The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, March 18, 2019.

NBC News: “Heavy rain and melting snow that overpowered the Missouri River forced hundreds of families out of their homes in the Midwest and forced the base that is home to U.S. Strategic Command to sharply scale back operations on Sunday. At least three people are confirmed to have died in what the National Weather Service called 'major and historical river flooding' along parts of the Missouri and Mississippi river basins.”

TPM: "Fox News has hired former interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile as a contributor, the network announced Monday. According to the press release, Brazile will offer political analysis on Fox News and Fox Business News. A source close to the situation told TPM that Brazile will not play any role related to the debate or town hall process."

New York Post's Page Six: "Brian Williams could come back from TV news exile, Page Six is told. The anchor was booted from the 'NBC Nightly News' in 2015 after it was revealed that he’d embellished some stories with fictional details — and sent to the relative Siberia of 11 p.m. on sister station MSNBC. But despite his tarnished reputation and graveyard-adjacent time slot, Williams has made his '11th Hour With Brian Williams' show a legit hit, beating CNN and Fox News for three months straight. Now 30 Rock insiders say Williams could move to a more prominent time slot, possibly replacing vet Chris Matthews at 7 p.m." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Despite his less-than-liberal views, Williams' 11 pm newscast is really pretty good. He's a pro. Another pro at MSNBC who impresses me is Richard Liu. The other night, a feed from Los Angeles went dark, and within 90 seconds, Liu got himself on the air & conducted a full segment (with Ken Dilanian as one of the last-second guests) with what I would guess was zero prep. Years ago, when I was not much younger than Liu appears to be now, I worked for a national news network, and I had actual nightmares that I might get stuck on-air with no copy. (I was not an on-air personality, but I could have got stuck with an on-air spot during a strike.) I could not have done then what Liu did this week.

Everybody liked this Oscar moment:


Cartoon by R.J. Matson. Thanks to forrest m. ... The Verge has the complete list of Oscar winners.

Ars Technia: "Excavations at two ancient quarry sites in western Wales suggest how ancient people probably quarried some of the stones now standing at Stonehenge. The 42 stones in question are some of the smaller parts at Stonehenge, relatively speaking: they still weigh two to four tons each. They're called the bluestones, and they came all the way from western Wales [about 180 miles from the Stonehenge site]. Chemical analysis has even matched some of them to two particular quarries on the northern slopes of the Preseli Hills. One, an outcrop called Carn Goedog, seems to have supplied most of the bluish-gray, white-speckled dolerite at Stonehenge. And another outcrop in the valley below, Craig Rhos-y-felin, supplied most of the rhyolite. University College London archaeologist Michael Parker Pearson and his colleagues have spent the last eight years excavating the ancient quarry sites, and that work has revealed some new information about the origins of Stonehenge.... The ancient quarry-workers left behind mudstone wedges and stone hammers, which they would have driven into the cracks between the pillars to carefully pry them apart.”

The dollhouse of Petronella Oortman, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.Emily Landau in the New York Times: "The whole point of a dollhouse is that it’s not to be played with. It’s untarnished by the workaday furniture we get for our real homes, the Sears dining tables and cheap Ikea Billy bookcases. And for many people, it’s the only place where ludicrously opulent décor is attainable, where you can go all out on mother-of-pearl doorknobs or Versailles-worthy brocade chaises without losing your savings or your dignity." Mrs. McC: I think Laudau helps explain why I have so enjoyed moving from a mansion-sized house to one that is one-tenth the size of the "mansion."

The Los Angeles Times has the full list of Oscar nominees here.

NBC Sports: "Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots. Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If you're a shut-out Trump Shutdown victim tooling around the Internets with nothing to do today, let's assume that some day some time, Trump will de-furlough you and you can get back to work enthusiastically serving the American people in your appointed capacity. In case Trump has rendered you a bit rusty in the area of job skills, Conan here provides some useful tools that may help you get to work on time, even on casual Friday:

ABC News: "Breathtaking drone video of a pod of friendly, playful dolphins joining a surfer as he took to the waves near the coast of Ventura, California, is making the rounds on social media and bringing smiles -- and wow's -- to viewers. ABC station KABC-TV's meteorologist Kimi Evans met the drone's owner Craig Badger, who shared the footage, and spoke to surfer Alden Blair.... The video has been seen more than 3 million times on social media." ...

