The Wires

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

Guardian: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have introduced their newborn son to the world and revealed he is to be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The name was announced shortly after the Queen met her eighth great-grandchild for the first time at Windsor Castle, where earlier the couple showed him off to the cameras."

Guardian: “The Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a baby son, weighing 7lbs 3oz. Mother and child were both doing well, Buckingham Palace announced. The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth, which happened at 5.26am on Monday. The child is seventh in line to the throne, and an eighth great-grandchild for the 93-year-old Queen.”

Washington Post: "Cheap Chinese caviar is flooding the U.S. market, causing prices to plummet, and with it, the product’s cachet. Wholesale prices have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, down 13 percent just in the past year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the import price has gone from $850,000 per ton in January 2012 to $350,000 per ton in November 2018." Mrs. McC: This makes me very happy. I love caviar (I've only had the cheaper kind), but I seldom buy it because of the expense. I have some in the pantry now, but I'm going to check the price at the grocery store now in hopes it's something I can enjoy more often. Status symbol? I couldn't care less.

New York Times: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday [April 15] to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, a nod to journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press. The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting prize for disclosing clandestine payoffs by the president’s associates to two women who were said to have had affairs with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, cost children their lives."

Medlar's Sports Report. New York Times: "Tiger Woods’s comeback from personal and professional adversity is complete: He captured his fifth Masters title and his 15th major tournament on Sunday, snapping a championship drought of nearly 11 years. It was a monumental triumph for Woods, a magical, come-from-behind win for a player who had not won a major championship since his personal life began to unravel on Thanksgiving night in 2009, when a marital dispute led to a car accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines. On the golf course, he had a series of back and leg injuries that led to an addiction to painkillers and culminated in pain so searing that, before surgery in 2017, he had questioned whether he could play professionally again." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Oh yeah? Trump can beat Tiger any day.

Tom Jones of Poynter picks the top 25 movies ever about journalism.

New York Times: "For 340 days, Scott Kelly circled the Earth aboard the International Space Station, gathering data about himself." His twin brother Mark Kelly, planted on Earth, did the same. "On Thursday..., NASA researchers reported that [Scott Kelly's] body experienced a vast number of changes while in orbit. DNA mutated in some of his cells. His immune system produced a host of new signals. His microbiome gained new species of bacteria. Many of these biological changes seemed harmless, disappearing after he returned to Earth. But others — including genetic mutations and, after his return, declines in cognitive test scores — did not correct themselves, provoking concern among scientists."

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times: now does his first drafts of columns as well as other traditional writing tasks by speaking into his phone. "I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone.... Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.... New advances — like smarter and more ubiquitous voice assistants; better text-to-speech synthesis; easy-to-use audio and video production apps like Descript and Anchor; and gadgets that burrow the internet into your ears, like Apple’s AirPods and Amazon’s reported forthcoming AirPod clones — point to a profound shift in computing. Soon it might be possible to conduct a large slice of digital life, including work, without being glued to a screen."

New York Times: "In a cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered a new branch of the human family tree. At least 50,000 years ago, an extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon, researchers reported on Wednesday. It’s possible that Homo luzonensis, as they’re calling the species, stood less than three feet tall. The discovery adds growing complexity to the story of human evolution. It was not a simple march forward, as it once seemed. Instead, our lineage assumed an exuberant burst of strange forms along the way.Our species, Homo sapiens, now inhabits a comparatively lonely world. 'The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,' said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada, who was not involved in the new discovery."

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling


The Commentariat -- October 7

Running for President is like having sex: you don’t do it once and forget about it. It has a high, high recidivism rate. -- James Carville, on whether or not Hillary Clinton will run for President again

Nicholas Kristof demonstrates that in the most elemental economic issues, the Democrats' programs are far more effective than Republican proposals. Kristof provides a good summary you can share with your neighbor: outside analysts say the Democrats' programs produce more jobs, reduce the national debt more & mitigate the disparity between rich & poor. ...

