Artist Clark Stoeckley, the owner of the mobile performance art piece known as the WikiLeaks truck, is one of a handful of activists and reporters that consistently attend Bradley Manning’s trial, which resumed today. Even so, guards at Fort Meade weren’t sure what to think when earlier today Stoeckley cruised up to the base in his truck.
“Dressed as a redneck, I went up to all of the NSA and Army guys photographing “What the Hell is up with this truck?” tweeted Stoeckley, along with a photo of one agent. “They were dumbfounded.”
Given that the US military has banned army personnel from looking at anything related to WikiLeaks, it’s no surprise that military personnel may have been unsure how to deal with a guy driving up in a WikiLeaks box truck. One blogger has called Stoeckley’s constant presence at Fort Meade a “symbolic slap in the face,” and it’s clear he’s at least made his presence known. Earlier this month, canine units searched his truck before Stoeckley was given permission to park on the base, and whenever he enters or leaves the base he is accompanied by a police escort.
In a brief phone interview, Stoeckley explained that the army personnel “descended on the truck” following a “change of command ceremony.” He then proceeded to “play with them” by asking them seemingly naive questions like “What is this about?”
“They were like, ‘It’s the Manning trial, and I was like, ‘Who is Manning?’” laughed Stoeckley. “Some were laughing, some were pissed, and it was really confusing to them why my truck was on the base and how it got there,” he added. “It was the topic of conversation while they were going back to their cars.”
Besides giving rides to activists from New York City to Fort Meade, Stoeckley also draws the courtroom proceedings and uploads them to Flickr, making him a well-known fixture at Manning’s trial. In fact, he announced his illustrations and first-hand accounts would be published in a book to be released this upcoming October.
Dealing with authorities while driving around in his truck is nothing new for Stoeckley. Back during the height of Occupy Wall Street, Stoeckley’s truck was seized, searched and temporary lost by police, for example.
As of this writing, Stoeckley’s truck is still rustling the jimmies of guards and NSA guys at Fort Meade. And so far, Stoeckley’s seemingly gentle trolling of Fort Meade appears to be a healthy give-and-take between the artist and law enforcement: While speaking to me over the phone, an officer was writing Stoeckley a ticket.
By Fruzsina Eördögh 10 hours ago
Tags: bradley manning, WikiLeaks
Letter #2 to Goldman Sachs‘s Lloyd Blankfein In this book of letters written by ordinary people affected by the fallout from the financial crisis is a chapter devoted to Goldman Sachs starting on page 91. The second letter is from page 93 in The Trouble is the Banks: Letters to Wall Street, edited by Mark Greif, Dayna Tortorici, Kathleen French, Emma Janaskie and Nick Werle, printed in paperback edition by n +1 Research Branch Small Books Series #4, 2012, New York, NY.
Here is letter #2: $9,165 an hour–Wow Lloyd, You’re a Big Earner To: Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs
So I just read online that your salary in 2010–including all of those delightful perks that just put a smile on one’s face–is $19.06 million. And your hourly wage is $9,165. That’s great! Do you even collect that much when you take lunch? Do you realize that by working a mere two hours you earn as much as someone who works full-time at minimum wage earns in a year? Wondering if I could have your job for say, three hours a week. Would that be too much to ask? You can leave the stuff that you don’t like about your job to me: talking to the press about Occupy Wall Street, testifying at hearings about board members who are charged with insider trading. You know, all that icky stuff. You can still wheel-and-deal and be your macho master-of-the-universe self. I’ll just do the three hours of grunt work you don’t like each week. What do you say, Lloyd? Deal?
Susie Meriden, CT
I had to go to Spain to get the true grasp of Occupy’s potential for galvanizing action!
My contact, we’ll call him “Vlad,” is an expatriate of Brooklyn now living in Madrid with his wife, Nikki, and their very young daughter. An activist long pre-Zuccotti, but a major Occupier there, he is now part of a web of ingenious tech experts who are collectively serving as a Communication Nexus for the upcoming, world-wide Monsanto protest to take place May 25.
