Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 12th, 2013

How the media outrageously blew the IRS scandal: A full accounting

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A very interesting analysis by Alex Seitz-Wald in Salon:

The first few days of the IRS scandal that would consume Washington for weeks went like this: Conservatives were indignant, the media was outraged, the president had to respond, his allies turned on him … and only then, the Treasury Department’s inspector general released the actual report that had sparked the whole controversy — in that order. It’s a fitting microcosm of the entire saga, which has gone from legacy-tarnishing catastrophe to historical footnote in the intervening six weeks, and a textbook example of how the scandal narrative can dominate Washington and cable news even when there is no actual scandal.

While the initial reports about the IRS targeting looked pretty bad, suggesting that agents singled out tax-exempt applications for Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny, the media badly bungled the controversy when supposedly sober journalists like Bob Woodward and Chuck Todd jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst from day one. Instead of doing more reporting to discover the true nature and context of the IRS targeting, or at least waiting for their colleagues to do some, the supposedly liberal mainstream press let their eagerness to show they could be just as tough on a Democratic White House as a Republican one get ahead of the facts. We expect politicians to stretch reality to fit a narrative, but the press should be better.

And they would have gotten away with it, too, had their narrative had the benefit of being true. But now, almost two months later, we know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn’t even know about it until shortly before the public did.

In short, the entire scandal narrative was a fiction. But it had real consequences, effectively derailing Obama’s agenda not long after a resounding reelection, costing several people their careers, and distracting and misinforming the public. It’s not that nothing went wrong at the IRS, but that the transgression merited nowhere near the media response it earned. But instead of acknowledging its error or correcting the record, the mainstream political press has simply moved on to the next game. Now that the emperor has been revealed to have no clothes, it’s worth looking back at what went wrong.

The pace at which the scandal went from zero to Watergate was breathtaking, with the narrative of a Nixonian plot to sic the feds on political enemies forming in the immediate hours after the IRS’ initial apology for the targeting on Friday, May 10. On NBC’s “Nightly News” that day, the first words out of White House correspondent Chuck Todd’s mouth were: “It harkens back to a Nixonian-type tactic, if you will, a political tactic here in the White House.”

Coming at the end of a week of renewed media interest in the Benghazi attack — another scandal that was at least two-parts hype to one-part reality — the two scandals reinforced each other and together created a narrative more powerful than either could possibly hope to be on its own. By Sunday morning, the hosts, guests and pundits on the morning political talk shows easily connected the two and soon there was a cloud of scandal hanging over the White House that every serious person on cable news agreed could doom Obama’s entire second term. David Gregory invoked the “second term curse,” George Will read the portion of Richard Nixon’s Articles of Impeachments that focused on the IRS, David Brooks pointed out that “second terms are generally hit with scandal.” Heading into that week, the “compromised second term” narrative was already cemented and would prove impervious to contradicting information for weeks.

Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist who studies the media’s role in creating scandals, wasn’t particularly surprised. “In other circumstances, the first reports might not have immediately turned into a media firestorm, but the context was very favorable for a scandal to develop and so the media largely embraced the targeting story before all the facts were known,” he told Salon.

What’s often important in scandals is not that someone violated ethical norms, but that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 4:39 pm

On Snowden’s right to seek asylum

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Eric Levenson posts a round-up at the Atlantic Wire of the best columns today. Among them:

Jamil Dakwar and Chandra Bhatnagar at the ACLU on US harm for asylum rights – Dakwar, the director of the ACLU Human Rights Program, and Bhatnagar, an ACLU senior staff attorney, write that the U.S.’ chase to extradite NSA leaker Edward Snowden equates to political persecution and violates his right to seek political asylum, a right that is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald, the journalist to whom Snowden provided these documents, tweets “Read the ACLU on how the US is single-handedly destroying the right to seek asylum with its behavior re Snowden.” In addition, The Guardian‘s Washington D.C. correspondent Paul Lewis notes, “Arguably, recent US actions have strengthened Snowden’s asylum claim.”

The US, you recall, has given asylum to a known terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, for decades, but of course he merely blew up an airliner and killed 73 people in a 1976 bombing. But that’s okay. That’s just terrorism. But exposing the lies of the NSA and the actions of Obama: no mercy!

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 4:35 pm

Watch all of Terry Gilliam’s animations for Monty Python’s Flying Circus

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Here’s the first part; go to this post for the other two parts and the backstory.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

Elizabeth Warren’s long game against Wall Street excess

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Fascinating article in NY Magazine by Kevin Roose:

Yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren undertook a big act of financial rabble-rousing, by introducing a bill that would reinstate key provisions of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that were repealed in 1999. The new bill would essentially force big bank holding companies like Citigroup and Bank of America to split in half — commercial banking on one side, investment banking on the other — and hypothetically make the entire banking system safer and less crisis-prone by (a) shrinking banks, and (b) reducing the amount of risky stuff that goes on at the commercial banks where normal people keep their savings accounts. She’s calling this bill the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act” and promoting it using the slogan “Banking should be boring.”

The bill, which Warren has already said won’t get support from the Senate Banking committee, is the second piece of legislation Warren has sponsored since taking office that has virtually no chance of passing. In May, sheintroduced the Student Loan Fairness Act, which for one year would bring student loan interest rates down to the rates the Federal Reserve charges banks. That bill was called “embarrassingly bad” by the Brookings Institution, and the new one isn’t faring much better among policy wonks.

So, with two largely symbolic bills in seven months in office, the question must be asked: What is Elizabeth Warren really doing here?

One theory, held by most of the Wall Streeters I’ve spoken with about Senator Warren, is that she’s simply playing for attention. They see her grandiose bills and made-for-YouTube tirades against financial excess and lax regulation as shallow populism, designed to garner reelection, solicit donations, and boost her reputation as a badass. Even one ex-financier I spoke to recently said he thought Warren was doing “showy stuff,” not meant to make it into actual law.

