The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, January 29, 2015.

New York Times: "... Greece backed away from strong statements denouncing sanctions [against Russia] and joined other countries in the 28-member [European] bloc in a unanimous vote in favor of expanding a list of sanctioned individuals, mostly Russians, and of work to prepare 'any further action' to pressure combatants to respect a stillborn truce agreement from last year."

CNN: "The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of last year has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, multiple officials tell CNN."

Washington Post: Three American contractors and an Afghan national were killed in a shooting at a military base at Kabul’s airport Thursday, said a U.S. defense official."

Los Angeles Times: "Rod McKuen, a prolific songwriter and poet whose compositions include the Academy Award-nominated song 'Jean' for the 1969 film 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,' has died. He was 81."

New York Times: "Colleen McCullough, a former neurophysiological researcher at Yale who, deciding to write novels in her spare time, produced 'The Thorn Birds,' a multigenerational Australian romance that became an international best seller and inspired a hugely popular television mini-series, died on Thursday on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, where she had made her home for more than 30 years. She was 77."

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 29

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

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

This is a real bill. Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott verified it. Check out the customer name on the account:

Is "Asshole" the customer's real given name? Well, no. Comcast got mad at the family for wishing to cancel the cable part of their Comcast service. Comcast not only refused to cut the cable, as it were, they changed the primary customer's name from "Ricardo" (his parents' idea) to "Asshole." When Ricardo's wife tried to get Comcast to change the account back to her husband's real name, both Comcast's local & regional "customer service" (Comcast's idea) offices refused. After Elliott took up the Browns' case, Comcast relented on both. ...

... Video via Karoli of Crooks & Liars. CW: I assure you, former Arkansas Gov. Fuckabee will be very upset by the vid.

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Sunday
Feb122012

The Commentariat -- February 13, 2012

Abso-fucking-lutely not. -- Christina Romer, in 2009, on whether the stimulus had been big enough ...

... ** Norm Scheiber of The New Republic on "Obama's worst year." Scheiber lays out the 2011 internal White House deliberations on the budget, the deficit, the debt ceiling. Not a pretty picture. Read the whole thing; here's Scheiber's conclusion:

For voters contemplating whether [President Obama] deserves a second term, the question is less and less one of policy or even worldview than of basic disposition. Throughout his political career, Obama has displayed an uncanny knack for responding to existential threats....But, in every case, the adjustments didn’t come until the crisis was already at hand. His initial approach was too passive and too accommodating, and he stuck with it far too long.

Given the booby traps that await the next president — Iranian nukes, global financial turmoil — this habit seems dangerously risky.... Is Obama’s newfound boldness on the economy yet another last-minute course-correction? Or has he finally learned a deeper lesson? More than just a presidency may hinge on the answer.

... As Paul Krugman wrote,

Yet it seemed totally obvious to me that

1. There would be no going back to the well if the first stimulus fell short
2. Obama would get no credit for fiscal responsibility, no matter what he offered by way of spending cuts
3. The GOP would ruthlessly exploit whatever leverage it was given

So how is it that all these worldly-wise political types got these things so wrong?

       ... CW: this is the same thing I asked yesterday in response to Jim Fallows' analysis of the Obama presidency.

Kathleen Hennessey & Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's 2013 budget, scheduled for release Monday, offers a preview of the November election as both parties angle to refine the vision they hope to sell to voters. Obama's plan and the House Republicans' answer, due in the spring, are aimed as much at offering voters a choice as at promoting policies destined for enactment. For the president, the budget is another opportunity to try to position himself as a defender of the middle class, a leader willing to ask the wealthiest to pay more in taxes and to use government spending to spur job growth. It will give a nod to the president's call for balanced deficit reduction, while also aiming to preserve Democrats' brand as guardians of the social safety net. Over the last year the conversation was about 'How much do we cut?' Obama's budget will try to shift to more politically advantageous questions: 'Who should pay more?' and 'What is fair?'"

Bill Moyers talks to Reagan administration economist Bruce Bartlett on where the right went wrong. The transcript is here:

Cullen Murphy in a New York Times op-ed on the dangers inherent in moral certitude. "Triumphalist rhetoric about the Constitution ignores the skeptical view of human nature that underlies it."

Prof. Nancy Folbre in the New York Times: "A political and cultural battle has now become an economic siege. Having failed to roll back legal access to abortion and contraception, opponents now seek to make them as costly as possible. It’s a clever strategy, because it does not require majority political support.... The women most directly affected are those with the weakest political voice and the lowest discretionary income." In Kansas & Virginia, where "supply-side" restrictions (like imposing specific square-footage requirements for the janitors' closet!) "the provider best able to withstand the regulatory assault is Planned Parenthood, which helps explain why this organization has come under Congressional investigation and was — at least temporarily — threatened by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation with withdrawal of support."

Click on the image to see the entire strip by Brian McFadden of the New York Times.

Right Wing World

Paul Krugman: "... tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, G.O.P. fashion accessory.... For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy.... Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control."

