Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President described the historic understanding the United States – with our allies and partners – reached with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will make our country, our allies, and our world safer":

The Ledes

Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Washington Post: Thousands of families fleeing Iraq’s western city of Ramadi choked checkpoints leading to Baghdad on Friday, after an Islamic State advance spread panic and left security forces clinging to control."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, April 17, 2015.

Yahoo! News: "The parents of the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing are pressing federal prosecutors to drop their quest for the death penalty for convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arguing that a life sentence without parole would “end the anguish” of a continuing trial and what is likely to be years of appeals. Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, was killed by the second of two pressure cooker bombs detonated near the finish line of the 2013 marathon, said in a lengthy statement published in Friday’s Boston Globe that Tsarnaev’s conviction in the guilt phase of the trial earlier this month ensures 'justice will be served' and that it’s time 'to bring the case to a close.'”

Washington Post: "A top aide of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been killed during fighting against Sunni insurgent forces, senior Iraqi officials claimed Friday, in a potential blow to factions opposing the government in Baghdad. But previous reports over the years about the death of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri have proven wrong. Photos purporting to show Douri’s body circulated on social media, but not from any official sources. Iraqi officials said a DNA analysis of the body was planned. It was unclear when results could be released."

Washington Post: "Last week in Milwaukee, a 2-year-old darted into the street and was struck and killed by a motorist. When the motorist got out to aid the child, he was shot and killed by someone in the street. Also shot and killed was the toddler’s 15 year old brother, who had run to the scene after the accident. On Thursday, the child’s uncle, who police suspected opened fire as an apparent act of revenge, took his own life as authorities closed in on him." ...

     The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story is here.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
April 17

11:50 am ET: President Obama & Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy hold a press conference

1:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the Democratic Coalition PAC retreat (audio only)

3:50 pm ET: President & Mrs. Obama host a poetry reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Elizabeth Alexander

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:


Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75mm Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

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Saturday
Nov242012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2012

My column for the New York Times eXaminer is elegantly titled "Pat Some Butts, Barry -- Maureen Dowd." Clearly, this is My Week of Going Classy.

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures.... The Defense Department and the C.I.A. continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice Department and State Department officials, and the president's counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint, officials involved in the discussions say. More broadly, the administration's legal reasoning has not persuaded many other countries that the strikes are acceptable under international law."

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to examine the constitutionality of the health reform law's employer requirements and mandatory coverage of contraceptives without a co-pay.

The move could open the door for President Barack Obama's health law to be back in front of the Supreme Court late next year.

Peter Whoriskey of the Washington Post: "Arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine regularly features articles over which pharmaceutical companies and their employees can exert significant influence.... Over the past decade corporate interference has repeatedly muddled the nation's drug science, sometimes with potentially lethal consequences."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The Senate -- the legislative body that was designed as the saucer to cool the House's tempestuous teacup -- has become a deep freeze, where even once-routine matters have become hopelessly stuck and a supermajority is needed to pass almost anything.... Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, says he will move on the first day of the 113th Congress to diminish the power of Republicans to obstruct legislation." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in Salon: it will be difficult & complicated to fix the filibuster, but one part that should be relatively easy: confirmation of executive branch nominees. Both parties more or less agree that a President should get staff s/he wants. CW: another idea: the President is required under the Constitution to obtain the advice & consent of the Senate for a number of positions, including ambassadors, Cabinet members & Supreme Court justices. But there is no reason the Senate should be vetting lower-level appointees except perhaps judges to lower courts because they're lifetime appointments (which is a mistake, too) & a few security-related positions like NSA, CIA & FBI directors.

Steve Rattner, in a New York Times op-ed, proposes several sensible ways to raise taxes on the wealthy. He appears to be advocating for pretty much doing them all.

Adam Davidson of the New York Times: "The secret behind this skills gap [which both Obama & Romney complained about during the presidential campaign] is that it's not a skills gap at all." Manufacturers are just not willing to pay for the skills they require. CW: I don't usually link to Davidson's posts because he so often screws up the economics. ...

... But economist Dean Baker backs up Davidson on this one: "News stories have been filled with reports of managers of manufacturing companies insisting that they have jobs open that they can't fill because there are no qualified workers.... The real problem is that the managers don't seem to be interested in paying for the high level of skills that they claim they need."

