The New Sub-prime Threat?

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

The Importance of Whistleblowers

In the New York Daily News, columnist Stanley Crouch stresses the significance of health insurance p.r. executive Wendell Potter’s defection to the health care reform movement. Potter is now working with the Center for Media and Democracy to counter industry propaganda and reveal the internal workings of the business. Whistleblowers are indispensable in the battle Read More

Is the CIA Planted in State Governments?

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

[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

Conflicts of Interest, and the Appearance Thereof

There was a time when the mere appearance of a conflict of interest was sufficient to rule out certain media practices. That time seems to have long passed. Take, for example, the alleged pay-for-play scandal at the American Conservative Union. The organization offered FedEx lobbying support in a labor dispute for a $2–3 million fee, Read More

The Foreign-Policy Establishment

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

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

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

Did Goldman Sachs Manipulate Markets?

[Update below – Ed.] Over Independence Day weekend, Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly stealing the firm’s high-speed stock- and commodities-trading programming code and uploading it to an unidentified Web server in Germany. At Aleynikov’s July 4 bail hearing, Joseph Facciponti, an assistant U.S. Attorney, told Read More

Questions about Developing C.I.A. Story

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

CIA Lies to Congress

[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

Florida Regulators Aided and Abetted Stanford

The Miami Herald published a long investigative piece about how Sir Allen Stanford, whose Antigua-based banking empire has been shut down as a massive fraud, was able to open a Miami branch in 1998 free from regulatory oversight, with the approval of Florida banking regulators. Stanford got his regulatory-free branch—one of his most lucrative franchises—despite Read More

In Defense of Lobbyists

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

More on Protecting Monopolies

The New Haven Independent reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman (D – CT) is leading a coalition of “centrists” and “moderates” against a public option for healthcare—a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers. As we recently discussed, the public option is supported by about three-quarters of the public, who, in the terms of Read More

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Corporate Tool

Here’s a useful tool for finding out what US-based transnational corporations are doing around the world. Go to a website called Croctail, where you can search domestic and foreign subsidiaries of publicly traded companies. (Hat tip to www.dirtdiggersdigest.org which brought it to my attention.) And while we’re at it, here’s DirtDiggers on Shell’s spin on Read More

UBS or Just Plain BS?

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

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