Rachel Maddow clearly loves working in public relations

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I’m in awe of how much groveling and unquestionable faith in power Rachel Maddow managed to squeeze into 90 seconds of airtime.

Yes, let’s all look at those faces. Let’s make sure we see everyone of those faces in a picture that was carefully picked by the same people that are actually in the shot, but let’s pretend that we were all flies on the wall experiencing the thrill of special operations, Jack Bauer style.

Rachel Maddow clearly loves working in public relations right here

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I’m in awe of how much groveling and unquestionable faith in power Rachel Maddow managed to squeeze into 90 seconds of airtime.

Yes, let’s all look at those faces. Let’s make sure we see everyone of those faces in a picture that was carefully picked by the same people that are actually in the shot, but let’s pretend that we were all flies on the wall experiencing the thrill of special operations, Jack Bauer style.

The Media is a Sounding Board for what is to Come

The Lapdog Media

I attended an event for FAIR, a media watchdog group, this week. Although there were a number of important speakers at the event (Noam Chomsky chief amongst them), it was Glenn Greenwald that I was most interested in hearing.

Glenn made a point during his 30 min speech that I thought was quite insightful, and that I happen to agree with. While speaking about the establishment media, Glenn pointed out that the very structure of these organizations – that they are part of large corporate conglomerates – breeds a type of deference to and adornment of authority. This lapdog mentality can be seen in the way that modern journalists act as unapologetic mouthpieces and publicists for the establishment.

Case in point, Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, who gleefully admitted during a BBC interview in November 2010 that the NYTimes clears any controversial evidence it may get from sources with the US government first before it publishes it. The host of the show was so shocked by Keller’s admision that he asked for clarification:

KELLER:  The charge the administration has made is directed at WikiLeaks: they’ve very carefully refrained from criticizing the press for the way we’ve handled this material . . . . We’ve redacted them to remove the names of confidential informants . . . and remove other material at the recommendation of the U.S. Government we were convinced could harm National Security . . .

HOST (incredulously):  Just to be clear, Bill Keller, are you saying that you sort of go to the Government in advance and say:  “What about this, that and the other, is it all right to do this and all right to do that,” and you get clearance, then?

KELLER:  We are serially taking all of the cables we intend to post on our website to the administration, asking for their advice.  We haven’t agreed with everything they suggested to us, but some of their recommendations we have agreed to:  they convinced us that redacting certain information would be wise.

ROSS:  One thing that Bill Keller just said makes me think that one shouldn’t go to The New York Times for these telegrams — one should go straight to the WikiLeaks site.  It’s extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the U.S. Government, but that says a lot about the politics here, where Left and Right have lined up to attack WikiLeaks – some have called it a “terrorist organization.”

Likewise, the same impulses that work to corrupt the integrity and independence of journalism today are identical to those that have pacified the population in the United States at large. If you want evidence of this, look no further than the immunity of wall street and government officials from prosecution of the most blatant forms of fraud, as well as all sorts of civil rights abuses including kidnapping, rape and torture. These are not just rumors. These are allegations that have appeared in mainstream publications by well respected journalists like Seymour Hersh, Jeremy Scahill, Robert Fisk, Matt Taibbi, etc. How can crimes of this magnitude go unpunished, let alone the alleged perpetrators never even be tried in a court of law?

The answer, in my view, has much to do with the citizenry’s deference to the power elite, and fear of what prosecuting these authority figures would mean for their own fragile conception of self. Such actions would require the citizenry at large to take responsibility for life and liberty into their own hands. Exposing our “leaders” to criminal proceedings that could very well lead to life sentences or even the death penalty would challenge the notion that there is some benign sovereign who is there to care for us and to make sure that everything will be ok. This is the mentality that you would expect to see in children, but not in self-relient adults.

Fortunately, as the social circumstances in this country become more and more absurd, an increasing number of people (still the minority) are demanding that their rights as sovereign individuals be respected, and are prepared to wrestle power away from the establishment in favor of a more equal playing field. The media space may just be where this dynamic is most clearly on display, but I contend that its vector emanates from the society at large, and that this call for more freedom and individual responsibility will only grow moving forward.

I am thankful for people like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Matt Taibbi, and other members of the real media, who are more interested in telling the truth than in ingratiating themselves with the power elite. They give the rest of us motivation to continue exposing the falsehoods and the propaganda in the face of escalating criminality and seemingly hopeless legal inertia.

