Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Thursday
Apr122012

The Commentariat -- April 13, 2012

I just updated my half-finished column in today's New York Times eXaminer. The subject is David Brooks. And Raymond Chandler. And Dashiell Hammett. So now it's finished. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

CW: Oh, good. Now we can have a frank discussion about polygamy. As David Maraniss outlines in a column for the Washington Post, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney would be here but for the grace of their polygamist forebears.

CW: We've been here before, but it's nice to see the MSM taking an interest. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "In recent days, advocacy groups have targeted more than a dozen corporations over their financial support for the conservative organization that encouraged states to pass the 'Stand Your Ground' legislation cited as a defense for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting. The advocates are celebrating decisions by several major food and beverage companies to sever financial ties with the organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Kraft Foods and Wendy’s have cut their support for the group, although all played down any connection to the Florida shooting."

Paul Krugman: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "poses as a man willing to make hard choices for the future, but what he actually did was sacrifice the future for the sake of personal political advantage. He catered to national Republican prejudices that are completely at odds with New Jersey’s needs; he cared more about avoiding embarrassment over a misguided campaign pledge than about serving an urgent public need.... America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars."

Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Oregon) raps President Obama for refusing to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. ...

     ... The AP story: "The White House says President Barack Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors sought by gay rights groups. The decision disappoints a constituency that has been an important source of support for him." ...

     ... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "White House spokesperson Jay Carney sought to explain the administration’s decision to punt on issuing an executive order that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting." ...

     ... The New York Times editors call the President's decision "inexcusable."

Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner writes a post saying the Supreme Court's "reasoning" in the Citizens United case was flawed: "It ... is difficult to see what practical difference there is between super PAC donations and direct campaign donations, from a corruption standpoint. A super PAC is a valuable weapon for a campaign, as the heavy expenditures of Restore Our Future, the large super PAC that supports Romney and has attacked his opponents, proves...; it is unclear why they should expect less quid pro quo from their favored candidate if he’s successful than a direct donor to the candidate’s campaign would be." ...

     ...Via Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times, whose post on the subject is also worth reading: "Instead of accepting the status quo, Congress could use this premise (obvious to everyone but the justices) to enact new limits on contributions to “independent” groups; it could invoke the constitutional rationale that such contributions have the ability to corrupt federal officeholders and government decisions. By Congress I mean a hypothetical legislative body that’s not dysfunctional, not the one we currently have, which won’t do a thing."

Tim Egan pays his income taxes. At a rate double the rate Mitt Romney pays, even though Romney doesn't actually work. ...

... Another Swell Tax Loophole for the Super-Rich. Travis Waldron of Think Progress. When corporate honchos travel in style on corporate jets, the tax code requires that they pay income tax for personal travel -- unless they claim they're taking private transportation for "security" reasons. I feel so much better knowing I'm paying taxes so multimillionaires can travel in luxury safety.

Devin Dwyer of ABC OTUS News: "Vice President Joe Biden said [Thursday] night that what he called a Republican-led effort to rollback the rights of women is 'real' and will 'intensify.'" Here's the segment of "The Ed Show" in which Ed Schultz interviews the Vice President:

 

Chalres McGrath profiles biographer Robert Caro for the New York Times Magazine. Caro's latest installment of his biography of Lyndon Johnson is soon to be published. ...

... Chris Jones does the same for Esquire.

Right Wing World

Jesus Told Me to Stiff the Poor. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, was driven by his Catholic faith. 'A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,' Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming “dependent on government.' ... The founder of the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations, slammed Ryan’s claim of adherence to Catholic teaching as 'the height of hypocrisy.' ..." ...

... Besides cutting billions in programs for the poor, the I'm-Not-Jesus budget also raises taxes on the poor:

     ... CW: looks to me like Jesus & the Devil, played by Ayn Rand, battled for Paul Ryan's soul, & Rand creamed Jesus.

"The Mendacity Is the Message." Paul Krugman is cautiously optimistic that the media may be coming around to reporting Mitt Romney's lies. "The core of Romney’s campaign strategy seems to be contempt for the news media (and the voters), the belief that he can say anything and pay no price — which was the way things worked for Bush. But maybe, just maybe, his calculation was wrong, and serial dishonesty will become, justifiably, part of the narrative."