NBC Suits Are Such Geniuses. New York Times: "After a drawn-out negotiation period, NBC and Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The network and the onetime cable news star reached a final agreement on Friday, nearly three months after she wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Ms. Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. But according to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network."

Tuesday
Mar122019

The Commentariat -- March 13, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Ian Austen & Selam Gebrekidan of the New York Times: "Canada's transportation minister grounded all Boeing 737 Max jets on Wednesday morning, saying that newly available satellite-tracking data suggests similarities between the deadly crash involving one of the jets in Ethiopia on Sunday and another accident last October. Cautioning that the 'new information is not conclusive,' Marc Garneau, the transportation minister, also said Canada would not allow the jets to fly into its airspace." ...

     ... ** New Lede: "President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States was grounding Boeing's 737 Max aircraft, reversing an earlier decision by American regulators to keep the jet flying after a second deadly crash in Ethiopia. The Federal Aviation Administration had for days resisted calls to ground the plane even as safety regulators in some 42 countries had banned flights by the jets. As recently as Tuesday, the agency said it had seen 'no systemic performance issues' that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet."

Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "The head of the House Judiciary Committee says former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker 'did not deny' that President Trump had called to talk to him about 'personnel decisions' involving a federal investigation into hush money payments made to two women. 'Mr. Whitaker did not deny that the president called him to discuss the Michael Cohen case and personnel decisions in the Southern District,' Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters after questioning Whitaker behind closed doors for roughly two hours. 'While he was acting attorney general, Mr. Whitaker was directly involved in conversations about whether to fire multiple U.S. attorneys,' he continued." Mrs. McC: The bottom line here is that Whitaker, when he was serving as acting AG, lied under oath in his original testimony last month. Now that he's a private citizen, he's changing his story, though apparently he's unwilling to give Congress the full story. I'm guessing there are others who know something about the conversations Whitaker had regarding these issues. ...

... Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker 'did not deny' that President Trump 'called him to discuss the case' against his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, as well as personnel decisions regarding the personnel at the federal prosecutor's office bringing the case against him. Speaking to reporters after a two-hour meeting with Whitaker, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) presented Whitaker's closed-door comments as a contradiction with his public testimony from February, during which Whitaker said Trump never expressed his dissatisfaction with Cohen for pleading guilty to various financial crimes and lying to Congress. When asked at that hearing whether he had ever discussed the Cohen case with Trump, Whitaker refused to answer the question. But Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), who was also present for the interview, strongly disagreed with Nadler, calling it an 'interpretation' -- and insisting that Whitaker 'said he did not talk with the president about Mr. Cohen at all, and had no conversations with the Southern District of New York.'... According to Nadler, Whitaker did not refute the assertion that he was 'directly involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more U.S. attorneys.' Nadler also said that Whitaker did not deny having been 'involved in conversations about the scope' of the recusal of the SDNY's lead prosecutor, U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman, from Cohen's case -- and whether the prosecutors 'went too far in pursuing the campaign finance case in which Trump is Individual-1.'"

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times: "Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman who was sentenced last week to nearly four years in prison, was ordered on Wednesday to serve an additional three and a half years for conspiracy, closing out the special counsel's highest-profile prosecution. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Federal District Court in Washington sentenced Mr. Manafort, 69, on two conspiracy counts that encompassed a host of crimes, including money-laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to disclose lobbying work that earned him tens of millions of dollars over more than a decade. 'It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money involved,' Judge Jackson said of Mr. Manafort's case. She added, 'A significant portion of his career has been spent gaming the system.'"

