It’s not really news that America’s economics departments, particularly at elite institutions, are stuffed with people whose careers are founded on protecting monied interests. But it’s pretty rare when someone just comes straight out and announces the fact.
Meet Greg Mankiw, chairman and professor of economics at Harvard, one of the most influential economists in the country. As chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, he guided the economic blundering of George W. Bush. Then in 2006, he became an adviser to Mitt Romney and steered Romney’s economic positions in 2012, which included some of the most shocking expressions of classism yet heard from a presidential candidate.
Mankiw’s name might not be a household word, but the tentacles of his power and influence extend into Washington, the blogosphere and the classroom, where he molds young minds through his ubiquitous textbooks and lectures (that is, when students are not walking out to protest his conservative bias and harmful agenda).
Above all, Mankiw is the self-appointed Defender in Chief of the 1 percent. How do we know this? Well, because he just published a 23-page paper called “Defending the One Percent.” It’s helpful to understand the official propaganda line in the class war, and Mankiw has laid it out in a paper that purports to determine whether income inequality requires any intervention.
Professor Mankiw begins by asking the reader to imagine a perfectly egalitarian society where the economy is totally efficient and everybody has the same amount of money. What happens, he asks, when a Steve Jobs pops up? Somebody smarter, more creative than everybody else? Suddenly Mr. Entrepreneur makes amazing things that everybody wants to buy, and now economic inequality has entered the egalitarian utopia. Is it fair to intervene and restore equality by penalizing Mr. Entrepreneur?
It must be said that this opening sally, with its clumsily constructed straw man, would not pass muster with a high school debating coach. Most of Mankiw’s opponents do not ask for perfect income equality or imagine perfect efficiency, but rather envision a playing field in which everyone has a chance to succeed and Mr. Entrepreneur has incentives to conduct his business fairly and to share some of the rewards of his efforts with the community that made them possible. Instead of forming a cartel to hold down the wages of his young engineers, as Steve Jobs did. Or colluding to fix prices, as Steve Jobs is also accused of having done. Or backdating stock options to be sure he comes out in the money. And so on.
“It’s striking how preoccupied Harris and VandeHei are with the perception that Politico is too ‘insidery,’” Silver wrote. “My personal critique of their work cuts a little deeper than that, however. It’s not that they are too ‘insidery’ per se, but that the perceptions of Beltway insiders, which Politico echoes and embraces, are not always very insightful or accurate. In other words, the conventional wisdom is often wrong, especially in Washington.”
He added later in the email: “Furthermore, Harris and VandeHei seem to lack very much curiosity for the world outside of the bubble.”
Silver also took issue with VandeHei’s assertion that he’s using numbers to “prove stuff,” contending that he is instead “providing a critical perspective, and scrutinizing claims on the basis of evidence (statistical or otherwise).” That only works, he said, if you believe “that there is some sort of truth outside the bubble — what would be called the “objective” world in a scientific or philosophical context.”
“Politico, by contrast, sometimes seems to operate within a ‘post-truth’ worldview,” Silver wrote. “Some people think that is the very essence of savvy, modern journalism, but my bet is that journalism is headed in another direction - toward being more critical and empirical.”
As a reformed wingnut, I recall those times. There’s a whole fringe camp out there full of folks just like Bill Ayers who are upset with our President for not being the far left revolutionary that they really want him to be. These hard bitten partisans are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the hard right right whenever the opportunity presents to fling poo at the prez because it’s the only way they can have any influence at all.
The symptom they suffer from is the same as many of Digby’s villagers: it’s much easier to focus on the executive branch and palace intrigue than to persistently focus on daily congressional malfeasance as our social safety nets slowly fray apart from intentional congressional neglect. That’s just boring stuff, not as sexy as the village gossip about who’s spying on whom and how, or exactly how much of a [ tyrant, warmonger, socialist, antichrist, war criminal, foreigner, ] the president is.
If the left doesn’t like what the NSA is doing, or how Obama is executing the directives then the remedy lies in Congress not the media - congress is the only place where these extraordinary powers can get taken away.
So much for that Bill Ayres-Barack Obama friendship.
Ayres, the 1960s radical from Chicago whom Republicans have often tried to link to Obama, says the president should be tried for “war crimes,” and that his use of drones and other counter-terrorism activities amount to “acts of terror.”
To be fair, the former member of the Weather Underground says he has given all recent presidents failing grades, including some “F-minuses.”
“Every president in this century should be put on trial … for war crimes,” Ayers says in a brief interview with Real Clear Politics.
President Barack Obama is expected to use his speech at the iconic Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday to renew calls for a reduction in nuclear weapons.
