Gloomy and Doomy Friday ReadsPosted: March 11, 2022 Filed under: inflation, the villagers, Trump 25 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I’m starting with the two hopeful headlines today since the rest are just depressing. I’m feeling blue and seeing red. Who isn’t down with putting Orange Caligula in jail? Today, in The Guardian the headline reads “Likelihood of criminal charges against Trump rising, experts say. Some ex-prosecutors call on DoJ to accelerate investigation after House panel’s allegations Trump broke laws to overturn election.”
The likelihood of a criminal investigation and charges against Donald Trump are rising due to allegations by a House panel of a “criminal conspiracy” involving his aggressive drive to overturn the 2020 election results, coupled with a justice department (DoJ) inquiry of a “false electors” scheme Trump loyalists devised to block Joe Biden’s election.
Former federal prosecutors say evidence is mounting of criminal conduct by Trump that may yield charges against the ex- president for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress on 6 January or defrauding the US government, stemming from his weeks-long drive with top allies to thwart Biden’s election by pushing false claims of fraud.
A 2 March court filing by the House January 6 panel implicated Trump in a “criminal conspiracy” to block Congress from certifying Biden’s win, and Trump faces legal threats from justice department investigations under way into a “false electors” ploy, and seditious conspiracy charges filed against Oath Keepers who attacked the Capitol, say department veterans.
The filing by the House panel investigating the 6 January assault on the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters stated that it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States”.
The panel’s hard-hitting findings about Trump’s criminal schemes were contained in a federal court filing involving top Trump lawyer John Eastman, who has fought on attorney client privilege grounds turning over a large cache of documents including emails sought by the committee.
Back in January, the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, also revealed a criminal investigation was being launched into a far reaching scheme in seven states that Biden won which was reportedly overseen by Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani to replace legitimate electors with false ones pledged to Trump.
But the House panel’s blockbuster allegations that Trump broke laws to overturn the election have prompted some ex-prosecutors to call on the justice department to quickly accelerate its investigations to focus on the multiple avenues that Trump used to nullify the election results in tandem with top allies like Giuliani.
“The compelling evidence of criminal activity by Trump revealed by the committee in its recent 61-page court filing should spur DoJ to act expeditiously,” Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of DoJ’s fraud section, told the Guardian.
“Given the gravity of the revelations, the department should consider a strike force or even a special counsel to coalesce sufficient resources to focus on these criminal attacks that strike at the heart of our democracy,” Pelletier added. “There is no time to waste now that the House committee has provided the clearest view yet into how Trump and his campaign apparently schemed to upend our democracy.”
Additionally, NPR is reporting this: “New clues emerge about the money that might have helped fund the Jan. 6 insurrection”. This is reported by Claudia Grisales.
The latest peek into questions around the money that might have helped fuel the attack arrived with the Republican National Committee suing to thwart a subpoena from the committee.
The filing reveals that the Democratic-led panel quietly subpoenaed an RNC vendor, San Francisco-based Salesforce, last month.
After the suit became public, the committee quickly defended the effort, saying it was looking into a new push led by former President Trump asking for donations after he lost his 2020 bid for re-election.
“Ever since Watergate, one of the central adages in… congressional investigations of presidential wrongdoing has been follow the money,” said Norm Eisen, a former House lawyer in Trump’s first impeachment case. “The 1/6 committee investigation has been sweeping in all of its dimensions, and this is no exception.”
The committee’s Feb. 23 subpoena of Salesforce emphasized its interest in the company’s hosting of Trump emails asking for new donations that included false claims of election fraud.
It’s part of a central question the panel hopes to answer: Did Trump find new ways to keep the money coming in after his loss by shifting from a presidential campaign to a “Stop the Steal” effort?
“I think the level of grift that was involved with the Trump campaign and people close to the former president, how the January Six efforts were for many of them, this is what they were doing to make money,” said California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, a member of the Jan. 6 panel. “We are looking into that.”
The committee’s investigators are broken down into highly skilled teams with core areas of focus, including one that’s on the money.
Aguilar says each team has been making “significant progress,” with regular presentations to the full committee on its findings. Each has been charged with devising a strategy for depositions and hearings.
“The committee has not tipped its hand of everything they have,” Eisen said. “They dedicated significant resources to the money trails. And I’m certain that in the hearings and in the final report, there’s going to be much more evidence revealed.”
This spring, the committee hopes to hold its first hearings illustrating the findings so far and issue an interim report by the summer with a final report this fall.
Let’s hope the arms of justice are getting ready to throttle the Trump Family Crime Syndicate. Lock him up!
What’s really making me see red these days is the relentless media chatter about inflation and how it will blow back on the Democratic Party come November. There really are a bunch of clueless people reporting on the economy. Every time I read one of these articles I scream. I usually admire Catherine Rampell but this headline is just clickbait: “Opinion: Americans are unhappy with the economy. Many on the left don’t want to hear it.” It’s on the Op-Ed page of The Washington Post.
