Category Archives: media

Teevee news I would watch

This is for all the Saturday morning InRoads monkeys out there…

Don’t know if anyone has been keeping track in the sidebar, but Matt Taibbi has opened up a floodgate of Goldman Sachs bashing, which I love of course.  To be fair, they’ve brought it on themselves, with their recent announcement of record bonus payments in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  But Taibbi has made it mainstream to call them out for the swindlers they are.  Here’s all the must-read/watch pieces:

Taibbi: The Great American Bubble Machine

What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

Elliot Spitzer on Bloomberg teevee

More Taibbi: The Real Price of Goldman’s Giganto-Profits

Taken altogether, what all of this means is that Goldman’s profit announcement is a giant “fuck you” to the rest of the country. It is a statement of supreme privilege, an announcement that it feels no shame in taking subsidies and funneling them directly into their pockets, and moreover feels no fear of any public response. It knows that it’s untouchable and it’s not going to change its behavior for anyone. And it doesn’t matter who knows it.

Paul Krugman: The Joy of Sachs

The American economy remains in dire straits, with one worker in six unemployed or underemployed. Yet Goldman Sachs just reported record quarterly profits — and it’s preparing to hand out huge bonuses, comparable to what it was paying before the crisis. What does this contrast tell us?

First, it tells us that Goldman is very good at what it does. Unfortunately, what it does is bad for America.

Second, it shows that Wall Street’s bad habits — above all, the system of compensation that helped cause the financial crisis — have not gone away.

Third, it shows that by rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely.

Then there’s the new scandal brewing involving the former employee who supposedly stole their software that has the ability to unfairly manipulate markets.  Interesting that Goldman would come forward with this info only after the software was released into the wild.  Surely they themselves never used it for nefarious purposes while it was still under their control!  What makes this story all the juicier is that prior to the news, Zero Hedge had been tracking Goldman’s “program trading” volume on the NYSE for months and became convinced that they were manipulating markets.  Possibly through “front-running”, in which, oh, say, they had a program that monitored their online client’s stock purchases.  Before letting a purchase through, Goldman would then pre-buy the stock themselves, then let the client’s buy happen, then sell their own recently bought shares, which would have appreciated in value by an infinitessimal amount over the previous microsecond.  Consider that Goldman’s online trading volume is twice as high as its nearest competitor.  Further consider that as speculation mounted, NYSE suddenly announced they would no longer issue their daily program trading reports that Zero Hedge was analyzing.  Cap that off with the twin announcements of rogue software and record bonuses, and I’m declaring it’s once again pitchfork and torch time.

WaPo: Your Propaganda Here!

The Washington Post is an honest and neutral observer of current events.

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”

Clearly the newspapers must be saved!  Whatever will we do without them? 

This is the same paper that recently fired it’s one non-conservative columnist, Dan Froomkin, for no apparent reason, other than doing what journalists are supposed to do, which is to expose the lies and hypocrisy of powerful people.

Maybe the reefer lobby can get a few bites out of this apple before it totally rots away.  Who’s got a spare dollar for some propa-ganja, please?


Apparently it was all a big misunderstanding!

The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company’s vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers. As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this.

We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business, and that The Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity. 

The newsroom will participate where appropriate.

Media whoring at its finest!

How torture gets mainstreamed

As noted in the previous post, Gallup suggests that the general public is soft on torture (er, “harsh interrogation techniques“).  Which is to say, most think that the torture we did was justified, and only a bare majority favor investigations.  As someone who thought he lived in a good Christian nation (Who Would Jesus Torture?), I am dumbfounded by these poll results.  How can this be?

The New York Times has a clue:

In late 2007, there was the first crack of daylight into the government’s use of waterboarding during interrogations of Al Qaeda detainees. On Dec. 10, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who had participated in the capture of the suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002, appeared on ABC News to say that while he considered waterboarding a form of torture, the technique worked and yielded results very quickly.

Mr. Zubaydah started to cooperate after being waterboarded for “probably 30, 35 seconds,” Mr. Kiriakou told the ABC reporter Brian Ross. “From that day on he answered every question.”

His claims — unverified at the time, but repeated by dozens of broadcasts, blogs and newspapers — have been sharply contradicted by a newly declassified Justice Department memo that said waterboarding had been used on Mr. Zubaydah “at least 83 times.”

In other words, the CIA knew this was a hugely damaging story.  That “crack of daylight” is most likley refering to Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which hit shelves right about that time and remains the definitive source of much of what we actually know about the CIA torture regime.  So they get out in front of the damage by letting one of their boys paint a picture of a relatively harmless and effective “technique”.  Let the moral algebra begin!

On “World News,” ABC included only a caveat that Mr. Kiriakou himself “never carried out any of the waterboarding.” Still, he told ABC that the actions had “disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.” A video of the interview was no longer on ABC’s website.

