Beware ‘tech support’ scams

Yes, the Internet is a jungle. A reminder from The Washington Post:

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it has stopped six “massive” tech support scams that may have duped consumers out of millions of dollars.

According to an FTC release, telemarketers tricked people into buying a “service” to remove non-existent viruses and other malware. Users were also convinced to grant telemarketers remote access to their machines. The FTC called the scams “outrageous and disturbing.”

Virtually Speaking tonight

This should be a good one – Barofsky’s book was great!

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd – 6pm pacific 9pm eastern

Jay and Neil Barofsky discuss Neil’s new book, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street and the warring NYT reviews of Jackie Calmes and Gretchen Morgenson.

Currently a Senior Fellow at New York University School of Law, from Dec 2008 until Mar 2011, Neil served as Special Inspector General in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Before that he was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Listen live or later


Trust us

I’ve read so many stories like this:

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Doris Spates was a baby when her father died inexplicably in 1955. She has watched four siblings die of cancer, and she survived cervical cancer.

After learning that the Army conducted secret chemical testing in her impoverished St. Louis neighborhood at the height of the Cold War, she wonders if her own government is to blame.

In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.

Local officials were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Russians attacked.

Krugman and the Obama enigma

The economist is as exasperated as the rest of us:

People tend to forget how close the 2008 presidential race looked as late as August, and the immense frustration many Democrats felt with Barack Obama at the time. He seemed weirdly unwilling to drive home his case against Bush/McCain economic policies; his instinct, as people said, was apparently to go for the capillaries.

The hard-hitting and effective campaign against Romney led many people to believe that this wasn’t going to happen again. But in the first debate, there was Capillary Man once again.

I really don’t know what this is about.

The Petemobile is on its way

I can’t wait:

WASHINGTON — Billionaire private equity mogul Peter Peterson is investing millions of dollars in a new Washington-based campaign for austerity, planning to blanket the airwaves after the election to bolster the case for a “grand bargain” in Congress’ lame-duck session that would slash Medicare and Social Security spending in exchange for new tax revenue.

The new Campaign to Fix the Debt is chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, and former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican. It’s priming for lame-duck negotiations over the expirations of the payroll tax cut and the Bush tax cuts, as well as scheduled cuts to defense and non-defense spending.

Peterson’s allies aren’t waiting for the election, however. In New Hampshire, the co-chairmen of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission — former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House official Erskine Bowles — have endorsed incumbent Republican Rep. Charlie Bass, who supported a budget bill with many of their austerity recommendations, over progressive Democrat Annie Kuster. Bowles and Simpson have become fashionable politically, so Bass is taking full advantage of their endorsement, running full-page ads in newspapers across the state.

Kuster, who lost a squeaker to Bass in 2010, has hit back hard. “Let me be clear: I will never cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. My Tea Party opponent will,” she said in a statement.

But it will take more than Annie Kuster to stave off the coming campaign to cut federal spending. The two parties have been in budget talks for the better part of two years, and Bob Woodward’s new book, “The Price of Politics,” portrays a president obsessed with getting a “big deal.” President Barack Obama was ready before to agree to dramatic cuts, including to Social Security and Medicare, in exchange for new taxes, but Republicans ultimately refused to yield.

Fast food for ‘Biblical families’

The gay-bashing chicken man speaks:

In one of his first interviews since the controversy that surrounded his chain of restaurants, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy did not say much — but did mention his support for “Biblical families…”

Say what?

From Firedoglake:

Biblical families? Does that mean he supports…

Plural marriages – those are in the Good Book…
Selling daughters into slavery…?

Who’s afraid of the fiscal cliff?

Kevin Drum:

Sarah Binder writes today that she doesn’t expect this year’s lame duck session of Congress to conclude a deal that will avert the “fiscal cliff” our legi-lemmings are set to march over on December 31. She has three reasons, and the first two boil down to the fact that Republicans aren’t likely to suddenly stop being crazy just because we had an election, even if Obama wins.1 I can buy that. But here’s reason #3:

Third, I’m somewhat skeptical that Democrats would have the political fortitude to go over the cliff. Democrats could have stuck to their guns in the lame duck of 2010, forcing Republicans (still in the minority) to swallow an increase in upper income tax rates as the price for extending the middle class tax cuts. That’s not the strategy Democrats chose then, and it strikes me as equally unlikely in 2012 with a GOP House majority. Going over the cliff requires Democrats to take ownership of raising taxes on the middle class at Christmas. That might be the strategically wise move for bolstering Democrats’ leverage come January. But it also strikes me as an electorally doubtful holiday gift to voters.

I’m not so sure about this. In this case, I think I’m with folks who like to refer to this event as a fiscal slope rather than a fiscal cliff. Their general point is that we don’t all suddenly pay thousands of dollars in taxes and cut billions of dollars in spending at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. This stuff all phases in over time.

I think, as always, that Kevin Drum is overly optimistic.

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