The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, January 31, 2015.

New York Times: "The Islamic State claimed to have beheaded a Japanese journalist in a video released Saturday night, the culmination of a two-week-long drama that appears to have cost the lives of two Japanese men. The video of the killing of the journalist, Kenji Goto, came two days after a deadline set by the extremist group expired, and the Jordanian government did not give in to its demand that a convicted would-be suicide bomber be exchanged for Mr. Goto’s life."

New York Times: "Carl Djerassi, an eminent chemist who 63 years ago synthesized a hormone that changed the world by creating the key ingredient for the oral contraceptive known as 'the pill,' died at his home in San Francisco on Friday. He was 91."

New York Times: "... as officials in 14 states grapple to contain a spreading measles outbreak that began near here at Disneyland, the parents at the heart of America’s anti-vaccine movement are being blamed for incubating an otherwise preventable public-health crisis."

Guardian: "Angela Merkel has ruled out the prospect of Greece securing further debt cuts from its creditor nations, potentially putting the country’s new leftist government on a collision course with Brussels."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 21-year-old daughter of the late Whitney Houston, was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub Saturday morning and was rushed to the hospital, Roswell authorities said. TMZ is reporting that sources close to the family say she’s been place in a medically induced coma to address swelling. An AJC reporter was told to leave hospital property Saturday and no hospital representatives were available for official comment."

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics":

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 29

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

This is a real bill. Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott verified it. Check out the customer name on the account:

Is "Asshole" the customer's real given name? Well, no. Comcast got mad at the family for wishing to cancel the cable part of their Comcast service. Comcast not only refused to cut the cable, as it were, they changed the primary customer's name from "Ricardo" (his parents' idea) to "Asshole." When Ricardo's wife tried to get Comcast to change the account back to her husband's real name, both Comcast's local & regional "customer service" (Comcast's idea) offices refused. After Elliott took up the Browns' case, Comcast relented on both. ...

... Video via Karoli of Crooks & Liars. CW: I assure you, former Arkansas Gov. Fuckabee will be very upset by the vid.

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Monday
Jun252012

Los Supremos

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on publisher & chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.'s control of the New York Times editorial page. The NYTX front page is here. ...

... I especially recommend this commentary on Apple employment practices by Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute and the underlying article by David Segal of the New York Times.

RE: Janet Maslin's New Yorker article on Supreme Court confirmation hearings that contributor P. D. Pepe mentions in the Comments, I think you can read it here. It is subscriber-firewalled, but the firewall appears to have been lifted. You have to increase the image size & cursor around the pages.

Arizona v. U.S. -- Immigration Enforcement.

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog: "In sum, that opinion barred Arizona from enforcing three provisions of its controversial anti-immigrant law, S.B. 1070, and put off a constitutional reckoning on a fourth provision. But beyond those bare conclusions, the [Anthony] Kennedy opinion was a strong victory for the notion that immigration policy, under the Constitution and federal laws, is for the federal government, not for the individual states, including those on the borders most affected by illegal entry." Denniston explains the details of this complicated ruling: He also comments on Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent, which he wrote

... was just short of a political talking-points document, essentially choosing up sides in this year's presidential campaign -- indeed, it took sides in a week-old development in the ongoing political controversy over how President Obama is using his powers. That opinion ... reached far outside the record of the case to find reasons to denounce the Obama Administration for supposedly not even wanting 'to enforce the immigration laws as written.' Even for a judge who wears his sentiments on the sleeve of his robe, this was remarkable, and not one of his colleagues would sign on to those remarks.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate finds the first good argument against cameras in the courtroom: Justice Kagan "continued to look uneasy as Scalia went on scolding Justice Kennedy." Kennedy seemed unperturbed.

Prof. Paul Campos in Salon: Scalia's dissent was "written by a man who obviously no longer cares that he sounds increasingly like a right-wing talk radio host rather than a justice of the Supreme Court, and that his dissents are starting to read more like hastily drafted blog posts than sober judicial opinions. Like many a graying eminence, Scalia is becoming a caricature of his younger self. This is a serious problem, given that the Supreme Court continues to devolve into an institution dominated by cranky senior citizens, who are harder to get rid of than the longest-serving members of the old Soviet politburo. Indeed, Scalia seems headed down the path previously trod by those justices who clearly didn't know when to hang up their robes."

