they were not free from a racial caste system that segregated them from whites. A considerable amount of equality was gained because of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, however, widespread discrimination and segregation continue today in a new form.