The second theory, also held by some conservatives and financial-industry lobbyists I’ve spoken to, is a variation on the first and posits that Senator Warren is basically the Steve Stockman of the left — a principled true-believer whose refusal to abide by the horse-trading, pragmatic legislative process leaves her with a bunch of unsupportable, silly-sounding bills. In this theory, getting attention isn’t the goal, but it often looks that way.

But there’s a third theory. It’s the one that acknowledges that Senator Warren is, pound-for-pound, one of the smartest and savviest legislators in Congress, and imputes to her a far more complicated motive than simple attention-seeking or “gesture politics.”

It’s the long-game theory.

This theory says that Senator Warren isn’t trying to change individual laws, so much as move the entire political discussion of the financial sector to a different rhetorical arena and force other legislators to join her there. In this theory, Warren’s anti-bank bills and activism aren’t meant mainly for her constituents in Massachusetts, for the Internet audience, or even for Wall Street. They’re directed to her fellow legislators. And their message is simple: On issues involving Wall Street, the center isn’t where you think it is.

Wall Street, and finance generally, is one of the issues where the views of Congress have traditionally differed sharply from the views of the masses. Most surveys show that a vast majority of Americans support tougher regulation on banks; yet, because the financial sector’s campaign contributions and lobbyists have an outsize impact on Congress, the debate about how to rein in Wall Street excess has taken place on the financial sector’s turf. On Main Street, around 60 percent of people think Wall Street banks are too big and should be broken up. But to find that position in Washington, you’ve typically had to look to the leftmost fringes.

Now Senator Warren, along with other pro-regulation legislators like Sherrod Brown and David Vitter, are shifting the center. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Business, Congress

Is the US a racist nation? (Not a difficult question.)

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Juan Cole at Informed Comment has this post:

In the US, as Amnesty International points out:

Percentage of murder victims annually that are African-American: 50%

Percentage of executions for murder annually where the victim was white: 77%


This why the US death penalty strikes so many as racist, although that would, of course, imply that Texas is heavily racist…

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Government, Law

The farm bill: Nothing for the poor, billions for corporations and the wealthy

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This is getting to be actively disgusting. The US is completely now under sway of the oligarchs. Brad Plummer writes at the Washington Post:

This week, House Republicans passed a rather unusual farm bill. There was no money for food stamps for the poor, a program that typically makes up the bulk of these bills. But the House did manage to pass billions in subsidies for farmers and agribusinesses.

Ideology probably can’t explain this vote — at least not entirely. Most outside conservative groups were aghast at the crop insurance and commodity supports, which will cost taxpayers some $195 billion over 10 years. Yet House Republicans actually made the farm aid more generous — by adding a new shallow loss income entitlement program, tossing in new protections for sugar production and ensuring that price supports for crops don’t sunset in 2018.This raises a question: Why are lawmakers so willing to vote for farm subsidies — even lawmakers who usually oppose government spending? After all, only a small fraction of the U.S. population even farms anymore.

One theory is that money explains it all. Wealthy agribusinesses are somehow paying off Republicans to vote their way. “Republicans demonstrated that they are just fine with bloated welfare programs as long as those welfare payments go to well-heeled special interests,” wrote Michael Tanner of Cato. Over at the Atlantic, Derek Thompson proffereda similar theory, citing research showing that lawmakers are more likely to favor the rich.

Not everyone’s convinced by this, though. In a recent working paper (pdf), Duke University economist Marc Bellemare and political scientist Nicholas Carnes came up with a better reason for Congress’s ag-subsidy love: . . .

Continue reading.

What Congress is doing is unjust and unfair, but it does give a clear indication of where the US is headed.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Business, Congress

Why the GOP opposes immigration reform

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Robert Parry points out the nature of the GOP elephant in the room, which no one else seems to want to mention:

Mainstream commentators endlessly dance around the obvious explanation for the Right’s intense anger against “guv-mint” – and indeed against any significant legislation that addresses the suffering of minorities and the poor, whether it’s immigration reform, health care or food stamps. That unspoken word is racism.

Racism is the subtext for many of the actions of the modern Right and the modern Republican Party. The mainstream media may desire to dress up the motivations as some principled commitment to small government, but both historically and currently, the insistence on a tightly constrained federal government has been about maintaining white supremacy.

That was true when slaveholders such as Patrick Henry and George Mason fought ratification of the Constitution because they perceived that the document’s concentration of power in the federal government – stripping the states of their “independence” and “sovereignty” as specified in the Articles of Confederation – would eventually doom slavery. [See’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison.”]

Slavery, after all, was not just some peculiar institution, part of the South’s unique cultural heritage. It was the South’s dominant industry. It was where the Southern aristocrats had invested their money.

So, after the Anti-Federalists lost their fight against ratification of the Constitution, they went to Plan B; they quickly reorganized behind the charismatic figure of Thomas Jefferson, another slaveholder, to essentially redefine the Constitution away from its clear intent and to insert new theories about states’ rights, including the unconstitutional concept of state “nullification” of federal law. [See’s “The Right’s Made-Up ‘Constitution.’”]

Their political success in this constitutional revisionism – with Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party putting Virginian defenders of slavery in the White House for 24 consecutive years from 1801 to 1825 – allowed the “small government” Jeffersonian philosophy to overwhelm the old Federalists who were the original advocates of the Constitution’s powers. The Federalists maintained some strongholds in the North but eventually faded from the political scene.

Throughout this pre-Civil War period, the maintenance of slavery was always twinned with an insistence on a constrained federal government, even to the point of the South opposing federal disaster relief for fear that the precedent could be used to free the slaves. [See’s “Source of Anti-Government Extremism.”]

Going to Extremes

Then, with the election of an anti-slavery president in Abraham Lincoln, the intensity of the South’s commitment to those twin attitudes – defense of slavery and hostility toward the federal government – led 11 Southern states to take the extreme step of seceding from the Union, inviting a devastating war.

And, the South’s bloody defeat did not extinguish those passions. If anything, the humiliation of losing the Civil War made the commitment even stronger.

When the federal government sought to restructure Southern society to give freed blacks education, an economic stake in the society and civil rights, the anger of Southern whites intensified. It was expressed in violent resistance to Reconstruction and in a cruel determination to reassert white dominance after Union troops withdrew in 1877.