... Darren Samuelsohn & Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Paul Manafort's prison sentence was upped to seven-and-a-half years on Wednesday morning, bringing an end to Robert Mueller's most public legal battle and capping a spectacular fall for the globetrotting GOP consultant and former chairman of the Trump campaign. It's the longest sentence by far for anyone ensnared in Mueller's nearly two-year-old probe. Manafort's punishment reached its final length after U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Wednesday gave Manafort an additional roughly three-and-a-half years in prison for a series of lobbying and witness tampering crimes he pleaded guilty to last fall. Manafort also must serve nearly four years for his conviction in a jury trial for financial fraud crimes in Virginia.... Manafort issued a full-throated and blunt apology on Wednesday shortly before his second -- and final -- prison sentence was set to be handed out. But it appeared his appeals were falling on deaf ears.... Judge Amy Berman Jackson swiftly upbraided Manafort's penitence, though, insinuating that it was insincere and hinting that she believed Manafort had previously calibrated his statements to appeal to ... Donald Trump for a pardon -- the only way out of a multi-year prison sentence at this point for the former Trump campaign chairman.... 'Saying I'm sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency,' Jackson said." ...

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Judge Amy Berman Jackson made a series of strong statements before sentencing President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on Wednesday. But one in particular struck at the core of Trump's personal defense in the Russia investigation. She said the no collusion' mantra is bunk. Manafort's legal team had suggested repeatedly in its sentencing memo that the fact that Manafort hadn't been found to have colluded with Russia should be a mitigating factor when it came to how much time he would serve in prison. But Jackson not only rejected that argument in sentencing him to 43 additional months in prison; she rejected the entire argument behind it. 'The "no collusion" refrain that runs through the entire defense memorandum is unrelated to matters at hand,' she said. 'The "no collusion' mantra is simply a non sequitur.'... The "no collusion" mantra is also not accurate, because the investigation is still ongoing.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So then Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing walked out of the courtroom & said on the courthouse steps that "Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any collusion in this case." I guess its okay if an "officer of the court" flat-out lies about a judge's remarks if your message is not to her but to a corrupt President*. But protesters, who shout-checked Downing, didn't agree. ...

... Darturnorro Clark, et al., of NBC News: "... Donald Trump picked up the refrain in remarks to reporters at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, saying, 'today, again, no collusion. The other day, no collusion. There was no collusion.' Both judges, however, did not say there was no collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, but rather that the issue had nothing to do with the charges against Manafort. Asked whether he would pardon Manafort, Trump told reporters, 'I have not even given it a thought, as of this moment.' But the president also said he feels 'very badly' for his former campaign chairman."

... William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "Paul J. Manafort ... has been charged in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said Wednesday, an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Mr. Trump pardons him for his federal crimes. News of the indictment came shortly after Mr. Manafort was sentenced to his second federal prison term in two weeks; he now faces a combined sentence of more than seven years for tax and bank fraud and conspiracy in two related cases brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but has no such authority in state cases."

Iliana Magra of the New York Times: "Iran has faced international condemnation after one of the country’s most prominent human rights lawyers, detained for eight months, said she had been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes, according to her husband. Security agents arrested the lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, at her home in June last year. The government offered no explanation, but at the time Ms. Sotoudeh was defending women who had been arrested after removing their hijabs, or head scarves, in public protests. She received the European Union's most prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in 2012, while serving a previous prison sentence."

