Tag: White House

Mar 02

The Russian Connection: Deeper and Deeper

Last night’s news was pretty frantic as shoes began to drop implicating the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia’s meddling in the last election and, now, trying to cover it and their butts up. The New York Times reported the Obama White House rushed to protect those documents out of concern that records of the Russian …

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May 30

Wheeler, WaPo, Snowden Demolish Feeble Attempt By Gov’t and NYT to Discredit His NBC Interview

If you want to be a firsthand witness to a truly brilliant, textbook example of how to cut U.S. government propaganda off at its knees before it even begins to take its first breath in the MSM (somewhat surprisingly, by New York Times’ government stenographer David Sanger, no less), look no further than Edward Snowden’s powerful response in tonight’s Washington Post, and Marcy Wheeler’s double-dose of commentary and analysis over at her Emptywheel blog for some serious and beautifully executed lessons! (John Podesta, are you taking copious notes?)

As many will realize after reading these incredibly disparate NYT and WaPo reports, even open-minded Snowden-haters (I know, that’s an oxymoron) would have to admit their home team was completely schooled in tonight’s news cycle.

First, the government’s stenography courtesy of the NYT




N.S.A. Releases Email That It Says Undercuts Snowden’s Whistle-Blower Claim

By DAVID E. SANGER

NEW YORK TIMES

MAY 29, 2014

WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency on Thursday released what it said was the sole internal email from Edward J. Snowden before he fled with a trove of agency secrets, and officials asserted that the message undercut his argument that he protested the legality of surveillance programs before he released any of the documents he stole to journalists.

The email to the N.S.A. general counsel’s office, dated April 8, 2013, makes no reference to the government’s bulk collection of telephone data or other surveillance or cyberprograms. Nor does it raise concerns about violations of privacy.

Instead, Mr. Snowden was seeking clarification about the hierarchy of laws governing the N.S.A., based on what he had learned in an agency training course about privacy protection rules for handling intercepted information.

By the time the email was sent, Mr. Snowden, who was a private contractor and not an agency employee, had already implanted software in the N.S.A. system that was copying its files automatically. Two months later, the first of those files were made public by journalists who had received them from Mr. Snowden.

The N.S.A. released the email in response to Mr. Snowden’s assertion in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC News that was broadcast on Wednesday night. In the interview, Mr. Snowden said he had raised complaints both in Hawaii and at the N.S.A. headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., about “real problems with the way the N.S.A. was interpreting its legal authorities…”



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Dec 01

Anti-capitalist Meetup: “Separate but Equal” Shuts Down Women’s Health Care by TPau

This week has a certain nostalgia for me. I am working the last four shifts in my home, Humboldt County. Nestled between pristine redwoods and dramatic cliffs overlooking the west coast of California, I want to stay here, but cannot. I am feeling the full force of the United States health care crisis. In the four years I have worked here eight of ten obstetricians in the southern half of the county have left, and now I find I am one of them.

Two obstetricians, far apart geographically and serving two different hospitals, are all that is left to serve an area once supporting 10 obstetricians. Both doctors are men over 60, who have a tough future ahead of them. Without outside help there is no way they can see all the patients that will need them. They have to remain within 30 minutes of the hospital and can be told to come to work any time of the day or night. They can never have a moment off, a full night’s sleep, a drink of alcohol to ring in the New Year. Watching a full length movie, or having a nice dinner with the spouse without interruption is a thing of the past. Neither of the remaining doctors can get sick or injured. This is really asking them to be super human and there is no cavalry on their horizon. In fact, if Catholic Health Systems is successful at closing one of the two hospitals, only one physician will remain.

As a young person, I wanted to take my medical skills to a disadvantaged third world nation. Looks like I got my wish-right here in the US. How did we get here?

May 22

John T. Harvey: Austerity Leads To… Austerity!

