The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 26

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

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Thursday
Apr262012

The Commentariat -- April 27, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' latest attempt to take down Paul Krugman. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...

... Driftglass has something to say about Brooks, too:

Mr. Brooks, in case you hadn't noticed, the government of the United States has been conducting a massive experiment for about the last 30 years. It's called 'Conservatism'. Maybe you've read about it? Its key features radical deregulating of everything, the mass rejection of science, running up staggering debt by throwing money at rich people, gutting our manufacturing base, shredding our social safety net, lying our way into some of the worst foreign policy decisions in our history, slandering, lying and impeaching opponents, voter suppression, mass-distributing firearms as if they were free sausage samples being handed out at the mall....

Paul Krugman: "... something has changed [in Europe] in the past few weeks. Several events — the collapse of the Dutch government over proposed austerity measures, the strong showing of the vaguely anti-austerity François Hollande in the first round of France’s presidential election, and an economic report showing that Britain is doing worse in the current slump than it did in the 1930s — seem to have finally broken through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working."

NEW. Governing by Executive Order. Anne Gearan of the AP: At Ft. Stewart today, President Obama signed "an executive order mandating several new education protections for military service members. Though there is little the federal government can do to shut down diploma mills, the new protections would make it harder for post-secondary and technical schools to misrepresent themselves to military students.... Bills pending in Congress, largely backed by Democrats and unlikely to become law soon, would do many of the same things Obama was ordering Friday."

Thirty-one Republican Senators voted against reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (see yesterday's Ledes):

Robert Farzad of Business Week: we taxpayers still have a "special relationship" with A.I.G.; Treasury has effectively given them another bailout, according to Elizabeth Warren & is playing numbers tricks according to Neil Barofsky. And A.I.G. hasn't learned a thing -- its CEO can hardly wait to get back into risky business. ...

... Speaking of Elizabeth Warren -- Robert Rizzuto of The (Massuchusetts) Republican: "With Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown set to release six years of tax returns sometime today, the Massachusetts Democratic Party released a new video this morning portraying him as 'a millionaire under that $675 barn jacket" (via Greg Sargent):

The Presidential Race

** New York Times editors: "Mitt Romney has made [Robert] Bork a chairman of his Justice Advisory Committee. As with other Republicans leaders, Mr. Bork's central position in Mr. Romney's legal team says a great deal about the presumptive presidential nominee's approach to the law, none of it good."

E. J. Dionne: "Mitt Romney ... has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve. He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney's campaign.... This is Romney’s true radicalism."

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: no matter how "moderate" Gov. Etch-a-Sketch becomes on immigration, he won't be able to top McCain 31% of the Hispanic vote because "Romney, like his party, is just too white.... Average Latino voters, men and women who work really hard every day for white bosses, are just going to find that he reminds them too much of the guy who docks their pay when the bus comes late. And they won't be wrong -- he basically is that guy."

John Broder of the New York Times: "The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities. The ad is going up in eight states." And it's full of lies. CW: Good for Broder for debunking the ad. ...

     ... NEW. Stephen Lacey & Rebecca Leber of Think Progress fact-check the ad. Oops, no facts! ...

     ... AND. NEW. Steve Benen: "If President Obama has failed as spectacularly as his Republican detractors argue, shouldn't it be easier for them to come up with honest attack ads?"

... Paul Waldman of American Prospect on the "Cool Obama" ad from Karl Turdblossom Rove (see the ad in yesterday's Commentariat): "So once again, we have to wage a campaign of the cool kids versus the squares. This all started in the 1960s, when people like Rove and Romney watched their contemporaries smoking grass, listening to music with electric guitars, and dancing wildly about with adventurous girls in sheer peasant blouses, and thought to themselves, 'Gosh darn it, I hate those guys!'" CW: my thoughts exactly.

Right Wing World *

Russell Berman of The Hill: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sounded a pessimistic note on the prospects of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) modified DREAM Act proposal making it into law this year.... 'I found it of interest,' he said of Rubio’s proposal, 'but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. And to deal with a very difficult issue like this … I think it would be difficult at best.'" CW: Hostile political environment: see also 20-foot electrified double border fence with alligator mote. ...

... Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The Rubio proposal hardly puts Obama in a 'box,' as the Post suggests [see yesterday's Commentariat]. All Obama has to do is endorse the Rubio option as a stopgap measure, say it's the best that can be done for now, and tell Congress to get to work. At that point, the GOP will fling it into a black hole of obstruction, from which neither hope nor light can escape." CW: and if Romney also endorses it, that will leave him once again at odds with the Xenophobe Party. C'mon, Obama, you know what to do.

* Where it sucks not to be white. -- Akhilleus

News Ledes

New York Times: "The economic output of the United States grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, largely on the strength of consumer spending and a surge in residential building helped by unseasonably warm weather."

Vice President Oops! Politico: "The Federal Election Commission has fined Sen. Marco Rubio $8,000 for accepting more than $210,000 in improper contributions during his 2010 run for the Senate."