CW: I have totally avoided posting anything about this one-day "controversy" because I think it's a big nothing. James Downie of the Washington Post: "Republicans clearly feel that the 'war on women' issue is a problem: For evidence, look no further than their furious response to liberal pundit Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney doesn’t understand working women’s problems because she 'has never worked a day in her life.' ... With respect to the presidential campaign, [Hilary Rosen] is nothing but a person with an opinion. That’s it.... If the Obama camp is responsible for Rosen, is Romney responsible for GOP Rep. Allen West’s outrageous accusation that 80 Democrats are communists? Is he responsible for Sherriff Joe Arapaio (Romney’s ’08 Arizona campaign chairman) and his birther conspiracy theories?" ...

... NEW. If you just can't help but read everything everybody said about Rosengate, Adam Sorensen of Time links it all (or at least plenty of it). The links that follow are his: "Just to review yesterday’s umbrageathon: Ann Romney went on TV to respond to something a CNN employee said about her and stay-at-home moms; the rest of Team Romney took to the lowest medium known to man, the campaign reporter conference call; some people made good points about women, others just yelled like Steve Carrell in Anchorman; Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush were called in; merchandise was manufactured; there was even outrage about the outrage and, lord help us, Twitter statistics." ...

... The Republican National Committee press guy was for gay adoption rights a few minutes before he was against them. ...

... AND this from Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "The Ledbetter Act was only necessary because of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which overruled decades of precedent protecting equal pay for equal work; and Romney promised to appoint more justices like the ones who voted against Lilly Ledbetter."

Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: "During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy." ...

... Follow-up. Justin Sink of The Hill: "Fox News fired back at Newt Gingrich on Thursday after the Republican presidential candidate accused the network of being biased and aiding rival candidate Mitt Romney. 'This is nothing other than Newt auditioning for a windfall of a gig at CNN — that's the kind of man he is,' a spokeswoman for Fox News told Yahoo News. 'Not to mention, he's still bitter about the fact that we terminated his contributor contract.'"

News Ledes

AP: "A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute a tip received by The Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, the site of the Summit of the Americas."

New York Times: "Reversing a decades-old rule, a federal appeals court said on Thursday that public television and radio stations could not be prohibited from broadcasting paid political advertisements."

Tulsa World: "The two men accused of shooting three people to death and injuring two last week were formally charged Friday with the deaths and with violating Oklahoma’s hate crime statute. Jacob Carl England, 19, and Alvin Lee Watts, 33, were charged with three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment."

Think Progress: "Mars, Inc., the maker of M&M’s and Snickers, announced that they have 'decided not to renew the ALEC membership in 2012.' Arizona’s largest energy company, Arizona Public Service, has severed ties with ALEC as well."

The Hill: "U.S.-Pakistan relations took a leap forward on Friday, when Islamabad agreed to a plan to reopen vital supply routes to American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The plan bars any private security contractors from working inside Pakistan and bans the United States from carrying out 'overt or covert operations' within the country's borders...."

Washington Post: "President and Michelle Obama reported earning an adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011 and paid $162,074 in federal income tax, according to the family’s tax returns released by the White House on Friday." A pdf of the Obamas' tax returns is here. A pdf of the Bidens' tax returns is here.

Washington Post: "In the aftermath of North Korea’s failed attempt to fire a rocket into orbit, leaders in Washington and Asian capitals moved Friday to condemn the authoritarian nation while also containing its next move — a balance that has proven elusive during previous confrontations." ...

... NBC News: "The United States has canceled a proposed food aid deal with North Korea following over its attempt to launch a long-range rocket taking a satellite into orbit."

New York Times: "Thousands of Syrians were reported to have taken to the streets after the noon prayer in countless mosques on Friday, offering the biggest test of the country’s fragile cease-fire since it was declared at dawn on Thursday and reviving the public protests that ignited Syria's 13-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad." Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

New York Times: "Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark carried a woman out of a burning house and was treated for smoke inhalation on Thursday night."

AP: Google "reported a 61 percent increase in its net income for the first three months of the year and announced plans to issue a new class of stock to shareholders. The new shares won't have any voting power and will help Google's senior leaders keep control years from now."

