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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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Monday
Jul302012

The Commentariat -- July 31, 2012

** Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "a personal note about ObamaCare and my recent absence." ...

... For Some, the Check Is in the Mail. Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: the Affordable Care Act "requires insurers to give out annual rebates by Aug. 1, starting this year, if less than 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect go toward medical care. For insurers covering large employers, the threshold is 85 percent. As a result, insurers will pay out $1.1 billion this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, although not all of it will go to individuals."

Via Digby:

... Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) lets a lawyer for the Koch-funded Cato Institute have it. Whitehouse is a former prosecutor, & it shows, big-time. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link:

Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "The deep federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of next year may trigger dismissal notices for tens of thousands of employees of government contractors..., and the warnings may start going out ... days before the presidential election.... Obama administration officials say that the threat of layoffs is overblown and that Republicans are playing up the possibility rather than trying to head it off.... Republicans reacted with fury, saying it is the White House that is playing politics."

Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: Paul "Ryan is either a radical or a fraud."

Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones posts a lot of charts, which -- all told -- add up to this:  

Despite raking in such a large share of the national income, our nation's über-wealthy pay very little in taxes by global standards. -- Josh Harkinson

 

Sorry to be late with this, but it's worth reading Charles Pierce's reflections on -- mostly -- the Sunday shows. And let me just say that the fact ABC "News" would give Dana Loesch a prominent place to air her views suggests to me that the FCC should yank its broadcast licenses today.

New York Times Editors: "According to [a] study [released by Sen. Tom Harkin {D-Iowa}], taxpayers poured about $32 billion into for-profit colleges in the most recent year -- much of it spent on marketing or pocketed as profit. Meanwhile, 96 percent of their students were forced to take out loans, as opposed to about 13 percent in community colleges and 48 percent in four-year public colleges. A majority leave without degrees. And while the for-profit sector accounts for only about 13 percent of enrollment nationally, it accounts for nearly half the loan defaults." The overview of Sen. Harkin's investigative report is here, with links to particulars.

Think Progress: " A Pew Research Center ... poll, taken after the Colorado shooting, shows that 47 percent of Americans say it is more important to control gun ownership, compared to 46 percent who say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns. While Pew calls this 'no significant change' from April numbers, it does represent a 5-point swing since their previous poll...."

Ian Millhiser: once again Senate Republicans filibuster an Obama judicial nominee who has strong bipartisan support. Just because.

Prof. Colin Carter & Dr. Henry Miller in a New York Times op-ed: "By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go." CW: Miller is with the conservative Hoover Institution, but I think he's right.

Whistleblowers Can Be Obnoxious. Eric Lichtblau & Scott Shane of the New York Times on Robert Smith, the radiologist & lawyer at the center of an F.D.A. spying scandal.

Do not lie to Harry Reid.

Presidential Race

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama hinted Monday evening that his re-election campaign will transition to a more positive and forward-looking message by the end of next month and into the fall. Obama told a group of high-dollar donors at a New York City fundraiser that he intends to spend 'a lot of time talking about the specific agenda that I intend to pursue in the second term.'"

Julián Aguilar & Zoë Gioja of the Texas Tribune: "San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who was jokingly mistaken for a White House intern by Barack Obama less than three years ago, will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that will nominate the president for a second term."

... Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: at this year's Democratic National Convention, "Elizabeth Warren ... will speak immediately before Bill Clinton speaks on what party officials hope will be an energetic penultimate night. Warren and Clinton will speak in prime time on Wednesday, Sept. 5...."

Jim Acosta of CNN: "The traveling press secretary for Mitt Romney lost his cool and cursed at reporters who attempted to ask questions of the Republican presidential candidate in a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw Tuesday."

Steve Holland of Reuters: "Solidarity, the trade union movement which led the Polish struggle against communist rule, distanced itself on Monday from a visit to Poland by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying he supported attacks on unions in his own country." But former Polish President Lech Walesa, who has broken with Solidarity (so not so solid), practically endorsed Romney. Current "Polish leaders enjoy fairly strong ties with the Obama White House."

NPR's Cokie Roberts says Romney was going to Poland to get out the white vote back home. AND the wingers wig out.

