'Puppetry' Revelations Clarify 'State of the Union'
My new book Presidential Puppetry can help viewers better understand the implications of President Obama's State of the Union address last week.
Obama, shown below, announced to a joint session of Congress Jan. 28 his plans for 2014 and beyond. His rhetoric soared. But specifics fell far short of his promises during his 2008 presidential campaign, as Atlantic columnist Conor Friedersdorf noted in The Decline and Fall of 'Hope and Change.'
Puppetry shows via a century of history why Obama is a status quo centrist playing the role of reformer. Like his parents, he has a hidden national security background that helps show why he is a minion for the truly powerful and not a master.
Obama's ascent to the presidency was enabled by wealthy, powerful figures who remain in the shadows while the public receives from his handlers only a few core talking points about his past along with a lot of superficial conventional wisdom. It this is news to you, it shouldn't be after two election campaigns and all these years.
That's why I'm creating a national initiative called "The Truth Patrol" to get to the bottom of other secrets that confuse millions of trusting voters, with the inevitable result of a breakdown in democracy. This is not necessarily an anti-Obama effort, although his most devout loyalists will see it that way. In fact, many right-wing haters will be dismayed also because they have been duped also about his background.
The true powers guiding government -- I call them "Puppet Masters" but others use such terms as "Wall Street," or President Eisenhower's term "The Military Industrial Complex" or even "The Secret Team" -- help enable and thereby control top candidates from both the Republican and Democratic Parties.
The hidden oligarchs are always in control of government no matter how an election turns out. The mainstream media are unwitting accomplices for the most part. They focus on manufactured events like the president's annual speech, not on the goals of billionaires who are shaping both public policy and news coverage.
"Andrew Kreig is doing the important work the journalism establishment has abandoned," wrote David Cogswell of Hoboken, New Jersey in a five-star review on Amazon.com Feb. 1. "The political battles of Bush versus Kerry, Clinton versus Bush, Obama versus Romney," Cogswell continued, "are elaborate dramas staged for us by hired performers who take their orders from a shadowy ruling elite. Kreig lays out the facts as you normally don’t see them."
Today's column recaps the treatment Presidential Puppetry: Obama Romney and Their Masters has received since the end of the year following its launch at the National Press Club.
Radio host Susan Lindauer, right, for example, repeatedly described to her audience during a two-hour Jan. 24 interview revelations that complemented her own as a former intelligence operative, political prisoner, and author.
Many in the general public suspect the worst of our leaders and hunger for specifics denied them by information gatekeepers in the traditional media. Last week, I visited a friend in a hospital who mentioned my book to an orderly, who promptly bought a copy because the concepts matched his suspicions of the president's past.
By contrast, professional journalists in Washington often admit privately that they do not know much about the president's family background aside from the familiar talking points: Obama was a community organizer, friend of radicals in Chicago, Harvard Law Review editor, University of Chicago constitutional law instructor, etc.
Missing from that collection of partial disclosures are the key influencers upon him, his team and other recent presidents.
I have documented them with the help of many dogged and valiant sources cited in more than 1,100 endnotes. The full story will help those willing to explore reality outside Washington's political matrix.
You can see the evidence yourself for free once we start excerpting the book this month here in serial form. In the meantime, provided below are highlights from recent newspaper, radio, video and web coverage that helps illuminate what the president and his opponents are going to do for the rest of his term.
The first section below reveals blunt truths about the president and his predecessors. The revelations are too hot for most mainstream writers to explore.
But I am confident that our Justice Integrity Project audience can handle the facts. Most of you have read evidence here through the years of many scandals and cover-ups that mysteriously never get resolved via the legal system.
You'll see below explanations why. Upon reflection, the truth is no stranger than what we routinely accept on TV and movies. House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey told a Wall Street Journal reporter last week that the show's dramatic stories about corruption and violence "are not that crazy" compared to what he sometimes observes in real-life politics.
Also below are excerpts from several recent interviews about specific current events. One was as the beating and jailing beginning Oct. 23 of the corruption-fighting Alabama journalist Roger Shuler, who remains jailed without bond and with no lawyer more than four months after arrest. Appalling.
My interviews were not specifically about the book. But the topics fall under the general category of a government assault on our traditional civil rights. Republicans, Democrats and everyone else must learn about this erosion of our rights, and protect what we inherited.
