The Wires

Washington Post: "Cheap Chinese caviar is flooding the U.S. market, causing prices to plummet, and with it, the product’s cachet. Wholesale prices have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, down 13 percent just in the past year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the import price has gone from $850,000 per ton in January 2012 to $350,000 per ton in November 2018." Mrs. McC: This makes me very happy. I love caviar (I've only had the cheaper kind), but I seldom buy it because of the expense. I have some in the pantry now, but I'm going to check the price at the grocery store now in hopes it's something I can enjoy more often. Status symbol? I couldn't care less.

New York Times: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday [April 15] to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, a nod to journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press. The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting prize for disclosing clandestine payoffs by the president’s associates to two women who were said to have had affairs with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, cost children their lives."

Medlar's Sports Report. New York Times: "Tiger Woods’s comeback from personal and professional adversity is complete: He captured his fifth Masters title and his 15th major tournament on Sunday, snapping a championship drought of nearly 11 years. It was a monumental triumph for Woods, a magical, come-from-behind win for a player who had not won a major championship since his personal life began to unravel on Thanksgiving night in 2009, when a marital dispute led to a car accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines. On the golf course, he had a series of back and leg injuries that led to an addiction to painkillers and culminated in pain so searing that, before surgery in 2017, he had questioned whether he could play professionally again." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Oh yeah? Trump can beat Tiger any day.

Tom Jones of Poynter picks the top 25 movies ever about journalism.

New York Times: "For 340 days, Scott Kelly circled the Earth aboard the International Space Station, gathering data about himself." His twin brother Mark Kelly, planted on Earth, did the same. "On Thursday..., NASA researchers reported that [Scott Kelly's] body experienced a vast number of changes while in orbit. DNA mutated in some of his cells. His immune system produced a host of new signals. His microbiome gained new species of bacteria. Many of these biological changes seemed harmless, disappearing after he returned to Earth. But others — including genetic mutations and, after his return, declines in cognitive test scores — did not correct themselves, provoking concern among scientists."

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times: now does his first drafts of columns as well as other traditional writing tasks by speaking into his phone. "I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone.... Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.... New advances — like smarter and more ubiquitous voice assistants; better text-to-speech synthesis; easy-to-use audio and video production apps like Descript and Anchor; and gadgets that burrow the internet into your ears, like Apple’s AirPods and Amazon’s reported forthcoming AirPod clones — point to a profound shift in computing. Soon it might be possible to conduct a large slice of digital life, including work, without being glued to a screen."

New York Times: "In a cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered a new branch of the human family tree. At least 50,000 years ago, an extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon, researchers reported on Wednesday. It’s possible that Homo luzonensis, as they’re calling the species, stood less than three feet tall. The discovery adds growing complexity to the story of human evolution. It was not a simple march forward, as it once seemed. Instead, our lineage assumed an exuberant burst of strange forms along the way.Our species, Homo sapiens, now inhabits a comparatively lonely world. 'The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,' said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada, who was not involved in the new discovery."

New York Times: "At 9 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, [April 10,] a group of astronomers who run a globe-girdling network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope are expected to unveil the first-ever images of a black hole. For some years now, scientific literature, news media and films have featured remarkably sophisticated and academic computer simulations of black holes. If all has gone well, the images today will reveal the real thing, and scientists at last will catch a glimpse of what had seemed unseeable."

      ... Update: "Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had observed the unobserveable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.... To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space."

"A commemorative print from 2008 of Mr. Robbins’s original paint-by-numbers creation in 1950, an abstract still-life. His boss then asked him to make something more representational, and an industry was born." CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "Dan Robbins was no Leonardo da Vinci. But he copied one of the master’s basic techniques and thereby enabled children to grow up believing that they, too, could paint 'The Last Supper.' Mr. Robbins, a package designer who died on Monday at 93, helped to conceive what became known as paint by numbers. He copied the idea from Leonardo, who numbered the objects in the background of his paintings and had his apprentices paint them with designated colors. With paint-by-numbers kits, young baby boomers in the 1950s followed the same mechanics as those Renaissance artisans, coloring inside the outlines of images of everything from seascapes and the Matterhorn to kittens and Queen Elizabeth II. The process opened up art to the masses — another notch on the continuum of a limitless democratic American ethos that promised “a chicken in every pot” and 'every man a king.'”