Lawrence O’Donnell is a Swell Guy

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I have no real opinion on this Barack Obama birth certificate thing other than that I think it is a giant distraction. It is used by everyone in the media to create sensational news stories and fill up air time.

What I really want to point out with this video then, is not the birth certificate issue, but the fact that Lawrence O’Donnell is a giant you-know-what. You can add him to the list of new Bill O’Reilly wannabes that includes Ed Schultz. These people are barbarians. They aren’t even pretending to be journalists or even hosts of any type of real show. They are just aggressive punks who try and bully people around on air.

I have learned through personal experience that bullies are the biggest babies in the school yard. The moment things get tough  they start crying for their mommies. O’Donnell is nothing but a punk kid who’s looking for a smack down.

Ο Μαξ Κάιζερ στην Αθήνα 27 Απρλίου 2011 – Max Keiser in Athens, April 27 2011

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Max Keiser Live in Athens: Thursday, 28 April at 8 pm at Avalon Bar & Restaurant

Max Keiser

Max Keiser will be appearing at a special event in Athens on Thursday. The event is part of Max’s coverage of the Greek crisis and a continuation of his “hot spots” series.

Hundreds of people have already RSVP’d so make sure to go early!

Thursday, 28 April 2011 starting at 8pm
Avalon Bar and Restaurant
Leokoriou 20 & Sarri Streets
Psyrri, Athens

Translation into Greek:

Ο γνωστός παρουσιαστής και σκηνοθέτης ντοκιμαντέρ Μαξ Κάιζερ, θα παραστεί σε ειδική εκδήλωση στην Αθήνα την Πέμπτη 28 Απριλίου. Η εκδήλωση αποτελεί μέρος της κάλυψης της Ελληνικής κρίσης από τον Max και συνέχιση της σειράς «Hot Spots».

Εκατοντάδες άνθρωποι έχουν ήδη κάνει RSVP.

Πέμπτη, 28 Απριλίου 2011 στις 20:00
Avalon Bar and Restaurant
Λεωκορίου 20 & Σαρρή
Ψυρρή, Αθήνα

Government Threatens to put Itself out of a Job – yea right

I don’t mean to be picking on individuals lately, but I’m starting to feel that the only way to get anywhere with my specific criticisms is to attach them to specific people, even though what I’m saying applies to pretty much everyone in the mainstream media.

Let me just quote you the first paragraph from the lead article on Reuters this evening, written by a Mr. Thomas Ferraro. The article is on the “looming government shutdown” in the United States, staged over a truly meaningless budgetary squabble of something like $50bn in cuts, in the face of a $1.7bn deficit. That’s about 3% of the total deficit. It’s basically a joke. Here is the quote:

“Hard-nosed rivals with tough backgrounds, John Boehner and Harry Reid are locked in a bitter fight over spending cuts but aides say they have a good relationship that may offer the best hope of avoiding a government shutdown.”

Now, I linked to Mr. Ferraro’s bio on Reuters. There is no mention of his age, but he looks like he is easily pushing 60. My guess is 68, and I mention this only to eliminate the possibility that he is some extremely naive and ignorant youngster trying to climb the corporate ladder of syndicated news.

Mr. Ferraro knows perfectly well that Majority House Leader Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are not “locked in a bitter fight.” How can you have a bitter fight when you are arguing between cutting the budget by 2% or 3%? Furthermore, how can  you have a bitter fight when you have no ideology? Reid and Boehner are career politicians. Both of these guys have been in Washington DC, as elected members of the house and senate, for over 20 years apiece. Their only commitment is to compromise and “going along to get along.” How do you think they even got to be majority leaders?

The spin on this “possible government shutdown” is so absurd. We aren’t even being lied to effectively anymore. At least Bush set up fancy terror alerts systems and false flag news reports (for a reminder see here), and at least we had Condoleezza Rice threatening all out nuclear armageddon if we didn’t roll over and comply with the implementation of an Orwellian police state. At least those lies actually scared the american people. But a government shutdown? If anything, americans are preying that the negotiations actually fail and they actually do shut down the government. If only we could be so lucky…

So, I beg you Mr. Ferraro, please oh please, would you stop putting us to sleep with these pathetic news stories about “hard-nosed rivals” duking it out under cover of government shutdown? Just tell us the truth, that house democrats and republicans love having their asses grabbed by lobbyists and are too busy getting interest-free mortgage loans and other little perks to even consider standing up for their constituents. If you do that, I may even start following you on twitter; how’s that?