What a difference a candidate makes:

Pushback. Dana Davidsen of CNN: "Israel's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the Obama White House has been the most supportive administration throughout the two countries' diplomatic relations on matters of Israeli security, in an interview to air Monday on 'The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.' Barak -- also a former prime minister of Israel -- said that though historically administrations from both political parties have supported the Jewish state President Obama's support, security-wise, is unparalleled." Watch Blitzer -- he's so astounded you expect him to spit the GOP Kool-Aid he's been drinking:

Mitt Gives the Thumbs-up to Socialized Medicine. It's totally cost-effective! Charles Dharapak Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney offered praise for the Israeli health care system today -- a medical plan that has been socialized since its founding in 1948. Romney ... marveled at how little Israel spends on health care relative to the United States." CW: Yes, it is marvelous, Mitt. Now, tell us why that is. ...

... Digby adds, "Don't tell Mitt but it's funded with a progressive health care tax." Thanks to contributor Janice K. for the link. ...

... Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post has more: "Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.... Israel's lower health care spending does not look to sacrifice the quality of care. It has made more improvements than the United States on numerous quality metrics, and the country continues to have a higher life expectancy." With charts! ...

... Jon Walker of Firedoglake: "While heavy government price control is the 'secret' to Israel’s lower health care costs, the simple fact is that it is the same secret used by every other first world country to keep costs down."

... Here's the Bottom Line. Romney Doesn't Know What He's Talking about. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "So was Romney simply clueless about the details of Israeli health care? Was he too busy trying to ingratiate himself with his hosts to pay attention? Or does he secretly think government-run health care has its virtues? I don't know -- and I'm not sure Romney does either."

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon on Romney's "analysis" of Israeli v. Palestinian culture: "... as Romney often likes to remind us, government restrictions on commerce can be bad for the economy, and there are probably few places on earth where commerce is more restricted than in the Palestinian territories.... Meanwhile, Romney vastly underestimated the economic gulf between the two economies. He guessed the gross domestic product per capita difference between Israel and the Palestinian territories to be about two-to-one, along the lines of the U.S. to Mexico. But in fact it's more like 20-to-one. Israel's GDP per capita is about $31,000 compared to just $1,5000 [sic.; that's $1,500] for West Bank and Gaza, according to the World Bank." ...

... CW: as a couple of commenters to Seitz-wald's post pointed out, Romney's crediting the Jewish "culture" for creating a higher GDP than Palestine's is just his way of stereotyping Jews as good businesspeople. ...

... Ashley Parker & Richard Oppel of the New York Times report on the controversy. "Throughout the day, Mr. Romney's aides were grim-faced and exasperated as they tried to contain the aftermath of what Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist, called 'a completely manufactured story.'" ...

... Scott Wilson's report for the Washington Post has the same gist: "Romney has tried to follow an unwritten rule of American campaigning: Don’t criticize the president while on foreign soil. But he has struggled with another unwritten rule -- one that applies to travel more generally: It is also a bad idea to criticize foreigners while on foreign soil." ...

... Dan Amira of New York: "Mitt Romney is now two-for-two in insulting large swaths of people during his international tour. After he enraged the British..., Romney moved on to Israel, where he appeared to blame Palestinian poverty in part on 'providence' and the territory's inferior culture.... Ignoring Israel's role [in impoverishing Palestine] is a major omission if one is actually trying to explain the differences in GDP-per-capita between Israel and Palestine. Of course, an accurate and thorough analysis was not Mitt's goal." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "John McCain refuses to believe that Mitt Romney said what he said." McCain actually defended Romney's remarks about Palestine, because, as he said, 'I am sure that Gov. Romney was not talking about difference in cultures, or difference in anybody superior or inferior.' It's "worth keeping in mind when you consider the fact that McCain not only vouched for Romney today, but he's also vouched for Romney's tax returns as well."

Secret Mitt's Secret Audits Shall Remain Secret. CNN: "Mitt Romney's campaign said Monday they would not release any more of the candidate's personal income tax information, despite an acknowledgement from Romney that he had been audited in the past." CW: actually, he said "from time to time."

Jonathan Chait of New York: actually, no, Romney isn't a wimp. ...

