Word of the week: crimogenic

No surprise that the adjective was used in connection with House Republicans:

In criminology, we recognize that one of the leading restraints on the effectiveness of law enforcement is “systems capacity.” Indeed, my mentor, Henry Pontell (UC Irvine), defined the concept. In the context of crimes of the street (other than Wall Street), there is normally no lobby trying to allow the typically lower class criminals to commit their crimes with impunity. In crimes of the business suites, however, it is the norm that there are well-funded, powerful, and seemingly legitimate lobbyists for the elite criminals who seek to allow them to commit their crimes with impunity. Similarly, it is rare for street criminals to consult a lawyer before they commit their crimes. Elite white-collar criminals often consult with expert legal counsel before, during, and after they commit their crimes in order to try to minimize the risk of being sanctioned.

One of the most obvious ways to produce a criminogenic environment is to create systems incapacity to detect and sanction crime. House Republicans are doing that in the context of elite white-collar crime. That context also happens to be the leading campaign donors for both parties…

Read the whole story.

Dimon’s dogs

I think “rotten to the core” is the expression that works best here:

BILL MOYERS: This week Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase testified before the Senate Banking Committee on how his bank got it wrong on risk management– in London. What would you think if I told you that seven members of the Senate Banking Committee have been big recipients of money from JPMorgan Chase?

THOMAS FRANK: I would not be surprised, (LAUGH) not in the least. That’s obviously where JPMorgan would be spending its lobbying dollar would be on the– the– you know, giving to the campaigns of the people on that committee. That’s the wisest strategic choice for them…

Fatal attraction to inaccurate data on carbon emissions

From Take Part:

A nation of 1.3 billion people, China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading greenhouse gas polluter in 2007. But scientists and policymakers alike have questioned whether data on carbon emissions in China is reliable enough to tell the full story.

A paper published yesterday in Nature Climate Change validates those concerns. China’s carbon emissions could be 20 percent higher than previous estimates, the study suggests, indicating that climate change may be occurring at an even more rapid and dangerous pace than previously thought…

The implications of this finding for global climate change are tremendous—the implications for policy perhaps even more so. The study’s authors warn that reliable national statistics are imperative for “global negotiations about future emission targets.”

Rather than addressing the inconsistencies in their data, the Chinese government earlier today argued that the climate crisis has been caused by developed nations, and that China has already taken appropriate steps to deal with climate change.

Obtaining accurate information on emissions isn’t just a problem in China, experts say.

“Much of the world does not have in place the capabilities and procedures for accurately reporting emissions of greenhouse gases,” wrote Rick Piltz, the founder and director of Climate Science Watch, in an email to TakePart. “This is something that must be improved over time as one important component of developing climate policy and implementing international agreements.”

Rather than addressing the inconsistencies… Isn’t it amazing how certain individual governments — not just China — would rather defend their abuse of the ecosystem than make corrections that could benefit the entire human race? Meanwhile, average temperatures around the world keep rising.

Why economic recovery isn’t happening

Good old Robert Reich apparently still thinks Americans are able and willing to learn the lessons of history:

The major reason this recovery has been so anemic is not Europe’s debt crisis. It’s not Japan’s tsumami. It’s not Wall Street’s continuing excesses. It’s not, as right-wing economists tell us, because taxes are too high on corporations and the rich, and safety nets are too generous to the needy. It’s not even, as some liberals contend, because the Obama administration hasn’t spent enough on a temporary Keynesian stimulus.

The answer is in front of our faces. It’s because American consumers, whose spending is 70 percent of economic activity, don’t have the dough to buy enough to boost the economy – and they can no longer borrow like they could before the crash of 2008…

…What to do? There’s no simple answer in the short term except to hope we stay in first gear and don’t slide backwards. Rarely in history has the cause of a major economic problem been so clear yet have so few been willing to see it.

Over the longer term the answer is to make sure the middle class gets far more of the gains from economic growth.

How? We might learn something from history. During the 1920s, income concentrated at the top. By 1928, the top 1 percent was raking in an astounding 23.94 percent of the total (close to the 23.5 percent the top 1 percent got in 2007) according to analyses of tax records by my colleague Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. At that point the bubble popped and we fell into the Great Depression.

