Daily Archive: 05/19/2015

May 19 2015

Illinois Abu Ghraib

As Torture Victims Win $5.5M in Reparations, Could Chicago Be a Model for Police Abuses Nationwide?, Democracy Now

As Chicago Pays Victims of Past Torture, Police Face New Allegations of Abuse at Homan Square, Democracy Now

Homan Square detainee: I was sexually abused by police at Chicago ‘black site’

by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Thursday 14 May 2015 12.50 EDT

It was 21 October 2012. The day before, Perez had been driving his Rav-4 on his restaurant delivery route when he says police accosted him, wanting him to contact a drug dealer who they believed Perez knew so they could arrange a sting. But Perez was less cooperative than they had hoped.

Now, Perez was handcuffed by his right wrist to a metal bar behind a bench in an interrogation room on the second floor of Homan Square. Behind him were two police officers that a lawsuit Perez recently re-filed identifies as Jorge Lopez and Edmund Zablocki. They had been threatening him with a stint at the infamously violent Cook County jail if he didn’t cooperate.

“They’re gonna think you’re a little sexy bitch in jail,” Perez recalled one of them saying. The lawsuit quotes Lopez: “I hear that a big black nigger dick feels like a gun up your ass.”

Perez claims he was bent over in front of the bench and a piece of detritus. He recalled smelling urine and seeing bloodstains in the room. The police officers pulled his shirt up and slowly moved a metallic object down his bare skin. Then they pulled his pants down.

“He’s talking all this sexual stuff, he’s really getting fucking weird about it, too,” Perez remembered. He began shaking, the beginnings of a panic attack.

“They get down to where they’re gonna insert it, this is where I feel that it’s something around my rear end, and he said some stupid comment and then he jammed it in there and I started jerking and going all crazy – I think I kicked him – and I just go into a full-blown panic attack … The damage it caused, it pretty much swole my rear end like a baboon’s butt.”

Whatever the object was, the police suggested it was the barrel of a handgun. After Perez involuntarily jerked from the penetration, Officer Edmund Zablocki is alleged to have told him: “I almost blew your brains out.”

Perez claims all of this occurred to persuade him to purchase $170 worth of heroin from the dealer.

Rahm Emanuel took office as Mayor of Chicago on May 16, 2011.  Chicago has been under Democratic Party control since 1931.

May 19 2015

The TPP Deal That Will Cut Medicare

Last week many received an e-mail from Democracy for America claiming the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cut Medicare for senior citizens by $700 million:

There’s a big — brand new — attack on Medicare that’s just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP. The bill would cut a whopping $700 million from Medicare, hurting seniors who need access to health care.

That’s right, Republicans insisted on cutting Medicare spending to pay for a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that Democrats got added to the bill in order to support workers who lost their jobs due to trade deals like the TPP.

A few bloggers were a little confused by this claim and dug a little deeper.

Lambert Strether, at naked capitalism, had a few good questions:

1) Has Trade Adjustment Assistance been added to the TPP Fast Track bill?

2) Has $700 million been cut from Medicare as a result?

3) Does Trade Adjustment Assistance serve any public purpose?

The answer to question #1 is No.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) and the Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) are separate pieces of legislation, so when DFA says that TAA has “just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP,” that’s not correct. Still, that doesn’t mean that a deal wasn’t cut, and that seems to be just what’s happened. [..]

And the bills indeed moved in tandem; the Senate voted for closure of both Fast Track and TAA last Thursday, May 14.

The answer to #2 is Yes. The cut is in the TAA. It was added by Republicans who insisted that the cost of bill be offset:

   The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, sponsored by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.), would rely on $700 million in reduced Medicare spending in 2024 to pay for [sic] healthcare coverage and other benefits for workers who lose coverage because of any agreements negotiated under fast-track trade authority sought by President Barack Obama.

   The $700 million in savings would be achieved by increasing Medicare cuts that were part of the sequester by 0.25% in 2024.

Lambert points out the more colorful language from the National Journal

Apparently using Medicare as a piggy bank to pay for [sic] everything under the sun has become the new legislative norm for Congress,” Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement to National Journal. “Rather than balancing priorities or considering a penny of new revenue, congressional leaders are proposing to once again funnel Medicare resources into unrelated programs and fixes-this time it’s the trade adjustment assistance program.

