The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Washington Post: "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County late Wednesday after an onshore pipeline burst, spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean — blackening beaches and endangering West Coast wildlife. The area, a popular camping spot some 20 miles from Santa Barbara, known for its palm tree-lined seashore and pristine surf, has been “closed indefinitely.” The extent of the damage is not known."

New York Times: "Islamic State militants on Thursday solidified their rout of Syrian government forces in the historic desert city of Palmyra, moving to the outskirts to seize its airport and the notorious Tadmur Prison, according to residents and statements from the group. It was the first time that the ISIS militants seized an entire city from Syrian government forces; it won control of its first major city, Raqqa, from Syrian insurgents and the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front after the two became rivals."

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 22

10:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony (audio only)

11:00 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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Friday
Apr272012

The Commentariat -- April 28, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Gail Collins just nicks the tip of the iceberg on the privitization of education, but it's enough to infuriate me. If you want to talk war on everything, the war on public education is perhaps the most scandalous, because it is, to borrow a phrase from Obama, winning our future. That is to say, our future is losing. CW: BTW, it may be coincidental, but ever since I wrote a column (which nobody liked) in the NYTX criticizing Collins for wasting her NYT real estate on frivolous stuff, Collins has written mostly substantive columns.

Kevin Drum: "Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that, but a couple of recent data points suggest the answer is yes." This is an interesting post in that Drum cites studies that indicate both Medicare & Medicaid costs are actually holding steady or decreasing. This was news to me.

Paul Krugman: "Obama, far from presiding over a huge expansion of government the way the right claims, has in fact presided over unprecedented austerity, largely driven by cuts at the state and local level. And it’s therefore an amazing triumph of misinformation the way that lackluster economic performance has been interpreted as a failure of government spending." With a chart to prove it. ...

... Here's Krugman on NPR; includes summary of the interview.

How to Control the Narrative. Glenn Greenwald doesn't like it: "This is what the Obama administration does over and over. It’s a flagrant abuse of its secrecy powers. It uses anonymous leaks to selectively boast about what it does and thus shape media narratives and public understanding of its conduct (also called 'domestic propaganda'). But it then simultaneously insists that the whole matter is classified — Top Secret — when it comes time to be subjected to any form of legal accountability or have its assertions publicly tested."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to [Hillary] Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself." Naturally, there's a tit for tat.

CW: Sorry, forgot to post this yesterday. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 13 people, including Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison and John Paul Stevens, the White House announced Thursday." Post includes complete list of honorees.

Richard Ryan & William Ryan in the New York Times: "In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "After a week of public squabbling, both [Scott Brown & Elizabeth Warren] publicly released several years of tax returns earlier today, and it turns out their incomes aren't very different. According to the Boston Globe's report, Brown and his wife (a former television reporter at Boston's ABC affiliate) took in $510,856 in 2011. The total for Warren and her husband: $616,181. Their 2010 returns tell a similar story, with Brown reporting around $840,000 in income and Warren about $955,000. Those totals put each of them near the top of the income scale. There's a wider gulf in earlier years, before Brown's 2010 Senate victory, which he parlayed into a lucrative book deal."

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "On Capitol Hill, Democrats are aggressively pushing the case that Republicans are now waging a 'War on Women' on three legislative fronts. First, they are blasting House Republicans for their proposal to block changes to the Violence Against Women Act.... Second, they've cast the GOP proposal to lower student rates by taking money out of Obamacare's prevention fund as another 'assault on women.' ... [Third,] Senate Democrats are planning to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which 'would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference.' ..."

Meanwhile, in ...

... Right Wing World

The Presidential Race

We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, rich person with rich parents, like so many of us ...

Steve Benen chronicles Mitt's lies of the week; 15th in an extraordinary series.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: President Obama may use climate change to smoke out Willard Romney and his climate change denials turns; it could play well with upscale voters who think Romney is appealing.

Local News

Believe me, there is [sic.] a lot of good and hardworking people that work for the state. They are not the problem. The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it's hard. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine) ...