Zaid Jilani writing for Bold Progressives: "Many progressives have been celebrating [Sen. Saxby] Chambliss's [R-Ga.] rebuke of [Grover "No-New-Taxes"] Norquist.... [But] the senator is not breaking from Norquist because he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy or big corporations.... Chambliss is willing to deal with closing small loopholes in the tax code in order to get to the wider goals of the Bowles-Simpson plan: cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age, cutting Medicare benefits by capping overall spending, and dramatically lowering corporate tax rates." ...

... How Government Works. Digby: "Chambliss said nothing he hasn't said before. They set all this up so that we would have a number of arbitrary deadlines coming to a head at the same time. It's how we govern these days --- a bipartisan plutocratic centrist and conservative coalition comes together to do the bidding of the moneyed interests and betray their own constituents under a phony sense of crisis in a lame duck session. The details vary only slightly depending on who allegedly 'won' the recent election, but basically, this stuff is all baked in the cake long before any of us have a chance to vote." CW: There's a reason you can find the word SCAM in Saxby ChAMbliss." Let's just abbreviate to "SCAMbliss." ...

... CW: well, at least SCAMbliss has Grover's fat-boy (sorry) shorts in a knot:

Senator Chambliss promised the people of Georgia he would go to Washington and reform government rather than raise taxes to pay for bigger government. He made that commitment in writing to the people of Georgia. If he plans to vote for higher taxes to pay for Obama-sized government he should address the people of Georgia and let them know that he plans to break his promise to them. The Senator's reference to me is odd. His promise is to the people of Georgia. -- Grover Norquist

David Patterson, in a New York Times op-ed, on the confusing November 6 Puerto Rican ballot issue that appears to demonstrate that Puerto Ricans favor statehood, though because of the way the questions were presented, is not definitive. "The people ... deserve another, clearer, definitive ballot -- and soon."

Rick Pearson & John Byrne of the Chicago Tribune: "Cook County Democratic leaders plan to recommend a replacement for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in an effort to winnow a growing field of hopefuls looking to take over the congressional district stretching from the South Side to Kankakee. Gov. Pat Quinn was expected to decide by Monday on the early 2013 dates for the special primary and general elections, but already a swarm of has-been and wannabe political players are considering the rare opportunity to run in the suddenly open, solidly Democratic, black-majority 2nd Congressional District."

Lauren Neergaard of the AP: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation's largest group of obstetricians and gynecologists, says birth control pills should be sold over the counter, like condoms."

"The Blue-Footed Booby." George Colt, in a New York Times op-ed: sibling rivalry, especially at the dinner table, is a Freudian thing.

CW: Just so I can foster my Petraeus Affair fix (see yesterday's Commentariat), Seth Meyers assesses the winners & losers in said five-way (the sketch news analysis is at least a week old, but that doesn't make it less funny):

Local News -- Right Wing World Edition

Laura Gottesdeiner in AlterNet: "In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state's citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God -- or risk 12 months in prison. The law and its sponsor, state representative Tom Riner, have been the subject of controversy since the law first surfaced in 2006, yet the Kentucky state Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality, despite clearly violating the First Amendment's separation of church and state."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Syrian rebels seized a military airport and an air defense base about 10 miles east of Damascus on Sunday morning and drove off with a tank and other weapons, according to opposition activists and video posted online, demonstrating their ability to advance in areas around the capital despite facing withering aerial attacks."

ABC News: "A man suspected of shoplifting two DVD players from a Lithonia, Ga., Walmart today died after an altercation with two store employees and a contract security guard, prompting a police investigation."

Reuters: "Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi faced a rebellion from judges who accused him on Saturday of expanding his powers at their expense, deepening a crisis that has triggered violence in the street and exposed the country's deep divisions. The Judges' Club, a body representing judges across Egypt, called for a strike during a meeting interrupted with chants demanding the 'downfall of the regime' - the rallying cry in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Share prices on Egypt's stock exchange have plunged almost 9.5 per cent, days after President Mohamed Morsi assumed sweeping powers that sparked clashes and polarised the country's politics."

New York Times: "More than 100 people died Saturday and Sunday in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, in one of the worst industrial tragedies in that country."

AP: "Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved, has died. He was 73."

