Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "This week, President Obama called on Republicans in Congress to take action and vote to fund the Administration’s response to the Zika virus. In February, the President asked Congress to fund emergency resources, including mosquito control, fast-tracking diagnostics tests and vaccines, tracking the spread of the virus, and monitoring women and babies with Zika. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have failed to take action on this issue. So the President continues to direct his Administration do what it can without help from Congress, with the primary focus of protecting pregnant women and families planning to have children'":

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

New York Times: "Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” signed off the air for good on Saturday evening [July 2], after 42 seasons, as millions of listeners, many in their cars on a holiday weekend, tuned in via public radio. With the exception of a telephone call from President Obama, the show, which was recorded Friday at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 18,000 people, ambled along the way it always has. There were pretty country-folk songs; an ad for Powdermilk Biscuits; a clippety-clop 'Lives of the Cowboys' skit; a heartfelt version of 'Every Time We Say Goodbye.'”

Washington Post: Gay Talese disowns his forthcoming book, 'The Voyeur’s Motel,' after he learns some of the incidents in the supposed true story are certainly fictional. The narrative “chronicles the bizarre story of Gerald Foos, who allegedly spied on guests at his Colorado motel from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s.... 'I should not have believed a word he said,' the 84-year-old author said after The Washington Post informed him of property records that showed Foos did not own the motel from 1980 to 1988.... The book, which will be published July 12, was excerpted in the New Yorker magazine in April. The story attracted widespread media attention and led producer-director Steven Spielberg to buy the movie rights to the book. Spielberg has lined up Sam Mendes...." ...

     ... Update. CW: For a day, I thought maybe Talese had developed a smidgen of ethics in his old age. Guess not. Here's the story now, from the WashPo: "Upon reflection, author Gay Talese says he’s disavowing his earlier disavowal of his own work."

Dan Shaw of New York writes a lovely remembrance of New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham.

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Saturday
Jul212012

The Commentariat -- July 22, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Meaning of Tragedy." The NYTX front page is here.

Jordy Yager & Mike Lillis of The Hill: "A handful of Democrats are pressing for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Colorado movie theater shootings that left 12 people dead." ...

... "Blood on Their Hands." New York Daily News Editors: "Through their inaction and their silence, Obama and Romney have fallen into line with all those who enabled Holmes to take hold of that AR-15 and will enable others to do so in the future unless America's political leaders develop the courage to fight to save lives."

... The Onion: "Americans across the nation confirmed today that, unfortunately, due to their extreme familiarity with the type of tragedy that occurred in a Colorado movie theater last night, they sadly know exactly how the events following the horrific shooting of 12 people will unfold. While admitting they 'absolutely hate' the fact they have this knowledge, the nation's 300 million citizens told reporters they can pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held, roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide memorial service will be held."

James Asher of McClatchy News: "... reporters from The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg and others are agreeing to give government sources the right to clear and alter quotes as a prerequisite to granting an interview. To be clear, it is the bureau's policy that we do not alter accurate quotes from any source. And to the fullest extent possible, we do not make deals that we will clear quotes as a condition of interviews."

New York Times Editors: "A health care system owned and managed by Alaska's native people has achieved astonishing results in improving the health of its enrollees while cutting the costs of treating them."

Pam Martens of AlterNet: "As the U.S. grapples with intractable wealth disparity and the related ills of unemployment and recession, we need to understand that [the LIBOR scandal] was not merely a few rascals rigging some esoteric index in London. This was an institutionalized wealth transfer system on an almost unimaginable scale." CW: what's important about Martens' piece -- which I found a bit difficult to follow -- is not how they did it but to whom they did it.

Matt Taibbi writes favorably about "a plan to allow local governments to take on the problem of neighborhoods blighted by toxic home loans and foreclosures through the use of eminent domain." CW: when Joe Nocera wrote a column backing the plan, I was immediately skeptical. Taibbi raises the same questions I had, but ultimately decides that since Barack Obama is no FDR, the plan at hand might be the best solution available.

Jeremy Roebuck of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The iconic statue of late Pennsylvania State University head football coach Joe Paterno will be removed from its spot outside of the campus' football stadium, university president Rodney Erickson said in a statement Sunday." AP story here. ...

... CW: Erickson showed no sensitivity whatsoever to the advice of Maureen Dowd, who writes in today's Times, "... I’d leave it up. But I'd put up another darkly alluring statue behind Paterno, whispering in his ear: Mephistopheles."