The answer to #3 is probably not. Lambert thoroughly researched the 40 year old current TAA at Senator Sherrod Brown’s site and got pretty ticked off:

Brown lists a ton of reasonable seeming tweaks and enhancements. Reading through the list, though, I’ve got to say I’m both ticked off and skeptical:

Ticked off, because how come the millions who got kicked out of the labor force when the powers-that-be decided to downsize it aren’t eligible for the same treatment? For example, it sounds like the Health Care Tax Credit workers screwed over by trade deals get is a better deal (at least in terms of dollars, even though it’s a tax credit) than COBRA, which is what workers screwed over by recessions and depressions get. What a horrible patchwork.

And skeptical, because in today’s post-crash and crapified labor market, is training really the answer?[4] Especially for over-50s?

So I’m not convinced that TPP + TAA nets out positive for workers, or even makes them whole. [..]

Bottom line is that TAA is a bandaid on a cancer, and the Democrats – assuming good faith, which I think with Sherrod Brown it’s fair to do – traded away something for nothing, as so often. If corporations can go to a rigged court and sue for lost profits, how come workers can’t go to a rigged court and sue for lost wages?

Over at Salon, lapsed blogger David Dayen had this to say about the TAA and the Democrats sell out of seniors:

There’s substantial disagreement on whether TAA actually helps workers get new jobs, but Democrats strongly support the program. Even pro-trade Democrats made renewing TAA a condition of passing fast track, and the two bills will move together in the Senate this week. But even though supporters constantly talk up the economic benefits of trade, they nevertheless offset the $2.9 billion in TAA funding by cutting other spending. Supposedly, trade increases jobs and therefore federal revenue, leaving enough money available to pay for TAA. But in Congress’ eyes, some other priority has to pony up that cash nonetheless.

That priority happens to be Medicare. TAA is partially financed through $700 million in Medicare cuts. Sequestration expires in fiscal year 2024, but the TAA bill expands it by piling those cuts onto the back end. Most of the other $2.2 billion gets financed through customs user fees. [..]

The other problem here is that it fundamentally breaks that promise – already, before any vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership or any other fast-tracked agreement – that no laws will change in this new era of corporate-friendly “free trade.” This continues a troubling trend, identified by Paul Krugman, about not being able to trust the White House’s categorical denials about the consequences of their trade agenda. They said the investor-state dispute settlement process couldn’t weaken regulatory priorities; that’s not true. They said Dodd-Frank would be protected in any trade deals; that’s not true either. To quote Krugman, “The Administration is in effect saying trust us, then repeatedly bobbling questions about the deal in a way that undermines that very trust.” The Medicare cuts represent another drop in that bucket. [..]

Every hit on the credibility of the free trade agenda makes it less likely that the bill will pass the House. Republicans claim they are gaining momentum in picking up votes, but all public whip counts show the tally coming up short. Adding Medicare cuts into the mix makes voting for fast track an even heavier lift for the House Democrats likely needed to get the bill the required votes. Republicans have repeatedly torched Democrats for Medicare cuts in campaign ads. They cannot relish giving another opening for that attack.

These are all bad bills that in the long run will hurt the vast majority of workers. So fight back by arming yourself with the facts then contact your congressional representatives via letters, e-mail and phone calls. Get together with a few people, make an appointment and visit their offices to express your concerns. Delegations get attention. Write letters to the editors of newspapers. And don’t let up, be persistant and polite.

The lies about TPP need to be exposed and this agreement needs to be stopped.

May 19 2015

Punting the Pundits

“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

Dean Baker: The Incredible Arrogance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Crowd

There are few policies that show the split between elite opinion and everyone else as clearly as trade policy. On trade we see a remarkable convergence of the leadership of both parties against their base, with the elites firmly behind the leadership against what they view as the ignorance of the masses.

As is often the case, the ignorance rests largely on the side of the elites. If that seems surprising, after all these are highly educated people, remember these are people who could not see the $8 trillion housing bubble whose crash wrecked the economy. There is little reason to believe their understanding of economics has improved much in the last seven years.

For the elites, trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are a no-brainer. After all, do we want autarky? Globalization is a natural process and standing in the way is like trying to block the flow of the Amazon River.

Robert ReichTen Ideas to Save the Economy #4: Bust Up Wall Street

When Americans think of how the economic rules are stacked against them, they naturally think of Wall Street.

When the Wall Street bubble burst in 2008 because of excessive risk-taking, millions of working Americans lost their jobs, health insurance, savings, and homes.

