Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy FreedomTwo stories over the last week underlined the determination of the radical right wing that dominates the Republican Party to sabotage America's future and betray our national security and the interests of[...]
Read The Full Article:
On Friday, Rebekah Brooks resigned from her position in the Murdoch media empire, and on Sunday she was summarily arrested when she reported to a police station for questioning by detectives about what she knew and when she knew it. She is reportedly cooperating with the police. Her arrest comes two days before her scheduled appearance before Parlaiment, and it is not yet clear whether the arrest will impact that appearance.
The 43 year-old Brooks is being held on charges of illegally intercepting communications and organizing improper payments to police officers.
Brooks was the editor of the now-defunct British tabloid from 2000 - early 2003. In that time reporters at the paper are alleged to have performed two of the most explosive parts of the scandal thus far: hacking into -- and deleting -- the voice messages of a murdered schoolgirl, and also attempting to hack the phones of 9/11 victims.
That was good news, and if that is all there was, it would have been a good day and I would have turned in tonight with a smile on my face and had sweet dreams of candy and rainbows and frolicking unicorns.
But before I got the grandkid's breakfast on the table, it got better...I found out that the FBI is investigating whether the phones of the 9/11 victims and their families were hacked.
The FBI has begun a preliminary inquiry based on concerns in Congress over a report that media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
The decision to step in was made after U.S. Rep. Peter King and several other members of Congress wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
The official stressed that the review was in its infancy but declined to discuss the scope of it or say what steps had been taken. The FBI routinely makes preliminary inquiries into issues raised by lawmakers and others to determine whether a full-blown investigation is needed.
I was still dancing in the kitchen over that news when I learned that the head of Scotland Yard had resigned over his role in the widening scandal.
The commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police Services, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned his post on Sunday just hours after his officers arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch's media operations in Britain, as damage from a phone-hacking scandal moved to the highest levels of British public life.
In a news conference, Sir Paul said his position was "in danger of being eclipsed by the ongoing debate by senior officers and the media. And this can never be right," according to a report by The Guardian.
The Metropolitan Police, commonly referred to as Scotland Yard, has come under harsh scrutiny in recent days, accused in the press and by British politicians of currying too close a relationship with tabloid executives.
According to news reports, Sir Paul hired a former News of the World executive, Neil Wallis, as a public relations adviser. Mr. Wallis was arrested for questioning last week.
As the scandal brings scrutiny to the Fox News empire here, most politicians on the right,
many most of whom have benefited spectacularly from Fox News the propaganda arm of the GOP, have been strangely quiet about the scandal, with the exception of Peter King, the republican Congressman from Long Island, who had constituents perish that September day, and whose phones may have been hacked. He has called for Congress to investigate.
Well, except Jim DeMint, anyway. He represents South Carolina (too small to be a republic, too big to be an insane asylum) and couldn't possibly ever go so far to the right that they would reject him. He still has ole Rupert's back. He doesn't think Congress needs to go to all that bother of investigating like the British and Aussie Parlaiments are.
Then late this afternoon, A British television station broke the story that the Serious Fraud Office (I just love the names of things in the British bureaucracy) is getting in on the action:
BREAKING: UK Fraud Watchdog Opens News International Probe | Britain's Channel 4 News is reporting that the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the agency charged with investigating and prosecuting large and complex fraud cases, has begun a preliminary investigation into News International, the parent company of News Corp's UK newspapers. The probe comes after Labor MP Tom Watson wrote a letter to the SFO, in which he called News Corps alleged payments to police a "gross misuse of shareholders' money." This latest revelation in the ongoing scandal comes just hours after former News International executive Rebekah Brooks was arrested in London.
It's been a hell of a weekend for media accountability after a decade-plus of Fox dominance and a steady rightward-drift of the media and the way news is covered and politics is presented in this country. (It started when the fairness doctrine went away -- and if the pendulum swings back the other way, as pendulums are wont to do, you know who will be screaming the loudest for it to be reinstated? Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity and Erik Erickson.)
