Monday, October 31, 2016

Coming next month to Trump TV: Law and Order PJU

In the political justice system, the role of law enforcement is to investigate crimes and if no evidence of criminality is found, to shoot its mouth off about whatever the hell it wants.  These are their stories.  Bump-bump.

“We know you didn't commit that murder, but that sweater is hideous and your apartment smells like dead fish.”  Bump-bump.

 “So she was out of town the night of the crime, but those shoes?  With that dress?  Call the fashion police!”  Bump-bump.

“I know he has an airtight alibi, but this cone tastes like crap.  I say we tell the press that he might have killed the Lindbergh baby.”  Bump-bump.

Don't miss Law and Order: Political Justice Unit, Wednesdays at 9 on Trump TV, right after an all-new episode of The Fugitive, starring Chris Christie.

17,000,000 viewers agree: That's Entertainment!

If nothing else, the seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead gave audiences a metaphor for the show’s methods: a bat to the head. Whunk! Whunk! Whunk! Splat! Goooosh! 

After nearly seven months of waiting, fans finally got to see which beloved cast members would get their brains bashed in by the post-apocalyptic warlord Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the preening thug leader of the Saviors. The unrelenting sadism of this episode was calculated to test audiences’ stamina, somewhat like the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.. . . .

The brutality was nearly eroticized, with loving inserts of the villain’s bloody weapon, lingering images of hostages’ tearful, terrified faces and low-angled shots that made Negan loom like a conquering badass hero. . . .

Happy Halloween!
All of which makes Negan a horribly perfect (and literal) poster boy for The Walking Dead as drama, and the parting image of a walker bending down to lick up the brains spilled by Negan a metaphor for audiences’ addiction to this series. There’s something deep in the collective American unconscious that wants to kill and maim and destroy the Other without guilt, while telling ourselves it’s a necessary part of life, that it’s about survival, that it’s for our own good, and hey, now let’s talk about how sad we are that we had no other choice, to show that we’re not just getting off on it. We get to do that week after week and year after year while watching AMC, and now there’s a spinoff.

I will never forget the time a couple of years ago when my washing machine broke on a Sunday afternoon. I took my kids to the local laundromat. There were four TVs, and they were all playing The Walking Dead. The place was filled with individuals, couples and families, including young children. They washed and dried and folded while Rick and company blasted and fried and ripped apart walkers, spreading their guts on the ground, splattering the foliage and each other with their blood. RRRRrrrraaagghhh! Blam! HhhhnnUUHHHHHGGG! Blam! Blam! Splat! Gush! Blam! This went on for an hour, with periodic pauses for heart-to-heart talks. This is our background now, the fabric of American life. We’re the real zombies.

– Matt Zoller Seitz in New York, October 24, 2016

Even after one of the bloodiest and darkest episodes in the AMC series’ history, The Walking Dead really does have something to celebrate about its Season 7 debut – and we’re not talking a fantasy sequence. With 17 million watching the October 23 premiere to discover who Negan would kill and 10.7 million among adults 18-49 for an 8.4 rating, the zombie apocalypse blockbuster had a very good night as the No. 1 show on broadcast and cable.

Deadline Hollywood, October 25, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Career corner: enjoy critical thinking, counseling, torture?

By Noe V. Lifteng
Careers Editor

Hey there, recent law grad!  Down in the dumps because you didn't get a job working at Deathstar and you're staring at about $250,000 in student loans?  Have you considered other opportunities, like government?

The blog Above the Law has an exciting opportunity for you: the General Counsel's Office at the CIA!  It interviewed the General Counsel to the spooks, one Caroline Krass, who was able to tick off at least three benefits of working for her, in addition to meeting Carrie.  We are told that Ms. Krass has a “deep commitment to public service.”  You too could be serving the public like her.

