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A Larry Summers joke
A friend in Washington told me this last week:
The president, Larry Summers, a dirty hippie and the pope were all on Air Force One when it started to have engine trouble. The pilot opened the door of the cockpit and said with terror in his voice, “The plane is going down, so put on a parachute and jump! I’ll show you how.” The pilot grabbed a parachute from the pile, strapped it on, opened the plane’s door, and took the leap.
After his departure, the four people left were startled to notice there were only three parachutes left in the pile. The president humbly suggested that the other three take the parachutes but the others protest saying, "no, Mr President, the world needs you, you must take one of the parachutes." After a few minutes of haggling, the president agrees and straps on his chute and jumped.
The remaining three look at each other for a moment at which point Larry Summers says,“there are other smart people, but no one in the world is as smart as I am. The world needs me as much as the President, so I must take one of these parachutes and save myself.” So he jumped, too.
The dirty hippie and the pope sit quietly for a moment and the pope says, "you must take the last parachute, my son, it is God's will."
The hippie smiles and replies, "oh don't worry Your Eminence, we each have a parachute. The smartest man in the world just strapped on my backpack and jumped out of the airplane."
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 09:13 PM (8 replies)
By DYLAN BYERS | 7/28/13 7:59 PM EDT
In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday.
Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told POLITICO that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/07/cumulus-planning-to-drop-rush-limbaugh-sean-hannity-169371.html#.UfWxAAR0nQU.twitter
missed the best part from the Think Progress version of the story:
Limbaugh recently acknowledged difficulty selling ads, complaining ad buyers are “are young women fresh out of college, liberal feminists who hate conservatism“:
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 08:25 PM (47 replies)
This, then, is our world: a single megapower has, since September 2001, been in a financing and construction frenzy to create the first global surveillance state; its torturers run free; its kidnappers serve time at liberty in this country and are rescued if they venture abroad; and its whistleblowers -- those who would let the rest of us know what “our” government is doing in our name -- are pilloried. And so it goes.
more: (i have had enough)
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 07:36 PM (23 replies)
I often ask myself: how much longer can the rogue forces of the fossil fuel industry continue wrecking our planet with impunity? Today I was reminded of our movement’s recurring answer to that question: not for long, if we can help it.
In the early hours of the morning, anti-fracking activists and community members in Balcombe, Sussex, UK, successfully halted the first day of explorations for a new shale gas development by famed (infamous, rather) fracking company Cuadrilla. Over 250 people united in a powerful, peaceful, joyful blockade -- that eventually convinced the trucks containing the initial fracking equipment to abandon the site.
This is community power at its best. Campaigners in Balcombe, just like those in frontline communities around the world (in the US, Indonesia, Argentina, and elsewhere) had been calling attention to the dangers of fracking for over a year. This week, when Cuadrilla’s license for exploration and development was approved, activists quickly mobilized to organize a Great Gas Gala, inviting people in Sussex and neighboring areas to converge on Balcombe and oppose Cuadrilla’s efforts.
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 06:56 PM (0 replies)
"A number of compliance problems?" Interpret as you will, but I'm guessing we'll eventually find out
"A number of compliance problems?" Interpret as you will, but I'm guessing we'll eventually find out more...
In the letter, released Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a vocal critic of the surveillance program, Clapper said the problems had been “previously identified and detailed in reports to the Court and briefings to Congress. ”
“However, there have been no findings of any intentional or bad-faith violations,” he wrote. “These problems generally involved human error or highly sophisticated technology issues related to NSA’s compliance with particular aspects of the Court’s orders.”
Clapper’s letter did not provide details but offered to give lawmakers more information in a classified setting. A spokesman for Clapper declined to elaborate.
Wyden, in an interview late Friday, said intelligence officials could “definitely” reveal more information about the problems without compromising national security. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden said he was aware of the details but could not disclose them because of classification rules. “The intelligence agencies constantly come back to the refrain about how careful they are,” he said. “This certainly raises substantial questions about that argument.”