But then came the Wagner Act, requiring employers to bargain in good faith with organized labor. Social Security and unemployment insurance. The Works Projects Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps. A national minimum wage. And to contain Wall Street: The Securities Act and Glass-Steagall Act…

A nation of losers

Charles Pierce is on to something regarding the casino mentality that has slowly poisoned this country over the years since the first non-Nevada casinos in America opened:

…Consider: Most every state in the Union, including the Commonwealth (God save it!) here, would rather build 20 casinos than risk raising taxes a dime, as though gambling itself were not a brutal tax. (How do I know this? Because once, long ago, on the night Mark McGwire and his pharmacist went past Roger Maris and his bartender for the single-season home run record, I sat in a casino in Tunica, Mississippi, and watched a 300-pound woman with oxygen tubes up her nose feed quarters into a slot machine while wearing a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Is The Answer.” This was the same trip on which I saw a billboard outside Vicksburg that suggested, “Sell Your Car For Cash.”) The entire Republican economic plan is one long gamble on a bunch of economic theories that already have failed twice in my lifetime. Ask even earnest young liberals how you manage to get a middle class without a manufacturing base, an active government, and strong unions, and you get the same kind of shrug you get along the rail when you ask someone why they bet the 5-horse when the creature plainly has hooves the size of a country ham. Ask Willard Romney the same thing, and he makes even less sense…

Issa ramps up witchhunt against do-nothing attorney general

Today’s Huffington Post quoted Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, in regard to proposed provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact: “It’s pathetic, but it is what it is. The world’s upside-down.”

This truism can be used in assessing much of what goes on in Washington, DC these days, thanks to the presence of out-of-control wing nuts such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Has there ever been a more ineffectual attorney general than Eric Holder, especial when it comes to prosecuting the corrupt and powerful? Why does Issa have such a raging hard-on for this guy?

From ThinkProgress:

In 2006, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Justice Department launched the first of a series of misguided “gunrunning” schemes that eventually led to the death of federal Agent Brian Terry. Rather than look to ways to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, however, House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) spent his tenure as a committee chair trying unsuccessfully to embarrass Attorney General Eric Holder.

Next week, Issa plans to escalate this witchhunt by holding a committee vote on a resolution to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress…

Good luck finding those black holes

I don’t know how much taxpayer money was used to construct and deploy this orbiting telescope, but it will be money well spent if NASA can finding the black holes that sucked away millions of jobs and homes, a functioning federal government, honest officeholders, and hopes for economic recovery in the United States. More here.

What trade-agreement pledge?

The big trade deals during the Clinton and Bush administrations — NAFTA is Exhibit A — came with false promises and outright lies concerning how they would affect American workers. But the hope-and-change Obama administration would do business in a more honest, open and worker-friendly fashion than those other administrations, right?

If you believed that, you probably also believed Barack Obama was more concerned about putting “folks” back to work than bailing out his bankster friends. From The Raw Story:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a forthcoming U.S. trade agreement that looks to solidify a seamless regional economy in the Pacific-rim, would give multinational corporations the power to challenge and even avoid compliance with laws in member countries — including the U.S. — provided a super-national corporate tribunal agrees with their claim.

That’s according to documents leaked this week by the Citizens Trade Campaign, an activist group responsible for leaking TPP proposals on intellectual property last year. The latest leak details a TPP draft chapter on “investments,” which proposes an independent dispute arbitration process that would be empowered to supersede domestic laws or regulatory actions in member states if they are seen as conflicting with the TPP’s framework…

In the event of a dispute between two entities incorporated in two different countries that are both members of one of these treaties, a trade tribunal serves essentially as a parallel legal system that exists outside of national laws and wields the power to knock down those laws or free multinational corporations from their obligation to comply with them. Considerations pertaining to labor rights or environmental protections are often not factored in to these decisions.

Although President Barack Obama had pledged during the 2008 presidential campaign to “not support NAFTA style trade agreements in the future,” he appears to have embraced them instead…

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