In the real world and the reality based community, there is talk about austerity from people who understand the nuances of it and macroeconomic accounting identities. They point out the undeniable fact that there is austerity in the UK, the Eurozone, and yes, the United States. This interactive chart will show this, though I can’t embed it here. So instead, I will add a small snapshot of some of the data.

Net spending in the United States has steadily declined since it rose from 2008 to 2009 when the inadequate stimulus(only $500 billion of direct spending at about 1.5 percent of GDP) was passed. Stimulus packages don’t exist in a vacuum, and you have to count all government spending, which basically shows how exactly the numbers, including the stimulus as this does, didn’t close the output gap. And since the numbers didn’t, that is actually austerity. After all, spending went up in the UK and Eurozone from 2008 to 2009 as well, and since then, their spending has declined. Even though it is on a higher level, it is being cut at an even more alarming rate with its fate set to go below our miserable level by 2017.

I have pointed this out before. Sometimes I get frustrated, and point this out harshly, because some pride themselves on denying this established data to support whatever a politician in their party says or does. I don’t know why. Denying reality is not going to give resources to people who need them. There is a reason my last diary has been cited by the reality based Post Keynesian MMT community, in which I am truly grateful for and humbled by; it is the truth.

The real economy of jobs and wages continues to go nowhere thanks to the lack of deficit spending and an illogical debate in DC about how much austerity we need to appease the invisible bond vigilantes and confidence fairies. It is neoliberal deficit terrorist economic insanity based on lies. And on that note, it is my pleasure to republish a piece by someone in the reality based economic community whom I can now proudly say is a friend of mine, Post Keynesian MMT economist John T. Harvey. He, once again, brings clarity to these matters in a way that only he can.  

May 18

The Mountain That Was Benghazi

Cross Posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Republicans have been screaming cover-up for months over the attack on the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya on September 11, 2012 that took the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. One of the accusations surrounded e-mails between the White House, the State Department and the CIA was that there was an intentional downplay of the motive for the September 11 attack.

Based on e-mails that were leaked, the Republicans claimed that the White House had changed the talking points to edit out “terrorism” in an effort to down play the attack just before the election. In an attempt to quell the GOP’s uproar, the White House released a 100 pages of e-mails to the public to disprove the cover-up allegations. Guess what, like true to from politicians trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, they fabricated the so-called quotes to create a scandal. The quotes that were cited by Republicans as accurate are far different than which is in the actual emails.

CBSNews‘ Major Garrett broke the story on its Evening News:

On Friday, Republicans leaked what they said was a quote from (deputy national security adviser Ben) Rhodes: “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”

But it turns out that in the actual email, Rhodes did not mention the State Department.

It read: “We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.”

Republicans also provided what they said was a quote from an email written by State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland.

The Republican version quotes Nuland discussing, “The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda.”

The actual email from Nuland says: “The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

There is no indications that the White House “fixed” the talking  points. This is a purely manufactured conspiracy by the Republicans to discredit, not just the White House, but the State Department and Hillary Rodham Clinton for political advantage.

This isn’t Watergate this is Whitewater. There nothing there, never was but that won’t stop the right wing lying smear machine from wasting millions of tax payer dollars digging more holes:

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican House speaker John Boehner, made it clear that it will not be giving up the fight. “This release is long overdue and there are relevant documents the administration has still refused to produce. We hope, however, that this limited release of documents is a sign of more co-operation to come,” Buck said.

Never mind that they lied. Keep digging your own grave, guys.

h/t John Aravosis at Americablog

May 16

Are We Really the Reality Based Community? We Don’t Act Like It.

This is not directed at the reality based Docudharma community.

And by “we” I don’t mean me or I, because I make a good effort to at least try. I’m talking about blogs like Daily Kos. I had always assumed, because of the many insightful writers on the site and on the front page that was the case. However, we are starting to see some of what we see with corporate control of all airwaves in how site moderation is run.