After all, it takes real hatred to terrorize people because of the color of their skin, to lynch black men for almost any perceived offense, to rape black women to demonstrate their powerlessness, but that’s what was done across the South.

White racism had a particularly ugly side because the fury was not justified as some reaction to genuine oppression; it was rather an act of oppressing. Historically, whites had economic advantages over blacks and other minorities. If the circumstances were reversed, you might understand the ferocity of the behavior. But here was the oppressor acting out some vengeful victimhood.

To some white Southerners, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 2:18 pm

Posted in GOP

OMG! Look at this cake

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I want this cake.

Caramel cake

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

The US military: A well-oiled machine with a lot of missing parts

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Peter Sleeth reports in ProPublica:

The U.S. Army has conceded a significant loss of records documenting battlefield action and other operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has launched a global search to recover and consolidate field records from the wars.

In an order to all commands and a separate letter to leaders of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said the service also is taking immediate steps to clarify responsibility for wartime recordkeeping.

The moves follow inquiries from the committee’s leaders after a ProPublica and Seattle Times investigation last year reported that dozens of Army and National Guard units had lost or failed to keep required field records, in some cases impeding the ability of veterans to obtain disability benefits. The problem primarily affected the Army but also extended to U.S. Central Command in Iraq.

McHugh, in his letter to committee leaders, said that while the Army had kept some of the required records, “we acknowledge that gaps exist.”

And in an enclosure responding to specific questions from the committee, McHugh confirmed that among the missing records are nearly all those from the 82nd Airborne Division, which was deployed multiple times during the wars.

McHugh’s letter was addressed to Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and the panel’s senior Democrat Michael Michaud of Maine, who said in an email Friday that the records were of critical importance to veterans.

“The admission that there are massive amounts of lost records is only the first step,” Michaud said. “I appreciate the Army issuing orders to address this serious problem, but I’m concerned that it took a letter from Congress to make it happen.”

“Our veterans have given up so much for our country, and they deserve a complete record of their service – for the sake of history as well as potential disability claims down the road,” he said.

A call and an email to Miller were not returned. Maj. Chris Kasker, an Army spokesman, said McHugh was not available for further comment.

In his order to Army commands, McHugh notes that units are required under federal law to keep field records, including “daily staff journals, situation reports, tactical operations center logs, command reports, (and) operational plans.”

“In addition to providing support for health-related compensation claims, these documents will help capture this important period in Army history,” he wrote.

But ProPublica and the Seattle Times uncovered assessments by the Army’s Center of Military History showing that scores of units lacked adequate records. Others had wiped them off computer hard drives amid confusion about whether classified materials could be transferred home.

In one 2010 report, investigators found infighting between the Army and U.S. Centcom over recordkeeping in Iraq and “the failure to capture significant operational and historical” materials in the theater. . .

Continue reading.

You know, considering the MASSIVE amount of money we spend on the military, is it too much to ask that they take of important tasks. The things required here do not involve unusual heroism, risk of loss of life or limb, or anything of the sort. The responsibilities are clear and the work is not life-threatening.

BUT: My prediction is that there will be no accountability and no one will suffer any sanctions or punishment. It’s not as though they were trying to inform the American public of what the government is doing, after all. Quite the contrary.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 1:15 pm

Will Congress go after Clapper the way Obama goes after whistleblowers?

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Of course, whistleblowers try to expose government wrongdoing, and Clapper was trying to hide it (by lying to Congress). Barry Eisler makes a very good point:

Today, the New York Times reported that Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the guy Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to when asked if the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” said he believed the NSA might soon abandon the bulk collection of the telephone calling data of millions of Americans.  According to the Times:

“I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it,” [Wyden] said.  He added he believed that the continuing controversy prompted by Mr. Snowden had changed the political calculus in Congress over the balance between security and civil liberties, which has been heavily weighted toward security since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

If Wyden’s remarks are accurate, it would be a powerful example of what NYU media professor Jay Rosen calls the Snowden Effect— the indirect effects of Snowden’s whistleblowing.  But upon reflection, I’m not optimistic. Here’s why.

First, three axioms:

1.  The NSA is comprised of people, and people respond to incentives.
2.  If you demonstrate to people that there are no consequences to misbehavior, most people will misbehave.
3.  As Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist No. 15, “It is essential to the idea of a law that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience.”

Now, Wyden says he thinks the NSA might rein in some of itsillegalunconstitutional behavior.  But what do we have to rely on in this regard?  Ultimately, only the word of the NSA’s representatives.  And yet DNI Clapper has already proven himself willing to lie to Congress about what the NSA is up to.  And Senator Wyden has proven himself willing to overlook those lies — that is, to accept them without “a penalty or punishment for disobedience.”  Under these circumstances, if you were a simple Martian rather than a sophisticated earthling, how sure would you be that what the NSA tells you going forward is the truth?

If we want to have any meaningful level of confidence in the truthfulness of government officials testifying to Congress, it is essential — it is a requirement — that officials who are caught lying be punished for it in accordance with the law.  Remove punishment — remove the disincentive for lying — and you guarantee lying.  It’s not much more complicated than that.  To believe whatever the NSA says about its activities if Clapper goes unpunished is to believe in a fairy tale.  If Congress is serious about its oversight function, if it wants the testimony it reveals to be truthful, it will punish Clapper in accordance with the law.  If Congress does not punish Clapper, Congress is agreeing to continue to be lied to, and the NSA will continue to be democratically unaccountable.

A child would recognize all this, and certainly Wyden understands it as well.  What prevents him from acting on it, I suspect, is the same sense of solidarity with other members of the ruling class that causes the New York Times to refer to Clapper’s lying and perjury merely as “murky” and “misleading,” that causes Walter Mondale to characterize it as “fibbing,” that causes most of the establishment media to bay for the blood of whistleblowers while yawning at the notion that civilian oversight is meaningless if officials lie in their testimony to Congress.  It’s a kind of professional courtesy the powerful extend to the powerful, and it’s extremely caustic to democracy and the rule of law.

