One event continues to stick in my craw about JP Morgan Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon and that's that first time when I heard Obama sound like some kind of paid advertising or a cheerleader for him personally as he said how glad he was to know that he was in charge of his bank and that he's the best in his field. Or something.
That field, it turns out, is enormous theft from a gullible public. A lot more on this topic can be found in the essay below.
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I'm deep into Bob Shacochis' (National Book Award winner) first novel in 20 years The Woman Who Lost Her Soul (and it's a fine work with Pulitzer (or National Book Award or something grand) written all through it), but I have to confess a bad habit of not being able to resist the quick look elsewhere when other new books cross my path (mainly because of my obsessive library visits). The new Pynchon, The Bleeding Edge, has captured my attention and after reading the first chapters I'm thinking he's changed his style a little bit - it's less jarring (but still stuttering) - but more about that later. Also, I'm reading Mark Leibovich's This Town (just out in August) which is so funny/raunchy/telling (and need-to-know) that I want to share a few of the gems on its pages with you, particularly as a warning shot as to how and why this so-called culture leaders gang has worked so hard to bring us to where we live (and fear) today (and been enabled by the MSM to lead us off the cliff of rationality about phantom worries like the deficit during a recession/depression). Hint: It's all about the moolah, but I digress. (All of these tomes deserve your attention, particularly Bob's.)
Tim Russert is dead. But the room was alive.
You can't work it too hard at a memorial service, obviously.
It's the kind of thing people notice. But the big-ticket Washington departure rite can be such a great networking opportunity. You can almost feel the ardor behind the solemn faces: lucky stampedes of power mourners, about two thousand of them, wearing out the red-carpeted aisles of the Kennedy Center.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are mobbed as well; they can barely get to their seats: assaulted with kudos for the success of Morning Joe, their dawn roundtable on MSNBC and a popular artery in the bloodstream of the Leading Thinkers. People keep pressing business cards into the cohorts' palms, eager to get themselves booked, or their clients books, or their books mentioned . . . "A new low, even for Washington tackiness," Mika will lament of the funeral hustle."
Bill and Hillary Clinton walk stiffly down the left aisle. Heads lurch . . .: that exotic D.C. tingle falls over the room, the kind that comes with proximity to Superpowers. Bill and Hill. They are given wide berth. It had been a tough stretch. Hillary has just conceded the Democratic nomination. It ended an epic primary saga in which Bill had disgraced himself, making unpresidential and maybe racially loaded remarks about Obama. Neither Clinton is in a particularly good "place" with Washington at the moment, or with the media, or with the Democratic Party - or, for that matter, maybe with each other.
Bill's top post-White House aide, Doug Band, is keeping a list on his Blackberry of all the people who screwed over the Clintons in the campaign and who are now, as they say, "dead to us." Some of them dead are here at the Kennedy Center. There is a running joke inside Clinton World about all the bad things happening to the Clinton crossers.
Ted Kennedy, who pivotally endorsed Obama in January, is now dying from a brain tumor. (After Kennedy's endorsement, which came months before the tumor was discovered, his colleague Lindsey Graham asked Kennedy if he could inherit his Senate hideaway office. Why? "Because the Clintons are gonna kill you," Graham joked.) John Edwards, who also endorsed Obama, was busted for cheating on his dying wife; his disgrace is now in full spiral. The state of Iowa, whose Democratic voters slapped a humiliating third-place finish on Hillary in January's caucuses, was devastated by biblical floods in the spring.
Now true to her stoic and gritty precedent, Hillary is keeping her smile affixed like hardened gum and sending out powerful "Stay away from this vehicle" vibes. Ignoring the vibes, an eager producer for MSNBC's Countdown beelines toward her, introduces herself to the Almighty, and prepares to launch a Hail Mary "ask" about whether the senator might possibly want to come on Countdown that night.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Clinton responds to the eager producer, while the smile stays tight and she keeps on walking. Hillary has a memorial service to attend: the memorial service of a man she and her husband plainly despised and who they believed (rightly) despised them back.
