A Tale of Two Men-on-the-street Pieces

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Los Angeles Times reports today that the majority of people in Florence, Colorado, do not mind terrorist suspects being moved from Guantánamo to the nearby federal “supermax” prison: The Senate last week overwhelmingly rejected providing funds to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba, saying that no community in America would want terrorism suspects Read More

Moral Hazard, Fed Style

Reading Time: 2 minutes How exactly did the Federal Reserve gain the emergency authority to loan more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money to the banks secretly and without oversight? The Washington Post explains today in a long investigative piece by Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin. As it turns out, Sen. Chris Dodd slipped the necessary language into an Read More

A Muppet In President Obama's Court

Reading Time: 2 minutes Sonia Sotomayor is not the only recent Obama appointment. She may be the most significant pick, but she is hardly the most intriguing. To wit, I direct your attention to a short Associated Press item, which appeared in papers including the New York Times, about some of President Obama’s recent ambassadorial appointments: President Obama has Read More

Jihad Leak Redux

Reading Time: 2 minutes Recently, I raised some questions about the impact of imprisonment at Guantánamo and how it affected those who were released. For example, I wrote: As for those who returned to jihad, one would like to know whether they were more motivated to do so as a result of their treatment at Guantánamo, or less. In Read More

Treasury’s Shadowy Bid to Bilk Taxpayers

Reading Time: 2 minutes The banks that received money under the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program also granted stock warrants so that taxpayers could capitalize on the risk of investing their money. Bloomberg reports that the Treasury is well on its way to screwing taxpayers on the deal: Banks negotiating to reclaim stock warrants they granted in return for Read More

Jihad Leak

Reading Time: 2 minutes A leaked Pentagon study claims one in seven Guantánamo detainees returned to jihad upon their release. A New York Times reporter says that the assertion could be used to argue against closing down Guantánamo. But…. -If the numbers are correct, that’s a pretty low recidivism rate. It could either argue for the effectiveness of incarceration Read More

NY Times Deals New Card

Reading Time: 2 minutes Anybody who still appreciates the arcane pleasure of reading an actual newsprint newspaper knows how important it is what makes it onto the front page. The New York Times’s prominent placement of a column by personal finance columnist Ron Lieber signals an important development: traditional news organizations’ increasing willingness to level with readers and not Read More

The Way of the Warrior: Media Coverage of Gen. McChrystal

Reading Time: 4 minutes On May 12, 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates selected Gen. Stanley McChrystal to head our “Af-Pak” military operations. Though the selection was widely praised, two unsettling issues have dogged McChrystal’s ascent to the top of the military hierarchy. First, he participated in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s mysterious “friendly-fire” death in Afghanistan. Second, as reported Read More

Has the CIA lied to Congress?

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ recently suggested that we need an investigation of the congressional briefing process. As we continue to follow the political fight between Congress and the CIA, let us not forget the story of Mary McCarthy. A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that Read More

Obama’s Appointee Scorecard: Look #2

Reading Time: 2 minutes The other day, I wrote about the need to study the qualifications of presidential appointees. I noted how Obama’s choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, unlike Bush’s guy, Michael Brown, actually had decades of experience in precisely this area. However, before we start assuming that Obama only appoints people based on credentials, Read More

The Ponzi-Pulitzer Scheme

Reading Time: 2 minutes Earlier in May, the New York Times ran an intriguing piece about William McMasters, the Boston publicist who had helped unmask the con artist Charles Ponzi, after whom the term “Ponzi scheme” is named. One noteworthy passage, near the end of the article, notes McMasters’s frustration at his dealings with the Boston Post, the paper Read More

Obama’s Appointee Scorecard: Look #1

Reading Time: 1 minute One thing the media ought to do on a regular basis is provide updates on the quality of appointees a president makes. Irrespective of political philosophy, most of us can agree that people should be appointed to positions for which they appear qualified. And they should not be hired for positions where their experience runs Read More

Paying More to Cut Costs

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Washington Post today reviews the political push that led to the $36.5 billion in Obama’s stimulus package devoted to modernizing health records. Behind the president’s rosy predictions about the plan’s cost savings is the very industry that stands to gain a fortune from the bill’s passage. Candidate Obama promised $77.8 billion could be saved Read More

Investigative Story of the Week

Reading Time: 1 minute Covering the increasingly urgent matter of food supply safety, the New York Times’s Michael Moss delivers a classic of investigative reporting in his examination of manufacturer instructions relating to frozen entrees. The thrust of the article is that, as food manufacturers look to cut costs and increase imports of ingredients, more and more pathogens are Read More

Interrogating Congress

Reading Time: 1 minute Recently, I raised some questions about the reports that Democratic members of Congress had been aware of CIA interrogation methods. Now, members of Congress themselves are suggesting that the CIA put out the information about the briefings in order to pass the buck. There are crucial questions we should be asking about the CIA, about Read More

Insolvency

Reading Time: 2 minutes Anytime government or corporate interests allege an imminent crisis, journalists must guard themselves against manipulative terminology. Take the report the Obama administration released yesterday showing that the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are being depleted at a faster rate, thanks in part to the recession. The Medicare fund will run out of money in Read More