This is a critical moment for democracy in America.  Failing to prosecute Clapper is tantamount to Congress ceding civilian oversight over an already metastasized intelligence conglomerate.  All the pretty talk in the world about reform won’t change a thing if the law is proven to have no sanction.  Wyden can’t whistle past this graveyard.  There really is something lurking in there, and Wyden has to confront it.  If he doesn’t, it won’t get better.  It’ll get worse.

P.S  Two terrific related articles: . . .

Continue reading.

I just used my Representatives contact page to ask him to see that James Clapper is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. (No investigation is required: we have the lie on tape.) You can do that, too, if you know your ZIP code: take a look.

And I also contacted both my Senators, since the lie was in response to a Senator (Ron Wyden, D-RI). I’m not sure how these trials work. My suggestion is that Clapper should join the men at Guantánamo, since then no trial is required: we just lock ’em up.

Here’s what I wrote:

James Clapper, as we now know, lied in response to Sen. Ron Wyden’s question. Clapper has come out with a series of excuses, trying to deny the clear fact that he lied and it was videotaped. AND he had had 24 hours to consider his answer to the question.

It is essential that Clapper should be punished to the full extent of the law. President Obama has shown us how to do this through his determined persecution of whistleblowers.

Clapper broke the law—on national television—and he rightfully should pay the penalty.

Or does the Senate not care whether those called before it lie or tell the truth? If the lie is deliberate and clear, is that okay then?

To Sen. Feinstein I added the note that it is clear that she has done an absolutely horrible job of oversight and totally abdicated her responsibilities, but I am pleased to learn that she will not run again.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Congress, Law

Categories of non-believers

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Interesting article by Amanda Marcotte at AlterNet that categorizes non-believers:

With the rising number of people in America—now nearly one in five [3]—who have no religious affiliation at all, more people are asking questions about who exactly these unbelievers are. Not all of them identify as atheist or agnostic or a non-believer, but plenty do, and while there are many people offering to defend this particular community, few are willing to speak for them.

After all, unlike religious believers, non-believers have no authorities, no hierarchies, no theology, nothing for us to look at to determine exactly who these people are. In addition, the public image of atheists, who are a diverse group in reality, is being shaped by a handful of vocal white men—Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens being the most famous—who, while well-respected in the atheist community, are not really representative.

Because of this, researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga [4] decided to poll and interview non-believers to find out what kind of people abandon religious faith and why. Based on this research, the project authors were able to divide non-believers into six basic categories, some of which may surprise you.

First things first: While atheists have a public image of being dogmatic and belligerent—an image that famous atheists like Bill Maher only end up reinforcing—researchers found that to absolutely not be true. Only 15 percent of non-believers even fit in the category of those who actively seek out religious people to argue with, and the subset that are dogmatic about it are probably even smaller than that. But that doesn’t mean that the majority of non-believers are just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs and not letting atheism affect their worldview. On the contrary, researchers found that the majority of non-believers take some kind of action in the world to promote humanism, atheism or secularism. Here is a breakdown of the types.

1. Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic. By far, the most common kind of non-believer, at nearly 38 percent. This group enjoys intellectual discourse, and while they’re often very certain about their beliefs, they’re not belligerent about it. These types often get mistaken for dogmatic atheists, however, because they have a tendency to join skeptic’s groups or otherwise find avenues to discuss non-belief with others. However, as researchers note, these non-believers “associate with fellow intellectuals regardless of the other’s ontological position,” so long as their friends “versed and educated on various issues of science, philosophy, ‘rational’ theology, and common socio-political religious dialog.” They like debating religion, but aren’t particularly interested in chasing down believers to give them a hard time.

2. Activist. This group also gets commonly accused of being dogmatic, but like the intellectual atheist, while they’re firm in their beliefs, they’re intellectually flexible and don’t prioritize attacking believers. Instead, they are motivated by a strong sense of humanist values to make change in the world, often making related issues—such as feminism, gay rights, or the environment—a priority over simply advocating atheism. This group also advocates for a better, more egalitarian atheist community, according to researchers: “They seek to be both vocal and proactive regarding current issues in the atheist and/or agnostic socio-political sphere.” Because of this, they unfortunately attract a lot of abuse from a small but vocal minority of atheists [5] who disapprove of linking secularism with larger social justice issues, but they do have the numbers on their side. They are the second biggest sub-category of non-believers, making up 23 percent of non-believers.

3.  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Religion

‘Signature Strikes’ and Obama’s Empty Rhetoric on Drones

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Arianna Huffington writes at the Huffington Post:

On March 17, 2011, four Hellfire missiles, fired from a U.S. drone, slammed into a bus depot in the town of Datta Khel in Pakistan’s Waziristan border region. An estimated 42 people were killed. It was just another day in America’s so-called war on terror. To most Americans the strike was likely only a one-line blip on the evening news, if they even heard about it at all.

But what really happened that day? Who were those 42 people who were killed, and what were they doing? And what effect did the strike have? Did it make us safer? These are the questions raised, and answered, in a must-watch new video just released by Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation.

The attack was what has come to be called a “signature strike.” This is when the CIA or the military makes the decision to fire based not on who the targets are but on whether they are exhibiting suspicious patterns of behavior thought to be “signatures” of terrorists (as seen on video from the drone). Given that the CIA is killing people it’s never identified based on their behavior, one would assume a certain rigor has gone into defining the criteria for the kinds of behavior that get one killed.

So what’s a signature behavior? “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40,” former ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told the Daily Beast’s Tara McKelvey. “My feeling is one man’s combatant is another man’s — well, a chump who went to a meeting.” The New York Times quoted a senior State Department official as saying that when the CIA sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp.

That day in Datta Khel, the signature behavior was a meeting, or “jirga,” which is an assembly of tribal elders who convene to settle a local dispute. In this case, a conflict over a chromite mine was being resolved. And, in fact, the elders had informed the Pakistani army about the meeting 10 days in advance. “So this was an open, public event that pretty much everyone in the community and surrounding area knew about,” says Stanford law professor James Cavallaro in the video.

