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Talking Heads Trash Talk

As I, er, complained of in the Khashoggi post, a talking head came to my hood Wednesday to “engage”. That was Chuck Todd and Meet The Press. It was a sham. Most all decent seats were RSVP’d or assigned to news people. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, in it for people that actually live in this part of Phoenix. Yes, I am still bitter, and what a joke that stunt was. Oh well whatchagonnado? So have a better bit of Talking Heads.

But now we are on to the weekend and real trash talk. First off, playoff baseball is the only really great baseball and it is going on. The Sawx have polished off the Stros with a little help from a blind umpire. Probably would have anyway if they can light up Justin Verlander, but still. But they are on to the Series. Much more interesting is the Brew Crew clocking in with a huge game six win against the Dodgers. That sets up a win or go home game seven in Milwaukee tonight. October baseball does not get any better than that. Must see TV.

Not sure there has ever been a better back to back SNF and MNF games than the Chefs/Pats and then Packers/Niners. Woof! This week the Pats play the Bears, who are looking far better than expected. I’ll still take the Pats, but the game is at Soldier Field, so you never know. Denver just blew up the hapless Cards on Thursday night, and the Cards promptly fired their OC Mike McCoy. And he deserved to be fired. Byron Leftwich will apparently be the defacto OC for the rest of the season, and that should be an improvement, but hard to see any salvation for Arizona this year. Buffalo at the Colts should be terrible. Cleveland at Tampa Bay should be more interesting with Winston back in the saddle after his suspension for molesting an Uber driver here in Scottsdale. Lions at Miami is notable. Lions are underperforming, and Miami over performing, even with Brock Osweiller apparently at QB for a couple of more weeks while Tannehill mends. No idea which way to go on that. Saints at Ravens much the same, though it sure feels like Nawlins is on a roll. The Bungles have been more consistent this year, but hard to see them winning in KC against a group of pissed off Chefs. Giants at Atlanta is just embarrassing, how did that dreck get scheduled for MNF??

And in the student athlete section for today, the most interesting game appears to be Oregon at Washington State. Both teams are 5-1 and have high powered offenses, it could be really fun. Michigan is in East Lansing to face Sparty, and the game is already underway. The Bo Merlots are clear favorites, but Sparty is plucky! In a shout out to Richard Taylor, Kentucky, at a shocking 5-1 has a great shot at early bowl eligibility hosting Vanderbilt. The Commodores are not as bad as their record though, so it will not be easy. LSU should take care of Mississippi State at home in Baton Rouge. Rosalind’s Stanford Trees already beat ASU on Thursday night and Jim’s Gators are off today.

UPDATE: This is really bad of me, but I did not even originally mention that the United States Grand Prix is this week in Austin Texas at the Circuit of the Americas. Frankly, the F1 Circus has gotten so boring I have a hard time paying attention anymore. Thankfully, commenter “J” woke me up. I will say that ESPN taking over coverage and basically just streaming Sky F1 has been an improvement over NBC Sports, but it is depressing that more is not featured in the States for the USGP.

Do people who are not die hard F1 fans even know the USGP is happening this weekend? And, yes, the battle for the championship that seemed so promising earlier in the season is done. Sadly. Another boring championship looms for the loathsome Lewis Hamilton. Someday there will be a real battle again.

Okay, this ain’t no party and it sure ain’t no disco. Stop fooling around and get trash talking.

Meet the Press: 12 Years of Unchallenged Cheney Claims about Iraq and Al Qaeda

Chuck Todd figured the best way to engage in journalism after the release of the Torture Report was not to invite one of the many interrogators who objected to torture or, having performed it, learned that it damaged them as much as the detainee (Kudos to ABC and CNN for having done so), but instead to invite Dick Cheney on to defend anal rape (which Todd did not call anal rape).

And while Todd had a Tim Russert style gotcha — Dick Cheney predicting 20 years ago that overthrowing Saddam would lead to the disintegration of Iraq and untold chaos — when Dick Cheney explained that 9/11 changed that earlier analysis, Todd offered the most impotent rebuttal, noting that the report undermines that claim, without doing any of several things:

  • Rather than engaging in “report says he says” two side false equivalency, point out that the evidence — the facts — refute that
  • Pointing out the new evidence, offered by Carl Levin this week, that Cheney had knowingly and repeatedly lied on Meet the Press about this topic
  • Reminding Cheney that CIA and DOD set off to find a way to “exploit,” not just “interrogate” detainees, and on the measure of producing false confessions to be used propaganda, the torture was a key part of starting an illegal war that led to the death of 4,000 Americans and untold Iraqis

Todd, of course, did none of those things.

I guess Meet the Press believes they’ll return to the glory of the Tim Russert era if they do the same thing Tim Russert did in his last years, offer Cheney a platform to lie and lie and lie.

For 12 years now, Meet the Press has been willing platform for unchallenged Dick Cheney lies.