Guardian: "In the 50s, the American art world took itself extremely seriously. Abstract painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko painted sublime slabs that were praised in hushed voices. Painting-by-numbers may not have been intended as a parody of this modernist reverence – but it sure looked that way. Robbins designed quaint scenes of farmhouses and mountain valleys that anyone could complete – they were good, solid pictures for good, solid middle-American homes. Yet the relationship between painting-by-numbers and modern art is more complicated than it looks. The earliest kit Robbins devised was a cubist still life in the style of Picasso, for the sharp planes of colour were, he said, easy to adapt. He called it Abstract No 1. It was his boss at the Palmer paint company in Detroit, where he worked as a package designer, who insisted he create homely American scenes instead. Robbins was thrilled when, as he remembered: 'Someone entered a completed Abstract No 1 in an art show and won. The judges were quite embarrassed, but the prize resulted in lots of debate about the concept of art …'”

NBC News: “Researchers who used DNA to identify ... the bones [of] Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community..., are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female. That’s the eye-opening takeaway from a new Smithsonian Channel documentary titled 'The General Was Female?,' which premieres Monday and is part of the 'America’s Hidden Stories' series.”


The Commentariat -- April 14, 2019

Late Morning Update:

Ian Kulgren of Politico: "... Donald Trump has 'no moral authority' to talk about 9/11, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday. 'He stole $150,000 from some small businessperson who could have used it to help rehabilitate himself. And that's why we appropriated it, why I got Congress to appropriate that money,' Nadler said on 'State of the Union' on CNN. 'To use it for his own small business of 40 Wall Street he has no moral authority to be talking about 9/11 at all.' Nadler was referencing how Trump's company accepted post-9/11 funding for a building that had not sustained any damage. Trump said the building qualified because his company had suffered economic losses in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. The funding came from the Empire State Development Corp., New York's economic development agency, and was intended for small businesses. Trump targeted Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) last week for comments she made about discrimination of Muslim Americans after 9/11. Conservative pundits latched on to one portion of Omar's comments -- in which she referred to the attacks by saying that 'somebody did something' -- to argue that Omar was minimizing tremendous human loss. Trump responded by tweeting a graphic video of the Twin Towers collapsing juxtaposed with Omar's comment, earning criticism from Democrats for targeting a Muslim woman. Nadler said he didn't have a problem with Omar's remarks. 'She characterized it only in passing,' Nadler said. 'She was talking about discrimination against Muslim Americans. And she just said that, after that happened, it was used as an excuse for lots of discrimination and for withdrawal of civil liberties.'"

Democrats Are So Stupid. Michael Burke of the Hill: "White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that she doesn't think members of Congress are 'smart enough' to look through President Trump's tax returns. 'Frankly I don't think Congress -- particularly not this group of congressmen and women -- are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump's taxes will be,' she said on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'My guess is that most of them don't do their own taxes and I certainly don't trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything,' Sanders continued." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Apparently Democrats are so dumb they don't know to hire tax experts to review the returns. Maybe that's because they are so many Democratic members of Congress who are women & minorities, the "type" of people who just throw their hands up when it comes to managing money.

Rachel Frazin of the Hill: "President Trump tweeted on Saturday night that his administration has the legal right to send undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities and demanded it happen. 'Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities,' he wrote. 'We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!'" ...

... Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "Homeland Security chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Sunday that he sees no way for President Trump's idea to transfer detained migrants to 'sanctuary cities' to be legal.... 'More importantly, this is again his manufactured chaos that he has created over the last 2 years on the border.'"