I’ve spent hours this week being mansplained and dogmasplained things that are just are not true and the media is not helping by actually elucidating the situation. We had a demand shock, now the economy is growing gangbusters and that and a few other things that are market-oriented have created inflation. It’s not really anything you can nail on to the folks on the fiscal side of economic policy. This is the Fed’s bailiwick. It should cool down within 6 months but the Russian Invasion of Ukraine has created a lot of uncertainty. All bets are off on predictions of economic factors when they are based on history and theory and can’t predict the number of black swans we’ve had recently which include the invasion, Covid-19, and 4 years of an insane, criminal US President.
Inflation is spiking, and Democrats — who, rightly or wrongly, are poised to take the blame this November — appear to be in denial about it.
Consumer prices rose 7.9 percent in February from a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. This was, yet again, the fastest pace of price growth in four decades. The increases were broad-based, affecting food, fuel, airfares, shelter, and more. Meanwhile, worker paychecks fell further behind, as overall inflation outpaced average wage growth.
These data were collected largely before the Russia-related run-up in global energy prices. Which suggests that next month’s overall inflation reading could be worse.
Given these trends, Americans are unhappy with the economy. But many on the left don’t want to hear it.
In recent months, many Democrats and their allies have approached the (political) problem of inflation by either denying any serious issue exists; or acknowledging it exists but demagoguing about its cause.
Some lefty politicians and commentators have argued that inflation is not that big of a deal. Americans have been tricked into thinking things are bad mostly because the media (and/or Republicans) keep telling them things are bad, this argument goes. Articles such as this one, drawing attention to inflation, are to blame.
I actually agree that much of the economic coverage has fallen short. For example: Contrary to recent headlines, gas prices aren’t really at all-time highs, at least not when adjusted for the changing value of the dollar. And there has been much more emphasis on soaring prices (bad news, boo) than on dwindling unemployment (good news, yay!).
Yet, it’s delusional to think that ordinary people wouldn’t care much about inflation if only the media stopped discussing it. People notice when they pay more for groceries, rent, gasoline, pet food, diapers. It is painful. It is unsettling. And inflation affects a broader swath of people than does a change in the unemployment rate, so more people are going to complain.
Rampell wrote this last December “Every time I think the inflation discourse can’t get dumber, I’m proven wrong.” I completely agree with that assertion.
Corporate greed. The cancellation of an oil pipeline that didn’t yet exist. A secret plot to cancel Halloween.
Every time I think the inflation discourse can’t get dumber, I’m proven wrong.
To be fair: The forces behind inflation, like many economic problems, are complicated. Economists can’t fully explain what determines current pricing behavior and inflation expectations in the real world, much less precisely predict where prices will land in a few months. New waves in the pandemic aren’t helping, either.
Most inflation predictions that top forecasters made in the spring turned out to be much too low. Elite academic economists, when surveyed about the risks of prolonged inflation, candidly acknowledge a lot of uncertainty.
All of which means there’s a lot of room for reasonable error on this issue, even among experts. But lately partisan factions have concocted new, unreasonable sources of error, too. Some of this rhetoric has been impressively creative; it’s basically like inflation fan fiction.
We economists really don’t assign pejorative terms to the actions of economic agents but I can tell you, huge oligopolies are going to take advantage of the situation and get whatever they can out of it. Let’s look at this.
There are three factors driving oil prices right now. None can be controlled by a President. First, the bounceback in demand due to increased driving now that Covid-19 shutdowns have slowed down and people are going back to work and school. Second, the uncertainty around the Russian invasion of Ukraine since Russia is an OPEC member. Third, Oil companies are using the run-up to do what profit and bonus loving companies always can do when there are few producers (oligopoly) and no real ability for a government to regulate a world market.
There are lots of leases and permits out there for any US oil company to Drill Baby Drill. Biden has even increased their availability. They are not exercising them. They’re happy with the high prices coming back. Or, as Jen eloquently put it to Dumbo Doucy:
I suppose I shouldn’t mention here that I think he’s just a sub looking for the right Dom but he asks these stupid questions over and over.
And look to my tweet for what they are doing which is exactly what the Trump tax cuts and the Bush tax cuts incented them to do. You make more money doing Wall Street tricks than you do when you actually do your business. Nowhere is this more true than any extraction business.
From the Financial Times: “Big Oil on course for near-record $38bn in share buybacks. Seven majors set for supercharged stock purchasing on top of estimated $50bn of dividends” This is all going on while Biden is scrambling to find any OPEC member that will release the gushers and opening the country’s reserves. Read on and pay particular attention to what I highlighted.
Western energy majors are on course to buy back shares at near-record levels this year as soaring oil and gas prices enable them to deliver bumper profits and boost returns for investors. The seven supermajors — including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron — are poised to return $38bn to shareholders through buyback programmes this year, according to data from Bernstein Research. Investment bank RBC Capital Markets put the total figure higher, at $41bn. That would be almost double the $21bn in buybacks completed in 2014 — when oil last traded above $100 a barrel — and the biggest total since 2008. The plans underscored the strength of companies that are reaping the rewards of a resurgence in energy demand as pandemic lockdown restrictions are rolled back. Gas prices are at record levels and oil is trading at a seven-year high of more than $90 a barrel, resulting in big profits for the supermajor group rounded out by TotalEnergies, Eni and Equinor.