But the Clintons are pros at death and sickness. They show up. They play their assigned roles. They send nice notes and lend comfort to the bereaved in that warm and open-faced Clinton way. They are here with empathetic eyes to pay respects, like heads of Mafia families do when a rival godfather falls. Washington memorial services have that quality when the various personality cults convene.
Bill and Hillary walking a few feet away from Newt and Callista Gingrich and right past David Shuster, the MSNBC host who has just been suspended by the network for saying the Clinton campaign "pimped out" Chelsea by having her call superdelegates. (Shuster has been barely heard from since. To reiterate: Don't mess with the Clintons!) Bill and Hill, who appear not to have reserved seats, find two several rows back next to Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, and Condoleesa Rice, the current one.
Not far from the . . . receiving line, NBC's Andrea Mitchell walks in with her husband, the conservative monetary oracle and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. One of the most dogged reporters in the city, Andrea adores her work and her friends, but mostly adores Alan. He is a prime Washington Leading Thinker who even when being blamed by many for running the economy off a cliff can always be seen on Andrea's arm doing his courtly old dignitary thing at D.C. social events. If Washington was a comic book - and it sort of is - Greenspan would be in the background of every panel.
A few rows from Alan and Andrea sits Barbara Walters, the luminary TV interviewer and Chairman Greenspan's former girlfriend. Back when Alan and Andrea were first dating, during the George H.W. Bush administration, they attended a dinner to honor Queen Elizabeth at the British embassy. In the presidential receiving line, Bush introduced Andrea to the queen. "Your Majesty, this is one of our premier American journalists," the president said, then turned to Mitchell and said, "Hello, Barbara." Bush sent a person note of apology to Andrea the next day.
Think anyone else is gearing up for Hillary's run in 2016? Not to mention putting the Greenspans into their sights?
Our guy Seymour Hersh has the real information on this crowd for us.
And it's not good.
And we're not good (or ready) for it.
From PaulCraigRoberts.org we learn:
Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.
“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.
“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.
By Lisa O'Carroll, Guardian UK
27 September 13
eymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism - close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.
It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".
He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.
Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" - or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.
"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with MediaGuardian.
He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.
Snowden changed the debate on surveillance.
He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence - although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government's policy.
"Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we've all written the notion there's constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it's real now," Hersh says.
"Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game," he adds, before qualifying his remarks.
"But I don't know if it's going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America - the president can still say to voters 'al-Qaida, al-Qaida' and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic," he says.
Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London's summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.
Hope of redemption
Despite his concern about the temerity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.
"I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever ... Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity."
His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.
Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: "Sergeant, I want Calley out now."
Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. "I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000."
He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Put in the hours
For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been "despoiled".
"I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there's nothing there, it doesn't go anywhere."
Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.
"Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?" he asks.
He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.
"Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It's journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize," he adds. "It's a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like - I don't mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard - but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that's a serious issue but there are other issues too.
"Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren't we doing more? How does he justify it? What's the intelligence? Why don't we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don't we do our own work?
"Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say - here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people - the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would ... it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."
He says in some ways President George Bush's administration was easier to write about. "The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era," he said.
Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.
"I'll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can't control," he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don't get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say 'I don't care what you say'.
Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.
If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn't stop with newspapers.
"I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this - just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing," he says.
Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.
"The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple." And he implores journalists to do something about it.
As if the owners would hire editors today who are independent . . . and, of course, Sy knows this. But what else could possibly be done to improve the "news" the U.S. actually gets?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
You may remember my mentioning some time ago that we all have inner fish, right? Well, there's a very good book by that name, and it's one of the ways I chose to teach my daughter as she grew up how we were living in an interconnected evolving world with relatives at every turn (so live gently).
Today we learn that one of our older fish relatives actually had a face (so to speak) with a jaw with a skull and dentary bone, and that the shark cartilege idea (as our precursor) has been discarded.
SYDNEY (Reuters) - An international team of scientists in China has discovered what may be the earliest known creature with a distinct face, a 419 million-year-old fish that could be a missing link in the development of vertebrates.
The fossil find in China's Xiaoxiang Reservoir, reported by the journal "Nature" on Thursday, is the most primitive vertebrate discovered with a modern jaw, including a dentary bone found in humans
(This find) " finally solves an age-old problem about the origin of modern fishes," said John Long, a professor in palaeontology at Flinders University in Adelaide.
