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November 27

11:00 am ET: Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree

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Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree, November 27:

Boston Globe: Michael Dukakis loves leftover turkey. A turkey carcass makes great soup, he said, inviting people to drop off turkey carcasses at his home. So they did.

Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Contact the Constant Weader

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


The Commentariat -- June 20, 2012

... Colbert Krugman Edition

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the unresponsiveness of the Democratic party to American workers. The NYTX front page is here.

** "Follow the Dark Money." Andy Kroll of Mother Jones on "the down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters." CW: haven't read it yet, but it looks like a winner.

CPAN has the video of President Obama's remarks at his press conference yesterday; the transcript is here.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said. The bureau's highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI's representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA."

Isn't That Special? Chris Frates of the National Journal: "The Cato Institute and prominent Republican donors Charles and David Koch are set to settle their legal fight over control of the libertarian think tank, ending a high-profile dispute that split the conservative movement. 'Looks like we've come to an accommodation with the Koch brothers,' Cato founder and President Ed Crane said in a Tuesday e-mail to employees."

... I can't embed the BBC interview of Paul Krugman which contributor Dave S. recommended, so as a second-best -- and on a different topic -- here's Krugman on Rachel Maddow's show:

... AND. It's Krugman Week on PBS. Here's the first of five installments:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Meeting in the desert scrub of Mexico's Baja region..., the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 eschewed specific commitments, instead limiting themselves to more generalized promises to invest in public works, overhaul labor markets and use innovation, education and infrastructure investment to fuel economic growth. A more detailed plan to address Europe's crisis is expected to emerge next week after a European summit meeting in Brussels." ...

... Shaila Dewan & Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 657,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas. With the economy expanding, albeit slowly, state tax revenues have started to recover and are estimated to exceed prerecession levels next year. Yet governors and legislatures are keeping a tight rein on spending, whether to refill depleted rainy-day funds or because of political inclination."

Maureen Dowd recounts the testimony of Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife. If Cairo is in Illinois, De Nile must be in Pennsylvania. One thing that comes out from the testimony: the "constant wife" resented -- and still resents -- the kids Jerry "allegedly" abused.

Charles Pierce interviews Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) about the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United & Montana's anti-corruption campaign finance law. Entertaining.

Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown today rejected a debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, after the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy refused his precondition that she not endorse a candidate in his reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren." ...

     ... Markos Moulitsas: "... telling the widow to shut the hell up? That's ... unforgivable."

Presidential Race

** Dana Milbank seldom gets serious. Today is an exception: "Under the Obama presidency..., conservative leaders are encouraging the vulgarity -- if not joining in by heckling the president from the House floor. The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, recently shared a stage with Donald Trump only hours after the buffoon tycoon had again floated the disproved allegation that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among many such episodes before that, Romney failed to challenge a supporter who suggested to him that Obama 'should be tried for treason.' ... When conservatives sanction the debasement of Obama, they are debasing the presidency itself." Plus, Tucker Carlson should fire Neil Munro for heckling the President.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. The report, prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts, marks the first attempt to quantify the trade-offs inherent in the GOP tax package, which would replace the current tax structure with two brackets -- 25 percent and 10 percent -- and cut the top rate from 35 percent."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post manages to write a positive story about Romney & Bain Capital, riffing off the photo above.

Peter Baker & Michael Cooper of the New York Times sort of fact-check the presidential candidates. Both sides do it, blah-blah.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama's campaign will begin airing two TV ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor.... Independent fact checkers have examined Romney's record on the outsourcing issue and taxes/fee hikes and found neither to be as black and white as the Obama campaign ads suggest." Here's one of the ads:

Tales of the WaWa. In that MSNBC creative editing story I linked yesterday, I mentioned that what Romney said was "amazing" was actually an anecdote he'd told earlier, not the bit about how you get your sandwiches at WaWa. Well, it turns out the backstory is "amazing" because it's 100 percent untrue -- just crap Romney heard or made up to fit his point. In the anecdote that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, Romney said,

I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other. Same zip code. Same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursement for the services he provides for the poor and seniors. The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long.

     ... Apparently Romney was talking about a Medicaid form that's two pages long. TWO. If it turns out Romney's implausible story is right, Greg Sargent will get back to us. Don't hold your breaths.

Gene Robinson: "... if taking action on the immigration issue is good politics for Obama and the Democrats, then Republicans have only themselves to blame. The GOP has made a conscious decision to offer nativists and xenophobes a comfortable home where their extremist views go unchallenged.... It's tiresome having to spend so much time trying to figure out what Romney really believes. If anything, I mean." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Even as [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is signaling that the party will wait for Romney's direction on the [immigration] issue, however, a handful of House Republicans are moving forward by introducing bills that would block enforcement of Obama's new policy.... Can Republicans leaders possibly want any bills to be on the table that would reverse Obama's order?"

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney told reporters here Tuesday that his vice presidential search team is vetting Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), revealing that one of the Republican Party's biggest young stars is under consideration to be his running mate.... Romney's comments came after ABC News reported that his search team had not asked Rubio to complete a questionnaire or submit any personal financial documents.... Romney strongly denied the ABC report, which was attributed to two anonymous sources."

Colbert discovers an election conspiracy. Thanks to Kate M. for the link:

AND. The presidential candidates try out campaign slogans:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation 'Fast and Furious,' hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents."