Monsanto is just the tip of the spear and the present focus of outrage over corporation ownership of the most essential of human needs — their food. Monsanto is the “poster child” in the way that it has demonstrated unwelcome international as well as local sway over governments that are supposed to protect its citizens.
This, fueled by recent revelations of beyond-cozy relationships between this poster child for a “biotech corporatocracy” and the U.S. federal government has caught the attention — and ire — of activists everywhere. It is the Monsanto Protection Act rider slipped into law which launched what will become known as the March Against Monsanto.
What started between six weeks and two months ago on Facebook as a “good idea,” Vlad reports, has coalesced into a one-day protest that will simultaneously span six continents, 36 countries, all 50 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia, and take place in at least 350 cities. All of this is reported on daily and hourly in some 250 (at last count) Facebook pages and scores of websites tasked with coordinating as many as four hundred thousand of marchers.
This is where Occupy, uniquely proven as a non-hierarchical and self-coordinated system, comes in to serve as “Command Un-Central” to link these disparate groups and individuals and to help direct information flow.
“Any kind of centralization is a weakness. If all this information had to be aggregated and dispensed by one person or one location, it would assuredly fail,” Vlad asserts as one of a loosely-affiliated covey of some 200 tech-savvy volunteers.
Will this be picked up by mainstream media — or go unnoticed?
Occupiers see MSM and its influence or effect on either Occupy or this day of action to be minimal. As Vlad describes it, “At first in Zuccotti Park they tried to ignore us. That was a mistake, because it gave us an opportunity to define ourselves rather than be defined.” The march against Monsanto “will be a strengthening of that self-definition.”
Whatever is said or written about the May 25 event through corporate-controlled media — positive or negative — will be offset or corrected by citizen journalists who are putting their own “feet on the street” to document what really happens and not just what is being reported on.
In short, an exponentially-growing population of citizens will have access to facts and field reports and not just carefully edited talking points intersticed between commercials.
“This will give us — again — the opportunity to occupy public space and discuss our (collective) future,” Vlad declares. “Just Google Monsanto Strike May 25,” he directs, and then provides two of his own key sites to visit: http://www.MonsantoMarch.org which provides a map — a sea of red and blue dots — signifying participating cities, and FB site (MarchAgainstMonsanto) which claims over 81,000 members and provides a spreadsheet of local and international events.
Whither goest thou, Occupy?
One of the many charges leveled against the Occupy movement was that it lacked a central theme or “demand.” Given the number of wrongs that Occupiers have railed against over time, this is an understandable but irrelevant question. Occupy questions it all: fracking, women’s rights, workers rights, indigenous issues, immigration, free speech, corporate personhood, Hurricane Sandy, banking evils, and on and on.
What will be demonstrated in at least this one occasion is that Occupy is non pareil in its ability to awaken, inform and inspire the citizenry to mobilize anywhere and everywhere against specific illegal — even immoral — corporate and governmental actions. Monsanto is the flashpoint.
It is this March Against Monsanto action which will confirm Occupy’s political and social relevance beyond Zuccotti Park. On this one day, especially, it intends to be a very, very large and powerful megaphone likely to answer the questions about Monsanto voiced by a blogger:
Why do they need to be protected from the law? Why are they putting themselves above the law? And who are these politicians that are willing to just do what they are told to do because of the money they are receiving from these huge companies?
I suspect that a number of my readers may show and be seen as part of that answer.
Been to Occupy Wall Street?
If you’ve been to an Occupy Wall Street event anywhere in the country, we’d like to hear from you. Send OfftheBus your photos, links to videos or first-hand accounts of what you’ve seen for possible inclusion in The Huffington Posts’s coverage.
Justice Department prosecutor Lanny Breuer gives an unapologetic exit interview to Dealbook
I’ve never seen as relatively unheralded an official as the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department get so many exit interviews in national newspapers. But Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who’s retiring to spend more time with his family at white-shoe law firms on Wall Street, has been given multiple chances to make a last impression. When you spend nearly four years and fail to prosecute anyone of significance for the financial crisis that caused millions of foreclosures, layoffs and a giant hole in the economy that has still not been papered over, I guess you need your pals in the establishment to help you plead your case.
