For a long time now, people have periodically asked, “Who Is Nardwuar?” In the wake of the Canadian media personality’s one-hour interview with Drake and colleague 40 earlier this month in Toronto, the latest to pose that question include Guardian US deputy arts editor Lanre Bakare.
Nardwuar first hit the airwaves of University of British Colombia student radio station CITR 101.9 FM in 1987, just a few years after SCTV had gone dark. Had Martin Short been at the time still actively parodying Canadian media figures, he almost certainly would have zeroed in on Nardwuar.
And in at least one respect, Nardwuar (real name: John Ruskin) shares a journalistic method with one-time CITY-TV Toronto interviewer Brian Linehan, who was spoofed by Short. From Bakare’s May 27 piece:
Nardwuar spends around a week researching each guest and – here’s his key sell – brings them gifts to jog their memories. His deep dives reveal anything from guilty pleasures and seminal records from their pasts to more intimate nuggets, like the fact DJ Khaled used to put his mixtapes in trainers when he worked at a sports shop, or that Hudson Mohawke’s dad rapped on a song for the defunct Glasgow Diamonds American footie team.
Next year will mark Nardwuar’s 30th anniversary on-air year. Expect some extra-special gifts.
H/T: Christopher Inoa
A simple WordPress blog named #NoHaceFaltaPapel didn’t exist a year ago. Now it’s a publishing company whose El Español is responsible for the largest crowdfunding campaign for journalism to date.
Previously at the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and now working in New York City for Univision Noticias, María Ramírez and her husband Eduardo Suárez launched the blog last April to explore media innovation at the International Symposium of Online Journalists.
Held each year at the University of Texas at Austin, Ramírez came back to ISOJ earlier this month to share the story of how and why the largest crowdfunding campaign in history was mounted to create El Español.
“In a way, crowdfunding is a business model but we discovered that it can be a very, very powerful editorial tool,” she told the audience at the annual gathering. “The main thing that we actually did, the main reason that we chose to do crowdfunding, was also an early way to try to engage our community, to reach the people, to just try to get people involved.”“In a way, crowdfunding is a business model but we discovered that it can be a very, very powerful editorial tool”.
“That’s something new in Spain but I have to say in Europe it’s [crowdfunding journalism] becoming sort of a trend,” she said.
“Equity meaning readers are shareholders in the company. It’s not easy but we think it’s part of our success,” she said. By comparison to Krautreporter and De Correspondent, who asked for an annual subscription fee from about 15,000 people, El Español received investments from 5,500 people.
The current mood in Spain, a general discontent with historic power structures, is important to note, Ramírez said. That worked in El Español’s favor.
“You have to understand that over the last five or six years there has been a lot of disappointment in institutions, any kind of institutions actually so like big parties, the royal family and also legacy media,” she said.El Español raised $3.1 million from 5,500 supporters across the EU. It broke the world record previously held by De Correspondent, who raised one million euros in a little over a week.
The promise of something new, prominent but independent journalists and the addition of editor Pedro Ramírez were also important to El Español’s success. Ramírez helped create El Mundo, one of Spain’s largest newspaper, but was fired in February.
“He has been a bit controversial over the years but in the last year he sort of became a symbol of what happened to you in Spain if you published uncomfortable things for the government or the royal household and well that message really came across and it was one of the reasons why people really wanted to support the project, to ensure that we don’t have this, as you say, unduly influence,” Ramírez said.
A bit more about the El Español campaign:
– $3.1 million raised from 5,500 supporters across the European Union. By law, no investments could be received from outside the European Union.
– The crowdfunding campaign took place between Jan. 10 and March 1.
– El Español broke the world record previously held by De Correspondent, who raised one million euros in a little over a week.
– Each investor was allowed to give between $100 and $10,000.
– The bulk of investments were made in the morning.
Ramírez’ advice for anyone considering their own campaign:
1. Push Hard in the Final Days
There are surges of excitements and activity around your campaign in the beginning and end. Push hard in the last days, Ramirez said.
There’s a graph showing growth at the end of the Krautreporter’s campaign that Frederic Fischer called this period in between the “valley of death.” Perhaps breaking the world record with 15 days left in the campaign helped.
2. Attack Social Media with your Own Content but also some Funny and Curation
In their first tweet, the creation of El Español was announced shortly after midnight on New Years Day. Today the account has 101,000 followers. Other social networks like Instagram, Facebook and even Spotify, where El Español made a soundtrack with their backers, were used to tell the story of the new venture and build community.
Be an open book and show your progress, Ramírez said. As the campaign proceeded, El Español shared images of moving into their new office in Madrid. Content curation of content, the sharing of news wherever it’s found, was also helpful for the website that had little content of its own at the time.
3. Don’t Forget the Newsletter
As is common these days,Ramírez emphasized the power of an email newsletter.
Ramírez didn’t mention this fact in her presentation but according to Indiegogo data, people who give via email in crowdfunding campaigns tend to give about 35 percent more money.
Watch video of Ramírez’s 10-minute talk and the entire two-day event (in English and Spanish) on the ISOJ’s website.
BTW, this isn’t related to crowdfunding but if you can spare 10 minutes more, watch the talk by Jim Moroney, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News.
