Links, 7/21

Our Crashing Economy

Obama is going to delay his push for Congress to approve 3 job-killing trade deals until after the August recess in the hopes he can get Trade Adjustment Assistance included. I guess he hopes to continue to pretend these have anything to do with job creation?

GAO’s audit of the Fed is out. As Bernie Sanders reports, it shows the Fed gave $16 trillion in loans to banks, including foreign banks.

Matt Taibbi is horrified that Democrats are treating the idea of a tax holiday as a serious proposal.As he describes, “leading members of the Senate are seriously considering giving the most profitable companies in the world a total tax holiday as a reward for their last seven years of systematic tax avoidance.”

Your Daily Murdoch

News Corp has lifted their gag on lawyers Harbottle and Lewis. So we may find out why they sat on damning emails for years.

It took only a few days for James Murdoch to be caught in a lie mistake. Parliament is going to bring James back to see if his memory improves.

Scotland Yard appears to have the goods on Andy Coulson: evidence he knew of illegal payments to the police.

The closest known analogy between News Corp’s UK hacking and actions here in the US has to do with a supermarket advertising company that alleged News Corp’s competitive subsidiary had hacked it. The company sued, only to be bought out by News Corp, ending the suit. And why weren’t criminal charges filed? Because Chris Christie, as US Attorney, didn’t bring charges.

Justice and Injustice

In OH, agencies only have to pay $10,000 if they improperly destroy public records. Golly. I wonder what effect that law will have?

At Netroots Nation, at a meeting on immigration, Luis Gutierrez revealed that the number of undocumented immigrants deported–400,000 a year–is set by Congressional statute that, in turn, feeds a whole deportation industry. Now, Republicans are trying to eliminate all executive branch discretion on deportation. I wonder which deportation industry donors are pushing that?

Nicholas Shaxson reports that a researcher has won an appeal to get key parts–names of key people, companies, and one country–of an old report on the BCCI scandal via FOIA. Of particular interest, the judges overrode the British desire to keep the country redacted because, “there is considerable public interest in the public seeing the whole of the Sandstorm Report so that it can be seen, not just what happened, but what role was played by the governments, institutions and individuals who were involved with an organisation guilty of what the authors of the Sandstorm Report (paragraph 10.1) described as ‘an enormous and complex web of fictitious transactions in what is probably one of the most complex deceptions in banking history.'”

Yesterday, I noted that judges had thrown out convictions against a bunch of environmental activists because the informant who had built the case against them was an agent provocateur. Craig Murray voices something I thought of too when I read about this: Muslims (I’d say in the UK and here in the US) are not afforded the same ability to make such a case about informants.

Surveillance Nation

Faced with an inability to master the human knowledge about Afghanistan, DOD has once against thrown computers at the problem–this time in the form of a DARPA program called Nexus 7. The logic is, “If you get transparency, you don’t need boots on the ground.” I’m sure they think they’ve achieved transparency. Uh huh.

WA has canceled the driver’s license of Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed publicly last month he is undocumented.

The Aussies are going to take the proceeds that former Gitmo detainee David Hicks makes off his book.

Our Dying Empire

Amidst the more generalized craziness surrounding the debt limit, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been hosting its own little marathon of crazy as it debates the appropriations for next year. It has already voted to cut the Organization of American States, reinstate the global gag rule on abortion, and now they’re talking about declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization (a vote on this will be delayed pending a classified hearing). But don’t worry–we’ll still fund Pakistan (which I do think we should do, but it does demonstrate the priorities here).

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

17 replies
  1. EoH says:

    A tax holiday for America’s most profitable multinational companies is a hole in the head no average American needs. It will not result in more domestic jobs, more domestic productivity, greater domestic economic activity. It will result in higher profits, owing to forgiveness of tax liability already booked but not paid by these companies, which will lead to immediately higher bonuses for top executives and to greater political contributions for those who made it so.

    The president’s triangulation and priorities are easy to see. He’s as much a political predator as any of his old peers in the Senate, and just as dysfunctional in promoting the needs of middle and working class Americans.

  2. EoH says:

    It is still amazing that Mr. Obama can help America’s most profitable corporations pay tax at 5% – on profits repatriated under a tax holiday – instead of the statutory 35%. That amounts to more than a hundred billion in lost revenue that would be received if the profits were repatriated under current rules or the loophole was closed that provides for not taxing profits so long as they are simply parked offshore.