David Corn, et al. of Mother Jones: "When Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman arrested for allegedly sneaking into President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club on March 30, appeared in court on Monday, a portion of the proceedings focused on a mysterious Chinese businessman named Charles Lee, who has ties to the Communist Party and the Chinese government and who appears to be at the center of this episode. A Mother Jones investigation of Lee has uncovered more questions about his business ventures and background." --s

The Confederate Presidunce*. Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "President Donald Trump confirmed Friday he was considering 'placing' undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities as political retribution for Democrats opposing his immigration policies.... This isn't the first time Trump has tried to target blue districts.... [S]o far, acts that attempt to favor states and localities that backed him in 2016 and disfavor those that did not, have been a hallmark of his presidency.... In January 2017, he issued Executive Order 13768 which attempted to ensure that [so-called 'sanctuary cities'] 'are not eligible to receive Federal grants.' The order was deemed to be an illegal overreach in a 2 to 1 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Trump's 2017 tax bill...included provisions that favored Trump states over Clinton states.... Trump has frequently targeted California.... Earlier this year, amid massive forest fires, he tweeted that he was instructing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop providing assistance. (It's not clear whether he has actually done this, despite the threats.).... Trump attempted to block all emergency funding from going to Puerto Rico, according to a January 2019 article in The Washington Post, attempting to send their disaster relief money to Florida and Texas instead." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Also too, isn't it lovely to reminded on Tax Day that Trump's tax "reform" bill also targeted Americans living in mostly-blue states by drastically reducing the deduction for local & state taxes.

Trump's Swamp, Ctd. Ben Lefebvre & Annie Snider of Politico: "The National Archives and Records Administration gave the Interior Department until late April to address Democrats' allegations that newly confirmed Secretary David Bernhardt may have been destroying his official calendars, according to a letter Politico obtained Friday.... Bernhardt's existing daily schedule shows that the former fossil fuel and agriculture lobbyist has met with representatives of former clients who stood to gain from Interior's decisions, but the department has released few details about his activities during about one-third of his days in office. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) requested the NARA probe.... The Senate confirmed Bernhardt as Interior secretary by a 56-41 vote Thursday, overriding Democrats' questions about his ethics." --s

Mark Townsend of the Guardian: "Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon advised Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini to attack the pope over the issue of migration.... During a meeting in Washington in April 2016, Bannon -- who would within a few months take up his role as head of Trump's presidential campaign -- ... 'advised Salvini himself that the actual pope is a sort of enemy...,' said a senior League insider with knowledge of the meeting[.] ... After the meeting, Salvini became more outspoken against the pope.... Bannon has steadily been building opposition to Francis through his Dignitatis Humanae Institute, based in a 13th-century mountaintop monastery not far from Rome. In January 2017, Bannon became a patron of the institute, whose honorary president is Cardinal Raymond Burke, an ultra-conservative who believes organised networks of homosexuals are spreading a 'gay agenda' in the Vatican. The institute's chairman is former Italian MP Luca Volontè, on trial for corruption for accepting bribes from Azerbaijan." --s

Trump's Swamp, Ctd. David Dayen of The Intercept: "Betsy Devos's Education Department quietly dropped requirements for risky for-profit colleges to set aside funds in case the schools closed, according to documents from a lawsuit filed last year. Two of the for-profit networks subsequently shut down without owing the Education Department any money; in one case, the department actually gave $10 million back to a for-profit on the brink of bankruptcy. Not only did this deprive taxpayers an offset to costs associated with refunding loans, but it also extended the life of the for-profit colleges, allowing them to enroll more students into a doomed enterprise that wasted time, money, and effort, and delivered them nothing of value." --s

Rachel Donadio of The Atlantic: "I've seen this movie before, but not about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on President Donald Trump's ties to Russia. No, I saw the one that was set in Italy and starred Silvio Berlusconi. Like so many other American remakes, the one with Trump is bigger and louder, and the male lead wears rather ill-fitting suits. But the version I witnessed foreshadowed the current American predicament and offers some insights into what can happen to a democracy when image becomes disconnected from reality.... From the outset, Berlusconi faced judicial investigations.... While ordinary people didn't have the time or interest to follow Berlusconi's legal tangles, the press became obsessed with them. So much so that it lost track of — or maybe never had any interest in -- covering the country's underlying problems: the economy, unemployment, financial insecurity.... What finally drove Berlusconi from office wasn't a political opposition ... or legal trials.... It was the European debt crisis." --s


