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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

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 

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

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Sunday
Jul152012

The Commentariat -- July 16, 2012

CW: Sorry for the slow morning. I had major connection problems overnight, & among the sites I couldn't access was my own. I'll try to get up to speed shortly, though I expect interruptions, access-wise & otherwise.

Banksters! Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "Some of the nation’s biggest brokerage firms appear to be giving a handful of top hedge funds an early peek at ... changes in [their] analysts' views ... of a company's prospects ... allowing them to trade on the information before other investors get the word." CW: these are not "savvy businessmen"; they're cheats, liars & crooks. ...

... Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has so far escaped responsibility for the spreading Libor fixing scandal by releasing documents showing that when he became aware of the problem in 2008, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he made recommendations to address it.... [But] the recommendations Geithner sent to London did not come from staff, but rather were proposed by major banks and more or less forwarded on verbatim." Thanks for the link go to Kate M., who shares my opinion of Wall Street's Man in Washington.

Bill Keller debunks five myths about the Affordable Care Act. Little of this will be news to Reality Chex readers, but Keller's piece provides good responses for you to toss at your Foxbot friends when they start explaining why ObamaCare is the canary in the coalmine of civilization.

Sen. Dr. No Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) writes an op-ed in the New York Times claiming Republicans are only to happy to raise taxes and they just pay no attention at all to Grover Norquist. To be fair, Coburn -- who is retiring, so he doesn't have to face Norquist/Tea Party wrath -- has been more willing than most in his party to discuss raising taxes in exchange for cuts in the social safety net. ...

... AND, in another op-ed from a Very Serious Jerk, Larry Summers writes in the Washington Post that the wealth inequality he helped create is maybe not such a good thing. One of his revolutionary suggestions for reducing inequality: "... the custom could be established [at top private universities] that for each 'legacy slot' room would be made for one 'opportunity slot.'" Summers was president of Harvard till nobody there could stand him, either. ...

... E. J. Dionne takes a whack at conservatives' "solutions" to wealth inequality, & notes that David Brooks' ruminations are "wrong."

NEW. Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation's wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise."

Presidential Race

NEW: Anthony Gardner in Bloomberg News: "What's clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm's partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses. What's less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public...." Gardner works at a private equity fund and was director of European affairs in the U.S. National Security Council in 1994-95."

NEW: Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Mitt Romney on Monday accused President Barack Obama of running a 'campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty,' while brushing aside suggestions from anxious conservatives to release more than two years of tax returns." ...

... NEW. Mackenzie Weinger of Politico: "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz offered Mitt Romney and his campaign team some stark advice on Monday: They 'need to put their big boy and big girl pants on and defend his record.... They don't want to show us his record. They're running the most secretive campaign for president of a major party in history.'"

** New York Times Editors: "After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it's clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn't want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin." ...

... After three days of the New York Times not covering the story, today Nicholas Confessore & Michael Shear have a long piece looking at the evidence for and against Romney's claim that he "left Bain" in February 1999.

... The Personal Is Political." Paul Krugman: "The point is that talking about Mr. Romney's personal history isn't a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters." ...

... T. J. Walker, writing in Forbes, lists 35 questions Romney must answer before the controversy surrounding his "retirement" from Bain is resolved." ...

... Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign's national press secretary, put out a memo (pdf) to the media highlighting some of Walker's questions. Via Greg Sargent. ...

... No Apologies. President Obama on WAVY-TV (Richmond, Virginia). The transcript is here. Via Taagen Goddard:

Drip, Drip. Ryan Grim & Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post: "Add another document to the pile of evidence contradicting Mitt Romney's continued insistence that he ended his active role with Bain Capital in early 1999.... A corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts in December 2002 -- a month after Romney was elected governor -- lists him as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, LLC...." ...

