The Ledes

Thursday, September 3, 2015.

AFP: "Embattled Guatemalan President Otto Perez announced his resignation Thursday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for allegedly masterminding a huge fraud scheme."

New York Times: "Five Chinese Navy ships were sailing in international waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, in what Pentagon officials said was the first such foray by Beijing. The move came on the last day of President Obama’s three-day visit to Alaska.... The White House said that the intent of the Chinese operation was unclear, but that the Pentagon had not detected any threatening activities."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
September 3

1:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

7:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden delivers a lecture in Atlanta, Georgia (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Making Iced Tea out of Lemons. Not originally intended for publication. A friend of mine had some electrical work done on her house. She told me yesterday she was awaiting the inspector. Today in an e-mail titled "Inspector A Hole," she wrote, "Well, the inspector came early this morning.... He saw the gate closed and left. He did not ring the doorbell."

I wrote back, "I think when he arrived -- even if he didn't tell you what time he was coming -- you were supposed to be standing at the gate smiling, wearing an attractive outfit & holding out a tray of iced tea & cookies for him. A neat 'Welcome, Inspector A. Hole' sign would have been nice, too."

 A few minutes later, she responded with this:

You can't let the bastards get you down. Which helps explain why I so often post links to the most ridiculous inanities & hypocrisies coming out of the mouths of pols & pundits.

New York Times: "Bloomberg News laid off as many as 90 journalists on Tuesday[, Sept. 1,] in its newsrooms in New York, Washington and across the world, part of a plan to refocus the organization’s coverage on business, finance, economics, technology and politics. The rationale for the dismissals was outlined in a lengthy memo to the staff from Bloomberg’s new editor in chief, John Micklethwait."

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Saturday
Jul142012

The Commentariat -- July 15, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "When Did He Leave & When Did He Know It?" You can guess the subject matter. The NYTX front page is here.

Illustration by Ben Wiseman for the New York Times.Frank Bruni: "WHENEVER you doubt that the future can improve upon the past or that government can play a pivotal role in that, consider and revel in the extraordinary greening of New York."

Digby: "According to Media Matters, with the exception of Spitzer and Chris Hayes, TV news has pretty much avoided even mentioning [the LIBOR] scandal, much less trying to explain it":

CW: I hope you readers who thought I was a dope for citing the case of Tomas Lopez -- the young man fired from his lifeguard's job for trying to save a swimmer outside his assigned "zone" -- as an example of the perils of privatization, will read Steven Pearlstein's Washington Post article on the story, which he describes as "a parable about outsourcing and how it is reshaping large swaths of the economy." Pearlstein makes a number of the same points I did, and then some. I might be a dope, but I have company!

Peter Maass & Megha Rajagopalan in the New York Times: "THE device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone -- guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Let's stop calling them phones. They are trackers.... The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ... noted that GPS data can reveal whether a person 'is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups -- and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.'"

Speaking of trackers, Scott Shane of the New York Times on "the moral case for drones." Something of a must-read, no matter what your opinion of drones is now.

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: "First, it was kings and queens. Now, it is heads of state -- and the secretary of state. During a CNN interview that aired Tuesday, Senator Scott Brown said that President Obama and other powerful Democrats are regularly phoning him to get help passing their legislation.... In reality, Brown's staff says he has spoken by phone with Clinton just twice during his Senate career -- most recently over a year ago, on July 5, 2011.... Brown's staff says he has spoken with the vice president by phone just once. As for Obama himself, Brown's staff says the two have spoken by phone just once, in April 2010.... But the president also hosted Brown in June 2010 for a face-to-face talk in the Oval Office."

Presidential Race

Sing along with Mitt:

Your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this: if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. -- Mitt Romney, referring to the people who booed him at the NAACP convention ...

... Suzie Madrak: "As far as free lunches go, we of course just witnessed the biggest government handout in history, one that Romney himself endorsed. Four and a half trillion dollars in bailout money already disbursed, trillions more still at risk in guarantees and loans, sixteen trillion dollars in emergency lending from the Federal Reserve, two trillion in quantitative easing, etc. etc. All of this money went to Romney's pals in the Wall Street banks that for years helped Romney take over companies with mountains of borrowed cash. Now, after these banks crashed, executives at those same firms used those public funds to pay themselves massive salaries." Read her whole post on Willard's "character." ...