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 06:47 PM (0 replies)
Politics isn't a child's game. It's a bloodsport. People's lives are at stake. To save people's lives, we have to win. The game is played at many levels, from grass-roots activism to local school board politics to Capitol Hill. All of them matter. Over the next couple of months, one battle will take center stage—the battle over the budget. A prominent Democrat once stated: "the budget is a profoundly moral document." That statement referred to the last truly titanic budget battle, the government shutdown of the mid-1990s, one in which a Democratic president stood firm, and a chastened Republican majority backed down. This time, the principal combatants will be President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner. There is only one acceptable outcome. President Obama must utterly defeat Speaker Boehner, and in the process he must break the House Republican caucus.
And the president really does have no choice. The party that loses an election cannot be allowed to set the country's agenda, to block the implementation of laws previously passed, and to put its budget blueprint into law. If it can, then elections mean nothing.
President Obama must tell Speaker Boehner that he will not get he wants. Period. Obama won the election, and the American people are with him. If Boehner wants to shut down the government, then he must shut down the government. I believe that in such a scenario, given the polling and the president's history of being reasonable and willing to compromise, the American people will put the blame squarely on Boehner and the House Republicans.
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 06:21 PM (4 replies)
“NSA officials are going to be testifying before the Senate on Wednesday, and I defy them to deny that these programs work exactly as I just said,” Greenwald said.
SUN JUL 28, 2013 AT 01:35 PM PDT
Greenwald on ABC: Low-Level NSA Analysts Read, Listen Via Database of "Trillions" of Emails, Calls
After reporting this story here for over 18 months, citing numerous, top, former NSA I.T. employees, senior AT&T technicians, and even a former FBI counterterrorism professional--all telling us that the NSA was capturing the content of billions of calls on a monthly basis, both domestically and internationally--Glenn Greenwald has just done the same, this morning with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," over at ABC.
Maybe--just maybe--now the public will believe this incredibly Orwellian truth (and how Congressman Jerrold Nadler obviously had it right, the first time, last month via CNET, despite our government--and even folks here at DKos (OR HERE AT DU, including myself up until recently) parroting that propaganda--bending over backwards to obfuscate and/or outright lie about it to us, yet again)...
Glenn Greenwald: Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool
Jul 28, 2013 10:17am
Today on “This Week,” Glenn Greenwald – the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs – claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans.
“The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”
Greenwald explained that while there are “legal constraints” on surveillance that require approval by the FISA court, these programs still allow analysts to search through data with little court approval or supervision.
“There are legal constraints for how you can spy on Americans,” Greenwald said. “You can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But these systems allow analysts to listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents.”
“And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst,” he added…
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 05:51 PM (15 replies)
Source: Huffington Post
When the original sexting scandal involving Anthony Weiner broke in 2011, his first explanation was that his Twitter account must have been hacked.
Ultimately this proved to be a lie by the former Congressman, but a new report alleges that Weiner may have spent tens of thousands in campaign cash to "investigate" the claim he knew all along was absolutely fake.
The allegations were brought by the New York Daily News on Sunday, after reporter Greg Smith wrote that campaign spending records show Weiner spent $43,100 in campaign contributions on private investigations firm T&M Protection Resources.
According to its website, T&M Protection Resources provides "seamlessly integrated security and investigative services, including state-of-the-art security technologies, to leading corporations, organizations and private clients" in order to protect the "safety and security of people, property and reputations."
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/anthony-weiner-private-investigator-twitter-hacking-lies_n_3667680.html
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 05:46 PM (64 replies)
Emerging From Darkness, the Edward Snowden Story
An open letter to Edward Snowden.
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2013 10:02
Dear Edward Snowden,
Billions of us, from prime ministers to hackers, are watching a live espionage movie in which you are the protagonist and perhaps the sacrifice. Your way forward is clear to no one, least of all, I'm sure, you.