The Big Picture
The best place to start this summary of coverage is a review of Puppetry on Dec. 31 by Connecticut-based syndicated columnist Andy Thibault. The New Haven Register was among the newspapers that published his review, entitled Road map to master manipulators.
Thibault, right, a skilled and experienced journalist, drew the connection between my early years as a newspaper reporter covering courts in Connecticut and the presidential-level scandals I have uncovered in Washington, DC.
The review appeared in the same city where I began studying law at Yale University. Law has proven to be a vital tool for understanding the abuses of power now hurting the public so badly. Puppetry is a true-life mystery story that arose from our Project's work documenting perversions of the justice system.
Kreig broke the story of how President-elect Obama’s transition team feared a revolt if the new commander in chief pushed prosecution of CIA officials for torture and other crimes. Presidential Puppetry documents how Obama is among all recent U.S. presidents who have fostered confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. For example, Obama’s first job out of college was for Business International Corporation, revealed by The New York Times [in 1977] as a CIA front.
Many of these CIA and FBI connections have occurred via front organizations in business, foundations, and academia.
Spy or law enforcement assets also work in mainstream media, as with Business International. The Pearson Group, a major UK-based information services and publishing company, acquired Business International in 1986. That was the year after Obama left the company to become a community organizer in Chicago.
Several other reviews or interviews can help readers here follow the evidence and argument.
Rob Kall, publisher at the progressive commentary site OpEd News, is the host of a show called "Bottom Up Radio" that advocates political reform from the grassroots because elites control both government and the media. Last month, he posted a transcript of my interview on his radio show. Another treatment was by Indiana attorney Gary Welsh, posted on his reform blog Advance Indiana, Presidential Puppetry: A Must Read.
Mark Mondalek of Boiling Frogs conducted another extensive interview. He transcribed it in Exclusive Interview with Andrew Kreig: The CIA, Global Empire & the U.S. Presidency. The interview covered, he explained, "the current and historical impact of the intelligence services on American politics, and the Mitt Romney, Mormon-inspired presidency that might-have-been."
Radio host Susan Lindauer explored these topics on her show, Truth Frequency Radio.
For her segment Interview of Author Andrew Kreig, she brought the expert perspective of having been a U.S. intelligence asset who monitored terrorism at the Iraqi Embassy in New York from 1996 up to the invasion.
Shortly after she requested to testify before Congress about successful elements of pre-war intelligence, Lindauer became one of the first non-Arab Americans arrested under the Patriot Act. She was accused of being an Iraqi agent when she warned her second cousin, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and Secretary of State Colin Powell that war with Iraq would have catastrophic consequences.
Her indictment included secret charges and secret evidence. She was subjected to one year in prison at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas without a trial or hearing. The government threatened her with indefinite detention and forcible drugging. After five years of indictment without a conviction, trial or guilty plea, the Justice Department dismissed all charges five days before President Obama’s inauguration. She described her terrifying experiences in the 2010 book, Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq.Power Above the Law, Voters and the Media
Baker wrote in a memoir, Me and Lee, that she regarded Oswald as a patsy who was framed and murdered. She feared for her life after receiving a warning from Ferrie promptly after the 1963 murder of JFK. I met Baker, right, in Dallas last fall. She wrote me last week that she wanted to share information from her forthcoming book about Ferrie.
Evidence hidden during Garrison's probe but since declassified has proven that Shaw was, in fact, a CIA asset.
More generally, the term “conspiracy theorist” has become since 1967 a common insult that continues to today. Establishment journalists protect their sources and self-esteem by disparaging as incredible the research of anyone who raises the possibility of a crime committed by government law enforcement, military or intelligence operatives.
On a routine basis, I hear colleagues in the media use the term as a put-down, thereby foreclosing for them any need to examine evidence. Upon inquiry, it usually turns out that they have little understanding of the rush to judgment to convict Oswald and, more generally, the long-running campaign to discourage evidence evaluation that reporters, historians and indeed every citizen should undertake on sensitive matters.
I expect to be tainted in similar fashion, especially after documenting shortcomings of both political parties and the media.
Just last week, I saw a fanatical smear-artist at work.
An outspoken Maryland retiree and blogger named Bill Schmalfeldt mentioned me on his website, Patriot-Ombudsman, because I had expressed sympathy for his legal plight. Schmalfeldt -- disabled and nearly paralyzed with Stage Four Parkinson's Disease -- was facing more than 360 criminal charges in a Maryland county court for naming a political foe in many insulting Twitter messages. Someone decided to get even with both of us the next day by leaving a disparaging, one-star "review" of Puppetry on its Amazon.com website. The review was signed "B. Schmuckfeldt."