New York Times: "Moments after an unusual fiery appeal from Speaker John A. Boehner, the House voted 215 to 195 on Friday to prevent a doubling of student loan rates and challenge President Obama over a veto threat. The bill, which would strip $5.9 billion from a program within the health care law to pay to keep rates on subsidized undergraduate loans at 3.4 percent, is all but certain to fail in the Senate, where lawmakers have put together their own measure to keep the rate from reverting to 6.8 percent by closing tax loopholes for some wealthy business owners."

New York Times: "The dramatic nighttime escape of a blind rights lawyer from extralegal house arrest in his village dealt a major embarrassment to the Chinese government and left the United States, which may be sheltering him, with a fresh diplomatic quandary as it seeks to improve its fraught relationship with Beijing."

New York Times: "Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Thursday passed a bill that encourages intelligence agencies and businesses to share information about threats to computer systems, including attacks on American Web sites by hackers in China and other countries."

New York Times: "Federal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court."

Guardian: "Japan and the US have agreed to relocate thousands of US marines from Okinawa in a move aimed at reducing the island's military burden amid lingering anger among residents over pollution, accidents and crime. Under a deal reached in Washington late on Thursday, about 9,000 marines will move from the southern Japanese island to the US Pacific territory of Guam and other locations in the region, including Hawaii and Australia."

New York Times: "... the Secret Service has begun to change its policies after the scandal [in Colombia]. The agency plans to bar employees from drinking alcohol beginning 10 hours before their shift.... The previous cutoff was six hours.... According to a Congressional official, the employees involved [in the prostitution scandal] included nine Secret Service agents and three uniformed officers. None were part of the president's personal detail."

Guardian: "The military judge in the court-martial of the US soldier accused of handing WikiLeaks the biggest trove of unauthorised state secrets in American history has put army prosecutors on notice that they must prove Bradley Manning knew he was helping the enemy or face the possibility that the most serious charge against him be dismissed."

Reuters: "A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh 'enhanced interrogation techniques' the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs."

New York Times: Jeremy Hunt, the "embattled British cabinet minister who has drawn criticism for his dealings with Rupert Murdoch's media empire, promised on Friday to hand over text messages and e-mails relating to his role in a failed $12 billion bid by Mr. Murdoch to take full control of BSkyB, Britain's main satellite broadcaster."

Reuters: "George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who is accused of murder in the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, has raised at least $200,000 through a website set up to fund his defense, his lawyer said on Thursday."

ABC News: "While U.S. officials say publicly there is no specific threat of a terror attack, behind the scenes law enforcement officials tell ABC News there are plans for a major security surge at airports and transportation hubs in advance of next week's anniversary of Osama bin Laden<'s death."

Reader Comments (4)

The European austerity experiment: Let's see now. If you have less money circulating because you blew up the economy and lost a fifth to a quarter of the world's ready capital, and then you decide to fix the problem by extracting even more capital from circulation by hiding it in (to use Krugman's phrase) the rentiers' pockets, are you wiser or more moral than the great unwashed, hands outstretched clutching their empty begging bowls, or just flat dumb?

Looks like the great unwashed is making its decision. Democracy is such a bother for the rich. Almost as much as a cool President for a Turdblossom.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Bork is like the horror show villian who, after being thoroughly killed off and we breathe a sigh of relief, pops up to wreak havoc again.
How many years has it been since the Saturday night Massacre?
Mae Finch

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

@mae finch

Don't you know..The entire GOP is populated with the walking dead. Zombies have devoured their brains.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Mae,

My mother used to say “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

If that’s the case, we can tell a lot about how Romney will govern. I don’t care if he and his advisors look at this as a sop to the tinfoil hat Republicans and Teabagger loons. The choice of Bork as your primary legal advisor opens the door for many more questions than answers about a President Romney.

First, even if he’s agnostic about Bork’s views, what does that say about him? That his only concern for the law of the land and Constitutional interpretation is based solely on the chameleonic requirements of the moment? When he was governor of MA, he was much more moderate, but is that what he believed or were those tricks of the trade? More pandering to get what he wanted? Like a hooker putting on a good show for the client(s)?

Let’s remember what Ted Kennedy had to say about Bork when he was first offered for the Senate's consideration by that other model of moderation, Ronald Reagan:

"Mr. Bork...stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court that would have placed him outside the mainstream of American constitutional jurisprudence in the 1960s, let alone the 1980s. He opposed the Public Accommodations Civil Rights Act of 1964. He opposed the one-man one-vote decision of the Supreme Court the same year. He has said that the First Amendment applies only to political speech, not literature or works of art or scientific expression...Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens."

(Scarily, this description fits exactly where today's GOP wants to take us.)

Conservatives can scream all they want about Teddy Kennedy, but he was right on the money about Bork and the senate agreed with him.

Now Romney’s shills, and the dominant right-wing media echo chambers will scream that this doesn’t mean anything and people are reading way too much into this. That Bork is only an advisor and his selection as such only matters to lame-brain liberals. But it DOES matter.

These same 'pundits' declared Barack Obama's tangential connections to Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers terribly significant but neither of those guys were presidential advisors.

Bork is.

Just don’t forget the prostitute’s code. Never get emotionally involved with a client and never kiss them on the mouth.
Don’t expect Willard to truly care about any average Americans or to pucker up anytime soon. He’ll be too busy putting on a good show, selling himself to the highest bidders, and wearing whatever costume will get the job done.

It does matter.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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