So on the one hand, we have “30, 35 seconds” worth of unpleasantry in exchange for dozens of disrupted terrorist attacks.  Honestly, what rational person among us could argue with that?  

If only it weren’t complete and utter bullshit.  So now you’ve got well-meaning torture opponents who I’m sure went to the wall to denounce those 30, 35 seconds, and in the process lent credence to the fantasy.  As the arm-chair Jack Bauers of the nation solemnly nod and think, “had to be done”. (Now about those other 82+ drownings of Zubayda…)

It’s easy to point to this hack, Kiriakou, and say “he lied to us”.  Like any aspiring media whore, he used his initial ABC interview as springboard for a media blitz, and “subsequently granted interviews to The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and other media organizations. A CNN anchor called him ‘the man of the hour.'”  And when it was all over?

Eight months after the interview, Mr. Kiriakou was hired as a paid consultant for ABC News. He resigned last month and now works for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

(Hmm, paid consultant, where have we heard that before?)

And the intrepid reporter useful idiot who got the scoop, Brian Ross?  Turns out that wasn’t the first time he carried water for the torture regime.  Glenn Greenwald reminds us that two years prior to the 30, 35 seconds nonsense, Ross gave birth to the “Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess” discussion.  Glenn goes on to document case after case where the mainstream media used this anonymously sourced “fact” (and Kiriakou’s unsubstantiated bullshit) to rationalize our descent into barbarism.

I’ll leave the closing note to Glenn:

The ways in which these false Mohammed and Zubaydah claims were widely disseminated are important not only in their own right, but because they illustrate how so many of these absolute falsehoods are routinely injected into our debates, not only by the government but by their indispensable conspirators in the establishment media.  There are few things more common than reporters mindlessly reciting what their anonymous government sources tell them to say, and no matter how many times that dynamic results in pure fiction being “reported,” that slothful, propagandistic practice continues to be the staple of our modern press corps.

Using that method, Brian Ross, of course, was responsible for the widespread and completely false reports in October and November, 2001 that government tests on anthrax resulted in a finding of bentoninte, which — Ross breathlessy said over and over — was a key sign that the anthrax attacks came from Saddam Hussein.  That same method — uncritically reciting what anonymous government sources told them — is what led The Washington Post to spread absolute lies about the inspiring firefight Jessica Lynch waged against her evil Iraqi captors and the circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman’s death.  And most of the myths and lies about Iraq — both before and during the war — were the by-product of this same joint government/media effort. 

We Retort, You Decide

Look, it’s a major news anchor with a soul!

Sadly, the state of our public discourse on torture is so morally bankrupt, that I had to watch this twice to make sure Smith’s outburst was one of disgust for all the moral equivalence at his table, and not because he was in deep denial about the revelations. Nicely done, Shep!

Could this be a “Nixon goes to China” moment, when all the gasbags take stock of themselves and quit parroting the Cheney defense with a straight face?  Or is this the beginning of the end for Shep? All we know for sure is that the torture investigation ball is rolling down hill now and picking up steam. 

Josh Marshall makes the observation that the GOP has become a “Junta Party” in the aftermath of a democratic revolution, whose sole purpose is to defend the previous regime’s barbarous activities. Their latest tactic – to argue that the intelligence obtained from torture was good – is a stunning admission of guilt, and worlds away from Bush’s gutless assertion that “we don’t torture”.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
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It’s hard not be disgusted by Peggy Noonan’s wistfull desire to “just keep walking”.  When I see/hear vapid commentary like that, here is how I feel:

To get back to Cheney’s recent claim that there are super-secret unreleased memos that vindicate their actions, this is obfuscation at its finest.  Here’s a great rebuttal from a former FBI interrogator in yesterday’s NYTimes. (I would quote it, but the whole thing deserves to be read. Bottom line – Cheney lies.)

Seems to me the torture apologists are trying to turn this into a debate along the lines of the bombing of Hiroshima – “horrible thing, that – but just had to be done you know…”  Given how atrocious nuclear bombs are in comparison to the torture of a few brown-skin foreigners, and how little collective regret we have as a society over dropping not one, but TWO on Japanese civilian populations, I fear it is an argument that some silver-tongued scum can make.  For now, we all have to be more like Lawrence O’Donnell and call out these Richie Cunningham maggots every chance we get:

* * * * *

P.S. Where have all my fellow Hypocrites gone? Did we break the Publish button? The news has been rife with hypocrisy lately, I almost can’t even begin to tackle it!

Foul Ball

Thank God the baseball season is finally starting. It was a bad offseason, as usual when there’s nothing to talk about on the field people dwell on the unimportant. One of those ‘stories’ was riddled with hypocrisy and lies, and therefore must be called out here.

