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November 27

11:00 am ET: Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree

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Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree, November 27:

Boston Globe: Michael Dukakis loves leftover turkey. A turkey carcass makes great soup, he said, inviting people to drop off turkey carcasses at his home. So they did.

Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

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Meg Whitman, AG Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina.

Politico, December 4: "Republican David Harmer has finally conceded to California Rep. Jerry McNerney, more than a month following the election and a week after the Associated Press called the race."

AP, November 24: "Representative Jerry McNerney, a Democrat, has been re-elected to a third term in a Northern California Congressional district, fending off a challenge from David Harmer. Mr. McNerney held a lead of nearly 2,500 votes on Wednesday with less than 1,900 ballots left to be counted. His victory means no California Congressional seat changed party hands as Republicans took back the House of Representatives on Nov. 2."

The Los Angeles Times projects that California Democrat AG Jerry Brown, the former governor, will win the governorship.

Los Angeles Times: "California voters appear to have rejected Prop. 19, an effort to legalize marijuana and allow local governments to tax the sale of the drug."

NBC News projects that California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer will retain her Senate seat.

Mean Girl. Bay Citizen: "Meg Whitman ... has largely succeeded in presenting herself as a folksy, common-sense businessperson who will bring Silicon Valley smarts to Sacramento.... But that image ... is very much at odds with the volatile personality that many eBay employees came to know during her decade-long tenure at the company. Interviews with numerous former employees paint a picture of a hot-tempered chief executive given to profanity-filled tirades and imperious behavior."

New York Times, October 28: "Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California, was back on the campaign trail Thursday after being hospitalized."

Seema Mehta & Michael Mishak of the Los Angeles Times, October 27: "As an audience of 14,000 women roared their approval, gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown were asked pointedly on Tuesday to take down the negative advertisements.... Brown agreed to the proposal — made by NBC journalist Matt Lauer, who was moderating the appearance of the two and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the annual Women's Conference in Long Beach — if Whitman would also assent. Whitman declined, and the audience booed."

A Republican Candidate Sends a Stinkbomb. Jeremy Jacobs of the National Journal: "Republican Van Tran, the upstart challenger to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), is betting on voters sniffing out his opponent's struggles -- literally. Tran is sending out a scratch-and-sniff direct mail piece attacking Sanchez that features a hideous odor emanating from it."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman endorses her opponent, former California Governor Jerry Brown:

New York Times: "Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who is the Republican nominee for the Senate from California, was hospitalized Tuesday in Los Angeles with an infection stemming from reconstructive breast surgery she had in July, her campaign said."

Carly Fiorina can't answer what she would cut to balance the budget. Chris Wallace of Fox "News" actually does his job here:

New York Times: "What if you held a voter turnout rally and the top candidates on the ballot didn’t show up? Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, and Sarah Palin, arguably the biggest draw in the Republican Party, found themselves in that position here in Orange County on Saturday night in the first of two high-profile national rallies they are doing before Election Day. The next one is in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.

Los Angeles Times, October 16: "Former President Clinton campaigned across Southern California on Friday, urging Democrats to shake off their moribund mind-set and head to the polls so the Obama administration can finish the job it started. Clinton told thousands of listeners at an evening rally at UCLA that they bear responsibility for the nation's future." ...

... New York Times: "Almost two decades after they tussled for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown campaigned together on Friday, when the former president stumped for Mr. Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor in California, and Gavin Newsom, the candidate for lieutenant governor.

Here's some raw footage from the UCLA Daily Bruin of President Clinton's speech yesterday:

     The Daily Bruin has a few more clips of the rally here.

Los Angeles Times, October 15: AG Eric Holder "... said the Obama administration would 'vigorously enforce' drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it." CW: trying to influence an election, Mr. Holder?

Scott Woolley of Fortune: why Carly Fiorina never mentions the job that gave her name recognition: head of Lucent Technology. Under Fiorina, they gambled big, & shortly after she moved to Hewlitt-Packard, Lucent went under because of huge, unwise vendor loans made on Fiorina's watch. But Fiorina made out like a bandit.

Los Angeles Times: "In a blistering final debate, Democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown apologized to his Republican counterpart Meg Whitman on Tuesday for a slur directed at her by an associate, an apology that Whitman did not explicitly accept as she cast his campaign as insulting to all Californians. Brown continued to insist that Whitman was seeking office to enrich wealthy Californians such as herself, while she derided Brown as a 'same old same old' politician who helped lead California into its present straits...." C-SPAN has video of the full debate.

Sacramento Bee, October 12: "Republican Meg Whitman poured another $20 million into her campaign tonight, bringing her total investment in her gubernatorial bid to more than $140 million."