Government by Sabotaging Ordinary People. Eric Levitz of New York: "On Friday..., Trump vouched for a Washington Post report that specifically suggested that the White House had repeatedly implored Immigration and Customs Enforcement to dump undocumented immigrants in Nancy Pelosi's congressional district -- as a means of coercing House Democrats into granting the administration concessions in budget negotiations. In other words, the president is ostensibly threatening to deliberately inflict harm on Americans who live in areas controlled by Democrats until a coequal branch starts taking his marching orders." The move fits a pattern. "Less than three months into his presidency, Trump threatened to deliberately sabotage America's individual insurance market until Democrats agreed to support repealing and replacing Obamacare[.]... A few months later, the Trump administration canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, thereby subjecting 700,000 Dreamers to the threat of deportation ... because he believed that he could ransom the Dreamers' security for concessions on immigration policy.... And, of course, the president recently shuttered the federal government for more than a month -- deliberately inflicting economic hardship and governmental dysfunction on ordinary Americans -- in a doomed attempt to force Nancy Pelosi to fund his border wall."

One More Way Trump Is Inviting Central American Refugees. Kirk Semple of the New York Times: "... [Central American] farmers, agricultural scientists and industry officials say a new threat has been ruining harvests, upending lives and adding to the surge of families migrating to the United States: climate change.... Gradually rising temperatures, more extreme weather events and increasingly unpredictable patterns -- like rain not falling when it should, or pouring when it shouldn't -- have disrupted growing cycles and promoted the relentless spread of pests. The obstacles have cut crop production or wiped out entire harvests, leaving already poor families destitute. Central America is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change, scientists say. And because agriculture employs much of the labor force -- about 28 percent in Honduras alone, according to the World Bank -- the livelihoods of millions of people are at stake.... The United States has allocated tens of millions of dollars in aid in recent years for farmers across Central America, including efforts to help them adapt to the changing climate. But President Trump has vowed to cut off all foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador because of what he calls their failure to curb the flow of migrants north."

Laurence Tribe to Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post on Donald Trump's reported order to CBP commissioner (now acting DHS secretary) Kevin McAleenan to close the U.S.-Mexican border, & if McAleenan got in legal trouble for it, a promise of a presidential pardon: "If carried out, this offer to pardon high immigration officials if they will break the law on his behalf is the most obviously impeachable action President Trump has taken to date: It would mean this president has seized the power to put not just himself but all who do his bidding beyond the reach of law. That doing so is a high crime and misdemeanor is beyond dispute. Any president guilty of such conduct cannot be permitted to remain in office.... Therefore, the House Judiciary Committee needs to include this matter within its investigatory ambit, subpoenaing all those who may have relevant knowledge unless they appear voluntarily.... It seems unrealistic to expect the blatantly compromised Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special counsel to pursue the issue even if, as appears to be the case, the president has credibly been charged with promising a pardon as a bribe for illegal conduct."

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "A Democratic House chairman on Saturday castigated the Treasury Department for failing to meet his deadline to furnish President Trump's tax returns, arguing that the administration's apparent concerns over his use of powers outlined in the Internal Revenue Service's tax code 'lack merit.' The chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, set a new deadline for compliance, April 23, and warned that if the Trump administration did not reply by then, its 'failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.' The tone of Mr. Neal's letter suggested Democrats are prepared to take their request -- made through a little-known provision in the federal tax code -- to court if necessary, initiating what could be a protracted legal fight over Congress's oversight powers. In it, he cited legal precedent that he argued clearly showed the law is on the committee's side, and said that the executive branch had no right to 'second guess' its motivations."

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "House Democrats are crying foul over a plan by the Intelligence Committee's top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, to meet privately with Attorney General William Barr to push the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against officials involved in the investigation of ... Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.... Nunes has in recent days foreshadowed plans to send eight 'criminal referrals' -- informal requests for the Justice Department to investigate -- directly to Barr.... Before seeing its contents, Nunes labeled Mueller's report a 'partisan document' and said 'we can just burn it up,' even as most of Trump's supporters were celebrating the news -- as described publicly by Barr -- that Mueller 'did not establish' a conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government."

