The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Saturday
Oct202012

Romney in Massachusetts

By Marsha Mirkin
Wellesley, Massachusetts

Here I am, a resident of Massachusetts listening to my former Governor speak convincingly and with seeming conviction at the Denver debate. I was startled by my Déjà vu experience and by the assumptions held by my out-of-town friends about Mr. Romney’s governorship. So, as an editor and author of articles and texts about social and political contexts, I wanted to ... share my understanding of Mr. Romney’s governorship and the implications for the Presidency. Massachusetts is known as a liberal state, but we often vote for Republican governors, and the three governors who immediately preceded Mr. Romney were Republicans. Mr. Romney was a one term governor who left office with a 31% approval rating, the 3rd lowest in the entire country. What does our experience in Massachusetts say to the country?

Mr. Romney claims to have experience reaching across the aisle. Maybe he did do some reaching, but not much of it went toward the Democrats. In his first two years of office, he vetoed legislation at more than twice the rate of Republican predecessor Governor Weld. Governor Romney had a record 800 vetoes (most of which were overturned, sometimes unanimously). One example is when the legislature provided a budget amendment to stop contracting with companies that outsource state work to other countries. Governor Romney vetoed the provision. This meant that he supported outsourcing jobs at the expense of U.S. workers. He also started a huge campaign to unseat Democratic legislators, but failed and ended up with even fewer Republican seats than before he took office.

Governor Romney correctly claims that Massachusetts rose to #1 in education—but it was based on former Governor Weld’s education reform plan. Governor Romney moved in the opposite direction--he vetoed bills that would have strengthened preschool education.

However, the issue is not so much how he voted, but that Mr. Romney won the governorship by presenting himself in one way, as a social and fiscal moderate (some saw him as a social progressive), and by the end of his single term, he had acted in an entirely different way. He said during his campaign that he favored stem cell research and then vetoed a bill to fund it. He argued for a lower minimum wage than the state legislature ended up passing (over his veto). He vetoed a bill funding hate crimes prevention, and took back money approved by a former Republican governor for a bullying prevention program. He denied all requests for commutations and pardons, including one from a soldier serving in Iraq whose was convicted at age 13 for a BB gun incident. He vetoed emergency contraception. He raised many fees in my state—even quadrupling the gasoline delivery fees.

Governor Romney certainly approved some pieces of legislation that I did support but that does not change a major problem: Mr. Romney re-created himself and changed his positions during the first Presidential debate in your city because he must sound more moderate in order to win the independent vote. After that, all bets are off. We in Massachusetts know all about that. We elected a governor expecting him to be one thing and then he did something totally different and got on the national stage. He entered the governorship with a 61% approval rating and left with an abysmal 31% and with many of us scratching our heads and wondering whom we elected. The difference between then and now is that you have Mr. Romney’s speeches and positions from this past year and the contradictions during the debate. You can get nonpartisan information from factcheck.org. And, you now know what he was like in Massachusetts. So, I hope the country doesn’t have to go through what Massachusetts went through. Regardless of your political beliefs, this constant turning into something we didn’t vote for is no way to run a state, never mind a country.

Related links:

http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/romneys-jobs-record-is-best-or-worst/

http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/spinning-romneys-debt/

http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2012/10/15/nine-mass-seniors-would-have-paid-extra-under-medicare-plan-similar-mitt-romney-according-study/njDAnjhUzDqDNrMEEkvIkK/story.html

http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/10/be_your_own_fact-checker_in_ob.html


CW
: Mirkin is a professor of psychology at Lasell College in Massachusetts. Contributor Julie obtained Mirkin's permission to publish her letter here. I have made one minor edit (noted at the ellipsis) with Mirkin's permission.

If you wish to comment on Mirkin's letter, which I found tremendously helpful, please do so in the Commentariat.