Archive for scandal

The Lure of Scandal … drifts into a juicy The New Yorker Spy Story

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I came late to the party to two major political dramas highly prized by the liberal community, but sure am having a delightful time catching myself up. If you enjoy either of them, described briefly below, you'll enjoy this long form but magnetic real-life spy story over at The New Yorker.

It even has an Albanian plot line for Russia parallels, with Ukraine and Putin being a hot topic.

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Now House of Cards, that was virtually Binge By Imperative. You guys catching this Netflix creation? I tried watching only three at a time, no way José, or no way Robin Wright Penn, as it were.

It didn't help so much that I had seen the Brit version, but tried to erase that mentally and just take the unusual camera and actor exaggerated interaction with a grain of salt.

What did translate beautifully to American politics was the loving attention to minutiae and the gratuitous sexually provocative moments ... like when Kevin Spacey got in on the Secret Service cutie-patootie mènage his wife was indulging in to make it an authentic party of three.

GIF courtesy JEOBOX.com

GIF courtesy JEOBOX.com

Certainly as complex in plot lines and underlining the politically scandalous exceptionally well in regular television -- network, even, go ABC for apparently this one show and whatever else folks are hooked on from genius and some kind of modern cultural oracle, Shondra Rhimes -- with Olivia Pope and her cohorts on Scandal.

 

As stated, if you enjoy either show, have a gander at this piece at the New Yorker, just excerpting a generous paragraph below, but the entire piece is so worth the time.

Macintyre tells Philby’s story through the prism of his longtime friendship with another young star of M.I.6, Nicholas Elliott. The two men were of a piece. Elliott’s father, Claude, was the headmaster of Eton. According to Macintyre, the elder Elliott “loathed music, which gave him indigestion, despised all forms of heating as ‘effete,’ and believed that ‘when dealing with foreigners the best plan was to shout at them in English.’ ” Like Philby, Elliott went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and did not join public service so much as he was ushered into it. A family friend, Sir Nevile Bland, “simply told the Foreign Office that I was all right because he knew me and had been at Eton with my father.” (Sir Nevile’s words of advice to Elliott: “In the diplomatic service it is a sackable offense to sleep with the wife of a colleague,” and “I suggest you should do as I do and not light your cigar until you have started your third glass of port.”) Elliott trusted and revered Philby. Their families vacationed together. Elliott modelled himself on his friend, Macintyre writes: “his spycraft, his air of worldly irony, his umbrella with an ebony handle. . . . They were as close as two heterosexual, upper-class, mid-century Englishmen could be.”

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Guess who spent over $1 million in legal fees since '12? Hint: Scott Walker's campaign.

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It seems like a day doesn't go by that there isn't some news involving Wisconsin's slimy Governor Scott Walker and the infamous John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Just the other day, we here at TPC posted this: Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law. (And right after that, in an unrelated matter, we learned that the WI GOP may allow cameras next: Poll watchers already allowed 3 feet from voters.) Welcome to Walker World. The latest installment concerns the legal fees Walker's campaign has been racking up. No surprise there.

Per the Wisconsin State Journal's piece regarding a campaign finance report, we find out that since 2012, Team Walker has spent more than a million smackeroos on said legal fees. Wowzers, they must be rich! Oh, but I kid the Big GOP Spenders:

The report, which covers the first six months of this year, doesn’t specify what the money was spent on. But Walker’s campaign has been entangled in a John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination among conservative groups and Republican political campaigns during the 2012 recall election. [...]

Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff called the amount of money the campaign has spent on legal fees “completely stunning.”

“The bipartisan (John Doe) investigation isn’t over yet, and we have every reason to believe Walker will spend tens of thousands more, but the staggering amount already spent should be a huge concern for every Wisconsinite who cares about good government,” Baldauff said.

More at the link. Stay tuned, or as Rachel Maddow likes to say, "Watch this space."