Kyle Cheney: "Roger Stone, the longtime political ally and confidant of ... Donald Trump, issued a series of Hail Mary legal arguments late Friday to dismiss the indictment against him from special counsel Robert Mueller that is pending before a federal judge in Washington D.C. The longshot arguments, some of which have already been considered and rejected by judges in the same courthouse, suggest that Mueller's appointment was unconstitutional because he wasn't commissioned directly by ... Donald Trump. Stone also argues that the Justice Department improperly funded Mueller's investigation because the pot of money supporting his probe wasn't explicitly authorized by Congress. He separately contends that he has been selectively targeted by Mueller because of his closeness to Trump." ...

... Katelyn Polantz of CNN: "... Roger Stone is connected to investigations Robert Mueller sent to other prosecutors and that continue despite the special counsel having finished his work, the Justice Department said Friday in a new court filing. The Justice Department told the federal court in Washington, DC, on Friday afternoon that it shouldn't allow the public release of search warrants being used in Stone's criminal case in DC federal court. The warrants 'concern investigations that remain ongoing,' the filing says. There's so much sensitive information still in the search warrants that they should not even be released with redactions, the Justice Department argues.... A media coalition, including CNN, had asked to unseal the Stone warrants."

Conservo-columnist Bret Stephens of the New York Times compares the role of shame in the American culture of the 1950s to its role today. Had [Charles] Van Doren come along a few decades later, there would have been no big scandal in fabricating reality and no great shame in participating in it. The lines between fame and infamy would have blurred, and both could be monetized.... In days bygone, the prescribed method for avoiding shame was behaving well. Or, if it couldn't be avoided, feeling deep remorse and performing some sort of penance. By contrast, the Trumpian method for avoiding shame is not giving a damn. Spurious bone-spur draft deferment? Shrug. Fraudulent business and charitable practices? Snigger. Outrageous personal invective? Sneer. Inhumane treatment of children at the border? Snarl. Hush-money payoffs to a porn-star and centerfold mistresses? Stud!... It was once the useful role of conservatives to resist these sorts of trends -- to stand athwart declining moral standards, yelling Stop. They lost whatever right they had to play that role when they got behind Trump, not only acquiescing in the culture of shamelessness but also savoring its fruits." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: For those of you too young to remember Van Doren, I can tell you that the quiz show scandals were front-page news all over the U.S. in the late 1950s. BTW, the film "Quiz Show" is quite good. It's available on Netflix with a subscription, on Amazon Prime & YouTube for $3 (and up) & elsewhere.

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times highlights a former multimillionaire (and once a big Democratic donor) who "orchestrat[ed] a scheme that defrauded banks of nearly $300 million" & recently was released from prison under the new First Step Act, a prison reform bill that "offered prisoner rehabilitation programs and overhauled sentencing policies that supporters claimed had a disproportionate effect on poor defendants, especially minorities.... But [Hassan] Nemazee left prison under a less publicized part of the bill that allows certain offenders who are over 60 and not considered a threat to others to be released into home confinement if they have completed two-thirds of their sentence.... That Mr. Nemazee ... qualified for home confinement showed that programs that weigh a prisoner's risk to society give white-collar offenders a distinct advantage, said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor and sentencing expert at Ohio State University." So far, only 10 prisoners have been released under this home confinement provision. Mrs. McC: Call me a cynic, but whoever wrote this provision -- and I do think it's sensible -- had a particular prisoner in mind: some fatcat miscreant who was a friend of the provision's author.

Ann Jones of TomDispatch, in truthdig, reprises the works of Thorstein Veblen, who catalogued the lives of the predatory class of the Gilded Age. "America has once again been gripped by the heavy hands of the predators and of the legislators they buy. Veblen's leisure class is now eclipsed by those even richer than rich, the top 1% of the 1%, a celestial crew even more remote from the productive labor of working men and women than were those nineteenth-century robber barons." Thanks to PD Pepe & Whyte O. for the link.