Clearly, the "reviewer" had had no time to buy and read the book. So, the "review" was merely ill-natured sabotage amid reviews that were all four or five stars. Further examination of the unusual term "Schmuckfeldt" via Google indicated that it is a favorite term of a leader of a movement to organize anonymous expressions of U.S. hatred for the prophet Mohammad, thus stirring up strife between his followers and U.S. Christians. The impulse also seems to be anti-Semitic since the "Schmuckfeldt" name in one posting is attached to a video clip portraying Adolf Hitler as denouncing Schmalfeldt with violent rhetoric.
What will be, will be.
My view is there is no way to discuss our nation's hidden history without a risk of offending fanatics and those too who use put-downs to avoid serious inquiry. Maybe the sheeple using the term "conspiracy theory" to avoid their civic duties are the ones who should be embarrassed. Conspiracies do exist. Otherwise, prosecutors would not be using the charge every day in court cases across the nation.
When Presidents Dared Speak Out
The first three United States Cold War presidents all expressed strong concern that the CIA was amassing too much power. My book charts that history, as does my 12-part "Readers Guide to the JFK assassination," especially The JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know.
One landmark in that research was former President Harry Truman's op-ed in 1963 in the Washington Post "Limit CIA Role To Intelligence" urging his successors after the JFK assassination to cut back the CIA's powers to its original function: simply advising the president. A few months later (after the Post spiked his column from its later editions), Truman, right, protested in a separate letter to Look Magazine what he called "strange adventures" by CIA that he never foresaw when he created the CIA.
Another well-connected protester was the late Col. Fletcher Prouty, left -- a top liaison at the Pentagon between the CIA and the Defense Department during both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations between 1955 and 1963. Prouty argued before his death in 2001 that the CIA was heavily involved in Kennedy's murder and cover-up.
Prouty wrote one of the first exposés of the CIA. He entitled his 1973 book The Secret Team. That was Prouty's umbrella term for the dangerous oligarchs in the private sector who control the spy agencies with a grip more powerful than a president's.
In later years, Prouty suspected that his book had been sabotaged or otherwise suppressed.
Perhaps by coincidence, Prouty's publisher Prentice Hall (now owned by Pearson via the Penguin Group of global book publishers) employed as a high-ranking, part-time editor William Casey. He was a former Office of Strategic Services officer who went on to become a media tycoon operating from Wall Street, and then Reagan for President campaign manager, and then Reagan's first CIA director.
Even someone at the Prouty level of sophistication may not have known there is far more to book publishing than simply finding a publisher. All levels of the organization need to want it to succeed.
Little known to the public, influence by the CIA and such other spy agencies as NSA continues in ways difficult but not impossible to track.
Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos, for example, bought the Washington Post last year for $250 million shortly before the CIA awarded a $600 million contract to Amazon.com to handle the CIA's cloud computing needs. Amazon.com and the Post are separate entities, of course. But all of the interests converge at the top in way nearly impossible for the public to understand -- except the denials by all concerned that any conflict could exist.
We see also such mixed messages as the Washington Post's leadership in covering the surveillance scandal following the disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. We see also that President Obama's panel former close confederates has proposed reforms of NSA. Moreover, we see that the CIA, far from restricting its activities, has developed extensive military capabilities (including its own air force) to undertake wars never authorized by Congress and impossible for the public to oversee otherwise.
In sum, President Obama's State of the Union address promises need to be understood in a larger context. To be clear, my portrayal is not that CIA or similar work is a bad thing. I disclose that my mother, a prominent writer, was also a secret CIA asset in the patriotic spirit of the era. Now, however, the level of secrecy and the massive scope of operations and surveillance has become a problem.
A Journey of Many Steps
Realistically, a book like Puppetry is not going to be welcomed by most in the major media. It documents a century of hidden history, most notably in recent years. Furthermore, even bold and independent-minded journalists work in a field that emphasizes what's topical, as I know from my years as a reporter and columnist.
Therefore, many of my media efforts are broadcast commentaries on specific stories. Often, I am introduced as editor of the Justice Integrity Project with no mention of the book. That's fine with me. The purpose of all such interviews is to be concise and say something helpful about the topic at hand.
