The Ledes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said.The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

White House Live Video
November 24

11:30 am ET: President Obama & President Francois Hollande of France hold a joint press conference

5:00 pm ET: President Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Go to


Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Contact the Constant Weader

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The Commentariat -- April 17, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on the New York Times' sponsorship of "Deficit Reduction Week." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. My column incorporates ...

     ... Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation has a good column in the Washington Post debunking the idea -- promulgated by Brooks & Friedman, among others -- that neither side is willing to work in a bipartisan way to pass a right-wing deficit-reduction plan. ...

     ... AND this terrific post on Bill Keller's most recent NYT column by Joan Walsh of Salon. ...

     ... AND this post in which economist Dean Baker debunks David Brooks' column today.

** Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people nationwide, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.... Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.... The Post found that while many prosecutors made swift and full disclosures, many others did so incompletely, years late or not at all." Hsu points to a number of specific cases, all of which will make you sick.

Josh Barro of Forbes makes the case for abolishing the federal Housing & Urban Development Department (HUD).

Nate Silver of the New York Times has 12 tips on how to read political polls.

Jake Tapper of ABC News on the GSA Las Vegas "meeting" scandal. With video. And photos!

The Presidential Race

Walter Shapiro: "Romney's budget plan shouldn't be a secret saved for wealthy donors."

Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: "The last time we checked in on Mitt Romney's tax plan, the numbers didn't add up. Actually, there weren't any numbers to add up. Instead, there was a not very plausible promise to make the numbers add up at a later date.... Romney only spelled out the taxes and not the tax deductions that he wanted to cut.... Because he promised that his plan would be 'revenue neutral,' these numbers had to offset each other. But if Romney's recent hot mic moment is any indication, they don't. Not even close.... Red ink is the likely result of the Romney tax plan. Lots of it. That's just math."

In case you'd like to know what Mitt & Ann Romney said to ABC News' Diane Sawyer, here's the transcript.

** "Why Ann Romney Stayed Home." McCay Coppins in BuzzFeed: "... for many Latter-day Saint women, staying at home to raise children is less a lifestyle choice than religious one — a divinely-appreciated sacrifice that brings with it blessings, empowerment, and spiritual prestige. These doctrinally-defined gender roles aren't entirely unique — they've been preached by various sects for centuries — but Mormons have proven uniquely unwilling to bend them to fit modern times. The Church took heat in the '70s for waging a high-profile campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment; and even today, Mormon women remain twice as likely to be homemakers as non-Mormons, regardless of income levels." ...

... Roseann Barr, who is running for president, writes an opinion piece in the Daily Beast questioning Ann Romney's veracity & criticizing the latest fake mommy war. CW: Barr mostly gets it right. I'm linking the piece largely because "people are talking" about it.

Right Wing World *

** Charles Pierce of Esquire argues that "The Democratic party has an obligation to beat the Republican party so badly, over and over again, that rationality once again becomes a quality to be desired."

Frank James of NPR: In an "entirely objective statistical procedure," two political scientists have demonstrated that "the Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century." ...

     ... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "Unfortunately, even after noting that ideological polarization is assymmetric, both NPR and Poole [the political scientist] refuse to move away from a 'pox on both houses' frame for the story.... If there’s a problem in American politics, it’s the Republican Party, whose theological devotion to to tax cuts and 'small government' has destroyed our finances — both Reagan and George W. Bush were responsible for huge explosions of debt—and made bipartisan cooperation impossible."

After the Horse Is out of the Barn. Colorado Pols: A day after the GOP organ Colorado Observer quoted Rep. Scott Tipton's campaign manager saying, "With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good," & after the quote had made national news, the Website totally sanitized the citation. "You shouldn't be surprised to discover that what the Colorado Observer and its stable of former GOP campaign staffers who call themselves 'journalists' practices isn't 'journalism,' but this kind of dishonesty convinces you they aren't really trustworthy even as a partisan mouthpiece." Via Greg Sargent. See also yesterday's Commentariat.

Mary Bruce of ABC OTUS News: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked back Saturday night, dancing and drinking beer at a local hotspot after a day of summit meetings in Cartagena. The AFP/Getty got images of the Secretary dancing at Café Havana with her hands up in the air and swigging a local brew with friends." ...