Al Jazeera: "China has successfully landed a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, which entered service two months ago, the country's official news agency confirmed."

Guardian: "Police in Bangkok have fired teargas at thousands of anti-government protestors calling for the overthrow of the Thai government. At least 9,000 people attended the rally, organised by activists who believe the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is the puppet of her brother, the deposed former PM Thaksin Shinawatra."

Reuters: The Rolling Stones take to the stage later on Sunday after a five-year hiatus to celebrate the golden jubilee of one of the most successful and enduring bands in rock and roll history. Now in their mid-60s to early 70s, lead singer Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood and drummer Charlie Watts will perform five concerts - two at the O2 Arena in London on November 25 and 29 and three in the United States next month."

Friday
Nov232012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 24, 2012

Josh Eidelson of the Nation has a rundown of what happened at the Wal-Mart demonstrations around the country. ...

... Pema Levy & Tom Kludt of TPM round up the worst incidences of Black Friday mayhem. ...

     ... Libby Spencer of No More Mister Nice Blog: "I especially loved the guy in Texas who pulled a gun on a line cutter. He wasn't arrested because he had a concealed carry permit. Assume threatening to kill someone for trying to get between you and your new flat screen teevee is justifiable under the castle doctrine. Or something. Are state's rights great or what?"

If it looks like Grandpa's old gray bathrobe and costs $500, it's in Neiman's Christmas Book:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE CATALOG. (Turn the pages of the catalog at the lower corners.)

Charles Blow: "The Internet has been lit up with the incongruity of the party of Lincoln’s becoming the party of secessionists.... We are moving toward two Americas with two contrasting -- and increasingly codified -- concepts of liberty. Can such a nation long endure?"

Kevin Drum: in their efforts to make both parties look like winners (see yesterday's link to a NYT article by Jonathan Weisman), legislators are proposing at least one truly "crazy idea" -- eliminating marginal tax brackets for the rich; i.e., if you earn more than $X, you pay the highest rate on all your earnings. This would work a severe hardship on the upper middle class & have very little effect on the super-rich. CW: I told ya so.

CW: Before the Petraeus Affair hit the fan, I never gave David Petraeus a second glance. But now I'm thinking he looks really sexy. Since he is reportedly an egomaniac, he probably is not actually very sexy. Acknowledging there is no accounting for taste, I welcome second opinions.

Patty Murray -- My Kind of Hero. Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "In a town consumed by talk of the apocalyptic consequences of failing to resolve the budgeting crisis, Murray [D-Washington] has been arguing that missing the [fiscal cliff] deadline for a deal -- going over the cliff -- could actually make getting a deal easier.... As chair of her party's Senate campaign arm, the architect of surprising Democratic gains and the incoming chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, Murray now occupies a place of special influence in the Senate."

Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post: "The biggest scoop of his [reporter Ed Kennedy's] career -- Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender ... ruined his career. And a determined group of prominent journalists wants ... Kennedy to be posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a recognition of a singular moment of courage when a star correspondent defied political and military censorship to file one of the biggest stories of the century."

Right Wing World

Derangement. Even though President Obama mentioned God in this year's Thanksgiving address, it wasn't good enough for the lunatic leaders of Right Wing World, who ginned up plenty of outrage over "Obama's Godless Thanksgiving." Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs rounds up the raunch.

Jonathan Chait of New York has a lovely takedown of "right-wing intellectual" and Commentary editor John Podhoretz. Chait doesn't do much work; he just cites Podhoretz's hilariously contradictory Commentary commentary from before & after the election.

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Secession fever has struck parts of Texas, which Mitt Romney won by nearly 1.3 million votes. Sales of bumper stickers reading 'Secede' -- one for $2, or three for $5 -- have increased at TexasSecede.com. In East Texas, a Republican official sent out an e-mail newsletter saying it was time for Texas and Vermont to each 'go her own way in peace' and sign a free-trade agreement among the states. A petition calling for secession that was filed by a Texas man on a White House Web site has received tens of thousands of signatures, and the Obama administration must now issue a response."

News Ledes

Reuters: "President Barack Obama, in a bid to show support for small businesses, took his daughters on an early Christmas shopping trip on Saturday as the U.S. retail sector swings into high gear this holiday season. Promoting 'Small Business Saturday,' the third annual event that encourages consumers to support independently-owned local shops, Obama took his daughters Sasha and Malia to 'One More Page Books' in Arlington, Virginia...."

