Posts Tagged ‘Matt Taibbi’
What we Americans go through to pick a president is not only crazy and unnecessary but genuinely abusive. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in a craven, cynical effort to stir up hatred and anger on both sides. A decision that in reality takes one or two days of careful research to make is somehow stretched out into a process that involves two years of relentless, suffocating mind-warfare, an onslaught of toxic media messaging directed at liberals, conservatives and everyone in between that by Election Day makes every dinner conversation dangerous and literally divides families.
As the article continues there’s an affirmative proposal:
The campaign should start and finish in six weeks, and there should be free TV access to both candidates. And it should be illegal to publish poll numbers.
* Maryland votes in gay marriage! 42 to go.
* Map of the night: U.S. military and CIA interventions since World War II.
* Two terrible tastes that taste bad together: Rick Santorum and for-profit colleges.
* Republic Windows and Doors has been re-occupied. Elsewhere in Occupied America: Rebecca Solnit rhapsodizes—but maybe also eulogizes—Occupy Oakland, while a group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street will host a national convention in July.
“We feel that following the footsteps of our founding fathers is the right way to go,” an organizer told the AP.
I propose we rethink that.
* The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has confirmed that scientists have found errors in a physics experiment that recorded particles traveling 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light in late 2011. But now, the agency says that one of the errors means the particles could have been traveling faster than that!
* And today’s chilling vision of things to come: “Mutated Trout Raise New Concerns Near Mine Sites.” Enjoy your weekend!
* Lakhdar Boumediene: My Guantánamo Nightmare.
* When Victoria Donda learned that her supposed father was accused of being a notorious torturer in Argentina and that her true parents were political prisoners, she soon unraveled a web of family secrets and lies.
* Matt Taibbi: Credit Card Firms: They Don’t Just Steal From Cardholders.
The most galling part of the story is that the “fines” claimed by Visa and Mastercard were part of a fine-print arrangement that is virtually impossible for merchants to learn about, much less defend against. If you want to have a restaurant, you must allow credit card charges — but if you allow credit card charges, you have to sign, sight unseen, an agreement that says you can be fined tens of thousands of dollars every time a credit card firm thinks your security procedures are bad…
A big post, catching up from most of last week:
* Science fiction on the BBC: A brief history of all-women societies.
* News from my childhood: Another new version of Dungeons & Dragons is on the way. MetaFilter agonizes.
* News from the Montana Supreme Court: “Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government…”
* News from
the future right now: Record Heat Floods America With Temperatures 40 Degrees Above Normal.
And what ends up happening there is that the candidate with the big stack of donor money always somehow manages to survive the inevitable scandals and tawdry revelations, while the one who’s depending on checks from grandma and $25 internet donations from college students always winds up mysteriously wiped out.
* While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious.
* What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955.
* Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses. Keep in mind: that’s their defense.
* Romney: Elected office is for the rich.
People who stop paying bills earn lousy credit ratings but eventually are freed of old debt under statutes of limitations that vary by state and range from three years to 10 years from the last loan payment.
But if a debtor agrees to make even a single payment on an expired debt, the clock starts anew on some part of the old obligation, a process called “re-aging.”
So if borrowers again fall behind on their payments, debt collectors can turn to their usual tools: letters, phone calls and lawsuits. By restarting a debt’s statute of limitations, the collectors have years to retrieve payments.
* Wells Tower: In Gold We Trust.
* And you probably already saw Paypal’s latest outrage, but man, it’s a doozy.
What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us.
And we are stuck now with this fundamental conflict, whereby most of us are insisting that the law should apply equally to everyone, while the people running this country for years now have been operating according to the completely opposite principle that different people have different rights, and who deserves what protections is a completely subjective matter, determined by those in power, on a case-by-case basis.