Banks including Goldman Sachs expect Brent crude to trade at more than $100 this year, with some predicting that if Russia invades Ukraine it will trigger a sharper spike in energy costs.
Biraj Borkhataria at RBC Capital Markets said: “The sector is in the best shape it’s been in for a long time. Now the question is the duration of the cycle.” The underperformance of the companies’ shares during the pandemic meant that management teams felt their shares were undervalued and that buybacks were cheap, he added
Shell is set to lead the pack in 2022, buying back more than $12bn of its own shares, according to RBC and Bernstein. At least $8.5bn of those buybacks will be completed in the first half of the year, Shell said this month, including $5.5bn from the sale of its assets in the US Permian basin.
Chevron bought back shares worth $1.4bn in 2021 and has said it will spend $3bn to $5bn on buybacks this year.
If you were a CEO sitting on top of stock bonuses, etc what on earth would you do given “The sector is in the best shape it’s been in for a long time.” They’re rational actors after all. And wtf can President Biden do about any of this? The entire energy sector is in great shape. What incentives do they have to change?
So, that’s an explanation you can tell folks if you need to. The biggest thing that would bring prices down would be for Putin to stop his madness in Ukraine and the entire free world is working on that.
But, for some reason, Americans think they’re entitled to low gas prices and need large vehicles. They forget the last cycles that have been recurrent since the 70s which basically all point back to OPEC which is a cartel that colludes to keep prices high until someone cheats and it falls apart and prices go down. That’s economics 101 stuff. I know this because I was in Economics 101 when the first Opec oil embargo hit. I even had a chance to listen to a panel of top Economists talk about it and got brave enough to ask a question.
Anyway, the Twitter round-up on Ukraine shows the world is trying to get to Putin.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that Ukraine is “part of the European family” and that a fourth package of sanctions for Russia is coming along with a plan to wean the EU off Russian fuel sources by 2027. US President Joe Biden also announced plans to revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status and ban key Russian goods like seafood, vodka and diamonds. Meanwhile, explosions were reported on Friday in Lutsk, near the Polish border, in Dnipro, a major stronghold in central-eastern Ukraine, and in Ivano-Frankivsk, in the south-west, Ukrainian authorities say.
So long Beluga caviar and Stolichnaya Vodka rich Americans! Suck it up for Ukraine while the rest of us worry about gas and energy prices. And then there’s this piece of good news that sends me back to the research role in monetary and trade unions.
Okay, I hope I wasn’t too gloomy or doomy for you. I generously sprinkled the work of Ukrainian artist Viktor Zaretsky to break up the rest.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Anyway, move over Trudeau and Macron, there’s a new guy in town!!
Manic Monday Reads: Double Standard EditionPosted: November 29, 2021 Filed under: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Feminists, The Media SUCKS, The Right Wing, the villagers 21 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
The one thing that’s become more apparent to me than anything else is the double standard in the media and elsewhere with what they tolerate from white men who are screaming like scalded hogs at the moment and essentially trying to install an autocratic government to retain their privilege and control of the country’s major institutions. Loss of privilege is not the same as being unable to secure your civil liberties and rights.
This is from Eric Boehlert: GOTCHA Games via my neighbor. The Vice President has accomplished a lot so:
So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, the gossip-heavy coverage is not only detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.
It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.
The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”
Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)
Keep reading for the glaring examples all over the media. And notice it’s the gay guy and the black woman getting the nitpick treatment. Don’t start me on the number of women of color who’ve endured the tribulation of justifying themselves in from the of the old white Republicans of the Senate. My guess is it’s the Hillary treatment where you nitpick and find false scandals until she never becomes electible again. But, my question is WHY?
Yeah, It’s the Hillary Treatment alright. From the Telegraph: With Kamala Harris looking unelectable, the Democrats are considering the nuclear option
Go there if you even care. Or you might even try this one if you dare: Axios: GOP courts anti-vaxxers with jobless aid
Ask yourself who really hates our democracy and country now.
Right-wing men are terrifically insecure. As best as I can determine, they’re very much afraid of any competition for anything. Righteous Hackers are working to take their white nationalist patriarchal movement down. This is from The Guardian. How far-right extremist groups face exposure from army of hacktivists. Data leaks and breaches by so-called ‘ethical hackers’ – often assisted by poor security practices – have exposed inner workings of groups and the nature of the movement as a whole.
Throughout 2021, websites associated with far-right extremist groups and extremist-friendly platforms and hosts have suffered from data leaks and breaches that have exposed the inner workings of far-right groups, and the nature of the movement as a whole.
The data has been exfiltrated in breaches engineered by so-called “ethical hackers” – often assisted by poor security practices from website administrators – and by activists who have penetrated websites in search of data and information.
Experts and activists say that attacks on their online infrastructure is likely to continue to disrupt and hamper far-right groups and individuals and makes unmasking their activities far more likely – often resulting in law enforcement attention or loss of employment.
Numerous far-right groups have suffered catastrophic data breaches this year, in perhaps a reflection of a lack of technical expertise among such activists. Jim Salter, a systems administrator and tech journalist, said: “Extremists, and extremist-friendly entities, have a noticeable shortage of even-tempered, thoughtful people doing even-tempered, thoughtful work at securing sites and managing personnel.”
