April 11, 2014
Why Won’t Washington Take On Wall Street’s Biggest Crimes?

Yesterday, the judge in the SAC case accepted the firm’s plea deal with the Justice Department, in which the firm and its subsidiaries pled guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty and $300 million in disgorged profits. The Southern District hailed the deal as the crowning victory in their multi-year campaign against insider trading, which notably has resulted in more than 70 convictions and exactly zero acquittals. Congratulations.
But what many of us want to know is: why, immediately after the most severe financial crisis in more than seventy years, which resulted in the loss of almost nine million jobs, did the Justice Department choose to train its heavy artillery on insider traders? Sure, insider trading is bad. It’s very rich people cheating to make themselves extravagantly rich. It should be illegal, and people should go to jail for it. But it’s far from the biggest thing wrong with our financial markets and institutions.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why Won’t Washington Take On Wall Street’s Biggest Crimes?

Yesterday, the judge in the SAC case accepted the firm’s plea deal with the Justice Department, in which the firm and its subsidiaries pled guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty and $300 million in disgorged profits. The Southern District hailed the deal as the crowning victory in their multi-year campaign against insider trading, which notably has resulted in more than 70 convictions and exactly zero acquittals. Congratulations.

But what many of us want to know is: why, immediately after the most severe financial crisis in more than seventy years, which resulted in the loss of almost nine million jobs, did the Justice Department choose to train its heavy artillery on insider traders? Sure, insider trading is bad. It’s very rich people cheating to make themselves extravagantly rich. It should be illegal, and people should go to jail for it. But it’s far from the biggest thing wrong with our financial markets and institutions.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

April 9, 2014
Why Hasn’t Congress Investigated Corruption in the NCAA?

PED use in baseball merited a Congressional hearing. A similar investigation should be probing into educational institutions’ use of athletics and athletes for profit.
Read more. [Image: Frank Franklin II/AP]

Why Hasn’t Congress Investigated Corruption in the NCAA?

PED use in baseball merited a Congressional hearing. A similar investigation should be probing into educational institutions’ use of athletics and athletes for profit.

Read more. [Image: Frank Franklin II/AP]

April 3, 2014
Americans Are Owed the Truth About Torture

Today the Senate intelligence committee will hold a momentous vote. The subject: what Americans are allowed to know about crimes perpetrated in our names.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the CIA was empowered by the Bush Administration to torture human prisoners. This was done in secret, without any due process. In some ways, the people involved were like 15th Century Spanish inquisitors: they tortured because they thought that it was the right thing to do, which won’t save them from being remembered by history as agents of moral depravity. Under domestic and international law, these torturers should be in jail. Instead, they’re lobbying to hide the extent of their unlawful acts from the public.
This subterfuge is cowardly and indefensible.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Americans Are Owed the Truth About Torture

Today the Senate intelligence committee will hold a momentous vote. The subject: what Americans are allowed to know about crimes perpetrated in our names.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the CIA was empowered by the Bush Administration to torture human prisoners. This was done in secret, without any due process. In some ways, the people involved were like 15th Century Spanish inquisitors: they tortured because they thought that it was the right thing to do, which won’t save them from being remembered by history as agents of moral depravity. Under domestic and international law, these torturers should be in jail. Instead, they’re lobbying to hide the extent of their unlawful acts from the public.

This subterfuge is cowardly and indefensible.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

March 24, 2014
False Equivalence and the Feud Between the CIA and the Senate

The outbreak of open hostilities between Dianne Feinstein and the spy agency she oversees is not a problem–it is a glimmer of hope.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

False Equivalence and the Feud Between the CIA and the Senate

The outbreak of open hostilities between Dianne Feinstein and the spy agency she oversees is not a problem–it is a glimmer of hope.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

March 5, 2014
Obama Is Complicit in Suppressing the Truth About Torture

President Obama is complicit in suppressing the truth about CIA torture of prisoners. That’s clear from the fact that the Senate intelligence committee’s $40 million, 6,000-page torture report is still being suppressed 15 months after being adopted. It is made clearer still by a scathing letter that one member of the committee, Senator Mark Udall, sent the White House on Tuesday. Its claims are jaw-dropping. 
Senator Udall wants the torture report released to the public as fully and quickly as possible. He is also interested in a separate CIA report about torture of prisoners. 
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Obama Is Complicit in Suppressing the Truth About Torture

President Obama is complicit in suppressing the truth about CIA torture of prisoners. That’s clear from the fact that the Senate intelligence committee’s $40 million, 6,000-page torture report is still being suppressed 15 months after being adopted. It is made clearer still by a scathing letter that one member of the committee, Senator Mark Udall, sent the White House on Tuesday. Its claims are jaw-dropping. 

Senator Udall wants the torture report released to the public as fully and quickly as possible. He is also interested in a separate CIA report about torture of prisoners.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

February 28, 2014
Seth Rogen on Dementia at 55

On Wednesday, Seth Rogen gave impassioned testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee. The comedian and his wife Lauren Miller recently started a charity dedicated to Alzheimer’s education and research advocacy, Hilarity for Charity. Video of the ever-unassuming Rogen’s plea to support Alzheimer’s research resonated widely across the Internet, already having been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.
It’s not just that Rogen is a funny guy and that Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million Americans, but also that a third of people fear dementia more than they do death. At odds with the massive public response to Rogen’s message, of the 18 members of the subcommittee, only two—Senators Tom Harkin and Jerry Moran—attended the hearing. “Not sure why only two senators were at the hearing,” Rogen tweeted. “Very symbolic of how the Government views Alzheimer’s. Seems to be a low priority.”
Read more.

