Something to Sleep On

Reading Time: 3 minutes The New York Times lead story describes how a series of private equity firms managed to repeatedly flip the venerable Simmons mattress company, earning themselves huge profits while the company became increasingly mired in debt and ultimately forced into bankruptcy and massive layoffs, with ordinary investors, employees, and company retirees taking a huge hit. I Read More

Wild Acorns?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Conservative activists and talk show hosts, continuing a crusade begun during the presidential campaign, have been calling for their compatriots to dig up dirt on appointees and beneficiaries of Obama administration funding. The result has been an effort by the Democrats to quickly blunt any controversy by terminating links with anyone deemed controversial. Recently, a Read More

Behind Clinton Backer's Arrest: a Bipartisan, International Affair

Reading Time: 5 minutes AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano whowhatwhy.org reports exclusively on the background of Hassan Nemazee, the top Hillary Clinton fundraiser who was arrested and charged with forging loan documents. Early media accounts cast the event as an embarrassment for Ms. Clinton and the Democratic Party involving the financial misdoings of one prominent backer. Actually it is much Read More

A Deadly Health Care Rumor

Reading Time: 1 minute The other day, the New York Times got around to a bit of investigation into the origins of false information about health insurance reform. But just a bit—not nearly enough. The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed Read More

US Attys: Missing The Origins

Reading Time: 1 minute The New York Times reports on new documents showing that Bush White House political honcho Karl Rove was much more deeply involved in the early moves that led to the firings of numerous United States Attorneys, seemingly for partisan reasons. But the article fails to focus on what matters most: Why? Internal e-mail messages in Read More

The New Sub-prime Threat?

Reading Time: 1 minute I continue to be fascinated by the leaks that are coming out of the Pentagon during the Obama administration. On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article that, in the electronic edition, was headlined “Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S.” Pretty ominous. Even more so in the print edition, on page A5, Read More

Is the CIA Planted in State Governments?

Reading Time: 2 minutes WhoWhatWhy commenter David pointed us to the following video of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura discussing his brush with the Central Intelligence Agency as a newly elected state leader . . . In the video, Ventura discusses material from his recent memoir Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!. He repeats the following claims: (1) Shortly Read More

The Blue Dogs: Best Friends of Big Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes [Updates below – Ed.] As the Obama administration attempts to overhaul the nation’s health care, energy, and financial sectors, it faces the growing leverage of the Blue Dog Coalition—the conservative, fifty-two-member faction of the House’s Democratic caucus—to moderate, or obstruct, its goals. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) recently published an investigation into the Blue Read More

Doddering and Dithering on Financial Reform

Reading Time: 3 minutes The New York Times reports on the formidable resistance in Congress to Obama’s efforts to, among other things, create a new consumer protection agency to cover credit cards, mortgages, and other poorly-regulated financial products. It cites . . . significant criticism from the financial services industry and its allies in Congress. Earlier this week, senior Read More

The Foreign-Policy Establishment

Reading Time: 3 minutes Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, recently wrote an interesting piece for Foreign Policy magazine about what topics are considered “taboo” among establishment foreign-policy wonks—a group that includes Walt himself as a member. The article is equally compelling for what it says as for what it implies about Walt, as Read More

A Drive for Unrestricted Executive Power

Reading Time: 2 minutes The New York Times comes out with a strong editorial, calling for an investigation into Bush administration security abuses, now that it is clear that the practices were not necessary to protect the national interest. We’ve known for years that the Bush administration ignored and broke the law repeatedly in the name of national security. Read More

Opinions to the Highest Bidder

Reading Time: 2 minutes The American Conservative Union describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization” devoted to, among other conservative ideals, “a market economy.” For the ACU, it seems, everything should be determined by market forces—including what policies it should support. Politico’s Mike Allen has caught the organization in an embarrassing pay-for-play scandal: The Read More

Questions about Developing C.I.A. Story

Reading Time: 2 minutes An official story is forming about the secret program that the C.I.A. hid from Congress: the agency planned to organize assassination squads to target Al Qaeda terrorists around the world, according to a lead article in today’s New York Times. Although this account has gained widespread acceptance, there’s reason to be skeptical. As I noted Read More

The Mega-embassy That Wasn’t

Reading Time: 2 minutes Have you heard that Iran built a mega-embassy in Nicaragua? Word of this development has passed the lips of many a conservative anxious about Tehran’s intentions. As the Washington Post reports: It is not clear where the report of the embassy in Managua began. But in the past two years, it has made its way Read More

CIA Lies to Congress

Reading Time: 2 minutes [Update below—Ed.] During last spring’s controversy over whether congressional leaders were briefed by the CIA over its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Russ called for an investigation into the congressional briefing process. It is now all the more clear that such an investigation is a must. Yesterday, CQPolitics reported that CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted Read More

In Defense of Lobbyists

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the days after the November election, Obama’s advisers announced “the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.” These rules included a ban on lobbyists joining the new administration. Why would political ethics demand such a prohibition? According to Obama’s transition team, the new policy sought to curb the Read More

UBS or Just Plain BS?

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Obama Justice Department has just floated a trial balloon to see if it can drop a legal effort to force the Swiss Bank UBS to disclose the names of 52,000 rich Americans suspected of using the bank to evade US taxes. Back in February, the Justice Department sued the bank in an effort to Read More

Hedge Funds Flex Lobbying Muscle

Reading Time: 1 minute The Wall Street Journal has a solid piece of reporting on the continued power of hedge funds to shape their own—and the nation’s—destiny. The lede says it all (subscription required): Many hedge funds were relieved last week when the Obama administration’s financial-overhaul plan included no big surprises or threats to the lucrative, secretive industry. It Read More

Goldman Sachs Record Bonuses: Where's the Investigation?

Reading Time: 2 minutes Goldman Sachs is on pace to make record bonus payouts after a robust first half, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday. Goldman staff in London were briefed on the outlook and told they could look forward to the bonus hikes if the company registers, as predicted, its most profitable year ever, the report said. The Read More

The End of American Hegemony?

Reading Time: 2 minutes At TruthDig, Chris Hedges, playing off an economist’s piece in the Financial Times, posits a dire future based on the collapse of the dollar, largely on account of the humongous military budget’s role in ballooning the deficit. The article, typically lively and controversial Hedges fare, is worth reading for its analysis, as are Hedges’s comments Read More