The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, September 21, 2014.

New York Times: "Afghanistan’s election commission on Sunday pronounced Ashraf Ghani the winner of the country’s presidential election, but it withheld an announcement of the total votes won, despite an exhaustive and costly audit process overseen by the United Nations and financed by the American government. The suppression of the vote totals was apparently the final step necessary for the two presidential candidates to sign an American-brokered agreement to form a power-sharing government, giving the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, substantial powers in what is, in effect, the post of prime minister."

New York Times: "NASA’s latest Mars spacecraft, Maven, arrives Sunday evening to study the mystery of what happened to the planet’s air. A 33-minute engine firing, beginning at 9:37 p.m. Eastern time, will put Maven in orbit around the planet. Acknowledgment will reach mission controllers 12 1/2 minutes later, the time it takes for a radio signal to travel to Earth from Mars. NASA’s website will provide a live broadcast beginning at 9:30 p.m."

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL":

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 22

10:15 am ET: Latino educators meet

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: Mental health & suicide prevention briefing

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

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CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

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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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