The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

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Monday
Apr092012

The Commentariat -- April 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's Easter Sunday sermon, and I think it's a winner even if it is full of typos I can't see. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

In a fabulous column, and without naming names, Paul Krugman explains why self-described centrists have fallen for Paul Ryan, "a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class." ...

... Krugman blogpost coda: "... the Ryan proposal would lead to bigger, repeat bigger, deficits than the Obama proposal."

** Eric Alterman of The Nation, in the New York Times: "... economic liberalism is on life-support, while cultural liberalism thrives. [That's largely because] cultural liberalism comes cheap.... Liberals must find a way to combine their cultural successes with new approaches to achieving economic equality.... So far the president has been unwilling to put his budgetary moneys where his mouth is. In fact, Obama has proved far more adept at adapting his positions toward the increasingly radical views enunciated by the leaders of the Republican Party than he has in articulating — and sticking to — an alternative vision of the role of government in ensuring a fair economic shake for all its citizens."

Prof. Philip Kitcher has a terrific essay in the New York Times on social Darwinism. ...

E. J. Dionne: "Conservatives are not accustomed to being on the defensive.... So imagine the shock when President Obama decided last week to speak plainly about what a Supreme Court decision throwing out the health-care law would mean, and then landed straight shots against the Mitt Romney-supported Paul Ryan budget as 'a Trojan horse,' 'an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,' and 'thinly veiled social Darwinism.' ... Conservatives are unhappy because they prefer passive, intimidated liberals to the fighting kind."

Law Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski, in a New York Times op-ed: "In the post-9/11 era, security has too often been an empty pretext for placing dissent out of eyesight and earshot."

Right Wing World

Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, tracks Mitt Etch-a-Sketch Romney's shift to the center. CW: I think it's worth noting, tho Edsall doesn't mention it, that during the general elections the positions of both presidential candidates will be to the left of where they were a year ago. Politicians are shifty people.

James Crugnale of Mediaite: "Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley took a shot at President Barack Obama’s stance on the Supreme Court via Twitter Saturday, tweeting, 'Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law.' ... Obama chief strategist David Axelrod fired back at the Iowa Senator, alleging a six-year-old had hacked his Twitter account.”

News Ledes

New York Times: "... the aggressive tactics that have served Mr. Romney so well in other states faced an unexpected complication [in Pennsylvania]: the emergency hospitalization of Mr. Santorum’s disabled daughter Bella, which prompted an outpouring of public sympathy."

New York Times: "The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin said Monday that she had decided not to convene a grand jury in the case.... The prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey, who was appointed last month by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to investigate the shooting, said in a statement that her decision 'should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.'”

New York Times: "A judge set bail at $9.1 million each on Monday morning for the two men accused in the shooting spree here in which three people were killed and two others were wounded.... All five victims were black. Many city and community leaders have said that the shootings were racially motivated, but District Attorney Tim Harris of Tulsa County said on Monday that the authorities were trying to determine whether the rampage constituted a bias crime."

New York Times: "Facebook ... said it had agreed to buy Instagram, the popular mobile-centric photo-sharing service, for $1 billion in cash and stock, giving it a stronger foothold on mobile devices. It would be Facebook’s largest acquisition to date by far."

Washington Post: David Foley, "a top official at the General Services Administration, was placed on administrative leave Monday, four days after a video that features him joking about the lavish spending at a Las Vegas conference became public.

New York Times: Iranian diplomats are sending mixed signals in advance of nuclear arms talks.

AP: "Syrian forces fired across the border Monday into a refugee camp in Turkey, wounding at least five people as a U.N.-brokered plan to end more than a year of violence this week all but collapsed...." ...

     ... Updated New York Times story here.

AP: "The U.S. Navy said Monday it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.The deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea...."

New York Times: "AOL agreed on Monday to sell a portfolio of over 800 patents, and license about 300 more, to Microsoft for $1.056 billion, amid an arms race within the technology industry over intellectual property."

