The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as 'the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.'”

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 29

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

 

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

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Friday
Jul062012

The Commentariat -- July 7, 2012

I think I wrote my favorite David Brooks column Friday. It is titled "Every David Brooks Column Is about Mayberry." The NYTX front page is here. ...

In today's Comments, contributor P. D. Pepe excerpts the Brooks-Dionne exchange on last night's "PBS NewsHour." Here's the whole thing. CW: not sure I can stand to watch:

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Obama's big mistake was to turn prematurely from the need for stimulus to a focus on cutting the budget. He may have hoped to co-opt the Republican emphasis on deficits. He would have done better to slam them on their cynicism in lamenting the deficit after enabling the tax cuts, wars and financial crisis -- all Bush-era creations -- that have deepened the debt. What he is not responsible for is the continued Republican obstructionism, even in the face of a weakening economy." ...

... Floyd Norris of the New York Times: "The disappointing jobs report for June will increase pressure on the Federal Reserve to do more. It will add to hopes (among Republicans) or fears (among Democrats) that a slowing economy could damage President Obama's re-election prospects. May I suggest an alternative explanation? The recovery has been chugging along slowly for a couple of years, and while it may have slowed a little in the last few months, that change has been minor." ...

... BESIDES. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Most voters do not follow this sort of news, at all.... In other words, the basic partisan divisions in a highly polarized electorate are unlikely to change much between now and November."

Dahlia Lithwick has some thoughts on why liberals aren't beating up on the Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court who ruled against Obama administration policies in the way conservatives are whacking Chief Justice Roberts. See also Adam Liptak's report.

Josh Hicks, standing in as the Washington Post fact-checker: "On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew called [individual mandate] a 'charge' that would apply only to a small fraction of the population, and that 'more middle-class people are going to get a tax cut.' ... We found nothing to dispute Lew's statements. The health law, if it works as the nonpartisan government analysts expect, will provide more tax relief than tax burden for middle-income Americans. The White House chief of staff earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark for his remarks...."

Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "Britain and America have reacted to the Libor scandal in completely different ways. Britain is in an utter frenzy over it, with wall-to-wall coverage, and the most respectable, pro-business publications expressing outrage. Yes, Barclays is a British bank, and the first word in Libor is 'London.' But still: The Economist ran a headline about the scandal that read, in its entirety, 'Banksters.' Yet, on these shores, the reaction has been mainly a shrug."

Where Are They Now? This serious-looking young man grew up to be mayor of a major American city. In case you can't guess who he is, answer in yesterday's Commentariat. Thanks to reader Bonnie for the link to this high-school yearbook photo.

 

 

Presidential Race

Charles Babington of the Associated Press: "History repeats itself, until it doesn't. That musty truism is worth remembering as pundits speculate on whether the lumbering economy will doom the re-election hopes of President Barack Obama, who has shown a knack for beating odds and breaking barriers."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "On the heels of another anemic employment report, President Obama found himself acknowledging again that the economy was not generating enough jobs, that the recovery was not taking hold fast enough, and that too many Americans lacked basic financial security."

He's keepin' on keepin' on:

Jobs! Steve Benen: "Obama's agenda would create jobs right away, would be fully paid for, and would reduce the deficit over time. Romney's agenda wouldn't create jobs right away, isn't fully paid for, and would apparently increase the eficit over time. Or as Jeffrey Liebman recently put it, 'What would Gov. Romney do to create jobs now? In a word, nothing.'" ...

... Jamelle Bouie of The American Prospect: "Mitt Romney is back to accusing President Obama of having no plan for economic growth.... The only jobs plan on the table right now is the one proposed by the Obama administration. Republicans should be pressured to pass it, and Romney should be challenged on his assertion that the White House has nothing to offer." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal: Republicans are the reason the unemployment rate remains high. CW: they know that; it has been their plan all along.

Paul Krugman: "Bain's activities are part of the really big story about America these past three decades, which isn't about jobs moving overseas, but about the rewriting of the social contract, with income shifted away from ordinary workers and toward the Masters of the Universe."

"That Other Curious Romney Account." Brian Beutler of TPM: "... a Vanity Fair article about Mitt Romney's tangled web of investments has thrust his foreign holdings and complicated tax strategies back into the center of the 2012 campaign. But questions have persisted ... about an individual retirement account held by the Romneys valued at upwards of $100 million -- a stunning amount for a savings vehicle designed to provide middle class retirees comfortable, but non-lavish retirement. His IRA raises two key questions, both of which his campaign has consistently declined to answer: How, despite a $6000 legal limit on annual contributions to an IRA, did Romney's IRA grow to over $100 million? And did he avoid any U.S. taxes on its enormous returns?" The answer, Beutler learns, is -- yeah, probably so. ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the existence of this huge account, which may well be legal but clearly flies in the face of the spirit of the law, poses questions that voters should have answered."