Rick Rojas & Liam Stack of the New York Times: "Allegations of sexual abuse trailed John Capparelli, a former priest, for decades, resurfacing in the years after the Archdiocese of Newark removed him from ministry. There were the lawsuits from accusers, and last month his name was included on a list published by the Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey that identified priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. On Saturday, Mr. Capparelli was found fatally shot in his home in Nevada, and the authorities there said that his death was being investigated as a homicide."

~~~~~~~~~~

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Tim Mak of NPR: "There's already sufficient evidence to support an indictment of President Trump even before the conclusion of the special counsel investigation, California Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday. The chairman of the House intelligence committee pointed to the case of Michael Cohen, the president's former personal lawyer, in which the government described how 'Individual 1' directed and coordinated a campaign fraud scheme. 'Individual 1' is Trump, and Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in part because of those crimes. 'It's very difficult to make the argument that the person who was directed and was coordinated should go to jail but the person who did the directing and did the coordinating should not,' Schiff told reporters at a breakfast on Tuesday organized by the Christian Science Monitor. The evidence therefore already in place argues 'very strongly in favor of indicting the president when he is out of office,' he said."

Tal Axelrod of the Hill: "Democrats in the House and Senate on Tuesday introduced a bill mandating the publication of visitor logs at the White House and other personal properties where President Trump conducts business. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, respectively, introduced the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (Mar-A-Lago) Act.... The legislation was first introduced in the previous congressional term."

Daily Beast: "President Trump claims New York State and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are 'presidential harassers' after the state's attorney general reportedly launched an investigation into several Trump Organization real estate projects. According to the president, in light of such 'harassment,' it is 'no wonder people are fleeing the state in record numbers.'" Mrs. McC: Yes, I imagine a lot of New Yorkers upended their lives as soon as they heard the horrifying news that the AG was investigating Trump's (allegedly!) crooked business stunts.

Annie Karni & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: A new book titled Kushner Inc., by journalist Vicky Ward, "portrays [Ivanka] Trump and [Jared] Kushner as two children forged by their domineering fathers ... who have climbed to positions of power by disregarding protocol and skirting the rules when they can. And Ms. Ward tries to unravel the narrative that the two serve as stabilizing voices inside an otherwise chaotic White House, depicting them instead as Mr. Trump's chief enablers." After Donald Trump expressed support for white nationalists in Charlottesville, Gary Cohn "was shocked" when Ivanka told him, 'My dad's not a racist; he didn't mean any of it.'... Appearing to channel her father, she added, 'That's not what he said.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Karoun Demirjian, et al., of the Washington Post: "Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page defended herself and the bureau last year against accusations that bias against Donald Trump affected federal investigations of the Trump campaign's suspected Russia ties and of Hillary Clinton's emails, according to a transcript released Tuesday by the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Page, who came to prominence over anti-Trump texts she exchanged with former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok while both were assigned to the Clinton and Trump investigations, stressed that senior bureau officials were also expressing anti-Clinton animus -- but that neither affected how agents working those cases carried out their jobs.... Page's transcript is the second released in the past week by the panel's ranking Republican, Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), in an effort to make public the record of the now-completed GOP-led probe of how federal law enforcement agencies conducted the two probes. The first, from a session that the Judiciary and Oversight committees held last year with Bruce Ohr, was derided by Democrats as an attempt to resurrect old political talking points in an effort to distract from current congressional investigations of President Trump and an expected report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III."

Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "Michael Flynn's cooperation in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is complete, lawyers for the special counsel said in a Tuesday night report to a federal judge presiding over the former Trump national security adviser's case. In the same joint status report, Flynn's lawyers asked for a 90-day delay in their client's sentencing so he could continue to cooperate with the government in his former business partner's upcoming trial in Alexandria, Va. Flynn expects to testify in the mid-July trial against Bijan Rafiekian, who faces charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign government agent for Turkey.... Mueller didn't take a position on Flynn's request for a delay but noted that prosecutors had exhausted the witness of information since he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017."

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "The founder of a chain of massage and spa parlors that snagged Patriots owner Robert Kraft was apparently also hawking a different line of business: investment immigration.... [Li] Yang, through a Florida-based company called GY US Investments LLC, was also using proximity to Trump and his properties to peddle so-called investor visas.... Yang's company's website listed a few examples of properties that foreigners can invest in as part of an 'investment immigration project.' The first is described as 'high-end luxury real estate' and features a photo of the Palm Beach home of billionaire [Philadelphia Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie.... That home is located a quarter-mile south of Mar-a-Lago — a fact that the company promotes as part of the investment, saying it's 'near Trump Manor.'" On her Website, Yang lists one of her "partners" as Elizabeth MacCall, who also frequents Mar-a-Lago events. MacCall, who at least has a business relationship with Yang's husband, hung up on TPM when a reporter called.

