Narrated by Samantha Bee
Edited by Daric Schlesselman
Nov 16 2012
The affair between David Petraeus and a married Tampa socialite was more than just embarrassing it exposed the media’s adoration of a very flawed man, the media’s cover up of his failures and the bigger scandal, the US surveillance state. Three critics of Petraeus weigh in:
The scandal that brought down CIA director David Petraeus has spread to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen. The Pentagon says the FBI has uncovered thousands of “potentially inappropriate” emails between Allen and Jill Kelley, the woman who complained of harassment from Petraeus’ biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell. Kelley’s complaint to the FBI led to the discovery of Broadwell and Petraeus’ relationship, prompting Petraeus’ resignation on Friday. We’re joined by Guardian columnist and blogger Glenn Greenwald
Transcript can be read here
The reverence for the former CIA Director is part of a wider religious-like worship of the national security state.
A prime rule of US political culture is that nothing rivets, animates or delights the political media like a sex scandal. From Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer to John Edwards, Larry Craig and David Vitter, their titillation and joy is palpable as they revel in every last arousing detail. This giddy package is delivered draped in a sanctimonious wrapping: their excitement at reporting on these scandals is matched only by their self-righteous condemnations of the moral failings of the responsible person.
All of these behaviors have long been constant, inevitable features of every political sex scandal – until yesterday. Now, none of these sentiments is permitted because the newest salacious scandal features at its center Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned yesterday as CIA Director, citing an extramarital affair.
That the stars of America’s national security establishment are being devoured by out-of-control surveillance is a form of sweet justice
The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – “Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics” – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes “concern” over their “ethics”). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state. [..]
That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation: [..]
Based on what is known, what is most disturbing about the whole Petraeus scandal is not the sexual activities that it revealed, but the wildly out-of-control government surveillance powers which enabled these revelations. What requires investigation here is not Petraeus and Allen and their various sexual partners but the FBI and the whole sprawling, unaccountable surveillance system that has been built.
The transcript can be read here
The Sins Of General David Petraeus
by Michael Hastings
Petraeus seduced America. We should never have trusted him.
The fraud that General David Petraeus perpetrated on America started many years before the general seduced Paula Broadwell, a lower-ranking officer 20 years his junior, after meeting her on a campus visit to Harvard.
More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image. “Perception” is key, he wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation: “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters – more than what actually occurred.”
Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters – it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.
David Petraeus’ affair is all anybody in Washington can talk about, which might be why the country is in financial ruin.
“I think the news has jumped the shark” and that’s the “word.”
Nov 16 2012
“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.
Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt
New York Times Editorial: Criminality in the Gulf Spill
Two and a half years after the massive gulf oil spill, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges brought by the Justice Department and cough up $4.5 billion in fines and other payments. This is not the first financial penalty the British oil giant has paid for its careless and destructive behavior, nor should it be the last. Still to come are multibillion-dollar settlements under various environmental laws. The Justice Department must be no less diligent in pressing these claims and should not settle for anything less than what the gulf coast, its battered environment and its residents need to address the long-term consequences of this disaster. [..]
Looking ahead, BP will owe somewhere between $5 billion and $21 billion under the Clean Water Act. The fines under that act range between $1,100 and $4,300 per barrel, depending on the level of negligence. In addition, the company will almost certainly owe several billion dollars more under the Oil Pollution Act for damage to natural resources like reefs and oyster beds and fish populations.
Paul Krugman; Life, Death and Deficits
America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas – beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. The most prominent zombie is the insistence that low taxes on rich people are the key to prosperity. But there are others.
And right now the most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats – including, according to reports, the president – have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea – cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare – and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains.
Voters didn’t just send President Obama back to the White House on Election Day. They also voted to raise the minimum wage in three different cities. Albuquerque, NM raised its minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour, and it will automatically adjust to keep pace with the cost of living in future years. San Jose, California, raised its minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10, and it will also adjust automatically. Long Beach, California, went even further, not only giving hotel workers a living wage adjustment to $13 an hour, but also guaranteeing them five paid sick days per year. The first two raises alone will impact an estimated 109,000 workers.
Yet action to raise the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is completely stalled at the federal level. It’s been stuck for over three years and it still isn’t indexed to inflation. That wage adds up to a pitiful $14,500 a year, not enough to make rent in any state. It’s over $3,000 below the poverty line for a parent with two kids. Its purchasing power is 13 percent lower than in 1979. Yet the average minimum-wage worker earns about half of his or her family income.
Jessica Valente: Justice for Savita
This week, the first American study ever to look at what happens to women when they’re denied abortions was released. It’s a fascinating, but not all that surprising, read. The research shows women who seek out abortions and are unable to obtain them fare significantly worse over time than women who are able to procure the procedure. Women who are denied abortions are more likely to end up on welfare, more likely to stay in abusive relationships, and more likely to be emotionally distressed over their pregnancy outcome.