This interview with the New York Times’ Dealbook (sponsored today by the financial firm Allianz) is no different. As a prelude, he gets a commendation from former Attorney General and current corporate lawyer Michael Mukasey (always good to have the lawyer from the other side of the table, defending those you could have but chose not to prosecute, praising your work). He gets phantom criticism from unnamed members of “the Occupy Wall Street crowd” and “Rolling Stone magazine,” a reference to Matt Taibbi. There’s no easier way to marginalize critics than to refuse to name them.
Breuer talks about his hardscrabble upbringing and his selfless decision to enter public service as a junior district attorney in Manhattan (we know it was selfless because he told us about it himself). In the same interview, he proudly says how constantly walking through the revolving door from government law enforcement to corporate firms makes him a “better private lawyer,” and how he’s going to look at all kinds of offers rather than just settling for Covington & Burling, the corporate firm where he (and Attorney General Eric Holder) last worked. The humble-bragging here is a bit unsightly.
But the big question on everyone’s minds is, why hasn’t Wall Street paid a price for its conduct that exploded the economy. And here’s his non-answer.
I can tell you that I assigned the top, most talented attorneys to investigate them, and I know that U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country assigned aggressive prosecutors to these cases as well. I assigned people from my fraud section and my own front office to look at them. And I approached these cases exactly the same way I approached BP, the same way I approached Libor, the same way I approach every case. If there had been a case to make, we would have brought it. I would have wanted nothing more, but it doesn’t work that way.
Well, that answers that. He assigned people. Never mind the fact that the central complaint of both the financial fraud enforcement unit and the year-old securitization task force announced by the president has been that they lacked resources. Former Sen. Ted Kaufman and his chief of staff Jeff Connaughton consistently complained of no legitimate investigations at the financial fraud unit. And for months upon months, the securitization task force, the one co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, had no staff, no phones and no offices. The lack of assignments, as it were, was a central problem. Despite years of working on a settlement for the biggest banks on their illegal foreclosure processing, the only actual investigation into that conduct at the federal level came from the inspector general from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Dealbook, meanwhile, strains to help Breuer out. They ask why he would “open yourself to such scrutiny” on “60 Minutes” and “Frontline,” as if it’s an affront to question the man in charge of criminal prosecutions about the lack of criminal prosecutions. And they highlight Breuer’s “biggest victory”: a guilty plea from a Japanese subsidiary of UBS on manipulating a benchmark interest rate known as Libor. “It was the first unit of a global bank to plead guilty in two decades,” Dealbook gushes.
Please. The previously-not-mentioned Matt Taibbi has taken on how pathetic this is. The parent company UBS got a non-prosecution settlement, and the Japanese subsidiary was told beforehand it would not lose any licenses to continue banking in Japan. That this is seen as a new get-tough policy (instead of actually prosecuting the individuals at the companies responsible for fraud), as a legitimate deterrent to future crimes rather than a symbolic speck of dust, tells you plenty about the corruption inside Main Justice, and apparently at Dealbook as well.
But I guess that as the Justice Department loses a criminal division chief, Dealbook gains a new source at a corporate law firm, willing to dish about which Wall Street figure will go free this time. All’s well that ends well.
David Dayen is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on
Penn Jillette’s secrets of “Celebrity Apprentice”: Donald Trump is a whackjob!
I did “The Celebrity Apprentice 2012″as kind of a work/study thang. TV networks are dying. The death throes of religion give us jihads. The death throes of television give us reality shows.
Our sucky TV culture is all PBS’s fault. In 1971, they put a camera crew into the home of Bill and Pat Loud and their children and, in 1973, put everything the crew filmed on TV. The show was called “An American Family,” and viewers watched the Louds’ lives as though it was a TV show. It was a TV show. The Louds went from happy family to D-I-V-O-R-C-E and America watched it happen. Their son Lance became the first totally out gay guy on TV (I guess no one counts the “Hollywood Squares” and “Bewitched”). When Lance died of hep C and complications from HIV years later, there was another TV show.