Nadine Zylberberg of the New Yorker dishes up some bon mots from earlier Scalia dissents. They're quite amusing & prove the truism that one can be simultaneously smart & crazy.

Walter Dellinger in Slate: "What is striking to me about the court's decision in the Arizona immigration case is what a total victory this decision was for the U.S. government and for the solicitor general. Press coverage that leads with the notion that the court upheld the 'key provision' or suggesting that the overall outcome was a 'split verdict' seems way off base to me. The feds won."

"Winning Arizona." Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker: The suit became "something of a referendum on the President's recent decision to use the force of 'prosecutorial discretion' to implement his own version of the DREAM Act.... And Obama won that referendum. 'Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns,' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. 'The equities of an individual case may turn on many factors, including whether the alien has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service.'"

Statement from the President.

Victory! Dana Milbank: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed S.B. 1070 into law & strongly advocated for it, was evidently totally unable to understand the ruling, and put out a statement declaring victory. ...

... M. J. Lee of Politico: "Just hours after hailing the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's immigration law as a 'legal victory' for her state, Gov. Jan Brewer changed her tone, accusing the Obama administration of telling her state to 'drop dead.' ... The Obama administration announced that it was revoking agreements with Arizona police over the enforcement of federal immigration laws."


American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock
-- the Montana Campaign Finance Law.

David Firestone of the New York Times: "The justices ... must be aware of the transformation of American politics that followed their Citizens United decision in 2010. They have watched as hundreds of millions of special-interest dollars flowed into super PACs, and into secretive advocacy groups that violate the court's own preference for disclosure. But ... when the court had an opportunity to reconsider its application of Citizens United..., the court's five conservative justices struck down -- without oral argument -- a Montana law that prohibited corporate spending in elections.... It's hard not to conclude that the conservative justices ... are quite content with the domination that big money is giving to business interests in this year's races."

E. J. Dionne: "Will everyone please finally admit that conservatives actually don't care a whit about states' rights unless invoking states' rights happens to be helpful to the conservative agenda? ... Breyer wrote..., 'Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so.' ... A Supreme Court nominee named John Roberts ... said during his confirmation hearings that the court should be wary of overturning precedent and should pay attention to factors 'like settled expectations, like the legitimacy of the court, like whether a particular precedent is workable or not, whether a precedent has been eroded by subsequent developments.' ... It's a shame that the current Chief Justice Roberts has so little in common with the John Roberts who testified before the Senate."

"Corrupt Practices" Wins Again. Andrew Leonard of Salon: "Corporate profits are at an all-time high, while wages are at an all-time low. This kind of thing doesn't happen by accident. It requires sustained pressure over time; changes in the tax code and labor laws, decisions by courts. It is the result of billion of dollars worth of lobbying. It represents one of the greatest capitalist success stories of the modern age -- the near complete subversion of a democracy to serve corporate interests. And it's getting worse all the time -- a process exacerbated by Citizens United."

Alex Altman of Time: "... if you oppose Citizens United, the summary reversal is probably a good thing. There is, as [Justice Stephen] Breyer noted, little indication that any of the conservative justices who reshaped U.S. election law through Citizens United are currently inclined to change their minds on the merits of the case, regardless of the consequences that have manifested.... Had the Court taken the case now, the likeliest result would have been for Citizens United to be upheld or extended.... That would make it harder for a Court with a more liberal bent to undo or alter the law going forward."


Miller v. Alabama
-- Youthful Murderers.

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog: "At a minimum, any life-without-parole sentence for an adolescent murderer will get very heavy scrutiny if it goes to the Supreme Court. Indeed, the Court said it expects such a sentence to be uncommon from here on." The opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, is here (pdf).


In an interview with Gail Sheehy for the Daily Beast, Bill Clinton makes the case for Democrats -- way better than Republicans for the economy, for jobs & for health care; he spells out the consequences of the ACA being struck down. Clinton is still a closer; you'd buy a used car from the guy.