‘Ordinary People Hate Partisanship, and Elites Hate Ideology; Hence the Elite Is Constantly Attempting to Misrepresent the Latter as the Former’
The other day I was listening to an NPR call-in show about Occupy Wall Street, and I heard the kind of infuriating caller you often get on these programs, who lamented extremism and polarization and said that we need to work together with Wall Street to solve our problems, blah blah blah. But positions like that are only tenable in the wake of the elite campaign to efface all conflicts of interest or ideology, and replace them with the illusion that there is some technocratic compromise that would equally benefit the 99% and the 1%. Barack Obama’s latest move on behalf of that campaign is his bizarre argument that the democratic socialist Martin Luther King “would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there”. But this is no time to shrink from a bit of demonization. The best thing leftists can do to combat this sort of nonsense, then, is to help draw out and clarify the implicit class ideology of the protestors, rather than condemn them for not drawing political demarcations in the way we would prefer; as the young Marx put it, “We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.”
As if to respond to Alex’s concerns about the Matt Taibbi piece linked yesterday, Peter Frase argues we must reassert the difference between partisanship and ideology.
What nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor Americans is on the same page, railing against incestuous political and financial corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues, and that’s a story our media won’t want to or know how to handle.
* Breaking Bad aficionados will enjoy Bryan Cranston’s recent appearances on the Nerdist and WTF with Marc Meron, the latter of which has the (new-to-me) tidbit that Jesse was slotted to be killed off in the first few episodes; he was saved from death by the awesomeness of Aaron Paul.
* Wisconsin wants to mess with the Electoral College, too. You’ll be shocked to learn the Koch brothers are involved.
* So the U.S. government doesn’t actually have “hard evidence” Iran tried to murder the Saudi ambassador. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before.
* TPM and @fivethirtyeight (1, 2, 3) have been talking today about the fact that Romney (while unquestionably “inevitable”) has clearly hit his support ceiling in the Republican primary. The Anti-Romney has shifted through several alternatives, but the support never settles on Romney; it just keeps casting about for some new savior, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, and currently Herman Cain. It’s just more fodder for my “Draft Jeb” conspiracy theory…
* Beka Economopolis on Occupy Wall Street: We must draw a line, disavow the Democrats explicitly, make our messaging a little uncomfortable. Yes, perhaps, split the support, lest we not be co-opted. This will be painful, internally, as it won’t always achieve comfortable consensus. But to hold this space and expand the realm of possibility, we have to go farther than others are ready to go.
1. Health care in general, and Medicare in particular, are bankrupting our country.
2. But government should never try to figure out which treatments are effective.
3. Medicare should pay for any treatment anyone wants, regardless of whether it works or what it costs.
4. If an insurance company refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s their right as actors in the free market; if Medicare refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s Washington bureaucrats trying to kill you.
5. We need to cut Medicare benefits, because don’t forget it’s bankrupting our country.
* The fiends! In an effort to promote healthful eating and, it has been suggested, to protect traditional Gallic cuisine, the French government has banned school and college cafeterias nationwide from offering ketchup with any food but — of all things — French fries.
* And Polling Shows North Carolina Faces Uphill Battle To Defeat Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment. Honestly, how are we even still arguing about this?
* I hate to condemn poor Aaron to a life spent gathering links for me, but his Sunday Reading series has rapidly become a core part of my Internet experience. I’d never lie to you; some of the links below I stole from him. We just need to get him that intern and we’ll be all set.
* David Foster Wallace on 9/11 (from 2007): “Just Asking.”
* Read Catherine Liu: Disaster capitalism keeps creating a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurial education reformers. David Sirota just wrote a powerful piece on public education: The Shock Doctrine Comes to Your Classroom . Sirota’s thesis is that the financial crisis has been a golden opportunity for rapacious for-profit companies in the education industry to divert public education funds into their own swollen pockets. Instead of paying teachers and building school infrastructure, administrators are spending more and more of their budgets on standardized tests and other instruments that produce big profit margins, but little pedagogy. The New York Times has recently taken note of what critics of education reform have been repeating over and over again: radical reforms and gadget fetishism do not produce measurable improvements in classroom learning. Sirota focuses on the darker side of the technophile narrative in public education: even as public education budgets are shrinking, the share that goes to high tech and for profit testing companies keeps growing.
* Matt Taibbi on the coming civil war.
I’ve always been queasy about piling on against the Republicans because it’s intellectually too easy; I also worry a lot that the habit pundits have of choosing sides and simply beating on the other party contributes to the extremist tone of the culture war.