Zack Whittaker of TechCrunch: "A hacker group has breached several FBI-affiliated websites and uploaded their contents to the web, including dozens of files containing the personal information of thousands of federal agents and law enforcement officers, TechCrunch has learned. The hackers breached three sites associated with the FBI National Academy Association, a coalition of different chapters across the U.S. promoting federal and law enforcement leadership and training located at the FBI training academy in Quantico, VA. The hackers exploited flaws on at least three of the organization's chapter websites -- which we're not naming -- and downloaded the contents of each web server. The hackers then put the data up for download on their own website, which we're also not naming nor linking to given the sensitivity of the data." Mrs. McC: You might think sites associated with the FBI would be pretty hack-proof. Apparently not.

News Ledes

New Your Times: “Paul Greengard, an American neuroscientist whose 15-year quest to understand how brain cells communicate provided new insights into psychological diseases and earned him a Nobel Prize, and who used his entire $400,000 award to create an academic prize in memory of the mother he never knew, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 93."

New Your Times: "Bibi Andersson, the luminous Swedish actress who personified first purity and youth, then complexity and disillusionment, in 13 midcentury Ingmar Bergman films, died on Sunday in Stockholm. She was 83."

Reader Comments (7)

I am old enough to remember, so couple of thoughts about Charles Van Doren and the lessons Stephens draws from his life story.

Yes, people were outraged by Doren's behavior, but to suggest that the outrage erupted particularly from the right--that conservatives were the nation's moral repository--is both misleading and naive. The left, I would imagine was equally outraged because Van Doren's shameful behavior made a mockery of the learning they held and still hold dear, and his behavior therefore diminished them, too, in the process.

To speculate further, I would also bet that some of the reaction from conservatives of the time arose from an opposite opinion of learning's value, expressed by the contempt that many of that element have always had for the pointy-heads, the smarties, for intellectuals of all stripes, a contempt that has only grown deeper over the decades. I can't help but believe the know-nothings of that time took great delight in seeing an intellectual idol exposed as a fraud, confirming them in their belief that those with great learning "ain't really so smart," after all.

Overall, not a bad effort for Stephens, and as far as he went worth saying.

He draws a squiggly line between then and now, but we all know there's far more than the absence of shame in the Pretender's party to distinguish it from the conservative world of the 1950's and of my youth.

Finally, Stephens' language: Isn't it "lie low," not "lay low?"

Or is that just the pointy part of my head talking?

April 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: Totally agree with you on Stephens' assertion that conservatives are the arbiters of moral rectitude. What a joke!

As for "lie" v. "lay," Stephens writes, "Huffman ... will surely have to lay low for a while." Holy crap! You cant get good copyrighters these daze. Huffman's may have to lay her head on a prison pillow one day, but in the meantime, she can lie low. Here, among numerous other places, are the verbs & their conjugations. Seriously, this is something Stephens should have checked if he didn't know which verb to use (and he didn't), & certainly the copywriter should have corrected the error. (I sometimes still have to check the past tenses.)

P.S. Just re-watched "Quiz Show." Worth the time.

April 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

LAY LADY LAY and lack a day. I, too , am old enough to remember Van Doren and not just from the film since I watched it in real time. I would argue that the conservative's "see, you librul smarty pants are all con artists of the first degree–-youse degrees mean zilch!" began when Truman beat Dewey. The bitterness in the Republican Party grew––so much for the high road in American politics. The Communist issue would be fair game in the near future; it was the sure way to fight back. To be sure there was a blanket of decorum but underneath cons, hatreds, prejudices, sexual harassment, etc. were rampant; we didn't have twitter and the internet to let us know how much.

"Them perverts" cited Hoover re: homosexuals. Some of my closest friends were boys that were gay –-being on stage in plays and musicals we bonded well. One of these boys lived across the street from us and as children we played together. My father–-when referring to this boy, would shake his hand in a circular motion and call him "airy fairy."

Which brings me to something I find disturbing: looks like certain conservatives are trying to claim Buttigieg isn't actually a Christian. I am most uncomfortable that religion is even a salient point in our political discussions but of course that's like wishing for all humans to be fair and balanced. These folks that are having one hell of a time with Mayor Pete–-Pence, Graham, et al; cite the Bible to back up their claims. Someone some time ago wrote something that I think sums up elegantly my own thoughts about this issue:

"If more people treated the Gospels as part of an ageless, continuing
philosophical discussion, which they are -- instead of as historical
documents telling a true story in which an earthly divinity lays out the
word of God, which they are not -- the Western world would be a happier place."

