The Wires

Public Service Announcement

September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

On Request:

David Remnick of the New Yorker remembers its publisher S.I. NewHouse, Jr.

Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker profiles Rachel Maddow. Mrs. McC: Maddow was right the first time about the canisters.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Constant Comments

Saturday
Sep042010

The Commentariat -- September 5

While the Obamas were on Martha's Vineyard, the Oval Office got a redo, first revealed to the public during the President's address last week. Washington Post story here. Picture gallery here.

The Oval Office, redecorated by decorator to the stars Michael Smith. Washington Post photo. CLICK PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

** More about the Rug. In a fascinating Washington Post op-ed about the quotations woven into the new Oval Office rug, Jamie Stiehm finds the true source of two of the quotations: the original authors were not Martin Luther King., Jr. & Abraham Lincoln, but Theodore Parker, an early-19th-century abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. -- Theodore Parker (1853), cited by MLK

A democracy -- that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people. -- Theodore Parker (1850), borrowed by Lincoln for his Gettysburg Address

Jeff Zeleny & Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers."

** Sharpen Your Pitchforks. Glenn Greenwald: Alan Simpson's "recent outbursts have unmasked this [Deficit] Commission and shed light on its true character.  Unlike his fellow Commission members, who imperiously dismiss public inquiries..., Simpson -- to his genuine credit -- has been aggressively engaging critics, making it impossible to ignore what the Commission is really up to." CW: this is a real must-read. Greenwald makes a nearly irrefutable case that Democrats have a stealth plan to enact the Commission's recommended Social Security cuts.

Eliot Spitzer, in Slate: President Obama's economic policies are not ambitious enough & the policies promoted by the right-wing nuts, policies that are gaining traction with the know-nothings, will only make a bad situation worse.

Dennis Cauchon of USA Today: "The worst summer on record for young people who wanted a job is staggering to an end this Labor Day weekend. Only 47.6% of people ages 16 to 24 had jobs in August, the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948, the Labor Department said Friday. By comparison, 62.8% of that age group was employed in August 2000."

Dina ElBoghdady of the Washington Post: "... Around the country, the expectations of buyers and sellers are out of whack, thwarting deals that could potentially lift the U.S. housing sector from its long funk. The nascent rebirth of the market earlier this year proved to be a mirage."

Gretchen Morgenson & Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times: "Earlier this year, Florida earmarked $9.6 million to set up foreclosures-only courts across the state, staffed by retired judges. The goal of the program, which began in July, is to reduce the foreclosures backlog by 62 percent within a year.... But lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges ... to oversee these matters are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners."

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: scholars agree -- Barack Obama, the "post-partisan" President, was always a polarizing figure.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: Secretary of State Hillary "Clinton will be in the thick of the negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, when they meet on Sept. 14 in Egypt. Her role, several officials say, will be to take over from the administration’s special envoy, George J. Mitchell, when the two sides run into serious obstacles. It may prove the greatest test yet for Mrs. Clinton, one that could cement her legacy as a diplomat if she solves the riddle that foiled even her husband, former President Bill Clinton."

John Cassidy of The New Yorker: testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Ben Bernanke changes his story about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, shifting from "giving them a loan was illegal" to "they would have failed whether or not we gave them a loan." Cassidy is not convinced inasmuch as Barklays Bank was negotiating a takeover of Lehman, which could have occurred within days. A bridge loan might have saved Lehman & possibly averted the collapse.

Jad Mouawad of the New York Times: "Air fares have marched steadily upward in recent months and are now close to pre-recession levels — and that’s not even counting all the new fees that airlines have introduced lately."

Inventing an Enemies List. Dahlia Lithwick, in Slate: why Democrat-in-Name-Only Ben Nelson voted against Elena Kagan's confirmation, & why the NRA would not endorse gun-friendly Harry Reid. As  Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign put it, "It may be that the NRA simply could not endorse Senator Reid once he had attacked its core belief that the Second Amendment really is about armed revolt against our government."

Ruth Marcus: Sarah Palin caterwauls at every hint of a sexist comment about her, but she doesn't mind making overtly sexual & emasculating comments about men, as when she recently described a gay writer as "limp" & "impotent." CW: Marcus doesn't mention it, but Palin used similar language when she accused President Obama of "not having the cojones" to take on illegal immigration. (Weirdly, she said Jan Brewer did have cojones.)

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

Monday
Jun072010

Recalling D-Day

Constant Weader: I've been listening to my Uncle Frank Waterhouse's war stories for close to 60 years, but the first time I knew he saw action on D-Day was a few years ago, when I took an oral history from him about another war in which he served. His mention of his D-Day service was, astoundingly, sort of an "aside." Frank served in the Army Air Force & Air Force for 20 years, he set at least one flying record (probably more, but he's never mentioned any others) & was a SAC test pilot. He lives in Washington state.