    That priority ranks up there with the president signing off on the GOP meme that a budget crisis cannot be solved by increasing tax revenues from the wealthiest taxpayers.

    Those priorities elegantly demonstrate the lie that the federal budget “crisis” is our greatest existential problem and that it must be solved now or the sky will fall. As with most such claims, it is a fig leaf hiding other goals. Here, it is the Washington fixation on diverting ever more wealth from the have nots to the haves.

    At least George Bush admitted he only governed for the haves. Mr. Obama still pretends he’s governing for everyone. I wonder how much longer he’ll get away with that whopper.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    The phrase “gave $16T” is somewhat misleading. Look at page 150 of the GAO report at the loans outstanding graph. The sum of the areas under the curves for all of the programs is $16T and there is a long tail. But most of the loans were paid back before Jan 2010. And if you remember the estimated exposure of credit default swaps was in the neighborhood of $100 T. Of course, that was assuming that there was total defaults all around. So what that loan of what turned out to be $16T bought was time to unwind the the credit default swap mess by paying the first order obligations in the the chain.

    The problem was not the Fed’s loans. It was that it had to make those emergency loans and that it might have to go through the same process all over again. And of course the loans were to banks here and abroad; those were the folks holding the toxic credit default swaps.

    All of this is regardless of the President and the Congress. The Fed used the powers that it had already been given. I’m glad that the Dodd-Frank bill required this audit. Now we know what exactly the Fed did–good and bad. And we can lay to rest any rumors of the creation of $100 trillion dollars or massive amounts of loans that were not repaid (only a trickle haven’t been).

  4. prostratedragon says:

    The new mayor seems to recognize how school funding impacts school quality. We understand why he would choose a school with small class sizes, a broad rich curriculum that offers world languages, the arts and physical education, a focus on critical thinking not test-taking, a teacher and an assistant in every elementary classroom, and paid, high-quality professional development for their teachers. …

    It’s wonderful that he has that option available to him.

    That is the reaction of Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, to news that Mayor Emanuel’s three children will be attending the University of Chicago Lab Schools this coming academic year.

    Btw, Teddy Partridge back at FDL reminds us that Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s former nationl finance chairperson and an egregiously nasty union buster is Mayor Emanuel’s newest appointee to the Chicago Board of Education.

  5. Peterr says:

    Matt Taibbi is horrified that Democrats are treating the idea of a tax holiday as a serious proposal.

    After all the things Matt has written, you’d think he would have lost his capacity to be horrified by now.

  6. joberly says:

    @TarheelDem. Thank you for your helpful explanation and for referring readers to the GAO report. Table 8 on page 144 of the report shows the distribution of the $16 trillion in loans. The foreign borrowers were all from Western Europe money centers: 3 from the UK, two French, two German, two Swiss, and one Belgian. I don’t see any Asian banks among the ones listed on Table 8, although Table 9 says the Norinchukin Bank (Japan) borrowed $15b from the US Fed’s “Term Auction Facility.” It appears from the GAO audit report that the foreign banks with the most exposure to US mortgage CDOs and other derivatives were at greatest risk in the big meltdown, while the ones merely holding US Treasuries or even Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac securities were not so illiquid. Lots to digest in that GAO report.

  7. klynn says:

    Let’s put that Ohio Public records story into some bigger context…

    Imagine the next Presidential election and Ohio’s election fraud history…

    Imagine the OH GOP redistricting plan just made as a means to rig the next election and all the records on that redistricting being destroyed…

    Imagine the recent casino legislation and any negotiation regarding casino corps…

    This is on the heels of a Gov who is in the back pocket of Rupert Murdoch by 1 million + dollars.

    Ohoians ,as well as the nation, need to get pissed off about this move. It is shady. It is legalizing the illegal. It is criminal in what is suppose to be an open society.

  8. klynn says:

    I assume this public records legislation is part of a broader GOP plan as well? My guess is that the GOP Govs that have followed one another in efforts to destroy unions will also all try to pass such legislation.

  9. editor_u says:

    “…feeds a whole deportation industry.”

    Deportation industry?

    How much of THAT is privatized?

  10. Gitcheegumee says:

    klynn,didn’t the Prez just anoint a guy from Ohio to head the new consumer bureau,you know the one who won out over Liz Warren?

  11. emptywheel says:

    Hey, look, the blockquote function is now working. (Very slowly, we’re turning this joint into a fully-functional blog. I just hope the likker truck comes with a delivery before the weekend starts.)

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