Politico: "The State Department's Washington D.C. headquarters caught fire Saturday morning, a department spokeswoman announced." A spokesperson said the fire, caused during routine maintenance work, was quickly extinguished.

New York Times: "Hector Camacho, a boxer known for his lightning-quick hands and flamboyant personality who emerged from a delinquent childhood in New York's Spanish Harlem to become a world champion in three weight classes, died on Saturday in San Juan, P.R., after being shot while sitting in a parked car. He was 50."

New York Times: "The official sales numbers [For Black Thursday/Friday] will not be reported for a few days, but analysts are expecting a strong sales day, with results comparable with last year's gain of about 3 percent, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which is a metric for total American retail sales across all payment forms, including cash and check. The earlier hours from a few select chains seem unlikely to increase the size of the spending pie, but they may reapportion it."

Reuters: "Angry youths hurled rocks at security forces and burned a police truck as thousands gathered in central Cairo to protest at Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's decision to grab sweeping new powers. Police fired tear gas near Tahrir Square, heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak at the height of the Arab Spring. Thousands demanded that Mursi should quit and accused him of launching a 'coup'."

AP: "House Republicans still smarting from their poor showing among Hispanics in the presidential election are planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would both expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S."

New York Times: "Larry Hagman, whose portrayal of one of television's most beloved villains, J.R. Ewing, led the CBS series 'Dallas' to enormous world popularity, died Friday in Dallas, where Mr. Hagman had been filming the sequel to his famous show. He was 81."

Thursday
Nov222012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 23, 2012

** Paul Krugman: Marco's Rubio's "the age of the earth is a mystery" "didn't come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics.... Mr. Rubio's complaint about science teaching [was] that it might undermine children's faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.'s attitude ... toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.... Modern American conservatism is highly correlated with authoritarian inclinations -- and authoritarians are strongly inclined to reject any evidence contradicting their prior beliefs.... Don't shrug off Mr. Rubio's awkward moment. His inability to deal with geological evidence was symptomatic of a much broader problem -- one that may, in the end, set America on a path of inexorable decline." ...

... CW: I believe this is why it is difficult to get a fair jury trial. I sometimes watch crime shows where they poll the jury afterward, & often the jurors' "reasons" for deciding guilt or innocence seem to be merely justifications for preconceived views of the accused. My advice: if you're innocent, get a liberal jury. If you're guilty, get a conservative jury; then just look innocent -- & you'll get away with murder. ...

     ... P.S. Now apply this theory to the GOP attack on Susan Rice:

The Washington Post Editors write a scathing critique of the "bizarre attack" & "half-baked conspiracy theories" of 97 House members who signed a "remarkable" letter against Susan Rice. The Post editors come mighty close to accusing the signators of racism & sexism, nothing that 80 percent of the conspiracy theorists are white men & nearly half are from former states of the Confederacy. Good for the Post. P.S. The Post editors are NOT liberals.

As Long as We Can Say "We Won!": Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Congressional negotiators ... are examining ideas that would allow effective tax rates to rise for the wealthy without technically raising the top tax rate of 35 percent. They hope the proposals will advance negotiations by allowing both parties to claim they stood their ground." CW: never mind what makes sense. ...

... NEW. Jamelle Bouie in the Washington Post: "... it would be unwise for President Obama to agree on a lame-duck package; he'll have the most leverage after Jan. 1, when the United States begins to descend the fiscal slope and tax rates return to their Clinton-era levels." As for the debt ceiling, President Obama should invoke the Fourteenth Amendment. "A provision in the amendment -- originally meant to ensure payment of Union debts after the Civil War -- [reads] ... 'The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion,' the crucial passage says, 'shall not be questioned.'"

Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) told a local television station in Georgia on Wednesday that he will no longer support [Grover Norquist's] Taxpayer Protection Pledge to never vote for any tax increases under any circumstances." CW: Chambliss claims he abandoned his pledge because of love of country, but I kinda wonder if just maybe this had something to do with it: "16 incumbent Republicans and one incumbent Senator who signed Norquist's pledge lost on election night. In total, at least 56 Republican House incumbents or candidates who signed the pledge and 24 Republican Senators or hopefuls lost." Chambliss definitely is not a principled guy.

Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: economists say the Obama administration didn't do enough to help people with underwater mortgages (no kidding!), & these mortagors continue to drag down the economy. Big surprise -- Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is the heavy. CW: six months (or more) ago, I linked to a story that provided pretty compelling evidence that Geithner didn't want to help home mortgagers because every feasible plan to reduce their mortgage payments would cost his banker buddies. Expect Timmy to get a BIG payoff when his government "service" stint ends.

Robert Reich: if you care about the U.S.'s workforce, don't shop at Wal-Mart today. Reich, a former Labor Secretary, puts startling stats about the decline of the American workforce all in one place. Read it & weep. ...

... Jordan Weisman of the Atlantic, in a very good post, publishes some stats & recounts how Wal-Mart (& other big-box retailers) screw their workers in so many ways. CW: American consumers really must demand higher prices! I mean that. Right now, taxpayers are subsidizing Wal-Mart, Target, Michael's, etc., by paying more into the social safety net programs to cover food stamps, Medicaid & other types of coverage for low-wage earners. These people work; they should earn a living wage & not have to be humiliated by dependence on the rest of us. ...

Art via Salon.

... ** Andrew Leonard of Salon: "For wily veterans of a decade of Black Friday doorbuster sales, 2012 was the year that the last semblance of a boundary between the actual day of Thanksgiving and the formal commencement of the holiday shopping season finally collapsed.... Consider the example of the Kelley family in Fort Myers, Fla., so determined to sacrifice nothing of their quality of life while in quest for the perfect deal that they showed up in front of the local Best Buy's doors on Monday, equipped with a dinner table.... The merger of festival and fantastic flat-screen TV deal makes sense: The United States is the greatest consumer society that has ever existed on this planet." CW: I am especially moved by this story inasmuch as my husband is sending me to that self-same Fort Myers Best Buy to pick up a cheap computer. I assume this is a fool's errand & the cheap computers are long-gone, but it is an errand I refused to run last night after slaving over a hot stove & two ovens all day. ...

     ... CW Update: I went, I saw, I conquered!

... AND if you think Black Friday Thursday sucks for consumers, think of those low-wage retail workers who have no choice but to leave their families & go to work on Thanksgiving, a supposed national holiday. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress reports. ..

... In Fashion Retail News. Donovan Slack of Politico: "Anna Wintour's 'Runway to win' initiative -- which had famous designers like Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs creating bags, shirts and other gear for the Obama campaign -- brought in a lot more dough than some predicted. Campaign manager Jim Messina tells Bloomberg Businessweek that the venture, which had been mocked by some pundits, raised 'just north of $40 million.'"

SEC s/b SEX. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "In a salacious 77-page complaint that reads like Penthouse Forum meets The Insider meets the Keystone Kops, one David Weber, the former chief investigator for the SEC Inspector General's office, accuses the SEC of retaliating against Weber for coming forward as a whistleblower. According to this lawsuit, Weber was made a target of intramural intrigues at the agency (which has a history of such retaliation) after he came forward with concerns that his bosses may have been spending more time copulating than they were investigating the SEC."

Ned Berkowitz of ABC News: "... Jill Kelley ... was apparently so eager to make a multi-billion dollar Korean business deal that she was willing to cancel anniversary plans with her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, according to emails reviewed exclusively by ABC News. Emails between Kelley and Adam Victor, president and CEO of TransGas Development Systems, also appear to confirm the New York businessman's claim that Kelley wanted a huge fee for brokering the transaction." ...

... CW: You know all those medals David Petraeus's valet pins on his jacket? I highlighted them on the Commentariat a couple of days ago. Don't be too impressed. Turns out you can get a medal for partying. And Petraeus was handing 'em out. Daniel Politi of Slate: "Gen. David Petraeus was the first to recommend that Jill Kelley receive the Joint Chiefs of Staff's second-highest honor to a civilian, reports the Tampa Tribune. The award was approved by Adm. Mike Mullen, who was the Joint Chiefs chair at the time. The reason for the award? Kelley 'distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors,' according to the award citation." Here's the Tampa Trib article. Do these people have any idea how ridiculous they are?

Right Wing World

     ... Via Juanita Jean's.