Thus the CBS-affiliate WWL AM/FM in New Orleans usually introduces me for political commentaries as editor of the Justice Integrity Project. Yet the same station boldly broke the major findings of Puppetry in a nearly hour-long interview by its prominent mid-day host, Garland Robinette.
Also exemplifying that pattern, radio host Alan Colmes, syndicated by Fox News Talk Radio, invited me last month to discuss the continued jailing of Alabama blogger Roger Shuler on a trumped-up charges of contempt of court arising out of a libel case.
HuffPost Live! Freedom Watch host Alyona Minkovsky, at left, invited me to discuss the same topic.
In New Jersey, Carson's Corner radio host Bob Carson interviewed me last month on my years of study of disgraceful abuses of power by Gov. Chris Christie.
More than four years previously, Carson and I had pointed out on the show how Christie's election had been enabled by his abusive behavior as U.S. attorney.
For years, Christie and his federal appointees had used their office for political purposes. Christie wanted to show that he was among the "loyal Bushies." That way, Christie could avoid being fired in the Bush administration's unprecedented mid-term purge in 2006 of nine of the nation's 94 powerful U.S. attorneys, who control criminal and civil litigation in their regions.
Christie went on to win election as governor in 2009 in part by ruthlessly prosecuting political targets on a highly selective basis that rewarded his friends and punished the powerless. The mainstream media avoided the story because most executives (and hence reporters) were enthusiastic about Christie's image as a crime-fighter with bipartisan appeal.
Carson is a progressive who for years has questioned on air why Obama or his Justice Department did not review the Christie record and other policies congruent with the president's rhetoric. So, Carson was eager to transition our discussion last month from the Christie scandal to book themes.
In that spirit, I described how the result of the Christie scandal was likely to help Jeb Bush win the GOP nomination for president in 2016, as amplified in this column last month. My theme was that Christie's continued viability as a 2016 candidate helps Jeb Bush up to a point by keeping public attention off his own record.
Puppetry has three chapters about the strange, secret and sordid past of the Bush family extending back nearly a century to its national prominence in the arms industry during World War I and work on Wall Street through the 1930s to the eve of World War II to serve the interests of Adolf Hitler's chief funder, German industrialist Fritz Thyssen.
The book documents how Jeb Bush was instrumental in arranging one of the greatest public scandals of the past century: The theft of the 2000 presidential election by data processing manipulations to wrongly eliminate more than 90,000 eligible voters, most of them Democrats and/or African-Americans on bogus claims they were convicted felons ineligible to vote.
Florida is a rare state that allows election officials and the private contractors they use to sort registered voters by party and race. That, as reported by BBC's Greg Palast, was the real reason for the Florida swung the election to George W. Bush. It was the chads, the disgraceful U.S. Supreme Court ruling halting a vote recount, and the nearly as disgraceful lack of protest by timid Democrats and media.
These are matters that the Republicans and especially the Bush family do not want re-examined. So, Jeb Bush needs to avoid the extra scrutiny that front-runner status for the 2016 nomination would bring.
But Republicans will need a candidate, and it will not be Christie. Bush is best positioned because he is the scion of the nation's most powerful political family. Little known to the public, the Bush family also holds unparalleled expertise in a largely secret nationwide network of voting machine experts whom family retainer Karl Rove has groomed again and again for effective action.
The mainstream media and major political parties will not touch the issue of electronic voting machine fraud.
So, anything is possible in a general election, especially if the final polls are within what is regarded as a crucial 3 percent difference providing a close enough margin so that an upset would not arouse too many complaints.
Related News Coverage
State of the Union Critics
At left, President Barack Obama reviews his speech one last time while waiting in room at the U.S. Capitol prior to delivering the State of the Union address in the House Chamber in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014. He delivers the speech below right. Official White House Photos.
FireDogLake, President Obama Uses State Of The Union To Promote TPP, Ducks NSA Reform, DS Wright, Jan. 29, 2014. President Barack Obama addressed growing concerns in the country about lack of opportunities and yawning wealth inequality. As the problem has gotten progressively worse, the rhetoric seems to be ever more soaring. Obama’s policy proposals involve sending more people to college and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. In short, he is going to talk about it and not do anything for another year.