Seth Rogen on Dementia at 55

On Wednesday, Seth Rogen gave impassioned testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee. The comedian and his wife Lauren Miller recently started a charity dedicated to Alzheimer’s education and research advocacy, Hilarity for Charity. Video of the ever-unassuming Rogen’s plea to support Alzheimer’s research resonated widely across the Internet, already having been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.

It’s not just that Rogen is a funny guy and that Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million Americans, but also that a third of people fear dementia more than they do death. At odds with the massive public response to Rogen’s message, of the 18 members of the subcommittee, only two—Senators Tom Harkin and Jerry Moran—attended the hearing. “Not sure why only two senators were at the hearing,” Rogen tweeted. “Very symbolic of how the Government views Alzheimer’s. Seems to be a low priority.”

Read more.

February 18, 2014
Rep. Rush Holt Might Be the Most Interesting Man in Washington

Out of the 435 people who serve in the House, all but a handful are pretty much anonymous outside their home districts. Unless a representative rises to leadership, sticks around for decades, says something patently ridiculous, or becomes embroiled in scandal, he or she might never register on the national stage.
New Jersey’s Rush Holt is the sort of representative who’s been a consistent, intelligent member of Congress for eight terms, but hasn’t ticked any of those boxes. (The Democrat is also generally rated one of the most liberal.) But here’s the thing: Rush Holt might be the most interesting man in Washington. And now he’s announced he won’t run for reelection in 2014.
Read more. [Image: Kate Bohler for Asia Society/Flickr]

Rep. Rush Holt Might Be the Most Interesting Man in Washington

Out of the 435 people who serve in the House, all but a handful are pretty much anonymous outside their home districts. Unless a representative rises to leadership, sticks around for decades, says something patently ridiculous, or becomes embroiled in scandal, he or she might never register on the national stage.

New Jersey’s Rush Holt is the sort of representative who’s been a consistent, intelligent member of Congress for eight terms, but hasn’t ticked any of those boxes. (The Democrat is also generally rated one of the most liberal.) But here’s the thing: Rush Holt might be the most interesting man in Washington. And now he’s announced he won’t run for reelection in 2014.

Read more. [Image: Kate Bohler for Asia Society/Flickr]

February 11, 2014
Why Republicans Are Surrendering on the Debt Ceiling

The first wave of Tea Party lawmakers strode into Congress in 2011 on a wave of denial and anger. They were angry at President Obama and business as usual in Washington. But they were also in denial about their power—or rather powerlessness—to change it.

Three years later, the right-wingers have progressed through the stages of grief (which are not real, incidentally, when it comes to grieving). Now, in the debt-ceiling debate currently under way in Washington, we have proof they’ve reached the final stage: acceptance.

Yes, as you may have heard, the debt ceiling needs raising once again, sparking the usual fear and dread among people who follow Congress, a category consisting largely of masochists, reporters, masochistic reporters, and market analysts. But this time, it looks like it will happen with none of the panic that has attended similar legislation in recent years.
That’s a big change.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why Republicans Are Surrendering on the Debt Ceiling

The first wave of Tea Party lawmakers strode into Congress in 2011 on a wave of denial and anger. They were angry at President Obama and business as usual in Washington. But they were also in denial about their poweror rather powerlessnessto change it.

Three years later, the right-wingers have progressed through the stages of grief (which are not real, incidentally, when it comes to grieving). Now, in the debt-ceiling debate currently under way in Washington, we have proof they’ve reached the final stage: acceptance.

Yes, as you may have heard, the debt ceiling needs raising once again, sparking the usual fear and dread among people who follow Congress, a category consisting largely of masochists, reporters, masochistic reporters, and market analysts. But this time, it looks like it will happen with none of the panic that has attended similar legislation in recent years.

That’s a big change.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

February 6, 2014
Henry Waxman: A Relic of the Era When Congress Used to Work

With the possible exceptions of Ted Kennedy and John Dingell, no one in the past 50 years or more has had a broader impact on American society than the retiring California representative.
Read more. [Image: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Henry Waxman: A Relic of the Era When Congress Used to Work

With the possible exceptions of Ted Kennedy and John Dingell, no one in the past 50 years or more has had a broader impact on American society than the retiring California representative.

Read more. [Image: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

February 5, 2014
The NSA ‘Probably’ Collects Data on Congress’s Phone Calls

With the NSA, getting to the truth takes time. At first, there are mere hints that the agency is spying in some way that would be controversial. Gradually, the public gets circumstantial evidence. The truth becomes obvious to the small percentage of Americans who are paying close attention, but there’s no way to prove it.
Finally, the proof arrives! But even though the mere prospect used to be alarming, confirmation is now treated as no big deal: “Oh, everybody knew that already.” 
We’re having one of those moments.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

The NSA ‘Probably’ Collects Data on Congress’s Phone Calls

With the NSA, getting to the truth takes time. At first, there are mere hints that the agency is spying in some way that would be controversial. Gradually, the public gets circumstantial evidence. The truth becomes obvious to the small percentage of Americans who are paying close attention, but there’s no way to prove it.

Finally, the proof arrives! But even though the mere prospect used to be alarming, confirmation is now treated as no big deal: “Oh, everybody knew that already.” 

We’re having one of those moments.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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Filed under: NSA NSA Spying Politics Congress 
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