Glenn Beck is Fired

It had been rumored for months that Glenn Beck was on his way out at Fox News, but it wasn’t until today that a statement was released by News Corp. saying that he will be “transitioning off of his daily program.”

Apparently, the show had become “too conspiratorial” for advertisers, despite its large viewership. I guess banks and large drug companies don’t want to be associated with a show that covers exactly how they string people out on drugs and credit. Makes sense.

Personally, I’m glad its going off the air. All Glenn Beck did was rip off radio talk show host and internet sensation Alex Jones’ material and brand it as his own. Unlike Jones, Glenn Beck was just interested in ratings, and didn’t even fully grasp the stuff he was reporting. And, despite his best efforts at not making the show “spooky,” it pretty much became nothing but an adult version of “scary stories to tell in the dark.”

Come to think of it, I had covered Glenn Beck’s meteoric rise as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” many moons ago. Please see my March 19th, 2009 article “Beware of Pundits Bearing Gifts,” that happened to come right at the largest stock market bottom of the past decade.

Michael Steinhardt Points out an Inconvenient Truth about Warren Buffett


Most casual followers of business news in America are familiar with Warren Buffett, and most are likely equally familiar with his decision, a number of years ago, to give most of his money to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. It was a decision that garnered him incredible respect, and mummified him in a teflon coating of PR magic that would have left Rockefeller’s Ivy Ledbetter Lee, in utter awe of the man.

Since then, Warren Buffett has come to challenge Uncle Sam, as the most venerated relative in the American family. With infinitely deep pockets, a non-threatening posture and a jolly smile, he is the closest thing to Santa Clause for adults.

Yet, to misquote Abraham Lincoln, “you can fool most of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” And so it is in the case of Warren Buffett, and his carefully crafted image. For those of us who have been following Buffett’s career, even from a distance, with any degree of objectivity, it isn’t hard to see that the man is a master manipulator and a true machiavellian.

In 2004, Buffett wrote a small article for Fortune magazine titled “Squanderville versus Thriftville.” It was a magnificent piece, and really the first time that I came in contact with the mind of Warren Buffett. I was in my last year of college at the time, and had just begun the process of unlearning every morsel of nonsense taught by the staff of Keynesians at NYU, who actually thought they were teaching us economics.

Needless to say, Buffett’s words cut like a knife. He was right, and time proved him right.

Yet, as the economy began to sputter, and the markets began to deflate and eventually crash from the fall of 2008 into the spring of the next year, Buffett went from being a harsh critique of deficit spending, low interest rates, and deindustrialization to serving as the “Colin Powell of TARP.” He became the salesman for the bailouts, not just of AIG and the major US banks, but the entire lifestyle of the wall street banker.

Indeed, prior to 2008, Warren Buffett was highly critical of the credit deluge presided over by Chariman Greenspan. He even advocated the erection of trade barriers – he called them Import Certificates – as a last-ditch effort to revive American industry, putting him in the same camp with Goldwater republicans, the likes of Pat Buchanan. But something happened that caused Warren to change his tune, and that something was the opportunity of a lifetime, even for a man in the twilight of his years.

Warren Buffet, wise enough to foresee the credit crisis that took the financial markets by storm, was the most well-capitalized investor left standing in the middle of the gale engulfing the markets. Publicly reciting the old Rothschild adage “you buy while blood is running in the streets,” Buffett swooped in, buying $5 billion in preferred shares of Goldman Sachs, while adding significantly to his position, both personal and on behalf of Berkshire, in Wells Fargo.

The moves came before the house was set to vote on the TARP legislation that was being railroaded down the throat of congress by Paulson and his gang of thugs at the treasury. Buffett made the deal with Goldman, as well as additional investments in GE, Wells Fargo and others under the assumption that TARP would be passed. But it wasn’t; at least, it wasn’t passed on the first vote. The house rejected the legislation, and the Dow posted its largest one-day point drop in history – 777 points.