... AND do read Kristof's blogpost reaction to Sen. Jim DeMint, who said gays or an unmarried women "sleeping with her boyfriend" should not be allowed to teach children. Kristof's remarks on Republican "values" are something else you can share with your friends.

Peter Nicholas & Christi Parsons in the Los Angeles Times: "As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress."

The truth is: all that will be remembered of the [2008 presidential] campaign is that America’s original sin was finally expunged. That’s all. In history, that’s all. The real McCain will be lost to history.... The narrative is the narrative, completely untrue and unfair, but he is the old guy who ran a derogatory campaign and can’t remember how many houses he had. -- Mark Salter, long-time top aide to John McCain

"The Man Who Never Was." Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair: "Desperate to keep his Senate seat, John McCain repudiated his record, his principles, and even his maverick reputation, entrenching himself as the anti-Obama. Which raises the issue of whether the leader so many Americans admired—and so many journalists covered—ever truly existed."

Jia Lynn Yang of the Washington Post: "For months, companies have been sitting on the sidelines with record piles of cash, too nervous to spend. Now they're starting to deploy some of that money -- not to hire workers or build factories, but to prop up their share prices. Sitting on these unprecedented levels of cash, U.S. companies are buying back their own stock in droves."

W. J. Hennigan of the Los Angeles Times: "... after one of the biggest military buildups in decades..., thousands of aerospace suppliers across Southern California [are] bracing for a downturn, a slide that could have gut-wrenching consequences for an economy struggling to recover."



Axelrod on Letterman -- of witchcraft, Fox "News" & Trump:

Here's the Top Ten list Axelrod mentioned:

Dana Milbank: an on-the-record, off-the-teevee press briefing by Robert Gibbs was a lot more productive than the usual briefings where both Gibbs & reporters perform for the cameras.

We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look. These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks.... Clothing Suggestions: ... jeans, work boots, flannel shirt, denim shirt, Dickie’s type jacket with t-shirt underneath, down-filled vest, John Deer [sic] hats (not brand new, preferably beat up), trucker hats (not brand new, preferably beat up). --  National Republican Senatorial Committee casting call for a West Virginia ad (abridged) ...

... Here's the resulting ad. "Hicky" enough for ya? Update: Ha, ha. The ad has been pulled. Here's Michael Shear of the New York Times with more. Update 2: Ah, fortunately, the ad is preserved for us elsewhere on YouTube:

Rand Paul hires an Obama impersonator to read his campaign ad script. The ad is kind of funny when you know it isn't Obama speaking, but some of those "hicky" Kentucky viewers could be fooled:

Alexander Burns of Politico: EMILY's list has launched a campaign to turn out Democratic & Democratic-leaning female voters. CW: big  surprise: their research shows women don't know much about the issues but are moved by "narrowly-tailored attacks." I'd say the same is true for male voters.

Lamest Endorsement Humanly Possible. Matt Finkelstein of Media Matters: "Leaked emails revealed a dispute between Todd Palin and Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Joe Miller (R-AK) over Miller's apparent hesitation to say Sarah Palin is qualified to be president." When repeatedly pressed, Miller told Fox "News" that Palin was qualified under the Constitution. CW: yeah, so am I. Media Matters has the video.

Isabel Macdonald of The Nation: "... with his relentless diatribes against 'illegals' and their employers, [Lou] Dobbs is casting stones from a house—make that an estate—of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper." CW: Dobbs has hinted he will run for President in 2012. ...

     ... NBC Update: I have never, nor has The Dobbs Group at any time, hired an illegal immigrant. -- Lou Dobbs


The Commentariat -- October 6

The Party of Racists. Andrea Nill of Think Progress: Republicans Sharron Angle & David Vitter use the same photo of menacing-looking young Hispanic men in their scary video ads. In Angle's ad she seems to be attacking Harry Reid for his support of the DREAM bill which would offer a path to citizenship for young people who served in the military or went to college (the ad copy is so misleading, tho it's hard to tell what she's talking about). Igor Volsky of Think Progress posts the ad pictures ...

