The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 26

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

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.

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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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