It is not the first time the president has called for a reduction in stockpiles, but by addressing the issue in a major foreign speech, Obama is hoping to rekindle the issue, which was at the center of his early first-term agenda.
Obama will address a crowd of 5,000 invited guests at the historic landmark in the center of Berlin almost 50 years after John F. Kennedy made his famous speech at what was then West Berlin at the Rathaus Schoeneberg (town hall). Obama made a speech as a presidential candidate in the city in 2008.
But Berliners say they are less excited about this visit and have been disappointed that he has not delivered on promises he made previously.
“He’s still better than George W. Bush in terms of being open to the rest of the world and cooperation, but this vast change of the mindset in America, I don’t think we’ve seen,” said Elizabeth Osterloh, an American living in Berlin and doing an MBA in transatlantic management.
Within hours of opening an office for peace talks in the Gulf emirate of Qatar, Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan launched a deadly ambush on an American convoy, and the Afghan government separately broke off talks on military cooperation with the United States.
It was at best a rocky prelude to peace talks with the Taliban, which have collapsed repeatedly in the past. American officials have long pushed for such talks, believing them crucial to stabilizing Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Western forces next year.
Earlier on Tuesday, the American military had formally handed over control of security in all of Afghanistan to Afghan forces, a development that was followed hours later with the three sides announcing that peace talks would begin at the new Taliban offices in Doha, Qatar.
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) — A man killed Tuesday in a fiery car crash in Hollywood was journalist Michael Hastings, his employer said.
The wreck happened near the intersection of Highland and Melrose avenues around 4:15 a.m., according to LAPD Officer Lillian Carranza.
The car, presumably driven by Hastings, slammed into a tree and caught fire.
“I was just coming northbound on Highland and I seen a car, like, going really fast and all of a sudden I seen it jackknife,” said Luis Cortez, who witnessed the wreck.
“I just seen parts fly everywhere and I slammed on my brakes and stopped and tried to call 911,” Cortez added.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
Coroner’s officials said the body was too badly burned to make an immediate identification.
But, Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed both reported Tuesday afternoon the victim was Hastings.
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith issued a statement, saying his team was “shocked and devastated by the news.”
“Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered, from wars to politicians,” Smith said. “He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold.”
Hastings was perhaps best known for a Rolling Stone article that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has taken the unusual step of actively blocking a former committee aide from talking to TPM about congressional oversight of the intelligence community. At issue isn’t classified sources and methods of intelligence gathering but general information about how the committee functions — and how it should function. The committee’s refusal to allow former general counsel Vicki Divoll to disclose unclassified information to a reporter was the first and only time it has sought to block her from making public comments, based on her experience as one of its most senior aides, since she left Capitol Hill in 2003.
The committee’s decision comes amid fallout from leaks of classified National Security Agency documents by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In light of the Snowden revelations about the country’s secret surveillance programs, TPM was reporting a story based on interviews with members of Congress and current and former aides about the successes and pitfalls of intelligence oversight on Capitol Hill. The goal was to answer some basic questions for readers: How does a classified process differ from public oversight? What challenges do the combination of government secrecy, classified briefings, and strict committee protocols present to legislators trying to control the nation’s sprawling intelligence apparatus?
Divoll served as a senior aide on the committee from 2000-2003, including two years as its general counsel. Before that, from 1995-2000 she was assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, where she also served as deputy legal adviser to the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. After leaving the Senate, Divoll was a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and an adjunct professor at the Naval Academy. She has been regularly cited by reporters in news stories, penned op-eds on counterterrorism and civil liberties, and appeared on television.
The ground rules for the interview were that it would be conducted off the record, but only temporarily, to give Divoll an opportunity to review the accuracy of the quotes she provided, and that those would be placed back on the record.
While Divoll remains legally barred from disclosing classified information, she is also still subject to a non-disclosure agreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee that bars her from discussing committee-sensitive business. Out of an abundance of caution, Divoll also conferred with the committee on Friday about her interview with TPM. She anticipated that the committee would approve the interview, noting that in her post-government career, both the committee and the CIA had never done more than request minor tweaks when she brought them pieces of her writing for pre-publication review.
This, she believed, would be a similar process.
But for the first time in her career, the committee took the extraordinary step, on a bipartisan basis, of declaring the interview’s entire contents a violation of her non-disclosure agreement and effectively forbade her from putting any of it on the record.
“The committee has reviewed your submission … and objected to any publication of the information contained therein,” she was told.