Romney -- Not as Bad as He Says He Is. Kevin Drum: when focus groups were told "Romney supported the Ryan budget plan -- and thus championed 'ending Medicare as we know it' -- while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing." CW: I don't know how you beat that.

CookieGate -- The Sequel! Reid Epstein of Politico: "As President Obama's motorcade rolled across the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, his campaign informed reporters that in Pittsburgh they would be treated to cookies from Bethel Bakery in Bethel Park, Pa., a locally-famous establishment whose 15 minutes of campaign fame followed an unfortunate description of them by Obama's GOP rival, Mitt Romney. 'I'm not sure about these cookies,' Romney said in April upon being presented the sugary delights. 'They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7-Eleven, bakery, or whatever.'" ...

Right Wing World *

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Michigan) thought he might be elected president this year. Instead, he is today a "sovereign citizen," whatever that might be (King Thad?); it is not a U.S. Congressman, because he quit that job yesterday. He was not going to be re-elected to Congress anyway because, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post reports, "McCotter failed to qualify for the primary ballot after most of his petition signatures were recently found to be fraudulent. State officials are investigating the matter.... The Detroit News reported that he had written a TV pilot with a rather odd premise -- McCotter himself hosting a crude variety show that joked about flatulence and female anatomy, among other things." (America's Le Petomane?) ...

... The Detroit News story, by Marisa Schultz, is here, and it is truly sensational. ...

... Laura Gonaway of the "Rachel Maddow Show" invites you to diagram this sentence from McCotter's resignation announcement:

Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must 'strike another match, go start anew' by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.

      ... Gonaway publishes some of the efforts of first responders.

Oliver Burkemann in the Guardian: "Perhaps you've heard [CW: I hadn't] the news that failed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has launched his own online television channel, or "website", at CainTV.com? ... Sadly, however, Cain TV is so authentically bizarre that it's hard to make ... snide jokes [about it]." With absurd, bizarre video!

* Where all presidential candidates must be 35 years or older, natural-born U.S. citizens and insane.

Answer to July 8 PhotoQuiz: Hillary Clinton.

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "The state Senate authorized initial funding for California's high-speed rail project, handing a victory to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration, which have been pushing hard for the first-in-the-nation bullet train."

AP: "Libyans started voting on Saturday in the first parliamentary election since last year's ouster and slaying of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, with jubilation at this major step toward democracy after decades of erratic one-man rule tempered by boycott calls and violence in the country's restive east." ...

... Reuters Update: "Crowds of joyful Libyans, some with tears in their eyes, parted with the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship on Saturday as they voted in the first free national election in 60 years. But in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of last year's uprising but where many now want more autonomy from the interim government in Tripoli, protesters stormed a handful of polling stations and publicly burned hundreds of ballot papers."

Reader Comments (10)

Looking at the picture of the cookies from Bethel Bakery, I have to observe: no WAY do they look like they came from 7/11, or any similar purveyor of mass-produced garbage. They look home-made.
Romney must really be an idiot.
(Thank you for letting me vent, Marie, and for everything you do. )
I hope everyone has a fabulous week-end. It is going to get above 70 degrees here in the northwest corner of the northwest. We're all excited!

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

On Mayberry and Jobs:

Fine Griffith/Brooks column, Marie, in which you highlight the uncritical tropisms that victimize Brooks and his set. For him and for much of the political party he works so hard (you can often see and hear the creaks in his reasoning's rusty machinery) to support, the old days were always better for all the reasons you mention: no non-whites, no women causing trouble, and I would add, in the mythic Mayberry everyone had jobs and enough to eat, its mild class distinctions were innocuous, and while it's been a long time ago, I do not recall an episode built around social strife of any kind.

Seems odd, though, that Mr. Brooks and his well-educated ilk see no connection between national policy and their chosen Edens. They are drawn to a simple(!) homespun life that few of them have lived, where most people are happy and where the minor problems that animate the script can always be solved locally with a joke or some drawled tidbit of common sense.

But what of problems a little larger? Problems and issues that just like those in Mayberry do have some common sense answers. Brooks seldom asks the questions and when he does, he is careful to provide only airy, theoretical solutions that never stand up to examination. The kind that give education a bad name.