... Eric Russell of Bangor Daily News: LePage "offered no proof of corruption, no data to back his case that these managers don't work and he didn't identify a specific department. He did go on to talk about how most of these employees are not appointed by him and are protected through union contracts."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The latest high-level talks on ending a diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan ended in failure on Friday over Pakistani demands for an unconditional apology from the Obama administration for an airstrike. The White House, angered by the recent spectacular Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, refuses to apologize."

New York Times: "The recently retired chief of Israel's internal security agency said Friday night that he had 'no faith' in the ability of the current leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat, ratcheting up the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the defense and intelligence communities."

New Rules. New York Times: "... the Secret Service ... announced on Friday that it had tightened its rules for staff members traveling in foreign countries."

AFP: "A leading Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest last weekend is now under US 'protection' and Washington and Beijing are in talks over his status, an overseas rights group said Saturday. Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood, fled last Sunday with the help of his supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family."

New York Times: police chiefs from 250 American cities gathered in Washington this week to focus on disparities in gun violence among cities.

AP: "Calling it an 'oversight,' George Zimmerman's attorney said Friday the neighborhood watch volunteer did not disclose that a website had raised more than $200,000 for his defense, even though his family told the judge they would have trouble coming up with his bond.... Florida Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he wanted to know more about the money."

AFP: "A Ukrainian court adjourned until May 21 on Saturday the new tax evasion trial of the jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike, on account of her failing health. The unexpected decision came as Western concern mounted over the fate of the fiery opposition leader after she stretched her fast into a ninth day to protest an alleged beating at the hands of three prison guards."

Reader Comments (13)

Poor Mittens. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it. (sigh)

Do NOT delete this. It deserves repetition.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Thanks for sharing Boehner doing his best Nixon "I am not a crook" impression. However, even a lame sound bite suffices to convince those who dearly desire, without being blamed, to rein in those heretics who are contemplating sex for non-Catholic League-approved purposes, even when the attempt to squelch the sinners creates some collateral damage.

Actually, now that I think about it, those salacious mouth-breathers deserve to have to listen to el Rushbo--for eternity.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

An astute commenter (Huffington Post) wrote this regarding
Maine's Governor LePage latest bit of stupidity in his continuing series of knee-jerk thinking.

"Just remember, it costs taxpayers on AVERAGE twice as much to PRIVATIZE Government services.

The idea, that you can contract private, un-regulated, PROFIT driven companies and expect them to operate more efficiently FOR TAXPAYERS is ludicrous. BUT the right has convinced millions of Americans it is TRUE. "

It more than applies to the points Gail Collins made in her column. Somehow, 'privatization' has been sold as 'no cost' to the gullible public—who do they think pays the cost for the privatized jails? The inmates? Who pays for the Charter Schools? The magic money fairy? Who buys the myth that privately run school 'hire' better teachers than public schools?

Unfortunately, too many have. Wake up, people!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

"Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that..." Yes there is! Simply deny payments for medically worthless procedures and fix a pricing schedule that allows for a maximum of 25% more than any other country charges for the same procedure. My favorite, an appendectomy in Germany $3285, in the US $13,123. And there would be a huge improvement in the US economy when surgeons would have to give up their Mercedes for a Ford.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

When Romney repeats lies such as asserting that President Obama has "apologized for America" why doesn't the press challenge him to cite specifics? This question is rhetorical.
But it sure would be refreshing to see an energized media that doesn't just act as dutiful scribes.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re. Eduction. Roosevelt created the CCC and put three hundred thousand unemployed young people to work in three momths.
We could create the Teachers Conservation Corps and put an assistant in every class room to minister to those that have trouble keeping up. What a wonder it would be to have a whole bunch of children that could read, write and do sums.
Taking educated young people and giving them experience and a salary would be expensive but the result would be priceless, an economic stimulus and better prepared students and workers.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Jack: such a coincidence––last night after watching Boehner's little hissy fit I turned to my husband, shook my finger, and in my best Nixonian voice said, "I am NOT a crook!"

Romney's continuel lies amaze me along with the lack of the right to hold his feet to the fire. They, these republicans, evidently think it just doesn't matter, that the public doesn't know any better. When the debates start Obama will have such a treasure trove of goodies to work with. When Mitt's father, George, was a presidential candidate for the 1968 elections his truth telling did him in. He had backed the Vietnam War, but after going over there to see first hand he concluded he has been "brainwashed,"––and he finally let that loose––and for that he lost. Here we have the opposite with son Mitt, whose fabrications become his facts until faced head on––he, too, will lose...I hope.