AP: "Sony Corp. will cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next year as it tries to return to profit, Japanese news reports said Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

On Douthat: It's not just his lying, which you have illuminated wonderfully, it's his simple-minded conception of religion's psychological and sociological aspects (if, to make my own bias clear, there is any other). Douthat seems to believe--there's that word again--that a religious tenet or practice is a constant, like gravity or the speed of light, when all religions and their convictions are subject to drift and change over time. The reasons for those changes are many but the simple proliferation of street corner churches in this country since Douthat's golden age should be proof enough of religion's inconstancy.

To this non-believing observer, the delicious irony at the heart of Douthat's lamentations is that his own party has done all it can to splinter established religious institutions by substituting consumerism and dollar worship for ethical behavior, by hawking belligerent anti-intellectualism, political paranoia and outright racism, and by funneling millions of tax dollars into the coffers of the religious Right and its private religious-based so called schools.

And then Douthat complains about a nation so ignorant, so confused, so angry, so afraid that thousands, if not millions of its citizens seek security in their own egocentrically defined Church of the One True God--themselves.

The Republican Party has done all it can to make the church business big business and has been remarkably successful in doing so in the last forty years. For them it was a simple matter of votes. Unintended consequences or not, that effort has had a significant effect on our politics, some of which Douthat apparently doesn't like. I don't either but he's blaming the wrong folks for the development. He should look in a mirror.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes. Thanks for the coda to my column. You're right of course about the inconstancy of religious doctrine and about Douthat's inability to see that. I suppose that's a conservative thing -- those guys don't like change! But all faiths have changed their "cast-in-stone" principles, sometimes for practical reasons & sometimes because of changes in leadership. The ones that don't are no longer around; e.g., Shakers. It's true that some well-established religions are more hidebound than others, so in some cases it isn't the doctrine that changes but the parishioners. The Roman church's contraception ban would be a lot bigger problem in this country if Catholic women paid much attention to it.

And I heartily agree that Republicans have encouraged wacky religious views. What's more, the GOP gets worse every year. When some yokel called Obama an A-rab (that's pronounced with a long "A") at a McCain event, McCain said, "No, he's not." When a woman at a Santorum rally said Obama was a Muslim, Santorum didn't disagree. (I will say that last week or so -- and now that he has the nomination pretty well sewed-up -- Romney did say "No" when some guy who seemed to be looking for a "Yes" answer asked Romney if he believed interracial marriage was immoral.) Their war on science is mind-boggling. The GOP has definitely returned to the pre-Scopes trial era.

Marie

April 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Blame evolution for the spread of religious dogma of all kinds across the world. Becoming a group in awe of one God or another brought people together in a larger society than the family. Grouped together followers of one God or another started helping each other. People that helped each other survived. Those that did not perished. That Darwin fellow described the process as evolution.
Many of the religious groups do not believe in evolution, What the hell Archie.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Marie, I wanted to share my thoughts on Krugman's take:

Many "Independents" and "Centrists" are closet authoritarian/libertarians (philosophies that would seem to be incompatible until you realize that the combo means "lower taxes for me, behaving yourself for you"). The Republican Redistribution and Redemption Center is doing the heavy lifting for these "centrists" who apparently desire another Golden Age in which we can lionize the rich and admonish the poor about the sin of laziness and then herd them into churches where they can learn about the celestial bootstraps by which they can pull themselves up. (Perhaps the Brooks household can spare a pair.)

Also, it has occurred to me why these folks pine for the 1950s. That era occurred just before television forced us to witness the cost we inflict on those less fortunate for the sake of our elevated lifestyles. In those idyllic times we could choose not to be informed. Television and the Internet have made it impossible for a person to ignore reality, and the response to that has been to split humanity into those who are appalled by much of what they see and those who smugly deny that any of it matters.

One last thing I'd like to ask "centrists": Were you a centrist during, say, the Ford Administration? Can you feel the scale of tectonic shift centrism has experienced since 1975? Does any of that matter to you, or is it important for your own self-image for you to be able to claim to be "fair and balanced"?

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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