Pretty much everyone in the community and surrounding area. But not U.S. intelligence. Or the head of the CIA. Or the president. Or the guy in Virginia or Nevada or some other undisclosed location pressing the button on the drone controller.

And so, almost all the tribal elders of the area were killed by the drone missiles. Akbar Ahmed is a retired Pakistani ambassador to the UK and now a professor at American University. “It’s feeding into the sense that no one is safe, nowhere is safe, nothing is safe,” he says in the video. “Even a jirga, the most cherished, the most treasured institution of the tribal areas. So we cannot even sit down and resolve an issue — that is not safe anymore.” As professor Cavallaro put it, “the loss of 40 leaders on a single day is devastating for that community.”

And far from building stability in places like Pakistan, something the administration talks a lot about, in fact the strike actually removed, in one fell swoop, the most stabilizing forces in an entire community.

Jalal Manzar Khail was at his nearby home that day and remembers the attack, which also claimed four of his cousins. Khail’s six-year-old son was later afraid — not unreasonably — to sleep in their house. . .

Continue reading.

Describe the actions of the US without naming the country and few would support the actions, morally, ethically, or legally. Try to distinguish the action described in the article from an act of terrorism: it’s not easy.

One thing that’s clear if you read the entire article (which I recommend) is that our Federal government is no longer answerable to the American people. It has become a separate enterprise, with its own goals and rules, and it does everything possible to hide those from the American public. That is a very bad sign indeed.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 12:18 pm

4 Shady Ways Police Bust People For Drugs

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Kristin Gwynne writes of how the War on Drugs has corrupted and debased US law enforcement officials—blatantly in some cases (policce officers stealing and/or dealing drugs, with vicious attacks on anyone who exposes their crimes (cf. Serpico)—but also through corrupted and dishonest tactics. The problem is that drug users are simply citizens, so the War on Drugs is simply a war on citizens—thus the incidents like the SWAT unit raid on the mayor’s house, which I blogged yesterday, which involved breaking down the door, shooting the family dogs, and tracking blood throughout the house as they ripped it apart. The police chief expressed no regret and said he would do the same thing again. After all, we (the people) are the enemy.

On Wednesday, the city of Berkeley filed a claim [3] against the federal government’s move to file asset forfeiture against the landlord of Berkeley’s largest medical marijuana dispensary. The tactic, which threatens landlords with the state’s ability to seize their property, has been used many times in the federal government’s war on state-sanctioned medical marijuana.

“It is time for the federal government to wake up and stop these asset forfeiture actions,” Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wrote in a press release. “Berkeley Patients Group has complied with the rules and caused no problems in the City. The federal government should not use its scarce resources to harass local law-abiding businesses.”

Needless to say, the tactic has drawn criticism from activists and locals alike. Last month, the US Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution asking the federal government to butt out of local marijuana policy.

Drug policy reformers, including retired police officers with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP [4]), point to asset forfeiture as one of the more oppressive tactics in the drug war. Because it allows the state to claim ownership of property, and police departments receive federal grants for prioritizing drug arrests, it puts a big price tag on a drug bust.

The monetary value of a drug bust and the use of quotas create a by-any-means-necessary incentive for drug arrests.

“Civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to take property from anyone by merely alleging that the property was used in the commission of a drug violation. No one has to be charged with a crime—they often charge the property directly because property doesn’t have constitutional protections. Then they will sell the property, and keep the proceeds within the department. This creates an incentive to government to perpetuate the drug war, despite undeniable evidence of its many failures,” retired police captain and LEAP speaker Peter Christ told AlterNet.

Here are four recent examples of the ridiculous lengths to which some cops will go to procure drug arrests.

1. Fake Checkpoints

The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that establishing traffic checkpoints to search for illegal drugs violates the 4th Amendment. Nonetheless, police in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Mayfield Heights erected big yellow signs on the Interstate, warning drivers that a drug checkpoint ahead would include drug-sniffing dogs.

As the AP reported [5], “There was no such checkpoint, just police officers waiting to see if any drivers would react suspiciously after seeing the signs.” They reportedly stopped four people, made some arrests and seized some drugs, but “declined to be more specific,” the AP said. It is unclear whether establishing a fake checkpoint violates the case law, which holds that traffic check points may exist only to look for drunk drivers and prevent undocumented immigrants and illegal contraband from entering the country. Dominic Vitantonio, a Mayfield Heights assistant prosecutor, said of the tricky maneuver, “We should be applauded for doing this,” adding, “It’s a good thing.”

Others aren’t so sure. The Cleveland ACLU is reportedly investigating the situation. “I  don’t think it accomplishes any public safety goals,” said Terry Gilbert, a prominent Cleveland civil rights attorney. “I don’t think it’s good to mislead the population for any reason if you’re a government agency.”

2. Teaching Cops Legal Loopholes

Meanwhile, in California, the CA Narcotics Officers’ Association (CNOA) recently hosted a class [6] (closed to the public) teaching officers how to undermine California’s voter-approved, decade-old medical marijuana program. That’s because, despite research to the contrary and the will of the voters, “There is no justification for using marijuana as a medicine,” CNOA claims.

“This course is designed to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in understanding the intricacies of the ever-evolving legal arena of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Cultivation sites,” a CNOA advertisement [7] said, offering loophole advice.

“This course will focus on California’s medical marijuana laws and how they apply to illegal storefront sales (Dispensaries) of medical marijuana and Cultivation sites claiming exemption under California Law. Investigative techniques and methods of shutting down Dispensaries and Cultivation Sites that were developed and tested will be discussed. This is truly a necessary class for anyone who must deal with the issues of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.” Never mind what patients must deal with without their medicine.

3.  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 11:53 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government, Law

Tabbouleh & kale

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Kale is simmering (some water, a splash of Chianking vinegar, and a little fish sauce). Not sure what I’ll do with it, but cooking it’s a good start.