Jane Lorber of the New York Times: "Brave New Films, the documentary film company behind a series of damaging anti-McCain viral videos during the 2008 presidential campaign, has put its sights on Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California. In the latest of three videos attacking Ms. Fiorina..., several former Hewlett-Packard employees who were laid off during Ms. Fiorina’s tenure as chief executive ... describe her as ruthless and extravagant." (See the earlier videos at the link.):

CW: Sorry, but I don't consider this a big fucking deal. New York Times: "The Los Angeles Times posted a muddy audio recording on Thursday night in which a campaign aide [of California AG Jerry Brown] is heard calling his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, a 'whore.' The Brown campaign apologized soon after, and the political fallout from the comment — which Ms. Whitman’s camp called 'an appalling and unforgivable smear' — is uncertain." The gist of the New York Times story is that the gaffe typical Jerry. The L.A. Times story is here, where you can listen to the audio, which follows the article. ...

     ... Update: San Jose Mercury News: "The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown apologized Thursday after one of his aides was overheard referring to Republican rival Meg Whitman as a 'whore' in a taped telephone message."

Los Angeles Times, October 6: "Reports show ... Republican [Meg Whitman] has received more money from outside donors than has her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, whom she paints as beholden to unions.

More Domestic Dirt. Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: Jill Armstrong, who worked as a nanny for Meg Whitman & her husband while undocumented immigrant Nicandra Diaz Santillan was employed as the Whitmans' maid, says she believes Diaz Santillan's story. Although Armstrong quit working for Whitman after two months, she says she had trouble collecting the salary she had earned. ...

... Meanwhile, Seema Mehta & Carla Hall of the Los Angeles Times report that Diaz Santillan is "filing a claim with the state seeking unpaid wages and attorney Gloria Allred [is] denying claims that her involvement has been funded by Whitman's political enemies.... Diaz Santillan ... said she chose to come forward to shed light on the plight of undocumented workers who live in the 'shadows.'"

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board endorses Democrat Jerry Brown for governor. The editors aren't that crazy about Brown, but they like Whitman way less: "Republican Meg Whitman, utterly devoid of background or experience in state government or policymaking, rarely deigning to cast a vote, moves toward the Nov. 2 election on the power of millions of dollars of personal wealth." ...

... The Los Angeles Times Board also opposes Proposition 19, which provides for the legalization of marijuana. The Board says the proposition "is poorly thought out, badly crafted and replete with loopholes and contradictions."

Immigration Attorney Greg Siskind: "TMZ has posted the Whitman nanny's job application and the employee's I-9. It's not clear whether Whitman or the agency handled the I-9 and that's because the form itself is not signed and dated by the employer or its agent as required by law. The form also doesn't have a social security number under the List C documentation, another violation. Because the form is not signed or dated by the employer, it is far from clear that the employer even examined the documents presented.... Abercrombie & Fitch got a $1 million fine this week for violations of just this sort." Includes copies of documentation. Via Firedoglake.

Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet and say, 'Hey I made a mistake, I'm sorry, let's go on from here.' You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions but you don't take accountability. -- Jerry Brown, in a debate with Meg Whitman

Los Angeles Times, October 2: "Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown tangled in a blistering dispute Saturday over Whitman's employment of an illegal immigrant housekeeper as they met for the campaign's first and only Spanish-language debate." New York Times story here.

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: "Meg Whitman has had trouble mastering the state’s vast and convoluted electoral landscape despite spending $119 million of her own money on the race."

"Meet the Real Meg Whitman." Jerry Brown ad:

Here's some fun reported by Elise Foley of the Washington Independent: "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman lost the support — and then some — of conservative group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC after allegations surfaced that she employed an undocumented housekeeper for nine years. But the pro-enforcement group isn’t just calling for her to lose the election: They want her arrested."

Michael Crowley of Time: "Meg Whitman says she's running for governor of California to bring a sense of fiscal responsibility to Sacramento. But Whitman's own campaign ... has already pumped about $120 million of her estimated $1.3 billion personal fortune into the race. Yet ... she hasn't purchased much of anything yet."

AP, September 29: "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant Mexican housekeeper for years even though the federal government alerted her in 2003 to the maid's dubious legal status, the worker and her attorney claimed Wednesday.... Whitman -- who on the campaign trail has called for tougher sanctions against employers who hire illegal workers -- said ... she was not aware the housekeeper ... was in the U.S. illegally." Gloria Allred, the maid's attorney, said, "Whitman was aware of her status." ...

This is just classic smear politics. Jerry Brown is a career politician; it’s what they do. -- Meg Whitman

     ... Los Angeles Times Update, September 30: without producing any evidence, "Whitman accused the Brown campaign of circulating the matter to reporters...." Politico story here; with video.

Los Angeles Times, September 29: "In a blustery and vigorous first debate, gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown dueled Tuesday over their differing solutions to California's dire problems, with Whitman slighting Brown as a tool of labor unions and Brown excoriating her as a billionaire running for office to benefit the rich."

Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times, September 26: In the California gubernatorial race, Democrat Jerry Brown leads Republican Meg Whitman 49%-44% in an L.A. Times/U.S.C. poll. In the Senate race, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer leads Republican nominee Carly Fiorina 51%-43%.

Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times, September 19: Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina toes the tea party line.

Michael Mishak of the Los Angeles Times, September 18: experts aren't buying into Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's "economic plan."

AP, September 16: "Former eBay executive Meg Whitman is defending $119 million in contributions she has made to her campaign for California governor — a personal spending rate that has now surpassed that of any other political candidate in American history."

New York Times, September 14: "President Bill Clinton endorsed his long-ago rival Jerry Brown for governor of California, brushing aside Mr. Brown’s recent snippy joke about the Monica Lewinsky scandal."

After Meg Whitman runs this ad, which includes a 1992 clip of Bill Clinton falsely accusing Jerry Brown of raising California taxes when he was governor ...

... Jerry Brown responds:

     ... Update: Brown apologizes to President Clinton, bashes Whitman. His statement is here.

PolitiCal, August 24: After "an appeal by President Obama to his supporters seeking help for Jerry Brown’s candidacy..., so many people clicked the link that Brown’s website crashed."

Los Angeles Times, August 11: "Meg Whitman's economic policies are based on a flawed understanding of the challenges California faces, and the Republican gubernatorial nominee's proposals would make the state's troubles worse, according to an open letter to Californians signed by a group of mostly Democratic economists from throughout the state."

The Highest Bidder. Sacramento Bee: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent a record-shattering $99.7 million in campaign funds through June 30, according to campaign finance records filed today. Whitman, who faced a June 8 primary election challenge..., has spent far more than Democratic rival Jerry Brown, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Brown's gubernatorial campaign spent $633,205 through June 30.

Kevin O'Leary of Time: California nurses versus Queen Meg Whitman. Whitman has promised to "reform" compensation & pension packages if elected governor. Here's a video of the nurses' rally at Whitman's home on July 16:

Los Angeles Times, July 18: billionaire Whitman's opponent, Democratic AG Jerry Brown, who doesn't have her megabucks to run ads, must rely on the free press to remain in the spotlight.

$$$$$$$ Talks. Michael Luo of the New York Times, July 12: California billionaire & Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman stole a primary rival's potential political consultant by buying into (or creating) his nascent production company. Subtitle: Shock! Political consultant goes for the money.

AP: "Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is kicking off her election campaign ... by criticizing the $862 billion federal stimulus package as doing little for private businesses. Yet ... Hewlett-Packard Co., where Fiorina was chief executive..., has been paid $22.5 million so far in stimulus money distributed to cities, school districts, hospitals and universities" which purchased HP products. Also, in a speech made during a visit to a company that benefited from the stimulus package, Fiorina said the stimulus package hadn't worked.

In this 30-second spot, Democrats hit Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for not bothering to vote for 28 years:

Carly Fiorina, Hot Mic, Take 2. (If you missed Take 1, see it first further downn the page:

     ... Many thanks to Strategic Productions, LLC for so perfecting channeling the Real Fiorina, and a special thanks to Brooklyn Mutt, who may have been the first to embed the video.

When Push Comes to Shove. New York Times: in a 2007 incident, Meg Whitman, now California's Republican nominee for governor but then e-Bay CEO, shoved an employee, Young Mi Kim, in the presence of several witnesses. The company reportedly paid Ms. Kim about $200,000, & she returned to work for e-Bay after accepting the settlement.

Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times: the Tea Party had little influence on California primary races. Tea Partiers don't like Fiorina & Whitman so they won't work for Republican nominees.

Fiorina: "I'm Sorry I Got Caught Being My Nasty, Superficial Self." Fox "News": "California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina said Sunday she regrets being caught on tape making fun of Sen. Barbara Boxer's hair, but didn't say whether she apologized to the Democratic incumbent." Here's the video, via Politico:

Open Mic. CNN catches California Republican candidate for Senate Carly Fiorina making catty remarks about her opponent Barbara Boxer, fellow Republican Meg Whitman & -- oh, no! -- Fox "News" Sean Hannity: CW: Fiorina comes across as having the depth & personality of the nasty girls in my 7th grade class:

With Candidates Like These.... AP: "Former NFL player Damon Dunn has won the Republican nomination for California secretary of state. Dunn defeated Orange County lawyer [& queen of the "birthers"] Orly Taitz in Tuesday's primary, and will face incumbent Democrat Debra Bowen in the general election in November. Dunn is a self-described 'recovering nonvoter' who hadn't cast a ballot in an election until 2009."

Let the General Election Begin. Washington Post: moving in from the right, Fiorina jabs the Boxer, Boxer hits back.

AP: "Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has won California's GOP primary for U.S. Senate, setting up a general election battle this fall with three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer."

AP: "In California, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman won the Republican nomination for governor, and another businesswoman, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, led in her bid to become her party's candidate for the Senate." AG & former Gov. Jerry Brown won the Democratic nomination for governor.