There are many examples.
In the wake of the 6 January attacks, the Guardian reported on the leak from American Patriots III% website, which allowed the entire membership of the organization to be identified.
In that case, poor website configuration had allowed savvy researchers to view and republish the information on the open web.
In July, another organization affiliated with the Three Percenters, which monitoring organizations classify as an anti-government group or a component of the militia movement, had internal chats leaked which reportedly exhibited a “thirst for violence”.
Then, in September, it emerged that the website of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers was comprehensively breached, with membership lists, emails and what appeared to be the entire content of their server suddenly put on public display.
This is an extremely interesting read. And I just had to put this in wondering if the press will find a way to pick on First Lady Biden’s traditional Christmas tastes.
I imagine we’ll get lectured on the aesthetic of boring. And to our next question.
So, this trial is going to be interesting because we’ve only going one person to take trial for the sins of Jeffrey Epstein.
This is via Law and Crime: “An Anonymous Jury Has Been Selected for Ghislaine Maxwell’s Sex Trafficking Trial. Here’s What We Know About the Panel.”
Shielded in anonymity, the jurors selected to preside over Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial will be identified only by their number in the interest of preserving their privacy and safety, but some details about them and their awareness of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.
The 12-person panel, and six alternate jurors waiting on standby, were sworn in by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan following a painstaking selection process. Judge Nathan whittled down a pool of 600 candidates with surveys, first with a written questionnaire and then one-on-one questions held in open court, known as voir dire proceedings.
Rejecting a request by Maxwell’s defense team to conduct this hearing secretly, Nathan held voir dire in full press and public view earlier this month. Potential jurors answered questions on the public record, with certain information—like their names—kept under seal.
Here is a breakdown of the jurors, a group that includes mostly highly educated professionals representing a broad cross-section of New York City and neighboring counties. The list may change as two newly-empaneled jurors expressed conflicts after being chosen. As the biographical information comes from voir dire transcripts, these profiles do not currently include a race and gender breakdown. The jury, however, appears to be diverse in these categories, as well as age and educational background.
So, the media continues to miss the point. And I’m tired already of writing about it. Did I mention the budget/deficit ceiling battle is about to restart?
Congress is only a couple of weeks away from hitting the Dec. 15 deadline to raise the federal debt limit, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) don’t appear to be anywhere close to a deal.
Democrats insist that Schumer will not burn up a week of Senate floor time to use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit with only Democratic votes.
And Republicans say there’s no way that McConnell will be able to round up 10 Republican votes to quash an expected filibuster from conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and allow Democrats to pass debt limit legislation with a simple majority under regular order.
The Republicans are not capable of running anything but a Circus Sideshow. We need to vote them out where we can.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Thursday ReadsPosted: January 9, 2014 Filed under: Barack Obama, FBI, Foreign Affairs, morning reads, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Afghanistan War, Betty Medsger, COINTELPRO, Doyle McManus, Edward Snowden, Fox News, Gabriel Sherman, George W. Bush, Glenn Greenwald, Iraq War, J. Edgar Hoover, Joe Biden, Robert Gates, Roger Ailes 119 Comments
The Villagers are still nattering on about excepts from retired defense secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir Duty, which will be released on January 14.
The DC media is focused on Gates’ criticisms of President Obama and how they will embarrass the administration and negatively affect Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016. What has impressed me so far in the excepts I have read is that Obama was wary of the military and willing to stand up to them. Some examples from an e-mail I received from Foreign Policy Magazine yesterday:
Gates on what Biden did to poison the military well: “I thought Biden was subjecting Obama to Chinese water torture, every day saying, ‘the military can’t be trusted.'”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”
On Obama and Bush: “During my tenure as secretary, Bush was willing to disagree with his senior military advisers on the wars, including the important divergence between the chiefs’ concern to reduce stress on the force and the presidents’ higher priority of success in Iraq. However, Bush never (at least to my knowledge) questioned their motives or mistrusted them personally. Obama was respectful of senior officers and always heard them out, but he often disagreed with them and was deeply suspicious of their actions and recommendations. Bush seemed to enjoy the company of the senior military; I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”
On Obama as an ice man: “I worked for Obama longer than Bush and I never saw his eyes well up. The only military matter, apart from leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military that Obama successfully pushed to repeal.”
On an oval office meeting that deeply pissed him off: “…Donilon was especially aggressive in questioning our commitment to speed and complaining about how long we were taking. Then he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a room full of people whether Gen. Fraser was competent to lead this effort. I’ve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment; nor was I ever closer to walking out of that historic room in the middle of a meeting. My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didn’t need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self discipline to stay seated on the sofa.
Every one of those quotes made me like and respect Obama and Biden more. I’m sure I’m not alone in that reaction.
A couple more “criticisms” quoted in The Atlantic: Robert Gates: The Iraq War Undermined U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan.