... Matt DeLong of the Washington Post: "Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie defended his candidate from attacks over the timing of his departure from Bain Capital during an appearance on CNN's 'State of the Union' Sunday, saying Romney retired 'retroactively' from the firm." With video. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Over the last few days, Mitt Romney has seen his business experience, which began the campaign as his primary qualification, turn into something perilously close to a scandal. It's now time for a recurrent phase in the campaign called Republicans Give Advice to Mitt Romney. Attack! Defend! Show us your taxes! (The last category, I would note, consists entirely of people who have never seen Romney's taxes.)"

Tom Edsall in the New York Times: there's not much merit to Mitt Romney's "merit-based" society. CW: no kidding. See, for example, Gretchen Morgenson's story, linked above.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations." CW: Who said there were no do-overs in life? These spokespeople who can't speak & think at the same time will soon insist on a 4-minute delay on the teevee, too: Eric Fehrnstrom's Etch-a-Sketch remark surely would have been Etch-a-Sketched, bleeped or cut. But seriously, the major media could put a stop to this gaffe-pass practice if the big guys all just said no. ...

... Jonathan Chait agrees with me: "Reporters, then, should just try saying no."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Trying to shift the presidential campaign narrative away from his personal finances and tenure at Bain Capital, Republican Mitt Romney will launch a fresh assault this week accusing President Obama of political cronyism at the expense of middle-class workers." This Web video is a piece of the assault:

... AND there's this one:

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The [Romney] commercial illustrates how Obama abandoned the rhetoric of 'hope and change' and went negative by playing quotes from CBS's Bob Schieffer, the New York Times' David Brooks, and Time's Mark Halperin.... Now two of the three journalists have responded, and surprisingly, they weren't flattered by being dragged into an attack ad without their permission." CW: You'll have to read Hartmann's post to find out which of the three "journalists" (actually, only one is a journalist; the others are hacks) hasn't complained about appearing in the Romney ad; if you try to guess, your first two guesses don't count.

News Ledes

Guardian: "New York and Connecticut attorneys general have joined forces to investigate alleged manipulation of the Libor interest rates. The scandal is already being investigated by the US justice department and financial regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. But the involvement of New York state is likely to ramp up the investigation."

Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for global growth to the lowest level since 2009, when the world was first emerging from the great recession. The IMF said Monday it expects the world economy to grow 3.5% this year, 0.1 percentage points lower than its forecast three months ago, and warned that a sharper downturn was possible if policymakers in Europe and the US fail to act."

AP: "The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS. The agency approved Gilead Sciences' pill Truvada as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners."

New York Times: "Gunners on a United States Navy supply ship in the Persian Gulf near the coast of the United Arab Emirates opened fire on a small motorized vessel on Monday after the small vessel disregarded warnings and rapidly approached, the United States Fifth Fleet command reported."

The Guardian is liveblogging the civil war in Syria, describing "fierce fighting" in Damascus. The New York Times story is here.

Reuters: "The U.S. Marshals Service has captured Vincent Legrend Walters, one of the law enforcement agency's 15 most wanted fugitives, in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Walters, 45, wanted on kidnapping, murder and drug charges stemming from a 1988 San Diego case, was apprehended Friday morning, then transported to Mexico City where he will await extradition to the United States...."

Reader Comments (9)

Robert Parry at Consortium.com, reprinted in Reader Supported News, has written today about Mitt Romney's "fact checking" by Glenn Kessler at WaPo and by the Annenberg Foundation. Their main purpose appears to be cutting off any conversation about MittWitt's true activities at Bain after 1999:
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/12433-the- romney-fact-checking-scandal

Parry asserts that:
..."If these supposed "fact-checkers" really cared about facts, perhaps they would use their new status as Romney's favorite defenders to ask the Republican presidential candidate to release Bain Capital's internal records that would show whether he did or did not have any contacts with his subordinates after February 1999."

I agree. And I am glad Obama continues to go after Mitters on this Bain(al) matter. Even if the MSM wants to let MittWitt off the hook, I hope the Obama campaign and the alternative press, especially Marie Burns, keep on sifting and winnowing the facts!

