Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 10:38 pm

Odds and ends, school break edition

I’m really enjoying not having to study, but I haven’t been hit by the inspiration for anything lengthy. So here’s what’s going on:

* * *

Pretty much everybody thinks Rupert Murdoch isn’t fit to run a media company. And, hell, we know that. But when Parliament thinks Rupert Murdoch isn’t fit to run a media company, well, that could have real-life, tangible, bottom-line consequences. Because the UK doesn’t let just any old thieving, lying, wiretapping raper of the hopes of the parents of kidnapped children own a media company the way the U.S. does. No, News Corp. could have to actually divest itself of its 40% share of BSkyB. Ouch.

* * *

So on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, Obama shows up in Afghanistan and commits this country to spend, at the current rate of $2 billion a week, one and a quarter trillion dollars over the next dozen years in that country. One and a quarter trillion dollars, I hasten to add, that the United States cannot spare. I mean no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, and a great deal of respect to the Americans who have had to fight the resulting military campaigns, when I ask: Tell me again who won the war on terror? and/or, Have you people never heard of Pyrrhus?

* * *

I see that not only do the Republicans want to wage war on women, they insist that only straight men can join the fight.

* * *

Finally, Fec reflects on MLK’s call for a national guaranteed minimum income, varieties of which have been endorsed by such wild-eyed liberals as Milton Friedman (who called it a “negative income tax”):

Consider, if you will, that the oligarchy, by virtue of access to the Fed’s ZIRP [zero interest rate policy — free loans to banks], has already achieved the status of guaranteed income. Was MLK in reflection so terribly wrong? As we contemplate the end of unemployment benefits for 700k of our citizens, and underemployment for many more, do not the ravages of outsourcing and global corporatism render a circumstance where the least of us is just as entitled to at least a wage of existence as the bankster supping at the .25% discount window, especially as the proceeds are immediately fed into a gamed engine of guaranteed profit?

If we are bailing out the Europeans for their folly, is it nor more just to provide subsistence wages to our own whose only fault is absence of opportunity, particularly by design of the corporatists who enjoy the very same protections manifold?

Are we not finally at the point where Bernanke‘s famous helicopter drops cash upon the least of us, as it has surely rained bountifully upon our most fortunate?

I assure you that the poor have no wish for anarchy or the imposition of some stringent biblical reconstruction. They merely wish to enjoy those essential things we all aspire to: a full belly, a comfortable home and freedom from financial worry.

To those cretins who proclaim such an idea is socialism, I reply they are too late. Socialism is rife among the fortunate; it is merely those left out who have yet to commit this supposed sin. Is not the greatest act of fairness to now include everyone with income, given that the most criminal among us have already lined their pockets to the point of embarrassment?

If we are headed toward a great conflagration of currency devaluation and hyperinflation, is it not right that the poor finally be allowed to join the bacchanal before its end?

Actually, of this much I am sure: No matter exactly how this country goes down, it will go down never once having given any serious policy thought to the true needs of the least among us. That just isn’t how we roll.

(Also, although I am somewhat sympathetic to my friend’s view of the Occupy movement as it manifested itself today on what was supposed to be a big, national show of strength, I also am somewhat sympathetic to Charlie Pierce’s take: “From the start, I said that the best thing about the Occupy movement was that at least they were yelling at the right buildings. … What I do know is that, if it weren’t for the people in the streets last autumn, the Obama people would be running a very different campaign and Willard Romney wouldn’t look half as ridiculous as he does.”

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:07 pm

What News Corp. knew, and when it knew it

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 8:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

I think the legal term for this kind of disclosure is “Oops”:

LONDON (Reuters) – Phone hacking was widely known about at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, according to a reporter blamed as the sole culprit, contradicting repeated denials by senior executives and dragging Britain’s prime minister back into the scandal.

In a letter written four years ago in an appeal against his dismissal from the tabloid, former royal reporter Clive Goodman said the practice of hacking was openly discussed until the then editor Andy Coulson banned any reference to it.

Coulson, who has repeatedly denied all knowledge of the practice, went on to become the official spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, a move which took the affair into the political arena and forced the government to turn on Rupert Murdoch after years of courting his favor.

“This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor,” the Goodman letter said, published as part of a parliamentary investigation into hacking. “Other members of staff were carrying out the same illegal procedures.”

Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 along with private detective Glenn Mulcaire, said he had been told he could keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the newspaper — but was fired nonetheless after being sentenced to prison.

The committee investigating the hacking scandal said on Tuesday it would probably recall James Murdoch to give further evidence after receiving the Goodman letter and statements from other parties which contradicted his previous testimony.

Unlike our government, the Brits are perfectly happy to look back rather than (or in addition to) forward. Accordingly, I think Murdoch fils had better have a very good lawyer, because he appears to have lied to Parliament, and right now you couldn’t swing a dead cat in London without hitting an MP who wants the Murdochs gutted like trout.

And again I ask: Is it even barely possible that this kind of practice could have been widespread in Murdoch’s UK properties but nonexistent on this side of the pond? Cuz I don’t think so.

 

 

Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:33 pm

How the Murdochs stole voicemail messages …

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 8:33 pm
Tags: , ,

… and how it could happen to you.

My voicemail is not on any of the networks these reporters (the WNYC ones, not the Murdoch ones) were able to hack in their tests, and I always password-protect my stuff. But the technology and the sheer will to evil out there, along with the carelessness, or worse, so common among the corporations that keep our data, leave me more than a little uneasy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:25 pm

Too big to govern? There’s an app for that.

Having a job and all, I did not watch Murdoch’s Parliament testimony today except briefly while my flat tire was being fixed (pictures, no sound), nor did I have time to read much about it. But I gather one of his defenses was that News Corp. is so big he couldn’t possibly be expected to know about a vast, wide-ranging illegal electronic surveillance program that victimized, at a minimum, upwards of 4,000 people, evidence of which Scotland Yard somehow managed to sit on for more than five years.

(This is, of course, the same defense offered by Alberto Gonzalez for allowing the United States Department of Justice to be converted into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Karl Rove to root out U.S. attorneys who refused to gin up fake, politically motivated criminal cases: The department employs more than 100,000 people, he couldn’t possibly be expected to know what they’re all up to, yadda yadda yadda.)

Let’s manually disarm our BS detectors for just a moment and do something utterly counterintuitive: Let’s take Rupert at his word.

What, then, are the implications?

Rupert Murdoch is 1) the world’s pre-eminent media baron and 2) utterly incapable of detecting, let alone preventing, a years-long, widespread, continuing criminal enterprise within the company he supposedly runs — because that company is too large. Accordingly, we must conclude that if he, with his vast skills and knowledge, can’t keep crimes like this from occurring in such a large enterprise, then no one can.

Therefore, no such large enterprises can be allowed to exist, and those that exist now must be broken up into much smaller, more governable entities, so that even the typical, not-especially-brilliant CEO can run one without running afoul of RICO. Heck, we’ve even had a mechanism on the books for a century that would go pretty far toward allowing us to do that.

So, OK, Rupert, you’re right. Lesson learned. Off you go.

(**turns BS detector back on**)

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