This morning, ESPN once again, for like the thousandth time, lied about the financing of the Yankees new park. John Saunders said that the park was financed ‘largely by taxpayers’. Wrong. The new Yankee Stadium was completely privately financed, 100%. For building a new cathedral out of their own pocket, the New York Yankees should be commended, as just about every other club HAS asked for taxpayers’ money. But instead we have had to listen to a bevy of lies all winter long. It is so simply summed up here.

So, the Yankees built the entire Stadium, every brick. The City built a park, a parking lot, and improved one of the subway stops…in other words they invested in infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of the ballpark (and actually, the Yankees chipped in 50% of the cost of those improvements on top of paying for the Stadium). Those are the facts.

Then there was the brewha over the financing package the City gave the Yankees. In essence, they got a cut rate on the bonds. Maybe it was too ‘friendly’. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the New York Yankees will be repaying the City for a long time, with interest, to the net benefit of the New York City taxpayer.

The political bandstanding and bloviating over the financing details are too numerous to count or link to here. When its the Yankees, its easy to create a national headline out of nothing, so its no surprise that a gaggle of politicians found it easy sport to make a big deal out of the bonding package that the Yankees got.

While we’re at it, lets talk Yankees ticket prices, another fun ‘news’ story for ESPN all winter. Much was made about the price of the season tickets behind home plate, and the cost of luxury boxes. Ironically, these arguments are made ‘largely’ by the same people who think a progressive tax structure is Marxist. Of course, I have no basis for that claim, but what the hell, at least I put quotes around it. Point is that there’s a huge gap between the rich and the middle class in this country, so yes there are people who can afford season tickets at $2600 a piece. So this is a reason to hate the Yankees? I’m not following.

Again this morning ESPN pointed to the ‘average’ cost of a ticket in the Stadium, about $75 bucks. Sure the ‘average’ goes up, but it has no bearing to the real issue, which is that the vast majority of seats unchanged or still very reasonable. Bleacher seating has been more than doubled and is $14. Upper deck seats in the $20’s, outfield main $55. So actually they’ve increased the amount of really affordable seats, while improving the amenities in those areas. Yea, what a bunch of jerks the Yankees are.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why some people think its their job to make people think the NYY organization is evil. The reality is otherwise.

Come On, Coleman

I fully support any candidate’s rights to contest the results of any election in accordance with the laws of that state, even if that state has really f’ed up laws (which is why I support national standards for our electoral process which really wouldn’t cost as much as they say it would) But Coleman no longer has a rational argument except ‘it was so close that we need to do a re-vote’ even though the state’s laws don’t allow a revote, so essentially he has no argument at all. Of course, we all know what this is about these GOP bastards aren’t really hiding it…

“The battle in Washington is real. Every day in the Senate without Al Franken is a great day,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently told a Tulsa audience. Politico reported that Republicans back the idea of Coleman appealing his case indefinitely because “a long fight is worth it if it keeps Franken from becoming the 59th Senate Democrat, which would give President Barack Obama a huge advantage over the next two years.”

In light of 2000 this ranks as hypocrisy of the decade. The entire state has been recounted. The state has a very simple process of contesting and deciding contested ballots. Its over, deal with it assholes.

Bow Tie Daddy

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post published a fact-free opinion piece on the global warming “doomsayers” authored by the dried up corpse of conservative intellectual George F. Will.  Because he uses big words and wears a bow tie, Will has the veneer of respectability.  Plus, back in the day he wrote some high-minded drivel about baseball (it’s a metaphor for the human condition!), so that makes him the Walt fucking Whitman of political pundits.  Which isn’t saying much since the profession is largely dominated by scumbags, but whatever, he’s their philosopher prince twerp.

In the article, Will attempted to trade on his intellectual cred by constructing a bullshit case against the (rigorous, accepted, verified) science of global warming.  Despite a steady drum beat from the environmental community for the Post to issue a factual correction, none was forthcoming.  After a couple weeks of abuse, Will decided to double-down on stupid and published a column castigating the “media-environmental complex” for criticizing his “skepticism”, all while managing to muddy the waters with some out of context statistics from various climate research papers.  This then forced the Post ombudsman to weigh in so as to ward off the inevitable shitstorm of protest.

Well, more than a month after the original column ran, now that everyone could care less, the Post has finally published a rebuttal to Will’s nonsense.  Goody for them.  The closing paragraph is a huge understatement.

Readers and commentators must learn to share some practices with scientists — following up on sources, taking scientific knowledge seriously rather than cherry-picking misleading bits of information, and applying critical thinking to the weighing of evidence. That, in the end, is all that good science really is. It’s also what good journalism and commentary alike must strive to be — now more than ever.

WTF is up with Progressive Talk Radio?!?