If this guy wants to be POTUS, he needs to have a credible and mostly truthful resume. HA! Plus an economic and health plan IN WRITING--for the voters to see and judge. Creep!

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Another way to look at Willard the Rat's Bain problem is to compare it to the out of control screeching demands for Obama's birth certificate. The MSM never let up on this issue. Nearly all of them demanded that Obama turn over every scrap of information to prove that he was, in fact, an American citizen. In fact, a fair number of people are STILL demanding this information years after the state of Hawaii blew the birther case out of the water.

Those demands were, and still are, irrational attempts by haters and scheming right-wing con men, like Comb Over Boy, to continue to roll stones onto Obama's road and cause unnecessary distractions, even if it meant that the national business (and by extension citizens) had to suffer.

Now those same schemers and their running dog, boot licking lackeys in the MSM are decrying an entirely legitimate and necessary attempt at prying information out of Willard's campaign to determine once and for all the extent of his truth telling (or not) regarding official federal filings and, further, what he has repeatedly averred to the voters.

If a search for something that was already known was deemed important enough by the media to last over three years, certainly a valid and justifiable probe into the background of a presidential candidate should be considered strong enough not to be belittled and laughed at by that same media.

And we're not talking here about whether or not The Rat chased down and committed felony assault on a fellow student in high school as part of a hate crime he organized (although there is no doubt he did that too). We're talking here about a major component of Willard's rationale for demanding the keys to the White House.

That important enough for ya?

Apparently not.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

akhilleus,

Your analysis is, I believe spot on. But as soon as the media starts to pursue an honest-to-goodness, verifiable retirement date from Bain, the hue and cry from the wingers will begin that we must be shown President Obama's transcripts from Columbia and Harvard as well as his birth certificate. Deflection, deflection, deflection.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

As Krugman writes, the coming election should be a no brainer for voters no matter their economic status.

First, if you’re in the 1% or even close to it (anywhere inside the 5% line should do), Willard is your man. His policies will continue to enrich you and continue the absolution, begun by St. Ronald of Reagan, of your responsibilities as an American citizen. That stuff is for the plebes, and Romney will make sure that either they (the 95-99%) pick up your tab or get less of everything. A lot less. Either way, you win.

Now if you are a member of that 95-99% group, you should vote for Obama for exactly the same reasons. Although no enemy to Wall Street and 1% Masters of the Universe, he at least has some connection with the 99. His tax policies, unlike The Rat’s, won’t saddle the rest of us with quite as much of a burden. AND he offers minor things like healthcare for (almost) everyone, something Willard the Rat has declared unconstitutional, further promising to take it away the first chance he gets.

But like the contours of distant mountain ranges half hidden in clouds and fog, the shape of the world we now inhabit occasionally comes into stark relief when the clouds part and we get a passing glimpse of the ragged and dangerous peaks that block our passage to a more equitable society.

Click on any of the links Marie provides this morning and those crags come into focus. Let’s simply consider the Gretchen Morgenson story about big investment banks elbowing their way into what is basically insider trading information to make money at the expense of average investors.

If you require a starker example for what kind of advantage such information offers, I cite the example of an economics experiment I recently encountered. I cannot, for the life of me, recall the Ec professor who initiated this little test, but several of you may have read about it as well.

Take two players. Sit them down with a Monopoly board game. Now adjust the rules to roughly mirror what’s taking place in MittRomneyWorld.

Player one (a One Percenter) starts off with five times as much money as player two (the NinetyNine Percenter). Each time player one passes go he receives $500. Player two receives nothing. Player two, if he wishes to purchase real estate is charged double the rate of those for player one (reflecting the advantages of inside information and cushy financial quid pro quos). Also, player one gets to use two dice on every spin; player two, only one die. Very rapidly, the headstart given to the Romney player far outdistances the AverageAmericanTaxPayer player who within a few spins around the board is bankrupt, all their money absorbed by the One Percenter.

