Fred Hiatt at The Washington Post frames his usual criticisms with a question, Will Obama rethink his global strategy?, and supplies the usual answers while skipping boots on the ground in Ukraine for logistical reasons.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times gives a shout-out in column Wealth Over Work:
It seems safe to say that “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year — and maybe of the decade. Mr. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He also makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to “patrimonial capitalism,” in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent.Richard Eskow at the Campaign for America's Future writes Bernie Madoff Sounds a Lot Like These Angry Billionaires:
To be sure, Mr. Piketty concedes that we aren’t there yet. So far, the rise of America’s 1 percent has mainly been driven by executive salaries and bonuses rather than income from investments, let alone inherited wealth. But six of the 10 wealthiest Americans are already heirs rather than self-made entrepreneurs, and the children of today’s economic elite start from a position of immense privilege. As Mr. Piketty notes, “the risk of a drift toward oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism.”
Bernie Madoff recently had some choice words about the politicians he thinks are spreading “socialism” and “wealth distribution,” while billionaires Tom Perkins and Ken Langone both likened critics of oligarchic wealth to Nazis. Perkins and Langone should take heed: It’s a bad sign when you sound like Madoff. It’s even worse when he sounds more reasonable than you. [...]More excerpts from pundits can be found below the fold.
At least Madoff skipped the Hitler comparisons when he was interviewed recently for Politico. But in other ways he sounded strikingly like the others: opinionated, ill-informed, and yet accustomed to being listened to in a deferential way. That’s what comes when you’re tapped for campaign contributions by people who then feel obligated to ask your opinion.
Mike Konczal at The New Republic says The Tea Party and Wall Street Might Not Be Best Friends Forever, But they Are for Now:
There seems to be some confusion about the relationship between the Tea Party and Wall Street. New York magazine's Jonathan Chait says the two "are friends after all," while the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney insists that the Tea Party has loosened the business lobby's "grip on the GOP." So let’s make this clear: The Tea Party agenda is currently aligned with the Wall Street agenda.Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times looks at the three-way GOP split via a question—What would a Republican president do about Ukraine?:
The Tea Party's theory of the financial crisis has absolved Wall Street completely. Instead, the crisis is interpreted according to two pillars of reactionary thought: that the government is a fundamentally corrupt enterprise trying to give undeserving people free stuff, and that hard money should rule the day. This will have major consequences for the future of reform, should the GOP take the Senate this fall.
On the Hill, it’s hard to find where the Tea Party and Wall Street disagree. Tea Party senators like Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, plus conservative senators like David Vitter, have rallied around a one-line bill repealing the entirety of Dodd-Frank and replacing it with nothing. In the House, Republicans are attacking new derivatives regulations, all the activities of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the existence of the Volcker Rule, and the ability of the FDIC to wind down a major financial institution, while relentlessly attacking strong regulators and cutting regulatory funding. This is Wall Street’s wet dream of a policy agenda.
The sniping is no surprise given the partisan divide in Washington. But would a Republican in the White House instead of Obama actually plot a different course?Dave Zirin at The Nation wrote :
That would depend entirely on which Republican we're talking about. The GOP has long been divided on foreign policy, and Ukraine has exposed fault lines that are likely to grow as the Republicans' 2016 nomination contest nears.
On foreign policy in general, and on Ukraine in particular, Republicans fall into three camps: hawks, realists and libertarians.
The issue of the NCAA is a racial justice issue. If you don't frame it in that way, if you don’t challenge Mark Emmert on the fact that faux-amateurism saps black wealth in the United States, if you don’t point out why Taylor Branch, Dr. King’s biographer, said the NCAA “has the whiff of the plantation”, then you are not having a serious discussion. You are bullshitting. Meet the Press did not give us a serious discussion. Instead you had [NCAA President] Mark Emmert, a man on the hot-seat, sitting far too comfortably for our own good.The Editorial Board of The Miami Herald says It’s looking like forever—President, Congress put Gitmo detainees in permanent limbo:
Candidate Barack Obama did promise, after all, to close the prison because it had become a symbol of America’s disregard for civil liberties in its zeal to pursue an unending war against a new type of foe who did not fit the traditional idea of an enemy soldier.Graham Allison at The Atlantic A Step We Still Haven't Taken to Create a Nuke-Free World:On Monday, President Obama will join Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and 40 other heads of state in the Netherlands for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. It will be the third in a series of summits initiated by Obama to address what he has called “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”: nuclear terrorism.[...]
As president, Mr. Obama soon learned that it would be an impossible task. [...]
The young men and women who have been asked to perform their military duty here believe they are doing the right thing. They are safeguarding America by keeping those deemed the nation’s worst enemies confined. But considering that what started out as an improvised solution has now become permanent — no one can predict when, if ever, it will close — it’s fair to ask: Who is really confined and unable to leave?
The significance of states and regions eliminating all nuclear-weapons material becomes more apparent if we imagine that the current crisis in Ukraine had happened five years ago. At the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pledged to remove 15 bombs’ worth of highly enriched uranium at several sites in Sevastopol, Kharkiv, and Kiev. Two years later, at the 2012 summit in Seoul, Yanukovych announced that Ukraine had finally eliminated all weapons-usable material in the country.Peter Z. Scheer at Truthdig writes Thank You, Fred Phelps, for Everything:
The most important takeaway from the Nuclear Security Summits in Washington and Seoul is that heads of state have the power to deny terrorists the means to achieve their deadliest ambitions. That’s why leaders at this week’s summit should recognize NWMFZ [nuclear-weapons-material-free zone] as another important step toward a world free from the threat of nuclear terror, and challenge holdouts in South America, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe to help their regions achieve this status.
Now that the godfather of the hyper-homophobic Westboro Baptist Church is dead, it’s time to thank him for his years of service to the gay rights movement.Barry Eisler at The Guardian writes If Dianne Feinstein is Michael Corleone in the CIA-Senate war, will she shoot?:
It’s not often one is handed an enemy so committed and tone-deaf that he makes all those even slightly inclined to his worldview squirm in their hate-by-association. [...]
Every time Phelps opened his mouth, and there was a recording device there to catch it, he made a convert. Just not the kind he was hoping for.
If you want to understand a fight, it's as important to understand what's not happening as what is. So, yes, Feinstein, Brennan and Reid are throwing punches, and cursing, and scratching and biting. But is anyone trying to gauge out an eye? Has anyone pulled a weapon? Are the combatants trying to kill – or merely to wound?
Why does Feinstein, whose oversight committee has reviewed a reported six million documents and produced a 6,300-page report on CIA practices Feinstein calls "brutal" and "horrible" and "un-American", insist on referring merely to a CIA "interrogation" program rather than calling it a torture program, which is what the program actually was? Why doesn't she declassify the report simply by introducing it into Senate proceedings pursuant to the Constitution's Speech or Debate clause?