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The American Prospect

Jamelle Bouie

May 2, 2012

The super wealthy apparently believe that they deserve constant deference.

Greg Sargent is rightfully stunned by the entitled petulance of Wall Street bankers who are shocked—shocked—that President Obama would do anything other than praise their indispensable brilliance:

Wall Streeters are so upset about Obama’s harsh populist rhetoric that they privately called on him to make amends with a big speech — like his oration on race — designed to heal the wounds of class warfare in this country. […]

Of course, their exaggerated weariness notwithstanding, the “wounds of class warfare” haven’t been borne by Wall Streeters, who remain fabulously wealthy even after causing the worst downturn since the Great Depression. If there’s anyone waging class warfare, it’s the radicalized representatives of the rich, who have successfully engineered government to enhance their wealth at the cost of our shared responsibilities. As such, the actual victims of class warfare are the ordinary Americans who face stagnant wages, rising costs, and a tattered safety net.

After going through the insanity of Wall Street complaints, Sargent ends his post on this note:

One wonders if there is anything Obama could say to make these people happy, short of declaring that rampant inequality is a good thing, in that it affirms the talent and industriousness of the deserving super rich. It certainly seems clear that they won’t be satisfied until he stops mentioning it at all. [Emphasis mine]

If you think the bolded section is an exaggeration, you should take some time to read Adam Davidson’s New York Times profile of Edward Conard, a former partner at Bain Capital—Mitt Romney’s investment fund—who now works as an apologist for the ultrawealthy. Conard believes three things. First, that millionaires and billionaires earned every penny of their wealth through merit and hard work:

God didn’t create the universe so that talented people would be happy,” he said. “It’s not beautiful. It’s hard work. It’s responsibility and deadlines, working till 11 o’clock at night when you want to watch your baby and be with your wife. It’s not serenity and beauty.”

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The American Prospect

Jamelle Bouie

April 25, 2012

In his victory speech last night, the former Massachusetts governor offered a startlingly dishonest take on the last three and a half years of the Obama presidency.

In a sane world, Mitt Romney would be laughed out of politics for the speech he gave celebrating his final wins (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York) in the Republican nomination contest. The centerpiece of the address was a riff on the classic formulation, “Are you better of now than you were four years ago?”

Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?

What’s frustrating about this is the fact that it ignores the last four years of political history in an attempt to put Barack Obama at the center of the country’s economic troubles.

But that’s ridiculous. Here’s what we know about the last four years. In 2008, the economy fell into a deep recession. The proximate cause was the collapse of the global financial system, but the process itself was long in the making; George W. Bush was a terrible steward of the economy, and his policies—along with those of congressional Republicans—yielded a decade of slow growth and sluggish job creation. Along with an out-of-control financial sector, the end result of all of this was the worst recession in more than seven decades.
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Has the Balance Tipped?

FRONTLINE

September 7, 2011, 3:30 pm ET by Philip Bennett

On a rainy day in October 2005, Dana Priest was escorted across the immaculate marble lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia along with a pair of her editors from The Washington Post (I was one of them). We crowded into a private, key-operated elevator that opened into a study that would have seemed almost cozy if not for the arresting artifact at the far end of the room: an American flag, scorched and battered, recovered from Ground Zero and now hanging behind the director’s desk.

The purpose of the meeting was to urge The Post not to publish Priest’s story about a global network of secret CIA prisons. The discussion was off the record, but senior officials in the room later made the same arguments in public. They said the story would disrupt the detention of highly prized prisoners. It could endanger American lives by interfering with efforts to stop another attack. And revealing this one secret might set off an invisible domino effect, ruining the government’s reputation for keeping others.

It was an icy and awkward encounter, but it could have been scripted by the Founders. Disputes over secrecy are as old as the republic. In this case, officials who had authority to order people’s deaths had no power to stop a newspaper article (which must have been infuriating). At The Post, we had no way of knowing if the benefits of running the story outweighed potential costs (which was humbling). Where was the boundary between our responsibility to inform the public and hold the government accountable, even in wartime, and harm to national security? Wrestling with this question, case by case, was how the contest between security and freedom worked.

 Telling it like it is

FRONTLINE goes inside The Washington Post’s major two-year examination into the massive, unwieldy, top secret world the U.S. government has created in response to 9/11.

A major examination by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin is the subject of an upcoming FRONTLINE documentary produced by veteran producer Michael Kirk. The Post’s two-year investigation looks at the top secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—a world that has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that few know how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or how many agencies duplicate work being done elsewhere.

See the full documentory at  Top Secret America

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The Daily Show: Bush Administration Officials Come Out of Their Hidey-Holes to Take Credit for Bin Laden’s Death

Crooks and Liars- By Heather
May 11, 2011 07:00 PM
Looks like Jon Stewart was just as frustrated as the rest of us here at C&L were when we saw the Sunday show lineup this past weekend and the Bushies running as Stewart put it, “out of their hidey-holes to take credit for killing bin Laden and at the hapless Democrats for reinforcing their talking points for them.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Shocking New Report: The CIA Performed Human Experiments on Prisoners Under Bush

A new report details how the effects of torture on detainees were closely studied in order to perfect ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’

June 7, 2010 |

Over the last year there have been an increasing number of accounts suggesting that, along with the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, there was a related program experimenting with and researching the application of the torture.

For example, in the seven paragraphs released by a British court summarizing observations by British counterintelligence agents of the treatment of Binyan Mohamed by the CIA, the first two of these paragraphs stated:

    It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer….
    BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed. [emphasis added]

The suggestion was that a new strategy was being tested and the results carefully examined. Several detainees have provided similar accounts, expressing their belief that their interrogations were being carefully studied, apparently so that the techniques could be modified based on the results. Such research would violate established laws and ethical rules governing research.

Since Nazi doctors who experimented upon prisoners in the concentration camps were put on trial at Nuremberg, the U.S. and other countries have moved toward a high ethical standard for research on people. All but the most innocuous research requires the informed consent of those studied. Further, all research on people is subject to review by independent research ethics committees, known as Institutional Review Boards or IRBs.

In the U.S., there was a major push toward more stringent research ethics when the existence of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was publicly revealed in the early 1970s. In that study nearly 400 poor rural African-American men were denied existing treatment for their syphilis, and indeed, were never told they had syphilis by participating doctors. The study by the U.S. Public Health Service was intended to continue until the last of these men died of syphilis. When the study became public the resulting outcry helped cement evolving ethical standards mandating informed consent for any research with even a possibility of causing harm. These rules were codified in what has become known as the Common Rule, which applies to nearly all federally-funded research, including all research by the CIA.

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Sahil Kapur, Raw Story, March 17, 2010

Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.

The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.

In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would “cross” a “line” and obstruct the administration’s ability to protect the nation.

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Waterboarding of 9/11 suspect was ‘concealed’

Manningham-Buller criticises Bush staff

Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian/UK, March 10, 2010

Manningham Buller

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller criticised George Bush and his administration, for torture of terror suspects Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

The government protested to the US over the torture of terror suspects, the former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller revealed last night.

She also said the Americans concealed from Britain the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 2001 attacks.

“The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing,” Lady Manningham-Buller told a meeting at the House of Lords.

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