Their legal opinion: A-OK!
For example, you could help defend the CIA operatives who have so far evaded being brought to justice for torturing detainees at Bagram prison and other CIA-maintained “black sites.”  While your classmates are reviewing 30,000,000 documents in some endless antitrust case, you could be arguing that there's nothing wrong with sodomizing detainees, including those captured by mistake, with enemas loaded with food.  Hmm, in California people pay big bucks for enema cleanses; these lowlifes got them for free!

If that sounds a little too, um, meaty for you, how about justifying breaking into the secure web sites of a supposedly coordinate branch of government and stealing their documents?  The CIA could use a little help on this one.  So far all they've come up with is “We're just stealing them back.”   Separation of powers?  Hell, if you've got the power to hack into anyone's computers and steal their files, isn't that nine-tenths of the law?  Would you rather stay up six nights in a row hashing out documents for the eighth over-leveraged buyout of a mattress maker?  Didn't think so.

For those of you with more of a trial bent, you could work on the CIA's destruction of videotaped evidence of detainee torture.  And why settle anything when you can argue that courts have no business interfering in such matters because your client classified them as “state secrets?”  It's almost too easy!

No wonder that Counselor Krass argues that one advantage of working at CIA GC is that “her clients at the CIA are sophisticated in their risk analysis, which leads to engaging discussions. ‘Taking big risks is an integral part of my clients’ jobs,’ explains Krass.”  Amazingly enough, that's exactly the argument that the CIA uses to shield its wayward torturers from criminal prosecution or even civil liability.  If they could be sent to the chokey for beating, freezing, sodomizing, shackling, waterboarding, and otherwise tormenting individuals, most of them innocent, what CIA officer would take the risk?

We're sure CIA lawyers laugh at unsophisticated risk analyzers like the brass at Wells Fargo who thought they could manage risk of being caught committing fraud by firing low-level drones and bamboozling the Board.  Who would want to lawyer those guys?
“Can we get a quick legal OK on this?  It's just routine.”

But wait – there's more, as CIA detainees discovered.  Your colleagues are great.  Maybe not as great as the departed CIA GC, one Robert Eatinger, who according to The Washington Post
was deeply involved in legal issues surrounding the interrogation program and is mentioned by name at least 1,600 times in the committee’s report, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Eatinger recently outraged Feinstein and other committee members by sending a notification to the Justice Department alleging that committee staff may have broken the law when it took copies of the Panetta review documents from a computer database set up by the agency for the Senate probe.
Gee, you seek to have Senate Committee staffers indicted for the crime of looking into your client's torture and obstruction of justice and everyone gets bent out of shape.

But the greatest advantage of all according to GC Krass is that teen-age boys will be impressed:
Krass explains that  . . . . [n]ow that her kids understand more about her position at the CIA, however, there is a definite ‘cool factor.’ ‘Recently I brought my son to my office for the CIA’s bring your child to work day, and I managed to impress him,’ Krass says, with the delight of a parent who managed to surprise a “too-cool” teenager. ‘My son is very interested in ancient Rome, the Cold War, and current geopolitical events,’ explains Krass. ‘He was beyond impressed when I showed him the AK-47 that once belonged to Osama Bin Laden.’ The benefits of her job go beyond just momentary awe, however.  Krass says,  ‘I remember thinking how lucky I was to be able to share this part of my professional life with him.’
Just as long as she doesn't have to share it with the Congress.  We can't wait to hear his reaction when he sees the table and towel used to waterboard CIA detainees.

Not that there's anything wrong with trying to impress teen-age boys.  If you're a teen-aged girl, that is.   And if that's your goal in your legal career, let's face it, no teenager, boy or girl, will be impressed by your Christmas Day redline of that amended and restated limited partnership agreement.  To them it will sound like torture.  If you worked as a lawyer for the CIA, you'd know better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Silly generalizations: Democrats make them all the time

By David Bloviator
Political Editor

Fans of the BBC classic Yes, Minister may recall an episode in which Sir Humphrey Appleby, senior civil servant, explains why so few women rise to top positions in Government: “They are full of petty prejudices” and “Silly generalizations – women make them all the time.”

