The Wires

White House Live Video
February 10

2:10 pm ET: President Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly

2:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden participates in a discussion of the "cancer moonshot" (audio only)

4:25 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Hoogland Center for Arts in Springfield, Illinois

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

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Wednesday
Jul112012

The Commentariat -- July 12, 2012

CW: it's another day in DemoLand, so again I'll be ignoring you in favor of salvaging baseboards & door moldings, choosing lovely, affordable fixtures for the bahth & making other executive decisions.

CW: Linda Greenhouse has a fascinating take on Chief Justice John Roberts' switcheroo on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and it please me that she agrees with a theory I proffered in a NYTX column: "I doubt there was a single reason for the chief justice's evolution..., but let me suggest one: the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices. The opinion pointedly signed individually by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have invalidated the entire Affordable Care Act.... This astonishing act of judicial activism has received insufficient attention..., but it surely got the chief justice's attention as a warning that his ostensible allies were about to drive the Supreme Court over the cliff and into the abyss."

They’ve got a website, God bless them. It's always good to put a website up with some black faces on it. Outreach. -- Michael Steele, former RNC chair, on the GOP's effort to woo black voters

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "Even that website, it turns out, doesn’t exist."

Presidential Race

Gail Collins: "Barack Obama, who ... has royalty income, is a small business. Possibly the only small business the Republicans do not love."

"Don't know much about his-to-ry, Part 1":

... Part 2:

We've of course released all the financial statements that are required by law and then two years of tax returns -- the most recent year will be released as soon as that's prepared. Other financial disclosure is there, the same information that John McCain, or John Kerry for that matter released when they were running for president. -- Mitt Rmoney

Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: [Romney] has released one year of his returns and an estimate of his 2011 returns.... He received an extension and said at the time he would release them in the next six months, which would be October. John McCain released two years, but John Kerry actually released more than that in his 2004 race, going back to 1999. He released many more returns as a United States senator, as many as twenty. McCain released a total of six documents, two for himself, two for his wife Cindy McCain, and two for the McCain Family Foundation.

... Does he know one and one is two?

CW: a vignette in a piece by Adam Serwer on Romney's "long, troubled history with the NAACP": "in 2006 the local NAACP slammed Romney for referring to a perennially unfinished public works project in Boston, the Big Dig, as a 'tar baby.' Eric Fernstrom, a top Romney adviser (then and now), claimed that Romney was unaware of the racial connotation and was merely trying to describe 'a sticky situation.' Still, Romney apologized." CW: I find it totally believable that Romney would have no idea he was making a racial slur. The guy has never had anything but the most minimal contact with people of color, and no interest in any cultural niche that differs from his own. When you're busy making millions, you don't have time to consider the sensibilities of others.

I believe his vested interests are in white Americans. You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he's coming from. He's talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts -- black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work. -- Charlette Stoker Manning, chair of Women in NAACP, on Rmoney's speech before the NAACP convention

Judd Legum & Scott Keyes of Think Progress have a good follow-up report on reaction to Romney's speech at the NAACP convention. Um, people didn't like it. ...

Right Wing World

... Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh said Mitt Romney’s speech Wednesday to the NAACP fell flat because it was 'over these people's heads' and that the group booed the Republican candidate, who 'sounded like Snow White with testicles,' simply because he's white. Limbaugh... claimed that President Barack Obama insulted the group by sending Vice President Joe Biden instead. CW: I didn't see anything in the news about attendees booing Biden, and he looks as white as Romney. Of course recognizing the internal inconsistency in his own argument is "over Rushbo's head."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The most senior officials at Penn State University failed for more than a decade to take any steps to protect the children victimized by Jerry Sandusky, the longtime lieutenant to head football coach Joe Paterno, according to an independent investigation of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last fall." Former FBI director Louis Freeh led the investigation. The group's report is here.

New York Times: "Wells Fargo, the nation's largest home mortgage lender, has agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. If approved by a federal judge, it would be the second largest residential fair-lending settlement in the department's history."

Washington Post: "Vice President Biden made an impassioned appeal to the nation's oldest civil rights group Thursday, calling on members to rally behind the first black president and reject a Republican vision for the country that would roll back progress for minorities. Speaking at the NAACP conference in Houston a day after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appeared there, Biden delivered a sharp rebuttal to Romney's contention that his policies would be better for black families than President Obama's have been...."

New York Times: "Yahoo confirmed Thursday that a file containing approximately 400,000 usernames and passwords to Yahoo and other companies was stolen Wednesday. A group of hackers, known as the D33D Company, posted usernames and passwords for what appeared to be 453,492 accounts belonging to Yahoo, but also Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, BellSouth and Live.com users."

Reader Comments (10)

My favorite line from Willard the Rat's lecture to the NAACP about how much they don't understand about him or about, you know, the real world, they being black and all, is that he has a secret plan to keep people from "becoming poor".

Really Willard? KEEP them from becoming poor? So let me get this straight. In your tiny little Richie Rich brain, all African Americans are born driving little baby Cadillacs, dripping in bling and living in mansions, is that right? But somehow along the way they "became" poor. And you have a plan to stop that horrible outcome because, you know, being poor sucks so much. A condition you have such empathy for and knowledge about.