Before “An American Family,” you would have bet your ass and your colonoscopy video that if you put TV cameras in a room with people, those people would behave better. They’d be kinder, wiser, more measured and more loving than they would be without the cameras. The whole world is watching, so be at your best.
The Hawthorne effect—coined in 1950 in response to factory workers’ productivity increases when they were being observed— manifests in every clinical shrink study of people’s motivations. When anyone watches anyone do anything, the watched people do whatever they’re being watched doing a little better for the short time while they’re being watched. The key is that the behavioral improvements are temporary. If the Hawthorne effect worked for more than a few days with TV cameras, we wouldn’t have “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
I noticed the Hawthorne effect for the first few days of my season of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but it sure didn’t last long. We celebrities are desperate pigs. I knew several of my co-stars prior to working on “TCA” together. I had hung out with them and worked with them in high-pressure situations. None were close friends, but I liked them all and thought I knew them a bit. But sixteen hours a day with TV cameras all around, doing pointless fake corporate tasks outside one’s skill set with Clay Aiken, and no one worries about the whole world watching (with the exception of anyone who has a job, someone to talk to, a nice view out the window or a solitaire program). You’re happy if you don’t swallow your own tongue.
The secret truth of “The Celebrity Apprentice” is that it isn’t very hard. The tasks are nothing. Makeup starts just after 5 a.m. and the show goes to about 10 p.m., but you spend most of that time doing nothing. Anyone who isn’t in show business could accomplish everything the show called for and have time left over to do their laundry, cook their supper and post pictures of their animal companion on Facebook. “The Celebrity Apprentice” is easy like junior high is easy. All the arithmetic, the creative writing and the history are super simple, but like junior high, you do that easy work surrounded by people who are full-tilt hormone-raging bugnutty. Everyone is panicked, desperate, yelling, swearing, attacking, backstabbing, failing to get laid and acting crazy. With all this drama, any sane person just wants to do more algebra. “The Celebrity Apprentice” is junior high with a better brand of acne cover-up.
Like all desperate celebrities, I’ve been on more than one reality show. I also did “Dancing with the Stars.” I was amazed to find out that “The Celebrity Apprentice” was more honest and straightforward than “DWTS.” The idea of “DWTS” is pretty beautiful: half-assed show folk who aren’t dancers are teamed up with great dancers, and cameras video them while they learn to dance. How well can people learn to do something outside their ken? It’s a beautiful idea. Dance is a joyous celebration of humanity, so it should be an uplifting, inspiring show to watch and even more beautiful to be on.
But I hated the time that was spent with the production trying to get young ambitious Mormon women to cry. Guys behind the cameras would say mean things at attractive young men and women and washed-up celebrities about how it would ruin their lives if they didn’t win.
“The Celebrity Apprentice” is more honest, in that creepy kind of way that the guy who admits he’s a racist is more honest. It doesn’t pretend to be about something beautiful like dance. I think business is beautiful, but “The Celebrity Apprentice” has nothing to do with business. No actual business skills are tested. It’s not even a real game about fake business. I can tell you the rules of chess. I can’t tell you the rules to “The Celebrity Apprentice.” No one can tell you the rules of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” No one. Donald Trump just does what he wants, which is mostly pontificating to people who are sucking up to him, while the network people try to manipulate him into making the highest-rated show they can. Trump can’t be manipulated, so the show isn’t even fair in that way. Annie Duke, the poker genius, and “TCA” veteran, said to me, “It’s a pretend game, about pretend business, where you get pretend fired.” Donald Trump couldn’t fire me. I work for Penn & Teller and he’s never owned any part of us. Trump tried to book Penn & Teller once in Vegas, but we were priced out of his budget. He can’t fire us from the Rio, because he doesn’t own any of Caesars.
But “The Celebrity Apprentice” people are honest. They don’t pretend it’s about something beautiful, and they don’t pretend it’s fair. It’s venal people clawing at stupid, soulless shit in front of the modern-day Scrooge McDuck in order to stay famous.