Buffett wasted no time. He was immediately making the rounds all over mainstream media, from CNBC to PBS, repeating in no uncertain terms, the very dire predicament that he felt the United States was now in.

“You’ve had an economy that’s like a great athlete that’s had a heart attack, cardiac arrest, and the paramedics that have come, [and are] arguing [about] who was at fault, the athlete should have been checking his blood pressure more carefully. The important thing is to apply the resuscitator. It doesn’t help spending time worrying about who is to blame for the patient having the heart attack.” – Warren Buffet, sounding off a day after congress failed to pass the $700 billion bailout

Comparing the American economy to a great athlete was more than slightly disingenuous. Warren had spent the last several years publicly lambasting the government and the Fed for helping to destroy the foundation of American industry. After all, it was squanderville that Buffett was comparing to the USofA, not the astute savers of thriftville. If anything, America was an obese shopaholic, whose cardiac arrest was due to a perfectly forseeable artial blockage.

And yet, despite his very clear warnings about deficit spending and American overconsumption, Warren Buffett quickly and smoothly reversed himself almost on the spot. He went from lambasting congress for running up the national debt, to reprimanding their failure to pass the bailout, saying that it “was the right thing to do,” given that America had just been “hit by an economic pearl harbor.” He even went so far as to say, in a Fox Business News interview, that we were “looking over a precipice” and that “if congress doesn’t help us on this [passing the bailout], heaven help us.”

But it was Buffett’s final appearance on Charlie Rose’s show on PBS, right before the bailout package was finally passed that shows, without a shadow of a doubt, just how shrewd and machiavellian Warren Buffett truly is.

We need to remember that, at this time, the American people were scared shitless. The vast majority of them are financially illiterate, and are dissuaded from learning due to the complex terminology that is used to cover up what is often very basic accounting fraud (case in point, the Repo-105 scam). Therefore, in the same way that millions of skeptical Americans were sold on the Iraq war by Colin Powell’s famous “anthrax vial” appearance at the UN, so too were they cajoled by the soothing, trustworthy and warm familial persona of America’s greatest philanthropist, Warren Buffett.

Buffett’s October 1st, 2008 appearance on Charlie Rose was arguably his finest moment. Condensing all the arguments and smooth talk that he had so skillfully floated out into the mainstream debate in the preceding weeks, Buffett managed to convince a nation of skeptics that, although wall street could not be trusted, he certainly could be. And he was telling us that this bailout just had to be done. Pass the bailout now, he argued, and we can worry about who is to blame for this mess later:

BUFFETT: I said, if they do it – I don’t know who the next Treasury secretary will be. I would say this – I would – they hate this term in Washington, obviously, but I would hand something pretty close to a blank check to a fellow like Hank Paulson…[annexed from a statement made later in the same interview] he’s got the interest of the country at heart.

ROSE: Would you really? A blank check, $700 billion, go spend it.

BUFFETT: Yes. Go invest it.

Go invest it. And that was an important distinction drawn, not coincidentally by Warren Buffett, for as he made clear later in the interview, and in the weeks prior to the bailout, the American people were not bailing out the banks, but rather making an investment from which they would eventually, actually profit:

BUFFETT:  If we buy these assets intelligently, the United States Treasury will make money. I mean, it’s borrowing money. It’s just a few percent a year and these assets are better than that.

ROSE: These people who argue against you will say the assets are worth much more than mark to market says. And therefore, we’re not seeing a reality.

BUFFETT: Well that is the reality, and that’s the reality of what they’re going to sell them to the Treasury for too. You’ll get in a lot of trouble when you start putting fictitious numbers on value. You can explain the fact that these are depressed prices, you know, we think these assets are going to be worth a lot more. And I think that case could be made in certain situations.

But I think to just say, you know, we’re going to say a $1 of cash is worth $2 all of a sudden, you know, it isn’t worth $2; it’s worth a $1 today. I think once you start putting phony figures into financial statements, you can get into a lot of trouble. We’ve seen so much of that in the last 20 years.

So, Buffett was telling Charlie and the rest of the American public that the $700 billion dollars that would be tacked onto the national debt, would be used to buy distressed assets at depressed prices. These illiquid securities (referred to at the time as “toxic assets”) would be temporarily held by the Treasury long enough for the market to recovery, after which time, they would be sold back to the banks at a profit. Sounds good right? But wait, there’s more:

BUFFETT: It could be very tough. Inflation could be a very – is a likely consequence on what’s going on now. Right now, we’re, in effect, making – to some extent, making a choice between future inflation and getting off the floor. And we’re likely to have more inflation in the future as a consequence of the things we do to fight the present situation.