This is the real world for Romney and his pals. They expect, and they receive, special breaks all their lives, insider information not available to the other players, every economic and social advantage they need to break the backs of their opponents and cart off their money, their homes, their futures. These they stockpile in one of their warehouses. They expect additional breaks such as relief from paying their fair share in taxes, and they don’t much like anyone telling them anything about responsibility or law or morals or any other damn thing that gets in the way of their ability to cash in on all their advantages. They expect never to be called on anything, including and especially information relating to how exactly they got so rich.

What they do expect, and this they receive as well, is an acknowledgement that they had no advantages at all. That everything they have, they EARNED the hard way through no special help from anyone. Because THAT is the most durable of right-wing myths, one Romney will perpetuate and continue to advance through subterfuge, schemes, stonewalling, and outright lies.

Krugman is right. The personal IS political.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Jacquelyn,

Yes. And the subtext of those requests for transcripts will be accompanied by an ugly whisper campaign that will, believe me, find plenty of traction on the right: that no black man could have gotten such high marks from Ivy League schools without "special" help (eg, cheating). Right along with that will be screaming outrage by such as Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh that ANYone dare to call them racists.

They already do this sort of thing. They do it to a T.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: "I just signed the thing, oh, and dated it, som of a bitch." It's like finding Rocco the raccoon sitting on my front porch dipping Squeeky the Kitty's kibble in the water bowl. I say,"Rocko, dude; you've got to stop eating Squeek's food. Rocco just gives me the look and says, "Go back inside and turn off the lights, there's nothing unusual going on here.
Sign SEC documents with no regard to the truth, not unusual.
Say anything to gain advantage, not unusual.
Throw the blame on your detractors, not unusual.
Excuse any action by saying, " That's business.", not unusual.
Stashing millions overseas to avoid taxes, not unusual.
Catering to scum to buy votes, not unusual.
Demanding retractions to cover lies, not unusual.
1999 to 2002, same as ever.
Mitt doesn't think he is responsible for his past because his past is not unusual. Same,same. He'd outsource America if he could.
Tonight I will give Rocco a can of tuna for comparing him to Mitt.
Rocco will slam the can of tuna and tell me to go back inside and turn off the light, not unusual.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

@Akhilleus: Hadn't heard of the Monopoly parable but have long tried to teach this simple but apparently elusive math lesson: a distribution system as "fair" as repeatedly giving each player/participant/laborer/manager/owner the same reward/bonus/wage/salary increase--let's say 3%--necessarily widens the gap between those who start out at the top and those at the bottom. Over time that gap becomes a chasm and we end up where we are today.

Seems obvious but it is apparently not for all those whose interests are harmed by regressive taxes and yet support flat incomes taxes and the elimination of estate taxes. Turns out, in the world of arithmetic, treating everyone the same is not fair at all. In short, the One Percenters don't need a lot of rule changes; they don't even need to cheat; all they need is a little patience, and the arithmetic will take care of them just fine.

As it has.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

As a prime example of how egregious is the lack of media responsibility, Jake Tapper of ABC news released a news package this morning describing the Obama campaign's demand for clarity from Romney on his Bain history as nothing but "changing the subject" from the economic misery inflicted on the country by the president. He goes on to repeat, without the tiniest effort at fact-checking, a Romney charge that Obama regularly engages in "insider trading."

And this guy isn't a Fox drooler.

But that doesn't mean he's reliable either. This is the way it works. When rich people are attacked, the media comes to their aid and besmirches those asking the questions.

Plus, don't forget. ABC is owned by Walt Disney, the largest media company in the world, in terms of revenue. You don't think they're going to come down on the side of the 99, do you? We exist to purchase vacation homes and supply gigantic bonuses for Disney executives. They are not in the business of providing information that might hurt one of their own.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Here's my question for Willard: how many American jobs have been created by your stash in the Caymans and Switzerland?

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon
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