He speaks right before Ramirez gets on stage. He’s a great showman and explainer of the really interesting things The Dallas Morning News does to achieve sustainable (not disruptive!) entrepreneurship, the kind he believes is vital to “save democracy.”
This story originally appeared on the website of the Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism and is reprinted with permission.
Khari Johnson is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism and a reporter at NewCo. He has built news startups for the last years. His work has been published by Media Arts Center of San Diego, San Diego News Network and Voice of San Diego as well as San Francisco Chronicle, CNN Money and Business 2.0 Magazine. (@kharijohnson).
If you catch up to just one bit of New York-tastic smartphone barbecue reading this holiday Monday, let it be “The Downfall of NYC’s Hottest Vegan.”
That was the headline for a recent New York Post item by Dana Schuster and Georgett Roberts. The centerpiece of the article is a Rikers Island conversation with Sarma MeLngailis, the former doyenne of Gramercy Park vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine:
“It’s the worst nightmare you can think of,” Melngailis revealed to The Post in an exclusive jailhouse interview Saturday morning at Rikers. “If I had terminal cancer, it would be better than this, because at least [then] I did not cause it.”
For the past 10 months, Melngailis and [husband Anthony] Strangis had been on the lam after allegedly stealing nearly $2 million from her trendy “raw organic” restaurant — blowing $1.2 million at Connecticut casinos. The 43-year-old restaurateur and Strangis, 35, were arrested last week at a $99-a-night Fairfield Inn & Suites in Sevierville, Tenn., after a delivery of unorganic Domino’s outed them.
MeLngailis has been derided by an attorney representing a group of former Pure employees as “the vegan Bernie Madoff.” An equally colorful quote comes from a law enforcement authority who helped capture the fugitive couple:
Sevierville Detective Kevin Bush tells The Post: “I have excellent intelligence that [Strangis] ordered the pizza and wings.”
The couple will be arraigned shortly. They face 24 counts of theft, labor fraud and tax crimes.
Image via: Yelp
The late Morley Safer liked to describe himself as a “Sunday painter.” Although he was referring to his sideline hobby of crafting watercolors, that description could just as easily apply to the way he deftly spun 60 Minutes narratives.
On this holiday-weekend Sunday, a good place to turn to learn more about Safer’s art is a piece in the new issue of New York magazine by art critic Jerry Saltz. Canadian-born journalist Safer was known for painting a still life of his hotel and motel rooms while on the road for stories, and interestingly enough, when Saltz received a bundle of Safer’s artwork in the early 1990s, that was the subject matter that jumped out:
I wouldn’t have bought any of these [paintings] if I saw them at a yard sale, except one. His motel-room picture has everything you’d want it to have, and even a little bit more. Which is to say banality, blankness, something sweet, neat, forlorn and soul-killing. The space is cramped, the décor drab and sterile; a rotary dial phone sits on the bare night table next to one generic lamp. Over the small double bed is just the kind of cliché landscape that Safer liked to paint: two trees on a hill with a yellow sun in the white sky. Ironies extend. The rumpled bed with only one side turned down lets us know Safer has been here, alone on the road. A plain poignancy lingers, even in the uninspired style.
The first exhibit of Safer’s paintings, held in 1980, focused on the theme of hotel rooms. The second in 1985, titled “Travels in Provence,” sparked this fun New York Times lede:
Fourteen paintings were sold in 60 minutes the other night at an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Morley Safer.
Among the buyers was the late Mike Wallace, who admitted ‘collegiality’ had something to do with the purchase.
Photo courtesy: CBS News
It was 60 years ago almost exactly – May 22, 1956 – that NBC unveiled its famous peacock logo to highlight the wonders of a color television set. All these decades later, if another creature can encapsulate the powers of online news upstarts, it might as well be the iguana. From Dave Weigel’s Washington Post profile of The Young Turks co-founder and main on-air man Cenk Uygur:
“In the old days, TV had a lot of power, but that’s shifting now,” Uygur said in an interview at TYT’s Culver City headquarters, a former bar that’s home to two fully outfitted studios, a shelf of awards and an iguana mascot – Mayaguana – who just showed up one day. “So we’d better figure out how to use that power for the issues we care about, because cable TV is worse than propaganda. It’s marketing for the rich and powerful.”
We’re not sure what would happen in a zoo setting if a peacock was thrown into the same pen as an iguana. Perhaps some expert can educate us in the comments.
But we do know, as longtime chroniclers of the TYT Network, what occurs metaphorically in the TV news business. Katie Couric winds up at Yahoo; Brian Williams becomes a social-media punching bag; and Lester Holt holds on to the 25-to-54 demo lead the same way that TYT caters to the 13-to-24’s. (April comScore stats placed TYT Network at the top in a number of U.S. measurement categories, well ahead of CNN Politics, Salon, Fox News Politics and MSNBC.)
