Confederate flag does not belong on Texas license plate

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has handed a victory to the Sons of Confederate Veterans by ruling that Texas can't refuse to issue the group a specialty license plate with the Confederate battle flag on it.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board of directors had rejected the organization's application for a specialty plate in 2011 — the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War — because those who opposed it had argued that the so-called "Rebel flag" was offensive.

The judges noted that the DMV had approved plates for other veterans' groups and military actions such as Buffalo Soldiers, Korean War, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The panel's opinion said it "appears that the only reason the board rejected the plate is the viewpoint it represents."

The Confederate battle flag is highly offensive to many people, especially African-Americans, as it is a reminder of slavery. The banner was also resurrected during the 1950s and 1960s as a symbol revered by those opposed to integration and equal opportunity for blacks.

Members of the veterans group say it is an organization that was founded in 1896 to honor the Confederate heritage and that the flag, although considered offensive by some, is their official logo.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office, which represents the DMV, has said it will challenge the latest ruling, either by asking the entire 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case or appealing the decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. That is the right thing to do.

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 18


Citigroup eludes real punishment on securities

Last Monday, the Department of Justice announced a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup, the nation's third-largest bank, over a federal investigation into the bank's handling of mortgage-backed securities. But don't applaud.

Last year, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $13 billion for its role in selling bad mortgage-backed securities — though more than half of that penalty was tax-deductible. The Justice Department is also seeking a $20 billion settlement against Bank of America for its role in troubled mortgage investments.

While those settlement numbers are eye-popping, they pale in comparison to the damage wreaked from dumping toxic mortgages on a U.S. economy that has yet to recover from the subprime-accelerated crisis. Despite the large settlement, Citigroup still managed a $181 million net income in the second quarter.

Attorney General Eric Holder hailed the settlement as a "landmark civil resolution" at a press conference. Yet in his own words, the bank "misrepresented the facts, including the level of risk," "sold defective loans to countless investors, including federally financed financial institutions" and "made false statements to investors." Misconduct this widespread, systematic and destructive should exact a penalty more severe than five weeks of revenue.

For all the actions at all the banks that were at least criminally negligent if not outright fraudulent in the mortgage-backed securities meltdown, not a single senior banker has gone to jail.


—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21