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Book Salon Preview: The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It

By: Elliott Tuesday June 26, 2012 8:29 am

The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It

Chat with John Dean about his new book, hosted by James Robenalt.

Today at 5pm ET, 2pm PT.

Based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened

Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four decades after Nixon was forced to resign, no one has told the full story of his involvement in Watergate.

In The Nixon Defense, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President
Nixon know and when did he know it?

Through narrative and contemporaneous dialogue, Dean connects dots that have never been connected, including revealing how and why the Watergate break-in occurred, what was on the mysterious 18 1/2 minute gap in Nixon’s recorded conversations, and more.

In what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of America’s worst political scandals, The Nixon Defense shows how the disastrous mistakes of Watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for our own time.

John W. Dean was legal counsel to president Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and his Senate testimony helped lead to Nixon’s resignation. In 2006, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating George W. Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretap program. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Blind Ambition, Broken Government, Conservatives Without Conscience, and Worse Than Watergate. (Viking Adult / Penguin)

***

VIDEO
Chicago Tonight

 

Monty Python State Department

By: David Swanson Wednesday June 22, 2011 9:18 am

Scene:  A cafe.  One table is occupied by a group of Vikings wearing horned helmets.

Whenever the word “war” is repeated, they begin singing and/or chanting.

A man and woman enter.  The man is played by Eric Idle, the woman is played by Graham Chapman (in drag), and the Secretary of State is played by Terry Jones, also in drag.
high school tee
Man:   You sit here, dear.

Woman:          All right.

Man:   Morning!

Secretary of State:     Morning!

Man:   Well, what’ve you got?

Secretary of State:     Well, there’s sanctions and prosecutions; sanctions drone strikes and prosecutions; sanctions and war; sanctions prosecutions and war; sanctions prosecutions drone strikes and war; war prosecutions drone strikes and war; war sanctions war war prosecutions and war; war drone strikes war war prosecutions war cyber war and war;

Vikings:           War war war war…

Secretary of State:     …war war war sanctions and war; war war war war war war targeted assassinations war war war…

Vikings:           War! Lovely war! Lovely war!

Secretary of State:     …or a United Nations resolution combined with infiltration, a USAID fake Twitter application, a CIA overthrow, trained enhanced interrogators and with crippling sanctions on top and war.

Woman:          Have you got anything without war?

Secretary of State:     Well, there’s war sanctions drone strikes and war, that’s not got much war in it.

Woman:          I don’t want ANY war!

Man:   Why can’t she have sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes?

Woman:          THAT’S got war in it!

Man:   Hasn’t got as much war in it as war sanctions drone strikes and war, has it?

Vikings:           War war war war… (Crescendo through next few lines…)

Woman:          Could you do the sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes without the war then?

Secretary of State:     Urgghh!

Woman:          What do you mean ‘Urgghh’? I don’t like war!

Vikings:           Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up!

Vikings:           Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can’t have sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes without the war.

Woman:          I don’t like war!

Man:   Sshh, dear, don’t cause a fuss. I’ll have your war. I love it. I’m having war war war war war war war targeted assassinations war war war and war!

Vikings:           War war war war. Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up!! Targeted assassinations are off.

Man:   Well could I have her war instead of the targeted assassinations then?

Secretary of State:     You mean war war war war war war… (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)

Vikings:           (Singing elaborately…) War war war war. Lovely war! Wonderful war! War w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-r war w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-r war. Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! War war war war!

 

 

No actual diplomats were harmed in the making of this production.

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Copan, Rosalila

By: Ruth Calvo Tuesday March 13, 2012 5:30 pm

 

Rosalila

 

(Picture courtesy of Urban Sea Star at flickr.com.)

In the Mayan ceremonial center of Copan in Honduras, an ancient temple has been covered and preserved over the centuries by the builders themselves.  Nicknamed ‘Rosalila’, it was preserved as it had been constructed and is considered as a sacred temple which had the main building of the Copan center built over it.

One of the best preserved phases of Temple 16 is the Rosalila, built over the remains of five previous versions of the temple. Archaeologist Ricardo Agurcia discovered the almost intact shrine while tunneling underneath the final version of the temple. Rosalila is notable for its excellent state of preservation, including the entire building from the base platform up to the roof comb, including its highly elaborate painted stucco decoration. Rosalila features K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ placed at the centre of a mythological tableau, combining the founder of the dynasty with the sky deityItzamna in avian form. The mythological imagery also includes anthropomorphic mountains, skeletons and crocodiles. Vents in the exterior were designed so smoke from incense being burned inside the shrine would interact with the stucco sculpture of the exterior. The temple had a hieroglyphic stone step with a dedicatory inscription. The stone step is less well preserved than the rest of the building, but a date in AD 571 has been deciphered. Due to the deforestation of the Copán valley, the Rosalila building was the last structure at the site to use such elaborate stucco decoration — vast quantities of firewood could no longer be spared to reduce limestone to plaster. A life-size copy of the Rosalila building has been built at the Copán site museum.[35]

Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil encased the Rosalila phase under a new version of the building in the early 8th century AD. An offering was made as part of the rites to terminate the old phase and included a collection of eccentric flints worked into the profiles of humans and gods, which were wrapped in blue-dyed textiles.[78]

The structure has been moved to the archaeological museum at Copan, where it has been once again preserved for the ages.

(Picture courtesy of Adalberto H. Vega at flickr.com.)

Rosalila from second tier

Upper level of Rosalila

CEO Abuses Puppy. Why RW Media Supports Abusers Instead of Victims

By: spocko Thursday December 23, 2010 7:11 am

I spotted this terrible story today CEO Caught on Video Kicking Puppy.  The video is disturbing and seems clear cut. You really feel for the poor dog. But let’s not jump to conclusions until all the facts are in and we hear from all sides.
Puppy

The Vancouver Globe first story describes “surveillance video shot in an elevator of the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver shows an unidentified man kicking a dog several times.”

As more details were revealed, we learned the kicker was Des Hague, the CEO of Centerplate, a  multibillion-dollar sports-catering company that provides concessions for major arenas like the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

In the company’s first response Hague apologized.

“I take full responsibility for my actions, this incident is completely and utterly out of character and I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed,” he said in a statement. “Under the circumstances of the evening in question, a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response. Unfortunately, I acted inappropriately, and I am deeply sorry for that and am very grateful that no harm was caused to the animal. I have reached out to the SPCA and have personally apologized to the dog’s owner. At this time, I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”

Then, when the San Diego paper looked into it further they found that Hague lied in his statement. The B.C. SPCA determined the dog, Sade, was his, not a family friend’s pet. (I suppose that makes personally apologizing to himself easier.)

Eventually, after multiple stories and worldwide outrage, the board acted.  Des Hague to donate $100,000 and serve 1,000 hours of community service (According to Fortune Centerplate is a privately held $6 billion business with 30,000 employees and more than 350 clients and is challenging industry leader Aramark.) 

People in Vancouver, San Diego and other cities have called for their venues to drop their relationship with Centerplate.  Several articles mentioned people planning to not purchase food and drink at the venues.  Other stories mentioned how canceling the Centerplate contract  would end up hurting the local employees and the revenues the cities get from the concessions.

In a statement the San Diego Chargers said,  ”It’s unfortunate that his actions have tainted the local Centerplate employees who devotedly serve our fans.”

For me that statement is key. His actions tainted the Centerplate brand. People want him to pay, not some minimum wage worker pouring beers that cost more than their hourly wage.

So a few days later, it looks like the situation is getting addressed, changes are being made.  Further consequences, including possible jail time, for Hague are still to come.

This story is a good example of the power of video, the established mainstream media being amplified by social media and a demonstration of the economic consequences of bad behavior by a key member of a corporation. Also, not to be missed is our love and support of pets.   I want for activists to learn from this story it and see how this can apply to other situations.

How the RW Drives a Narrative Flip or “What about the poor CEO? He’s the real victim here.” 

I see too many cases of rich and powerful who change the narrative, become the victims and turn the story around.  Who helps them? Why do they do it? How do they do it?  And finally, can we thwart them in their support for morally repugnant behaviors?  

One of the more powerful narrative players to have on your side is the right wing media.  You need the right credentials and viewpoints, but if they back you, you can steal millions from people, point guns at federal officials and even shoot and kill someone and get lauded for it.    Paul Rosenburg points out in Salon, that media supporting the powerful in not new but the levels they do at are now extreme.  To get support from RW media, you need to fall under one of these categories,

  1. If Obama is for it we are against it.
  2. This action will piss off the liberals
  3. Our base will like this (aka red meat)
  4. This story will hurt Democrats and/or Hillary Clinton at election time
  5. This action supports a conservative ideal like small government
  6. You are a prominent  conservative politician 

What if Hague fell into one of these categories? What would that look like?

Cartoon Friday Watercooler: The Tick Vs. Chairface Chippendale

By: Kit OConnell Friday August 29, 2014 8:51 pm

 

It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight we’ll laugh along with the second episode of The Tick, “The Tick Vs. Chairface Chippendale.”

