The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Los Angeles Times: "O. J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday for convictions connected to a robbery in a Las Vegas about a decade ago. He could be out of jail as early as October." -- CW


Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody." -- CW 

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings." -- CW 

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

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The Commentariat -- September 20

Cheer Up! Chris Bowers, writing in the Daily Kos, argues that, despite the right-wing backlash, the country is really moving to the left. Via AlterNet.

Jackie Calmes & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "White House and Congressional Democratic strategists ... see openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans in a number of states, culminating last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska." ...

... BUT Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: voters don't like either party.

... AND Politico Update: "The White House is pushing back hard against a New York Times report that the president's political team is considering a national ad campaign that would cast the GOP as taken over by tea party extremists. The story is '100 percent inaccurate,' a White House official told Politico." CW: the Times has since drastically modified their story, linked above.

David Herszenhorn & Carl Hulse of the New York Times: does the Republican party have any room for moderates like Olympia Snowe & Susan Collins of Maine? "Senator Jim DeMint ... made it clear in the aftermath of the Delaware upset [of Republican moderate Mike Castle] that he would prefer losing a seat to Democrats than having Republican colleagues who stray from the conservative line and erode party unity and image by voting for policies supported by the Obama administration."

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "Even after taxpayer bailouts restored bankers’ profits and pay, the great Wall Street money machine is decelerating.... The activities at the heart of what Wall Street does — selling and trading stocks and bonds, and advising on mergers — are running at levels well below where they were at this point last year...."

Neil King, Jr. & Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal: "Eyeing a potential Congressional win in November, House Republicans are planning to chip away at the White House's legislative agenda—in particular the health-care law—by depriving the programs of cash."

They Have No Shame. Zaid Jilani of Think Progress: when a GM auto engines plant held a reopening ceremony in Spring Hill, Tennessee, "Sens. Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn [attended]. Ironically, all three ... opposed the plans to save General Motors and other U.S. auto companies. This didn’t stop Corker from taking credit for the federal rescue, anyway.” The auto workers booed Corker.

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "The recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of such dates. As many economists had expected, this official end date makes the most recent downturn the longest since World War II. This recent recession, having begun in December 2007, lasted 18 months." ...

... Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy’s recent pace, many of these older [over-50] people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes." ...

... Conor Dougherty of the Wall Street Journal: "It's not only that the college educated earn more, but that they are far more likely to keep their jobs when times get tough."

Melissa Taylor & Warren Strobel of McClatchy News: the U.S. Agency for International Development continues to award defense contracts to U.S. firms it knows or suspects have defrauded the government of huge sums, & the Justice Department aids & abets the contractors.

James Warren in the New York Times: a newly-released audio tape of President Kennedy, Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen & Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield is a good example of how the parties used to work together to solve national problems.


President Carter talks to Matt Lauer of NBC:

President Jimmy Carter talks to CBS News' Leslie Stahl about his "White House Diary":



Woman of the Middle Atlantic

Maureen Dowd: reports on Christine O'Donnell's fascnation with the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein & C. S. Lewis. "We the People in the Ruling Class Elites do think O’Donnell comes across as alarmingly loopy." Dowd writes, "She might have gone a broom too far, though, when she once told Bill Maher that she had 'dabbled into witchcraft' and went on a date with a witch that included 'a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.'”

Here's the "dabbling into witchcraft"/satanic altar segment:

C-SPAN has the 2003 O'Donnell footage on Tolkein's portrayal of women in the Lord of the Rings cycle here. in a video titled "Women of the Middle Earth." I really could not bear to listen.

Here's O'Donnell's speech to the Values Voters. Her remarks about C. S. Lewis' Narnia books begin at 4:40 min. in. Bear in mind, these are remarks she made days ago, not when she was a teenager.

The Constant Weader comments on the practical aspects of O'Donnell's "phantastic philosophy":

We all had childhood fantasies & we all did and said stupid things when we were young. The difference between Christine O'Donnell and us is that we grew out of those fantasies & modified our stupid ideas. Christine O'Donnell, candidate for U.S. Senate, still sees the world in terms of children's books. (Yeah, I know Lewis' & Tolkein's stories are allegories, but the subjects of their allegories & the theologies they espouse are still nonsense.)