National political correspondent Weigel revisits, with interesting detail, Uygur’s pivotal decision moment at MSNBC. And on this holiday weekend, the article, thanks to an equal focus on Bernie Sanders, is off and scrolling with hundreds of reader comments at press time, such as this one:
FaithBK: I am so f’in tired of smug media columnists (it’s a stretch to call them “reporters”) dismissively referring to the millions of people who support – not JUST Senator Sanders, but the positions he’s articulating – as “followers”, “Sanders-Philiac” or “Sanders – Obsessed”. Then when large swatches of the voting public call you for the B/S, you turn around and mock that. What you fail to address is that members of your club (Amy Goodman, John Nichols, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald) agree with the assessment that the corporate-owned media has failed. The endless efforts of dime a dozen media outlets to create their own memes, reframe the discussion and cherry-pick what is reported as well as how it is reported is patently obvious. So, too , is the shameful fact that network news frequently gives us political guest “commentators” without bothering to identify who is paying these people. And yes, whether or not you place the word corporate in quotes, when you are a corporate-owned media outlet, that is in fact what you are…
According to a May 26 SEC filing dug up by Politico Media deputy editor Alex Weprin, there is a parachute-like element included in the moving-expenses package granted to Tribune Publishing CEO Justin Dearborn. Not to mention some very generous coverage of Chicago-to-L.A. overhead:
The Company will pay Mr. Dearborn $262,000 for relocation expenses. In addition, the Company will provide Mr. Dearborn with temporary housing and a rental car for up to four months. The Company also will provide a $75,000 return-home allowance for expenses for relocating back to Chicago if Mr. Dearborn’s employment is terminated on or prior to February 21, 2018 by the Company without cause or by Mr. Dearborn for good reason.
In Dearborn’s West Coast destination, one of the media observers geographically closest to the L.A. Times’ Spring Street headquarters is Los Angeles Downtown News executive editor Jon Regardie. His weekly publication’s offices are just up 1st Street. From Regardie’s latest piece:
I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones, but the real-life media power plays and twists of the last few weeks have taught me one thing: The battle to rule the Seven Kingdoms has got nothing on the war to control the Eight Media Groups of Tribune Publishing.
Via Twitter, Chris Krewson, editor of Philadelphia website Billy Penn, channeled an older TV reference, linking to the SEC filing we mention above with the words “As Tribune Turns.” Krewson no doubt would have loved such C-level executive expense calculations when he relocated a few years ago back to the east coast from L.A., where he was web editor for our sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.
President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima on Friday—in a symbolic effort to close some very old wounds from America’s first nuclear detonation. In a much-anticipated speech, Obama declared that “we have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history," learn from it and “pursue a world without” nuclear weapons.
But for 76-year-old retired Air Force General George Lee Butler, a country boy from rural Mississippi who once had his finger on the trigger for thousands of nuclear warheads more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, Obama and the rest of Washington are moving far too slowly towards a denuclearization; indeed, he believes the devastation that unfolded there is still a haunting vision of what could happen in the future.
Butler is a former bomber pilot who in 1994, after retiring from a position as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, made the highly unusual and controversial decision to renounce his lifelong profession of preparing for cataclysmic conflict and publicly embrace the abolition of nuclear arms on the grounds that they are “immoral and therefore anathema to societies premised on the sanctity of life.”
Butler says that while he is cheered by Obama’s rhetorical embrace of denuclearization and by the agreement to cap nuclear arsenals that the president reached with the Russians in 2010, he is generally chagrined that the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, have missed opportunities to move towards much smaller nuclear arsenals and to limit the risks of a surprise or accidental nuclear attack.
In a new memoir, Butler writes that “any sense of urgency for further reductions has been lost” in part because the United States has mishandled its relations with Russia. Vladimir Putin, he writes, “is the thuggish and entirely predictable embodiment of a Russia wounded badly in pride and stature” due to some mistakes Washington has made. Russia is still far from “a great rather a feared nation, and like my own country, it is still held in thrall by nuclear weapons,” he says.
At Hiroshima, a relatively small and primitive explosive destroyed roughly 65,000 structures and killed 70,000 people instantly and 70,000 more over the next five years. Butler, as the 13th in a long line of gung-ho U.S. nuclear commanders— an heir in 1991 to the legacy of the likes of Curtis LeMay—came to realize this was minor damage compared to what could be wrought by the weapons he controlled. In the nuclear war contemplated in his years in Omaha, Nebraska at the Strategic Air Command, he writes, roughly 10,000 nuclear weapons would have been used by America and another 10,000 by Russia in the space of just a few hours.
“Wholesale nuclear war” – of the type that he and his colleagues expected, planned for, and practiced in simulations – “would have made life as we know it unsustainable,” Butler writes. “Billions of people, animals, every living thing would perish under the most agonizing conditions imaginable.”
And it could still happen today, he believes, because U.S. officials remain in the grip of the delusion that nuclear deterrence is an effective and safe policy. According to data recently declassified by the Pentagon, the United States still has 4,571 warheads in its stockpile, plus more awaiting dismantlement. The data show, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear policy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, a smaller reduction in the U.S. nuclear arsenal under Obama than during any other post-Cold War administration, and a steady decline during the Obama administration in the pace of warhead dismantlement.
In his new book Butler reveals—in passages written by him and by a former Pentagon colleague—that the world was in greater danger from nuclear devastation during the Cold War than most people knew. He writes that the nuclear targeting process for years was substantially divorced from what the nation’s top civilian leaders, including the president and secretary of Defense, said they desired. His story of the infighting waged between defense civilians in Washington and the military’s team of targeting officers in Omaha hasn’t previously been told in such detail.