Presidential Race

Trip Gabriel & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's strict immigration law gave President Obama another shot at energizing Latino voters, while Mitt Romney defended states' aggressive efforts to fight illegal immigration." CW: the article is pretty interesting; the Supremes did not help Romney today, nor did he help himself, but I'm afraid his friends on the Court will be way more helpful Thursday.

Michael O'Brien of NBC News: "Mitt Romney's campaign is weathering increasing media scrutiny of the candidate's stubborn refusal to address major issues..., threatening to transform a standoff with the media into an issue in itself in the campaign. The latest example: [Romney's] ... general refusal to opine directly on today's Supreme Court decision striking down many aspects of Arizona's tough immigration law.... Romney's statement sidestepped the decision itself in an initial written statement, and turned its scrutiny toward President Obama."

"The difference between 'outsourcing' and 'offshoring' ..."

** James Downie of the Washington Post recaps three articles about Mitt Romney & Bain Capital -- all of which we've linked here in previous days. "The Romney of Bain Capital had little time for anything beyond profits. Efficiency and the bottom line ruled. Who cared about the jobs lost, the livelihoods destroyed and the lines crossed, as long as Bain got its money?" Downie equates the fired employees to voter-citizens and Bain investors to his big-money donors today. "If his record as a business leader is any indication, don't think for a moment President Romney will put your vote, or our laws, above his investors." ...

... CW: a couple of stories I read about Romney's weekend lalapalooza for donors in Park City, Utah, noted how comfortable Romney seemed schmoozing with his fatcat friends. If you wonder why Romney is -- by contrast -- so ill-at-ease among us hoi polloi, I'm pretty sure I know: he is afraid he'll inadvertently reveal that he plans to run roughshod over our pitiful little lives. It isn't that he is ashamed of this; he sees nothing wrong with ruining the lives of millions, but he knows he needs to hoodwink us to get what he wants.

Kelly Cernetich of Politics, PA: "Pennsylvania State "House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House's end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically.... 'Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.' The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience.... Critics ... called it an admission that [Republicans] passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote -- and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed." Via Greg Sargent. CW: No kidding. Looks like grounds for a lawsuit.

Other Stuff That Matters

Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: "Major news outlets, print and TV, turn mainly to male sources for their take on abortion, birth control and Planned Parenthood, according to a study by 4th Estate, a research group that monitors campaign coverage. Women don't even rate as the most common sources for reports about 'women's rights,' a catch-all category that excludes reproductive issues, the group said. Women accounted for ... 31 percent of the sources in these reports, with men in the majority, 52 percent, and institutions and organizations comprising the balance. On some topics, such as abortion, men were four to seven times more likely as women to be the ones offering an opinion." At one point in his report, Fahri notes, "Yes, I -- a man -- consulted another man for his opinion on why women's views aren't sought out by media types on women's issues."

Brian Vastag of the Washington Post: "The 2010 BP oil spill accelerated the loss of Louisiana's delicate marshlands, which were already rapidly disappearing before the largest oil spill in U.S. history, a new study reports. As the oil washed into the marshlands, it coated and smothered thick grasses at their edge. When the grass died, deep roots that held the soil together also died, leaving the shore banks of the marshlands to crumble...."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Surviving one of the toughest re-election fights of his career, Representative Charles B. Rangel fended off four challengers on Tuesday to win the Democratic nomination for a 22nd term in Congress."

New York Times: "Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a six-term Utah Republican, fended off a primary challenge from a Tea Party-backed insurgent candidate on Tuesday, a result that showed the power of money, organization and incumbency to overcome grass-roots anger at the Washington establishment."

New York Times: "Nora Ephron, an essayist and humorist in the Dorothy Parker mold (only smarter and funnier, some said) who became one of her era's most successful screenwriters and filmmakers, making romantic comedy hits like 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'When Harry Met Sally,' died Tuesday night in Manhattan. She was 71."