Scientists were surprised to find that the heavily armoured fish, Entelognathus primordialis, a previously unknown member of the now extinct placoderm family, had a complex small skull and jaw bones.
That appeared to disprove earlier theories that modern vertebrates with bony skeletons, called osteichthyes, had evolved from a shark-like creature with a frame made of cartilage.
Instead, the new find provides a missing branch on the evolutionary tree, predating that shark-like creature and showing that a bony skeleton was the prototype for both bony and cartilaginous vertebrates.
"We now know that ancient armoured placoderms gave rise to the modern fish fauna as we know it," said Long, who was not part of the team in China.
I've felt all along that the rise of the Koch-funded Tea Party and their like-minded compatriots, who some call the Rethuglicans (because of their unconcern (almost hatred) for those who work at low-level jobs without being remunerated well or even appreciated by those who reap the rewards from their efforts), would result in a complete shut down of government services at the end of the path of not-ever-enough-compromise on the part of the Democrats (and Obama's refusal to mint a coin that will fund the hated deficit/debt) represents the final victory of mindless capitalism.
It's hurrying towards us now although it seems that it won't be a complete shutdown. Yet.
September 27, 2013
David Hunt says:
I still think Obama should stamp Ronald Reagan’s face on Trillion Dollar Platinum coin and deposit it in the Government’s account at the Federal Reserve. Showing them that they gain ABSOLUTELY NOTHING by their brinksmanship is the only way to make the GOP stop trying it. Accomplishing that without the world economy imploding seems like a major side-benefit to me.
The real solution is one that no one in power will even discuss. Let alone at this fraught time.
But that terrible man, Ralph Nader, will.
By Ralph Nader, The Nader Page
27 September 13
reshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who somehow got through Princeton and Harvard Law School, is the best news the defaulting Democratic Party has had in years.
As the Texas bull in the Senate china shop, he has been making a majority of his Republican colleagues cringe with his bare-knuckle antics and language. His 21 hour talkathon on the Senate floor demanding the defunding of Obamacare made his Republican colleagues cringe. His Nazi appeasement analogies, and threats to shut down were especially embarrassing.
After listening to his lengthy rant on the Senate Floor on Tuesday and Wednesday, one comes away with two distinct impressions. Ted Cruz cannot resist inserting himself here, there and everywhere. And nothing is too trivial for Senator Talkathon. He likes White Castle hamburgers, he loves pancakes; he talked about what he liked to read as a little boy, where he's travelled, what clothes he wears and other trivia.
You'd think he would have used his time to talk specifically about the suffering that uninsured people and their children are going through, especially in the Lone Star State. Or about what could replace Obamacare other than his repeated "free market" solution, which is to say the "pay or die" profiteering, tax-subsidized corporate system.
It was puzzling why he never mentioned that during his two days of talking, over two hundred Americans died, on average, because they couldn't afford health insurance to get diagnoses and timely treatment. (A peer reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers estimated about 45,000 die annually for lack of affordable health insurance every year.)
The other reaction to Senator Cruz was that many of his more specific objections to Obamacare - its mind-numbing complexity, opposition by formerly supportive labor unions, and employers reacting by reducing worker hours below 30 hours a week to escape some of the law's requirements - are well-taken and completely correctible by single-payer health insurance, as provided in Canada. Single-payer, or full Medicare for all, with free choice of physician and hospital has been the majority choice of Americans for decades. Even a majority of doctors and nurses favor it.
Single-payer's advantage is that everybody is in, nobody is out. It is far more efficient, allows for better outcomes, saves lives, prevents injuries and illnesses, relieves people of severe anxieties and wasted time spent figuring out often fraud-ridden, inscrutable computerized bills and allows for the collection of pattern-detecting data to spot harmful trends.
For example, in Canada, full Medicare covers everyone at half the per capita cost that Americans pay even though 50 million Americans are still not covered. The U.S. per capita figure is almost $9,000 a year and over 17% of our total GDP. In Canada, administrative costs are much lower.
Symbolically, the single-payer legislation that passed in Canada over four decades ago was 13 pages long, compared to over two thousand pages for Obamacare.
