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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post

Complicit

Posted on: April 12, 2017

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“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein

“When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take from journalism.” – Jim Hightower

When the Pulitzers announced that David Fahrenthold of Washington Post was receiving an award for National Reporting “For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities,” no one was surprised. He was the highly favored candidate. Fahrenthold was one of the very few mainstream reporters who did not spend the 2016 election cycle sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. One of the very few. (Because of his reporting on Trump’s charity donations, Fahrenthold was also the one to receive the Access Hollywood tape when NBC spent days trying to decide how and when to release it.) Fahrenthold began his investigation into Trump’s supposed (and non-existent) charitable donations on something of a hunch. He remembered Trump once saying on TV that he would donate $6 million to veterans groups and Fahrenthold wondered if Trump followed through on the promise. So he started researching and found a Pulitzer.

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Do you know who didn’t find a Pulitzer? Anybody who was sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. The vast majority of the news media spent 18 months questioning Clinton on her use of a private e-mail server and then combing through tens Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.37 PMof thousands of stolen e-mails from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. All they found was a risotto recipe and that one time Clinton and Huma Abedin split a crème brûlée. There
was also gossip. But nothing that a sane person could interpret as in any way significant to a Presidential campaign. And yet, according to statistics, E-MAILS was the topic of more conversation on the news than anything else. Though we might think the NY Times was the most egregious in their anti-Hillary coverage, it was – in fact, the Washington Post that by far led Hillary-hate; second only to Fox News.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.09 PM

When CNN’s Jake Tapper was told by Robby Mook that there are allegations about stolen DNC e-mails and Russian interference via WikiLeaks, Tapper’s incredulous eye-rolling response should shame him for the rest of his life. (It won’t.) Not because he didn’t just take Mook’s word for it in the moment. But because Tapper never called any of his sources, whether in Congress or in the Intelligence Community, and ask: “Hey, what is he talking about? Anything to this?” Because he might have gotten an affirmative response and landed the biggest story of his life. By that time the FBI was alredy investigating Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. And the Gang of 8 in Congress was about to be briefed. Harry Reid would fire off multiple public letters to FBI Director James Comey, imploring additional information to be disclosed on Trump and Russia. To no avail. Comey was silent and the media treated Reid like a deranged lunatic. Very few reporters looked into these stories. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek was one, and was widely derided by the Left and the Right. When David Corn of Mother Jones published an article about the Steele dossier in October, he was laughed at too. When Franklin Foer of Slate published an article claiming that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian Alfa Bank he was laughed at as well. His allegations were infamously dismissed by the NY Times as “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. sees no clear link to Russia” in an article by Eric Lichtblau. It is a headline that should be tattooed on Lichtblau’s forehead. (Lichtblau recently left the Times to be CNN’s lead investigative reporter…) The NY Times was flat out wrong. And they conducted an interview with Harry Reid for the story, and then threw it out unused. The story remains up, un-retracted. We, of course, now know for a fact that the Times was wrong. The F.B.I. was investigating Trump and they saw links to Russia. And Alfa Bank’s communications with Trump servers is one of the lynchpins of the investigation.

So what happens when journalism is wrong? Journalists love themselves because they say their job is to hold the powerful accountable for wrong-doing. But what happens when journalists are wrong? What happens when entire media empires fail to see the biggest story of their lifetimes and chase a red herring, plunging a nation into a crises? Where, to paraphrase, does a person the media ruined go to get their good name back? How do we collectively crawl our way out of the hole the media threw us all in?

The answer, I fear is…nothing happens. They pay no price. When the NY Times and Judith Miller published Dick Cheney’s fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, then watched Cheney go on television and cite the Times as proof that Hussein had WMDs, and the country went to a catastrophic war in Iraq…nothing happened to the NY Times. They threw Miller out, as if her reports were not approved by editors above her and as if lawyers and standards/practices didn’t sign off on her reports. The Times paid no price. And they will pay no price for Clinton’s e-mails either.

Society of Professional Journalists writes: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.”  I wonder how they feel about NY Times’ Maggie Haberman receiveing an adoring write-up from CNN, as the reporter Trump hates the mostest. NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sees Maggie and raises her by being the most hated reporter of all the Presidents in Politico. And CNN’s Brian Stelter is the Young Messiah of Washington Post’s ode. Each of these articles was reposted on social media by the author, the subject, every other reporters both sides work with. It’s a veritable journalistic circle jerk of love and adoration. There are no consequences for their failures – to them. The only consequences belong to us. The only ones to pay will be the public, which now clings to the same reporters who brought us to hell to help dig us out. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post says. Except they broke all of the lights.