If the FBI finds credible evidence that the phones of the families and victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were hacked by Fox and News Corp, Fox is done, the stranglehold is broken and there will be a definite sea change in the media. We may actually see the return of independent, not-run-for-profit newsrooms if the dudgeon is high enough.
And do you know who the biggest winners of all will be? There are people who will be better served by the demise of News Corp.
Care to guess who they are?
I'll tell you -- the people of the middle east who have suffered horribly as Murdoch spread NeoCon ideology over three continents and it's destructive influence as a mouthpiece for that sociopathic ideology have openly campaigned for bloodshed in the middle east. Do you think that the war in Iraq would have been possible without the steady drumbeat for it that Fox started?
In that vein, the United States military wouldn't be a hollowed out shell that's been devastated by a solid decade of ops tempo and had the marrow sucked from it's bones by mercenaries like Blackwater and Halliburton/KBR.
Hell, we would have been spared the entire fucking Bush administration if not for Fox News.
I have been waiting for damned near eleven years for this, I just hope nothing else important happens tomorrow (Ha! Fat chance of that!) because I really kinda want to just watch this trainwreck happen and savor every schadenfreude-laden moment of Lewis Cypher's undoing. It's e
Read The Full Article:
Nothing reminds me to take my blood pressure medicine like another Sunday morning in Absurdistan! Is it just me, or is it crazy to turn the deficit "crisis" into a political argument, and not an economic one? Have the Villagers so completely bought into the Grand Bargain narrative that it doesn't even occur to them that this is a really bad idea?
Oh, you already know the answer. These shows are nothing more than a high school vanity project for the Village elders. And that, of course, includes the media "journalists" who take part. What an incoherent mess.
Why does multimillionaire host Christian Amanpour [$2m salary, married to James Rubin, executive editor at Bloomberg News, adjunct professor at Columbia University, salaries unknown] allow Sen. Jon Kyl [worth between $519,090 to $746,082 ] to get away with saying a targeted tax increase on billionaire hedge fund managers is a "job killer"? She probably asks tougher questions of her 11-year-old son.
And OMB head Jacob Lew [In 2009, got $944,578 bailout bonus after working for Citigroup, where his salary was $1.1 million and "additional compensation". Current salary unknown] speaks in spin, all of which whizzes past Amanpour like a whiffle ball.
Could we just once have a real discussion on the nuts and bolts of the issues, instead of partisan spin?
AMANPOUR: This morning there are reports of a resurrected grand bargain. So, is a breakthrough on the horizon? Joining me, a man at the heart of these tense negotiations, White House budget director Jack Lew.
Thank you for joining me.
LEW: Good to be here, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: How worried should the American people be? Is the country going to default? Is a deal at hand?
LEW: I do not believe that responsible leaders in Washington will force this to default. I think that all of the leaders of congress and the president have acknowledged that we must raise the debt limit. And the question is how?
I think the question is, do we do more than that? Do we do as much as we can to reduce the deficit and provide some assurance that we're taking seriously the fiscal problems this country faces?
AMANPOUR: So is there a grand bargain still on the table?
LEW: Well, I think that there's multiple tracts that are being discussed. It's not a given how we get to raising the debt limit. There are some extreme voices that are saying, we should push it over the edge. I think the risk of taking that path is just enormous. The present referred to it as Armageddon. It would mean higher interest rates, which are taxed on all Americans, it would undermine our standing in the world and it could have a cloud for a long time over the United States.
I think the question how we get there -- Senator McConnell, Senator Reid have been working on a path that would, in fact, give congress perhaps a way to get that done.
I [think] the challenge is doing more. It's not enough for us just to do what we have to do. We have to do as much as we possibly can to deal with the fiscal challenges.