I fear for you; I think of you with a heavy heart. I imagine hiding you like Anne Frank. I imagine Hollywood movie magic in which a young lookalike would swap places with you and let you flee to safety - if there is any safety in this world of extreme rendition and extrajudicial execution by the government that you and I were born under and that you, until recently, served. I fear you may pay, if not with your death, with your life - with a life that can have no conventional outcome anytime soon, if ever. "Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped," you told us, and they are trying to stop you instead.
I am moved by your choice of our future over yours, the world over yourself. You know what few do nowadays: that the self is not the same as self-interest. You are someone who is smart enough, idealistic enough, bold enough to know that living with yourself in a system of utter corruption would destroy that self as an ideal, as something worth being. Doing what you've done, on the other hand, would give you a self you could live with, even if it gave you nowhere to live or no life. Which is to say, you have become a hero.
Pity the country that requires a hero, Bertolt Brecht once remarked, but pity the heroes too. They are the other homeless, the people who don't fit in. They are the ones who see the hardest work and do it, and pay the price we charge those who do what we can't or won't. If the old stories were about heroes who saved us from others, modern heroes - Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi - endeavored to save us from ourselves, from our own governments and systems of power.
The rest of us so often sacrifice that self and those ideals to fit in, to be part of a cannibal system, a system that eats souls and defiles truths and serves only power. Or we negotiate quietly to maintain an uneasy distance from it and then go about our own business. Though in my world quite a few of us strike our small blows against empire, you, young man, you were situated where you could run a dagger through the dragon's eye, and that dragon is writhing in agony now; in that agony it has lost its magic: an arrangement whereby it remains invisible while making the rest of us ever more naked to its glaring eye.
Private eyes and public rights
Privacy is a kind of power as well as a right, one that public librarians fought to protect against the Bush administration and the PATRIOT Act and that online companies violate in every way that's profitable and expedient. Our lack of privacy, their monstrous privacy - even their invasion of our privacy must, by law, remain classified - is what you made visible. The agony of a monster with nowhere to stand - you are accused of spying on the spies, of invading the privacy of their invasion of privacy - is a truly curious thing. And it is changing the world. Europe and South America are in an uproar, and attempts to contain you and your damage are putting out fire with gasoline.
You yourself said it so well on July 12:
"A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates. It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimise an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice - that it must be seen to be done."
They say you, like Bradley Manning, gave secrets to their enemies. It's clear who those enemies are: you, me, us. It was clear on September 12, 2001, that the Bush administration feared the American people more than al-Qaeda. Not much has changed on that front since, and this almost infinitely broad information harvest criminalises all of us. This metadata - the patterns and connections of communications rather than their content - is particularly useful, as my friend Chris Carlsson pointed out, at mapping the clusters of communications behind popular movements, uprisings, political organizing: in other words, those moments when civil society rises to shape history, to make a better future in the open world of the streets and squares.
The goal of gathering all this metadata, Chris speculates , "is to be able to identify where the 'hubs' are, who the people are who sit at key points in networks, helping pass news and messages along, but especially, who the people are who spread ideas and information from one network of people to the next, who help connect small networks into larger ones, and thus facilitate the unpredictable and rapid spread of dissent when it appears."
Metadata can map the circulatory system of civil society, toward what ends you can certainly imagine. When governments fear their people you can be sure they are not serving their people. This has always been the minefield of patriotism: loyalty to our government often means hostility to our country and vice-versa. Edward Snowden, loyalist to country, you have made this clear as day.
Those who demonise you show, as David Bromwich pointed out in a fine essay in the London Review of Books , their submission to the power you exposed. Who stood where, he writes:
"was an infallible marker of the anti-authoritarian instinct against the authoritarian. What was distressing and impossible to predict was the evidence of the way the last few years have worn deep channels of authoritarian acceptance in the mind of the liberal establishment. Every public figure who is psychologically identified with the ways of power in America has condemned Snowden as a traitor, or deplored his actions as merely those of a criminal, someone about whom the judgment 'he must be prosecuted' obviates any further judgment and any need for thought."
