Eric Holder just announced he’s stepping down as U.S. Attorney General. From a Wall Street accountability perspective, Holder leaves behind a woeful record when it comes to policing banks and their executives in the wake of massive fraud. Despite Congressional and public buy-in for more corporate crime enforcement (especially in the immediate wake of the 2008 crisis), and ample law enforcement tools at his disposal (including Sarbanes-Oxley provisions that allow for the prosecution of corporate executives), Holder’s record on financial fraud is virtually non-existent: a few enforcement actions against foreign banks, and a couple headline-grabbing but ultimately substance-less fines against U.S. banks.
So, with that said, hope springs eternal. If the President wants to even attempt to salvage his record on financial reform, he should start by appointing a strong Attorney General for the last days of his term.
Here’s a short list for who should get the nomination:
- Benjamin Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services.
And here’s a list of who should absolutely NOT be nominated, Dear God please NO:
- Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts, former lawyer & board member of predatory lender Ameriquest (help us all)
- Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of NY
Oh, please. “Acute”? “A remote possibility due to its proximity to New York and Philadelphia” would be more accurate.
Obamacare isn’t by any means a perfect law and not everything in it is going right. The law powers a different insurance market in every state (plus the District of Columbia), so it is perfectly possible for Obamacare to be a success in California even as there are troubles in Minnesota. And there continue to be operational issues: there have been troubling revelations about web site security, and problems verifying the incomes of some enrollees.
On the whole, though, costs are lower than expected, enrollment is higher than expected, the number of insurers participating in the exchanges is increasing, and more states are joining the Medicaid expansion. Millions of people have insurance who didn’t have it before. The law is working. But a lot of the people who are convinced Obamacare is a disaster will never know that, because the voices they trust will never tell them.
This past few days there have been reports that there is a ”just as bad as ISIS” terror group plotting international attacks from the same region — a group named Khorasan.
The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., said on Thursday that “in terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.”
If you’ve never heard of Khorasan, that’s fine. It’s probably because Khorasan’s not actually a terror group, new or old. It’s still Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra doing what they do.
"Khorasan" would be a great name for a terror group, with nearly unlimited potential for ominous mispronounciation. Sadly, it is not. It’s a word used by al-Qaeda (& others) for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, where its top leadership sits. What has happened, if US intel is telling the truth, is that a group of AQ veterans have relocated to Syria to support AQ’s local franchise, Jabhat al-Nosra, and (this is the newsworthy part) to develop its capacity for international attacks. All this, apparently, on the urging of AQ’s core leadership. The "Khorasan group" thing comes from them being sent to Syria from "Khorasan" – that is, by AQ’s leadership in Pakistan – and presumably taking their orders straight from there. It’s not the name of a group and they’re not an independent organization. As described in reports so far, they’re a specialized working group inside or otherwise attached to Jabhat al-Nosra that seeks to use the training camps, resources & recruits that Jabhat al-Nosra controls in Syria to run global attacks for which AQ can then claim credit.
A few interesting tidbits from several periodicals of note.
First, a reminder that U.S. intervention in Iraq helped create ISIS, via The New Yorker:
ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals, according to Hisham Alhashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government and an expert on ISIS. Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.
Then, a thorough debunking of the plan to arm and back a “moderate” opposition in Syria from The New York Times:
The persistent belief in Western policy circles that there is a “moderate opposition” in Syria…warrants serious scrutiny. The very notion of a “vetted” opposition has an absurd ring to it. It assumes that moderation is an identifiable, fixed element that can be sorted out from other, tainted characteristics. It further presumes that the vetting process will not stain those being vetted. It takes as a given that Western-backed opposition will prevail and in turn provide the basis for a happier and better Syria.
There is little to support any of these beliefs. The most effective forces on the ground today — and for the foreseeable future — are decidedly nonmoderate.
… The alleged moderates have never put together a convincing national program or offered a viable alternative to Mr. Assad. The truth is that there are no “armed moderates” (or “moderate terrorists”) in the Arab world — and precious few beyond. The genuine “moderates” won’t take up arms, and those who do are not truly moderates.
And finally, evidence that almost every instance of U.S. intervention in the Middle East has unexpected and/or dangerous consequences, via Haaretz:
The Islamic State jihadist organization has recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since America began targeting the group with air strikes last month, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 1,300 of the new recruits are said to be foreigners, who have joined IS from outside the swathes of Syria and Iraq that it controls.
So we helped create ISIS in the first place and we’ve made it bigger and our strategy for destroying it might be doomed. Other than that, we’re doing just fine.
Stories like this make me want to climb into a deep, dark hole and never come out.