... Here's the piece by Matt Taibbi -- which Madrak cites -- on Romney big "outreach" to "those people" who are all about "free stuff." ...

... Digby: "... as usual, it's only the average Joe in a bind who needs to be taught a lesson in personal responsibility."

Tony Soprano Explains "Planned Bankruptcy a la Mitt":

Jordy Yager of The Hill: "Rep. Ron Paul said that the Republican Party is scared to let him speak at the national convention in Florida next month.... 'I think the Romney campaign organization is very insecure,' said Paul in an interview with Fox Business News on Friday."

"Perhaps there's a contradiction there":

Local News

Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times: "The federal government has granted Florida election officials access to a database of noncitizen residents for use in Republican-backed efforts to remove people who are not American citizens from voter registration rolls."

News Ledes

New York Times: "As regulators ramp up their global investigation into the manipulation of interest rates, the Justice Department has identified potential criminal wrongdoing by big banks and individuals at the center of the scandal. The department's criminal division is building cases against several financial institutions and their employees, including traders at Barclays...."

New York Times: "A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama."

Washington Post: "Japan on Sunday recalled its ambassador to China as the result of a reigniting territorial dispute between the East Asian neighbors. The uninhabited and long-contested Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan but claimed by China, have again turned into a flashpoint amid Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's recent proposal to buy the territory from a private Japanese landowner. China sent three ships to the area last week as an apparent response, prompting a protest from Japan."

AP: "Syria on Sunday denied U.N. claims that government forces used heavy weapons during a military operation that left scores dead and brought immediate international condemnation, while the International Committee of the Red Cross said it now considers the conflict in the country a civil war."

Reader Comments (6)

I liked Frank Bruni's point that NYC 's explosion of parks is an object lesson in the wonders that can be achieved by responsive and pro-active government.
It's sobering to consider, however, that the residents of our cities are underrepresented in Congress due to our unique governmental system mandated by the Constitution.

July 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

LIBOR IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS: Oh, how we wait for the collapse of various inflated parties–– like the stars that become black holes––oh, how we wait!!!

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie, I sure hope you did not think that I thought you were a "dope" for citing that article when I suggested that we need to be careful of how we use events to support our shared belief in the dangers of privatization. My point was that we need to pick fact-based evidence that shows that the private management is behaving differently than a public management would. The article you cited did not have enough details - we needed to know a lot more to really judge. That is why I said if we argue with so little evidence then we can't complain when someone generalizes that liberals are incompetent when one thing goes wrong. I think the reason I even wrote is that I read a lot of liberal blogs and see a lot of comments from people that come across as stereotypically whiny as the conservatives complain about. I think you are an amazingly smart, insightful person, which is why I visit your page many times a day. I just think our fight against privatization is stronger is we have data to back up our arguments.

On a related note, my daughter is a lifeguard so I asked her about what her training has taught her. She said "rescue first." Their policy/procedure is to first ensure that their station is covered and then go rescue the swimmer. Assuming that the lifeguard did that and followed proper procedure, he did the right thing. I was not giving him the benefit of the doubt.

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Citizens somtimes forget that privatization immediately adds about twenty five percent to the costs of anything taken private. This represents the new profit margin. To avoid looking crazy, the take over group must reduce costs twenty five percent to avoid increasing prices and a immediate out cry. Services quickly decline. There is a wealth of information about Great Britain's experience with privatization of rail and electricity. Prices up, service down and there is a momement afoot to take the rail roads back
The universal means of making a sucess of privatizing anything is cheaper help. Cheaper teachers? Cheaper cops? American workers are under paid now, is peonage next?

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Regarding the dispute between Direct TV an Viacom that is causing a number of stations to go dark for Direct TV subscribers (but the only one I care about is Comedy Central): When I learned that I would likely be unable to view The Daily Show and Colbert Report, my immediate thought was that was okay I could watch online if I had to. Au contraire! Apparently that's exactly what Direct TV was telling its subscribers, which caused Viacom to issue a statement that they are pulling the two shows from internet view for a while.
This is starting to resemble an episode of the imaginary show "Corporations Behaving Badly."

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Marie: Fabulous column today in the New York Times eXaminer! I'm in awe of your brilliance and energy in marshaling facts and arguments!

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban
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