Washington Post: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed a program designed to provide a push to economic growth amid a warning that hiring is slowing. The Fed said it would extend 'Operation Twist,' a program that seeks to reduce long-term interest rates, through the end of the year. The decision was a sign that the Fed is not pulling back from its years-long campaign to support the U.S. economy." New York Times story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Defense attorneys in the Jerry Sandusky trial rested their case today without calling their client to the stand -- forgoing his chance to counter a mountain of devastating testimony from men who said he molested them as boys. The judge said the court would be in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, after which closing arguments would begin. Once deliberations start, the jury will be sequestered."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "After 11 days of deliberations, jurors at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial of two Philadelphia priests said Wednesday they were deadlocked on all but one count. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina immediately pressed them to keep trying."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Tuesday that the fate of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should be left to the hands of the Syrians, saying that no one country has the right to tell another people whom [sic.] their leader should be."

AP: "The three parties that back Greece's commitments to bailout creditors have agreed in principle to form a coalition government and are negotiating the final details, officials said Wednesday."

AP: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is beyond the grasp of British authorities as long as he is holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, the government said Wednesday. But he faces arrest if he steps outside. Police said Assange had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and 'is now subject to arrest.' Police officers were stationed Wednesday outside the Edwardian apartment block that houses the small South American country's London embassy."

AP: "Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds."

Reader Comments (7)

Good eXaminer essay Marie. But I continue to believe that no matter how much pressure you put on Obama, including randomly hitting him with a stick, you're only going to get that wussy centrist claptrap out of him.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Glad to see Paul K getting so much exposure. Many will turn a deaf ear but not all. What will be will be, but maybe, just maybe enough people will listen this time to ward off the extremists. One only needs to look to Hungary to see the future if we continue down this path. That said: I thought the Colbert interview was a farce. But of course that's what he does and he plugged the book to a large audience. I was somewhat disappointed in the PBS interview because it looked like an attack and less an honest examination (link at his blog). Maybe I need to watch it again, I missed the very beginning. His BBC appearance was a good interview and I think the best of this spate.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Marie: Great eXaminer column today, also frightening. Brings back the feeling that we Democrats are in a lose, lose. The public and conventional wisdom are nowhere near ready for the huge steps needed to restore the middle class, the workers of America, and judicial and education equality.
More Obama is not going to cut it, He must lose.
With the tea party in control of the Suit Romney and the Congress, the country will soon be an economic disaster, the public will be frightened, helpless and like alcoholics be at a bottom ready for a new leader and ready to finally reject the tea party and the pain of austerity.
A plan to expand expenditures five percent while raising revenue ten percent would probably let us do the things needed to restore the economy. There are a hundred things that can be done once the foolishness of self inflicted damage is over.
First a lot of pain in the "dear school" of experience, then with luck, thirty years of good government.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@DaveS. Thanks for the link. That is a good, no bullshit interview of Krugman. And while rummaging around the BBC site, I watched some interesting takes with the Watergate women and a David Frost interview of Margaret Mitchell. Only wish Rosemary Woods had been included among the women.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

For fun: Read Hilary Mantel's " Bring up the Bodies." It is 1536 and Parliament rejects a new poor law.
Quoting Thomas Cromwell or perhaps Hilary Mantel: " It was too much for the commons to digest, that rich men might have some duty to the poor; that if you get fat as gentlemen of England do on the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off the land, the labourers without labour, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges. Men need work. It is a shame to see them begging their bread, when honest labour could keep the realm secure, Can we not put them together, the hands and the task?"
Parliament responds; "God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising, to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the workshy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality: well are there not hangmen enough?"
Cromwell again: "The commons. God rot them. They never think higher that their pockets"
!536 mind you. We have made little progress.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

In other news, as a complement in outrageousness to their well documented rapacity as outlined in previous comments, Republicans rip current Democratic attorney general for minor case while ignoring horrifying laundry list of felonies and treasonous acts by previous Republican attorney general.

Fast and Furious, a stupid sounding idea begun by the Bush “Justice” department (almost everything to do with the Bush years needs quotes or some kind of parenthetical aside), has been picked up and hung to dry around Eric Holder’s neck. Holder himself is not exactly the poster boy for an exceptional attorney general, but the previous occupant of that position, Alberto Gonzales was easily the most corrupt, treacherous, mendacious, sleazy, scumbag of an attorney general in US history.

But where was the highly moralistic Mr. Darrell Issa when Gonzales was conducting a Republican ordered putsch of the Justice Department? Where was all this outrage when he authorized illegal surveillance of American citizens? No umbrage over torture? No demand for his dismissal after repeatedly lying under oath to congress? No calls for impeachment after years of treason? Not to mention the outrageous manipulation attempted on previous attorney general John Ashcroft to allow Bush to illegally spy on Americans, while Ashcroft lay drugged up in a hospital bed after surgery. These heinous acts far surpass the largely small focus Fast and Furious debacle.

But not for Republicans. Because they’ll put you in prison for decades for stealing a loaf of bread if you’re a democrat or liberal, but if you’re a bank CEO and steal billions from taxpayers, or start a war based on lies, or buy up perfectly good companies then fire all the employees and sell off the assets to line your own pockets they put you in the Right Wing Hall of Fame.


June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I found Andy Kroll's piece in "Mother Jones" really, really good. It's long, but I encourage you all to read it. I had no idea that it took seven years to get McCain/Feingold to pass and then in a swift slight of hand the Supremes just abolished it. And as long as we are bringing up once again Cromwell, what he implored to Thomas More seems apt here:

"I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken?"

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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