Butler’s dramatically changed role in America’s nuclear drama was driven by what he describes as a growing alarm over deficiencies in nuclear war plans and the vested interests of Pentagon officials and the defense industry in maintaining such plans. After participating in monthly drills at the Strategic Air Command headquarters with U.S. officials to prepare for a massive nuclear attack, he learned that then, as today, a president would have just ten minutes “to grasp the circumstances, listen to… the retaliatory options, and make a decision that could mean life or death for tens or hundreds of millions of people.” And in every case, the “presidential stand-in” on the phone would ask for Butler’s recommendation, putting the onus of that heavy decision on him.
Butler, who had begun investigating the nuclear targeting plan’s secrets several years earlier as a senior officer with the Joint Staff, eventually recoiled from his role as a chief implementer of the war plan. His public remarks after retiring in 1994 brought him a burst of celebrity and swept him into commissions and studies by independent experts aimed at pointing the way towards a closure of the nuclear weapons age.
Stepping into the anti-nuclear camp, he writes, “put my reputation in the balance [and] cost me innumerable friends.” At one point, a fellow retired senior officer startled him on the way to a National Press Club speech by asking if he was concerned “that you will give comfort to our enemies and insult the men and women you used to command.” His advocacy failed, in the end, to significantly alter the direction of nuclear policy under three succeeding presidents.
But now, Butler says firmly, “I have no regrets” about staking out that startling position.
Butler says he remains convinced that during the Cold War, “we fell victim to a cascading series of missteps, driven by the visceral fear” of a nuclear-armed archenemy, and reaped as a result “a bitter harvest of worst-case scenarios” that ceaselessly demanded “more weapons and delivery systems.” He still feels that “shearing away entire societies” — a unique prospect of nuclear war — has no military or political justification, as he told an arms control group in Boston in 1997. “There are no rogue nations, only rogue leaders,” and so any use of such devastating weapons would necessarily amount to unjustifiable overkill.
Butler as a result says he has many lingering frustrations about the military’s failure to hear his alarms about the dangers of keeping large nuclear stockpiles, and about what he regards as the continuing ability of today’s nuclear strategists and the large corporations that profit from such work to pull the government more deeply into archaic nuclear roles.
Although President Obama in 2009 embraced “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” and during his visit to Hiroshima called for a "moral revolution" that would eliminate such arms, Butler says he is not a fan of the administration’s nuclear modernization plans.
Those plans include upgrades to a handful of existing nuclear warheads, a fleet of new nuclear submarines, a new intercontinental ballistic missile system, a new air-launched cruise missile, and a new strategic bomber force. The cost, according to the Pentagon, will be $350 billion to $450 billion over the next 10 years alone, and many independent experts say it will be much higher.
When Butler commanded such weapons systems, he calculated they had cost the government more than $6 trillion. The submarines under his operational command alone cost $3 billion a copy, he writes, the 24 missiles on each boat cost $60 million apiece, and the annual operation of a boat cost $75 million.
His staff in Omaha numbered 6,000, including a thousand intelligence analysts, and he nearly always held a “clunky cell phone” that kept him tethered to the command’s command post 100 feet below ground. “I saw the arms race from the inside… I was responsible for nuclear war plans with some 12,000 targets, many planned to be struck with repeated nuclear blows, some to the point of complete absurdity,” he recalled.
More than some of his predecessors in that role, Butler insisted on getting detailed briefings on both nuclear weapons targets and the effects of their detonations. Typically around 30 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, the weapons in his arsenal would ignite fires and char skin many miles away, generate gusts of winds more fierce than anything produced by nature, destroy electrical circuits and disrupt communications miles away, dig out craters approaching a mile in diameter, and release “a torrent of poisonous fallout” over a large territory downwind.
But parts of the plan were using these weapons “were inconsistent with presidential guidance,” says Butler’s former colleague, Franklin C. Miller, a senior Defense Department and White House policy official under five presidents and the author of a chapter in Butler’s memoir. The reason, Miller said, was that for decades, military authorities who controlled access to the target list and the procedures for creating it "thwarted every effort by [civilian defense officials]...to gain the insight” needed to ensure the plan reflected their wishes.
The targeting staff in Omaha, for example, had planned so many detonations in and around cities that the civilians’ desire to leave open the option of preserving them was not feasible, Miller wrote. He recalls that then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney was among those who were astonished at the number of weapons that had been directed at the general area around Moscow, a figure that targeters surrendered only after Miller demanded to know it.
The civilians’ desire to ensure that Soviet leaders could sense some restraint in a nuclear exchange — preserving the option of a negotiated settlement – was also foreclosed by the scale of the planned devastation. The overkill extended to sending nuclear-armed NATO warplanes to bomb targets “already destroyed by U.S. strategic missiles.” No consideration was given to the consequences of firestorms or radiation — only to blast effects. And no room was left in the plan for waiting for enemy warheads to detonate before US missiles were let fly. No senior targeting officer “could believe a president would not choose to direct a launch on warning/under attack,” Miller wrote.