President Bush always detested the notion, but our later challenges in Afghanistan—especially the return of the Taliban in force by the time I reported for duty—were, I believe, significantly compounded by the invasion of Iraq. Resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan. U.S. goals in Afghanistan—a properly sized, competent Afghan national army and police, a working democracy with at least a minimally effective and less corrupt central government—were embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive compared with the meager human and financial resources committed to the task, at least before 2009.
Who doesn’t agree with that? Well, sure some right wing nut jobs, but the majority of Americans have completely soured on the Iraq war, according to many polls over the past few years.
Wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. Those who ask about exit strategies or question what will happen if assumptions prove wrong are rarely welcome at the conference table when the fire-breathers are demanding that we strike—as they did when advocating invading Iraq, intervening in Libya and Syria, or bombing Iran’s nuclear sites. But in recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents. Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort.
So Obama’s approach might have kept us out of Iraq, right? I don’t see that as a problem. I want my president to be wary of the military and hesitant to go to war. I want my president to get teary-eyed over granting rights to people who have been historically discriminated against and stay dry-eyed and rational when contemplating “military matters.”
So let Gates have his day in the sun. Today some in the media are already questioning whether his book may damage his reputation. From Foreign Policy again: Did Bob Gates’ New Book Just Trash His Golden Reputation?
Gates, 70, has unmasked himself as just another former Washington official writing just another kiss-and-tell in the soon-to-be-released Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, in which he takes shots at a sitting commander-in-chief, his top aides and Congress, an institution with which he often expressed frustration – but also respect. Gates was known for being discreet and sharp-minded, loyal to the office he occupied and careful about what he said in public. So deliberate were his public pronouncements about wars or national security policy or budgets that he became the E.F. Hutton of the Pentagon — everyone leaned in every time he had something to say.
But now his brand seems diminished by the scrappy, petty nature of many of his criticisms — even though some are substantive and legitimate — and a legacy he seemed quietly determined to protect may be permanently reduced to something less than what it once was.
We’ll have to wait and see. It’s also possible that the furor over Gates’ memoir will fade quickly, because another book is coming out on January 21, and it looks to be a lot more entertaining–the tell-all book about Fox News’ Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, by Gabriel Sherman. Excerpts started leaking out yesterday and they are wild! Check these “key revelations” from Gawker:
- During a salary negotiation in the 1980’s, Ailes offered producer Randi Harrison an additional $100 each week she would agree to have sex with him whenever he wanted.
- He also privately thinks of Bill O’Reilly as “a book salesman with a TV show” and Brian Kilmeade as “a soccer coach from Long Island.”
- During a 1990’s power struggle with NBC executive David Zaslav, Ailes was accused of making an anti-Semitic remark involving an obscenity and “the words ‘little’ and ‘Jew’.” NBC’s chairman and counsel believe “he probably said it.”
New York Magazine has published a lengthy except from Sherman’s book and it is the most fascinating and horrifying thing I’ve read in ages. Ailes is far weirder than I ever imagined. The article opens with a description of how Ailes moved into a rural town in upstate New York, hoping to return to his small-town roots, but instead bought the local newspaper and tried to transform it into a mini-Fox News. It’s a riot! Just a small except to whet your appetite for the bizarre:
As summer turned to fall, political issues began to arise. Alison Rooney, the copy editor, at first found reasons to be optimistic about the ownership change. She liked using the new computers to put out the paper and looked forward to the newsroom moving into a renovated two-story building on Main Street. But that honeymoon ended when Rooney laid out a press release from the Garrison Art Center that described a work invoking the “mythological story” of the Virgin Birth. After the release was published, the priest of Our Lady of Loretto wrote a letter to the editor, and Beth Ailes lit into Rooney. A few weeks later, Rooney got another dressing-down as she formatted a promotion of the high school’s upcoming production of Urinetown, this time from an editor who found the language offensive and removed the title of the show from the headline.
Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.
Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”
Soon afterward, Turton learned that Maureen Hunt had resigned, and Ailes continued his quest to bring “fair and balanced” to Philipstown.
Since I’ve been discussing new books so far, I guess I might as well continue. On Tuesday, The New York Times published interviews with some of the activists who broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971 and stole a massive number of files. They took the files to a remote location, studied them for ten days, and found evidence of the illegal FBI domestic spying program COINTELPRO. Unlike Edward Snowden, the burglars swore to keep their identities a secret so that the story itself would get all the public attention. From the Times article:
They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups….
The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.
“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”
That’s heroism in my book. They revealed real government abuses that had been almost unknown until they found the proof. Now one of the reporters who helped get the story out, Betty Medsger, has written a book called The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI. It came out this week, and I’m dying to read it.
By contrast Snowden and his PR man Glenn Greenwald have so far revealed very little that we didn’t already know or suspect about NSA domestic spying and have spent most of the seven months since they began rolling out their revelations 1) publishing articles about the NSA spying on foreign countries and their partnerships with foreign countries who have few espionage resources; 2) giving self-aggrandizing interviews and bragging about all the secrets they have; 3) Defending Snowden’s decision to defect to Russia. At the same time Greenwald has sold book and movie rights and worked on a media start up funded by libertarian E-bay and Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. I haven’t heard anything about Greenwald sharing his earnings with Edward Snowden either.