Reuters: "Police in Serbia have recovered a painting by Paul Cezanne that was stolen at gunpoint from a Swiss museum four years ago, officials said Thursday. Cezanne’s 'Boy in a Red Waistcoat,' which reportedly is worth more than $100 million, was one of four paintings stolen in 2008 from the E. G. Buehrle Collection in Zurich by a trio of masked robbers."

ABC OTUS News: "Mitt Romney gets a chance to lock and load Friday and show conservatives that he really is conservative when he speaks at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in St. Louis."

Reader Comments (6)

A comment about Hilary Rosen should not have been avoided. Obama and others issued strong disclaimer of her silly remarks but she was and still is a 'prominent Democrat'. I believe it is our duty, no matter what flavor of 'liberals' (OK, let's just say 'progressives) we are. Reading many comments denouncing her and blaming not only Obama but the entire Democratic Party in the New York Times for her has been very educational to me. Obama - deservedly so - enjoys a good support from American women but some of them who chose (like Mrs. Romney) to stay home and take care of the kids are quite outraged by Rosen.

We just have to identify irresponsibility and stupidity wherever it comes from.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLadislav Nemec

Before yesterday, I had no idea that a person named Hillary Rosen existed (although not being a Rosen denier I would not discount the possibility). I follow politics pretty closely, but to me a Prominent Democrat would be Hillary Clinton! I wonder if this fatuous comment would have made much of a splash had the woman's name been something else. "Matt Damon is a putz," said prominent Hollywood person Leonardo di Pietro. Ohmygod, call the press.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

The Rosen moment was a big nothing and might not have received the coverage it did if the North Koreans had launched their Roman candle a bit earlier. Nonetheless, that such a nothing gets so much coverage is in itself something. I take three lessons from it: the media's desire--make that economic necessity--to stage every happening, regardless of its intrinsic importance or lack thereof, as some kind of WWF performance. The radicalized Republicans' desperation to find an issue that could possibly appeal to the middle, a search so desperate they regularly lie to create one. And in this case the lie was abetted by the general publics' (and the administration's) inability or unwillingness to respond to what Ms. Rosen meant. The context of her remark clearly indicated she meant "work" to be that thing you do, usually in some place other than your home, for a paycheck. She was commenting, clumsily perhaps but appropriately, on Mrs. Romney's lack of experience with that kind of work, and of course the R's made it into something else.

I just wish the O. administration had not also abetted that effort by being so eager to defend motherhood that they missed a chance to point out how the R's invariably obscure and mislead. But then, they likely figured they'll have many, many more such between now and November.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Like Jack I’m a bit baffled by the sudden elevation of Hilary Rosen, who previously had never shown up on my radar, as a prominent spokesperson for the Democratic Party, and perhaps even a virtual stand-in for President Obama himself, at least to listen to the wink, wink, snide insinuations of right-wing opinion makers. But the usual suspects on the right are not the only ones in the pig pile. The MSM has happily jumped aboard with its "Democratic War on Women?" questions, which nicely defuse the actual war on women being waged by Republicans, and to once again muddy the waters and provide hucksters and red striped con men with everything they need to erect a prophylactic wall of false equivalency around Willard and the GOP. “See? It’s okay to hate women. Democrats hate them too. It’s not just us!”

This isn’t to say that those on the left don’t gleefully point fingers at obscure Republicans who trip over their own moral relativism (it’s okay for me, but not for anyone else!). How many people could name the governor of South Carolina before he disappeared into the (wink, wink—again) Appalachian Trail? Or had any idea of the existence of Rep. Allen West before he started seeing commies in his cereal bowl? The difference there is that these sorts of events are such a regular thing with Republicans that it becomes a constant exercise in proof of their profligate proclivities--synecdoche incarnate--if you will. An unending stream of bad acts that washes over the entire party. Liberals and progressives don’t offer anywhere near the rich smorgasbord of stupidity that spills off the right-wing groaning board on a near daily basis, thus, whenever a Democrat stubs their toe, or misspeaks or says anything that can be remotely twisted into something resembling a decent talking point, the right leaps in with tar barrels and feathers at the ready.

