The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as 'the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.'”

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

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 29

1:00 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.

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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Wednesday
Apr112012

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2012

Your Titanic song for today:

CW: The 2nd Rachel Maddow segment I linked below reminded me to link to the 2013 budget proposal of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (or, as Rep. Allen West [R-Fla.] calls them, card-carrying Communists). I haven't looked over this year's proposal yet, but their proposed 2012 budget was the only proposal that made sense.

Here's the Pew News Quiz that contributor James S. mentioned in the comments to yesterday's Commentariat. According to James, it's a breeze; I'm about to find out if I'm as uninformed as the average American. Update: the quiz was a snap. ...

... Here's another "quiz" that I haven't tried yet, but when I find out what our income is I think I'll give it a whirl. The Obama-Biden campaign has an interactive calculator that let's you "see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do." ...

... Ezra Klein explains how the Buffett Rule, or more accurately -- the "Paying a Fair Share Act" -- actually works. My eyes glazed over but if your family income is higher than a million a year, maybe you'll want to pay more attention than I did. ...

** ... Win-Win-Win. Prof. James Galbraith in a CNN opinion piece: "Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is pressing for the federal minimum to rise to $9.80 per hour by 2014.... Harkin's proposal would raise the incomes of 28 million American workers. It would make a big difference in the South, where wages are lower. It would especially help younger workers, minorities and women. It would not add to the deficit -- since federal workers all make more than that anyway -- and would likely spur the economy and increase tax revenues -- by a lot more than the Buffett Rule."

David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences."

Daily Kos: "The overt and immeasurable influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over U.S. policy has been well-documented on this site and others. For the most part, little has been done legislatively to change this unfortunate fact. But a Madison, Wisconsin Democrat, Mark Pocan, has been circulating a bill that aims to rein ALEC in:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the 'ALEC Accountability Act,' a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the 'scholarships' funding legislators’ travel.

       ... Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the link. 

... Dave S. also highlights this preamble to a statement by ALEC, issued in the wake of the organization's loss of yet another corporate underwriter:

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization.

      ... Yes, it's horrible that Common Cause, Color of Change & similar dastardly intimidators are picking on a right-wing group that spoon-feeds anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poor (voter ID), pro-gun, etc. legislation to state legislators too stupid to write their own regressive laws. Frankly, I don't get why any big corporation would view as beneficial most of the legislation ALEC writes. Here's a bit more from Andy Kroll of Mother Jones.

CW: Oh this is nice. Andrew Sprung of xpostfactoid: "... justices Alito, Roberts and Scalia seemed unaware of a fundamental feature of the Affordable Care Act (and were not disabused during oral argument on 3/27): the ACA has a catastrophic coverage option." Would knowing this have changed any of these justices minds? And who is responsible for their ignorance?

Right Wing World

The New York Times editors do a very nice job of comparing Mitt Romney to his "hero" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: "If Mr. Romney is elected and a Republican-led Congress presents him with a bill overturning the Ledbetter act, would he sign it, following the path of his hero, Mr. Walker?" Read the whole editorial. The Obama-Biden campaign should jump on this because the editors begin to show how "Romney's electability problem" would become the nation's problem if he were elected. ...

..."We'll Get Back to You on That." Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s campaign scrambled Wednesday afternoon to clarify his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act after top aides were caught flat-footed by the question.... Top policy aides to the former Massachusetts governor seemed uncertain how to respond when a reporter asked about Mr. Romney’s position on it during a campaign conference call." ...

... This segment of Rachel Maddow's show has the audio (the pause is real). Maddow & Sam Stein do a good job of illustrating Romney's "everything problem" (see also E. J. Dionne's & Greg Sargent's commentary, linked below):

... E. J. Dionne: "Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far and also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both." ...

... Greg Sargent shows that Romney's "woman problem" isn't going to evaporate. The campaign's hesitation on the Lilly Ledbetter law was no accident. And it makes Dionne's point: Romney is caught between a rock & a hard place.

