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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

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- 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 

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Monday
Feb202012

The Commentariat -- February 20, 2012

CW: Sorry for the late start today. My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "This Week's New York Times Sunday Sex Sermon." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Alex Gourevitch & Aziz Rana in Salon: Forget Jefferson. Go with Lincoln. Jefferson's view was "deeply inegalitarian," whereas Lincoln had a more egalitarian view of social mobility premised on the idea of economic independence. ...

... Prof. Dorian Warren in Slate on rethinking the labor movement for the 21st century: "What grounds this vision of a 21st century labor movement is the core idea of extending what Americans claim to cherish in politics and civil society to the workplace: democracy, liberty and freedom. The consolidation of income, wealth and political power by the 1 percent over the last several decades is directly related to the decline of workers’ voice and power."

"Pain without Gain." Paul Krugman: "... we could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years. That’s true even in America, which has avoided full-fledged austerity at the federal level but has seen big spending and employment cuts at the state and local level." ...

Thomas Edsall, in a New York Times op-ed, finds experts who question the legitimacy of free-market capitalism. I have a major quibble with Edsall's selections -- they don't emphasize the policies that have made globalization a threat to ordinary American workers -- but his post is worth reading to get an idea of what the problems are.

Frank Rich on an Obama-Santorum contest, and why it could be tougher for Obama than an Obama-Romney match-up.

Richard Halen in Slate: "Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg seems poised to use the Montana case to expose the false premise at the heart of the Citizens United case": that fat cats giving millions to Super PACs in support of candidates or causes do not "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." "If we are lucky, she’ll convince one of the justices in the Citizens United majority of the error of his ways." CW: this is a good article for you lawyers; Hasen delves into & explains what seem to a layperson to be fairly esoteric but defining legal principles: when a fact is not a fact, and how Citzens United is internally inconsistent.

BTW, if you read Bill Keller's New York Times column on WikiLeaks & Julian Assange, at least read the comments. The material he covers is so vast I'm not knowledgeable enough to counter him except on a superficial level, but I'll link to articles by writers who have something substantive -- either negative or positive -- to say about Keller's screed.

Right Wing World

** Wow! All of the Founding Fathers Agreed with the GOP. About, Like, Everything. Even If They Didn't Say So. Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "... many historians believe that the GOP presidential candidates are summoning the Founding Fathers this year to divide as much as to unify. And the candidates frequently dig up the Founders to inject religion into the campaign rather than remove it from the debate."

"Ideological Hypocrites." E. J. Dionne: "This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance.... Can conservatives finally face the fact that they actually want quite a lot from government, and that they are simply unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it?"

Dave Weigel of Slate on Republican Neo-Pessimism. If only the economy would tank again!

Meghashyam Mali of The Hill: "GOP hopeful Mitt Romney held on to his lead in Maine's caucuses Saturday after votes postponed by bad weather were finally tallied. Ron Paul gained 83 votes on Romney following the caucus in Washington county, but Romney held a 156-vote lead statewide reported the Associated Press."

David Firestone of the New York Times: "More than any major candidate in recent times, [Rick] Santorum has derogated the federal government on religious grounds." ...

     ... Here's Santorum on his opposition to prenatal testing: "Santorum said he feels sonograms and 'all sorts of prenatal testing' are acceptable, and if he were an employer, he would provide it in his health insurance, but he feels differently about amniocentesis." More here. ...

... AND here is Santorum objecting to the "weird socialization" that goes on in public "factory" schools. He prefers home-schooling & the one-room schoolhouse. Welcome, my friends, to the 19th century:

... BUT allow me to cut Santorum a break. He has a shaggy dog story that should give you a laugh.

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: an archive at the University of West Georgia of papers about Newt Gingrich reveals an image of Gingrich the candidate would not want you to see. "An examination of the papers collected over nearly three decades reveals a politician of moderate-to-liberal beginnings, a product of the civil rights era who moved to the right with an eye on political expediency — and privately savaged Republicans he was praising in public. Even as he gained a reputation as a conservative firebrand, the documents show Gingrich was viewed by his staff primarily as a tactician — the 'tent evangelist' of the conservative movement, one staffer said — with little ideological core."