** Washington Post: 'The University of Virginia governing board voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate Teresa Sullivan as president, more than two weeks after board leaders had forced her to resign. The board's vote to rescind Sullivan's June 10 resignation completed an unprecedented cycle of events at U-Va. that had plunged the state flagship university into political chaos, with 16 days of mass protests, no-confidence votes and talk of mass faculty defections."

Politico: "In a surprisingly sweeping win for the Obama administration's climate policies, a federal appeals court said Tuesday that the EPA is 'unambiguously correct' in the legal reasoning behind its regulation of greenhouse gases. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit strenuously backed the EPA's finding that the climate-altering emissions pose a danger to the public health and welfare. It also upheld the agency's early requirements for vehicles and new industrial plants while rejecting every challenge brought by a host of industry groups, states and other critics."

AP Item: "A top EU official is calling for countries that use the euro to grant a European authority the power to demand changes to their national budgets as part of a grand vision to save the currency. Other ideas in the plan, published Tuesday by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on the council website, include issuing medium-term debt backed by all countries and a banking union with a single authority that would insure banking deposits and have the power to recapitalize banks directly." ...

     ... Update: the New York Times' full story on the proposal.

Washington Post: "NATO on Tuesday condemned the downing of a Turkish jet by Syria as 'completely unacceptable,' and Turkey put Syria on notice that it would retaliate for any future violations along its border."

Wall Street Journal: Rupert Murdoch's "News Corp. is considering splitting into two companies, separating its publishing assets from its entertainment businesses. The split would carve off News Corp.'s film and television businesses, including 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network and Fox News channel from its newspapers, book publishing assets and education businesses...." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Top executives at News Corporation will meet on Tuesday to discuss a potential breakup that would sever the media company's underperforming newspapers from its lucrative entertainment assets. The spinoff, which could be announced as early as this week, comes as News Corporation's newspapers, once the foundation of Rupert Murdoch's $50 billion media empire, face financial strain and a decline in print advertising." ...

     ... New York Times Update 2: "The spinoff proposal will be reviewed by the News Corporation board on Wednesday and a decision to split up the company could be made as early as Thursday."

"NBC News has obtained a copy of a seven-page letter from House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa to Barack Obama that raises the stakes in the stand-off between Congress and the attorney general."

Reader Comments (11)

hhahahahahahaha.. Nice cartoon, & very Knowledge able wesite.. keep it up.

For Kate Madison re: our brothers from different mothers: since we were both born and bred in that great diary state of more cows than people as my mother always said, there just might be something in the milk and cheese that gets into the pia mater of many, but not all. I've tried my darnest with my brother over the years trying to bring him back into the fold of reason and compassion––had a rousing debate with him over the Walker debacle––but to no avail. This brother of mine who once was a fun loving Irish soul, is a relatively simple man who rarely questions, seldom delves into deep waters, and has had his heart broken by failed marriages and dashed hopes. So I forgive him for his taking some of that out on me whom he sees as a "Miss smarty pants," because I understand why he's grown grouchy and mean, but I keep trying to reach him. I find we connect admirably when our emails are reduced to things like food, dogs and family lore. I wish you luck, Kate, with your twin, which must be doubly hard.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

This just in: Hypocrisy Reigns on the Right.

Okay, so it’s not news. In fact, Republicans have sunk so low even the shamelessly sanctimonious duplicity of the high court conjures little more than a shrug and a “whaddaya gonna do?” from most Americans. We’ve seen it all before and we expect plenty more.

Where is the outrage??

As a strategy, right-wing hypocrisy, say one thing, do another, has been around so long it has become a well recognized feature of the landscape, like that closed down, decrepit factory in the middle of town that everyone sees every day and has to drive around to get anywhere. Still, it stands there, windows shattered, graffiti covering its fences and walls, trash piled up by its loading docks, doors kicked in to show a burnt out hollow core of what used to be a going concern providing employment, manufacturing well made, needed goods for the community and the country. Not anymore. Everyone knows it but we all put up with this baleful reminder of past usefulness turned blackened monster.

So Little Johnny and his band of hypocritical dwarfs have another notch on their bedpost. One more supplicant asking for justice gets fucked by the dwarfs. What about all that states’ rights nonsense? What about the hallowed 10th amendment conservatives are always yelping about?