O'Donnell probably doesn't have time to date witches (I thought the boy witches were warlocks) anymore, but -- like all extremist conservatives -- she's still deeply into voodoo economics. She favors the flat tax, which reduces the burden on the wealthy & raises the burden on the poor & middle class. She favors a balanced budget amendment yet she has repeatedly pledged "never" to raise taxes & she would reduce capital gains taxes & estate taxes (which she calls "death taxes," of course). Obviously, O'Donnell's proposed tax cuts make balancing the budget essentially impossible. You would think she would know this with the personal financial troubles she has had -- the same trouble millions of Americans have -- with balancing her own budget. She seems unaware that when you've got more outgo than income, you've got a budget deficit. It's, you know, unbalanced.

Still, O'Donnell doesn't mind if we spend more. She thinks it might be a good idea to start a war against Iran. Hard to see an economic downside to that. She does have one "foreign policy" idea to save a little money. She wants us to discontinue funding the United Nations. At least she's consistent, since ignoring the U.N. fits in well with the "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" policy. Many of O'Donnell's wackiest ideas come from her conservative Christian background. Too bad "peace on earth" wasn't one of them.

The number one issue on Americans' minds today is jobs. What's O'Donnell's policy on how to create more jobs? Oh, she doesn't have one. But if you're out of work & get sick, too bad, because O'Donnell wants to "defund, repeal & replace federal health care with free market" care. The private sector has worked so well so far.

Barack Obama may be too "cool" and "disengaged" for Maureen Dowd -- & for me -- but we are all better off with a cold fish politician who is sensible than with a passionate partisan who looks to religiously-oriented children's books to inform her philosophy of governance.

Update: "Dabbling into Witchcraft" Is Not an Excuse to Bail on the Washington Elite:

      Dave Weigel of Slate isn't buying O'Donnell's "I had to go on a picnic" excuse. He says O'Donnell had plenty of time to get to the picnic after taping the shows in Washington. Weigel wonders why the networks didn't allow O'Donnell's Democratic rival Chris Coons to replace her on the shows "because, you know, he's winning the election so far." Via Amanda Terkel of the HuffPost.

Update 2: AP: "Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell is making light of comments she made more than a decade ago when she was in high school about having dabbled in witchcraft." CW: does this make sense? O'Donnell is 41 years old. This would have made her about 30 years of age in 1999 when the show reported aired. Why was she still in high school? ... Here's the video:


The Commentariat -- September 19

Bill Clinton praises the tea party constituency, then explains why they should vote Democratic. The guy is a fucking genius: 

Glenn Greenwald on Jon Stewart's false equivalencies:

Stewart's examples of right-wing rhetorical excesses (Obama is a socialist who wasn't born in the U.S. and hates America) are pervasive in the GOP, while his examples of left-wing excesses (Code Pink and 9/11 Truthers) have no currency (for better or worse) in the Democratic Party.  The claim that Bush is 'a war criminal' has ample basis, and it's deeply irresponsible to try to declare this discussion off-limits, or lump it in with a whole slew of baseless right-wing accusatory rhetoric, in order to establish one's centrist bona fides

Digby on rich people whining because the President wants to "punish" them by making them pay taxes....

     ... Krugman comments.

Christine O’Donnell is the best kind of fringe candidate — the kind with a history of random, long-ago television appearances. -- Joshua Green, The Atlantic

Frankly, if we get the majority again, even if it's just in the House, and we don't do what we say, I think the Republican Party is dead.... And the urgency for me here is the Democrat Party -- and I know this sounds partisan but -- are completely dysfunctional. They're the left of Europe. -- Sen. Jim DeMint

     ... Here's the full transcript of DeMint's appearance on CNN's "State of the Union." Of course Candy Crowley didn't have the sense to ask DeMint about how tax cuts for the rich fit into his deficit reduction meme. ...