Local News

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "Florida lawmakers contend that education is essential to high-wage jobs in the state, but the [GOP-led] Legislature is again expected to slash millions of dollars from the budget for higher education and may usher in another round of tuition increases."

News Ledes

Reuters: "U.S. Senators said in Cairo on Monday they hoped for a swift end to a row over U.S. pro-democracy activists accused of working illegally in Egypt and said they were committed to help Egypt nurture its democratic institutions and rebuild its economy. Senator John McCain, leading the delegation, said Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi assured them Egypt was working to solve the dispute that triggered a crisis between Washington and Cairo, threatening $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid."

AP: "Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high above $105 a barrel on Monday after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in an escalation of a dispute over the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program."

New York Times: "The United States and Mexico reached agreement on Monday on regulating oil and gas development along their maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico, ending years of negotiations and potentially opening more than a million acres to deepwater drilling."

Reuters: "Japan and the United States have made substantial progress in their talks on sanctions against Iran, but no agreement has yet been reached, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Tuesday."

Reuters: "A top executive of Japan's scandal-ridden Olympus Corp has been found dead in a park outside New Delhi, an apparent suicide, The Times of India said on Tuesday, quoting police. Tsutomu Omori, 49, who was head of Olympus's medical equipment business in India, was found hanging from a boundary wall...."

New York Times: "After months of fraught negotiation, euro zone finance ministers were poised to bring Greece back from the brink of default Monday by agreeing to a second giant bailout in exchange for severe austerity measures — and subject to strict conditions."

Reuters: "Senior U.N. inspectors arrived in Tehran on Monday for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, a day after the Islamic state responded defiantly to tightened EU sanctions by halting oil sales to British and French companies."

Reuters: "Vladimir Putin will be elected president in the first round of March's election with more than half the vote, avoiding a runoff that would dent his authority on the eve of his planned return to the Kremlin's top job, a state pollster predicted Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

Happy Presidents Day!

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Abraham-Lincoln39s-quotA-House-Dividedquot-Speech/10737422241/

Yes the Country hopelessly divided. Its worth remembering the greatness we've been witness to and that we've been here before. I have hope, hope that is "severely" challenged every time a GOP presidential candidate opens their mouth, that this time we can once again unite but this time do it in a more civilized manner.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

A little comment on the question of terminating pregnancy after amniocentesis. Is it true that many women terminate a pregnancy after getting bad news from the results, yes. But if you believe what Santorum believes that his god is the biggest controller of life then his god is the biggest killer of Down Syndrome fetuses because the great majority of Down Syndrome cases end in natural abortions called miscarriages. In fact way over 50% of all recurrent miscarriages have identifiable genetic defects in the fetal tissue. And a similar number might apply to single miscarriages but they are rarely tested. Just a few facts, that's all.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Ah, Marvin. You're applying rational thought to the irrational. The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think. If it happens, "It's God's plan." Those who do the prudent thing & have prenatal tests, then find out they are carrying a fetus that has some life-altering affliction, have to think & make a difficult choice. That is not God's plan. That is the mother's plan. Thinking and deciding -- especially women thinking and deciding -- is not "natural." You really should leave it to God to decide.

What you see in Santorum is a living throwback to a primitive form of existence that predates scientific advances. So it is wrong to do things that could not be done without the aid of scientific discovery but it is okay to do really bad things -- like wage war & execute people who might be innocent -- because primitive people did those things without fancy science. If you saw Douthat's column yesterday, he called birth control "chemicals and latex." These are very sciencey things. Santorum & Douthat espouse a morality based in a pre-scientific worldview. It's kind of pathetic.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Marie, I agree with your comment completely with one minor adjustment. "The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think." No. if you are a fundamentalist you are not allowed to think.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb
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