AMANPOUR: Sitting here today with the time ticking away. What do you think is the realistic? Will it be the McConnell sort of last-ditch effort which allows the president to raise the debt ceiling and allows Republicans or anybody to register their disapproval of it?
LEW: I think that what we face now is not a challenge of do we have the time. It's a question, do we have the will.
The president has shown through his leadership that we must take action, we must take it now. He's spoken to the issue in his State of the Union, in his budget, he spoke to it over the last few days to the public. He is pressing these discussions forward that we should do as much as we can. And he's willing to take on some very, very difficult issues that will require for both sides to move into areas to make them uncomfortable to get this done.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about entitlements. The Democrats, you've heard Nancy Pelosi, you've heard Senator Reid talk about not touching entitlement. Is that just a public posture or will that be part of a deal?
LEW: I think it's very, very hard for Democrats to make these changes in entitlement programs and for good reason. They have an effect on people that's really very significant.
We are concerned first and foremost about the stability of Medicare as a system to provide for the medical needs of our elderly. It does contribute to the problems we face in terms of rising costs over the years. The challenge is could we get a balanced package together? It's not fair to ask senior citizens to pay a price, to ask families paying for their college educations, for their children to pay a price, but to leave the most privileged out of the bargain.
And everything has to be on the table.
Um, Jack? We've already paid a price. High unemployment, declining wages and public services. We had our turn, leave us out of this "balance" argument. It's their turn, the rich people. The people like you - and Christiane.
AMANPOUR: But who would be part of the big deal -- entitlement cuts, correct?
LEW: I think the president made clear that, depending on the size of the package, there would be different kinds of things that could be done in entitlements. There are some relatively small technical changes and there are structural changes.
In order to get the kinds of structural reforms that would be needed in a long run, there has to be a balanced package that puts taxes, revenues as well as spending on the table.
There's that "balance" fetish again. Hey Jack, WE PAID AT THE OFFICE!!!
AMANPOUR: Does the president have his own plan? What is on the table? You saw Speaker Boehner saying where are the president's cards?
LEW: I think Speaker knows quite well how far the president is willing to go. There have been detailed conversations on many, many subjects. And I think the president has shown that he's willing to move into space that is a very hard place for Democrats to go. And the challenge is, can we find a place where there will be some kind of fairness and balance.
And leadership takes partnership as well. The president has shown a willingness to go there. We need a partner to work with.
Yes, and apparently leadership takes deep cynicism and an abiding faith in disreputable economic theories -- that just happen to dovetail with the desires of the elite. Funny how that works out!
AMANPOUR: If it gets down to that, would the president, as Representative Cantor suggest, do a one-year extension to save the country from going into default?
LEW: The president has been very clear on that subject. It would be a very unacceptable outcome to have...
AMANPOUR: But would he do it?
LEW: He's made clear that he will not have this debate over should we raise the national debt a year from now. It would be a bad thing for the economy and a bad thing for the country.
AMANPOUR: So to be clear, he could be pushed into default then?
LEW: I do not believe the country will be pushed into default. I think congress knows what it has to do. It's got time do it. The president has made clear what he is prepared to do and the parties are going to have to come together.
It's kind of unfortunate that things always have to get to the last minute. Sometimes there are no consequences, right now, we're in a place where the world is watching. And we should get our business done, congress should get its job done and the president has been working every day for the last month trying to work with them to get it done.
AMANPOUR: And some kind of a deal, whether it's the grand bargain, or the Mitch McConnell last-ditch effort, plus whatever it might be. Would the president agree to any deal that does not include revenue raising?
LEW: I think the president made clear that there are reasonable steps that can be made to reduce spending. We've already made many, many deep cuts in spending. There's more restraint that we think is in order. He has made it clear that for a big deal, there will have to be balance between revenue and spending.
The question is how much can we get done? And the president's view is clear. We should get as much done as we possibly can to give assurance to the market and to the American people that we got our fiscal house in order.
