Das Krapital

Correction: Eli Lake Does Not Want The Government To Assassinate Julian Assange

Washington Times national security reporter Eli Lake just called to dispute my assertion (in this MUST-READ Q&A with Washington Post Spy Talk blogger Jeff Stein) that he would like to see Wikileaks founder Julian Assange "assassinated," a position I gleaned from some comments he made at a Daily Caller keg party back in October, during which Lake now says his judgment may have been compromised. Lake does not believe Assange should be assassinated or even prosecuted under the Espionage Act, he says, and directed me to this Reason article for a more accurate characterization of his WikiViews:

As Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake told me, Assange is “an activist who understands computer code,” not a journalist. (Incidentally, Lake describes himself as generally “pro-leak” and complains that Assange “will now be the poster boy for everyone who wants to create an official secrets act in the United States.”)

An official secrets act!! That is a thing?!? Oh well, my sense is that "everyone who wants to create an official secrets act" will probably be too busy dismantling Social Security, challenging the constitutionality of Medicare, and banning the distribution of food stamps to Americans with a BMI higher than 19 to bother anytime soon.

“I Hope This Spawns More Wikileaks”: Talking Spycraft With “Spy Talk” Blogger Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein enjoying oysters and a glass of Medoc in Normandy last fall with a friendly Alsatian (French dogs hate it when you call them "German").

A couple weeks ago when I chastised the Washington Post for devoting only 11% of its column inches on Wikileaks to the actual content of the leaks themselves, I neglected to mention a notable sanctuary within the Post's HTML borders from the tyranny of Wikileaks meta-coverage: Jeff Stein's Spy Talk blog, whose motto is "Intelligence for Thinking People"—but don't take it from him, take it from the folks at Johnnie Walker Blue Label whiskey, whose banner advertisements I have only ever seen on "Spy Talk"—and I don't think they're going after my sophisticated tastes, guys. Stein kindly fielded every dumb question I could think of and a few others I was too embarrassed to ask on the phone but slyly emailed him afterward, on topics ranging from Julian Assange's sex life to Steve Rosen's porn habits to Anna Chapman's service to her country, plus the CIA Christmas party, Bob Casey's deathbed confession and even the JFK assassination. Read more “I Hope This Spawns More Wikileaks”: Talking Spycraft With “Spy Talk” Blogger Jeff Stein

You Don’t Say…

Ryan Avent in the Economist:

…it stands to reason that the financial sector is acting, quite purposefully, to use its vast wealth to influence government policy in ways that will make it rich.

But wouldn't that go against their blood promise to ensure the efficient allocation of capital?!?!?!
Read more You Don’t Say…

Ezra Klein And Some Bearded Lefties Talk About Economic Insecurity

All experience is relative. And so before I expound upon my experiences yesterday attending a forum on American economic insecurity featuring Ezra Klein, I ought to qualify my assessment by briefly listing what I imagine to be the three most significant recent events I believe to have possibly consciously and unconsciously colored my perception of reality throughout the duration of the panel:

1. The climate of the New America Foundation conference room relative to that in which I lost circulation in all but one of my fingers directly prior to the panel's commencement while waiting to use the ATM machine.
2. The consensus views and philosophical stances of the panelists and attendees relative to those at the Atlantic Ideas conference, whose response to a sternly disapproving remark of Michael Bloomberg's about the disgraceful 40 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes consisted of clapping and cheering.
3. The equanimity with which I may have been cognitively biased to experience such an occasion relative to that with which I might have greeted it before my sister over the weekend bequeathed to me her bottle of hydrocodone cough syrup. (Because I have a horrible cold, not because I like purple drank.) Read more Ezra Klein And Some Bearded Lefties Talk About Economic Insecurity

Deep Thoughts…

Today Larry Summers gave a speech that won high marks from Swampland's Michael Scherer, who follows a long and approving quotation from the speech, paraphrases it thusly:

So what is Summers really saying? He is approvingly quoting Daniel Patrick Moynihan's argument that increased government involvement in the health care sector is a risky idea… He explained his position in his 1996 book, Miles To Go, in the context of William Baumol, a friend of Moynihan's, who had arrived at this observation: a classical orchestra simply does not become more efficient over the centuries if it intends to play the same Mozart quartet with all the required musicians. As a result, musicians have not benefited from the efficiencies that have raised the productive values, and the salaries, of other professions. Nonetheless, as others get paid more, the musicians demand more, and it ends up costing more to hear the same music.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You're thinking…But hey wait, Daniel Patrick Moynihan's friend, I just read in the Washington City Paper that classical musicians in this town are rapidly going the way of oil lamps and unaccountable teachers! So when they tell you things like 'there's nothing new under the sun', Daniel Patrick Moynihan's friend, they are probably just trying to escape being held accountable, because there is almost always another sector of the economy and/or genre of consumer entertainment that might be a lot more 'efficient' if you got someone like Michelle Rhee to replace all the union workers with an iPod Touch (maybe some prison labor?) and also, paid a consulting firm to concoct a new brand name for your venture ideally emphasizing words like 'choice' but throwing out non-relevant geriatric buzzwords like 'classical.' And sure you might piss off some little old Easy Spirit wearing LLadro collectors in the process, but what if Medicare never gave them all hearing aids to begin with? Which was of course exactly your point, Daniel Patrick Moynihan's friend. That given the fact that we are all in the long run dead like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we might as well not bother even remotely trying to make sense, because obsequious journalists like Michael Scherer will only continue to hang on the every slobber-soaked word of disgraced egomaniacs like Larry Summers, and as long as guys like him are going to be plagiarizing someone else plagiarizing our quippy little analogies and anecdotes to advance their plutocrat-serving agendas, they might as well sound as absurd as they truly are while doing it, not that I needed anymore absurdity in this lifetime, which is why it's just as well that the government turned off my hearing aid already…"

Why ‘Morning’ Joe Talks Five Times As Much As Mute Ice Princess Mika

Mika's silence: not so deafening.