The bailout was going to cause inflation? How could it cause inflation if we were buying distressed assets with the intention of selling them back at a profit? Inflation can only be caused by an increase in the supply of money and credit. If we are lending the banks money on a short-term basis, holding their “toxic assets” as collateral with the intention of selling them back at a profit, doesn’t’ this mean that we are going to be extracting the extra liquidity that we are now pumping in?

In fact, that’s exactly what this means, only Warren Buffett ultimately knew that the American taxpayer was never going to see dollar-one of that money. Not only did the taxpayer not buy the assets at market value, but he actually payed 100 cents on the dollar, meaning that he payed the banks whatever they claimed the assets were worth. Hence the phrase “mark-to-make-believe.”

So, instead of paying market value when we bought them, and getting market value when we sold them, the US government paid whatever the banks wanted when it came time to dish the money out, and now that the banks have been made whole, they are demanding market prices for the crap that they unloaded on our national balance sheet just 2 years prior (the Fed now wanting to sell its MBS is just one example).

And finally, Warren Buffett wanted to assure us that neither he, nor Berkshire Hathaway, had anything to gain from his appearance on Charlie Rose that night.

ROSE: Right. There are those who – you just said you would do it yourself – there are those who believe, and it has been suggested, that this is the time for Warren Buffett to answer the call of his government in a country that’s been very good to him. What are you prepared to do yourself beyond run Berkshire Hathaway well?

BUFFETT: That’s my job. Any time I can be of help to the government, in terms of giving advice – I’ve given a little advice, actually.

BUFFETT: Trouble is it gets when it really counts. But anyway, obviously, I’m here tonight talking about this for that reason. It isn’t going to do anything for Berkshire Hathaway. That isn’t really true.

And there you have it in a nut shell. His job. That’s what it all comes down to. This is what Warren Buffett had been pitching the American people all night, that not only was he someone you could trust, but that it was in fact his job to make sure that the American people got a fair deal. It was his job to make sure that we didn’t get fleeced. One of the greatest American capitalists, who had never run for public office or held a policy post in Washington DC, had effectively anointed himself negotiator-in-chief for the biggest power grab in American history.

So when Michael Steinhardt, came out on national television and called Warren Buffett the greatest “con-job” on planet earth, it offered people in the mainstream a moment to “reflect” (as he put it) on the deeds of a man that will otherwise be remembered, not as an enabler of elitism and financial oligarchy as he rightfully should be, but as a champion of the working man, who served the people more than he ever served himself.

Former CIA Analyst and Author of Imperial Hubris, Michael Scheuer on CNN

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I literally started laughing out loud during the last 45 seconds of this interview. The two women hosting this show on CNN seemed utterly flabbergasted that Michael Scheuer would suggest that the US government’s intentions in Libya were not humanitarian in nature. In fact, when he called the US ambassador Susan Rice (whom we have criticized before on this blog), “crazed” for her obsession with escalating the war in Libya, co-host Christine Romans, actually attacked Scheuer by implying that he was bias and speaking as someone who is hostile to this administration.

Then, when Michael Scheuer suggested that now is not the time to wage impromptu wars while our nation is bankrupt, Christine Romans literally started stuttering. She seemed to want to imply that the US, though it is running huge deficits, is not bankrupt, and that its fiscal condition has nothing to do with it’s 700 billion dollar defense budget (not counting the 100’s of billions in supplementals). In fact, she called the war and the deficit, “two separate issues,” to which, Michael Scheuer responded saying “you are just carrying the water for Mr. Obama.”

With all due respect to Christine Romans, is she serious? This is the same woman that recently published the book “Smart is the New Rich: if you can’t afford it, put it down.” Last time I checked, we couldn’t afford $1.7 trillion of the national budget for 2011. Even if we eliminated the entire pentagon defense budget for the next two years we couldn’t be able to cover this gap, and yet Romans wants to tell us that military spending and the budget are “two separate issues?” Jesus…

Bravo Mr. Scheuer. We hope to see you on CNN more often, but we wouldn’t bet on it.