But the time is coming when we are all going to be forced to literally take sides in a political conflict far more serious and extreme than we’re used to imagining. The situation is such a tinderbox now that all it will take is some prominent politician to openly acknowledge the fact of a cultural/civil war for the real craziness to begin.
Most people aren’t thinking about this because we’re so accustomed to thinking of America as a stable, conservative place where politics is not a life-or-death affair but more something that people like to argue about over dinner, as entertainment almost. But it’s headed in another, more twisted direction. I’m beginning to wonder if this election season is going to be one none of us ever forget – a 1968 on crack.
* According to this report, NPR has no idea who is right. It cannot provide listeners with any help in sorting through such a dramatic conflict in truth claims. It knows of no way to adjudicate these clashing views. It is simply confused and helpless and the best it can do is pass on that helplessness to listeners of “Morning Edition.” Because there is just no way to know whether these new rules try to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers, or put common sense public policy goals into practice in Kansas. There is no standard by which to judge. There is no comparison that would help. There is no act of reporting that can tell us who has more of the truth on their side. In a word, there is nothing NPR can do! And so a good professional simply passes the conflict along. Excellent: Now the listeners can be as confused as the journalists.
* North Carolina as swing state. That’s a good electoral map for the Democrats, but somewhat unexpected; you’d expect Obama to be doing significantly worse here than he is.
I lost some friends because of these difficulties, especially when I could not convince some whom I trusted and who knew this person that a problem existed that was worth being concerned about. It now seems self-dramatizing to write all of this down, mainly because nothing “real” came of the threats other than unwanted contact. Yet when someone is sending email that involves your family, that makes it clear he has researched property records and knows the acreage your house was built upon, you tend to worry about the crossing of lines. I also wonder if in now revisiting these episodes from the past, I will trigger another outbreak. I realize that if my objective is to ensure that something so unpleasant never unfolds again, silence is my best strategy. Yet I have always felt that remaining taciturn makes it seem as if the events never happened. It also leaves me alone with them. The stalking occurred, and it changed my relation to the internet.
Having gone through something quite similar (twice) in my own blogging past—both times much less frightening than Jeffrey’s experience—I really related to this.
* And is Exit Through the Gift Shop “real”? Ron English says it is. Problem solved.
For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG.
There’s a little more here.
* With Rick Perry already going up in flames, there was a surge of interest today around Chris Christie amid rumors that he was focus-testing a 2012 run. Then New Jersey got downgraded. Now people are talking about Paul Ryan again. Who will be tomorrow’s savior?
* Of course they might not need one. Gallup has Obama’s approval rating on the economy down to 26%, and his disapproval rating up to 71%.
* And your obscene atrocity of the day: Missouri School Sued For Allegedly Making Special Ed Student Write Apology Letter To Her Rapist.
* Congress to the unemployed: drop dead.
* Congress to grad students: drop dead.
* Every schoolchild knows that big cuts to defense are the trigger that will bring the GOP to its knees when the Super Congress brings its recommendations in a few months, so it’s no surprise that the Pentagon actually gained money in this round of negotiations.
Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, the current debt proposal trims $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade.
Wait, what? Let me start over.
* Today Biden told House Democrats that Obama would eventually have done the thing he obviously should have done from the start if he had literally no other option left. What a comfort.
* The White House: “…members of Congress would likely recoil at the gamesmanship involved in shelving the committee’s recommendations and therefore feel compelled to place well-intentioned lawmakers on the committee.” Reid: “This absurd mess shows the system works.” McConnell: “That was awesome! Let’s do it all again!”
* I’ve been informed it’s forbidden to be cynical about Gabriel Giffords’ return to the House no matter how transparent and manipulative it seems. Please be advised.
* Taibbi: The Democrats Take a Dive.
* Former President Josiah Bartlett on the debt ceiling: “I think I shut down the government if I’m not mistaken. And I walked up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Hill and waited in the speaker’s office and if that’s required I’ll do that again as well.”
* And Matt Taibbi on the current president: Obama Doesn’t Want a Progressive Deficit Deal. It’s sad but true.