Apparently this is shocking in Right Wing World.     ... Digby: "Yes, you may have been under the impression that right wingers consider Hillary to be a frigid, unfeeling schoolmarm but that was then and this is now. It's only a matter of time before they have her jumping out of the cake at the secret service sex parties." ...

     ... Davig Graham of The Atlantic on the brew-haha: "Inexplicably, however, we haven't seen Drunk Texts from Hillary anywhere."

* ... is far right.

Local News

War on Women. M. J. Lee of Politico: "Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law on Monday a bill that could shut down the only abortion clinic in the state, hailing it as an important step to 'ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi.'”

Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads all of his Democratic challengers in the Wisconsin recall election, per a new Public Policy Polling poll."

News Ledes

CNN: "The space shuttle Discovery landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Tuesday after a series of nostalgic fly-bys on the back of a NASA Boeing 747, bringing whoops of pride and tears to the eyes of space fans and astronauts alike":

New York Times: "Citigroup's shareholders rejected the bank’s plan to award its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, $15 million in compensation, in a show of frustration about Wall Street pay."

AP: "Under pressure to take action on rising gasoline prices, President Barack Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions."

Washington Post: "A probe into the alleged misconduct of nearly a dozen U.S. Secret Service agents has expanded to include more than five military personnel, Defense Department officials said Monday, as the scandal that erupted during President Obama's trip to Colombia last week put high-level officials on the defensive." ...

... ABC News: "... the Secret Service officials accused of misconduct in Colombia revealed their identities by boasting at a Cartagena brothel that they worked for President Obama." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The Secret Service has uncovered evidence that all 11 personnel under investigation for alleged misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia before President Obama's arrival there for a summit meeting last weekend had taken women to their rooms, Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on Tuesday." Washington Post story here.

Washington Post: "Inspector General Brian Miller told a congressional committee scrutinizing an $823,000 Las Vegas conference that his office has asked the Justice Department to investigate 'all sorts of improprieties' surrounding the 2010 event, 'including bribes, including possible kickbacks.' ... Miller's revelations of possible further misconduct ... enraged Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The lawmakers put GSA officials on the defensive during a tense four-hour hearing, with some Republicans loudly rebuking former administrator Martha N. Johnson and her colleagues."

Show Me the Money. AP: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that the long-term partnership agreement being negotiated with the United States should specify exactly how much money the U.S. will give to Afghan forces in coming years."

New York Times: "Demanding his acquittal, [Anders Behring Breivik,] a self-styled anti-Islamic militant on trial for killing 77 people in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity took the stand for the first time on Tuesday, describing the deaths as 'the most spectacular sophisticated political act in Europe since the Second World War' and saying he would do it over again."

AP: "The Syrian regime widened shelling attacks on opposition strongholds Tuesday, activists said, targeting a second town in a new sign that a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is quickly unraveling despite the presence of foreign observers."

Reader Comments (2)

I'm off to work, but am looking forward to Marie's making mincemeat out of Brooks today. I should never have read his column while eating breakfast––instead of food for thought, it was agita on a grand scale.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD Pepe,

Never under any circumstances read Brooks while eating! In addition to guaranteed primary GI tract stimulation, a Brooks piece is a straight line shot to the medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone. Not fun. Also you may become infected with Brooks Disease, which will cause you to uncover equivalencies where there are none. "Hitler? He wasn't all that bad. Besides, those Jews....they made jokes about him, didn't they? How awful." or "Those nice people in those covered wagons only wanted a few million acres to live on--I mean, it was their Manifest Destiny. So they indulged in a few atrocities. So what? Those mean old Native Americans killed that nice General Custer, didn't they? They were all equally bad."

See? ...and like that.

Speaking of CTZ stimulation, Buzzfeed is reporting that Mittens is already selling tickets to his inaugural meet and greets. A mere $50,000 ($78,500--the "legal" limit, nudge, nudge, wink, wink--is the preferred amount) will get you in line to whisper sweet corporate somethings into Mitty's ear (only the right one). A measly 10 Gs will only get you a picture with the great one.

They're lining up to carve up the country.

Vote early, vote often.

And stay away from David Brooks on a full stomach! Such dangerous enterprises are only for those with proper training and death defying skills like Marie.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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