D.J. Dionne beat me to the punch today in pointing out the obviousness of their conspicuous casuistry. States’ rights only matters when they want it to matter. But this isn’t just a personal peccadillo of the dwarfs. Most right-wingers love playing this game. The states are right unless it impinges on their plan for national domination. During the clown car rally that was (and still is) the Republican race to reclaim the White House, several candidates demonstrated their amazing ability to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time they were blowing smoke out of their asses. When the state of NY staked their claim as a member of civilization and legalized marriage for all its citizens, both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann first mumbled something about that being okay for New York (perverts that they are) but that they were going to make damn certain a federalized marriage amendment would ensure that neither New York nor any other uppity state escaped the clutches of medieval Christian bigotry.

George W. Bush flew back from an important vacation (you know it had to be something really fucking serious for Dubya to interrupt his lazy time) to Washington just in time to tell a private citizen, Michael Schiavo, and the state of Florida that no way did their rights supersede the power of the federal government to enforce right-wing ideology. No fucking way.

The state of California okayed the use of medical marijuana. Bush said no fucking way. The state of Oregon okayed physician assisted suicide. Bush and John Ashcroft said no fucking way. Willard the Rat even tried some 10th amendment hypocrisy as one of his many spurious arguments as to why RomneyCare was okay but ObamaCare is not. But then he’s gone on to invoke the power of the federal government to step in in the case of important things like making sure he and his buddies can make even more money by stomping on citizens.

And now we have more phony federalism. If a piece of the law suits them, like the most pernicious part of the Arizona immigration cluster fuck, then it’s okay. But the Montana thing is right out. Imagine those Montanans, thinking they can keep billionaire mining interests from buying elections. Who the fuck do they think they are??

Can’t wait for Thursday.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

THE SUPREME BEING
In 2006 Janet Malcolm wrote a very funny, clever article in the New Yorker about the confirmation of John Roberts. During the hearings old black and white movies came to her mind unbidden. Watching Roberts on television, she said, was like watching one of "the radiantly wholesome heroes that Jimmy Stewart, Joel McCrea, and Henry Fonda rendered so incisively in the films of Capra, Lubitsch, and Sturges. They don't make men like that anymore. But Roberts had all their anachronistic attributes: the grace, charm, and humor of a special American sort in which decency and kindness are heavily implicated, and from which sexuality is entirely absent. It was out of the question that such a man be denied a place on the Supreme Court." When I, myself, listened and watched this hearing I was taken with how this man so prettily maneuvered his way into the hearts of even the eight democrats on the committee. My favorite of the Q and A's was this:

Schumer: You agree we should be finding out your philosophy and method of legal reasoning, modesty, stability, but when we try and find out what modesty and stability means, we don't get answers. It's as if I asked you: what kind of movies do you like? Tell me two or three good movies. and you say, "I like movies with good acting. I like movies with good directing. I like movies with good cinematography." and I ask you, "No, give me an example of a good movie." You don't name one. I say, "Give me an example of a bad movie." You won't name one. then I ask if you like Casablanca and you respond by saying, "Lots of people like Casablanca." You tell me it's widely settled that Casablanca is one of the great movies.

By this time Schumer's time was up and there was to be a fifteen minute break. Roberts asked if he could respond to Schumer; reply granted, he said: "First, Dr. Zhivago and North by Northwest." This brought down the house and as Malcolm says, "Roberts went on to give an unconvincing defense of his evasiveness, but it was too late––there was too much good feeling through the room like lavender air freshener––for the weakness of his argument to matter."

So the skillful seduction worked. It's right out of central casting where the handsome, wholesome fella becomes the hero of the day. Then the curtain falls, the lights come on and we all go home to the real world.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Just read Miss Brooks. It wasn’t as bad in some ways as his usual claptrap but he still exudes the confusion of someone who just doesn’t have a clue.