Critics of Canada's system charge it with delays for patients. For some elective procedures, provinces that were under-investing have experienced some delays until Ottawa raised its contributions. Canada spends just over 10% of its GDP on healthcare, by comparison.
But in the U.S. not being able to pay for treatment is the biggest problem. And in the U.S., who hasn't heard of delays in various areas of the country due to lack of primary care physicians or other specialties? I have many friends and relatives in Canada who have not complained of delays for routine, essential or emergency treatments.
For those who prefer to believe hard-bitten businesspeople, Matt Miller, writing yesterday in The Washington Post, interviewed big business executives - David Beatty who ran the giant Weston Foods and Roger Martin long-time consultant to large U.S. companies in Canada. They were highly approving of the Canadian system and are baffled at the way the U.S. has twisted itself in such a wasteful, harmful and discriminatory system.
. . . Mr. Martin, an avowed capitalist, who has experienced healthcare in the U.S. and Canada, according to Mr. Miller, called Canadian Medicare "incredibly hassle-free," by comparison. (In Canada, single-payer means government insurance and private delivery of healthcare under cost controls). Now Dean of the business school at the University of Toronto, Mr. Martin told reporter Miller: "I literally have a hard time thinking of what would be better than a single-payer system."
So why the U.S. is the only Western country without some version of a single-payer system?
Most concessionary Democrats, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have said in the past that they prefer single-payer, but that the corporate forces against it cannot be overcome. (They use phrases like "single-payer is not practical.")
But with the Cruz crew in Congress going berserk against Obamacare, now is the time to press again for the far superior single-payer model. Or at least get single-payer into the public discussion. Unfortunately, even some of the major citizen groups organized for single-payer, behind H.R. 676, are keeping quiet, not wanting to undercut Obama and the Congressional Democrats.
Go to Single Payer Action and connect with the movement that does not play debilitating politics and seeks your engagement.
# 2013-09-27 11:52
# 2013-09-27 11:55
And if you were worried about what's been disappearing the bees . . . it's not just the bees . . .
Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used group of insecticides in the world, and their use in the U.S. has been steadily increasing since their initial registration in the mid-1990s. Neonicotinoids have been promoted as low-risk chemicals: low impact on human health, low toxicity to nontarget organisms, lower application rates and compatibility with Integrated Pest Management. Unfortunately, the many studies completed since these compounds began being used have not born out the validity of these assumptions.And the latest from Dealbreaker?
by Bess Levin | September 27, 2013
Bob Diamond, who was ousted last year as the boss of British bank Barclays Plc, said it has grown stronger since he left and he plans to buy shares in its 6 billion-pound ($9.6 billion) rights issue. “I’m buying my rights, I’m bullish on Barclays … Barclays has become a better and stronger institution,” Diamond…
26 Sep 2013
Charlie Gasparino Knows When A Meeting Is More Than Just A “Meeting,” And His 6th Sense For These Sorts Of Things Tells Him Dimon-Holder Is One Of Those TimesBy Bess Levin
segoviacobain · 22 hours ago
Once you know that JMP processes all of the EBT nationwide, the Kabuki element comes into very sharp relief.
Guest · 21 hours ago$6 billion, $11 billion ... who cares when it's not your money and the board won't fire you over it.
Damn you autocorrect! That's supposed to say "shitdrown".
What makes this story so striking is that Holder as Attorney General is meeting with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon at all. Holder should not be. The DoJ investigation is by it's very nature a criminal probe, and the Attorney General should not have direct contact at all with any subject of that investigation. Again as in the HSBC Money Laundering case JP Morgan appears to be too big to be subject to the normal rules of Justice Department criminal investigative procedure. - ma/RSN
PMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon met Thursday morning with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as the nation's biggest bank attempts to end investigations into its sales of shoddy mortgage securities leading up to the financial crisis.
The bank and federal and state authorities are trying to resolve the probes with a potential $11 billion settlement, according to sources familiar with the matter.
After the meeting at the U.S. Justice Department, which lasted about an hour, Holder told reporters that he had met with representatives of JPMorgan but did not mention Dimon by name. He declined to give details of the talks.
Not really a surprise.