     ... then writes that beneficiaries of the DREAM legislation would look more like this:

     ... "Angle's 'Willie Horton' Ad. Adam Serwer, writing in the Washington Post, elaborates.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "The process of banks hiring people to break into homes, even when occupied, is just the latest oddity of the messy foreclosure crisis in Florida.... It is illegal for any bank representative to enter a property if they have not yet retaken it at a foreclosure sale, especially if there is any sign the home is occupied, foreclosure experts say." In one instance, renters returned from an outing to find the locks changed & their valuables stolen by bank reps.

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.'"

Matt Bai of the New York Times: when pollsters conduct focus groups of self-identified "independent" voters in a small town in New Jersey they discovered that the "underlying perception, that politicians in Washington conduct themselves just as childishly and with the same lack of accountability as the kids throwing chicken casserole in the lunchroom, may well be the principal emotion behind the electorate’s propensity to vote out whoever holds power."

David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "should the litmus test for American health care really be better than nothing?" Mini-med plans, like the ones McDonald's is threatening to cancel, demonstrate that "the real problem [with U.S. health care plans] was the status quo."

"The incumbent president -- I won't call his name * -- said, 'In the next week or two, I'm going to the most dangerous place on Earth: the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea.' I said, 'Rosalynn, that's where we were building homes last week.' -- Jimmy Carter

* George W. Bush, our bravest President ever

Susan Page of USA Today: ": Independent analysts predict that the number of women in Congress — currently 56 Democrats and 17 Republicans in the House, and 13 Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate — will decline for the first time in three decades."

Dana Milbank offers a quasi- (okay, very quasi-)statistical evidence that today's conservatives' standards for political purity have moved far rightward. "Comparing the [American Conservative Union] ratings of [Lisa] Murkowski [of Alaska] and [Bob] Bennett [of Utah] with those of other Republicans in the House and Senate going back to 1971 (the first year in the ACU online ratings archive), I discovered that if conservatives were to employ the purity standards they applied to Murkowski and Bennett, they would have rejected many, if not most, of the leading Republican lawmakers of the past 40 years.

Bob Woodward says an Obama-Clinton ticket in 2012 is "on the table":

     ... BUT. Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post: "The White House, not surprisingly, flat-out denies it. 'There's absolutely nothing to it,' senior adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday night." AND ...

Tom Friedman: California's Proposition 23, an effort to kill the state's clean energy legislation, is being financed -- surprise! -- by big oil on the fake premise that the clean energy law is a job killer.

Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post: "Faced with deep budget deficits and overextended pension plans, state and local leaders are increasingly looking to trim the lucrative retirement benefits that have long been associated with government employment. Public employees are facing a backlash that has intensified with the nation's economic woes, union leaders say, because of their good job security, generous health-care and pension benefits, and right to retire long before most private-sector workers."

Toljaso. Glenn Greenwald reminds readers that Tom Daschle's revelation (which he partially retracted later) that the Obama Administration took the public option off the table in early July 2009 won't be news to them. ...

... David Dayan of Firedoglake has another good post on the same subject. ...

... Here's Igor Volsky's post on the Daschle's book, interview & walk-back.



An endorsement from Sarah Palin has strings ropes chains attached. Gawker has one of the many takes on an e-mail exchange between Todd Palin, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller & others. Mudflats (Jeanne Devon) originally published the e-mails.


The Commentariat -- October 5

Susan Crabtree of The Hill: John Boehner has warned some male members of the House to avoid the appearance of impropriety by not drinking with female lobbyists or meeting with women behind closed doors. "But female lobbyists are raising new concerns that access to male Republican lawmakers has been further hampered...."