Andrew Goldman of the New York Times interviews Terry Gross. Short & funny. Includes penis joke.

Presidential Race

Who's "Un-American" Now? Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "... the patriotism party nominated a man who has for a quarter-century practiced a brand of capitalism that respects no known flag or borders. He ran a company that created some jobs but sent others overseas, he finagled himself a way to get paid a lot of money for doing (by his own admission) no work for a few years, and he appears to have retained a battery of lawyers to help ensure that he pays a far lower tax rate than the working people he's trying to whip into a state of fear about Obama. And there's only one reason people have Swiss bank accounts, and it's to avoid making their otherwise mandated contributions to the national treasury." ...

... Why Those Offshore Accounts of Mitt's Matter. John McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal: "The Tax Justice Network's report estimates that unreported offshore wealth held in tax havens has reached at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32 trillion. [CW: as far as I can tell, the estimate represents wealth from all countries, not just the U.S.] That wealth means that the problem of inequality in wealth and income is actually worse than suspected, the group says. It also means that many countries are losing out on tax revenue that could go a long way toward alleviating their national fiscal problems, the report's authors suggest. The largest previous estimate of the problem -- also by Tax Justice Network, in 2005 -- was about $11.5 trillion, the report says."

Matea Gold & Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's sharp turn to the offensive against GOP challenger Mitt Romney last month came at a steep cost: nearly $58 million."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: Although the Romney campaign denies it, it appears it is buying Twitter followers. At any rate, the graph of followers for his feed "looks like a hockey stick," with a huge uptick over the past few days. "If you look at all these [new] followers, they seem to have major trouble with spelling simple English words, have names that sometimes seem to be random assortments of syllables, and have no (or very few) followers themselves. At the current rate, he's adding about 10,000 followers every hour." Some fairly hilarious commentary @ #MoreFakeMitt

Right Wing World

Godless Thugs! Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Fred Jackson, the American Family Association's news director, while discussing the Colorado movie theater shooting today said that liberal Christian churches and liberal media helped contribute to violent incidents by supposedly deemphasizing the fear of God and the Bible."

News Ledes

Washington Post: 'Herbert Vogel, a retired New York postal worker who, with his wife, Dorothy, created one of the world's most unlikely -- and most significant -- collections of modern art, then bequeathed much of it to the National Gallery of Art, died July 22 at a nursing home in New York City. He was 89." CW: a remarkable story.

CBS News: "CBS News has learned that the NCAA will announce what a high-ranking association source called 'unprecedented' penalties against both the Penn State University football team and the school.... NCAA President Mark Emmert will make the announcement Monday morning at 9 a.m. at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis."

Denver Post: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper [D] Sunday expressed skepticism that tougher gun laws would have stopped suspected gunman James Eagan Holmes from unleashing 'terrorist' acts against 70 people in an Aurora movie-theater."

AP: "A federal law enforcement official says the semi-automatic assault rifle used in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting jammed during the attack." ...

... AP: "The shooting suspect accused in a deadly rampage inside a Colorado theater planned the attack with 'calculation and deliberation,' police said Saturday, receiving deliveries by mail that authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs. Meanwhile, new details about 24-year-old James Holmes emerged, including summer jobs the suspect held in Southern California as a camp counselor and as an intern at a prominent research institute." ...

... AP: "... President Barack Obama will travel Sunday to Colorado to comfort distraught families of those gunned down in a minute and a half of real-life horror at a midnight movie showing."

Washington Post: "Heavy clashes rocked Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial capital, for a second day on Saturday as thousands streamed across the border into neighboring Lebanon to escape widespread fighting in the country." ...

... Guardian: "An activist group claims that more than 2,750 people have been killed in Syria so far this month, bringing the death toll since the conflict began to more than 19,000."

Reader Comments (12)

Marie, your NYTX article on the Colorado shootings was the best description of the reality I have read. Your assessment of our minds tells it all. We have an incredible capacity for hiding. An article in the Sunday Times (We’re All Climate-Change Idiots) tells a very similar story. The best proof of this is the comments from Fred Jackson of the American Family Association that says this is his god's retribution. Apparently the same god who spends his time watching Tim Tebow play football rather than save the 6 million children who starve to death every year. If the lawyer representing the killer cannot make an insanity defense maybe he can claim he was doing god's work. You know the god who gets a kick out of murdering a six year old child.
The end really is coming and we can thank our minds for making it happen.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marie, your latest essay in the NYTimes Examiner is a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

In it you quoted Romney as saying "“When it comes to protecting the Second Amendment, I do not support any new gun laws including any new ban on semi-automatic firearms,” he said in late December 2007. Today he opposes “adding more laws and regulations that do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens….”"