Women’s lives suffer when they are forced to carry pregnancies. I thought I was angry when I read this research. But then I heard about Savita Halappanavar in Ireland, whose tragic story reminds us of the worst thing that can happen when women are denied abortions.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: The War On Women Is a Class War
Last week the voters delivered their verdict on what has come to be known as “the Republican War on Women”: They’re against it.
We’ve had decades of relentless class warfare from above, in the form of wealth distribution from the many to the few. Finally, class-related issues have helped to deliver a resounding defeat to scores of candidates who represented the interests of naked greed. (See WageClassWar.org).
Women’s issues and women voters were critical to this election. That’s not coincidental. The War On Women has many dimensions – social, cultural, psychological – but in many ways women’s issues are class issues. That makes the war on women a class war, among other things.
The upcoming “fiscal cliff” talks will open up another front in this seemingly endless struggle. Here are some reasons why: [..]
Amy Goodman: The Growing Global Movement Against Austerity
Amaia Engana didn’t wait to be evicted from her home. On Nov. 9, in the town of Barakaldo, a suburb of Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country, officials from the local judiciary were on their way to serve her eviction papers. Amaia stood on a chair and threw herself out of her fifth-floor apartment window, dying instantly on impact on the sidewalk below. She was the second person in two weeks in Spain to commit suicide as a result of an impending foreclosure action. Her suicide has added gravity to this week’s general strike radiating from the streets of Madrid across all of Europe. As resistance to so-called austerity in Europe becomes increasingly transnational and coordinated, President Barack Obama and the House Republicans begin their debate to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The fight is over fair tax rates, budget priorities and whether we as a society will sustain the social safety net built during the past 80 years.
Nov 16 2012
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
November 16 is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 45 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1959, the musical, “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway.
Did the young Austrian nun named Maria really take to the hills surrounding Salzburg to sing spontaneously of her love of music? Did she comfort herself with thoughts of copper kettles, and did she swoon to her future husband’s song about an alpine flower while the creeping menace of Nazism spread across central Europe? No, the real-life Maria von Trapp did none of those things. She was indeed a former nun, and she did indeed marry Count Georg von Trapp and become stepmother to his large brood of children, but nearly all of the particulars she related in her 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, were ignored by the creators of the Broadway musical her memoir inspired. And while the liberties taken by the show’s writers, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and by its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, caused some consternation to the real Maria von Trapp and to her stepchildren, according to many later reports, those liberties made The Sound of Music a smash success from the very night of its Broadway opening on this day in 1959.
The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The original cast included Mary Martin (at age 46) as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp, Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, Kurt Kasznar as Max Detweiler, Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schraeder, Brian Davies as Rolf and Lauri Peters as Liesl. Soprano June Card was one of the ensemble members in the original production. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!. Other awards included Martin for Best Actress in a Musical, Neway for Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction (Frederick Dvonch). Bikel and Kaznar were nominated for acting awards, and Donehue was nominated for his direction. The entire children’s cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a single nominee, even though two children were boys.
The Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.
Rebecca Luker leads the 1998 Broadway revival cast in a performance of ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Tony Awards.
Nov 16 2012
We are being told that the mess this President caused when he helped pass the Bush tax cuts in exchange for 1 year of unemployment insurance – which was unnecessary because Republicans caved on UE extension before – WITHOUT even securing a rise in the debt ceiling by putting his full trust in John Boehner with the full faith and credit of the US. This of course gave Boehner immense political power and the right hostage needed to cause the debt ceiling debacle just like I predicted. Well here are are again dealing with the fallout.
As the Huffington Post, who listened in on the call, reports:
The president, speaking from a White House phone, cautioned listeners to expect disappointments during his second term. As he has in the past, Obama warned that he was prepared to swallow some bitter pills during the negotiations, including some that would agitate the base.
“As we move forward there are going to be new wrinkles and new frustrations, we can’t predict them yet,” he said. “We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about.”
Though his encouragement to his activist base may be encouraging to some, the President’s preemptive admission that he’s willing to give away bargaining chips so early in the game will surely irk those who criticized Obama for his negotiating style throughout his first term. That will be doubly true for progressives who have publicly called for a more hardline stance when it comes to defending key social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
We know from the president’s interview with the Des Moines register that much of what was in the memo revealed by Bob Woodward as part and parcel of all of this nonsense we shouldn’t even have to be dealing with in the first place is a starting point. Oh yes, many will screech about how Simpson Bowles is dead because the commission was a failure, but the horrible ideas live on through our elected leaders that keeps bringing them back to life.
“I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,” Obama said. (The White House quickly clarified that he meant $2.50 of spending cuts for every dollar in new tax revenue.)
“We can easily meet-‘easily’ is the wrong word-we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years …
This is not going to help the unemployed and it’s economic illiteracy. When you hear things like, “We all agree we must pay down the deficit,” it might as well be, “We all agree on economic illiteracy. Come on. Everybody’s doing it.” Anyone who is still making excuses for this doesn’t even understand why this fake fiscal cliff, really an austerity bomb as Brian Beutler of TPM puts it, is coming back up in the first place.
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” – William Faulkner
This is quite literally true so for all those “that was then this is now” excuse makers, you have a lot of studying and reading to do.