Let's try a little Mayberry logic on today's jobs report.

Why is unemployment so high? Common sense would tell us that they're aren't enough jobs to go around. Why is that? Because demand for goods is too low. So what would Andy do about it? Put more money in consumers' hands maybe? How would he do that? Revise our tax policy to benefit the lower and middle classes because simple logic tells us that the top two percent can't and don't buy enough to keep the wheels of a whole nation's commerce turning. Maybe pass a jobs bill that injects money directly into our faltering economy?

Or does Brooks think Andy would recommend more austerity, fewer public workers (like him?) and an avalanche of legislation aimed at restricting abortion, all because common wisdom tells him that these are the things we need to do to create jobs?

In short ('bout time), what policies would have the best chance of creating and supporting a Mayberry for all? Brooks will never say. Instead he will continue to avoid all the issues that confront the nation we really live in. First, as you say, by positing an idealized social order that has no big problems at all, and second by never making use of the common sense he would claim to so much admire in Andy and the boys.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

This a comment from yesterday's New York Times.

Nicholas Kristof, who is a simple throw back to the Englishtenment of the 17th Century wrote a column on a wonderful success story about a Kenyan women who went into the homemade donut business.

Then her husband stopped drinking and womanizing. All from a mini-loan. He even hired workers to work his land.

He doesn't mention what will happen in 20-50 years when population of the country doubles.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJefffrey

Marie's conceit on Mayberry's Brooks was masterful. I love it when something like this all fits together. Below is part of the transcript of last night's discussion on PBS. Mark Shields was off and E.J. Dionne took his place and what a difference. Dionne, in his clear and cogent way disputed much of Brook's ramblings, but this took the cake:

BROOKS: So after the health care decision, Romney could have come out there. He has a health care plan. And it's pretty detailed, at least within, I would say, this little box he keeps in the subbasement of his 12-car garage in deep secret.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: He's not letting anybody know it, but it is a secret plan, and it's a pretty good plan.

And I would like him to say what it is, in part so he can say, this is what I believe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You know that he has a plan, but you are saying. . .

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he has announced the outlines of his plan. That's public. I also know that he has the private details of the plan which is in secret.

But it's just fleshing out the plan he has announced publicly.

E.J. DIONNE: And the problem is, it looks like the plan that John McCain put on the table four years ago, which President Obama, then Senator Obama, trashed to great effect in the election.

I don't think the plan would be popular if he put it out there, which is why it is in the subbasement.

DAVID BROOKS: It happens to be popular with people like me.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: So that's why he's keeping it secret.

E.J. DIONNE: Right.

DAVID BROOKS: That's why, yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Because you are in the minority. You are a columnist.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I like. . .

E.J. DIONNE: He leaks it to you, but not to the public.

DAVID BROOKS: I like being a part of the reality principle.

So there you have it. Enamored with a secret health care plan that no one has seen, but he seems to know what's in it and by George, he likes it! How's that for a reality principle.––––"OH––Come, come,come to the church in the WILDWOOD..."

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie, you must have a really strong stomach to be able to read and comment on Our Miss Brooks. I can no longer bear to read him or watch him on TV. When I see him with that simpering expression, I think of some kind of rodent.

I found youin the comments section of the NYT. Now I need my Realitychex fix every day. Thank you for your hard work and your rational voice.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

Re: Hollywood crackers and Aunt Bee's cookies. I see Andy's world as a cartoon drawn up by teevee writers and producers from New York City and Hollywood. That idyllic waterhole never existed and anyone with a half a brain was aware of that. (Mr. Brooks is excused fractionally). Irony is only ironic when never exposed. The writers and producers never let on that the show was really a spoof on the slow southern life that was championed on the show itself. Later Hollywood brings the third generation squirrel eaters out to Beverly Hills for more fun and another successful teevee show. We lament the dumbing down of Americans but you can't sell soup to the audience by running episodes of "To Kill a Mockingbird" every week. Mr. Brooks is harking back to a time that never was. Soon he will be hosting masquerades at his mansion where the invited will dress as French peasants and milkmaids and all will frolic as only the underclass knows how.
Re: swimming with the fishes. You sav'em if you can. I'll pull your dumb ass out of the water in spite of that fact. Double drowning happen a lot because people will recklessly endanger they own lives to save another. Swim at your own risk and swim in front of a life guard stand. ( Hope to hell the riptide pushes me over to a mercenary life guard; oh fuck, there's a weight limit!)