For one “task,” Donald Trump asked us to create a Macy’s store display and print ads for his new fragrance. Is there anyone who wants to smell like Donald Trump? Mr. Trump thinks so, so we were asked to create advertising. Instead of the usual twenty grand that the show would give to the winning “team leader’s” charity, Donald floated the promise that if he “loved” our promotional material, he would give one hundred thousand dollars to his “loved” one’s charity. Five times the amount that was arbitrarily assigned to this “task.” In other words, if Trump got an ad that he could actually use for his stink-pretty juice, he would pay about twenty percent of what he would have to pay in the free market to hire a professional to do the job properly. Trump was willing to donate one-fifth of what the campaign would be worth to charity. I got fired for coming up with the slogan “You Earned It.” They thought that slogan was “pompous.” My slogan for a perfume with Donald’s picture on it called “Success” was deemed pompous. Wow. The problem was my audience, I think. “You Earned It” isn’t good for the Trumps. It should have been “You Inherited It.”
“TCA” gets the coin on both sides: they get NBC to pay for the show and they get the corporations to pay for the “challenges.”
Trump stays rich in real estate and stays kinda sorta famous for his “brand.” Trump is obsessed with his brand and that’s all you really need to know. Trump is on a game on TV where my showbiz peers, if they want to play the game, have to suck up to him, and I sucked up to him. I’d sit and smile and listen, because I promised the producers I would do my best. The boardrooms went long and I was there to spend about twenty-two hours, over six weeks listening to Trump do his monologues. He’d talk about Occupy Wall Street and global warming while he was deciding whom to pretend to fire from his pretend business. Bill Gates is fighting polio, and I don’t suck up to him, but I was on TV with Donald Trump, so I did my job. I wasn’t even going to say anything about Trump’s hair. I live in a glass house. I’ve always had ugly, out-of-style hair. Trump’s hair is a lot better than mine—but as I sat there for hours half listening to Donald carry on, it struck me exactly what his hair looked like. It looks like cotton candy made of piss. That revelation came to me, and I had to type it here. But my hair is worse.
One day while shooting, I’d had a heart-to-heart talk with Clay Aiken. I would have preferred waterboarding. I don’t like heart-to-heart talks with anyone, but Clay Aiken? Strap me to the board, and put the wet towels over my face. Drowning sounds nice. Clay had put his arm on my shoulder, looked in my eyes and said softly something like, “You know, Penn, I really like you, I do. I think you’re really smart, but I have to talk to you about some things that are bothering me.” Clay told me, gently and kindly, that I was being condescending by talking over people’s heads. He was accusing me of being condescending and he was being … condescending. When someone is busting you for being condescending, it takes a bigger asshole than me to say, “Are you sure you know what ‘condescending’ means? It means to talk down to, not talk over someone’s head. So, you see, honey, I’m not condescending, I’m pompous, let me explain …”
So, I nodded, yeah, I’m condescending. Greed and clawing for fame got me to the point where I was pretending to care what Clay Aiken thought of me. What have I done? What have I done?
Clay spent over an hour and a half of his time, and wasted much more than that of mine, having a heart-to-heart with me over how he, Clay Aiken, thought I should treat Lou Ferrigno. He wasn’t talking about how Clay Aiken thought I should treat Clay Aiken, about which I would have had to work hard to give a flying fuck. Clay was talking to me about how he, Clay Aiken, thought I should treat the guy who played a cartoon character painted green, decades ago.
If you’ve gotten yourself into a situation when Clay Aiken is going to talk about his feelings with you, it’s time to kill yourself. If it weren’t being documented, you could kill him quickly and bury him in a shallow grave—who’s going to notice? You could go on living your happy normal life, but if there are TV cameras pointed at you while Clay is pretending to soul search, and your wife is going to find out and some of your friends from the carny might watch the show in a bar somewhere, well … you should kill yourself.
Clay explained how I should deal with Ferrigno. Clay said that he knew how to deal with Lou because Clay himself had worked for years with intellectually disabled students before he discovered himself on “American Idol.” He thought I should deal with this grown man—who was our peer, who had punched me in friendship—as if I was dealing with an intellectually disabled child, so … get this … so I wouldn’t come off as condescending in front of the non-groovy, but very bitchy Clay.