No matter who we have to screw and leave by the side of the road. Tough luck, chumpies!
AMANPOUR: So if you had to predict right now, what would be the deal that will get done to avoid this deadline, this potential catastrophe as we're calling it?
LEW: So I think the minimum is I believe the debt will be extended. I think notwithstanding the voices of a few who are willing to play with Armageddon, responsible leaders in Washington or not.
Our efforts over the next days will be to, in addition to that, do as much as we possibly can to make the tough decisions -- this is a question of leaders coming together and saying, we are going to do hard things on both sides. And the time is now, as the president said, if not now, when.
Yes, because that's what disaster capitalism is all about: Seizing the opportunity.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Jack Lew, thank you so much of you for joining us.
LEW: Thank you.
NOTE: I'm continuing my little experiment (inspired by this) of illustrating just how large a class divide exists between us and our elected representatives. As has been reported elsewhere, members of Congress seem to have amazing luck with the stock market - frequently beating the Street by significant margins. So let's keep in mind that their interests may not always align with ours.
The leadershipThe Republicans have no credibility on deficits. It's one of those basic political facts, and yet it is not part of the basic political narrative. If it were, the fact that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits would fundamentally change this nation's political dynamics. It would create such fundamentally different national political dynamics that the political fights of the past few weeks not only could not have happened, they would not have been thinkable. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The media won't report it, the institutional Democrats are either incapable or unwilling to focus on it, and it therefore falls to us to have the message discipline that will begin to impress it into public consciousness. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. Repeat it every chance you get. Have the message discipline that institutional Democrats don't have. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits.
When Republicans talk about deficits they are hypocrites and liars. The president and the Democratic leaders in Congress can't speak it that bluntly, but we can. And if we do, perhaps in time the president and the Democratic leaders in Congress will begin to speak it with the less emotionally charged words that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. Any time a Democrat is on television and is asked about the politics of deficits, the response should begin with the simple message that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. Any time a Democrat is debating a Republican on television, and the Republican mentions deficits, the response should begin with the simple message that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. It's easy. It's factual. And with but a bit of message discipline, it could remake the nature of our political system.
Ronald Reagan used the deficit as an issue when he ran against President Carter. As president, Reagan ran up the largest deficit in U.S. history. The Republicans of his era talked a lot about a Balanced Budget Amendment, while consistently voting to run up the largest deficit in U.S. history. Reagan's successor, the heir to the Bush dynasty, outdid his mentor by running up an even larger deficit. President Clinton raised taxes, eliminated the deficit and created a surplus, and just coincidentally oversaw an enormous economic expansion and near full employment. The next heir to the Bush dynasty cut taxes, eviscerated the Clinton surplus, and outdid both his father and Reagan by breaking their records for creating the largest deficits in U.S. history. He also all but broke the economy. This isn't complicated. This isn't difficult to explain. What is difficult to explain is why the Democrats don't do a better and more consistent job of explaining it.
In sound bite form:
The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The last Democratic president balanced the budget, while the last three Republican presidents successively outdid each other in creating record deficits. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits.
There is no reason to engage the Republicans on deficits. There is no reason to allow the media to create the illusion of a political debate on deficits. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. They only ever mention it as an excuse to wage class warfare. When Democrats act as if this is a serious debate between equally serious people, they enable the Republicans. The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. When serious people sit down to discuss deficits, the Republicans do not belong at the table.
On Friday, President Obama provided a case study in terrible messaging on the deficit. When asked whether the American people are beginning to agree with the Republicans, the president said he thinks Speaker Boehner is operating in good faith but has some problems in his caucus, and then gratuitously added:
And I have to say this is tough on the Democratic side, too. Some of the things that I've talked about and said I would be willing to see happen, there are some Democrats who think that's absolutely unacceptable. And so that's where I'd have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative.
