Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

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

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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Tuesday
Apr102012

The Commentariat -- April 11, 2012

The Titanic's second-class promenade. Photo by passenger Francis Browne.Above: rare photo of the Titanic by passenger Francis Browne. A few more photos here. Note deck chairs on left. To be moved to starboard by Paul Ryan, John Boehner.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's post whining about President Obama's being a meanie. (The accompanying artwork is fabulous!) The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Andy Rosenthal off the New York Times on the Buffett Rule: "Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Buffett has ever said the millionaires’ rate is about deficit reduction. It is about making the tax code truly progressive. When Mr. Buffett pays a smaller share of his income to the government than his secretary, we are not just rewarding Mr. Buffett, we are punishing the secretary."

Maureen Dowd has a good column psyching out Hillary Clinton & her Tumblr encounter of the hilarious kind. I wrote to a friend earlier today that I thought the Tumblr thing might mean Clinton's political career wasn't over after all. it seems others had the same thought. See also Infotainment.

New York Times Editors: "House Republicans combined two ill-conceived health care measures into a single bill and passed it on a largely party-line vote last month. One measure repealed an independent board that is one of the major cost-control measures in the health care reform law. The other imposed restrictions on medical malpractice awards that would limit the ability of patients who have been grievously harmed to receive fair compensation.... The Senate needs to reject or bury this legislation."

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "The overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Tuesday opened the door to forgiving some mortgage debt of homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth, as the Obama administration has recently urged." But don't get your hopes up.

Another Way to Look at the Blahous "Study." Ezra Klein: "So, about that new study arguing that the Affordable Care Act actually increases the deficit: It’s really not saying anything in particular about the Affordable Care Act. It’s saying that the baseline we use to assess all legislation — from Obamacare to Paul Ryan’s budget — is wrong. And it’s saying that we actually don’t have a deficit problem at all.... Lots of the Affordable Care Act’s skeptics are trumpeting the Blahous study. But none of them actually use that baseline. Nor do they plan to switch over to it. And that means they don’t really believe the study." Klein explains the "logic" of the Koch-funded study & why it's nonsense. See also yesterday's Commentariat & comments.

Right Wing World

The Obama campaign releases a Romney's Greatest HIts video:

Conservatives Double Down on Willard: Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal: "We mentioned earlier that conservatives are warning Mitt Romney not to take them for granted.... Gary Bauer, an adviser to Rick Santorum‘s campaign..., said Mr. Romney must now take concrete steps to ensure that conservative voters don’t stay home in November or support a third party candidate."

Mitt Romney Teams up with President Obama to Explain Individual Mandate":

... CW: With Santorum out of the race, Romney can concentrate on lying about Obama. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s turn toward the general election addressed one of his biggest vulnerabilities according to polls: a gender gap that shows women currently prefer President Obama by large margins. Mr. Romney fought back on his preferred turf, jobs and the economy, making the case that women had faced heavy job losses since President Obama took office.... He repeatedly cited the figure of 92.3 percent, which he said was women’s share of all the jobs lost since the president’s inauguration in January 2009.... The statistic, which appears to be a talking point Mr. Romney intends to use regularly, was rated 'mostly false' by PolitiFact." After reading the PolitiFact explanation, I'd rate it "Mostly Bullshit."

... Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post culls a surprising stat from the latest Obama v. Romney poll: "On health care, people pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 'to do a better job' on health care by a ten point spread. Yup, health care. That’s more than Obama’s seven-point edge in the horse race."

Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may not appear on the ballot for the June 26 Utah primary, after a $500 check - the required filing fee - bounced, an official said." ...

... The Onion (fake news): "Following Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he would end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, candidate Newt Gingrich called upon frontrunner Mitt Romney to drop out of the race so the former House speaker could concentrate on the general election. ...

... AP (real news): "Santorum's departure Tuesday has pushed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney closer to the nomination. But Gingrich and Paul say there is still time left for voters to pick a more suitable alternative to face President Barack Obama in November." CW: Newt Gingrich & Ron Paul: keeping America safe from satire.

Santorum Post Mortems


Good Riddance. New York Times Editors: "... the biggest reason for the improbable rise of Mr. Santorum was his appeal to the most extreme social conservatives and evangelical Christians. His problem, in the end, was that there just weren’t enough of them.... [Romney's] embrace of the Paul Ryan budget, with its unconscionable cuts to the social safety net, represents an economic extremism not that different from Mr. Santorum’s."

Dana Milbank: "In Gettysburg, Rick Santorum surrenders."

Jonathan Bernstein: "Santorum and the nomination process only functioned, from Florida on, as a mechanism for forcing Romney to hew to Republican orthodoxy. That mechanism will be replaced, now, by more direct action and pressure on him by conservative party actors. Those actors will certainly ensure that Romney picks a trusted conservative as a running mate, and will police everything he says on every issue."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "I’ll miss him for the blogging material he so richly supplied, and do wish he had stuck around long enough to provoke a few more Romney gaffes and perhaps Romney defeats. But I’m glad I can go back to wearing sweater vests without fear of misunderstanding. Now we get to see if Newt Gingrich tries to pretend he’s the last True Conservative Standing, or will just let us all have a break from the Great Republican Race to the Right of 2012."

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: 'With Rick Santorum, you never had to wonder if he believed what he said. You never had to wonder why he was running for president. And it’s that lack of Santorum’s authenticity that’s making Romney a hard sell for just about anyone."