The Party of No Ideas. Five minutes of Republicans claiming they're going to cut spending, then being unable to come up with a single program they would cut. Thanks to Think Progress:

This commentary by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Daily, is a week old, but the Rabbi's remarks on the President's failure to understand liberal disappointment in his Administration are still current:

It’s easier for [Democrats] to believe that their liberal and progressive base is naïve than to acknowledge that we are not alienated for their failure to pass appropriate legislation, but for their failure to fight for such legislation. And our upset with Obama is not that he didn’t accomplish what he couldn’t accomplish, but that he didn’t do the one thing he could do: consistently speak the truth, tell us and the country what was really happening in the corridors of power and what the constraints are that he was facing.

Noam Levey in the Los Angeles Times: "The insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaign coffers in hopes of scaling back wide-ranging regulations in the new healthcare law but preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage." ...

... David Lightman of McClatchy News: "Half a billion dollars from independent groups with strong but unofficial connections to Republicans and Democrats is flooding into congressional campaigns across the country this year.... The Center for Public Integrity found that Republican-allied groups are likely to outspend their Democratic-oriented rivals by 3 to 2, and maybe even by 2 to 1.... While big money in politics is hardly new, there never have been sums of this magnitude in midterm elections." ...

... Secret Donors. Ken Vogel of Politico: "A massive $4.2 million ad buy announced Tuesday by American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS erases any doubts that the groups, conceived by veteran GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, have the cash to be major players in next month's election. And with nearly 75 percent of the buy paid for by undisclosed donors, the expenditure highlights a trend that has shaped the midterm campaigns and could have far-reaching consequences in American politics: the shift to anonymous political activity." ...

     ... This news item bears on Vogel's story. Washington Post: "Two campaign-finance watchdogs [Democracy 21 & the Campaign Legal Center] asked the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday to investigate Crossroads GPS, the big-spending conservative group supported by Republican guru Karl Rove, for allegedly violating U.S. tax laws limiting the political activities of nonprofit groups."

... Lee Fang of Think Progress: a significant amount of the anti-Obama Chamber of Commerce financing comes from outside the U.S.

Ben Pershing of the Washington Post: "For all the fanfare and publicity that accompanied the release of the pledge, relatively few Republican candidates across the country appear to be adopting it as a guiding vision, much less incorporating it into their campaigns. That stands in stark contrast to the document the pledge is most often compared to, the 1994 'Contract With America.' ..."

David A. Fahrenthold & Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "... nine men ... have died inside U.S. coal mines in the six months since the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia, in which 29 men were killed on April 5. This string of accidents has revealed key shortfalls in a push by the Obama administration to improve mine safety."

We’ll probably get all our money back. -- Jim Millstein ...

... Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times: last week Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced a complicated plan for the government to divest itself of its interest in insurance giant AIG, a deal in which he & Jim Millstein, Treasury's chief restructuring officer, believe the taxpayer will break even. Sorkin explains the math (CW: which is over my head).

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times: Sunday Rahm Emanuel announced that he was preparing to run for mayor of Chicago, but legal experts say he does not meet the residency requirement that he live in the city for a year prior to the election. ...

     ... Ben Smith: as if to highlight his Chicago residency problem, Emanuel taped his "glad to be home" video for Chicagoans -- in Washington, D.C. Includes video. CW: I'm really not going to cover the Chicago mayoral race unless it remains hilarious. So far, it's pretty funny.

CW: last week one of the Democrats' biggest losers - Michael Dukakis -- went to the White House to give President Obama campaign strategy advice. Now another huge Democratic loser -- Walter Mondale -- has more advice for Obama on how to punch up his speaking style. (With video.)  Is this really helpful?

Billboard by Bozo. Mark Leibovich of the New York Times: after writing in a profile of the candidate that Christine O'Donnell's father Daniel played Bozo the Clown on the teevee, a reader questioned Leibovich's assertion & the quality of his research. writes, “Anybody who would lie about a cherished childhood icon is unqualified to serve in the United States Senate. Really. It’s in the Constitution. Look it up.” In a conversation with Daniel O'Donnell, Leibovich learns that he sometimes filled in for the "real" Philadelphia Bozo on out-of-town gigs....

... More on the daughter of the second-string Bozo on the Delaware page.