Some of the details of Miller’s fight with the targeters were redacted in Butler’s manuscript by the Pentagon’s current Joint Staff under classification rules that govern what even retired generals can say. But Miller wrote that he came away from his close contact with the war plan convinced that the “target base and the weapons allocation process were incoherent and riddled with errors,” and that a lack of civilian oversight had improperly left the Air Force and the Navy to decide for themselves how many nuclear “delivery systems” — planes and missiles — they should buy. This problem was fixed at the time, Miller wrote.
In an interview this month, Miller confirmed that the NATO bomber overkill issue was also fixed. Officials say further that “launch under attack,” which lay at the heart of the U.S. war plan until the 1980’s, is still an option in the U.S. war plan but no longer the required response. And Miller said “while I investigated [nuclear weapons] effects other than blast, there was never enough reliable data to quantify or measure them; as a result, I did not attempt to change the ‘blast only’ rules.”
As to whether the problems of that era have cropped up again, Miller said although he remains in touch with defense officials, “I don’t comment on current [strike] plans.” He said he remains a supporter today of keeping a substantial stockpile of nuclear arms so that America can deter its enemies by scaring them so badly with the prospect of massive devastation that no nuclear war will ever start – following the classic theory of nuclear deterrence.
Butler, who considers Miller a close friend, to the contrary came away from his years of close contact with the war plan convinced that the theory of deterrence itself was unrealistic. “We maintained the wholly misguided belief that the vast nuclear weapons enterprise could be exquisitely managed,” Butler says. Instead, problems with the management and operation of nuclear systems were persistent and the mammoth bureaucracies involved in such work acquired “gargantuan appetites” for new and ever-more destructive weaponry, he said.
Butler’s open-mindedness made him an appealing figure in the late 1980s to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, and to then-Air Force Secretary Merrill “Tony” McPeak. In their day, while serving under two Republican presidents, the three of them easily embraced the idea that the Cold War was over and communism no longer posed a political threat.
Butler was then head of strategic plans and policy on the Joint Staff, and he became the proverbial garden party skunk, openly supporting budget cuts that were anathema to some of the military services. When he was asked in 1989 to attend an interagency briefing by senior officials at the Department of Energy — which oversees the production of nuclear warheads — on their future plans to double the capacity of the complex at a cost of billions of dollars, he shocked the room.
All those attending, he writes, had “lauded the briefing with lip-smacking anticipation of what it would mean for his or her piece of the pie.” But when Butler said the military would instead be cutting nuclear weapons requirements by 50 percent, “dead silence ensued. No one moved” and the meeting was swiftly adjourned.
After taking the Strategic Air Command’s helm in 1991, Butler writes, he summoned to Omaha the leaders of firms that he said had "pocketed trillions of dollars in profits" by making Air Force and Navy strategic hardware — Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, Rockwell, General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas, Raytheon, and others — to tell them it was time to stop growing and start cutting the nuclear weapons business.
Most of those present greeted his words “with disbelief and denial,” he recalls. And when he conveyed the same message at a separate meeting that year to directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, “there followed an incredulous silence.”
With the approval of President George H. W. Bush and then-Secretary of Defense Cheney, Butler eventually organized the dissolution of the Air Command, took its airborne command post off alert, and placed its warheads under a new Strategic Command with both nuclear and non-nuclear warfighting responsibilities. Angry servicemen at the headquarters in Omaha responded by organizing a brisk trade in T-shirts that blared, “The Butler did it.”
Persistent appetites for more weaponry
In his memoir, Butler says that the inertia behind America’s nuclear weapons work — which has produced an arsenal smaller in quantity but greater in quality than during the Cold War – is attributable in part to some nefarious institutional forces. He disparages what he calls the “two-way flow" of senior military officers "moving out of uniform and into the corridors of key defense industries, and the reverse migration of top industry executives coming into high-level positions in the Department of Defense.”
It’s not illegal, and need not be unethical, he writes, but it is “fraught with opportunity for mutual nest-feathering, sweetheart deals, inflated [military] requirements, and massive contracts.”
He said nuclear weapons policymaking remains — as he told an audience at the Stimson Center in 1997 — under the control of “a relatively small cadre of theorists and strategist who speak with great assurance and authority” but remain stuck “in the apocalyptic vocabulary of nuclear deterrence…[and] worlds which spiral toward chaos.” Deterrence, he says, is a “crutch that led to the expenditure of trillions of dollars” while “we ignored, discounted, or dismissed its flaws.”
Rationality, Butler said, “has never been the hallmark of any nation pursuing a nuclear arsenal or thinking about its employment. Such arsenals take on a life and logic of their own, commanding huge budgets and compelling decisions that march at an ever increasing tempo to the beat of fear, technology, status and vested interests.” During his tenure at the Air Force, “vitally important decisions were routinely taken without adequate understanding, assertions too often prevailed over analysis… Technological opportunity and corporate profits drove force levels and capabilities, and political opportunism intruded on calculations of military necessity.”
Butler also says in his memoir that the Clinton and Bush administrations needlessly poisoned the atmosphere for more arms control by pressing for NATO’s wide expansion, “sending the wrong signal to Russia, a defeated foe whose sensibilities are rubbed raw.” They should instead have pushed “our European allies to take charge of their own security,” a view that’s been expressed by others during the election season this year.