 

13 Hours

Our session last evening produced over 160 comments.  That is a heavy lift for every refresh when loading the site.  Fortunately, there was an article today serving as a nice coda to Wednesday’s post.

In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, the CIA officer in charge on the night of the infamous Benghazi attack has spoken out.  It is indeed worth a read especially since the 13 Hours movie opened this weekend.

The operative does not reveal his name since his identity has not yet been cleared by the CIA.  He is called “Bob” throughout the story and is described as:

[A] former Army medic who spent 32 years with the agency…Libya wasn’t Bob’s first war zone. The former veteran case officer, now in his early 60s, spent time in Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan as a clandestine case officer assigned to the Latin America and Near East divisions.

“Bob” unequivocally dismisses the claims made in the movie as to the notorious “stand down” order that September 11th, 2012 evening.  As we discussed Wednesday, Bob strategically ordered the contract security team to wait, “If there was any delay, it was a matter of minutes. It took a good 15 to 17 minutes just to get ready,” Bob said.

As you will note in the article, the book upon which the movie is based was not submitted to review by the CIA.  The anonymity of the security officers allowed the author to skirt a national security factual review.  That fact, in and of itself, should discount this Michael Bay pyrotechnic extravaganza.

Without a doubt, 13 Hours will become the truth of the conspiratorial Right.  As with so many things, the truth of the Right stands at the gate of the land of delusional sophistry.

As always, this is an open thread.

Not with temps in the 70s!

Not with temps in the 70s!

Good Tuesday to you Widdershins!

Madamab is still in holiday/travel mode, dear chat is still having arm issues and I believe our loquacious Prolix has come down with some seasonal maladies.  So, that leaves yours truly to come up with something that will:  entertain you, enlighten you or bore you to tears.  Personally, my bet is on the last one.  I’ve collected a few things from the news today and I’ll share them with you.

 

Do the holidays put you in a celebratory mood?

And do you like to imbibe in some seasonal adult beverages?  And do those seasonal, celebratory drinks continue long past the holidays?  If so, that’s not surprising according to this article from the Washington Post.  It seems that we Americans are drinking ourselves to death at an alarming rate.  But…if we’re drinking ourselves to death isn’t any rate of it alarming?

Alcohol is killing Americans at a rate not seen in at least 35 years, according to new federal data. Last year, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis, which is primarily caused by alcohol use.

In 2014, there were 9.6 deaths from these alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people, an increase of 37 percent since 2002.This tally of alcohol-induced fatalities excludes deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, and homicides committed under the influence of alcohol. If those numbers were included the annual toll of deaths directly or indirectly caused by alcohol would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The article states that previously professionals in public health had been concentrating more on deaths from opioids or other prescription medications, “But in 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647), according to the CDC.”.  Now there was one quote from the piece that struck me as absolutely hysterical and here it is:

“Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more,” he wrote in an email.

Okay.  So one reason for higher alcohol-related deaths is because more people are drinking more.  Alrighty then.  So moving on…

What’s in your wallet? A credit card or
possible lawsuit against you?

Some research done by ProPublica revealed that Capital One had a tendency to file a “disturbing” number of lawsuits against its cardholders and for relatively small amounts.

During the years of the recession, particularly 2008 through 2010, when the number of credit card defaults surged, many banks filed more lawsuits. But Capital One dwarfed them all, reaching levels never matched by any company before or since, according to ProPublica’s review of data going back to 1996.

By our estimate, the suits exceeded half a million per year nationally during those peak years.

Oscar Parsons got his first credit card from Capital One and he decided to accept it since he banked at a Capital One branch near where he lived.

Initially, he had little problem keeping up with the payments. But after a run of construction jobs came to an end, he fell behind and found himself ducking the bank’s collections calls, he said. Each time the company’s TV commercials popped up, asking, “What’s in your wallet?” Parsons thought: “It’s not enough to pay you back.”

This year, Capital One provided Parsons with another first: his first lawsuit. For failing to pay his $1,800 debt, the company took him to court. Currently on public benefits and in a job training program, Parsons has nothing Capital One can take. But should Parsons find work, Capital One could use a court judgment to seize money from his bank account or take a portion of his wages.