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Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Another CA city sues over voting rights law, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat. Dirty tricks abound in politics, and Wisconsin's John Doe criminal investigation is no exception. In this case, some subpoenas were sent out in the case involving alleged GOP campaign finance shenanigans, so what's a Republican to do? Why, quietly change the law to suit their needs. No sense in succumbing to potential criminal status when you can use a Mr. Dirty Tricks Clean Magic Eraser to whisk away the dirt!

mr. clean magic eraser

As you may recall, there is an ongoing John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Poor Scotty. So many issues, so little time. He's accused of being part of "criminal scheme," which can't be boosting his image or helping his potential 2016 presidential run at all. His troubles just keep on a-mounting. And Walker and his GOP buddies are amounting... to a big stack of fail.

PRWatch.org has the goods:

New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

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The Wisconsin State Journal called it "dodging public scrutiny." I call it CYA.

On October 3, 2013, prosecutors secretly served Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe with a subpoena in the John Doe investigation, and executed search warrants on the homes of Walker's top campaign advisor R.J. Johnson (who also was the Club's chief strategist) and his associate Deborah Jordahl.

Two weeks after the secret subpoenas were issued, drafting records show that an aide to [Sen. Mary Lazich (R)], Zach Bemis, contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and requested a bill that would rewrite state law, reverse court of appeals precedent, and exempt "issue ads" from Wisconsin campaign finance statutes. [...]

By changing the law to put issue ads beyond the reach of Wisconsin's campaign finance statutes, Lazich's bill would have had the effect of legalizing the issue ad coordination under investigation. Lazich was the subject of a recall attempt in 2011.

You can find more details here, definitely worth a read.

Welcome to Walker World.

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Sen. Grassley's Staff Gets Nabbed In His Own Investigation

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The SEC lawsuit alleges that the House staffer, Brian Sutter, spoke with a lobbyist -- identified by the Journal as Mark Hayes - - who happens to be a former aide to Grassley -- on the day of the leak.

Oopsy. Looks like Grassley not only found his leaker, the dude worked for him. Now Grassley may have to recuse himself from the hearings because he himself might be called as a witness, or even more concerning, as a part of the insider trading conspiracy scandal itself.

 

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GOP austerity bit GOP in their IRS scandal ass

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issa Via Jamal Said-Reuters IRS

Image via Jamal Said-Reuters

Here we go, another full-on assault by Darrrell Issa, BSer In Chief, a rabidly fixated man suffering from Hyperventilitis Uninterruptus in search of a scandal. A hypocritical, lying camera-hog who is escorting a rabidly fixated gang on a desperate hunt for grounds to impeach President Obama. Somehow. Somewhere. Anywhere, dammit. Watch out, IRS, you're back in the exploitation hot seat.

From everything that's been reported, there may indeed be problems with the agency, but the IRS witch hunt is unlikely to lead back to the White House. So much for that wet dream.

I ran across some of the contradictory news on the topic, starting with a Los Angeles Times editorial that included this sentence:

But rather than addressing that issue systematically, the IRS gave extra scrutiny mainly to tea party groups, often in inappropriate ways, an inspector general reported.

But back in April 2014, there was this Think Progress headline :

New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

L.A. Times, your thoughts?

failure to communicate

Speaking of the Times, here is an interesting tidbit that they reported in an IRS Scandal for Dummeez article:

So wasn’t there a backup?

There was, but the backup tapes were recycled after six months, Koskinen said, and the agency didn’t try to recover Lerner’s emails from the tapes at the time. Budget cuts left the IRS with aging computer systems that limited the size of employees' inboxes and lacked the capability to archive everybody’s emails, he said. The agency decided it couldn’t afford the estimated $10 million it would cost to upgrade the system, he added.

Apparently, the GOP obsession with austerity bit the obsessed GOP in their obsessed GOP ass. Yes, Republicans, budget cuts-- the ones you insist upon and covet so very much and so very LOUDLY-- were a factor in the Big IRS Scandal Version Something.0 that you may very well have helped to create.

Give yourselves a big pat on the back, Team Issa. Then go back to doing what you always do:

blame obama

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Scott #Walker part of "criminal scheme;" prosecutor closing in on Chris #Christie

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Mr. Toast  criminal investigations

When it rains it pours in GOP ScandalLand! Today's episode includes some ominous news for both criminal (allegedly) Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and everyone's favorite entertainer, criminal (allegedly) Gov. Chris "Who moi?" Christie of New Jersey.

Where to begin? All my salivating is distracting me, but not enough to prevent bringing you the latest.