Atlantic, The Decline and Fall of 'Hope and Change,' Conor Friedersdorf, Jan. 30 2014. President Obama's achievements are many. But he has utterly failed to keep a promise core to the rationale for his candidacy. There are significant promises that Barack Obama has fulfilled in the White House: He has stood against torture, ended the Iraq War, and killed Osama bin Laden. He signed a healthcare-reform bill into law and helped to extend gay rights. Love or hate these policies, they are due in large part to his efforts as president. But as another State of the Union address recedes into memory, it is equally clear that the Obama Administration won't ever fulfill one of its core selling points: the chance to pass reforms that address the most worrisome flaws in our democratic system. To use the parlance of the 2008 campaign, it won't achieve "change." The word, as invoked back then, didn't just mean passing Democratic legislation into law, or getting poor people health insurance, or letting gays serve in the military. Those are significant policies that will affect the lives of many millions of people. But even if you regard all of them as salutary, it's worth remembering that Obama asserted a need to "fundamentally change the way Washington works," an approach Hillary Clinton regarded as naive, but that Americans embraced.
Truthout, The Sugar Makes the Poison Taste Sweet, William Rivers Pitt, Jan. 30, 2014. The President of the United States gave the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and if you ask the right people, they'll tell you it was well and truly a barn-burner. President Obama dropped so many left-leaning, frown-inducing lines on the Republicans arrayed before him that Speaker Boehner, visible over the president's shoulder, changed hues from his standard orange to alarming red to call-the-paramedics purple on several notable occasions. But then, if you're smart, you read the damned speech in detail...and if you did, like as not you have some serious questions to ask. Questions, for example, like why Mr. Obama spent a good portion of his speech sounding for all the world like an Occupy Wall Street protester before turning on a dime to bend his knee to the failed religion of free-market economics. And then...and then, there was Cory Remsburg, the last invited guest Mr. Obama made note of. Remsburg, an Army Ranger, was injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan during his tenth deployment. His tenth deployment. Cory Remsburg rose up before that parliament of whores, disfigured, maimed for life, and was duly recognized for his service and devotion to country. He received a deafening ovation from a room filled with the worst people in the country, many of whom voted over and over again to send him back to war ten times over, who cheered so loudly to cover over their shame...including the president himself, whose Afghanistan "surge" played its own part in putting Cory Remsburg in the path of the bomb that left him barely able to stand, blind in one eye, and forever damaged.
Recent Presidential Puppetry Coverage
New Haven Register, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, Andy Thibault, left, Dec. 31, 2013. Andrew Kreig covered federal courts in the 1970s for the Hartford Courant. His reporting on the 2008 and 2012 elections inspired him to probe who really pulls the strings in Washington. The result is a most provocative book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. Kreig broke the story of how President-elect Obama’s transition team feared a revolt if the new commander in chief pushed prosecution of CIA officials for torture and other crimes. Presidential Puppetry documents how Obama is among all recent U.S. presidents who have fostered confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. Editor's Note: This review was published also in the Torrington Register-Citizen and Middletown Press.
Advance Indiana, Presidential Puppetry: A Must Read, Gary Welsh, Jan. 26, 2014. I don't often promote books to my readers, but this one requires your attention. This past week, I've had the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Andrew Kreig's, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. It dovetails perfectly with the cynical conclusions I've drawn about our two-party system in this country often on this blog and how the top leaders of both parties, as well as the big corporate media, simply do the bidding of their puppet masters, the military industrial complex that has assumed virtual control of every major aspect of this country, particularly following the government coup d'etat accomplished in 1963 by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The forces that ended his presidency have prospered and dramatically strengthened the iron fist they exercise to the detriment of most Americans who remain silent as rights we believed our constitution guaranteed to all of us as citizens of a democratic republic are eroded by a Nazi-styled government instituted for the benefit of an elite few.
Carson's Corner Radio Show/ New Jersey's Progressive Voice, Interview of 'Presidential Puppetry' Author Andrew Kreig, Bob Carson, Jan. 19, 2014. We welcome back to the show Andrew Kreig, an investigator, journalist, author, and executive director of the Justice Integrity Project. He has investigated Governor Christie extensively over the past four years. Andrew and I will discuss the latest news on the Christie scandal, implications for the future, and much more. We'll also discuss how the Christie saga helps Jeb Bush in 2016. Plus, Andrew has used his extensive research skills to write his second book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney, and Their Masters, which has stunning details about Obama. Don't miss this great edition of Carson's Corner.