You said , "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me." Who you are is fascinating, but what you've exposed is what matters. It is upending the world. It is damaging Washington's relations with many Latin American and some European countries, with Russia and China as well as with its own people - those, at least, who bother to read or listen to the news and care about what they find there. "Edward Snowden Single-Handedly Forces Tech Companies To Come Forward With Government Data Request Stats," said a headline in Forbes . Your act is rearranging our world. How much no one yet knows.
What you love
What's striking about your words on video , Edward Snowden, the ones I hear as your young, pale, thoughtful face speaks with clarity and incisiveness in response to Glenn Greenwald's questions, is that you're not talking much about what you hate, though it's clear that you hate the secret network you were part of. You hate it because it poisons what you love. You told us , "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions... I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
You love our world, our country - not its government, clearly, but its old ideals and living idealists, its possibilities, its dreamers, and its dreams (not the stale, stuffed American dream of individual affluence, but the other dreams of a better world for all of us, a world of principle).
You told us where we now live and that you refuse to live there anymore:
"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under. America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."
Which is to say you acted from love, from all the things the new surveillance state imperils: privacy, democracy, accountability, decency, honour. The rest of us, what would we do for love?
What is terrifying to the politicians at the top is that you may be our truest patriot at the moment. Which makes all of them, with their marble buildings and illustrious titles, their security details and all the pomp, the flags, the saluting soldiers, so many traitors. The government is the enemy of the people; the state is the enemy of the country. I love that country, too. I fear that state and this new information age as they spread and twine like a poison vine around everything and everyone. You held up a mirror and fools hate the mirror for it; they shoot the messenger, but the message has been delivered.
"This country is worth dying for," you said in explanation of your great risks. You were trained as a soldier, but a soldier's courage with a thinker's independence of mind is a dangerous thing; a hero is a dangerous thing. That's why the US military has made the Guardian , the British newspaper that has done the key reporting on your leaks, off limits to our soldiers overseas. Whoever made that cynical censorship decision understands that those soldiers may be defending a set of interests at odds with this country and it's Constitution, and they need to be kept in the dark about that. The dark from which you emerged.
When the United States forced the airplane of Evo Morales, Bolivia's democratically elected head of state, to land in Austria, after compliant France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy denied him the right to travel through their airspace, all South America took it as an insult and a violation of Bolivia's sovereignty and international law. The allied president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, tracked the incident in a series of tweets that demonstrated openness, a principledness, and a strong friendship between Morales, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa, and her.
It was a little window onto a really foreign continent: one in which countries are sometimes headed by genuinely popular leaders who are genuinely transparent and governed by rule of law. It's a reminder that things in our own blighted, corrupted, corporate-dominated country could be different.
Building a bridge to the nineteenth century
How did we get here? In 1996, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore pushed the dreadful slogan "building a bridge to the twenty-first century". It was a celebration of Silicon Valley-style technological innovation and corporate globalisation, among other things. At the time, I put "building a bridge to the nineteenth century" on my letterhead. It turned out that we were doing both at once: erecting a massive electronic infrastructure that outpaces our ability to democratically manage it and shifting our economy backward to recreate the chasms of class divide that marked the nineteenth century. The two goals intertwined like serpents making love.
The new technologies made a surveillance state that much more powerful and far-reaching; the new technologies replaced many jobs with few; the new technologies created new billionaires without principles; the new technologies made us all into commodities to be sold to advertisers; the new technologies turned our every move into something that could be tracked; the new technologies kept us distracted and busy. Meanwhile, almost everyone got poorer.
What the neoliberals amassing mountains of wealth for the already super-wealthy forgot, what the tax-cutters and child-starvers never learned in school, is that desperate people do not necessary simply lie down and obey. Often enough, they rebel. There is no one as dangerous as he or she who has nothing to lose.