It turns out that Capital One Bank tends to market its cards to those folks who are “living on the edge”, “said Steve Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. ‘A large majority of these cardholders carry balances from month-to-month, because they can’t afford to pay off the balance.’.

“A Capital One spokeswoman said the bank serves an important function by providing credit to large numbers of borrowers who might be unlikely to get it from other banks. When customers fall behind on payments, she said, the bank makes every effort to work with them.”  Uh-huh, sure.

ProPublica also found out this little interesting tidbit:

Debt collection lawsuits are especially prevalent in black neighborhoods, as ProPublica reported in October, where suits over smaller debts are more common. Capital One obtained judgments in mostly black neighborhoods at nearly twice the rate as in mostly white neighborhoods, a larger disparity than the other major card issuers, we found. Capital One’s spokeswoman said the bank did not take race into consideration when making a loan or filing a suit.

Yeah, okay, sure. Just remember all of that when you see the commercial that asks “What’s in your wallet?”.

This just in!

Mexican authorities caught that little b@stard who got off with probation based on the “affluenza” defense.

Mexican authorities have detained Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, in the beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office confirmed late Monday.

Couch, 18, had been on the run since missing an appointment with his probation officer earlier this month — a violation of a 10-year-probation sentence he received for drunkenly killing four with his Ford F-350 pickup in 2013.

CNN first reported Monday evening that the Couches had been tracked down in Mexico.

Honestly, I can’t believe that the little turd got away with that 10-year probation to begin with.  And the prosecutor at the time warned:

In his closing statements, Richard Alpert, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, argued that if given a light sentence, Couch would likely veer off the path.

“There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here,” Alpert said.

If anyone has a right to say “I told ya so”, it’s the A.D.A. Alpert.  And if he’s still with the Tarrant County D.A.’s office I hope he gets to try them both this time.
 

Welp, that’s all I got for today.  This is an open thread for anyone who stops by.  Take the comments in any direction you wish.  And in keeping with my visuals above here’s a sound effect to go with it.  Oh and Happy New New Year to all; I’ll see you in 2016.

And in keeping with the WaPo article, here’s some Sinatra to go with that one.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mobius Strip is a surface with one continuous side formed by joining the ends of a rectangular strip after twisting one end through 180°.  There is no beginning or no end to a Mobius Strip.  It is seamless.  It is an eternal loop.

Hillary Clinton’s relationship with the media is a Mobius Strip.Mobius Strip

The media uses certain words to describe Hillary.  Here is a list put together by Men for Hillary juxtaposed with words used to describe men:

  • A male candidate is smart, while Hillary is “calculating, scheming, crafty, manipulative.”
  • A male candidate values privacy, while Hillary is “secretive, suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative.”
  • A male candidate takes strong positions, while Hillary is “polarizing, divisive, alienating.”
  • A male candidate deserves the benefit of the doubt, while Hillary is “untrustworthy, corrupt, deceitful, dishonest, unethical.”
  • A male candidate is an achiever while Hillary is “over-ambitious, will do or say anything to win.”
  • A male candidate is diplomatic while Hillary is “inauthentic, disingenuous, fake, unlikable, insincere.”

Words like these are repeatedly used in articles or like Maureen Dowd, in opinion pieces by those who have long-held grudges.  For twenty-five years this has been normal in coverage of Hillary.

This is how it climbs onto the Mobius Strip.  After incessantly using words like calculating, scheming, crafty, manipulative, etc. – then the media outlets poll voter attitudes.  In a self-fulfilling prophesy, the question is phrased this way:  I’m going to read you a list of words, please tell me whether or not you believe these words describe Hillary Clinton?  Of course, voters will describe Hillary according to the words they have repeatedly heard the media use.

Hillary in Las VegasIt doesn’t stop there.  In the next news cycle, the media then begins to ask questions about Hillary being described by these words.

Next, the media follows up with, “Why does the electorate see Hillary by these characteristic words?”

And then there’s the consummate hat trick to bring this Mobius Strip back to its start:  The media then begins asking questions about why they are asking the questions – questions about questions.  It goes something like this:  Many people are asking the question why people are questioning Hillary’s honesty.  A perfect self-sustaining Mobius Strip loop.

A great example was Tuesday’s Las Vegas press conference.  Ed Henry, of Fox Screws (where else), interrupted Hillary repeatedly.  He was antagonistic and petulant.