But The Street is back to many of its old tricks. And its lobbyists are busily rolling back the Dodd-Frank Act, intended to prevent another crash.

The biggest Wall Street banks are also much larger. In 1990, the five biggest banks had 10 percent of all of the nation’s banking assets. Now, they have 44 percent – more than they had at the time of the 2008 crash. [..]

The only sure way to stop excessive risk-taking on Wall Street so you don’t risk losing your job or your savings or your home, is to put an end to the excessive economic and political power of Wall Street.

It’s time to bust up the big banks.

Trevor Timm: US Officials Leak Information About the ISIS Raid That’s More Sensitive Than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

Here’s how the New York Times described how the US conducted this “successful” raid:



   The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Read that carefully and pretend it was Snowden who leaked this information, instead of nameless Pentagon spokesmen. US officials would be screaming from the rooftops that he leaked extremely timely and sensitive intelligence (it was literally only hours old), that he will cause specific terrorists to change their communications behavior, and most importantly, he put the lives of informants at risk. (Note: none of Snowden’s leaks did any of these things.)

Mike Lux: Trade and the Enforcement Issue

The trade debate is a thoroughly engrossing saga full of intriguing story lines, as both parties find themselves in civil wars as the strange bedfellows of Obama, McConnell, and Boehner, and the combined might of corporate America, try to ram home a deal that, with such an alliance, should be easy to ram. But the fight goes on, and the story lines keep getting more interesting: Will the tea party faction in the House finally trust Obama with the kind of unlimited power on trade he is asking for? Will Hillary take a stand? Will Obama keep taking pot shots at Elizabeth Warren? Will Pelosi rally the Democratic troops in the House to be against Obama the same way Warren and Harry Reid have in the Senate?

I have worked and written a lot on the TPP fight over the last couple of years, and it is going to be intense all the way through, but I wanted to throw another thing into the whole trade discussion today, and that is the issue of enforcement: Why are we to have any faith in the language of these trade deals on labor, the environment, or anything else if the administration won’t enforce the rules of trade that already exist?

Jeffrey Sachs: Why Fast Track Is a Dangerous Gift to Corporate Lobbies

The Obama Administration is now on track to get “fast track” legislation through the Senate, heading towards a close vote in the House. The end goal is to conclude two major business treaties: the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The House Democrats are right to withhold their support until key treaty positions favored by the White House are dropped.

One of the key reasons to fight fast track is the Administration’s insistence on including Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the two draft treaties. ISDS is a dangerous policy that undermines the case for TPP and TTIP. The ISDS framework is an unjustified grant of exceptional power to multinational companies above and beyond the legal system in which the companies operate.

ISDS allows foreign companies and individuals to sue their “host-country” governments through ad hoc arbitration proceedings rather than through normal administrative and judicial channels in the country. Through this mechanism, foreign investors can challenge domestic laws, regulations, court decisions (including Supreme Court decisions) and other domestic actions in front of party-appointed tribunals, and governments can be ordered to pay the investor millions or even billions of dollars. When governments lose, they have little recourse to challenge the decision, even if the tribunal erred on matters of fact or law.

Kevin Gosztola: Obama Task Force Recommends Array of Measures to Curb Warrior Mindset Among Police

A task force on policing setup by President Barack Obama issued its report and a number of the recommendations appear to be geared toward reducing the warrior mindset adopted by officers in police departments throughout the United States.

Obama appointed a task force to review police practices in December after demonstrations against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, spread throughout the nation. It was his administration’s attempt to tamp down some of the outrage toward police and channel it into some kind of constructive change in government policies, despite the reality that police who killed unarmed black men were still escaping prosecution. [..]

These recommendations are just that-recommendations. Some of them are very good. The police data initiative could provide a lot of information that reveals the inner workings of police departments and makes it easier for citizens to push to end policies that make it easy for officers to torment their communities. However, cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and others with police forces, which desperately need real oversight, are not participating in the police data initiative.

Maybe there will be some demilitarization. Maybe there will be a shift toward more community policing. But it is highly unlikely that the institutional racism underpinning the culture of policing, which promotes the warrior mindset, changes significantly with these reforms.

May 19 2015

The Breakfast Club (Fool Me Once)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Actress Marilyn Monroe sings a sultry ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F. Kennedy; Black militant Malcolm X born; Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies; The Who’s Pete Townshend born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A fool and his money are soon elected.