Let's start with Scott "Who Needs a Recall When We Have a Legal Case?" Walker. Politico has the scoop:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participated in a “criminal scheme” to coordinate fundraising for Republicans trying to beat back efforts to recall him and state senators from office, local prosecutors argue in court documents released Thursday.

Walker, his chief of staff and others were involved in the coordination effort with “a number of national groups and prominent figures,” including Karl Rove, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz alleged.

“[T]he evidence shows an extensive coordination scheme that pervaded nearly every aspect of the campaign activities during the historic 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections,” Schmitz wrote in a December motion, on behalf of five attorneys from some of the state’s most liberal counties, just now unsealed by an appellate court judge.

Ruh roh!

Scotty's in a neck-and-neck race for re-election, so this may very well complicate matters for him. And don't even get me started about his shrinking chances for a 2016 presidential run. Dems are ecstatic.

Moving on to Bridgegate and poor, put-upon Gov. "Heartbroken." This reporting comes via Esquire, where the sub-headline is "Indictments against four cronies are near certain, sources say. Only question is if David Samson, Christie's longtime crony, will flip."

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Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening -- he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case. [...]

Fishman’s challenge is to nail down specific criminal charges on several fronts -- the diversion of Port Authority money to fund New Jersey road and bridge projects; the four-day rush-hour closures of George Washington Bridge lanes in Ft. Lee; and a web of real-estate deals spun by David Samson, long a Christie crony, when he chaired the PA’s Board of Commissioners as Christie’s appointee. [...]

The question that truly matters is whether Fishman’s pursuit leads to the governor himself. Christie’s Port appointees -- not only Samson, but former PA Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball sidekick David Wildstein -- all face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie, as is the governor’s former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna... Fishman has cut no deals with anyone so far, and the looming indictments have encouraged Christie’s PA appointees to sing.

On source said that Samson "is toast." "They’ve got him cold... He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy. Samson will want a deal."

GIF happy DancingSnoopy

Both articles are must-reads, and they're relatively short, so have at it.

What was that again about 2016? Methinks we may have a twofer here. With any luck, we can show both lying, arrogant, slimeball Republican governors the door.

buh bye by Kelly Kincaid

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GM's Mary Barra Fires Employees But Spares Herself

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Doesn't it seem to always be the case when there's a corporate problem, the first thing the bosses do is point fingers? The toppers never want to take responsibility themselves. It was some low-ranking employees and the CEO was left out in the dark. Somewhere along the line, after they've fired those who were directly hands on, the light starts to reflect back at them. Then there's very few places they can hide.

Well today, the lights at General Motors were shined on 20 key employees, 15 of whom were fired and 5 who were reprimanded over the company’s failure to disclose a defect with ignition switches that is now linked to at least 13 deaths.

This all stems back to 2001 and has continued up until recently -- both in General Motors lethal inactivity in responding to an issue they were totally aware of as well as their attempts to sweep this deadly flaw under the carpet.

Washington Post today reports:

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“I hate sharing this with you just as much as you hate hearing it,” [General Motor's CEO] Barra told employees in a town hall meeting at GM’s suburban Detroit technical center. “But I want you to hear it. I want you to remember it. I want you to never forget it.” Barra promised to “fix the failures in our system.”

Does Barra really mean what she's saying? Consider this, she's not among the 20 people singled out for firing or discipline.

Why should she be? Because a quick look at her employment at GM. She started working for General Motors at the age of 18 in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly. Is she trying to say she had no idea what was going on? I suppose it's possible, but...

From General Motors website:

Prior to her current position, Barra served as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing Supply Chain since August 2013, and as Senior Vice President, Global Product Development since February 2011. In these roles, she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world.

Previously, Barra served as GM Vice President, Global Human Resources; Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly; Executive Director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and in several engineering and staff positions.

Hello. The ignition catastrophe was an engineering design problem. That falls right under Barra's purview which brings us all back to the beginning. Finger pointing and assigning blame when it's really the guilty who should be taking the fall. I don't think Barra directly was responsible for the design flaw. But was she aware of it if these other 20 people were? Apply some simple logic here and decide for yourself-- in this case, did a guilty co-conspirator get promoted in order to put out the fire?

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