Butler, like former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James E. Cartwright, in particular supports scrapping the Air Force’s force of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. He argues that the missiles are “an anachronism,” because they are vulnerable to preemptive attack, unlike those deployed on submarines. Cartwright, who served after Butler as head of the Strategic Command and also oversaw nuclear targeting, has also argued that ICBMs are no longer useful because their most likely contemporary targets — such as North Korea or China — could only be reached by provocatively flying them over Russian territory first.
At Hiroshima, Obama poignantly said "We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry....We have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again."
But Butler says he is sadly not optimistic that major new nuclear arms reductions will occur soon, though he feels the urgency is great. The U.S. Strategic Command’s nuclear deterrence mission, he laments, “is still premised on assumptions and policies distressingly reminiscent of the Cold War era, with arsenals of hundreds of warheads still poised for immediate launch from silos and submarines.”
Butler, who now lives in Laguna Beach, Calif., published the memoir, he says, partly to drive home the argument that it is “way past time to begin to change our thinking and the real world deployment of our [nuclear weapons] systems” -- or something like Hiroshima, causing another “silent cry” far worse in fact, could happen again.
This article was co-published with Politico Magazine.
The New York Times will offer buyouts to 1,100 staffers in an effort to trim the budget and refocus its efforts on the digital landscape. “These plans will no doubt lead to new initiatives and investments,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet wrote in a memo. “At the same time, we will also need to make tough decisions about what to stop doing. Wherever we can reduce costs without damaging the values, and value, of Times journalism, we will do so.” In another memo (so many memos!), Baquet said that there wouldn’t be layoffs, and while there’s no reason to doubt that statement, it’s impossible to know if it’s truly the case…
The Washington Post moves Ruth Marcus a deputy editorial page editor, where she’ll oversee “bylined opinion content, digital and in print.” She’s been on the editorial board since 2003 and will continue to write a weekly column focused on American politics and policy. WaPo also snags columnist Stuart Rothenberg, who left Roll Call after accusing the publication of “chasing the story of the day.” And Megan Chan joins the Post from Politico. She’ll be director of digital operations… The Telegraph Media Group chops a large contingent of jobs as it seeks to improve finances… The Wall Street Journal hires Tomio Geron and Alec Davis for its WSJ Pro subscription services. They come from Forbes and MarketWatch, respectively… And there are changes at Mic, Surface Media and more…
But the two all-but-certain presidential nominees do share this: at least three-dozen campaign contributors who gave money to both of them, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of federal campaign finance filings.
The donors compose one of the nation’s smallest political clubs, to be sure, although it has its share of notable members. They include a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden, the heiress to the National Enquirer fortune, the mother of an Ohio state senator, a professional poker player, a writer for the ABC hit television series “Castle” and a law professor who has challenged the constitutional eligibility of former Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz.
The reasons for their double dealings vary. Some gave to both politicians after undergoing ideological conversions. Others donated because they were asked by friends or trusted associates. Some Clinton supporters just wanted Trump’s iconic “Make America Great Again” hats — even if the money they spent would aid the billionaire businessman’s presidential bid.
While Americans may only vote for one presidential candidate come November, there’s nothing stopping them from giving money to multiple White House hopefuls. Nine of these overlapping donors contributed $2,700 — the legal maximum allowed during the primary — to both Clinton and Trump. Others gave more modest sums.
With the primary season now nearing its end, both Clinton and Trump are also aiming to make inroads with voters who typically vote for the other party in order to prevail on Election Day in November.
Both can already claim some converts.
Changes of heart
For instance, Victor Williams, a law professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., last year donated $400 to Clinton’s campaign as a “dutiful Democrat.”
But he now says he’s “a Trump man” — and has donated $5,400 to Trump’s campaign, $2,700 toward the primary and $2,700 toward the general election.
Another way he’s trying to help Trump: He’s been the main force behind a so-far-unsuccessful New Jersey lawsuit challenging Cruz’s eligibility to be president. Cruz’s mother was a U.S. citizen living in Canada when she gave birth to her son. (Presidents must be “natural-born citizens.”)
In order to have legal standing for the case, Williams himself also launched a long-shot presidential bid.
On his campaign website, Williams asserts that Clinton should be “criminally indicted” for some of her actions as secretary of state. He further argues that “we must replace the feckless, weak Barack Obama with a strong, determined 45th president.”
“What I’m genuinely excited about is the possibility that the established political order and those elites who have been at the trough for 40, 50 years will be sent home,” Williams told the Center for Public Integrity. “It’s really now or never.”
Then there’s Anthony Brennan, the owner of a Long Island, New York-based heating and air conditioning company. He says he regrets donating $2,700 to Clinton, whom he calls “corrupt to the core.”
“I have no faith whatsoever that this lady can run a country,” said Brennan, explaining that he made the contribution to Clinton after being asked to give by some people with whom he does business — and before he had done any research on her.
Campaign finance records indicate Brennan has now also contributed $244 to Trump — money that, he explained, went toward Trump gear, stickers and the 40 Trump signs he now displays in his yard.
“The country has written off the hard-working men who are the backbone, who keep this government funded with our payroll taxes,” Brennan told the Center for Public Integrity, adding that he plans to donate up to $100,000 to pro-Trump efforts this year because “our country is in need.”
“Finally there’s a voice for us,” he continued.