The Tick began its life as a satirical comic book created in college by Ben Edlund. At a time when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had successfully transformed from a gritty, black and white independent comic to a mainstream animated marketing juggernaut, Edlund was able to convince Fox to take on his quirky hero. The Tick never came close to the massive commercial success of TMNT, but at the same time it transitioned to television without losing all of its edge. The Turtles became a kid-friendly toy-selling powerhouse, while this cartoon’s blue-suited lunk retained a humor that appealed to clever kids and adults alike. The show ran for three seasons and thirty-six episodes.

Here’s how Wikipedia sums up The Tick’s powers:

The Tick possesses superhuman strength and mass, which makes him capable of inflicting great damage on his surroundings if he is not careful. His full strength is never actually quantified, although he is at the very least capable of lifting whole cars with a single hand. Tick is also ‘nigh-invulnerable,’ which means it is almost impossible to injure him in any serious way. Because of this he can survive moments of extreme duress, and demonstrated this ability on numerous occasions; once by falling 4000 feet, crashing through the concrete into a subway tunnel and subsequently being hit by an oncoming train—and surviving all this without incident (‘Evil Sits Down for a Moment,’ November 4, 1995). While he cannot be injured, he is not necessarily immune to pain, or even temporary brain damage.

Finally, Tick possesses something referred to as ‘drama power,’ or basically a tendency for The Tick’s powers to increase as the situation becomes more dramatic. He can also survive in space without a suit, and under water without oxygen for at least a long time. Despite his nigh-invulnerability, he is still susceptible to injuries. One of his only weaknesses is that he cannot keep his balance if his antennae are removed.

Since every hero needs a catch phrase, The Tick — who isn’t very bright — selects “SPOON!” as his war cry. His trusty sidekick is Arthur, a lumpy and meek fellow in a moth suit. In season 1 (as with this episode) by Mickey Dolenz, lead singer of The Monkees. And speaking of the Turtles, Tick’s voice actior Townsend Coleman also voiced Michelangelo. In each episode, The Tick and Arthur were joined by an assortment of other wacky heroes from The City like American Maid and Die Fledermaus, a ridiculously big-eared rip off of Batman. This episode, the second in the series, also introduces the Tick’s chair-headed recurring arch-nemesis.

A close up of the Tick's grinning face in his blue jumpsuit and wiggly antennae

“I’m nigh-invulnerable!”

The show also became a short-lived but fondly remembered live action TV show; it’s available online for Hulu Plus customers. After The Tick, creator Ben Edlund became better known for his involvement with television and worked on Firefly under Joss Whedon before later becoming an executive producer and screenwriter on shows like Supernatural and Revolution.

If this show whets your appetite for more SPOON-y silliness, Matthew Catania picked The Tick’s 10 Best Episodes on Topless Robot.

Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?

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OUCH! Lisa Desjardins Loses Her Job and Says Goodbye to CNN

By: Elliott Sunday June 24, 2012 6:50 am

CNN just laid off a bunch of people.

CNN President Jeff Zucker signaled last week that cuts were coming when he told staffers they’d have to “do less and have to do it with less.”

On Tuesday morning, CNN employees — and those at other Turner Broadcasting networks such as TNT, TBS, and HLN — were informed that staff over 55 years old or with the company for 10 or more years were eligible for a buyout. In a memo obtained by HuffPost, Turner indicated there will be “additional reductions in staff,” presumably layoffs, in addition to the voluntary buyouts.

[...]

For CNN, cuts are expected to hit hardest in Atlanta, where the pioneering cable news channel launched and still maintains a large footprint. The network’s center of gravity has since shifted to New York, where Zucker and many top executives are located, and few domestic programs are run out of Atlanta studios. There’s been speculation that CNN might even sell the Atlanta headquarters, though a company spokesman told Brian Stelter, the network’s media reporter, that the rumors were not true.

One of those now leaving CNN is Lisa Desjardins. She posted this goodbye note (but dammit Lisa, taking the first aid kit is just so wrong).

Lisa Desjardins on twitter

Fascism in Cleveland Faces a Voter Revolt On One Hand, Defiance On the Other

By: Ohio Barbarian Friday August 29, 2014 2:13 pm
A group of sports fans tailgating with food and drink in a parking lot

Despite a ban, the beer keeps flowing for tailgating sports fans in Cleveland.

Local politics can be fun. Several years ago, the City of Cleveland and a number of other local municipalities put up portable robotic radar camera speed traps, more commonly known as traffic cameras, all over the place. There are only a dozen or so of the infernal things, but they can be moved at will.