And a batch of quinoa tabbouleh, using red quinoa (which, nicely, is prewashed, so no rinsing needed). edit: The recipe has now been updated to reflect what I actually did, in violation of the old tradition of giving people the recipe as originally received and omitting all the various modifications and additions one has made to the recipe over the years. (Possibly that’s a Southern tradition.) This is what I actually did:

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I use red quinoa, which is pre-rinsed), cooked in 1 c water
  • 1/2 cup black rice, cooked 30 minutes in 1 c water
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup finely-chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2/3 cup (about 1 bunch) finely-chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (including all the green part) or 1/3 cup finely-chopped red onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, or to taste, finely-minced
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/4 c Kalamata pitted olives, halved
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa (rinse first if package directs) and the rice and put them in a bowl.

Place tomatoes in a colander over sink or large bowl and use fingers to break them down slightly to drain off some liquid and eliminate some seeds. I cut the tomatoes in half (across) before I mashed them with my fingers—a fair amount of juice and seeds were expressed, and The Wife said that she liked that it was not so runny.

Add parsley, mint, onion, garlic, pine nuts, and olives to the quinoa and rice and mix with a fork. Mix drained tomatoes into mixture. Drizzle in lemon juice and olive oil and mix well with a fork. Mix in salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and chill 2 hours, or up to 24 hours, before serving.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 11:23 am

Sheriff: I Just Want Cannabis Off the Front Page

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Doug Fine writes at the National Cannabis Coalition:

Mendocino County, Calif. Sheriff Tom Allman calls the decision to permit his county’s cannabis farmers (even before federal law changes) part of his “law enforcement evolution.” A local boy, he knew how eighty percent of his Emerald Triangle economy was derived. As a newly elected Sheriff, he flew over his jurisdiction and thought, “So that’s how that conservative Republican pays two Stanford tuitions.”

Allman had what he told me was a “startling revelation” following the passage of California’s 1996 ballot initiative Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act of 1996), which allowed for medicinal use of the cannabis plant in the Golden State. While to this day he maintains that he is simply “required to enforce the law” and is “neither pro- nor anticannabis,” what he noticed was that, contrary to what he’d been raised and trained to believe, “the sun still rose, and there was still an America” in the days and years after the 1996 election.

And so fourteen years passed. Finally, with budget cutbacks threatening eighteen percent of his force in 2010, he decided to acknowledge “the T Rex in the room” and sign on to the “Zip-tie” cannabis permitting program which I covered in my book Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution. Locavore farmers could buy bright yellow bracelets (the Zip-ties) for their crop, avoid raids, and rejoin aboveground society.

Six hundred thousand dollars was raised from one hundred brave farmers who just wanted to be taxpayers in 2011. The deputy jobs were saved, cartels were hurt and patients benefited from safe, organically grown domestic cannabis. But the program’s administrator, a former drug warrior, said the real reason the program is a nationwide model is “it brought an entire swath of the community back into the law-abiding fold.” In other words, millions of Americans break no laws except exhibiting friendliness to one of humanity’s longest utilized plants.

But Sheriff Tom, as Allman is known locally, couldn’t and wouldn’t have implemented the Zip-tie program if cannabis wasn’t just widely used, but also relatively benign. The biggest problems in Mendocino County, he told me in our first, second, and third interviews, are “meth, poverty and domestic violence. Marijuana isn’t in the top ten.”Study after study indicates that cannabis is (especially compared to alcohol and America’s real epidemic: prescription pill abuse) safe when used responsibly. It’s not meth. It’s not alcohol. It doesn’t make people violent. It’s thus not a problem to Sheriff Tom, who told me at a Fourth of July picnic that his view of cannabis is “Smoke it till your head caves in. I don’t care. I just wish I could get it off the front pages so I could have more time to deal with the real problems in this county. This is my biggest dream.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 10:57 am

Antibiotics kill even domesticated bacteria

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It’s well known now that taking a course of antibiotics lays waste to gut microbiome and patients are advised to take conscious steps to rebuild that vital population: eating yogurt and other probiotics to repopulate the gut. Some good food sources of probiotics (details at the link):

1. Yogurt
2. Kefir
3. Sauerkraut
4. Dark Chocolate
5. Microalgae
6. Miso Soup
7. Pickles
8. Tempeh
9. Kimchi
10. Kombucha Tea

Supplements are also possible, but I prefer food sources. (Vitamin C, for example, I get from limes, lemons, and tomatoes, among other foods rather than a vitamin C supplement).

But antibiotics also turn out to be harmful to bacteria long-since domesticated and incorporated into our own personal cells: the mitochondria. Ruth Williams writes in The Scientist:

In addition to the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bugs, there may be another reason doctors should refrain from freely prescribing antibiotics. According to a paper published online today (July 3) in Science Translational Medicine, certain antibiotics cause mammalian mitochondria to fail, which in turn leads to tissue damage.

“What the authors are suggesting is that in addition to the bactericidal properties of antibiotics, they also affect . . . the mitochondria,” said Navdeep Chandel, a professor of medicine and cellular biology at Northwestern University in Chicago, who was not involved in the work. “And what’s fascinating about that is that mitochondria are thought to be [ancient] bacteria themselves.”

Indeed, mitochondria, the organelles responsible for energy production in the cell, have bacteria-like DNA and other molecules, suggesting that mitochondria are the product of an ancient endosymbiotic event, in which a bacterium was engulfed by another cell. The important implication of this, said Ronald DePinho, president of the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, who also did not participate in the research, is that “drugs targeted to [bacterial] physiology might also impinge on mitochondrial biology.”

This concern led Jim Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, to study the effect of antibiotics of mitochondria. His team had previously reported that antibiotics cause a surge in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS)—highly reactive and potentially damaging molecules—inside bacteria, which may be part of the drugs’ bacteria-killing mechanism. Collins and his team therefore asked whether antibiotics also lead to an increase in ROS production in mammalian mitochondria.

The team treated human cell lines from a variety of tissues with three different types of bactericidal antibiotic: ciprofloxacin, ampicillin, and kanamycin. “We found that at clinical levels each of the antibiotics generated ROS,” said Collins, “and we showed that they do this in part by disrupting mitochondrial function.” On the other hand, an antibiotic called tetracycline, which does not kill bacteria but merely prevents their growth, did not cause an increase in ROS.