Blame My Wife. -- Rick Santorum. Brian Knowlton of the New York Times: When George Stephanopoulos asked Rick Santorum on Sunday "to explain a remark in his book 'It Takes a Family' that accuses 'radical feminists' of undermining families and trying to convince women that they could find fulfillment only in the workplace..., Mr. Santorum said that his wife, Karen, had written that section of the 2005 book — though only his name is on the cover and he does not list her, in his acknowledgements, among those 'who assisted me in the writing of this book.' ... Mr. Santorum pleaded unfamiliarity with the citation, saying, 'I don’t know — that’s a new quote for me.' ... Mr. Stephanopoulos had asked him about the same quote in 2005."

Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker: Mitt Romney's narrow win (194 more votes than Ron Paul got) in the sparsely-attended, non-binding Maine caucuses & in the CPAC straw poll (he's won it three times before) don't mean much. And neither does he: "... there never seems to be any depth of feeling there; his speeches are, like the man himself, all surface perfection, and not much underneath. Saying the word 'conservative' almost once per minute substitutes for real passion."

NEW. Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "For a candidate running against the entrenched interests of Washington, Mitt Romney keeps an awful lot of lobbyists around." ...

... Amy Shipley of the Washington Post writes a story under the headline, "10 years after Salt Lake City Olympics, questions about Romney's contributions." You might think it would be a shocking exposé of Romney's shoddy work & total sleaziness. It isn't. The article pretty much says the answer to the "questions" posed in the headline is -- "Romney is fantastic!" The only raps: he took the job for political reasons (no kidding!) & he secured a lot of federal government funding for the games. So call this a puff piece masquerading as a critical report. ...

... An homage to Gail Collins:

 

Who's Writing the Laws? New York Times Editorial Board: "The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board.... It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by [ALEC].... Voters have a right to know whether the representatives they elect are actually writing the laws, or whether the job has been outsourced to big corporate interests." ...

... Mike Ludwig of Truthout: "Over the past year, Ohio lawmakers introduced 33 bills that are identical to or 'appear to contain' elements of the ALEC's infamous model legislation that promotes a pro-corporate agenda, according to a report released this week by watchdog groups." The report, commissioned by a number of watchdog groups, is here. Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the link.

Prof. Alexander Keyssar in a New York Times op-ed on the long history of voter suppression in this country. The one the right is foisting on us now fits right in with this sordid history. "No state has ever attempted to disenfranchise upper-middle-class or wealthy white male citizens. Acknowledging the realities of our history should lead all of us to be profoundly skeptical of laws that burden, or impede, the exercise of what Lyndon B. Johnson called 'the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.'”

News Ledes

President Obama presented the National Medals of Arts & Humanities today:

     ... Related post here.

Washington Post: "Trying to avert another tax showdown, House Republican leaders Monday proposed an extension of the withholding-tax holiday to the end of the year without offsetting spending cuts.... The top three House GOP leaders backed off previous demands that its extension be accompanied by spending reductions to shore up the finances of the Social Security program, which is funded through withholding taxes."

Seattle Times: "In a crowded reception room surrounded by applauding gay couples and lawmakers, and with media from around the country looking on, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed landmark legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state. The historic event brings Washington in line with six other states and the District of Columbia, which allow gays to marry." ...

... AP: "In a move that supporters called a civil rights milestone, New Jersey's state Senate on Monday passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages, marking the first time state lawmakers officially endorsed the idea — despite the promise of a veto by Gov. Chris Christie. Monday's vote was 24-16 in favor of the bill, a major swing from January 2010, when the Senate rejected it 20-14."

New York Times: "Apple said Monday that it had asked an outside organization to conduct special audits of working conditions inside Chinese factories where iPhones, iPads and other Apple products are manufactured.... Apple said the group, the Fair Labor Association, started its first inspections Monday at a factory in Shenzhen, China, known as Foxconn City.... Working conditions in Foxconn factories, including safety lapses that led to worker deaths, were the subject of; an investigative article last month by The New York Times. Last week, coordinated protests of worker abuses occurred at Apple stores around the world."

NPR: "Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has been the victim of an armed robbery but is unharmed. Breyer, his wife, Joanna, and a friend were at the Breyer vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis when a man broke in with a machete and confronted them."

President Obama speaks about the FY 2013 budget:

Washington Post: "White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew on Sunday dismissed Republican criticism of President Obama’s latest spending plan, arguing that it charts a long-term strategy for tackling the national debt while offering a short-term boost to the recovering economy. The budget request, due on Capitol Hill on Monday, calls for spending $3.8 trillion in 2013, according to sources with knowledge of the document, including fresh increases for roads, infrastructure, manufacturing and education, as well as a year-long extension of emergency unemployment benefits and a temporary payroll tax holiday." AP story here. ...

     ... Update: here's the New York Times story on the budget, which has now been released.

Yahoo! News: "China's Vice President Xi Jinping arrives in Washington late Monday for a whirlwind visit to the White House, Pentagon, Iowa and Los Angeles. White House officials describe the visit as an opportunity to build relations with the man expected to become China's president next year." Washington Post story here.