Fortunately some in the media are beginning to point out inconsistencies in Snowden’s and Greenwald’s behavior. Here is an op-ed by Doyle McManus that lays out the case very well. Edward Snowden, in shades of gray I agree with just about everything he wrote.
Is Edward Snowden” Edward Snowden a whistle-blower or a traitor?
Debate over the renegade computer technician who leaked thousands of secret National Security Agency documents is too often reduced to that deceptively simple choice.
But it’s the wrong way to pose the question, because Snowden is both of those things at the same time. Yes, he’s a whistle-blower, and if that were all he had done, he would deserve our thanks for forcing a debate over the NSA’s swollen powers.
But he’s also a scoundrel who deserves prosecution and public condemnation. That’s because his leaks no longer seem focused on protecting U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights or toughening safeguards on the NSA. Instead, Snowden’s disclosures have expanded far beyond those laudable aims to exposing U.S. intelligence-gathering operations that appear not only legal but legitimate in the eyes of most Americans.
McManus is referring to revelations about the NSA doing it’s job, which is gathering foreign intelligence to protect national security. A little more:
“…most of those disclosures, from Merkel to Al Qaeda, have nothing to do with Americans’ right to privacy. Snowden has acknowledged that his ambitions go far beyond limiting what the NSA can do at home. “I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European or Asian,” he told the Guardian in June.
Well, OK. But that makes him, by his own description, a global crusader against NSA spying anywhere, not merely a whistle-blower against potential abuses inside the United States. It means some of his disclosures have made Americans safer against government prying, but others have probably made us less safe.
And for a man who proclaims himself a fighter for universal rights, accepting asylum in Russia and praising his hosts for their devotion to freedom does not strengthen his claim to consistency, let alone nobility.
I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today. Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a great Thursday!
Tuesday Reads: Philippines Disaster, Economics News, and the Concern Troll MediaPosted: November 12, 2013 Filed under: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, morning reads, The Great Recession, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alex Bolton, Andrew Huszar, Bart Chilton, Ben Bernanke, Chris Cillizza, concern troll media, Elizabeth Warren, Gary Gensler, Janet Yellen, Noam Scheiber, Philippines, Politico, Rebecca Ruth Guy, T-Bogg, Timothy G. Massad, Typhoon Haiyan 72 Comments
Boy did I ever get a shock when I looked out my window this morning and saw a mix of snow and rain coming down outside. Noooooo! It’s way too early for winter weather. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Now that I’ve looked at this morning’s news from the Philippines, I’m ashamed to be complaining about a little bit of freezing rain. The disaster following Typhoon Haiyan is beyond belief. ABC News talked to a 19-year-old American woman who who survived the massive storm.
Rebecca Ruth Guy, 19, was living in the city of Tacloban, which bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami-like storm surges Friday. Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees.
“When the storm hit, our apartment was flooding so we tried opening the door but the flooding was already rising up to our chest,” Guy told ABC News.
Faced with a life-and-death situation, Guy’s friend smashed the window so they could climb to the roof and escape the storm surge, which is being blamed for a large part of the destruction and death.
“We got out to the roof,” she said. “The rain was coming, the winds were crazy and it was getting cold. So we ended up sandwiching together and holding onto one another for warmth, praying for protection of the people.
“The most harrowing was when I saw women and children piled under tarpaulin, and when I saw dogs skewered on gates, cars thrown into buildings, people trying to find something to eat, water to drink,” she added.
According to the article, the U.S. sent planes to evacuate Americans living in the Philippines; other residents aren’t so fortunate.
CNN is reporting that 1,774 people are dead; but that number will continue to rise.
Cebu, Philippines (CNN) — Typhoon Haiyan has killed too many people to count so far and pushed to the brink of survival thousands more who have lost everything, have no food or medical care and are drinking filthy water to stay alive.
By Tuesday, officials had counted 1,774 of the bodies, but say that number may just be scratching the surface. They fear Haiyan may have taken as many as 10,000 lives.
The storm has injured 2,487 more since it made landfall six times last Friday, the government said. It has displaced at least 800,000 people, the U.N. said Tuesday.
Unfortunately a new storm and an earthquake have hindered rescue efforts.
As authorities rush to save the lives of survivors four days after Haiyan ripped the Philippines apart, a new tropical low, Zoraida, blew in Tuesday delivering more rain, the Philippine national weather agency PAGASA reported.
Zoraida is not a strong storm, but has dumped just under four inches of rain in some places, CNN meteorologists say….
An earthquake also rattled part of the affected area. The 4.8 magnitude temblor shook San Isidro Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
Here are a few more links about the storm and its aftereffects:
The Week: The terrible destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. This one has a number of shocking photos like the one to the left.
CNN: How it happened: Tracing Typhoon Haiyan’s havoc in the Philippines (lots more photos at this link)
NPR: WHO Rates Typhoon’s Medical Challenges ‘Monumental’
NPR: ‘It Looks Like A 50-Mile Wide Tornado’ Hit The Philippines
CTC News: Typhoon Haiyan: Before and after photos of storm’s damage
In other news, here’s one that will interest Dakinikat: Obama to Tap Treasury Official as Top Derivatives Regulator. From The New York Times Dealbook blog:
President Obama will nominate Timothy G. Massad as the new chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Tuesday, a White House aide said, choosing the senior Treasury Department official to run an agency that polices some of Wall Street’s riskiest activity.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Massad will succeed Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker who overhauled the agency in the wake of the financial crisis. Mr. Gensler, credited with turning one of Wall Street’s laxest regulators into one of its most aggressive, must leave office at the end of the year when his term officially expires.