... Jon Walker of Firedoglake: where have all the deficit hawks gone now that they're pushing tax breaks for the rich?

... in Washington talk about 'reducing the deficit' is almost always nothing more than code for screwing over regular Americans and almost always completely divorced from any actual concern about the size of the federal debt. -- Jon Walker

Yahoo News: President Clinton has some campaign advice for President Obama:


Sandhya Somashekhar & Perry Bacon Jr. of the Washington Post on Christine O'Donnell: "While her come-from-nowhere victory undoubtedly catapulted the 'tea party' movement forward, it has also brought a new and intense level of scrutiny that has the potential to damage it. Even as many activists within the movement praised her victory as a strike for the everywoman against elite politicians, strange stories about O'Donnell emerge daily. Some of her financial troubles could counter the tea party's message of fiscal and personal responsibility. And her wide-ranging comments on sex could marginalize a movement that has tried hard in recent months to portray itself as a cross-section of America." ...

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker & Robert Reich discuss tea party populism & what President Obama should do about it (volume control is on the right):


... Janie Lorber & Eric Lipton of the New York Times profile Sal Russo, the long-time Repubican operative who runs the Tea Party Express, who has raised more than $5.2 million since January 2009, a goodly portion of which he has kept for himself and his wife's political "consulting" firm. Thanks to reader Bob M. for the link. ...

... Dana Milbank on the Republican/Tea party: "The "civil war" [Mark] McKinnon and others describe implies that party leaders are fighting back. Instead, they're stepping out in front of the Tea Party parade and pretending to be drum majors. Who in the supposed Republican establishment has opposed the Tea Party? Not Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele....  Not House Republican leader John Boehner....  Not Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.... Not National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn. Not even Karl Rove." ...

... Here's a link to the Time cover story Milbank mentions & to which I linked last weel. AND here's a link to the USA Today story that cites Mark McKinnon. ...

... ** Jacob Weisberg of Newsweek analyzes the tea party phenomenon: "... the Tea Party is old and looks backward to a capitalist-constitutionalist paradise that, needless to say, never existed.... Other than nostalgia, the strongest emotion at Tea Parties is resentment, defined as placing blame for one’s woes on those either above or below you in the social hierarchy.... The most radical statement of individualism is choosing your own reality, and to some in the Tea Party, the very fact that experts believe something is sufficient to disprove it."

Peter Orszag in the New York Times on why "... slowing the growth of health costs may be among the best things we can do to help the next generation attend a high-quality public college." ...

... Glenn Hubbard & Chris Mayer of the Columbia School of Business suggest a home refinancing program that would reduce mortgage payments & add no tax burden. Hubbard is a former chair of George W. Bush's Council of Ecnomic Advisers.

Joe Conason of Salon: at the Values Voters convention, speaker after speaker claimed not to be an Islamophobe, then made a speech stoking fears of Islam. ...

... Nicholas Kristof apologizes "to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at" them.

"The Most Secretive Election Cycle since the Watergate Years." New York Times Editorial Board: "... this [is] .... The battle for Congress is largely being financed by a small corps of wealthy individuals and corporations whose names may never be known to the public. And the full brunt of that spending — most of it going to Republican candidates — has yet to be felt in this campaign."

Rick Hertzberg blogs on the Carter-Kennedy feud, this time over competing healthcare proposals. Here's Hertzberg on Chris Matthews' "Hardball":

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "... the Senate has still not acted to fix many of the flaws in the nation’s food safety system — although a bill to do so has broad bipartisan support, is a priority for the Obama administration and has the backing of both industry and consumer groups. The House passed its version of the bill more than a year ago.... The blame lies with a tight Senate calendar, a stubborn senator [Tom Coburn] from Oklahoma and an unusual coalition of left- and right-wing advocates for small farmers who have mounted a surprisingly effective Internet campaign. Their e-mail messages have warned, among other untruths, that the bill would outlaw organic farming."

Manfred Gans in 1945. Photo via the New York Times.New York Times: Manfred Gans of Fort Lee, New Jersey has died. His obituary reports his remarkable World War II experience.