Michael Collins of the Knoxville News-Sentinel: "U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais said Wednesday that he never intentionally misled voters about his past and stressed that he has no plans to resign over recent revelations that depict a private life starkly at odds with his public image as an anti-abortion, family values congressman.... DesJarlais said he is not the same man who supported his first wife's decision to have two abortions. The physician-turned-congressman said he also deeply regrets sexual relationships with multiple women, including two patients, three co-workers and a drug company representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, [Tennessee].

Dennis G. of Balloon Juice: "I came across this one this morning:

Republican lawmakers in Michigan, a state which eliminated tax credits for children last year, have proposed a tax credit for unborn foetuses of 12 weeks gestation

     "So, when the nutters took control of Michigan, one of their first actions was to take away tax credits for families with children (those moochers needed to be punished). Now they want to give tax credits to zygotes and the unborn. Typical. Their fantasies must be feed and they get extra satisfaction if they can flip the bird to reality while they do it. Extreme, crazy and dangerous, they are doing wonders for the Republican brand."

Hope Yen of the AP: "Emboldened by rapid growth in e-commerce shipping, the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is moving aggressively this holiday season to start a premium service for the Internet shopper seeking the instant gratification of a store purchase: same-day package delivery.Teaming up with major retailers, the post office will begin the expedited service in San Francisco on Dec. 12 at a price similar to its competitors." ...

     ... CW: I predict that if retailers switch over to the P.O.D., it will be a real pain for customers. The P.O.D. won't deliver packages to my door that don't fit in the box. They won't tell me they have a package that doesn't fit in the box. Instead, I get a notice of non-delivery & a fabulous opportunity to call someone at a handling center somewhere like Chicago who doesn't know squat, after which I spend the next 48 hours tracking down my $20 package, a process that usually requires me to "be firm" with some postal worker(s).

Local News

Monica Davey: "... one party will hold the governor's office and majorities in both legislative chambers in at least 37 states, the largest number in 60 years and a significant jump from even two years ago.... Twenty-four states will be controlled by Republicans.... At least 13 states will be Democratic.... (The situation in New York, where the potential for single-party control by the Democrats rests on the makeup of the Senate, is still uncertain.)" Look for the passage of "bold partisan agendas."

Fernanda Santos of the New York Times: "It took until 15 days after the election, but all valid votes in Arizona have now been counted, including a record number of provisional ballots that fueled suspicions of voter suppression among Latino voters and raised questions about the integrity of the electoral process in the state.... Results announced on or just after election night remained unchanged, though it took days for three Congressional races to be decided. All of them were won by Democrats, who will replace Republicans as a majority in the state's Congressional delegation come January."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Mark Thompson, the president and chief executive of The New York Times Company, testified on Friday in a closed-door inquiry investigating why the British Broadcasting Corporation canceled a contentious report into sexual abuse, a Times spokesman said."

Reuters: "Protesters stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's party in Alexandria on Friday, throwing chairs and books into the street and setting them alight, after the Egyptian president granted himself sweeping new powers."

AP: "The prospect of failure loomed over a European Union leaders' summit intended to lay out the 27-country bloc's long-term spending plans. While heavyweights like Britain and France are pulling in opposite directions, smaller members, too, are threatening to veto a deal to make themselves heard."

Guardian: "Egyptian opposition groups are calling for mass protests amid mounting anger at President Mohamed Morsi's surprise decision to give himself, and the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution, extraordinary new powers."

Guardian: "Argentinian politicians and global debt campaigners have responded with fury to a US court judgment that risks plunging the country back into default. Elliott Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management, regarded as "vulture funds" by Buenos Aires, won a ruling in a New York court on Wednesday that could force Argentina to hand over $1.3bn (£816m) in repayments and interest to the tiny minority of bondholders who refused to sign up to a hard-fought writedown of its debts after the country defaulted in 2001."

Reuters: "The U.S. shopping frenzy known as 'Black Friday' kicked off at a more civilized hour, with shoppers welcoming decisions by retailers such as Target Corp and Toys R Us Inc to move their openings to Thursday night."