Ron Wyden, Refusing to Play Prosecutor, Says We Need to Ban Dragnet Collection of Purchase Records

Meet the Press continues to spew absolute idiocy regarding the Snowden leaks. In an attempt to get Ron Wyden to call Edward Snowden a criminal today, Chuck Todd suggested because Wyden is a Senator he has the authority to decide who gets prosecuted or not.

Todd: Where are you on Snowden? Is he whistleblower? Is he a criminal? And if he’s brought back to the United States, should charges be brought up against him?

Wyden: Chuck, I decided a long time ago if somebody was charged criminally I wasn’t going to be just doing running commentary. But the bottom line is this is a debate that shouldn’t have started that way, it should have started with the House leadership– [interrupting]

Todd: But did he commit a crime? Did he commit a crime?

Wyden: I think that’s something for lawyers–

Todd: You’re in the United States Senate! You have the–you can’t tell me whether he committed a crime?!

Wyden: I’m not a prosecutor, I’m not a prosecutor. And I can tell you years ago in the House I asked the Tobacco executives whether nicotine was addictive, they were under oath, they said no, and the prosecutors said they couldn’t prove intent. Here’s what the bottom line is for me. The American people deserve straight information from the intelligence leadership. If the American people don’t get it, you can bet there’ll be other situations like this.

It must be tedious for Todd that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments might inhibit his ability to sow controversy on a Sunday show, but they nominally exist in this country.

And the rush to force Wyden to convict Snowden led him to ignore what Wyden actually said.

When Todd asked Wyden, the Senator described some other things that needed fixed. In addition to ending the bulk collection of phone records right away, Wyden said,

  • We’ve got to fix this back door search loophole in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
  • We ought to ban all dragnet surveillance on law abiding Americans–not just phone records, but also medical records, purchases and others

Todd interrupted Wyden as he talked about back door searches to prove he didn’t know what the fuck Wyden was talking about (he believed it entailed getting records without court review in an emergency). Later, having been told that the government was reading the emails of innocent Americans without a warrant and possibly collecting bulk records of their purchases, but proven ignorant about what that means, he asked Wyden if there was anything else that would make us feel insecure about our privacy.

Ron Wyden implied today that the government is collecting bulk records of our purchases (almost certainly in search of our beauty supply and pressure cooker purchases).

But revealing critical details like this is not what Chuck Todd believes Senators are for. Their job is to determine guilt or innocence on the Sunday shows.

What If Big Media Became a Systemic Risk?

During today’s hearing, in the context of asking why the Administration was somewhat urgently pressing its proposal for systemic wind-down authority first, John Campbell (R-CA) asked Tim Geithner whether there were other non-banks that constituted systemic risks that might fail.

TG: In context of proposals for more accountability. They need to be viewed together. We’ll work with committee on best legislative vehicle. Understand can’t do this piecemeal. 

Campbell: Why move on this separately. Are you expecting additional non-bank failures.

TG: [Again no real answer]  It would be in the interest of the country to make sure we’ve got broader rules. Less costly for the taxpayer.

Geithner pretty pointedly didn’t answer that question, which doesn’t reassure me that there’s not another AIG out there.

Which is why I find it interesting that Ed Royce (R-CA) brought up one of the other entities that–like AIG–chose to be regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision rather than a stricter European regulator: GE.

GE held a panicked investor meeting last week to lay out the status of GE Capital, and has failed to meet a number of recent promises.

Shortly before announcing first-quarter earnings in 2008, [Jeff] Immelt—who was not at the Mar. 19 session—said the quarter’s results were "in the bag," only to miss the quarter’s number significantly.

Then last fall, Immelt said the company would not need to raise new capital—not long before it sold $3 billion in preferred stock to Warren Buffett and announced plans to offer at least $12 billion in stock to the public. More recently, GE slashed its dividend 68% for the second half of 2009, following months of stating that it would maintain its dividend for the year.

And, as happened to AIG last year, ratings agencies have been cutting GE’s credit rating.

Oh, and there’s that bit about GE’s media employees being asked to put off raises for a while.

Now, at least some observers are advising not to be too concerned about GE–so I will assume that Royce was presenting a scary hypothetical rather than predicting the demise of GE. And I will take it as Royce presented it–a big what if?

What if the world’s largest non-bank finance company attached to the arms and lightbulb manufacturer attached to one of the biggest media companies in the US were considered a risk to our finance system? What if FDIC and Treasury and the Fed grew worried that NBC’s parent company was sinking under the weight of GE Capital’s defaulting loans and started thinking about "resolving" it? Read more

Did Chuck Todd Ask about Sacrifice because He’s Been Asked to Sacrifice?

This might explain why Chuck Todd was so hot to call for sacrifice the other night:

NBC News has instituted an across-the-board freeze on raises for its executives and talent, even those with contracts guaranteeing them salary bumps.

A tipster tells us that NBC News—and probably all of NBC Universal, though we’re not sure—is discreetly calling around and asking its on-air and off-air employees to take one for the team and voluntarily delay any contractually obligated salary increases for six months.

Is it possible that a crack journalist like Chuck Todd doesn’t know that Main Street has been facing what amount to be pay cuts for some time? Since about 1972?

It’s all about Chuck Todd, you know.