Brooks’ typical antipathy for the 60s, at least in the guise of rock and roll, is set aside as he and a few Cato reading jet-setting friends fly across Europe indulging again and again in the delirium of a series of Bruce Springsteen concerts (although I have to say, picturing Brooks in a concert T-shirt, pumping his fist and singing along to "Open All Night"--"well the boss don't dig me so he put me on the nightshift, takes me three hours to get back to where my baby lives..." is a hoot). But clearly Brooks, like Reagan, doesn’t have a clue what Springsteen’s songs are about.

Remember when Reagan tried to adopt Bruce’s disturbing anthem “Born in the USA” believing it to be some kind of typically mindless nationalistic drivel? They must have missed lines like Springsteen’s narrator talking about ending up “like a dog that’s been beat too much” and the recollection of a vet home from an insane war that accomplished nothing:

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I’m ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go.
Born in the USA.

Rock and roll, for all its joyous kick-ass wildness, also offered a road to salvation for those that had little (“Hey ho, rock and roll, deliver me from nowhere”) and served many as a primary medium of protest. If Brooks and his rich conservative friends ever really listened to any of his lyrics instead of trying to do his usual armchair ivory tower psychologist thing trying to wow us with references to “paracosms” (paracosm my ass), they’d realize that his protests are largely about the kind of world they dream about. Even the songs Springsteen sings written by others are obvious clues as to his political sensibility: “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live”, “Hard Times Come Again No More” “Chimes of Freedom”. Brooks, looking for meaning in Springsteen’s songs apart from the political, doesn’t realize that Bruce knows exactly what he and his right-wing allies have been up to and where they want to go. He’s learned their secrets:

Baby I got my facts learned real good right now…
Poor man wanna be rich
Rich man wanna be king
And a king ain’t satisfied
‘Til he rules everything.

Brooks was better off hating hippies and rock and roll. At least it was, for him, an authentic reaction.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

PD,

Except we rarely see a movie in which Gary Cooper turns into Freddy Krueger; avuncular becomes atavistic. Propitious morphs into predatory.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Almost that movie, is Joseph Cotton playing the uncle (avuncular enough?) in "Shadow of a Doubt", 1943. Creepy.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Re: The Boss and the prick; Akhilleus, get a hold of the new Atlantic for this month and read the article about Bruce and Christie. Makes my stomach hurt. Makes me listen to "Nebraska" at at a hundred db. The real fucker is that the Brooks and the Christies and those like them think they are standing on the right side of the line drawn in the sand. They're not.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Patrick,

Okay, ya got me there. Besides Shadow of a Doubt is a great movie. You don't think we could get Teresa Wright to throw Roberts off a train do you?

And JJG, one hundred percent correct about those assholes. I'll definitely look for the Atlantic piece. I always get such a bad taste in my mouth when these fuckers try to co-opt rock and roll. And speaking of Nebraska...great, great album. My Father's House, Mansion on the Hill, Nebraska, Highway Patrolman, Used Cars, all incredible songs. Ethereal. Stuff you listen to while driving down deserted roads at night, watching tail lights far ahead disappear and reappear out of the dark.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Patrick and Akhlleus: Glad we're agreed that Shadow of a Doubt is a truly great movie. It could be seen as somewhat of a metaphor for America today - on the surface there is ease and sunshine, but things are not all as they seem. There is an evil eating away at the fabric of our great society, a combination of corrupt motives and money. Will we be able to save ourselves? It's a real cliff-hanger.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Victoria,

Excellent observation. The opening shots of Uncle Charlie lying on a bed in a rundown flop house surrounded by scattered piles of cash, like a dissolute and corrupt Croesus are stunning in their utter depravity. Charlie is stalked by the relatives of the victims he has fleeced then killed but he is supremely confident in his amoral indifference that he will never be made to pay for his crimes. Do you have any doubts whom Republicans would root for in this American morality tale? After all, Uncle Charlie has the killer instinct they all prize in capitalists who see opportunity in a little exploited market (rich widows) who also has the Ayn Randian properties of ruthless individuality (Fuck everyone. I'm out for me.) and the fearlessness to carry out his plans, like Romney, with zero concern for who might be hurt if there's money to be made. He'd even murder his niece to escape justice.

Sounds perfectly.....well, Republican.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus
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