For instance, whether on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC there is always a fake debate when it comes to climate change which is undeniably happening since we have hit 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere for the first time in 3 million years. When this spectacle that pretends to be a live debate on TV happens, there are always two guys picked by the network to come on TV to debate the issue; one a NASA scientist like say James Hansen and one fringe dwelling Koch funded climate changed denier to debate as if there is something to debate as if both sides have an equal argument to make. WRONG. The science is in.

I always thought we in the progressive blogosphere prided ourselves on not accepting that dynamic, but now I am starting to wonder. On the issues I go to great lengths to cover when it comes to the economy, there are certain undeniable facts that have to be acknowledged whether you are a Post Keynesian MMT proponent like me or not. I mean, if we are any different than debates on red state or the corporate owned media, that is. I have to wonder about that now, because it now appears from what went on in my last diary in the comment section that a moderator here stepped in and made an effort to portray the troll like behavior and continual denial of established facts in every diary of mine as “just an honest disagreement.”

It was inferred that I was “out of line” for accurately describing a commentator while using a term that accurately describes his brand of troll like behavior. That’s not out of line. When people act like trolls in every diary of mine I can only ignore it for so long before calling it out directly. We can’t just ignore this kind of behavior forever in this community. I mean, not if we still consider ourselves part the reality based community. Do we?

Nov 24

A trio of tales

Sometimes the news articles just start piling up and the best way to dismantle the pile is to do a diary which shares multiple stories.  Tonight I have a trio of stories to share, featuring human rights progress Canada, the election of a transgender politician in Cuba, and a transgender summit (of sorts) at the White House here in the US.

But I’ll start off with a separate item, namely first time that the transgender flag has been flown over the Castro.  After several months of contention, the Board of Merchants of Upper Market and the Castro consented to the raising of the transgender flag (the one designed by Monica Helms) for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday.

On with our stories:

May 19

Tony Ferraiolo, Champion of trans youth

The White House has a project called Champions for Change, explained here by Valerie Jarrett:

June’s Champions of Change will be drawn from the LGBT community, in honor of Pride Month.  Submissions closed May 4.  Semifinalists should be chosen in the next week or two.

Part of what makes this candidate stand apart is that he has a PR firm on his side.  I suppose by posting this, I have become part of his PR network.  So be it.  I believe in his cause.

Tony Ferraiolo is a certified life coach (a questionable occupation in my view, but to each his own), a trainer, and a speaker.  More important to my way of thinking is that he is an advocate for trans youth.

I realized that I had the opportunity to create myself into the person who I always wanted to be.   I remember asking myself,  what do I need to do to become that person?  There was a very long list of “To Do’s.”  I knew that the anger I carried would transfer over into the person I wanted to create, so I worked very hard to let go of it.  I forgave everyone who abused me, including myself.  Once I let go of my anger, my soul filled with compassion.  I believe that you must see the dark before you see the light – and that some of us must struggle through the challenges we face because it is part of the growth.  I can honestly say that I would not change anything about my past.  I truly believe that my past is what created “Tony.”

Now he has an opportunity to work on his mission at the White House.  Tony is one of the nominees in the first ever White House LGBT Pride Month Champions of Change Challenge.  Each contestant had to submit a video entry about their commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens.

Dec 18

Reclaiming Our Democracy (Part 2 of 2): Nullification

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

What is Government?

Why do we submit to the law?

We can’t run very fast. We have no sharp teeth or claws. Long ago it became obvious that it was in humanity’s self interest to ban together for our mutual security. We each give up a small amount of personal freedom, for the greater good of the whole. That is the basis of the social contract.

As citizens, our responsibility is to uphold the laws of government. The government, in turn, also has obligations. The bare minimum of those obligations are to protect the majority of people from enemies both foreign and domestic. What enemies do we wish to protect ourselves from? At the very least hunger, disease, invasion by hostile forces (external security), and threats to our self-governance (internal security).

So how are we doing in that respect? Lousy.