I agree with Marie that the war on education is the most scandalous and the vultures who are making big bucks from mucking it up need to be exposed. There have been some exposés re: these private on-line colleges, but there needs to be outrage.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The canard of privatization has been given serious legs because here again the press have failed miserably to do their job.

The right has been pushing this for decades. Remember Ronald Reagan and then Ross Perot whining about how government should be run more like a business? Well first, the only real business Reagan had ever been in was the creation of fantasy. Ross Perot got rich because lucrative government contracts allowed him to develop data systems that he then went on to make a fortune with after his work with the government was concluded. There is absolutely no way he would have been able to develop those systems on his own nickel. We paid for it. You and me. Then he took what he learned while raking in our money and made a fortune. You know what? Good for him. But for him to turn around and stoke the fires of hatred and loathing for the government by ripping it for not being "business-like" was not just disingenuous, it was repulsive.

And so, the idea that government services could be provided better by the private sector has taken hold because no one has ever challenged it.

Are private sector enterprises more efficient? Maybe. Sometimes. But clearly not always. Why didn't GM see that giant gas guzzlers would kill its business? Hmmm? Would GM still be around if Obama hadn't stepped in and helped? And remember Chrysler? The government bailed their asses out too and then Lee Iaccoca, without EVER mentioning the help he got from unions and federal government went on to fashion himself as the savvy businessman who "saved Chrysler." Bullshit.

As Krugman and many others have pointed out many, many times, government is NOT a business. It does things business could never do. Would we have gone to the moon without the government? Would we have a interstate highway system? The Hoover Dam? The TVA? Can you just imagine postal service handled by a private business? You may never get mail because your house might not be on a profitable enough route. Same with bus services. Same with pretty much everything else. If it doesn't return a profit at a certain level, they won't do it. So close thousands of public libraries. Close schools. Shut down unemployment centers, public hospitals, the FDA, hey what a boon to Big Pharma!

Would any of these things or many more be in our lives if Republicans had their way and worked everything like a business? It's not even a rhetorical question. We've already had a president--the CEO president--who operated the government as if it were his own private corporation. George W. Bush.

See how well that turned out.

Any more questions?

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Gov. LePage continues to embarrass most Mainers with his thoughtless remarks (and terrible grammar). But not all of us. The other night, while tending bar, I had the misfortune of having to over hear a couple people praising LePage's "straight-talk" and "bluntness". Seems neither of them has any trust in "smooth talking politicians". Both were military people, one headed to Afganistan. After two drinks they started talking about how they'd like to see President Obama's school records....Thank goodness they left, or I'd have been forced to cut them off!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGail Leiser

On further thought, just consider exactly what kind of education children might receive from for profit corporations. Maybe decades ago when many corporations were somewhat standalone, there might have been a small chance that actual education could be the goal (stick that in your Funk and Wagnalls) but today when corporations are wholly owned subsidiaries of larger fish who themselves in turn owe obeisance, fealty, and profits to even bigger multi-nationals?

Nope.

So here's how it works.

Edu-corp, a private educational management company owned by some multi-national which in turn trades in a variety of investment instruments, decides that a science text book by Good Science Publishers, has too many references to human based global warming. Since a substantial portion of the parent corporation's quarterly earnings comes from introducing enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, it's very likely that they will opt for the science textbooks developed by Texas Oilman's Press which states that there is no such thing as global warming. Also, if some group threatens to boycott some other industry they own, they might come to an understanding with them and force all their schools to purchase textbooks written by The Fundamentalist Christian Way Publishing company which declares that...well, you can guess for yourselves.

As for that conversation that Gail overheard, it wouldn't matter if those patrons saw Obama's school records. Upon seeing the record of a superior student, they would assume that it had been doctored because no nee-gro could ever be that smart.

Sorry, but there really is no rational reason for so many to hate Obama like they do apart from blank, unholy racial hatred.

And we all know, haters gonna hate.

And maybe run our schools too.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus
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