Wednesday
Nov212012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Thanksgiving -- Past, Present & Future

Early American History. (Okay, it's an ad, which makes it authentically American):

... Kids do the darnedest things. An alternative history of Thanksgiving:

More Recent American History -- A Family Remembrance:

President Obama pardoned a couple of turkeys yesterday:

... even though the President really has no judicial jurisdiction over birds:

Still, we might want to cut these birds some slack:

Forty-six million turkeys won't be so lucky:

... Which reminds of this riveting moment from Thanksgiving 2008, now etched in our collective national memory. Some people who hold high office are not competent enough to pardon a turkey:

So, once gruesome reality is behind us, Chris Christie demonstrates how to prepare the turkey:

Likely, the bird came out like this. (Here's a how-to, though a friend of mine tried it & couldn't get the tinfoil to stay in place):

There are, of course, alternatives to turkey:

Gail Collins takes Thanksgiving questions.

Loudon Wainwright III's "Thanksgiving" begins about 2:45 min. in:

... Not that there aren't some beautiful, upbeat Thanksgiving songs out there:

The real spirit of the season:

Finally, we can all be thankful that this is not, after all, our future:

I am, of course, ever thankful to all of you, readers and contributors.
-- Marie

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Thank God he mentions God this year. Sorry, Fox "News."

News Ledes

Guardian: "A secret 10-day emergency process culminated in the appointment of Royal Opera House chief executive Lord (Tony) Hall to the £450,000-a-year job of running the BBC, as the corporation turned to a former veteran to help begin the process of recovering from the Jimmy Savile and Newsnight crises."

AP: "U.S. troops in Afghanistan celebrate Thanksgiving."

AP: "A Jacksonville police officer has quit after admitting he told colleagues that he would volunteer to assassinate President Barack Obama>. Sam Koivisto told the Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/10zfc6q) on Wednesday that his comments had been blown out of proportion and that he'd planned to retire in five months anyway."

AP: "Israeli authorities arrested an Arab Israeli on Thursday on accusations he planted a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv that wounded 27 people and threatened to sabotage efforts to broker a cease-fire to end the fighting in Gaza, police said."

New York Times: "With a constitutional assembly on the brink of collapse and protesters battling the police in the streets here over the slow pace of change, President Mohamed Morsi issued a sweeping decree on Thursday night, granting himself broad new powers above any court and ordering the retrial of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak." Al Jazeera story here.

AP: "Victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast were comforted Thursday by kinder weather, free holiday meals and -- for some -- front row seats to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

New York Times: "A ceasefire agreed under intense Egyptian and American pressure between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas to halt eight days of bloody conflict seemed to be holding on Thursday, averting a full-scale Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip without resolving the underlying disputes."

AP: "The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said Wednesday, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain."

AP: "European leaders were staking out their strong positions as they gathered Thursday for what promises to be a turbulent and lengthy summit on the 7-year budget for the 27-country European Union." ...

... New York Times: "... as leaders from across Europe gather in Brussels on Thursday to haggle over more than a trillion dollars in spending over a seven-year period starting in 2014, widespread public anger over perceived extravagance [at the E.U. itself] when national governments are slashing their own budgets has helped fuel a mood of hostility toward the world's most ambitious and, until the debt crisis exploded three years ago, most successful experiment in economic and political integration."

AP: "Internal emails among U.S. military officers indicate that no sailors watched Osama bin Laden's burial at sea from the USS Carl Vinson and traditional Islamic procedures were followed during the ceremony. The emails, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, are heavily blacked out, but are the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaida leader's death. The emails were released Wednesday by the Defense Department."

Reuters: "Thanksgiving is now the start of the annual holiday shopping endurance race, as more stores open on Thursday's national holiday to seek a bigger share of spending that is expected to grow slowly this season. Target Corp has joined Wal-Mart and Gap Inc in being open at least part of the day, and some retailers will be open throughout the day, a trend that began to take hold in 2011. Traditionally, retailers enticed shoppers with 'doorbuster' deals early Friday morning. Then they shifted to midnight following Thanksgiving."

AP: "Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation from Congress might end his once-promising political career but it doesn't mark the end of troubles for the civil rights icon's son. Just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term, Jackson on Wednesday sent his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, citing his ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder and admitting 'my share of mistakes' while confirming publically for the first time that he's under a federal probe and cooperating with investigators."

AND CW: old codgers like me will remember where they were 49 years ago today.