Mr. Massad, an assistant secretary of the Treasury who oversaw the unwinding of the government’s bailout program stemming from the financial crisis, would join the agency as it undergoes a makeover.
Bart Chilton, the agency’s most liberal commissioner, announced last week that he would soon depart. David Meister, the enforcement director who led actions against some of the world’s biggest banks, departed the agency last month. And Jill E. Sommers, a Republican commissioner, left months ago.
The vacancies have raised the stakes for Mr. Massad’s nomination. If Mr. Chilton and Mr. Gensler depart before their successors are confirmed, the five-member commission will be down to just two members: one Republican, Scott D. O’Malia, and one Democrat, Mark Wetjen.
That would not be good. I know Dakinikat is busy today, but here’s another article for her to weigh in on if she has time: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer. From Andrew Huszar at the Wall Street Journal:
I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Five years ago this month, on Black Friday, the Fed launched an unprecedented shopping spree. By that point in the financial crisis, Congress had already passed legislation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to halt the U.S. banking system’s free fall. Beyond Wall Street, though, the economic pain was still soaring. In the last three months of 2008 alone, almost two million Americans would lose their jobs.
The Fed said it wanted to help—through a new program of massive bond purchases. There were secondary goals, but Chairman Ben Bernanke made clear that the Fed’s central motivation was to “affect credit conditions for households and businesses”: to drive down the cost of credit so that more Americans hurting from the tanking economy could use it to weather the downturn. For this reason, he originally called the initiative “credit easing.”
Huzar claims that Janet Yellen will likely continue Bernanke’s policies.
Even when acknowledging QE’s shortcomings, Chairman Bernanke argues that some action by the Fed is better than none (a position that his likely successor, Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, also embraces). The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington’s dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street’s new “too big to fail” policy.
More pundits are joining the anti-Hillary ranks. According to The Hill’s Alex Bolton:
Liberal leaders want Hillary Clinton to face a primary challenge in 2016 if she decides to run for president.
The goal of such a challenge wouldn’t necessarily be to defeat Clinton. It would be to prevent her from moving to the middle during the Democratic primary.
“I do think the country would be well served if we had somebody who would force a real debate about the policies of the Democratic Party and force the party to debate positions and avoid a coronation,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, an influential progressive group….
Clinton raised concern among the Democratic Party’s populist base when she recently accepted an estimated $400,000 from Goldman Sachs for two speeches.
Influential progressives wonder whether someone who accepted such a large sum from one of Wall Street’s biggest investment firms could be expected to hold corporate executives accountable if elected president.
They also wonder how aggressively she’d call for addressing income inequality, which many see as one of the biggest economic problems facing the nation.
That’s odd, since Obama ran to Hillary’s right in 2008 and received more contributions from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms than either Hillary or John McCain. But let’s not get caught up in facts…
Politico has taken up the suggestion from Noam Scheiber at The New Republic that Dakinikat wrote about yesterday that Elizabeth Warren should run against Hillary. Concern trolls Ben White and Maggie Haberman write:
There are three words that strike terror in the hearts of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives across the land: President Elizabeth Warren.
The anxiety over Warren grew Monday after a magazine report suggested the bank-bashing Democratic senator from Massachusetts could mount a presidential bid in 2016 and would not necessarily defer to Hillary Clinton — who is viewed as far more business-friendly — for the party’s nomination.
And the fear is not only that Warren, who channels an increasingly popular strain of Occupy Wall Street-style anti-corporatism, might win. That is viewed by many political analysts as a slim possibility. It is also that a Warren candidacy, and even the threat of one, would push Clinton to the left in the primaries and revive arguments about breaking up the nation’s largest banks, raising taxes on the wealthy and otherwise stoking populist anger that is likely to also play a big role in the Republican primaries.
So what does Warren think about all this?
A spokesperson for Warren declined to comment on whether she would consider a presidential bid against Clinton, though Warren has previously said she has no plans to run. People close to Warren note that she signed a letter from female Democratic senators urging Clinton to run in 2016. And Warren associates, mindful of any appearance of creating the narrative of a Warren-for-president campaign, have corresponded with Clinton associates to stress that they didn’t fuel the New Republic story by Noam Scheiber.
Assholes. Hey, I have an idea–why not get Kirstin Gillibrand to run against Hillary too? Of course Chris Cillizza is also rooting for Warren and Clinton to destroy each other’s chances to do anything positive about the economy:
Quick, name someone who would have a realistic chance of beating out Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential nomination. Martin O’Malley? Nope. Joe Biden? Maybe but probably not. Howard Dean. No way. There’s only answer to that question that makes even a little sense. And that answer is Elizabeth Warren.