I should have jumped. At least some of you might have respected that. No one respects me talking to Clay Aiken about feelings. Not even Clay. He was just doing it to win a TV game so he wouldn’t have to go back to condescending to mentally disabled children for a career.
What happened? Did I forget how to say “Shut the fuck up?” Or, “I’m sorry, I think I left the bathwater running in Las Vegas, and you know it’s the desert, there’s a water shortage.” Or, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English. I learned our Vegas shows phonetically.” Or, “Hey, Clay, there are more TV cameras on the other side of the room. Why don’t you have a heart-to-heart with Arsenio Hall? That might get you more close-ups.”
Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” introduced me to the idea of “ego depletion.” I read it after my tour of duty on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and it explained some of the mysteries I experienced doing that show. Studies have shown that if you make someone very self-conscious about everything they do and say, their self-control just gets tired out. The ego can be exhausted. It’s the very trying to be one’s best on camera that puts one at one’s worst on camera. You just can’t keep it up that long. You want to be at your best, but pretty soon the internal censors are exhausted, take a break, and pretty soon sweet Arsenio is yelling things like, “I’ll tell you what a fucking bitch whore she is!”
The non-sexual question I’ve been asked the most since “TCA” is “Were those others just faking?” It’s a question I can’t answer. We were all professionals, we were all aware of the camera, but we were also living our lives. It makes it very crazy. I spent a lot of time saying “It’s not real.” But that’s not true. It’s also not TV. It’s really not TV. When I was having my heart-to-heart with Clay, the full endless horror of it was never broadcast. It was edited down to a minute. When I’m on Piers Morgan and he’s ripping me a new asshole, that’s TV, I know that every word he says is going out. But “The Celebrity Apprentice” is so long that you know the vast majority of stuff will never be seen, but cameras are still on; it could be seen. It’s Schrödinger’s showbiz: it’s all fake and it’s all real at the same time. The situation itself makes everyone crazy.
The production isn’t entirely blameless. There was a lot of alcohol available at any time it could be even slightly justified, but most of us never drank a drop, and even the drinkers were moderate. But the producers didn’t need anyone drunk; they got their telegenic outbursts from ego depletion. And after someone had an ego-depleted outburst, they’d reward the impropriety. In real reality, there would have been hell to pay for screaming epithets at people, but in “TCA” world, there are no repercussions. No one loves anyone on the set enough to say, “Hey listen, man, take a little break and think about this.” No one cares. We’re all trying to save our own sorry asses. Then the next day, Trump says something insane like, “I’m glad you showed some backbone. I like passion.” He means, of course, he likes passion for his little TV show, but it feels like he’s saying the outburst was a good thing. We’ve chosen to make this whackjob, with the cotton candy piss hair and the birther shit, into someone we want to please.
I made a deal with the producers and myself that I would pretend to care what Donald Trump thought of me. I believe, in the real world, that I care less about what Trump thinks of me than he cares what I think of him. When he was into his free-form rants in front of a captive audience, he would talk about articles written about him and defend himself against charges made, as far as I could tell, by random bloggers with a few hundred hits. Attacks that could have no impact on his life at all. It sounded like this cat was Googling himself, being bugged by what was written, and then defending himself to people who were trying to improve their careers by playing a TV game with him. He sat on this throne, and told us he’d made a good business decision by selling a house of his for much less than the asking price and these bloggers should know that. They should know he was a good businessman. The nightmare of Trump is not that he doesn’t care what people think; it’s that he desperately cares what people think and … he’s doing the best he can. I don’t know Donald Trump. We’ve crossed paths a few times, but I’ve never talked to him. He talked to me, but I was on a show where I wasn’t supposed to talk back. I still did, but only a little. I disagree with him about a lot, but you know, I disagree with you about a lot, and we still get along. He was wicked wrong about the birther shit, but I’m wicked wrong about a lot, and we both have stupid hair.
Excerpted from “Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday” by Penn Jillette. Published by Blue Rider Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher and author.