The twentieth century's welfare states, their pumped-up, plumped-up middle classes, their relative egalitarianism and graduated tax plans pacified the once-insurrectionary classes by meeting, at least in part, their needs and demands. The comfortable don't revolt much. Out of sheer greed, however, the wealthiest and most powerful decided to make so many of the rest of us at least increasingly uncomfortable and often far worse.
Edward Snowden, you rebelled because you were outraged; so many others are rebelling because their lives are impossible now. These days when we revolt, the new technologies become our friends as well as our enemies. If you imagine those technologies as the fire Prometheus stole from the gods, then it works both ways, for us and for them, to create and to destroy.
Those new technologies are key to the latest rounds of global organising, from the World Trade Organization actions of 1999, put together by email and epochal in their impact, to the Arab Spring, which used email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and other means, to Occupy Wall Street. The technologies are double-edged: populist networks for creating global resistance are vulnerable to surveillance; classified reams of data are breachable by information saved to thumb drives or burned onto CDs by whistleblowers and hackers. They can spy in private; we can organise in public, and maybe the two actions are true opposites.
Meanwhile there is massive upheaval in Egypt and in Brazil, and in recent years there have been popular rebellions in many parts of the Arab world, Turkey, Iceland, Greece, Spain, Britain, Chile, and the US itself with Occupy. The globe is on fire with popular outrage, with fury over economic injustice and, among other things, climate change spurred by the profits a few are piling up to the detriment of the rest of us, generations to come, other species, and the planet itself. It seems that, surveillance or not, people are not about to go quietly into the nineteenth century or accept the devil's bargains of the twenty-first either.
Prometheus and being burned
I think of a man even younger than you, Edward Snowden, who unlike you acted without knowing what he did: 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi , whose December 2010 self-immolation to protest his humiliation and hopelessness triggered what became the still-blooming, still-burning Arab Spring. Sometimes one person changes the world. This should make most of us hopeful and some of them fearful, because what I am also saying is that we now live in a world of us and them, a binary world. It's not the old world of capitalism versus communism, but of the big versus the little, of oligarchy versus democracy, of hierarchies versus swarms, of corporations versus public interest and civil society.
It seems nearly worldwide now, which is why revolts all over the planet have so much in common these days, why Occupy activists last month held up signs in New York's Liberty Plaza in solidarity with the uprising in Taksim Square in Turkey; why Arab Spring activists phoned in pizza orders to the uprising in Wisconsin in early 2011; why Occupy spread around the world, and Greek insurrectionaries learned from the successes of Argentina in the face of austerity and economic collapse. We know our fate is common and that we live it out together and change it together, only together.
There were rumblings that you had defected, or would defect, to China or Russia, but you had already defected when we became aware of your existence: you had defected from them to us, using the power you had gained deep within the bowels of their infernal machines to empower us. What will we do with what you've taught us? That's up to us, but for anyone who thinks what you did was not threatening to those in power, just look at how furious, how upset, how naked our emperors now are.
And you, Prometheus, you stole their fire, and you know it. You said , "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honour you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school."
Someday you may be regarded as a Mandela of sorts for the information age, or perhaps a John Brown, someone who refused to fit in, to bow down, to make a system work that shouldn't work, that should explode. And perhaps we're watching it explode.
The match is sacrificed to start the fire. So maybe, Edward Snowden, you're a sacrifice. In the process, you've lit a bonfire out of their secrecy and spying, a call to action.
I fear for you, but your gift gives us hope and your courage, an example. Our loyalty should be to our ideals, because they are a threat to the secret system you've exposed, because we have to choose between the two. Right now you embody that threat, just as you embody those ideals. For which I am grateful, for which everyone who is not embedded in that system should be grateful.
Posted by kpete | Sun Jul 28, 2013, 12:38 PM (17 replies)