At no time have I read of or listened to a person who has stated his/her opposition to banning weapons made solely for killing the most people/animals in the least amount of time asked of the person 'Why?'

What on earth is their reasoning for allowing these WMD to be made for any purpose other than armed conflict at the government level much less allowing them to be sold to anyone with the means to pay for them or the wherewithal to steal them.

As an aside, I find in this case the use of the word 'burdened' by new laws cynical.

Maggy Holman

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggy Holman

Any attempt to control firearms in any way is a lose, lose, The power of the NRA is absolute and will remain so for a long time. The NRA destroys all opposition and most politicians are justly afraid of it. As Gail Collins said yesterday, there will come a time when the public will change attitudes. As Gail pointed out, it took a long time to get women the power to vote. It was inevitable as is the change of attitudes and the failure of the NRA.
Unfortunately, many people may die in the interim.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Re: Marie's excellent piece in NYTX this morning: Using the classical definition of the word "tragedy" perhaps the real fallen hero of this tale is the country itself. Once portrayed in black and white films as the proud symbol of high standards and patriotic zeal, one got teary eyed knowing how strong and good a country can be. One dared not look too deeply into the underbelly.

If more than half of the populace is against any kind of gun control then our politicians aren't going to risk pushing for it––kind of like a kiss of death for them––only when your seat is safe , evidently, can you stick your neck out and do what's good for the country rather than what's good for you.

In 2005 there was a cable series called "Commander in Chief" starring Gena Davis as the first female president of the U.S. It depicted this woman as a president who, wonder of wonders, actually ran the country the way it should be run––for the people even though her decisions would hurt her chances for reelection. It only ran for two seasons which is a shame. It gave us a glimpse of what it could be like. My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing–––sadly and quietly.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.S. But what a lift to read Matt Taibbi's article––innovative ideas in the making to deal with the housing debacle. This is good news!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I bought my first gun, a Smith & Wesson .38 , at the age of 14 (perfectly legal in 1950's Oregon). So I'm not totally against gun ownersip. That said, can anyone rationally tell me why anyone ouside the military or law enforcement needs an assault rifle? Or a 100 round magazine for it? I read apologists who say it wasn't an assaualt rifle since it couldn't be fired full automatic. As a combat veteran, I can tell you that firing one shot at a time can do a lot of damage. Besides, the M16/AR15 is almost impossible to fire accuately on full auto. As to the argument that if some people in the crowd had been armed-- Obviously, Holmes had thought of that, a gas cloud, wearing black and body armor, a gas mask. People who fantasize about taking on a shooter forget that bullets go both ways. It's hard enough to coordinate trained soldiers without having a bunch of untrained civilians firing wildly in the dark. All the NRA wants to do is sell more guns. That's one of the reasons I disassociated from the NR A many years ago. We need stricter gun control and we need it now!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

I've been following your blog for several years now (it's usually the first thing I look at every day), but this is my first time commenting. Thanks for your excellent piece in NYTX on our ongoing gun violence "tragedy". I thought I might add to your mention of Aristotle's calling the tragic flaw hamartia that the New Testament, composed in Greek several hundred years after the time of Aristotle, uses the same word to mean "sin". In regards to gun control, there seems to be plenty of sin to go around.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidD

It is difficult to get exact comparison data but the following numbers from 2005 get the picture. EU population 500 million, number of murders 4743. US population 310 million, number of murders about 17,000. Of the 17,000 more than 12,000 were done by guns.
In a study quoted by a PolitiFact evaluation, "Researchers determined that the rate of homicides with guns in the U.S. was 4.1 per 100,000 people; the same rate combining the 22 other countries was 0.2 per 100,000 in 2003. The rate of homicides using guns in the U.S. was 19.5 times the rate of the other countries".

In summary, we are truly exceptional!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The idea, floated regularly by NRA boot lickers and Fox semi-literates, that if we all had guns mass killings would not be possible, is back once again. Had that been the case in Aurora, everyone in the audience would have whipped out their peacemakers and made Swiss cheese out of the shooter. A few dead, maybe, no big deal, but no mass murder.