And so on… bla bla bla… Don’t these idiots have anything important to write about? Like maybe jobs, children without food or health care, or the upcoming battle over the debt limit?
Thank goodness for TBogg at Raw Story: What if Elizabeth Warren went back in time and smothered Baby Hitler in his crib?
If you have been perambulating about the internet these past few days, the above is exactly the kind of linkbait bullshit narratives that are being peddled by people who have wearied talking about President of New Jerseymerica Chris Christie or whether Rand Paul was the real life inspiration for the J.L. Borges short story, Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. It seems that frustrated writers lacking hobbies have turned their lonely eyes to the Democratic side of the 2016 presidential election which is just around the corner, if by corner, you mean: three years from now. But with Hilary “Killary” Clinton pretty much chillaxing with the nomination ripe for the taking (providing she doesn’t rehire Mark Penn, aka The Man Who Could Fuck Up A Baked Potato) there isn’t a whole lot of tension the likes of which you can find on a daily basis on the Republican Wingnut Flavor of the Week side.
So naturally, Noam Scheiber felt obligated to create some Democratic conflict. T-Bogg responds:
I love Elizabeth Warren. I would totally have her baby if she would have me. You love Elizabeth Warren. We all love Elizabeth Warren. Someday Elizabeth Warren t-shirts may very well become as ubiquitous as Che T’s. But, outside of the hazy crazy patchouli-scented fever palaces that are the comment sections of the manic progressive websites, nobody really thinks that Warren could, would, or should run an insurgent primary campaign against Clinton. And, to be quite frank, those who think Warren should run to in order to “start a conversation” are the kind of people who have attempted this kind of thing in the past and , as my grandmother used to put it, “don’t have dick to show for it”.
Read his replies to Politico and Cillizza at the link. BTW, I wrote comment before I discovered T-Bogg’s piece. Great minds think alike, but T-Bogg expressed my reactions so much better than I could.
That should be enough to get us started on the day’s news. What stories are you following? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
Saturday Reads: America’s Greatest MysteryPosted: November 9, 2013 Filed under: Central Intelligence Agency, Crime, FBI, morning reads, Psychopaths in charge, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, We are so F'd | Tags: 1963, Adam Gopnik, Bay of Pigs, Bobby Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro, Iran-Contra, J. Edgar Hoover, JFK assassination, John F. Kennedy, John Kerry, Josh Ozersky, Lee Harvey Oswald, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nikita Krushchev, November 22, organized crime, Richard Nixon, the Mafia, Vincent Bugliosi, Warren Commission, Watergate 31 Comments
In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently reading books and articles about the assassination and it’s aftermath. I have wanted to write a post about it, but I just haven’t been able to do it. For me, the JFK assassination is still a very painful issue–in fact, it has become more and more painful for me over the years as I’ve grown older and wiser and more knowledgeable about politics and history. Anyway, I thought I’d take a shot at writing about it this morning. I may have more to say, as we approach the anniversary. I’m going to focus on the role of the media in defending the conclusions of the Warren Commission.
I think most people who have read my posts in the past probably know that I think the JFK assassination was a coup, and that we haven’t really had more than a very limited form of democracy in this country since that day. We probably will never know who the men were who shot at Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, but anyone who has watched the Zapruder film with anything resembling an open mind, has to know that there was more than one shooter; because Kennedy was shot from both the front and back.
The reasons Kennedy died are varied and complex. He had angered a number of powerful groups inside as well as outside the government.
– Powerful members of the mafia had relationships with JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy, and at his behest had helped carry Illinois–and perhaps West Virginia–for his son. These mafia chiefs expected payback, but instead, they got Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General on a crusade to destroy organized crime. In the 1960s both the CIA and FBI had used the mafia to carry out operations.
– FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover hated Bobby Kennedy for “interfering” with the FBI by ordering Hoover to hire more minorities and generally undercutting Hoover’s absolute control of the organization.
– Elements within the CIA hated Kennedy for his refusal to provide air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion (which had been planned by Vice President Nixon well before the 1960 election), and for firing CIA head Allen Dulles.
– Texas oil men like H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison hated Kennedy for pushing for repeal of the oil depletion allowance.
– The military hated Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs, his decision to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis by pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey in return for removal of the missiles from Cuba instead of responding with a nuclear attack, his efforts to reach out to both the Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro of Cuba, his firing of General Edward Walker, and his decision to pull the military “advisers” out of Vietnam.
– Vice President Lyndon Johnson hated both Kennedys, and he knew he was on the verge of being dropped from the presidential ticket in 1964. In addition, scandals involving his corrupt financial dealings were coming to a head, and the Kennedys were pushing the stories about Johnson cronies Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes in the media.
What I know for sure is that after what happened to Kennedy (and to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy), there is no way any president would dare to really challenge the military and intelligence infrastructure within the government. Richard Nixon found that out when a number of the same people who were involved in the Kennedy assassination helped to bring him down.
To long-term government bureaucracies, the POTUS is just passing through the government that they essentially control. Any POTUS who crosses them too often is asking for trouble. People who think President Obama should simply force the CIA, NSA, FBI and the military to respect the rights of American citizens should think about that for a minute. Can we as a nation survive the assassination of another president?
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