The cells given the bactericidal antibiotics also exhibited oxidative stress—the damage caused by ROS binding and oxidizing various cellular components. Indeed, there were signs of DNA, protein, and lipid damage, said Collins. And when the same three antibiotics were given to mice, increased ROS levels and oxidative damage to tissues was also apparent.

For the average person who might be prescribed a short course of antibiotics, DePinho reckoned there would probably be nothing to worry about. “We have very robust DNA damage repair mechanisms that in the short term may attenuate any clinical impact,” he said. However, he added, “it could be different in the context of chronic administration of antibiotics.”

To see if they could prevent such damage, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 10:48 am

Posted in Food, Health, Medical, Science

More good Five Books articles

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If you’re as intrigued as I, you’ll appreciate these additional interviews regarding five books in each of the areas indicated:

Hollywood (the industry, not the city)

Spies (very timely, that)

Philosophy and Everyday Living

There are lots more.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 10:15 am

Posted in Books

Jason Zweig on Personal Finance

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Another of the “Five Books” interviews, this time with Jason Zweig, an investing and personal finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the author of The Little Book of Safe Money: How to Conquer Killer Markets, Con Artists and Yourself.

Bill Gross of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond fund, has written articles saying the US treasuries market is a Ponzi scheme. The stock market has been through a terrifying plunge. Traditionally we learned that our own home, at least, was a safe place to invest our money – but a lot of us have lost on that as well. What’s to be done right now in terms of personal investing? What should our approach be?

It certainly is a frightening time. People had come to regard the entire world around them as an ATM. The bond market was making double digits every year. The stock market provided a double-digit return. Your house would go up at a double-digit rate. You didn’t even have to be smart; no matter what you did, no matter what happened, you would just keep compounding your wealth at 10% or better every year. Because 10% is a round number, it had a strong effect on people’s perceptions and they came to regard it as a right, as a given. Anything you put your money into would go up at least 10% a year for the rest of human history. That never was true, of course. It just took a while to be proven false. Now that it has been proven false, people feel they have lost their moorings. They’re adrift. They don’t trust their brokers, they don’t trust exchanges, they don’t trust regulators, they don’t trust anybody. And, frankly, they probably shouldn’t.

So what do we do? Do these books you’ve chosen offer a clue?

There are a few basic principles that people should keep in mind. There’s an old expression on Wall Street that I’m very fond of, which is: “You get the returns you deserve.” People who had gotten to the point of believing that high returns were a given didn’t deserve to earn them, because the markets don’t exist for our convenience. They don’t exist to make people rich. They exist to transfer capital from people who have an excess of it to people who have a more immediate need for it. Sometimes those are great growing companies that will take that capital and put it to very productive use. At other times, it might be somebody selling bundles of crappy mortgages, and you’re going to lose 95% of what you put in. The reason you get the returns you deserve is because if you put the time and effort into proper research – and into forming realistic expectations – then you’re a lot less likely to get wiped out or be caught by surprise. The real lesson for people from what happened over the past 10 years should be that investing done properly requires either a considerable amount of homework and research, or an enormous amount of emotional equanimity. Ideally it takes both. You have to be prepared for anything and you have to be very humble about the abilities of the experts and yourself to predict what’s about to happen.

Your first book is John Bogle’s Common Sense on Mutual Funds. Is this basically advocating that index fund investing is the only way to go?

Yes. It’s a wonderful book. Of course, as people say on Wall Street, Mr Bogle is talking his own book, i.e. he’s pitching his own speciality. But as long as you bear that in mind, you can get an enormous education from this book. It’s a wonderful, comprehensive introduction to how the financial markets work. It shows who has your interests at heart, and what the various self-interests are, of all the people you are likely to encounter when you invest. Every step of the way, somebody is going to be dipping into your wallet and pulling money out – often without fully informing you. When you read this book, you’ll have a much better sense of who is taking the money, where it goes, and whether you should be willing to permit it.

My own view is a little different from Mr Bogle’s. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you shouldnever buy a fund that isn’t an index fund. But if you do, you need to have compelling reasons why you are departing from that strategy, because indexing really works. That’s not because professional money managers are stupid or dishonest. It works because indexing is very, very, very cheap. It’s an incredibly low cost way to manage money. And it’s very hard for any other strategy to overcome that disadvantage.

Because any smartness that the fund manager has to get ahead of the market – that gain is lost in the fees that you have to pay him?

Exactly. And it happens at several levels. The first level is because he or she has all this brainpower, you have to pay for that. It’s expensive to research individual stocks, and to have a team of analysts doing it. All of that costs substantial amounts of money – often, for a large fund, well into the millions of dollars a year. The second cost is that someone who is attempting to buy the best stocks, and avoid the worst ones, has to do a fair amount of trading. That fund manager will be buying and selling pretty frequently. Each time he or she trades, that triggers trading costs.

An index fund, on the other hand, is pretty much a pure buy-and-hold vehicle. It buys all the stocks in a market index and just holds them, until, for some reason, they’re no longer in the index – and that can be many, many, years. Typically, the average fund that is run by an active portfolio manager will hold a stock for about 11 months at a time. For an index fund, it’s often more like 10-20 years at a time. That’s at least a 10-fold difference in the frequency with which the stocks are traded. Each time, brokerage charges are incurred, which come out of your pocket and add up over time. For many funds, the costs of trading can equal or exceed the costs of management. But at index funds, trading costs are tiny. The third factor is taxes. Index funds tend to generate lower tax bills for people who hold them over time, which can be a very valuable advantage.