Then, of course, there was an analysis of that Las Vegas press conference which proves the underlying thesis of this post.  Here are five criticisms of Hillary contained in that Washington Post analysis:

  1. She sounds like a lawyer. News flash, she is a lawyer.
  2. She casts the whole thing as normal and every day. There are people who are paid to come to work each day in the federal government and question the security classification of communication.  It is normal.  It happens every single day.
  3. She’s dismissive. It isn’t very authentic to pour out empathetic vibes to someone who is deserving of dismissiveness like Ed Henry, especially if that person is on a mission from Roger Ailes to take Hillary down in a single presser.  The author of the article actually says, “Hillary has seen this type of thing a billion times before.”  Now honestly, how could she be anything but dismissive of something she has seen a billion times before?
  4. She’s sarcastic. The author says, “People like sarcasm in their politicians.”  I guess Hillary is the exception to the author’s own rule.
  5. She’s wrong. This criticism has to do with who is asking the questions about the e-mail issue and Hillary said, “Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.”  The reporter then concludes he doesn’t know who talks to Hillary about what on every second of every day, but that doesn’t stop him from declaring someone must be talking to Hillary about the issue.  In other words, the author asserts, “I don’t know who talks to Hillary or what they talk about, but that doesn’t stop me from concluding she’s being talked to about the e-mails.” Ashley Madison

So what is the title of this post about?  Given the constant media mash-up, I figure it goes something like this:

Hillary’s e-mail equals technology.  Hillary is deceitful and therefore, she is covering up something and must be cheating.  The Ashley Madison issue is about technology and covering up cheating.  In the Mobius Strip that is the media, ergo, Hillary Clinton is Ashley Madison – it’s all about cheating through technology and the woman who enables it.  I expect the headline soon.

Take this conversation in any direction you might like.

 

 

Sometimes in the universe an unfathomable convergence of events unfolds that is quite literally inexplicable.  Yesterday was one of those unimaginable intersections no amount of planning could engineer.  July 21st was the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the “Scopes monkey trial” in Dayton, Tennessee.  By pure happenstance, it was also national Masturbation Day in Japan.  And for the proverbial hat trick, Donald Trump was the undisputed leader in polling for the Republican presidential nomination.Red Kangaroo

Go figure?  Was this a fluke?  Perhaps.  Happenstance?  Maybe.  A stroke of luck on the cosmic roulette wheel of randomness?  Quite possibly.  Or was it providential Kismet for a Trumpanzee wearing a kangaroo scrotum as a hairpiece to lead a national poll by engaging in a vulgar display of ego masturbation?

Why would I spend your precious time writing about the Trumpanzee?  Trump’s shenanigans not only hurt the Republican Party, but they hurt the country and all public policy in general.  This is particularly true when we need a robust conversation around real issues affecting real people about all too real problems.

Over the weekend “the Donald” allowed his mouth to again go joyriding without the benefit of a licensed brain.  He insulted John McCain and thousands of other veterans.  What is amazing is that I’m betting this won’t significantly hurt Trump’s numbers.  He is the poster buffoon for a disaffected slice of the Republican Party and while his insult would be cyanide to a normal candidate, it is merely catnip to the Trumpeters.

An explanation you are probably hearing on the teevee is much akin to something you probably heard from your mother, “It’s all well and good until somebody gets hurt and by then it’s too late to stop.”

TrumpIt was all well and good for Trump to call out President Obama about his birth certificate and to blow the “Kenyan dog whistle” until he was more red-faced than usual.  It was all well and good for him to indict an entire race as “rapists and drug dealers”.

Throughout these and other instances, nary a word was heard from any Republican during these episodic displays of bigotry.  Now that Trump has directed his bluster at Republicans, suddenly he is a dangerous public enemy and must be stopped.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo credit to JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit to JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

They just cannot wait to start playing “connect the dots” when it comes to Hillary Clinton and a potential 2016 candidacy , even when the dots are not there.  WaPo has a piece up about some penny-ante crook, Jeffery Thompson, who was a former DC city contractor.  Supposedly Mr. Thompson secretly bankrolled a candidate’s race for DC mayor and now there are supposed to be documents filed in a court case that show that Thompson “secretly backed” a GOTV operation to benefit Hillary Clinton in 2008.  Thompson “allegedly” (the WaPo’s own term) paid Troy White over $600,000 for the Clinton effort.