It must have been that mean 'ol nasty nee-groe with the funny name who made all those people poor. You know, the one so many of your supporters say is a Muslim, a completely false assertion you're just too polite to correct.

No wonder all those meanies at that Nee-gro whatchamacallit AAP thing booed you.

Insulting moron is too polite a description. And we won't even get into what Rush Limbaugh is. Just let me say that he resembles the reason he was unable to assist our brave boys during the Viet Nam war, a conflict he staunchly supported and in which would have been happy to wade into battle killing scores of commie creeps except for that oozing pimple on his fat ass. So he got a deferment. Just like Willard. Too bad all those African American boys had to go. They just "got" poor and had no way to get their own deferments.

Ho hum. Well, he gave it his best. If they don't want to listen to him, he'll just let them all go poor and not tell them his secret. Besides, who cares if they don't want to vote for him? His pals in the Republican Party are working day and night to disenfranchise all those mean nee-groes. The state of Florida has practically criminalized the mere fact of being born black.

The GOP. Making America safer for rich white people.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

And what was that strange look on Mitt's puss after they booed him? A half awkward smile, as though he had delivered a bad joke that went over like a lead balloon, or someone who just passed gas in a crowded room.

Let us not forget who married Rush the last time he married: our favorite Supreme being, the one who, himself, is married to Ginny, she of the long claws and sunny disposition.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

To Marie: There's nothing like a new bathroom to liven up a woman's spirits––sort of like bathing in the lap of luxury. Enjoy!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

Pimple Butt's connection to see no evil (on the right), hear no evil (of the right), speak no evil--or anything else, Justice Thomas, provides him with the age-old protective shield hoisted by racists since the Emancipation Proclamation: "Some of my best friends are black."

Another favorite moment in The scared Rat's visit to non-white world appeared in an article describing the reaction of NAACP members who heard Willard's lecture in person. One woman, trying to keep a straight face, offered that he tried his best--before "dissolving in laughter".

I guess it was funny, in a kind of gruesome way.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As much as I deplore the denigrating use of " Uncle Remus" " Br'er Rabbit " and the "Tar Baby " I must admit I love the idea of the Republicans being stuck with their short sighted attacks on Affordable Care forever. Hopefully, this error in judgement and lack of compassion will stick to the Republican party forever just like a...

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

The Linda Greenhouse post is a great one. When the ACA brouhaha blew up I was in full agreement with Marie's take on what, perhaps, was going through Little Johnny's head.

Greenhouse's ruminations on the subject seem to support a reading of the tea leaves that has Roberts, as if he were in a movie serial from the 30s, frantically working to unchain himself from the maniacs dragging him over a precipice into a pit of boiling lava below. They, of course, being denizens of the nether regions would survive to fight another day. Roberts, it appears, may have been looking at future history books, wondering whether he wanted his name plastered across such an overweening disposition. Even after a century and a half the names Roger Taney and Dred Scott are inseparably linked, Taney's reputation forever besmirched by his disgraceful disputation of the basic right of human beings to be treated as such.

Does Roberts fear becoming a 21st century Roger Taney? I don't know.

I'm still not convinced, by a long shot, that Roberts has renounced the goal of completing a major paradigm shift on the high court, but Posner's postulation offers a tiny glimmer of hope that someone at long last remembers what the hell the Supreme Court is supposed to be about.

On the other hand, Johnny may feel the need to reclaim his conservative bona fides--history be damned--and put the iron boots back on to walk over people's faces in the next term.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Back in May Ronald Dworkin had a piece in the NYRB on how the mandate is constitutional. He ended his essay by reminding us that we could not ignore the political dimensions of this case–– that the Republican Party's relentless denunciation of the ACA is because it is Obama's main domestic achievement.

"Our recent history is marred by a number of very badly reasoned Supreme Court decisions that, deliberately or not, had a distinct partisan flavor: "Citizen United," for example. which, most critics agree, has already had a profound and destructive impact on our democratic process. These decisions soiled the Supreme Court's reputation and they harmed the nation. We must hope, though perhaps against the evidence, that the Court will not now add that to that unfortunate list."
And Dworkin, as we know, was not the only voice singing this song. Roberts saved his ass and the Court by this ruling even at the expense of the Republicans calling him a turncoat––as if the Court is at all partisan––heaven forbid!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD--The irony is that by calling Roberts a traitor they explicitly demonstrate that they believe that individual Supreme Court Justices should relentlessly pursue personal political aims. The Court has always been political, but as Earl Warren and David Souter have demonstrated, sometimes judges, like Billy Pilgrim, become unfastened from their original ideologies and gravitate in a statesmanlike direction.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Jack: Billy Pilgrim––Vonnegut's baby-faced day dreamer in "Slaughterhouse Five"?

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Yes, he became "unstuck in time." The way some conservative justices have become unstuck from ideology. One can only hope that Roberts is recognizing the power he holds and that such a realization turns him from a Republican into a citizen of America and the Earth. Where are Tralfamadorians when you really need them?

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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