Professional poker player Daniel “Miami Boss” Suied also likes Trump’s economic views.
Suied, who gave Clinton’s campaign $500 last year at the behest of some Democratic Party friends in Florida, has also donated $367 to Trump’s campaign, including at least $200 in April.
“I was a huge fan of Bill Clinton,” Suied told the Center for Public Integrity. “I like Trump now.”
Making hats great again
Meanwhile, New York City-based lawyer Chris DiAngelo, a self-described “Rockefeller Republican,” told the Center for Public Integrity he gave Clinton’s campaign $2,700 last June, after being asked by a friend.
Six months later he became a Trump campaign donor because, he says, he purchased six of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats for a New Year’s Eve party.
A “big hit” is how DiAngelo described the headwear.
So who will DiAngelo be supporting in November? “It’s probably either going to be Hillary or nobody,” he said. “Unless Trump does something amazing, like, I don’t know, the pope is his running mate.”
Television writer and producer Moira Kirland — whose credits include ABC’s “Castle,” CBS’s “Madam Secretary” and the CW’s “Arrow” — is a registered Democrat who likewise became a Trump donor after buying merchandise.
“I just wanted to wear that ‘Make America Great Again’ shirt ironically in January!” said Kirland, who is listed in campaign finance records as giving $211 to Trump and $900 to Clinton.
A similar story played out for Adam Conner, who works for technology company Slack in Washington, D.C., and spent $533 buying Trump hats while at the same time giving $360 to Clinton’s campaign.
“I thought they’d be good gifts and a fun collector’s item and didn’t think I’d have very long to buy them. Guess I was wrong,” Conner told The Daily Beast earlier this year.
Reached by the Center for Public Integrity, Conner stressed that he was “a committed Democrat who will support the Democratic nominee,” even if his hat purchases helped fund Trump’s campaign.
Giving big, saying little
For some of the people who have given money to both Clinton and Trump, their motivations aren’t readily apparent. Nor are they particularly willing to discuss their political giving.
For instance, campaign finance records show that Nancy Beang, the former executive director of the Society for Neuroscience, donated $2,700 to Clinton in July. She then donated $250 to Trump in January.
Reached by phone, Beang, who was a member of the District of Columbia Women for Hillary Council during Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, declined to comment.
In March, Beang told The Daily Beast that she was backing Trump because she thought he would “make America great again.”
For his part, Jeffrey Sherman, a financial advisor at J.P. Morgan Securities in Boston, gave $1,000 to Trump shortly after Trump launched his presidential bid last summer. Yet he’s also given $739 to Clinton so far this year.
“I’m not commenting,” Sherman told the Center for Public Integrity. “I’m the wrong guy to help you out.”
Meanwhile, campaign finance disclosures show that Lyndon Olson — who served as the U.S. ambassador to Sweden under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001 — gave $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year. But he also contributed $796 to Trump in February.
Philanthropist Lois Pope, heiress to the National Enquirer fortune, likewise contributed $2,700 to Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid. But she’s also given Trump $423 and has attended multiple events for him this year, often sporting sequined, pro-Trump regalia.
Then there’s lawyer Eric Yollick, who earlier this year lost a GOP primary for district judge in Texas. Yollick, who refers to himself as a “constitutional conservative” and pledged to “make our courthouse great again,” has donated $2,600 to both Trump and Clinton.
Olson, Pope and Yollick did not respond to requests for comment.
‘Like buying extra lottery tickets’
Ohio Democrat Janet Cafaro is another donor who’s given significant sums to both Clinton and Trump.
Campaign finance records show she gave Clinton $2,700 in November and $2,700 to Trump in March.
The Cafaros, a wealthy Ohio family, have experienced both the glamorous and gritty aspects of politics.
On one hand, they’ve hosted President Bill Clinton at their sprawling, Tudor-style mansion in Chevy Chase, Maryland. On the other hand, John Cafaro was fined in 2002 for bribing former U.S. Rep. James Traficant of Ohio, whom he testified against in court.
Janet Cafaro could not immediately be reached for comment, but Capri Cafaro told the Center for Public Integrity she asked her mother to donate to Clinton ahead of a local event.
“There’s no ideological reason behind their financial support for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump,” Cafaro said of her parents’ political giving. (John Cafaro, like Janet Cafaro, has also donated $2,700 to Trump.)
Only a handful of other donors have contributed $2,700 to both Clinton and Trump.
They include Steve Gorlin, the vice chairman of biotechnology company NantKwest; Scott Powell, the president of the Sacramento Jet Center; and Scott Shleifer of investment company Tiger Global Management, according to federal records. None could be immediately reached for comment.
Political observers note that for some donors, backing multiple candidates can be about access and hoping to influence a politician’s agenda.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, has said that “donating to multiple candidates is like buying extra lottery tickets” because “you have more chances to wind up in the winner’s circle, with all the perks of having backed the victor.”
Ahead of the 2012 election, dozens of donors contributed to both President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics. Likewise, during the 2008 election, about two-dozen donors gave at least $2,300 to both Obama and Republican John McCain.
To be certain, the roughly three-dozen campaign donors shared by Clinton and Trump identified by the Center for Public Integrity represent a conservative estimate as only people who give a candidate at least $200 must be publicly disclosed.