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Joe Nocera laments about the lack of coverage re: the Libor scandal. PBS News covered it last night and Robert Scheer of Truthdig had an article up two days ago titled: Crime of the Century and began like this:

"Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay—they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime."

These big boys––any big girls?–––keep playing this game and it's a wonder how they actually believe they are untouchable. Even after they bring the house down invincibility reigns in their nether regions; all those hard ons during these hard times.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD Pepe: Thanks for posting the interchange between Brooks, Woodruff and Dionne, which is truly remarkable - it reads like satire. Please don't tell me you were kidding !
Speaking of secret plans, didn't McCain have one to catch Osama bin Laden? Meanwhile, Obama didn't speak of his plan during the campaign - he just executed it once elected.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Ken Winkes. I think you've proposed half a season of scripts. Here are a few treatments:

People in Mayberry are out of work so:

Andy hires a new deputy. Barney is jealous & spreads the story around town that taxes will go up because of the new guy. Then the new guy foils a robbery at the sweet shop, and folks in town start talking about firing Barney instead. Andy diffuses everyone's anger with a homily about the team spirit that makes America great.

Andy chats with some old boys sitting around the general store whittling. They tell him they've got nothing to do because they can't find jobs. Andy gets the local banker to set them up in a cane- & kewpie-doll-making factory which is a fabulous success.

The dentist tells Andy folks aren't coming in for their teeth-cleaning & annual check-up because times are hard. He might have to close up shop. Barney gets a toothache & Andy realizes the town needs a dentist. He talks the dentist into taking barter for his services. A farmer brings in a couple of live chickens in exchange for a filling. (Inspired by some loopy Tea Party lady who was running for Senate in Nevada, I think it was, in 2010, & opined that barter would beat ObamaCare.)

Andy arrests some college kids who engage in a protest march when they can't find summer jobs. Andy gets to chatting with them & discovers they're all English lit majors. Andy discusses "Hamlet" with them, but they all agree there's not much future in English lit. Andy encourages them to establish a newspaper in Mayberry. It too is a fabulous success.

Andy finds work for a wayward musician when he forces the musician & a music promoter to share the one & only Mayberry jail cell. Oh wait, that's been done.

Part 1 of a Two-Parter. A columnist from the Noo Yawk Times comes to Mayberry to find out why the town has full employment & everybody is fat & happy when folks in other parts are struggling. The columnist, who lives in a $4-million house, takes Andy for a rube until he sees how the people of Mayberry love & respect Andy as a natural-born leader. Andy's example changes the columnist's viewpoint forever after. He tells another columnist at the NYT about Andy, & the next time that there other columnist writes a column about running a third-party candidate for president, he substitutes Andy Taylor's name for whoever it was he had picked to be president a few week back.

Part 2. Big city folks come around trying to get Andy to run for president. What with all the flattery, Andy gets a little too big for his britches and kinda ignores his Mayberry friends. Finally, Barney has a heart-to-heart with Andy, and Andy realizes that Mayberry values are more important than national fame & fortune. With his old friends & the big-city pols gathered around, Andy delivers an eloquent soliloquy on the rectitude of small-town virtues. One of the big city pols listening to Andy's speech is named Roger Ailes. He writes down the speech. Months later, it is delivered, verbatim but minus the North Carolina drawl, by Ailes' new boss Richard Nixon. The Moral Majority is born.

Not all endings are happy, even in Mayberry.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Constant Weader

A little change of subject. America has a way to "dominate" Iran! No kidding. Forget killing their nuclear engineers and putting nasty viruses in their computer systems--which then come back to haunt us. And don't even think about drones--unless they are used to drop alcoholic beverages. Iran and America: more alike than different. Both full of alcoholics. Only difference: we let them drive and send them to rehab when they crash; in Iran, if caught, they get killed. It is only a matter of time before they open bars and become happy drunks with a bit of non-nuclear violence thrown in. Think Prohibition!

Below from The Daily Beast:

IRAN ACKNOWLEDGES ALCOHOL PROBLEM

Despite an outright ban on alcohol and moral police who set up checkpoints at night in search of those defying it, Iran has a drinking problem. For the first time, officials in Iran, where the strict version of Islam enforced by authorities coexists uneasily with a young population, have acknowledged the prevalence of alcoholism in the country, as well as the damage it can cause. Part of the problem stems from the fact that even as Iran increasingly sees alcohol abuse as a public-health issue, the country continues to treat it as a sin and a crime—recently, two men in the country’s northeast were sentenced to death for having had a drink on multiple occasions.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison
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