We think of Sir Humphrey every time we read another installment in the endless series of thumb-suckers on the topic of Democrats: what's wrong with them?  Usually we hear that they are so elite, so liberal, and so rich that they are unable to appreciate the supposed distress of white reactionaries who trumpet their support for the Tangerine-Faced Groper with T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “Trump that Bitch” or “Hillary for Jail.”

Silly generalizations about white working-class voters: when will Democrats stop making them?

This middle-class voter doesn't seem to have
a problem with Democrats . . .

A fair example of the genre was David Shribman's Boston Globe spectacular Party of the Professional Class.  He notes correctly that West Virginia doesn't vote Democratic anymore, although he seems to have skipped the detail that one reason for the decline of the Democratic vote in that mountainous wasteland is the fact that the head of the ticket was a black man.  Shribman notes that Michael Dukakis carried the state 28 years ago, implying that if a total loser like Mike could carry the state, why can't Hillary Clinton?

His claim, buttressed by the no-doubt unbiased analysis of two Republican hacks, a Republican Senator,  and Nazi-loving Pat Buchanan, is that Democrats are no longer in touch with the “life experiences of middle-class Americans.”


Which middle-class Americans?  Are Democrats out of touch with the concerns of black middle-class Americans?  Clinton is currently carrying the black vote by 85% to 4%.   Sounds like the Democrats are doing fine with black middle- and working-class Americans.  Are Democrats out of touch with the concerns of Hispanic voters?  Clinton is leading Hispanics by 65% to 17%.  Again, the Democrats don't seem to be repelling Hispanic middle and working class voters.  Rather the contrary.

So what's the problem here?  Lunatic ex-Senator Jim Webb tells Shribman: “White working class people outside of unions think the Democratic party doesn't like them.”  It must be the fault of all those elite Chablis-swigging Democrats who push for higher taxes on themselves, guaranteed health care for all, a higher minimum wage, and spending on infrastructure to improve the lives of, and provide good paying jobs to, white working class voters.

The nerve.

It might just be that those focusing their telescope on well-educated Democrats might want to turn it towards the objects whose opinion they seem to value so highly.  It might be that all those white voters who thought that President Obama wasn't born in the United States or was a Muslim weren't motivated by the lack of affection flowing from white Democrats.  It might just be that if you hold those views about our President, you're a racist dick.
... ditto (Photos: Hillary for Florida)

As for those noble ex-Democrats in West Virginia, many of them would like to go back to strip mining coal, which has lost ground in recent years to cheaper cleaner natural gas.  Why is this the Democrats' fault?  In any event, does anyone think that we should give up our efforts to avoid the catastrophe of global warming to make coal miners feel better?  One thing about global warming: there would be a lot of oceanfront property in Butcher Holler.

It's not in Shribman's compendium of tired tropes, but elsewhere the supposed allegiance of democrats to free trade agreements is cited as further evidence that Democrats are fatally out of touch with these ordinary misunderstood folks.  That must be why the free-trade negotiator running for Senate in Ohio (quoted by Shribman as some sort of man of the people) is leading his race among white voters by 61% to 35%.  And speaking of NAFTA, how did Democrats vote on ratification?  In the House they voted against 102 to 156.

We remember that this narrative has been pitched for 40 years by Republicans and slime like George Wallace as a way to smear Democrats: too soft on Negroes and either sexually promiscuous, kinda gay, or not the kind of real men who boast about groping women and spying on naked beauty contest contestants.  No wonder it finds such a warm reception among white male racists.  And Republicans.

So how can those elite out of touch Democrats reach out to voters who think that Barack Obama was born in Kenya?  To ask the question is to answer it.

Coming next week in The Spy

Another fantastic Spy book exclusive:  My Struggle by A.G. Sulzberger

Saturday, October 15, 2016

In re Petition of Ana Navarro

Gonzo, J., presiding.  Now comes Petitioner Ana Navarro seeking readmission to the human race on the grounds that, although she is a longtime Republican political hack, she had the courage to tear Donald Trump a new one.