We all but wiped out hunger in the US shortly after the Kennedy administration (ended 1963), but the government intentionally reintroduced it in the Reagan administration to drive down worker wages. What is left of our health care system is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Foreign NGO’s have been invited by the Supreme Court to financially manipulate campaigns and thus our government. Internal threats to self-governance are too numerous to recount here, and in any case the Supreme Court has abandoned all pretense that this was a democracy and officially ruled the US a plutocracy.

We are in essence living in a failed state. Just because I am writing about the US, don’t think your country is doing any better. Most of the Western world is in the same boat.

Other articles have detailed the complex road we took to get here. That is not the purpose of this series. This series discusses how we get out.

Specifically, how to tell our government “No!”

Dec 10

On The Question Of Virginity, Or, “Starter? I Can’t Make Her Stop!”

I got a weird little story about my friend Blitz Krieger to bring to you today.

He’s had a crazy car problem, he has, and over the past few months he thought he had found a solution – in fact, he thought he had found the solution of his dreams – but in the end, he’s discovered that the things you dream about often don’t go according to plan.

The way it’s worked out for him so far, it’s been a lot of anticipation followed by a sudden wave of frustration, but I feel like he’s a lot better off having his particular problem with his car…because if he’d had cancer instead, he’d surely be dead by now.  

Dec 05

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Reclaiming Our Democracy (Part I of II): Miliary Democracy

“Duck House”:

I sit on the floor of the Duck House with thirty others, brainstorming for the January action. Neither men nor women dominate the group. We are young, and surprisingly old. Counter-culture and conservatively clad. We question whether it is nobler to seek permits or just show up unannounced. We speak of banners, flyers and street theater-anything to educate the public about our goal.

Even when I still lived in Arizona, I had heard of this place. Democracy Unlimited Humboldt County (DUHC) or “Duck” was on the forefront of the war against corporate power. In 1998, they helped pass a ballot initiative establishing the Democracy and Corporations standing committee in Arcata’s city council here in California.

The Committee’s primary functions are: to research and present to the Council options for controlling the growth of “pattern restaurants” in the community; to cooperate with other communities working on socially responsible investing and procurement policies; to make recommendations to the Council, and/or with the Council’s approval, provide educational opportunities to promote “fair trade”; to inform citizens of corporations with negative social and environmental impact; and to provide advice on ways to foster sustained locally-owned businesses, publicly or locally owned services and worker-owned cooperatives and collectives.–City of Arcata

The committee was hailed by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Jim Hightower. Ralph Nader commented, “I look forward to Arcata being a luminous star in the rising crescendo of democracy in our country.”

Embolden by this success, they passed Measure T in 2004. It forbid nonlocal corporations from contributing to local political campaigns. Two corporations immediately challenged the initiative as unconstitutional. Before the case could be decided by the courts, Humboldt’s Board of Supervisors succumbed to corporate pressure and declared this popularly elected law nullified.

DUHC learned from this experience. They won’t be going it alone, this time. They are but one small seed of democracy, but they are amassing with others to change the political landscape in America. They have joined Move to Amend in a miliary campaign, and this time their aim is not a city ordinance in some far off town on the edge of America, but changing the highest law in the land.

Dec 03

On The Emergence Of China, Or, Zhou Knew This Was Coming

After doing a bit of mountain hiking a few days back, I had a chance to get involved in a great afternoon conversation with the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s Mike Wessel, who also serves as a Commissioner with the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission; the conversation was about how we’re doing when it comes to our relationship with China.

As it turns out, the two events went well together, because what I’m hearing from these guys is that we have a great big ol’ mountain to climb if we hope to get back to a level playing field in our interactions with this most important country.

There’s news to report across a variety of issues; that’s why today we’ll be talking about trade, human rights, cybersecurity, poverty and development, and the methods by which you can apply “soft power” to achieve hard results.

The entirely unanticipated result: all of this will reveal the naïveté of Ron Paul when it comes to foreign policy; we’ll discuss that at the end.  

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