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Vice President Pence is discussing an offer with Republican senators that could lead to the defeat of a Democratic resolution overturning President Trump's emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border, according to GOP sources briefed on the matter. Under the deal discussed between Pence and GOP senators, Trump would sign legislation reining in his power to declare future national emergencies if they defeat the resolution of disapproval. Killing the resolution on the Republican-controlled Senate floor would spare the president a major embarrassment and avoid him having to issue the first veto of his presidency." ...

... Update. Jordain Carney of the Hill: "More than a dozen Republican senators introduced legislation on Tuesday that would make it easier for Congress to terminate future national emergency declarations, days before the chamber will vote on President Trump's. The legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), would require that Congress pass a resolution extending an emergency declaration after 30 days for it to continue; otherwise the declaration would be terminated.... Lee's legislation would not impact Trump's current emergency declaration on the wall but, if passed, would impact any future emergency declarations."

Miriam Jordan of the New York Times: "The Trump administration is preparing to shutter many of its immigration operations abroad, cutting back on a key support system for those applying overseas to relocate to the United States. The director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, L. Francis Cissna, told senior staff members this week that the international division, which has operations in more than 20 countries, would close down by the end of the year, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting. Agency officials said the move was intended to provide more staff resources to handle the lengthy backlog in asylum applications from tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border every month. But it could come at the expense of legal migration, which President Trump has said he favors...."

Mujib Mashal of the New York Times: "Although more than two weeks of talks between the United States and the Taliban ended Tuesday without a breakthrough, two American officials said they were close to a final agreement on one crucial element to a framework for ending the long war: a Taliban promise to not allow terrorist attacks from Afghanistan. The officials also said they had made substantial progress on a second element, detailing a plan for the withdrawal of American troops. The chief American peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, was expected to fly back to Washington on Tuesday night to brief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo."

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "An entrenched, sexist culture at many veterans hospitals is driving away female veterans and lags far behind the gains women have made in the military in recent years, veterans and lawmakers of both parties say. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs has scrambled to adjust to the rising population of female veterans and has made progress -- including hiring more women's health care providers, fixing basic privacy problems in the exam rooms and expanding service to women in rural areas -- sexual harassment at department facilities remains a major problem."

Election 2018. Nick Ochsner of WBTV (Charlotte, N.C.): "The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas for a federal grand jury investigation into allegations of election fraud in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District.... The subpoenas come less than a month after the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold a new election in the 9th District. The vote came at the abrupt end of a four-day evidentiary hearing held by the board that concluded with Republican Mark Harris -- the candidate who received the winning number of votes in the November 2018 contest -- admitting he had given incorrect testimony and calling for a new election." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Edward Wong & Daniel Victor of the New York Times: "The United States is withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, because of worsening conditions in the country, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Monday. The move is a setback for the Trump administration, which had vowed to keep diplomats in the country to legitimize the opposition challenger to President Nicolás Maduro, who cut diplomatic ties with the United States in January. Mr. Pompeo said the move reflected the 'deteriorating situation' in the country and the belief that the presence of American diplomats 'has become a constraint on U.S. policy.' The last phrase could be read as hinting at some form of military intervention." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Bob King of Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration refused again Tuesday evening to ground Boeing's beleaguered 737 MAX 8 jetliner, despite pleas from lawmakers of both parties who said the U.S. should join a growing list of governments that have barred the plane amid questions about two deadly air crashes.... 'Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,' acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said in a statement just after 6 p.m. 'Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.'... The statement came hours after ... Donald Trump spoke by phone with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who assured him that the 737 MAX is safe. An administration official later said the White House has been in 'constant contact' with the FAA about the issue." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: That's reassuring. I wonder if the FAA's action would have been different if it was headed by a "real" administrator instead of an acting one. ...