It was wrong on so many levels, it was shocking. First of all, the answer completely buys into the idea that we should be focusing on the deficit, just as the director of the Congressional Budget Office was underscoring that deficit reduction will hurt the economy. Which followed warnings from both Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and an earlier report by the CBO that spending cuts could undermine the economic "recovery." In other words, it's not only crazy progressives who think the focus on debt and deficits is misplaced. But even worse is that progressives have in fact been promoting responsible means of addressing the deficit. As Joan noted, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) responded to the president with a reminder that:
The Progressive Caucus has introduced the only budget that creates a surplus by 2021 because we take seriously the need for a strong economy and manageable debt. Our budget eliminates the deficit in 10 years and creates jobs while protecting the programs our constituents rely on.
And even progressive bloggers have been promoting a plan that would eliminate the deficit, which begins by rescinding the Bush/Obama tax cuts. So the president's attempt to blame progressives was wrong on the framing and wrong on the facts. But even worse, it didn't focus on the real problem, which is that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The president should have said that. He should have reminded everyone that the last Democratic president balanced the budget, while the last three Republican presidents successively outdid each other in creating record deficits. And then he should have pointed out that in contrast to the Republicans, progressives have offered honest means of addressing the deficit that wouldn't undermine the "recovery" and wouldn't hurt the American people. But he didn't. He continued with this:
And the reason is because if the only thing we're talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it's very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.
If you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order, so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn?t just throw up their hands and say, "Ah, more big spending, more government."
It would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order. And so now the question is what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs, and what aspects of what government is doing are a waste and we should eliminate. And that's the kind of debate that I'd like to have.
Which was absurd at face value, because at a time when we were barely recovering from a deep recession and needed more federal stimulus, it was the president himself who decided to focus on the deficit when there was no reason to do so. And the president's statement was even more absurd, because as Joan also pointed out, no matter what Democrats do, Republicans will oppose socially responsible government spending. No matter what Democrats do, Republicans will posture as caring about fiscal responsibility, when they actually care about no such thing. Republicans have no credibility on deficits. They only ever use it as an excuse to wage class warfare. But the president didn't say that. And just as he last winter claimed to take John Boehner at his word not to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a ransom of deep spending cuts, even as Boehner is doing exactly that the president now claims Boehner is negotiating in good faith, while backhanding the very progressives who are presenting the responsible path forward that the Republicans are not. It's as if he still doesn't understand that the Republicans are trying to destroy him.
President Obama should be making the very simple and factual case that the Republicans have no credibility on deficits, but instead he is enabling them. He is saying that their focus on deficits is correct. He is saying that they are making good faith efforts to address the deficit while progressives irresponsibly are not. He is saying that Republicans actually care about the deficit, rather than that they are using it as an excuse to wage class warfare, and have never shown any honest interest in fiscal responsibility. He is saying that the entire Republican political approach on debt and deficits has an underlying honesty and integrity to it, and that if we balance the books, then Republicans will begin to be nicer and more rational and maybe even not continue to use every means at their disposal to undermine government efforts at helping people. Even as they're using every means at their disposal to undermine government efforts at helping people.
None of this is complicated. These dynamics distill to very simple and easily verified facts. It's about message discipline, but it's about much more than that. For such simple and easily verified facts to be so completely ignored, and for the ignoring of so many easily verified facts to be so necessary in order to make such specious arguments about deficits and responsibility and who does and doesn't have credibility and who is and isn't offering solutions in good faith, raises all sorts of questions. But what it all comes down to is this: the Republicans have no credibility on deficits. And the credibility on deficits of anyone anywhere who claims otherwise must be called into question.
It is hard for me to be disappointed in the US women’s soccer team. I’m not sure who[...]
Read The Full Article:
For the past months, I have hosted a show called "This Week in WikiLeaks," where I bring a guest on to talk about a WikiLeaks-related story or to talk about the latest news and updates on WikiLeaks, an organization that provides a lens for understanding[...]