Navarro was expelled due to her long career as a GOP hatchet gal.   According to the Miami Herald,
She was among the first Florida Republicans to hammer then-Gov. Charlie Crist for backing President Barack Obama’s $700 billion stimulus plan. She revoked her endorsement of Bill McCollum in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign for adopting a hard line on immigration. She urged Gov. Rick Scott to prolong early-voting hours in 2012. She pounded Mitt Romney on his lackluster Hispanic outreach.

Navarro, who moved to Miami from Nicaragua when she was 8, has been a longtime Jeb Bush loyalist and was one of Marco Rubio’s early backers for the U.S. Senate. 
Petitioner: totes adorbs . . .
So let's see: she opposed President Obama's efforts to pull this country out of economic disaster, she worked! for Jeb! Bush!, and she helped slake Marco's thirst for power.

She advanced her case for readmission through a Daily Show interview during which Trevor Noah yukked it up with her.  Yes, it's still on the air.  When he ventured to ask how and why she embraced the Republican Party, she let it slip that she came from a family of Nicaraguan freedom fighters a/k/a contras.

According to the Tampa Bay Times: “ In the 1980s, the first-year law student at University of Miami campaigned for aid to the Contras in her native Nicaragua. The daughter of a well-off family in the agriculture business — her father was an early opponent of Anastasio Somoza who went on to fight against leftist revolutionaries — she moved to Miami at age 8 to escape the violence.”

Aid to the contras?  You mean these contras?
The contra commanders . . .  are men addicted to violence. Their brutality is indiscriminate - their victims include Government officials (health workers, agricultural specialists, teachers, all carefully selected targets for torture, rape and murder), rank-and-file soldiers in the Sandinista armed forces, few of them lucky enough to remain alive when taken prisoner, and local campesinos suspected of sympathizing with the Sandinistas. The rebel groups . . . remain for all intents and purposes semi-independent, each one headed by a minor caudillo bent on exacting total loyalty from his disciples (including many women) and prone to bouts of murderous fury at the slightest sign of insubordination. Mr. Dickey's portraits of these men, “who loved to kill,'' many of them bearing grim noms de guerre (“Suicida,'' “Cancer,'' “El Muerto''), reveal a world where political commitment is indistinguishable from the need to flaunt one's machismo, and where personal jealousies among the various commanders often erupt into bloody vendettas. Many Nicaraguans, including former Sandinistas, have joined the contras - some under coercion, . . . .those who want to leave find it nearly impossible: the penalties for attempted desertion are savage. Mr. Dickey's description of some of these incidents (including a particularly sickening description of El Muerto cutting the throat of a 13-year-old ''deserter'') is often based on the testimony of those few who have managed to escape, but it is altogether in keeping with the reports of various human rights organizations on the subject. (See, for instance, the Americas Watch Report, “Human Rights in Nicaragua,'' New York, July 1985.)
Are the leaders of the contras . . . aware of these atrocities? Mr. Dickey's book leaves no doubt about it. The manual “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare,'' prepared at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency for use by the contras - to which Mr. Dickey devotes several pages - was produced, in Mr. Dickey's words, “to keep 'implicit and explicit terror' under control.'' Killings are discussed in the sections of the manual dealing with advice about the way the rebels can best “neutralize carefully selected and planned targets,'' which clearly refers to assassinations or executions of civilians, . . . (The New York Times, 1/26/86, reviewing With the Contras by Christopher Dickey)
. . . her contra war, not so much
That's quite a family history.  Going further back in history beyond last Monday, one can learn that these cutthroats were financed by the Administration of St. Ronald Reagan.  When the Congress could no longer stomach the bloodshed, it cut the money off, whereupon the Reagan Administration sold missiles to our staunch ally Iran and diverted most of the proceeds to support the contras.  (Ergo, “Iran-contra”).

So her petition for readmission must surmount a high hurdle, made up of the bodies of Nicaraguans killed and tortured by her beloved contras.  That might even be worse than supporting! Jeb!