Frank flew four or five missions before D-Day, bombing inside of France.  On D-Day, Frank’s crew took off at 2 a.m. in a formation of 36 B-24s.   Frank, who was the co-pilot, and the pilot, named Beckham, thought they were following the lead element.  But “when the sun came up, we didn’t see anybody; we couldn’t find our group.  We had been following a light, but the light was some other group.  It’s a wonder a whole mess of people didn’t run into each other that night.  We unloaded our bombs after daylight close behind the lines.”  Frank was 19 years old on D-Day. 

 “In later missions, we went to Munich, and to Ulm, which we bombed three days in a row.  On one mission, we started to go to Berlin, but the weather was bad.  One time we hit an oil storage facility – there was smoke and fire up to our altitude.”

 Despite the months of training in the States, it seems the Army Air Force shorted the pilots on some pretty basic training – like how to land the planes they were to fly into combat.  Frank said, “In Boise, they had allowed me to try one landing, which I did with an instructor who had ultimate control of the plane.  I really couldn’t tell who landed that plane – he or I.  That was my only landing before I got to England.  In England, I did some test runs of the B-24 so I could get some landings in.  I made maybe four or five landings on tests.”

Groups who had arrived before Frank’s had a requirement of 25 missions.  The famous Memphis Belle (a B-17) flew with Frank’s group on one mission:  “she hadn’t got her 25 by then.”  As American forces “broke the Germans’ back” and their air defenses “weren’t as severe, they extended the tours to 30 missions.  But the German ack-ack had radar, and when we would make evasive maneuvers the ack-ack would start.” 

The formation of 36 planes had four “elements,” with one flying above, one below to the left, one below to the right and one behind.  “When you’re in the lower left element the pilot couldn’t see the lead, so it was up to the co-pilot to fly the plane and the pilot would relieve me temporarily.  I didn’t have to worry about being cold because I was sweating so much.

“But it was cold.  We wore heated gloves and heated boots.  We called our seats coffin seats; they were shaped like a coffin top facing forward so we could see where to fly.  They protected us underneath and behind, but we wore flak suits on our chests and helmets like ground soldiers to protect us from German ack-ack.  One day we were flying a mission near Paris and I thought I’d been hit.  I shouted to Beckham, ‘I think I’ve been hit.’  But I hadn’t been hit at all.  A heated glove had shorted out.

“The German ack-ack would follow us.  Unless you were the lead ship, they didn’t use a navigator, so our navigator became the lead bombardier.  The others would drop their bombs when he dropped his.  On a mission to Hamburg, the ack-ack was coming within two feet of the nose and I couldn’t tell what was going on in the rear.  I called to Finley, a bombardier, who was a Texan, ‘Are you okay, Finley?’  He didn’t answer, and I kept calling.  Finally I heard, ‘Shut up, Waterhouse.’  Finley was okay.

“I don’t think our plane was ever actually hit.

“After awhile, they upped the tours to 35 missions.  Toward the end of my tour, the rest of the crew went home except Johnson, who was the navigator, and me.  I flew with another crew and a pilot named Bruland.  He was shot down after I left, but I later found him listed as a member of the Second Air Division, so he made it.  In formation, we led the lower left element.  Flying the lead in a lower element was called ‘flying with your head up.’  On my military record there’s a little blurb that says, ‘Element lead on 20 missions.’"

Monday
May312010

Souter v. Simpletons United

... the Constitution is no simple contract, not because it uses a certain amount of open-ended language, but because its language grants and guarantees many good things, and good things that compete with each other and can never all be realized, altogether, all at once.
-- Justice David Souter

On rare occasions, the Constant Weader is smart enough to let wiser fellows do the talking. In his Harvard commencement address, Justice David Souter explains why it isn't easy to interpret the Constitution. This is a tightly-packed analysis, though Souter makes it as understandable to the layperson as possible. If you want to know what the Third Branch of the federal government is supposed to do, this is as good an explanation as you're likely to hear.

BTW, I noticed some newswriters (like Boston Globe reporter Jonathan Saltzman) characterized the speech as one in which the Justice "defends judicial activism." Well, no, he doesn't. I should say, rather, than he does quite the opposite. Don't believe everything you read in the papers.

Harvard Commencement Speech, Parts 1 thru 3:

Here's the text of Justice Souter's remarks, as prepared.

Update: CW: if you haven't read enough of my marvelling at how smart David Souter turned out to be (admittedly, he benefited from low expectations), Linda Greenhouse, in recapping Justice Souter's Harvard commencement address does the same. I also recommend the reader comments, particularly Nos. 13 & 20.

Update 2: Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "David Souter finally tells America to grow up."

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