Through April 30, Trump has raised about $10.5 million from people who each gave less than $200 and whose names have not been publicly released. Clinton, meanwhile, has raised about $40.2 million from such small-dollar donors.
Undecided between Clinton and Trump
While polls do regularly show a portion of voters still undecided between Clinton and Trump, you might not expect someone who’s opened up their wallet to support a politician to fall into that category.
Yet that’s the case for at least one Florida man who has contributed $287 to Trump and $899 to Clinton.
Michael Ginsberg, a Tampa-based lawyer, explained that his giving was not ideological.
“I’ve gone to their stores and bought things,” he said, adding that he’s been collecting political memorabilia — mainly buttons — since he was a kid and has a collection that now numbers in the hundreds, if not thousands, of items.
“I’m sort of torn between the two,” Ginsberg said of Clinton and Trump. “Both have things of interest and elements of concern.”
Chris Zubak-Skees and Ben Wieder contributed to this report.
Here’s a look at the posts that made the most buzz the past seven days.
- Marissa Mayer Has a New Cover to Bear
- Dan Rather Contemplates the Idea of JFK as a 2016 Presidential Candidate
- Time Inc. Adds MaryAnn Bekkedahl, Promotes Charlie Kammerer
- Cover Battle: Wired or Time Out New York
- A New Look for NYTimes.com Best Sellers Page
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Residing both geographically and editorially beyond the bullseye of other Hamptons magazines, Whalebone officially turns one this weekend. According to a piece by Keith J. Kelly about just how swell print is doing on the strand heading into Memorial Day weekend, the Montauk-based publication has never been in the red:
“We’re the opposite of pretentious,” said publisher Eddie Berrang.
To start the magazine, the 34-year-old publisher said he approached Jesse James Joeckel, the 28-year-old one-time T-shirt designer who had started the successful Montauk retailer Whalebone Creative as “an expression of our lifestyle based around art, design and surf culture.”
Grant Monahan, whose family runs the Ditch Witch food truck, served as guest editor of the current “Throwback” issue. Berrang says he’s been profitable from Day 1 and, this year, he’s branching out to do a Whalebone Beer in conjunction with the Montauk Brewing Company.
Speaking of beer, one of the features in the aforementioned “Throwback” issue is a look at a circa-1950s menu for the Shagwong Tavern, which switched over to new ownership last June. Back then, Budweiser, decades away from being rebranded as “America,” was just 45 cents.
Another article offers up DJ Pancakes’ “Throwback” playlist. The 11-song compilation is a good soundtrack for those willing to put on their ‘fricking leopard-print pants, take their shirt off and wave it ’round like a helicopter.’ Beyond the 150 or so Hamptons distribution locations, it’s possible to subscribe to Whalebone magazine. Info, rates here.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Brooklyn Radio Station Goes Live… From Shipping Container
Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate in Nevada has resigned from more than 1,000 companies and paid a penalty to the state, while the law firm has also announced the closure of three of its international offices as the fallout from the Panama Papers investigation continues.
Nevada’s Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske announced in a statement on Monday that M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada), Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate, had paid a $10,000 fine for failing to keep the required records and contact details for its clients. The penalty is the maximum allowed under the state’s laws.
Cegavske’s statement also revealed that the firm had abruptly resigned as registered agent from the 1,024 companies it administered in the state, a move that one expert told ICIJ partner McClatchy was “absolutely unusual.”
Mossack Fonseca’s operations in Wyoming, which were also operated out of the Nevada office, also faced a significant setback when its local Wyoming business partner cut all ties last week, leaving M.F. Corporate Services Wyoming with 60 days to find a new registered agent in the state, or face dissolution by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.
Beyond the U.S., the firm has announced the closure of three of its offices, and faces investigations in multiple jurisdictions.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Mossack Fonseca said it would close its offices in Gibraltar, Jersey and the Isle of Man, citing the international attention drawn by the Panama Papers as one of the reasons behind the decision.
In Panama, the firm has liquidated its financial services arm, named Mossack Fonseca Asset Management S.A., and applied for a cancellation of its license. The business division was used by Mossack Fonseca to help clients invest their money, and has been under investigation by Panama’s securities regulator over its fulfilment of due diligence requirements.
Mossack Fonseca has also faced enforcement action from the British Virgin Islands’ financial regulator and remains under investigation. The firm has been ordered by the authority to appoint a “qualified person to oversee its operations and to provide regular reports” according to ICIJ partner the Guardian.
The law firm and its clients have been under investigation in a number of countries after ICIJ, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 media partners published the Panama Papers investigation, revealing the secrets of the shadowy world of offshore finance.
In the wake of the controversy, Panamanian authorities raided Mossack Fonseca’s headquarters and pledged to boost the transparency of its financial services industry and to cooperate with investigating authorities from around the world.
It appears there’s at least some truth to the rumor that Gawker might be for sale. According to The New York Post, Vox Media and Penske Media Corporation (PMC) are “looking over Gawker’s books.”
When rumors flew that Gawker Media was exploring a sale, the company responded by declaring “everyone take a breath.” Yet a PMC spokesperson said “At this time PMC has only been contacted by Gawker’s banker.”
In addition to Vox and PMC, Univision has expressed interest in Gawker.