     ... Update. Rachel Maddow riffed on this theme at length, reminding us that one reason we don't have an actual FAA administrator is that a year ago, when the position came over, Trump thought it would be a great idea to appoint her personal pilot to the job, a pilot who, BTW, didn't seem to notice that the plane he was flying was not certified so the FAA grounded it. Update Update: Here's the segment, which runs nearly half an hour:

... Cary Aspinwall, et al., of the Dallas Morning News: "Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight manual 'inadequate and almost criminally insufficient' several months before Sunday's Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found. The News found at least five complaints about the Boeing model in a federal database where pilots can voluntarily report about aviation incidents without fear of repercussions. The complaints are about the safety mechanism cited in preliminary reports about an October plane crash in Indonesia that killed 189." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Maddow noted that, according to a Wall Street Journal report, Boeing is working on a fix, one that they now say will be ready to implement by the end of next month. They might have got it done sooner, the WSJ reports, but because Boeing had to iron out details with the FAA, they were delayed five weeks on account of the Trump's federal government shutdown. The report, which is firewalled, is here. ...

... David Gelles, et al., of the New York Times: "With more countries grounding Boeing jets and with lawmakers, aviation workers and consumers calling on the United States to do the same, the head of the aerospace giant on Tuesday made a personal appeal to President Trump. Boeing's chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, called from Chicago and expressed to Mr. Trump his confidence in the safety of the 737 Max 8 jets, according to two people briefed on the conversation. Two of the planes flown by overseas carriers have crashed in recent months in similar accidents. The brief call had been in the works since Monday, but it came shortly after Mr. Trump raised concerns that the increasing use of technology in airplanes was compromising passenger safety. 'Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,' he wrote on Twitter. 'Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.'... By Tuesday afternoon, the United States was nearly alone among major countries still allowing the jets to fly."

Mark Weisbrot in the New Republic: "Seeking to foment a military coup, a popular rebellion, or civil war [in Venezuela], the Trump administration has made it clear that the punishment will continue until the current government is ousted.... All of this is illegal under numerous treaties that the U.S. has signed, including the charter of the United Nations, the charter of the Organization of American States, and other international law and conventions. To legitimize this brutality, which has likely already killed thousands of Venezuelans by reducing access to life-saving goods and services, the Trump administration has presented the sanctions as a consensus of the 'international community' — similar to what George W. Bush did when he put together a 'coalition of the willing' of 48 countries to support his disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq." Many of Trump's "coalition" are unsavory right-wing despots and/or have been pressured by the Trump administration to sign on.

Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post: "The Senate voted Tuesday to advance ... Donald Trump&'s judicial nominee Neomi Rao, who has a record of weakening protections for sexual assault survivors and once argued that women could avoid date rape by staying sober.The Senate voted 53-46 to move forward with Rao's nomination to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful court in the country and often a stepping stone to a seat on the Supreme Court. Every Republican voted to advance Rao. Every Democrat voted against it except for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who did not vote. Rao will get her final confirmation vote on Wednesday. If confirmed, as expected, she will fill the seat formerly held by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh."

Susan Davis of NPR: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has reclaimed office space her predecessor, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., awarded to Vice President Pence.... A placard above the door identifying it as Pence's House office was quietly removed in recent weeks."

Tom Winter, et al., of NBC News: "Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday. The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston. Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their childrens' chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale and Stanford, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow it to happen, and bribing college coaches and administrators to identify the applicants as athletes." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Rebecca Halleck of the New York Times posts a full list of those charged. The New York Times main story, by Jennifer Medina & others, is here. ...

... Adam Raymond of New York: "Why didn't these rich parents just make a fat donation to the schools to get their kids admitted? It's an age-old tradition that has resulted in many underperforming and undeserving rich kids winning admission to universities they couldn't have gotten into on their own. And one beneficiary is currently working in the White House. As Daniel Golden reported in his 2006 book, Jared Kushner ... was accepted into Harvard shortly after his father [Charles] pledged $2.5 million to the school. Writing for ProPublica in 2016, Golden noted that Kushner's high-school teachers didn't think he was Harvard material[.]... Unlike the scheme that came to light today, it was all legal." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'd guess the cheating parents were too poor or too cheap to go the legal route. Their out-of-pocket expenses to get their underachieving offspring into the universities were $500K or less per child. Charles Kushner spent five times that to get young Jared a spot at Harvard. ...

