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

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IRE

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ has been busy the past couple of days at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference in Baltimore. Today he will lead a panel on book writing and freelancing aimed at investigative reporters in career transition, due to the current instability in the media environment. Russ and I are both card-carrying members of IRE, Read More

Russ on GRITtv

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ was recently on Laura Flanders’s GRITtv to discuss Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination, the Tiller murder, Obama’s Middle East speech, and the upcoming Reagan centennial. Here’s Russ on the public controversies surrounding Sotomayor: I think most of these [accusations against Sotomayor] are what I would call misdirection. It’s an attempt to focus the public’s eye away Read More

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A Word to the Worried: the Future of Journalism

Reading Time: 2 minutes Those of us in journalism pretty much know the extent to which our field is being decimated by the simultaneous unraveling of the economy and of the journalistic business model. Still, Barbara Ehrenreich’s commencement address at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism is well worth reading. The dean gave me some very strict instructions about Read More

The Charity of Lobbyists

Reading Time: 2 minutes USA Today published a thorough investigation of the donations lobbyists pour into the favorite non-profits of Congressmen to gain influence and buy face time at charity events. Only since 2007, when congressional ethics rules were changed, has such beneficence had to be reported. The article shows that the reform didn’t come soon enough, since the Read More

Citigroup’s Bogus Profits

Reading Time: 2 minutes Remember how Citigroup’s reported $1.6 billion first-quarter profits sparked a rally in financial stocks? Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. thinks Citigroup really suffered a $2.5 billion loss: Citigroup’s $1.6 billion in first-quarter profit would vanish if accounting were more stringent, says Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. “The big banks’ profits Read More

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