After weighing the equities, we find that petitioner Ana Navarro should be readmitted to the human race on the grounds that any woman who says “pussy” to Trump supporters on national television has far bigger balls than the tangerine-faced groper.

It is so ordered.

Coming soon in The Spy

Another fabulous book exclusive:  My Struggle by Chris Sununu.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The songs of Donald

How did King David get girls
without a combover?
So what if a major party's Presidential nominee is caught on camera boasting that he sexually assaults women with impunity?  It's not like he erased his private e-mails or anything.  And it's no big deal anyway, according to noted Trump shill and Biblical scholar Sean Hannity, who pointed out that even King David kept 500 concubines.

Until then, we had never thought to compare the tangerine-faced groper to one of the heroes of the Tanakh, but by amazing coincidence today in our inbox we got a envelope postmarked “Trump Tower” and containing what the anonymous correspondent said were “the most unbelievable, fabulous psalms ever written.”  According to the letter, they were composed by none other than the man with lots of the best words, Donald J. Trump.

We chose a few to print and we're sure you'll agree that they live up to at least one of those adjectives.

Psalm 1040

I am my shepherd
I want for nothing because I have had tremendous success, believe me
I can lie down with whomever I want on green fairways 
I know where all the best waters are
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of bankruptcy
I fear no harm, for my accountants and lawyers are with me
My net operating loss carryforwards comfort me
I spread out my words in front of my enemies
I cover my head with lustrous orange hair-like material
My mouth runneth over
Only money and fame shall pursue me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell at Mar-a-Lago, the most fabulous golf club in the world, believe me, 
all my days

Psalm 10,000,000,000

I am king
Let the earth exult, let Putin rejoice!
Fiery insults are my vanguard
Burning my foes on every side
My words light up the world;
the earth in convulsed at the sight;
casinos in Atlantic City melt like wax at my presence
The rallies proclaim my righteousness
and all peoples except for fat slobs and sluts like 
Rosie O'Donnell see my glory.
All who worship Crooked Hillary are dismayed
All customs agents and cops bow down to me.
Rudy Giuliani, hearing it, rejoices
The towns of Alabama and West Virginia exult
because they know I have the best judgments, really terrific judgments, believe me
I am supreme over all the earth;
I am exalted over all other Republican beings including 
fat Chris Christie
O you who love me hate the Clintons!
I guard my tax returns, saving them from the hand of the 
wicked media who tell nothing but lies
Light is sown for Sean Hannity
radiance for those wearing T-shirts emblazoned “Trump that Bitch”
O you white people, I love them, I really do, rejoice in 
me and acclaim my name, my hotels, my golf courses, 
my steaks, my university, my ties, my suits, and 
my trophy wife, who is really hot, am I right?

Psalm 36C

Delightful country has fallen to my lot through great deals, tremendous deals;
lovely indeed is my real estate.
I bless my Russian lenders whom I have conned;
my conscience keeps its mouth shut.
I am ever mindful of the presence of other people's money; 
It is in my right hand and it will never be shaken out of it; 
It is mine
All mine
So my heart rejoices,
my whole being exults, 
and my incredible body rests secure and not at all obese
For my creditors shall never abandon me 
Or let me see foreclosure
In my presence I feel perfect joy;
the delights of hot women, the best, are ever in my right hand, because I can grab all the pussy I want
That's how it is when you're a star

[That's enough psalms – Ed.]

What your Hebrew brethren did Wednesday

Wednesday was Yom Kippur.  Some of your Jewish friends were fasting.  Some were praying in synagogue.  Others were concocting a scheme to fleece Nevada taxpayers out of at least $750 million to build a stadium they would make a killing out of.  Perhaps some did all three.  Here's one of the passages those in shul might have read:
Find the poor folks hidden in this picture
“We are commanded to open our hands to those who are in need.  Isaiah's words continue to resonate in our own day, as a warning to the prosperous: If you hide the poor and the working class from your sight, you are apt to forget about them.  You become self-obsessed and callous in your personal lives.  You make political decisions that suit your own interests and ignore their impact on the majority of your fellow citizens.  You live in separate enclaves of privilege, rarely interacting with those who live with far less than you have.  And that way of life impoverishes us all.
‘Do not hide yourself from your own flesh and blood,’ says the prophet Isaiah.  Do not turn your back on the poor; recognize your kinship with them.  For the prophet, we are all one family, united in our humanity; and without one another, our community is not whole.”
Mishkan Hanefesh at 276.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Q. Why is she not leading by 50 points? Ask Dr. Gonzo:

“Nixon's spirit will be with us for the rest of our lives – whether you're me or Bill Clinton or you  . . . or your fiancee's 16-year-old beer-drunk brother with his braided goatee and his whole life like a thundercloud out in front of him. This is not a generational thing.  You don't even have to know who Richard Nixon was to be a victim of his ugly, Nazi spirit.

He has poisoned our water forever.  Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest.  But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand.  By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.

It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise.  Our Barbie-doll president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde.  He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string warts, on nights when the moon comes too close....

Ah...nightmares, nightmares. But I was only kidding. The President of the United States would never act that weird.  . . .”

– Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, May 1, 1994

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ten Thousand Workers of Harvard Seek $673 a Week Today

By Joseph Hill
Labor Correspondent

When Harvard graduates reach a certain age (and it's not all that advanced) Ma Harvard, who never paid much attention to you as an undergraduate, starts taking a keen interest in you, particularly your upcoming demise.

You start getting a lot of mail from something called the John Harvard Society.  All you have to do to join is promise to leave Harvard some dough when you die.  Now you would think that a university with $37,500,000,000 in the can might slow down on the fund-raising but if you think that you probably went to some state school.

What will Harvard do with the wad they get as soon as you've been planted?  According to Harvard, it will “help[] to sustain the strength of Harvard College's students, faculty, and programs.”

One thing it won't be doing is paying dining hall workers a living wage, apparently.  Today they struck, seeking $35,000 for year-round employment (rather than the nine-month job most of them are are saddled with).

According to the Boston Globe, Harvard proposed creative solutions that the union rejected.  It was not clear whether any of those solutions involved cutting the insane compensation that Harvard pays the investment geniuses who have croaked the endowment.  They just brought in a new master of the universe from Columbia to clean up the mess made by his predecessors.  How much are they paying him?  We won't know for a year or so but we do know that one of his disastrous predecessors, Jane Morvillo, trousered (skirted?) $9.6 million before being shown the door.

Let's see, that means to produce returns below what an S&P 500 index fund could have generated, she was paid the same as – give us a minute, we concentrated in Government – 274 dining hall workers (assuming they got the raise they're asking for).

One creative solution might be to deep-six the entire Harvard Management plutocracy and put the endowment in index accounts for maybe half a basis point.  That should allow Harvard to pay its dining hall workers the magnificent sum of $673 a week.

Don't worry, Harvard won't let the undergraduates starve whilst the
dining hall workers agitate for wages above their station
While the University seeks to teach its workers a sharp lesson, what will happen to the poor starving undergraduates?  Don't worry (if indeed you were):
Harvard administrators say they have a contingency plan to ensure all students are fed. The school urged students to check the dining services site for updates during the strike. Food service workers have reported seeing an increase in stockpiles of frozen food in the dining halls, union officials said.  (Boston Globe, 10/5/16)
Now we remember in our undergraduate years one of Harvard's previous labor relations efforts, in which they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat a union drive on a ridiculous technicality.  That union-busting succeeded, but a few years later, the workers were graciously allowed to form a union.  That's the reason you see all those Teslas being driven around Cambridge by department secretaries and research assistants.

We suspect that the University will soon have to cave on this one as well.  The fall alumni reunions are less than a fortnight away, and some of the soon to be honored members of the John Harvard Society may not look kindly on crossing picket lines just to break bread with John Roberts '76 and other lesser luminaries.  Then again, they ignored the dining hall workers when they were students and we're hard pressed to predict that they've changed for the better since.

Sunday, October 2, 2016