I work at home full time, and in order to pass the time, I listen to progressive talk radio for at least half of the day. I have been dong this for around 5 years now, with Air America being the major provider. For a time, I was even a paying subscriber, until I saw the best and funniest hosts weeded out, Sam Seder, Mike Malloy, Marc Maron, Randi Rhodes, Chuck D, all kinds of original and funny voices have been muffled, either fired or given very limited air time, in favor of a new crew, mostly made up of former lawyers, i.e. Lionel and Ron Kuby, who seem to dull out the real message in favor of getting gooped up in legalities. Sure Lionel favors the legalization of pot and other good causes, but he does not have the punch and humor of all my past favorites. And he is the only Air America host I listen to. Basically it has turned into old former lawyer radio.

Stepping back a moment, when Randi Rhodes got in trouble for a stand up comic routine where she called Hillary Clinton a “big f’in whore” during the heat of the race with Obama, I simply stopped listening to Air America at all. Watch her stand up, and notice how the crowd loves it and eggs her on.

She really is pretty funny, and does not hold back. So I started listening to Nova M, who picked up Randi immediately when she left Air America. They also had Thom Hartmann, and some other decent stuff. And what do you know, less than a year later the stream no longer works, and I hear that they have filed for bankruptcy…and, worse yet, few days prior to the filing, Sheldon Drobny, founder of Nova M, and a co-founder of Air America Radio, attempted suicide and is hospitalized in Chicago.

At this moment it seems that the two big networks that I enjoy, Air America and Nova M are both no longer available to me. While Nova M has filed for bankruptcy, and Air America seems to have screwed up their live stream, as they have continually screwed up their network. (UPDATE- the air america stream is now working – I’ll have to wait a couple months for their next update to screw things up again.)

By the way, Thom Hartmann, who was actually carried by both Nova M and Air America, parted ways with both of these networks and signed with a more traditional radio syndicate. From 12-3pm every weekday he streams live from his own website. Sure Thomm is a bit of a nerd, but he truly is one of the smartest guys you will ever hear.

Why the gradual demise of free progressive talk radio on the internet? The problem all comes down to advertising and the big money that corporate giants need to provide radio in order to make it profitable. A progressive show may start to catch on and get great ratings, but when the host starts to talk about shipping jobs overseas, corporate corruption, and mass media critique, this doesn’t jive with the corporations messaging, and they punish the stations by pulling their advertising.

I think the real future of progressive radio and media, requires walking the walk not just talking the talk. In other words, only take on sponsors that share the progressive values, and therefore there will be no conflict. The money will be minimal, but the hosts could also be guys like Jimmy Reefercake, who will work for peanuts and just need a soapbox and a microphone. Perhaps there is a future for in this arena…we shall see…

One other thing is that progressive radio doesn’t seem to get, is guys like Mike Malloy, who are abrasive and mocking towards conservatives, these are the ones who are really entertaining, like the Rush Limbaughs, it is much easier to entertain when you have a scapegoat to pick on and make fun of…the only difference is that Mike Malloy actually tells the truth….

John King strokes his Dick

Hey, look who’s out of his wheelchair!

I’m sorry we don’t have Dick’s response in that clip. I believe he said, “when it comes to brazenly deceiving the American public, Barack Obama is a fucking amateur!”

Where the hell is my pitchfork and torch?? Here is Seymour Hersh last week discussing Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” (via Scott Horton):

After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. …

Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us. It’s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It’s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you’ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized. In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.

I’ve had people say to me — five years ago, I had one say: ‘What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don’t get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?’ But they’re not gonna get before a committee.

A firing squad would be too good for Cheney.  Is it too much to ask that he be barred from engaging in public discourse?  He wouldn’t talk to the press when he was in office, who gives a fuck what he thinks now?

John King is officially on notice.

Would you like some more tea, Polly Prissy Pants?

Truth be told, I hate these damn media clips. They’re not fun, they feature humorless assholes who you’d rather pretend don’t exist, and if you think about them too much you mostly just want to weep for the future of America. That said…

Cramer seems like a fun guy. He likes being a loud mouth, but you can tell he really craves approval… he wants to be loved, and it kills him to be ridiculed. (Scarborough on the other hand – not so much. His enormous ego gives him all the love he’ll ever need). But these guys have the nerve to sit there and complain about being under the “comedian’s” microscope, when the reality is, Cramer isn’t being ridiculed about being laughably, utterly, terribly wrong about the stock market – it’s because he’s spent the last month carrying on about Obama the , wealth-destroying scourge of American markets. In the clip above, he’s right: everybody, including you, got it wrong when it came to the market. But that just means it’s time to put your tail between your legs and shut the fuck up.

Besides, the Jon Stewart episode was glorious…

While I’m at it, Colbert’s continued send-up of Glenn Beck…