TNR counted the number of words MSNBC Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski spoke one morning on the show and found a ratio of 3,213 to 644. TNR's assessment of this situation is—ATT gynobloggers— "sexism." Having subjected myself to a triple dosage of MSNBC in the past few weeks (bedridden, contagious, already caught up on Real Housewives of Bev Hills, v. desperate) I would venture an alternative theory of the relative reticence of Mika Brzezinski. This is, after all, not Gretchen Carlson we are talking about here. Brzezinski cannot exactly hide her elite pedigree or her scary erudite (scary-udite!) father. Also, the title of her forthcoming book is Know Your Worth. Perhaps Mika merely values her thoughts to highly to waste them on "Morning Joe"…

Read more Why ‘Morning’ Joe Talks Five Times As Much As Mute Ice Princess Mika

Won’t You Join Our Nepotism Acceptance Movement, Luke Russert?

Luke Russert: victim of countless dumb Star Wars jokes, and other adversities. Screengrab via YouTube

I am just getting around to reading Howie Kurtz's (second?) latest work of staggering genius on Luke Russert and I am still smarting over some of the paragraphs:

He knows what some colleagues and detractors say—that he wouldn't be in this job if not for his last name. "I just try to really block that out," Russert says. "The news media is a results-oriented business. I don't think a company like NBC would pay me if I wasn't qualified and wasn't able to produce on this level…


He is relaxed, earnest and witty during the rare interview, granted only after months of requests (the NBC publicity team is very protective of him and discouraged me from following him while he works). On camera, though his delivery is greatly improved from his sometimes halting debut, Russert sometimes seems like a class cutup standing up extra straight and trying not to let a curse word slip. That has the effect of restraining his personality, in contrast to his father's passionate performances.

Read more Won’t You Join Our Nepotism Acceptance Movement, Luke Russert?

Tina Brown Approves Of Elizabeth Edwards, Now That She’s Done Making “Ghastly Spectacle” Of Herself

Not from this morning, but you get the idea

As I predicted, Tina Brown has been all over the Elizabeth Edwards deathfest, despite having chastised her while she was alive for repeatedly and "inexplicably" making a "ghastly spectacle" of her book publicity tour by admitting she was, actually, pissed that her pathological liar husband had made a sex tape with some kind of Stevie Nicks without the talent manic blonde dilettante lady while she was dying of cancer, then pawned off their love child on an aide. As Pareene pointed out yesterday Mark Halperin was the first shameless hack to pull this "reversal" on Edwards after opportunistically vilifying her during her life for no good reason other than, I guess pageviews? Sheer venality? Whatever, at least the Daily Beast picked a nice photo to accompany their shiva sit in. As opposed to…

Read more Tina Brown Approves Of Elizabeth Edwards, Now That She’s Done Making “Ghastly Spectacle” Of Herself

Santa Gives Us Official “No Comment” On Those Tax Cuts For Rich People

Oh wait sorry, so class warmongery of me, they're called "affluent" now, apparently. Like in that old book about our great American "society", except the term can only be used to describe 1 in 100 of society's members these days.

Anyway, don't say we didn't try to take this terrible policy to a higher authority. When a nice man named "Ken" emailed us yesterday with the subject heading Re: 12/8 INTERVIEW OPP: Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus talk Toys for Tots and 'Shaking up Christmas' offering us a five-minute interview with the First Family of those melting ice caps  this morning, we lept like flying raindeer at the opportunity! But it was not to be…

Read more Santa Gives Us Official “No Comment” On Those Tax Cuts For Rich People

You’ve Been At This Pundit Thing Too Damn Long, Old Man

Like so many of his colleagues at the Washington Post, there was a time when Ezra Klein was not just another ossified belcher of such predictable kleptocrat apologia/antilogic filtered through the usual echo chamber distortion of stupefying sleepword synonyms for "consensus" as today's "An imperfect, but not-that-bad, deal on the tax cuts" to millionaires who barely pay taxes anyway. I've been perusing the Klein canon for examples, and for instance here, back in 1991 there were signs Wonkbook blogger could be an occasionally innovative thinker, according to this account from the Los Angeles Times:

For 6-year-old inventor Ezra Klein, the inspiration came from his baby sister's spilled ice cream cone.
Why not, he thought, put a frozen piece of plastic around the cone to keep the ice cream cold and catch any wayward drips?
"I call it my 'Ice Cream Cooler and Melt Stopper,' " said Ezra, a first-grader at Irvine's University Park Elementary School. "With this, my sister won't spill everything anymore."Ezra is one of 234 Orange County kindergarten through eighth-graders participating in the fifth annual Astounding Inventions competition from noon to 3 p.m. today at Irvine Valley College. Admission is free.

I am not entirely sure what happened in the interim to Klein, who at some point after this contest exited the cutthroat infomercial kitchen appliance industry and remade himself into a fixture of the Beltway punditocracy, but he has since transformed into a less interesting David Broder.   Read more You’ve Been At This Pundit Thing Too Damn Long, Old Man