Reuters: "Syrian forces bombarded districts of Homs and attacked other cities on Monday after Arab states pledged support for the opposition battling President Bashar al-Assad and called for international peacekeepers to be sent to the country." Al Jazeera's liveblog is here.

Al Jazeera: "Israeli diplomats have been targeted for car bombings in India and Georgia, leaving three injured and the nation's foreign minister promising a response. An Israeli embassy van blew up in New Delhi, the Indian capital, injuring an Israeli diplomat and two other people, but it was not immediately known whether the explosion was caused by a bomb, officials said." ...

... Haaretz: "The wife of an Israeli diplomat was moderately wounded on Monday when a car bomb exploded outside of Israel's embassy in the Indian capital of New Delhi, Haaretz has learned."

Washington Post: "Coroner’s officials say they will not release any information on an autopsy performed Sunday on [singer Whitney Houston] at the request of police detectives investigating the singer’s death. Houston was found in the bathtub of her room, but Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to say anything more about the room’s condition or any evidence investigators recovered. There were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston’s body, but officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will likely take weeks to obtain." ...

... ABC News: "Whiney Houston probably died from a combination of the drug Xanax and other prescription medication mixed with alcohol, TMZ reported, citing family sources who were briefed by L.A. County Coroner officials. Coroners informed Houston's family that there was not enough water in the singer's lungs for her to have drowned, and that she may have died before her head became submerged in the bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where her body was found Saturday, TMZ.com reported."

Reader Comments (10)

I am not satisfied with Obama as he has failed to take needed actions to improve the economy and has let the wing nuts dominate the conversation with unchallenged lies and half truths and has not protected middle America from these predators.
However it is fatuous to suggest that we have an option. The stated demands of the tea party dominated Republican Party will destroy the economy and the social contract of a Democracy.
Democracy is hanging by a thread. Any increase in Republican power will break that thread and send the country into real class warfare. A class warfare that the oligarchy, cops and courts will win for a while. American lives will also be destroyed for a while.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

This is the central question Fallows posed. My take was that is a president is granted a second term they learn form the mistakes of the first. Obama's not my ideal candidate, but given the alternatives,,,I'll take the chance that a second term will be better than the first. If the the american voters have any sense (and one could make a good argument they don't) they'll vote to hold the senate and weaken the house majority. That could go a long way toward turning the country in a more progressive direction. I'm under no illusions here, but I'm not sure things have become so corrupted that pendulum can't swing the way. This is a battle we've been fighting since the dawn of the republic. One can only hope we don't have to fight another war to maintain union.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

please excuse the typos above..laptops are difficult

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

I agree with Carlyle and Dave S. We really do not have an option. I cannot believe that Mitt Romney would be a better President than Obama, though he would no doubt be more decisive--but in WHAT DIRECTION? And if we elect a Republican President we can no doubt plan on another invasion--this time Iran. They are all (except Ron Paul) licking their chops on this one.

I think the most positive solution lies in electing more progressive candidates to the House and Senate, and that is where I am putting my tiny contributions. Since Obama will be a lame duck, I do not think he will rebuff a more progressive congress, because he cares about his legacy. Sooo......the trick is to elect a better Congress. HA! With all the SuperPacs and Citizens United fellas out there bombing the airwaves with money, that may be impossible--especially since our dumbed down electorate believes the crazy ads they see on the Tee Vee. Yikes!

Geez....are we a country of sick puppies, or what? At the very least, I am betting on my home state, Wisconsin, to vote Scott Walker's ass out! That will be a small consolation.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Re: NYT OP_ED

Ther was a very simliar piece in Truthout last week regarding ALEC and the Ohio Legislature.

http://www.truth-out.org/ohio-lawmakers-introduced-33-bills-based-alec-model-legislation/1328711032

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

There are a couple of new comments in yesterday's Commentariat; it seems this damned comments system now occasionally throws a comment into my totally annoying & unwanted "approval bin" & doesn't tell me about them. I'm working on that, but as usual, I don't really expect it to be fixed.

BTW, if anybody can give Karl Thompson an answer better than mine, I would appreciate it. On contraceptive insurance, I truly don't know what he's talking about. You can add your responses to either thread.

February 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

check your approval bin marie

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

it seems to be for yesterdays comments only, is their a setting somewhere for approval of comments on older posts?

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

@ Dave S. Just found your comment awaiting approval -- but only because you told me about it. Any comments page that is open should work the same way as every other comments page, so the date should not make any difference. My host told me of some changes to make that might fix part of the problem. So I made 'em, but the changes made no difference, which I know only thanks to your comment that the system stuck in approval limbo. Now that I've approved that comment, I'll go back and read it.

February 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

The Bishop's denial of birth control insurance has a bigger impact than many understand. There are about six hundred thousand employees of about six hundred Catholic hospitals. Hospitals have more than half female employees so we are talking about denying assistance to more than three hundred thousand women.
Organizations supporting birth control availability for all women should be talking about these numbers.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.