Will Rogers

May 19 2015

On This Day In History May 19

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.

May 19 is the 139th day of the year (140th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 226 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1935, T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, dies from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident near his home in Dorset, England.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title popularised by the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.

Lawrence was born illegitimately in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess, who was herself illegitimate. Chapman left his wife to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where from 1907 to 1910 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours. He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley on various excavations. In January 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence was co-opted by the British military to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.

Lawrence’s public image was due in part to American journalist Lowell Thomas‘ sensationalised reportage of the revolt as well as to Lawrence’s autobiographical account Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922).

Arab revolt

At the outbreak of the First World War Lawrence was a university post-graduate researcher who had for years travelled extensively within the Ottoman Empire provinces of the Levant (Transjordan  and Palestine) and Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) under his own name. As such he became known to the Turkish Interior Ministry authorities and their German technical advisors. Lawrence came into contact with the Ottoman-German technical advisers, travelling over the German-designed, built, and financed railways during the course of his researches.

Even if Lawrence had not volunteered, the British would probably have recruited him for his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. He was eventually posted to Cairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC Middle East.

Contrary to later myth, it was neither Lawrence nor the Army that conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, but rather the Arab Bureau of Britain’s Foreign Office. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Turkish government’s centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the “asymmetry” of such conflict. The Ottoman authorities would have to devote from a hundred to a thousand times the resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion compared to the Allies’ cost of sponsoring it.

At that point in the Foreign Office’s thinking they were not considering the region as candidate territories for incorporation in the British Empire, but only as an extension of the range of British Imperial influence, and the weakening and destruction of a German ally, the Ottoman Empire.

During the war, Lawrence fought with Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. He persuaded the Arabs not to make a frontal assault on the Ottoman stronghold in Medina but allowed the Turkish army to tie up troops in the city garrison. The Arabs were then free to direct most of their attention to the Turks’ weak point, the Hejaz railway that supplied the garrison. This vastly expanded the battlefield and tied up even more Ottoman troops, who were then forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage.

The capture of Aqaba

In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces under Auda Abu Tayi (until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the strategically located but lightly defended town of Aqaba. On 6 July, after a surprise overland attack, Aqaba fell to Lawrence and the Arab forces. After Aqaba, Lawrence was promoted to major. Fortunately for Lawrence, the new commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby, agreed to his strategy for the revolt, stating after the war:

   “I gave him a free hand. His cooperation was marked by the utmost loyalty, and I never had anything but praise for his work, which, indeed, was invaluable throughout the campaign.”

Lawrence now held a powerful position, as an adviser to Faisal and a person who had Allenby’s confidence.

The Fall of Damascus

The following year, Lawrence was involved in the capture of Damascus in the final weeks of the war and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1918. In newly liberated Damascus-which he had envisioned as the capital of an Arab state-Lawrence was instrumental in establishing a provisional Arab government under Faisal. Faisal’s rule as king, however, came to an abrupt end in 1920, after the battle of Maysaloun, when the French Forces of General Gouraud under the command of General Mariano Goybet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M… entered Damascus, breaking Lawrence’s dream of an independent Arabia.

As was his habit when traveling before the war, Lawrence adopted many local customs and traditions (many photographs show him in the desert wearing white Arab dishdasha and riding camels).

During the closing years of the war he sought, with mixed success, to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.

In 1918 he co-operated with war correspondent Lowell Thomas for a short period. During this time Thomas and his cameraman Harry Chase shot a great deal of film and many photographs, which Thomas used in a highly lucrative film that toured the world after the war.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Lawrence’s major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences. In 1919 he had been elected to a seven-year research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, providing him with support while he worked on the book. In addition to being a memoir of his experiences during the war, certain parts also serve as essays on military strategy, Arabian culture and geography, and other topics. Lawrence re-wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom three times; once “blind” after he lost the manuscript while changing trains at Reading railway station.

The list of his alleged “embellishments” in Seven Pillars is long, though many such allegations have been disproved with time, most definitively in Jeremy Wilson‘s authorised biography. However Lawrence’s own notebooks refute his claim to have crossed the Sinai Peninsula from Aqaba to the Suez Canal in just 49 hours without any sleep. In reality this famous camel ride lasted for more than 70 hours and was interrupted by two long breaks for sleeping which Lawrence omitted when he wrote his book.