The unfortunate thing in this whole affair is that Ms. Rosen, avatar or not for the Democratic Party, was absolutely right about Ann Romney’s negligible knowledge of the difficulty of managing a household budget when you don’t have millions at your fingertips. Her sin was one of expression rather than essence. I’m sure Mrs. Willard had plenty of hard days wondering whether to dress the kids in their custom hand tailored monogrammed outfits complete with hand-made kangaroo leather shoes and silk pocket squares or whether to just go native and let them wear their prêt a porter designer clothes. It must have been hard work making out the weekly menus for the maids and the cooks as well. Just look at all the problems those nice aristocrats on Downton Abbey have every week! My goodness. Commoners just can’t appreciate the toil and trouble of it all. But don't worry. Unlike John McCain, I'm sure the Romneys know pretty much how many houses they own. Close, anyway.

All kidding aside, even if you do have the bucks, raising kids is hard work. But it’s a whole lot less stressful if you DO have plenty of money and lots of help doing it. Also, something that has been completely lost in this tempest tossed teapot is the fact that none of that prepares Mrs. Romney as an expert in understanding the household economics of millions of working and stay at home moms in this country. None of it. So, Rosen’s point is exactly correct.

Unfortunately, she handed the GOP one of its few can’t miss 100% baloney soundbites with which to denounce the Democrats and Obama.

Sucks for her. And for us too.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As a Master student studying abroad in France, I'm continually amazed (but losing hope) at the decline of our national media. I certainly do the rounds on the "important media networks" on each side, even dabbling into right wing world (quelle horreur!) just to see the brain-washing final product.
For those of you that have some French abilities, I recommend rereading "Les Nouveaux chiens de garde" by Serge Halimi written in 1997. It's an account of the national media defending big corporation interests while simultaneously defending their staunch position as independants in the media realm. It has been recreated into a documentary in 2011 by Gilles Balbastre et Yannick Kergoat. I bring this up because it should be put into perspective: France has its share of corporate corruption but not nearly on the colossal size we're seeing in the U.S. today. Fast forward 15 years and major U.S. journalists are either too afraid, incapable, or strongly discouraged from digging up the mountains of grit layered throughout our "safeguarding" institutions.
From Obama's hollow appeasements, the N.R.A push for concealed guns in every facet of society, the South's addiction to federal money while denouncing it, the Koch bros. doing deals with Iran while simultaneously denouncing the country as the next anti-christ, the disappearance of Libya from the media world as the country falls into anarchy, Romney's constant bullshit spewing from his mouth, the list goes on but you know the routine. Originally, the Press corps. first mission was to have an informed public to contribute to our democratic evolution. Without an informed debate via the press, the Federalists papers would have never had their public debate and reconciliation would have been impossible. Our nation depended on an informed debate and still largely does. From paper form, the press moved to television and it quickly turned from an informative mechanism to a capitalistic money maker. Powerful corporations starting with ATT convinced the government they'd hold their public duty into account, and quickly sold out as should have been expected. Now the only public channels with significant, informative programming are in the sight of Republicans looking for the final axe. PBS is breaking the American budget.
Without informed citizens, our country implodes. We're obviously regressing. The question should be asked to which point we can regress until institutions start to crumble. With the amount of loaded, concealed weapons protecting our citizens from them scary times when the 'other' armed crazies come out, I've already started considering standing my own ground outside the borders.
I've got to agree with Norman Mailer on this one, quel dommage.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterinternationalobserver

Another fine Examiner column. Read the Cain's "Double Indemnity" years ago but didn't see the movie versions. Problem is, I'm getting delicate in my old age and prefer to avoid the dark and the violent; they depress me. I get enough of both these days from the news. In my former life--the young one--I could tolerate imminent nuclear Armageddon, watch cowboys murder Indians in droves, take in "Dr. Strangelove," cheer and laugh in the right places and still sleep undisturbed. Doesn't work that way any more, so I eschew much contemporary cinematic and novelistic art.

That's just me. As for Brooks, maybe he was suggesting the idealistic youth of today join the NRA, arm themselves and simply shoot the parasites and exploiters, preferably in a state where they could claim the bastards made them feel threatened. That's what the Continental Op or Sam Spade would have done and they didn't even have a "Shoot first" law to hide behind. But then, they were portrayed as real men, something I suspect Mr. Brooks has always wished he could be.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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