Art by "DonkeyHotey" for Esquire.Charles Pierce: "How does Rick Santorum, man of principle, look those wonderful people ... in the eye and now tell them they have to vote for the Governor of the People's Republic Of Gay Marriage And Taxachusetts? The only way to do it is to scare the daylights out of them about what will happen during the second term of Barack Hussein Alinsky. In other words, the only way for Rick Santorum to maintain political viability is to become a towering fake for the next six months. Myself, I think he's up to the job."

CW: Yay! We Floridians Have Our Own Personal Baby Joe McCarthy. Jonathan Mattise of the Palm Beach Post: At a local townhall meeting Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) "got in shots at Democrats and President Obama, who spoke Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. West said Obama was 'scared' to have a discussion with him. He later said 'he's heard' up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names." Via Charles Pierce, who comments. ...

... As contributor P. D. Pepe notes in today's comments, West is not giving up even though the Communist Party says no Members of Congress belong to the party:

News Ledes

New York Times: 'North Korea defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday, launching a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead. But in what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea."

The Daily: "Rescue workers who raced to Thomas Kinkade’s California home on the morning the painter died were responding to a call of a unconscious, 54-year-old man who had been 'drinking all night' ..." With audio.

Raw video of George Zimmerman being taken into Seminole County jail (Sanford, the town where Zimmerman shot & killed Trayvon Martin, is in Seminole County):

Orlando Sentinel: "Late Wednesday night, [George] Zimmerman — his head covered — was ushered out of a black SUV and into the Seminole County Jail, just hours after special prosecutor Angela Corey announced a second-degree murder charge against him." ...

     ... Update: "George Zimmerman ... faced a judge for the first time this afternoon. Meanwhile, a probable cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence. The four-page affidavit did, however, does offer a few new pieces of information. It says that 'Zimmerman confronted Martin,' an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman's version of the events." AP story here.

New York Times: "After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases." Hartford Courant story here.

Washington Post: "An uneasy calm descended on Syria on Thursday indicating that both the government and rebels were keeping their promises to observe a U.N.-brokered cease-fire which went into effect at dawn." Al Jazeera story here. Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

Reader Comments (8)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/13/1064432/-Wisconsin-Dem-Introduces-the-ALEC-Accountability-Act-

Fighting Back! Got get em Rep. Pocan!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

http://www.alec.org/2012/04/alec-responds/

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization:

That's Rich...

How's that shoe fit Ron?

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

The Pew quiz, indeed, was a breeze, should have been for any who pay attention but I find at the end only 8% got them all correct as I did. A sorry state of affairs.

The topper to the West story is that the actual American Communist Party wrote a letter disclaiming Allen––"There are no communists in the Congress..." Even this did not derail our idiot legislator from responding that ACP didn't know what they were talking about.

Here's my response to Liz Peek, the financial guru of Wall Street about a year ago when she claimed EVERYONE was worried about the yuan and EVERYONE knew who John Boehner was:

INTERVIEW WITH ONE RANDOM AMERICAN (*man on the street)

I: Could you tell me, sir, are you incensed about China and its yuan?

M: Am I what?

I: Incensed about the yuan?

M: Some guy named yuan is selling incense in China?

I: So you are not incensed about the yuan?

M: The Yuan can do whatever he wants to do as far as I’m concerned as long
as he’s selling the incense legally.

I: Alrighty, then. Just off the cuff as long as I have you here. Do you know
who John Boehner is?

M: Is that supposed to be a joke? Some guy’s Johnson has a boner?

I: Never mind. One more thing: Do you happen to know who’s running for
governor in your state?

M: Sorry, I don’t pay much attention to politics.

I: But you vote?

M: You betcha!