This all came to light as a result of Thompson’s involvement in the above-mentioned mayor’s race in DC.  Quoting from the piece:

Prosecutors have been building a case against Thompson, who has been described in court documents as the financier of a secret campaign for Gray’s successful run for mayor, and court records show that he is the subject of a grand jury investigation.

Neither Thompson nor Gray has been charged, and the mayor has denied any wrongdoing. Thompson has not been named in any of the documents, but several people with knowledge of the case have identified him as the businessman in those documents.

The piece goes on to say that:

The investigation could have implications for Clinton, who is weighing a second run for president in 2016 and is seen as an overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.

This all came to light when White, a marketing executive from New York, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tax charge.  The Post goes on to say: “The investigation could have implications for Clinton, who is weighing a second run for president in 2016 and is seen as an overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.”  Really?  That’s odd because people involved with the 2008 campaign say they don’t recall Troy White or his GOTV effort.   Supposedly White helped Clinton’s efforts in Texas and at least North Carolina and Indiana.  But as I said, folks involved with the 2008 campaign can’t recall the guy.

A senior official on Clinton’s 2008 campaign said no one in the campaign’s senior leadership or with budget-making authority knew about White’s independent canvassing campaign. Other senior officials said they had never heard of White.

“I’m absolutely certain he had nothing to do with any of us,” said Garry Mauro, chairman of Clinton’s Texas campaign. “I was at the headquarters almost every day, I traveled the state, and I never heard of this guy.”

The piece goes on to say that when Hillary was trailing Obama in the 2008 race that White contacted the campaign about helping but:

After campaign officials declined his services, a longtime Clinton adviser, Minyon Moore, helped connect White with Thompson, who agreed to fund his canvassing operation, according to the documents and interviews. [italics mine]

Utrecht, the Clinton campaign attorney, emphasized in her statement that the campaign “turned down Mr. White’s services.”

The Post piece says that Minyon Moore was a “senior adviser” with the campaign in a number of areas, but she was supposed to have expertise in getting out the African American vote.  According to court documents, Guy Cecil who was the national field director for the campaign told White “Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to use the street teams.” The person described himself or herself as a ‘big fan”’and expressed a hope that ‘we can work together soon’.”  To me that sounds like a nice “thanks but no thanks and let’s have drinks sometime”.  But of course never let the truth stand in the way of a good narrative.

Next, Minyon Moore emailed both Guy Cecil and White saying: “I am piping up saying we need your (White’s) services.” Moore told Cecil in the same message, “Let’s [find] some money. I will fight for it.”

And it was at this point that Moore introduced White to Thompson (no official campaign people that I see here) and then Thompson agreed to fund the effort.  Now it gets sticky here with a lot of “prosecutors allege” stuff:

According to prosecutors, White maintained contact with Moore, who arranged for Clinton’s Texas campaign office to provide White’s “street team workers” with campaign-prepared materials — such as bumper stickers and yard signs. Moore also gave White “confidential internal information” about the campaign’s itinerary, according to the court filing.

“The paid street team workers and canvassers then were directed to attend these campaign events to show support for [Clinton] and disseminate and distribute [Clinton’s] prepared materials,” according to the document signed by White.

I see a lot of claims but I don’t see any concrete proof.  White was asked by the judge if there were any contacts between himself and the official campaign and he responded “yes”.  Well I could say I had contact with Colonel Sanders because I got to shake the old guy’s hand when he was there for the opening of the KFC franchise in my dad’s hometown.

The Post article goes on to say that Thompson “has a long history of supporting Bill and Hillary Clinton, making donations to their political campaigns as well as to the family’s charitable foundation.”.  Yeah, I’m sure there are thousands of folks who have contributed to the Clinton campaigns (count me in), but I don’t see anything sinister in that.

What this entire thing sounds like to me is guys who operated behind the scenes and unofficially, (Thompson and White) who now have some heat coming down on them who are willing to say or do whatever they need to make themselves appear in the best light.  The individual who was in charge of the Texas campaign, Garry Mauro says he never heard of White.  This entire thing seems to be all about Jeffery Thompson and Troy White and the efforts to “get” them.  The fact that it involves Hillary’s 2008 campaign tangentially and the fact that she may run in 2016 is just a little bit of lagniappe for the WaPo writers.  It’s never too early to start the Hillary-hatin’.

This is an open thread.


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