There are also two philosophical questions that investors might want to ask themselves. One problem is, if I’m buying into this fund because I believe the people running it are extremely smart, then presumably I want to own it as long as they run it. You wouldn’t want to buy a fund run by somebody who is likely to leave before you’re ready to sell, because you don’t know who is going to take over to replace that person. But life is very unpredictable, and at any given moment the genius who is the reason you bought the fund may decide to leave, may get fired, may get hit by a bus, and you suddenly find yourself owning a fund run by someone you’ve never heard of. At which point, you may say, “Wait a minute! I don’t want to own this fund anymore.” Then, if you decide you want to sell it, you may have to pay a tax bill to get out of a fund you don’t even want to own anymore.

The second problem is this remarkable paradox: Investors are charged very substantial fees for all this research on stocks that the average fund manager doesn’t even bother hanging on to for more than 11 months. It’s as if the manager spends months and months on research, learns everything there is to know about the company, puts the company into the portfolio, and then as soon as it goes in, it’s time to take it out. That should lead people to question the value of this research process. If, after all that work, the fund manager changes his mind 11 months later, how much could he have learned in the first place? Why was it worth paying him all that money? Those are questions that aren’t easy to answer, even for people who do it for a living. I’ve never actually heard a good answer to that from a fund manager.

In terms of Bogle talking his own book, does his company, Vanguard, still completely dominate the index fund world?

In the US, at the retail level, yes, Vanguard is the largest provider of index funds to individual investors, and anyone reading the book should bear Mr Bogle’s perspective in mind. Chances are that if he had run a fund company that specialised in something other than index funds, he wouldn’t have written the same book. We all have our biases. But some biases are good for people. Mr Bogle’s is obvious, he doesn’t try to disguise it or excuse it away, and it so happens that his advice is so beneficial for people that I think the bias is entirely appropriate.

Tell me about the next book, the Belsky and Gilovich, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes. . . 

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 9:54 am

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

Petraeus: He infects what he touches.

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At Crooked Timber Corey Robin lays out the situation:

Petraeusgate is a rapidly unfolding scandal of multiple parts and pieces. I mostly focus here on the third, which involves a potential cover-up. The first two—the crimes, as it were—are more important. But if you want to get to the newest and most scandalous revelations, jump to the third section of this post.

(I won’t touch here on the ethics of hiring a man who has been publicly linked to the torture of Iraqi detainees, which may be the gravest evil of all. Nor will I touch on the larger issue this scandal has raised: our failing-up political culture, where fuck-ups in the power elite get rewarded for their fuck-ups. Alex Pareene’s got that beat covered.)

Scandal #1 (with apologies to Harold Lasswell): Who Gets What…

The first scandal is CUNY’s decision to pay General David Petraeus anywhere from $150k to $200k to teach a course at the Macaulay Honors College next year. A cash-strapped public university—which pays its adjuncts, who do most of the teaching, about $3000 per course—forking over 50 times that amount to a celebrity hire: it doesn’t look good.

Particularly when CUNY is giving Petraeus a bevy of graduate students to do the work of designing, administering, and grading for the course. This is not a large lecture, mind you, but a small seminar. (I’ve been teaching at CUNY for 14 years and like most of my colleagues I’ve never had a TA or any kind of graduate assistant.)

In a February 23 email, Petraeus says that he already has a group of Harvard research assistants working on the design and prep of the course.

So his plan for the fall is to roll into town every Monday morning, “do some prep and then lead the seminar” on Monday afternoon. Where any course at CUNY requires most of us to spend a lot of time outside the classroom (prepping, grading, office hours, etc.), Petraeus’s duties pretty much come down to the three hours a week he’ll spend in the classroom. As Gawker pointed out, that works out to $2250 per hour.

Scandal #2 (with further apologies to Harold Laswell): …When and How

The second scandal is: who’s going to pay for all this? In his February 22 offer letter to Petraeus, outgoing CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein writes:

We are prepared to offer you a salary of $200,000 per annum, supplemented by funds from a private gift. While I do not yet have a commitment for such a gift, Sid Goodfriend and I agreed that, working together, we can make it a reality.
In a May 29 letter to Petraeus, the status of which has yet to be determined—more on this below—Macaulay dean Ann Kirschner writes:

Your compensation consists of $150,000 per annum. As we have discussed, this may be supplemented by funds from a private gift, though that has not been secured.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the question of whether taxpayer or private money will fund this position. But that’s a distinction without a difference. As Scott Lemieux points out, the “private donors are paying for this” line of argument

could fly as a defense of CUNY’s conduct under one circumstance only: if a fundraiser approached CUNY offering $150K for this purpose alone and could not be persuaded to allow CUNY to do something useful with it instead. Otherwise, as I said it’s no defense at all; the fact that CUNY is willing to spend money and raise it later for this purpose is not meaningfully different than using pre-existing funds. (After all, CUNY can only ask the same people for money so many times; money raised for purpose A probably can’t be raised for purpose B, and the choice of what to raise money for reflects the administration’s priorities.)
But this is all bullshit anyway, as Scott goes onto explain, because as of the morning of July 1, according to CUNY’s own spokesperson, the funds had not yet been secured. As Gawker reporter J.K Trotter wrote in that piece July 1 piece:

But it seems like he’s [Petraeus] far less coveted among wealthy donors. When asked if the “private gift” sought to fund Petraeus’s salary had been nailed down — less than a month before Petraeus begins teaching — the school’s Director of Communications emailed back: “The University is in the process of fundraising for this position.”
On the afternoon of July 1, just hours after Gawker broke the story of Petraeus’s salary, CUNYreleased an email in which Kirschner wrote Petraeus:

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has provided private funding for your position, which will be paid through the CUNY Research Foundation.

It’s still unclear from this email whether private funding has been secured or not. It’s also unclear whether that private money will fund the entirety of Petraeus’s costs or merely the supplement to his $150k base salary. But again, the private/public distinction hardly matters.

As a side note, CUNY grad student and Jacobin editor Peter Frase has raised another serious concern about the use of Research Foundation monies. Check out his comment here.

Scandal #3: The Cover-up . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 9:44 am

Posted in Daily life

Terrific site for information on supplements

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JoshinCA, a regular blog reader and commenter, pointed out to me today, and it’s a good site to bookmark. For example, see their entry on fish oil.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2013 at 9:42 am

Posted in Food, Health, Science

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