*one of Steve Allen's guys

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

A reader writes re: the Obama-Biden tax interactive feature,

"I put in a salary of $260,000 just to see what the result would be and it is obvious the quiz is meant to impress those who make less than that and make those who might pay more pay attention to the effect on lower wage earners. A very brief message comes up that you can barely read that says the taxes at that income are significantly based on the nature of investments and other factors. Then it quickly switches to info on how the Buffett rule would affect lower income earners. No problem with that since the majority of people make less than $250,000."

Marie

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Two questions from a Left Coast ignoramus:

Who elected West? Will they do so again?

Anyone who knows, please enlighten...I'd be grateful.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I took the Pew quiz as a lark and was horrified that only 8% of the public got all 13 questions right! My apologies to any readers here who did not, but, seriously, this was a quiz? I considered it a "gimme".

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

@Ken Winkes. There's quite a bit about West here & here. Although West will run in a different Congressional district (the 18th) because of redistricting, apparently he has a good chance of winning in the new district, which is centered in Port St. Lucie & is overall Republican-leaning. Amazingly, I cannot find a map of the new Florida congressional districts. The 18th did include much of Miami & all of Miami Beach & the Keys. The district has been represented by popular Cuban-American Republican Ileana Ros since Claude Pepper died in 1989, & has generally voted Republican, tho it went for Obama by 2 points in 2008. Ros is running in the newly-created 27th district. Without seeing a map, I have no idea what's where.

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

That Pew test IS a bit of a joke. Unless you're a moron. Or watch too much Fox. But I repeat myself.

Seriously. These results may partly explain why there are people who think the Titanic disaster was made up by someone in Hollywood. Twenty five percent--a quarter of those taking the Pew test--only got 5 or fewer out of the 13 questions right. Thirteen percent could only get 3 or fewer correct. That is astonishing given the ease of these questions. The thing that scares me even more is the knowledge that a fair number of those at the lower end were just guessing and happened to accidentally get a couple right. That means that perhaps 3 to 5% of those at that bottom are even more dense than the test might indicate. Now consider this: these are figures for people who actually took the time to take this test!!! We're not even talking about a whole raft of potential voters who don't even dare--or care--to take a test like this. At least those taking it thought they knew enough to do so.

But if you're too stupid to realize that the Titanic was the subject of an actual event, you're stupid enough to buy Romney's lies about Obama putting women out of work. And Romney is bad enough. He lies like he breathes. It's automatic. But at least he's smart (read: cynical, manipulative, calculating; see: hypocritical) enough to know he's lying.

Well, he needs to. And even though he's bad at it, like the cheating husband trying to explain away those lipstick marks on his collar, millions still go along with him (CBS morning news dutifully relayed Romney's assertion about women as if it were unassailable fact. At least NPR yesterday put it into context and reported that he was being cute with his math and in fact women have lower unemployment numbers than men since Obama became president).

What truly worries me are the lies propagated by such as Rick Santorum (to quote Charlie Pierce: "...have I mentioned what a dick this guy is?"). Because Santorum, the Savonarola of his day, hands down his cultural, economic, historical, and social solecisms as if they were gospel and millions eat it up. So when he makes his rulings on how little right women have over their own bodies (he being so knowledgeable about such things) and when he makes similarly uneducated assertions about women being in combat situations (because Santorum, yet another of the many, many, many Republican chicken hawks who have never spent a millisecond in uniform but claim to know all about combat and war) and when he declares, without the tiniest iota of proof or support that the Affordable Care Act will cost trillions and TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS, there are millions--MILLIONS--of people out there nodding their heads hard enough to cast the drool in all directions.

And those people vote.

These are the truly scary ones. Because even if they don't have the numbers themselves they cause soulless weaklings like Romney to drift ever farther to edge of the known world, out where 'blah' people are a constant danger and where scores of Democrats in congress are dirty commies and where there is no separation of church and state, plenty of guns and bibles, and no stops on ignorance, racism, fanaticism, or nationalism.

And as George Carlin reminded us, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. If you do, I have a couple of deck chairs on the Titanic you might want to try out.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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