Read The Full Article:
This Week with Christiane Amanpour marks the passings of television producer Sherwood Schwartz, singer Jimmy Roselli, homeless advocate Kip Tiernan. In addition, the Pentagon has released the names of eight service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
US Army SFC Terryl L Pasker, 39, Cedar Rapids, IA
US Army SGT Steven L Talamantez, 34, Laredo, TX
US Army SPC Rafael A Nieves Jr, 22, Albany, NY
US Army SGT Christopher P Soderlund, 23, Pineville, LA
US Marines LCpl Norberto Mendez Hernandez, 22, Logan, UT
US Marines LCpl Robert S Greniger, 21, Greenfield, MN
US Navy SN Aaron D Ullom, 20, Midland, MI
US Army SGT Jeremy R Summers, 27, Mount Olivet, KY
According to iCasualties, the total number of allied service members killed in Iraq is now 4,791; in Afghanistan, 2,594, of which 157 are Canadian. During this same period, Iraq Body Count enumerates 71 Iraqi civilian casualties.
Making history, 200 LGBT servicemembers -- reserve, active duty, and veterans alike -- marched openly in the San Diego Pride Parade yesterday. This marks the first time in America a contingent of serving military members participated openly in a gay[...]
Read The Full Article:
What exactly was happening? It's odd that the PM had extended a privilege to the News Corp executive that was not even extended to senior members of his team. Certainly a ruthless media that could discredit the opposition could be extremely valuable for a politician. Very curious.
The scale of private links between David Cameron and News International was exposed for the first time last night, with the Prime Minister shown to have met Rupert Murdoch's executives on no fewer than 26 occasions in just over a year since he entered Downing Street.
Rebekah Brooks, who resigned yesterday as chief executive of Mr Murdoch's Wapping titles over the escalating scandal, is the only person Mr Cameron has invited twice to Chequers, a privilege not extended even to the most senior members of his Cabinet. James Murdoch, News Corp's chairmanin Europe and the man responsible for pushing through the BSkyB bid, was a guest at the Prime Minister's official country residence eight months ago. And the former NOTW editor Andy Coulson ? who was arrested this week in connection with police corruption and phone hacking ? was invited by Mr Cameron to spend a private weekend at Chequers as recently as March.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned following the phone hacking scandal.Britain's most senior police officer said he had no knowledge of the extent of the practice and his integrity was "completely intact". Sir Paul has faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive Neil Wallis - who was questioned by police investigating hacking - as an adviser. He said his links to the journalist could hamper current investigations.
Gosh, ya think? So far this morning the highest-ranking law enforcement official has resigned, and the woman Rupert Murdoch referred to as "the daughter he never had" has been arrested. Think there might be more? And when is it coming to the US?
Check this post on Daily Kos today:
Former Fox News executive Dan Cooper has claimed that a special bunker, requiring security clearance for access was created at the company's headquarters to conduct ?counterintelligence? including snooping on phone records:
?Has Roger Ailes been keeping tabs on your phone calls??That?s how Portfolio.com began a post back in 2008, when a former Fox News executive charged that Ailes had outfitted a highly secured ?brain room? in Fox?s New York headquarters for ?counterintelligence? and may have used it to hack into private phone records.
That Kos piece also cites a more recent Rolling Stone article about the "Fox Fear Factory" which bolsters Cooper's claim.
Befitting his siege mentality, Ailes also housed his newsroom in a bunker. Reporters and producers at Fox News work in a vast, windowless expanse below street level, a gloomy space lined with video-editing suites along one wall and an endless cube farm along the other. In a separate facility on the same subterranean floor, Ailes created an in-house research unit ? known at Fox News as the ?brain room? ? that requires special security clearance to gain access. ?The brain room is where Willie Horton comes from,? says Cooper, who helped design its specs. ?It?s where the evil resides.?
I'd say the FBI should be preparing warrants for that room yesterday, don't you think?