... Alex Pareene of Salon: he's a bully. And he doesn't care what John McCain thinks. And Barack Obama doesn't care what John McCain thinks. But if you care, the answer is "bomb everywhere forever." ...

... In Stupid v. Evil, Stupid Gets the Last Word. Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: after Dick Cheney said McCain's choice of Sarah Palin was a mistake, McCain reminds Fox "News" viewers that Cheney was America's Torturer-in-Chief.

Different Cast, Same Story. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "The star of the most recent Mitt Romney campaign ad criticizing President Barack Obama for arguing that government can play a constructive role in helping business has major business dealings with government entities."

Local News

New York Times Editors: Florida Gov. Rick Scott (RTP) & a Tea Party-associated group are trying to oust the only three state Supreme Court justices appointed by Democrats. "If the three justices lose their retention battle..., it would ... send a message of intimidation undermining judicial independence and impartiality...."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "Republican congressional investigators have concluded that five senior ATF officials -- from the special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix field office to the top man in the bureau's Washington headquarters -- are collectively responsible for the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that was /marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.'"

AP: "The two Republicans vying for the U.S. Senate nomination in Texas spent the final hours of their white-hot runoff race rallying their bases Monday, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst making a hard appeal to veterans and tea party-backed Ted Cruz taking his anti-establishment message to radio and television stations." ...

     ... Houston Chronicle Update: "Texas' drift toward the Tea Party brand of GOP conservatism continued Tuesday when lawyer Ted Cruz scored a surprisingly easy win over David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison."

Washington Post: "Syria’s top diplomat to Britain defected Monday, according to the British Foreign Office..., as tens of thousands fled heavy fighting in Aleppo, the most populous city in the country and its commercial capital."

AP: "India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving more than 600 million people without government-supplied electricity in one of the world's biggest-ever blackouts."

Washington Post: "Japan raised concern Tuesday about China's growing assertiveness in regional waters at a time when it's becoming less clear who in Beijing is making decisions about the military."

New York Times: "Tony Martin, the debonair baritone whose career spanned some 80 years in films and nightclubs and on radio and television, died on Friday at his home in West Los Angeles. He was 98."

Reader Comments (4)

So lets sum up the day. A person running for POTUS who knows that the entire world is evaluating every word out of his mouth manages in just one day to insult one culture, support the racist stereotype of another culture and announces his support for socialized medicine. Can't wait for tomorrow!

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The Romney foreign tour is beginning to take on the aspect of a comic opera.....or a Grade B movie. Setting : "Holy" site in Warsaw, Poland. Cast: Reporters from major American news organizations such as the NYT, Washington Post and CNN; and Romney press secretary Rick Gorka. Action: reporters vigorously shout out questions to Gorka about the many gaffes of Mitt Romney on the tour. Gorka: "Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Marie, I'm sure you'll see this, but Krugman blogpost, "Fire DeMarco"
get me riled up. In particular, a commenter suggested that Krugman should use this topic for his Friday column to gain more traction and perhaps even some petitions going. I hope he does and it does and DeMarco goes!

Peggy Noonan––a thorn in my liberal flesh for decades––and our Mr. Brooks agree that this campaign season is DULL– BORING–nothin's happenin, baby. Gee, right from the beginning we had a bunch of them there Publicans that gave us comic relief debate after debate–-especially Herman whose rhetoric was straight out of Comedy Central. So now that we have only two contenders, it has become, for Peggy and David, just such a bore. Gosh, Peggy probably thinks, if only I could write speeches for Romney like I did for Reagan––those syrupy, honey laden platitudes that beguiled the nation––we could have some excitement here. Where is the passion, they ask? We Obama voters lack passion? They both need to get out more, circulate among the crowds that are welcoming Obama when he goes out on the road. Well, Peggy has the answer for Romney anyway––Condi Rice for VP––that will liven up the campaign, get people excited again. Plus, for Pete's sake, the woman is black––a real plus for the party of NO. She knows this because when she gave a speech somewhere and offered this up the crowd went wild. She may be right, but then she is so often wrong one can only grimace at her suggestion as I imagine Condi herself is doing.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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