Perhaps the real reason why the did this is to show that the Senate is complicit in this whole mess, perhaps? It certianly wouldn’t be surprising, but still, you have to ask yourself-by actively doing the blocking, one has to ask-‘What are you hiding?”, remembering the old saw: ‘It isn’t the crime, but the cover-up’.
But even the press in aggregate is not a friend to whistle-blowers, as its recent treatment of Snowden attests, what with the deep dives into his teen years (including photos), his education and employment history, his reputation as a loner and a “brainiac,” his pants-down hijinks, his online scribblings, his dancer girlfriend, his predilection for (in his own words) “post-coital Krispy Kremes.” Squeezing every possible query at every known commercial database, journalists worldwide have aped the National Security Agency’s snooping skills to track down Snowden’s friends, associates, neighbors, schoolmates, relatives and colleagues to instapaint his portrait.
No matter how generously you read the team portrait, Snowden comes off as a bit of a cocky know-it-all. And how could he not? He did a bodacious, criminal thing; threatens to commit additional acts of criminal bodaciousness; and maintains the cool-customer persona in his video and print interviews. And he comes off as a little squirrelly and ego-swollen.
But what mortal wouldn’t come off a little squirrelly and ego-swollen after nonstop scrutiny by the press, even if they hadn’t leaked NSA secrets? I guarantee you that if the press ever gets around to vacuuming your every posting, scrapbooking your most dishy teen pix, and interviewing all the people in your past, it will depict a creep of some variety. Not because you’re a creep but because the language and methodology of journalism are ill-equipped to capture normalcy—even when its subjects project normalcy. Journalism is about finding flaws and magnifying them, and surely someone who would spill massive loads of state secrets must contain a few broken parts, right?
Whether Snowden is more psychologically integrated than your average 29-year-old makes for stimulating conversation and fun clicks, but it’s not really germane to the secrecy “debate” that even President Barack Obama claimed to “welcome” last week. Once we (the press and readers) exhaust ourselves on the Snowden, Up Close and Personal, angle, the debate will likely be interrupted, just as the debate about the Pentagon Papers was interrupted by the White House back in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg dumped them to the press.
About two weeks after the New York Times began publishing the papers in June 1971, President Richard Nixon told National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and Attorney General John Mitchell that he didn’t want Ellsberg to get a fair trial for leaking. “Let’s get the son-of-a-bitch in jail,” Nixon said. “Don’t worry about his trial. Just get everything out. Try him in the press. Try him in the press. Everything, John, that there is on the investigation, get it out. Leak it out. We want to destroy him in the press. Is that clear?”
Comparing Obama to Nixon may be Shafer’s ‘Jumping the Shark’ moment, but we’ll have to see how this plays out, won’t we? Remember when Nixon imposed Wage and Price controls? By today’s GOP/wingnut standards, that’s souchialushum!
A former Hollywood stunt double has sued News Corp and its subsidiary News International, accusing the companies of ordering the hacking of her phone.
The suit, the first such claim from the US, was filed by Eunice Huthart, a British former double for Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.
In the suit, the Liverpool resident alleges messages from family, friends and Ms Jolie were intercepted and in some cases deleted.
News Corp declined to comment.
In a civil complaint filed on 13 June, Ms Huthart seeks damages for violations of federal and California laws and “intrusion into private affairs”.
According to IMDB, Ms Huthart worked as Ms Jolie’s stunt double on the films Wanted, Mr and Mrs Smith, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
In the court filing, she describes herself as a close friend of Ms Jolie, and says the pair “often travelled and socialized together”.
Ms Huthart said that in 2004-05, some friends and relatives complained she had not returned their phone calls, and she in turn complained to her mobile phone provider that voice messages were being lost in their system.
She said Ms Jolie left messages concerning travel arrangements and other plans, which Ms Huthart never received.
Angelina Jolie (3 June 2013) in London Ms Huthart claims News Corp hacked into her phone seeking information about Angelina Jolie
She added that her daughter left messages complaining about bullying in school in Liverpool, which she also never received - rendering her unable to console her daughter. Ms Huthart said her husband had also criticised her for not responding to his messages.
Note that this lawsuit is filed in the US, the corporate home of News Corporation.
Which reminds me-wasn’t there some form of FCPA investigation going on against News Corp over its subsidiary News International that led to the shutdown of News Of the World a few years back, and the UK wound up indicting a slew of current and ex-News International employes at the time?
From The Atlantic 2013-06-18 Conor Friedersdorf.
USA Today has published an extraordinary interview with three former NSA employees who praise Edward Snowden’s leaks, corroborate some of his claims, and warn about unlawful government acts.
Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe each protested the NSA in their own rights. “For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens,” the newspaper reports. “They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.”