Lawrence acknowledged having been helped in the editing of the book by George Bernard Shaw. In the preface to Seven Pillars, Lawrence offered his “thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw for countless suggestions of great value and diversity: and for all the present semicolons.”

The first public edition was published in 1926 as a high-priced private subscription edition, printed in London by Roy Manning Pike and Herbert John Hodgson, with illustrations by Eric Kennington, Augustus John, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton and his wife Gertrude Hermes. Lawrence was afraid that the public would think that he would make a substantial income from the book, and he stated that it was written as a result of his war service. He vowed not to take any money from it, and indeed he did not, as the sale price was one third of the production costs. This left Lawrence in substantial debt.

Death

At the age of 46, two months after leaving the service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later on 19 May 1935. The spot is marked by a small memorial at the side of the road.

The circumstances of Lawrence’s death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident, and consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists.

Moreton Estate, which borders Bovington Camp, was owned by family cousins, the Frampton family. Lawrence had rented and later bought Clouds Hill from the Framptons. He had been a frequent visitor to their home, Okers Wood House, and had for years corresponded with Louisa Frampton. On Lawrence’s death, his mother arranged with the Framptons for him to be buried in their family plot at Moreton Church. His coffin was transported on the Frampton estate’s bier. Mourners included Winston and Clementine Churchill and Lawrence’s youngest brother, Arnold.

A bust of Lawrence was placed in the crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral and a stone effigy by Eric Kennington remains in the Anglo-Saxon church of St Martin, Wareham

May 19 2015

Last Chance to See

So it’s the last 3 days of David Letterman, and I must admit it’s a develoment I have complicated emotions about.  I’ve been a great fan of his subtle subversion of the talk show format ever since Late Night with David Letterman started appearing after Johnny Carson in 1982.

I felt he was badly served by NBC when it came time to choose Carson’s successor on The Tonight Show in 1992 since he was so clearly Johnny’s favored replacement and had devoted 11 years to preparation.

Moreover I found Jay Leno to be crass and shallow.  If you say that was totally in the Carson tradition of zingers that didn’t zing and lame sketches that went horribly wrong; well, yes, but at least Johnny seemed to have a clue when his material was less than stellar while Jay displayed a profound ignorance of it and a complete disregard for his audience as he blundered through an avalanche of one liners that, in the sentiments of one reviewer, rewarded you only with the predictable unexpected so you could smugly congratulate yourself on how intelligent you were to ‘get it’.

In short Leno was boring and still is.

David on the other hand was novel.  You never knew what to expect and were rarely disappointed.  If you didn’t ‘get it’ it wasn’t like failing a test, it was more like a ‘wow, I had never considered that’.

A skill that Johnny and Dave share and that Jay totally lacks is interviewing.  Jay simply parrots the PR the Publicity Flack has prepared and gushes.  Dave actually listens and has conversations.

When Dave accepted a contract with CBS in 1993 I was was happy for a number of reasons.  First, I thought he would kick Jay Leno’s ass which he did for several seasons.  Also he was moving back to New York.  I understand why Johnny moved to Los Angeles, better climate for him, easier to get the movie stars and Las Vegas entertainers who were his bread and butter guests.

Still, I felt the Tonight Show really lost its edge as an interesting show when it moved out of The Rainbow Room.  I have this private theory that too much sunshine makes you kind of, well, impaired, and not only the monologues declined but so did the IQs of the guests with many of them seeming barely able to work out which bit of the couch they were supposed to be sitting on.  In its Western iteration The Tonight Show has all the charm and wit of one of the more forgettable 80s sit-coms like The Hogan Family.

So Dave was coming back to New York!  And we would get Broadway and Theater Actors!  People from Overseas!  Politicians and Business Titans!  Also your regular average New Yorker who was right there on the street outside instead of baking in a traffic jam on a Los Angeles spaghetti highway miles and miles away from the studio in suburban Burbank.

Oh and the regular Hollywood types too, so sorry you had to fly First Class breathing the same air as the Hoi Poloi.

And Dave did it right too.  Renovated the Ed Sullivan Theater, a cavernous space just as big as it seems on TV that he never had any trouble filling.  He set up his own production company, Worldwide Pants, and hired everyone from Late Night who was willing to leave.

He wrote the checks and made the hiring and firing decisions.  CBS had no one to deal with except for him which would prove significant as we’ll see in part 2.

Tonight’s guests-