OpEdNews, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, Interview of Andrew Kreig, Presidential Puppetry author, broadcast, Nov. 20, 2013.
Boiling Frogs Post, Exclusive Interview with Andrew Kreig: The CIA, Global Empire & the U.S. Presidency, Mark Mondalek, right, Jan. 10, 2014. Uncovering the Puppet Master Class of the Mega-Corporations. In this exclusive interview with Andrew Kreig, author of Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters (Eagle View Books, 2013), we discuss the findings behind his most recent research into President Obama’s contentious past, the current and historical impact of the intelligence services on American politics, and the Mitt Romney, Mormon-inspired presidency that might-have-been.
Truth Frequency Radio, Interview of Author Andrew Kreig, Susan Lindauer, Jan. 24, 2014.
Justice Integrity Project, JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 9, 2013. The Central Intelligence Agency implicated itself in the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and its ongoing cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out recently. Former congressional investigator Robert Tanenbaum said he and his boss quit the last official probe of JFK’s murder in 1978 because Congress was too frightened of the CIA’s power to permit a probe of the agency's suspicious actions.
Politico, Obama hosts George H.W. and Jeb Bush at White House, Donovan Slack, Jan. 27, 2012. Unbeknownst to the press, President Obama met Friday evening with former president George H.W. Bush and his son, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, in the Oval Office. White House officials did not list the meeting on the president's schedule but released a photo on Flickr. According to the photo's time stamp, the meeting occurred shortly after 5 p.m., about the time the president returned to the White House from a fundraiser. When asked what the men discussed and why it wasn't on the schedule, the White House released a statement saying, “The three men enjoyed a personal visit in the Oval Office – as they have done on previous occasions when President Bush is Washington.” The Bushes are in town to attend the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday, an annual get-together for Washington power brokers that Obama also is scheduled to attend, according to the Associated Press. The meeting came at an interesting time politically, just one day after Obama, in an interview with ABC News, blamed predecessor George W. Bush for policies that brought on the greatest recession since the Great Depression. He also blamed him for initiating the expansion of food stamp rolls. Jeb Bush has also played a critical role in the GOP presidential primary contest in Florida -- primarily by saying he wouldn't play a role. His endorsement would have been key in the race, currently neck and neck between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but Jeb Bush said last week that he would remain neutral.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
The Street.com, Amazon Wants to Raise the Price of Prime, But No One Wants It, Chris Ciaccia, Feb. 12, 2014. When Amazon (AMZN) hinted on its fourth-quarter earnings call it was considering raising the price of its popular Amazon Prime service, the stock rose in after-hours as investors clamored for more earnings. Consumers however, aren't as keen on the idea. Amazon Prime has been most compared to Netflix (NFLX), which charges $7.99 a month for its most popular package. Netflix has enjoyed record success with its offerings, as the company had 33.4 million streaming subscribers at the end of the fourth-quarter, on the way to generating $1.17 billion in revenue for the quarter. However, I think Amazon Prime is much more similar to Costco (COST), which has an annual membership fee for its shoppers. The fee, which ranges from $55 to $110, allows consumers to buy goods in bulk, saving them money in the long run. Costco upped the price of its membership fee, going from $50 to $55 in late 2011.
Dealbook, Law Doesn’t End Revolving Door on Capitol Hill, Eric Lipton and Ben Protess, Feb. 1, 2014. The experiences of the three Capitol Hill aides-turned-lobbyists — traced through interviews with political operatives and a review of public records — illustrate in new detail the gaping holes in rules governing Washington’s revolving door. Federal ethics rules are intended to limit lobbying by former senior officials within one year after they leave the government. Yet even after the ethics rules were revised in 2007 following a lobbying scandal, more than 1,650 congressional aides have registered to lobby within a year of leaving Capitol Hill, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from LegiStorm, an online database that tracks congressional staff members and lobbying. At least half of those departing aides, the analysis shows, faced no restrictions at all.
Washington Post, Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized,’ Radley Balko, Feb. 4, 2014. Watch this video, taken from a police raid in Des Moines, Iowa. Send it to some people. When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we’re talking about. You’ll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family’s door with a battering ram. You’ll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready. More troubling still, you’ll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera’s lens. From the images in the video, you’d think they were looking for an escaped murderer or a house full of hit men. No, none of that. They were looking for a few people suspected of credit card fraud. None of the people they were looking for were inside of the house, nor was any of the stolen property they were looking for. They did arrest two houseguests of the family on what the news report says were unrelated charges, one for a probation violation and one for possession of illegal drugs.
Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald: Ruth Marcus Exemplifies 'Horrible' D.C. Media, Jan 2, 2014. Glenn Greenwald went head-to-head with the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on Thursday during a debate about whether Edward Snowden should be granted clemency. The New York Times and the Guardian recently made headlines after arguing that Snowden — who leaked revelations about the NSA's secret domestic security programs to former Guardian columnist Greenwald, as well as The Washington Post — should be granted some form of clemency. On Thursday, Marcus told CNN's Jake Tapper that she disagreed. "If he really believes in the Constitution, as I wrote, he should have stuck around, tested the constitutional system, taken his punishment, argued that he was justified in the leaks that he did," she said. Greenwald pushed back strongly. "I think Ruth Marcus' argument exemplifies everything that's horrible about the D.C. media," he said, speaking via satellite from Brazil. He said that her statement was "completely factually false" and that Snowden "would have been barred" from making his case to the public had he stayed in the U.S. Greenwald continued: "The really important point is that people in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal, like Edward Snowden. It's not about the rule of law."
Gawker, Listen to Hundreds of Journalists Getting Fired, Sarah Hedgecock, Jan. 29, 2014. Patch, the hyperlocal news experiment that launched in 2007, laid off as many as two thirds of its staff on Wednesday, reports Jim Romenesko. The venture, which was bought by Hale Global earlier this month, has been plagued with problems for nearly its entire existence. Patch never made money. Even after it was bought by AOL in 2009, it didn't make money. When AOL finally realized it was never going to make money, it first shuttered a bunch of Patch sites and then decided to get rid of it entirely. It's unclear at this point exactly how many staffers were laid off, but one of Romenesko's tipsters claims it's as many as "80 to 90 percent of Patchers."
Washington Post, Republicans face 2016 turmoil, Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, Feb. 1, 2014. As Republicans look ahead to the 2016 presidential race, they are hoping to avoid the kind of chaotic and protracted nominating battle that dismayed party elders and damaged the eventual candidacy of Mitt Romney. Of all those being talked about — or talking themselves up — there is only one who could enter the race and immediately be declared the man to beat. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has a stature that gives him the luxury of waiting, knowing that he could upend the contest the moment he took the plunge. “I’m going to think about it later,” Bush said during a school tour Wednesday. “I’m deferring the decision to the right time, which is later this year, and the decision will be based on: can I do it joyfully? Because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits — it’s a pretty pessimistic country right now. And is it right for my family? So I don’t even want to think about that till it’s the right time, and that’s later on.”
Wall Street Journal, The Most Devious Man in D.C., Kevin Spacey, Discusses 'House of Cards,' TV's Business Model and Today's Washington, Rachel Dodes, Jan. 30, 2014. In Season 1 of the inside-the-Beltway drama "House of Cards," fictitious Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) carried on a quid pro quo affair with a young journalist, baited a political ally with a prostitute and then killed him, all in service to his bottomless ambition: to be one heartbeat away from the presidency.
President Obama recently said he likes "House of Cards," but that it portrays a Washington that is far more efficient than it is in reality. Would you agree with that?
I think that as time goes on, people and historians have an opportunity to look back on political figures in this country, who, maybe during their ascendancy or during their years in power were perceived as ruthless sons of bitches. Yet, you can look at some of those figures now and realize yeah, that's all true, but they got a lot done. And whether you look at someone like Johnson, who made terrible decisions about Vietnam which destroyed his presidency, but he also passed three Civil Rights bills in a very short presidency. There's no way that was easy. I do think there's something very interesting about an American public viewing a fictional Congress that is very effective at a time when we have a Congress that is not effective.
You're originally from New Jersey—what do you think of this Chris Christie bridge-gate situation? The story sounds like it could have been in an episode of "House of Cards."
I will say that there were many times during Season 1 and many times during Season 2 where I'd be watching what would happen in politics, and this and that, and I'd think to myself "our story lines really are not that crazy."
Flashback: The Hill/Common Dreams, Nader: I am Looking for Someone to Challenge Obama in 2012, Elise Viebeck, Dec. 10, 2010. Perennial third-party candidate Ralph Nader predicted that President Obama's tax deal with Republicans will earn him a primary challenge in 2012….."He's a con man. I have no use for him," Nader said.