Pure, unadulterated puerile fantasy.

Seriously? This is the sort of NRA wanking material passed along by imbeciles who have never had to fire a weapon at another human being. Professionally trained men and women in the armed forces and police departments routinely report difficulty doing this, especially the first time. It's one thing to shoot at a stationary target, but as Barbarossa points out, quite another when that target is moving and shooting back at you.

Gun crazed states like Arizona should be an excellent test for such a crackpot theory. Arizona boasts the most permissive gun laws (none even worth mentioning, actually) in the country. You can carry concealed weapons pretty much anywhere and no one can say boo.

But when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot and other innocent bystanders slaughtered by a gunman last year at a public gathering, how many Arizonans drew down on the killer? How many did a Keanu Reeves and slung back their black dusters to pull out their own semi-automatic killing machines to let the bastard have it right between the eyes, blowing away the gunsmoke before holstering their weapon?

You all know the answer.

I don't know if anyone in that crowd actually was armed, but if that nusto theory didn't work in Arizona, where most everyone is already armed, where will it work. But Arizona is just like it was in the Old West, right?

Uhhh....not really.

You see, in the 19th century in places like Arizona, where most EVERYONE was armed--just like that NRA wet dream--municipal officials, and most citizens, realized just how crazy nuts dangerous it was and most towns had "No Carry" laws (unlike the current drive for a "Must Carry" law). Weapons were checked at the sheriff's office in many towns. The idea of people having ready access to deadly weapons, especially drunk people in bars, with which to settle the smallest disputes, was considered insane.

But not today.

Today, the NRA and their running dog lackeys in congress, smirk at mass killings and laugh at anyone who thinks they can point to such public horrors and as a way to challenge hurt complete control.

I'd like to believe that Gail Collins is right.

But without someone to at least start that struggle, the dead and injured in Colorado will just be 70 or so more notches on the NRA bed post. Plenty more to come.

Gunsmoke hovering over American cities is their most fervent dream.

And if a few (thousand) people have to die, well, they just use the same excuse George Zimmerman did.

It was god's will that those people died.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

I find it interesting that the NY Daily News opines (linked above) that "Obama, Mitt and the NRA" have "blood on their hands." Oh really? The NRA certainly does have blood on its hands and every other inch of its corporate body (is it feeling pain over the horrific event?). After all, this lobby group for the gun industry has done more than anyone else to assure that America has the weakest gun regulation in the advanced world.
Romney? Well, as the article points out, he enthusiastically got in line and joined the NRA at the beginning ofl his run for the presidency. He not only joined it, but has made it a point to highlight his agreement with the NRA positions. In April of this year, Romney addressed their national convention. Accordiing to a contemporaneous article in the Yahoo news, "He delivered a speech broadly attacking President Obama for failing to protect Americans' economic, religious and personal freedoms-- highlighting gun owners in that final attack.
'We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those who seek to protect their home and family," Romney said. "President Obama has not; I will.' "
Meanwhile, the NRA has caused millions of guns and rounds of ammo to be sold just on the strength of the argument that it "knows" that in his heart Obama will tighten gun laws in the future. Heck, thousands of people have obtained carry permits just as a reaction to the NRA scare tactics. So the President assuredly was aware that ANY statement he made encouraging tighter regulation would just be used to further the sales of weaponry. That truly put him in an untenable position.
On the other hand, it is a sign of progress that a conservative rag like the News is at least recognizing the need for stricter gun laws. One would hope it is a harbinger of things to come on that score.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Conspsirecy: (sp) Sorry, can't remember the correct
spelling--sixty years out of school. Anyway, I'm waiting for the
gun lobby to come up with the reason we have all of these shootings
every few months. I have a theory that they will say this is being
done by the left (Obama and CIA operatives) to make the NRA
look bad (worse?) Read some blogs today (too many to recall)
claiming that there are training camps in Arizona, Colorado
and Texas where these mass murderers are trained by the CIA.
On call by the opponents of NRA to make then look bad in the
eyes of all of us little people who have no say or no guns.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@JJG. Thanks for your input on this. It's Florida. We gotsa lotsa windows, especially in houses like mine, which was built before A/C. (I didn't count the 4 in the attic, which I had replaced at another time, nor the ones in the basement, which are still the same ole same ole).

July 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader
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