If one catches your vehicle speeding, you get a $100 ticket, whether you were driving the vehicle or not. My wife got zapped by one over a year ago, and so did my checking account. So did thousands of other Northeast Ohioans. And, if there’s one thing that unites both left and right, it’s a government trying to extract money from them in any way it can without benefit of due process of law. These tickets are appeal-able to a local court,  but the filing fee is as much as the ticket, and if you lose in court, now you have to pay both the ticket and the filing fee. Nice little Catch-22 they’ve got going there.

But Cleveland voters have this old progressive thing going for them called a ballot initiative. Opponents of the traffic cameras recently gathered over twice the number of signatures required to place a ban on the revenue-generating devices on the November ballot. 

Gee. Wanna place any bets on which way that election is going to go? It would be one thing if the money went to doing something that voters could actually see, like filling potholes, but Nooooo…there’s no accountability for where it does go. So. Well, there’s one small impending victory for the people.

Meanwhile, it was recently announced that all alcohol, including beer, is now prohibited from tailgating at Cleveland Browns games. It seems that the Cleveland Browns owner and the NFL were upset by people bringing in their own beer, purchased at more or less reasonable prices from grocery stores, before the games and then refusing to buy $10 beers from vendors in the stadium. the profits of which in part go to the Browns’ owner and the NFL. So they pressured the city into enacting the ban.

That one is being met with outright defiance. Even the Cleveland Police say that their policies haven’t changed, and that so long as one isn’t being obvious about drinking beer in the tailgate lot(and especially if one offers a passing cop a burger or a brat) they’re not going to look to closely. Just don’t get all rowdy and they’ll look the other way.

Come on, now. Tailgating was originally instituted as a public safety measure, you know, let people get all boozed up the night before the game, crash and burn in the trailer, have a BBQ in the morning, then go to the game and THEN drive home after they’re all sobered up. It’s pretty easy to follow the money on this one, and those benefiting from the ban have way too much already.

What can I say? Sometimes, I really love this place.

Wisconsin State Tax Collections Fall Far Short of Projections

By: WI Budget Project Friday August 29, 2014 12:14 pm

$281 Million Revenue Shortfall in 2013-14 Will Mean a Big Jump in the Structural Deficit

A dollar bill cut into shreds, with a calculator

New revenue figues show a major shortfall in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin lawmakers got bad budget news today, when the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released state tax collection figures showing that revenue collections fell $281 million (2.0%) short of projections during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. Rather than growing by 1% as anticipated, state tax collections fell by 1%, and that will cause a substantial jump in the state’s structural deficit.

State lawmakers banked on revenue growth when they wrote Wisconsin’s two-year budget and followed up with additional tax cuts. It’s not clear at this point what will result from a substantial revenue shortfall, but one potential outcome is the state could face a new round of damaging budget cuts. What makes the state’s new budget challenge very disappointing is that it could have been easily avoided if lawmakers hadn’t rushed early this year to use every bit of increased revenue projections for another round of tax cuts, without setting funds aside for an adequate budget cushion.

Although sales tax revenue nearly met expectations – falling short by $11 million, or 0.2% – individual income tax revenue was almost $179 million below the anticipated level (a 2.5% shortfall), and corporate income tax collections came in $97.7 million (9.2%) less than expected.

The $281 million shortfall is very worrisome for a number of reasons:

  • The budget provided very little margin of error because it left a closing balance of only $165 million at the end of the biennium (which is just $100 million more than the $65 million required minimum balance). Each of the last several budget bills has postponed the statutory requirement that would significantly increase the minimum annual cushion (known as the “statutory balance”) that legislators are required to set aside.
  • The state was expecting 3.5% revenue growth in the second half of this biennium (i.e., the 2014-15 fiscal year); and now that the 2013-14 base level is 2% lower than anticipated, it will take 5.6% growth in tax 2014-15 collections to hit this year’s target of $14.7 billion (without even closing the 2013-14 shortfall).
  • If tax collections do grow by 3.5% in 2014-15, as previously anticipated, the shortfall will grow by about $291 million this fiscal year, for a total shortfall of about $572 million (or $472 million after subtracting the budget bill’s $100 million “net balance”).
  • On top of these problems, the Dept. of Health Services has projected a $93 million GPR shortfall in the Medicaid budget for 2013-15; and the gaming revenue being withheld by the Potawatomi tribe may also exacerbate the state’s fiscal challenges.

The Fiscal Bureau had calculated in May that the state was facing a “structural imbalance” or structural deficit of $642 million GPR in the next biennium (2015-17), and the reduced revenue estimates will probably add substantially to that problem. That figure represents the amount of revenue growth that would be needed in the next biennium simply to freeze spending – without factoring in any of the increased costs from factors such as inflation and rising numbers of people needing state services.