CW: a couple of days ago I linked to an article about Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeting that President Obama was "stupid" for complaining about activist judges. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress has such a terrific post on this it's worth revisiting. The headline is "Grassley Calls Obama 'Stupid' for Agreeing for Grassley about Activist Judges."

News Ledes

AP: "A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom. Manson, now a gray-bearded, 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years."

AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department will take appropriate action in the killing of Trayvon Martin if it finds evidence that a federal criminal civil rights crime has been committed." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging ... George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation. It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face." Story has been updated to reflect charges brought. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The news conference is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, [Florida,] at 6 p.m. [ET]." Story has been updated to reflect charges. ...

     ... UPDATE: Zimmerman turned himself in & was arrested for murder in the 2nd degree, per NBC News highest possible charge under the circumstances. No link. NBC News story here.

New York Times: "The Justice Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple and major book publishers on Wednesday, charging that the companies colluded to raise the price of e-books in 2010. Three publishers that were investigated — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins — have agreed to a settlement, threatening to overturn a pricing model that allows publishers to set their own e-book prices, and dangling the possibility of lower e-books for consumers in the near future."

ABC News: "This morning the president will continue to push the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would require that millionaires are taxed at a rate of at least 30 percent. In making that argument, he will be joined by millionaires and their secretaries who support this tax increase." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Wednesday’s installment of President Obama’s running campaign to raise the taxes of millionaires featured a group of wealthy people who agree with him, standing at his side as he professed that the idea is popular among the gilded elite from Warren Buffett on down.

New York Times: "With the deadline for a cease-fire in Syria less than a day away, Kofi Annan, the high-profile special envoy who devised the timetable for a truce, on Wednesday urged Iran, Syria’s main regional ally, to support the peace effort and cautioned against arming rebel forces, saying that further militarization of the conflict would be 'disastrous.'”

AP: "Two massive earthquakes triggered back-to-back tsunami warnings for Indonesia on Wednesday, sending panicked residents fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles. There were no signs of deadly waves, however, or serious damage, and a watch for much of the Indian Ocean was lifted after a few hours."

Reuters: "Impoverished North Korea rejected international protests over its planned long-range rocket launch and said on Wednesday that it was injecting fuel 'as we speak', meaning it could blast off as early as Thursday."

Washington Post: Karl Rove's American Crossroads launched a six-state ad campaign against President Obama yesterday.

Reader Comments (6)

Who did the Albert E graphic? They deserve a Pulitzer, or a Nobel, or an Academy Award! This should be put on billboards. It should be posted on every piece of empty space that can be found. I absolutely love it!!!

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy K

Marie,

Thanks for that link to the photos taken aboard the Titanic. One of the discussion threads hereabouts over the last few days relates to education. While scrolling down the photos on that site I came across an image of the great ship sailing away from the Irish coast on its way to disaster of historic proportion. One that, one might assume, would still resonate for any in the US, Ireland, or the UK. But the blurb for this photo was an eye opener:

"These photos will be a big blow to the remaining folks who believe that the Titanic was fictional"

Say what? Fictional? Who thinks that?

Too many people, at least by the look of the Twitter feed that accompanies the photographs. Mostly younger, these people are aghast to learn that there actually WAS a Titanic, it wasn't just a fictional event, and that people really did die. Comments of the "I never knew it was real! How am I just finding this out?" and "I just thought it was a move. It was real?" are common.

What planet did these people grow up on? Seriously. No wonder fact-free claims and accusations find such purchase. No one checks anything (well, not many, it seems). The level of general knowledge seems even lower than I thought.

I realize that there will always be a certain percentage of the population who live relatively benighted lives, and it's not as if the sinking of the Titanic was an event on par with a world war, but in its day and for many years after, it could be considered as stunning an event as 9/11 or the Japanese or Indian Ocean tsunamis are today.

There was an old folk song/children's song about the Titanic. I wonder how many remember it now?

It was sad, it was sad, oh yes it was sad.
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Husbands and their wives, little children lost their lives
It was sad when the great ship went down.

I suppose this has been replaced around campfires by songs like "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Well, I suppose we don't sing songs that were popular during the Hundred Year's War anymore, but c'mon.

I'm not even sure what to make of this but my initial reaction is not good. And these kids can VOTE or will have that franchise quite soon.

Jeez.

Okay, daily rant over now.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I remember the song. It was written by Huttie Leadbetter (aka Leadbelly).

But your right the level of ignorance, or worse fictionalizing, of history is often astounding.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Well, I just took the Pew Research "News IQ Quiz"--a 13-question test of no-brainer questions, such as "Was Franklin Roosevelt a Republican or a Democrat?" Of course, I aced it... as did 8 percent of the respondents. Think about that: 92 fucking percent of those could not answer questions about which party favors restricting abortions or opposed amnesty for immigrants, while 4 percent didn't get a single question right! And, likely as not, they all vote.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Here's the full report on the Pew "News IQ Quiz" if you'r interested. All the questions; all the responses. http://www.people-press.org/2012/04/11/what-the-public-knows-about-the-political-parties/

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@James Singer---What this tells me is that 92% of the population
never reads a newspaper or magazine and has never in the past read
a book, other than fiction or porn. The 4% no doubt get all or their
enlightenment from fox news. And as far as thinking the sinking of
the Titanic was just something that happened in a movie, oy vey,
we be in deep doo doo.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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