The author is Marie.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'll be attending a rally this afternoon to promote Pete Boot Edge Edge.
Hopefully none of the president's* white supremest (sp.?)
friends, fiends, will get wind of it. I'm too slow to dodge bullets
Already lots of negatives on social media about this man who I am
sure none of the commenters have any clue other than repeating
what some other malcontent has posted.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

It's Sunday, so another LTTE:

"The upside-down logic at work in the other Washington these days reminds me of a toxic marriage in which the offending party, no matter how unpardonable the behavior, always has someone else to blame.

Yes, Trump's team did meet with Russians at least 101 times (, but we’re told the real crime was the FBI’s interest in those meetings. Maybe Trump did have a little on the side, but everybody does it. Sure, he pushed ethical behavior around and knocked it down the stairs, but you can understand why he felt persecuted when the FBI looked into what he’d done. It was none of their business.

Did Trump separate thousands of immigrant children from their parents and then lose track of them? First “No”, then yes, maybe he did, but that Obama did it first. Or maybe not… (

Sure, all presidents in the last forty years have released their tax returns, and Mr. Trump repeatedly said he would ( But now that he says he won’t you can’t blame him. He has every right to hide his affairs from the people he has promised to honor and serve. It’s only logical. He fears that in the event of a divorce proceeding, his partners in government might use knowledge of his financial entanglements against him. Yes, he did break more promises and flout another law (, but it’s those angry Democrats that are making him do it.

Now Mr. Trump is asking the courts to declare the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, denying health insurance to more than 20 million people, but don’t worry, Dear Country, he has promised a far better plan in its place.

Who wouldn’t trust a partner who has already lied to you more than 9000 times ("

The letter-writing gamut I seem to run: bland earnestness to angry sarcasm. Not much of the former in this one.


April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Can someone please explain to me why we haven't had more open hearing à la Michael Cohen to air Drumpf's conniving, shitstained dirty laundry? MSM commentators were talking about Dems going to set up a musical chairs enquiry of all the people that got swept under the rug by the GOP run Congress. After Cohen, who took his own chunk of flesh off the White House on his way out, there's one. Zip. Zero. Nadie. "Oh but wait!" Dem leaders say. "We've been sending out formal letters to lots of people!"

Well woopty-fucking-do is my response. I know and agree that the letter process is both necessary and time consuming, and can bear fruit come harvest. But that harvest is months, if not years, away. Can't we walk and chew gum at the same time??? The American public is fixed on their boob tube. And talking about letters is a great way to get them to change the channel. Why are we not hauling up stooge after stooge, or whistlerblower after whistlerblower, and staining the White House further? No one scandal will take him down, but the accumulating scandals and debacles and incompetence will peel off some amount of free thinkers, and any amount is worth it.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

As always, so much activity ("news") and so little time to formulate a coherent response to it all (unless you're Akhilleus, in which case, how do you do it, man?! (Seriously, I'm in awe.) So I'll confine myself to a couple comments. First, @PD: "Lay lady lay"...OK, so I'm a bit of a grammar Nazi -- but I'm also a linguist. (Also Welsh, and that makes me a bard by birth, which includes not just poetry, but the voice with which to sing it.) And I get euphony and alliteration, and other less tangible resonances in the phrase. Dylan's (who is not Welsh) phrase may have been technically ungrammatical, but it was poetically perfect.

Second: my friend (best friend, actually) and his wife, who have transmogrified from normal everyday people into activists on steroids, attended a rally for Bernie yesterday in Macomb County (deep red Trump country -- and way too close to my own navy blue county). I had a schedule conflict so I couldn't go with them. At the event, they bumped into Rolling Stones's Matt Taibbi, who told them Bernie had an excellent chance of beating Trump if he could just get past the Democratic party. Shades of 2016. But at least now we know, and can try to be prepared.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRose in MI
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