... ** Levitz of New York: "All of American higher education is, in essence, a giant pay-to-play scandal.... I didn't get into Johns Hopkins University because of my father's name, or my fabricated triumphs at high-school water polo.... But my competitive application was underwritten by my professional-class parents' wealth. My SAT scores were the product of hours of tutoring, and my writing skills were honed in pricey summer classes, which most American families cannot afford. And before all that, my parents' economic security enabled them to buy a home in a suburb with a coveted school system that featured better-qualified teachers and smaller class sizes than most working-class kids are provided. I did not earn these advantages. My parents purchased them for me. And in this respect, I am not atypical.... Meritocracy is a cruel joke."

Scott Bullock & Nick Sibilla in the Atlantic: Last month, in a case titled Timbs v. Indiana, the Supreme Court invoked the Eighth Amendment against excessive fines, thus striking a blow against the ever-so-popular "policing for profit" scheme, wherein police departments seize legally-owned property after a person is accused of committing a crime, whether or not that property has anything to do with the crime. The ruling was unanimous.

David Dayen in the New Republic: "The most acute political scandal in North America -- the one with the greatest chance of toppling the head of government anytime soon -- occurring not in the United States, but Canada.* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is barely hanging on to power after being accused last month of pressuring his attorney general to abandon the criminal prosecution of an influential company that hails from Quebec, his political stronghold.... It should also pass for a scandal in America, but selective prosecution -- which spares the powerful while punishing those without connections -- has become all too common in this country, and notably so under President Obama.... While deferred prosecution agreements are new to Canada, they've been used in corporate settlements in the U.S. for more than two decades, particularly during and after the last financial crisis, when hundreds of DPAs were executed. In other words, the major difference between the scandal engulfing Canada's government and what happens routinely here is that nobody in our Justice Department needs to be pressured to issue a deferred prosecution agreement."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Jared Holt of Right Wing Watch: "The Associated Press ... published at least three press releases on its APNews.com website and AP News app that contained misinformation and partisan propaganda from conservative political groups.... One press release advocated for prosecuting doctors who perform abortions, another claimed that measles vaccines cause autism, and one was used to advertise a shady right-wing fundraising campaign. All appeared on the AP's site, surrounded by the company's branding.... The only apparent written indication that the press release was not an actual AP article was a dateline with the name of the wire service.... An uninformed reader would have been forgiven for mistaking the press releases for a news article.... AP appears to be trying to address the problem. On February 27, the news service incorporated more visual indications to alert readers to the fact that what they are viewing is not the newsroom's reporting."

Tucker Carlson wants you to know you're a horrible person and he's a brave defender of "independent thoughts." Here's Tucker's official Fox "News" response -- adapted from Monday night's brilliant monologue -- to what we horrible people are doing to him -- and to all conservatives who must "police themselves" to toe the line of "progressive orthodoxy." Punchline: "But we will never bow to the mob -- ever. No matter what." As far as I can tell, this is not meant to be funny. ...

     ... See also yesterday's Comments for Akhilleus's view on Carlson's "defense." ...

... Tucker Keeps on Whinin'. Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast: "A night after defiantly declaring that he will not 'bow to the mob' amid a firestorm of controversy over misogynistic and racist comments he made during appearances on shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge's radio show from 2006 to 2011, top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed that he is the victim of a left-wing authoritarian conspiracy to 'disappear' anyone with 'dissenting political opinions.'... The Fox News host went all out in portraying the backlash against him as part of a leftist plot, at one point even appearing to invoke the Holocaust and likening social media bans of conservatives to enforced disappearances." Mrs. McC: I dunno; I'm not sure calling a young woman "cunty" & all Iraqis "primitive monkeys" are "dissenting political opinions." BTW, where do I sign up for the "left-wing authoritarian conspiracy"? ...

Tucker Carlson is going on vacation next week, claiming he was supposed to go on this week but stayed to work amid all the scandal over previously unearthed remarks. -- Sam Stein of the Daily Beast, in a tweet

So is Tucker being self-disappeared or Fox-disappeared? If the left-wing authoritarian conspiracy works, we'll never hear from Tucker again. But good job on the damage control, Tucker. Good thing you stuck around to make things right. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Beyond the Beltway

California. Bob Egelko & Alexei Koseff of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Gov. Gavin Newsom is suspending the death penalty in California, calling it discriminatory and immoral, and is granting reprieves to the 737 condemned inmates on the nation's largest Death Row.... He plans to order an immediate shutdown of the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, where the last execution was carried out in 2006. Newsom is also withdrawing California's recently revised procedures for executions by lethal injection, ending -- at least for now -- the struggle by prison officials for more than a decade to devise procedures that would pass muster in federal court by minimizing the risk of a botched and painful execution."

Way Beyond

That England that was wont to conquer others
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself. --
                           William Shakespeare, Richard II ...

... Stephen Castle of the New York Times: "Britain hurtled into unknown political territory on Tuesday when Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to quit the European Union for a second time, leaving her authority in tatters and the country seemingly rudderless just 17 days before its planned departure from the bloc. Mrs. May had hoped that last-minute concessions from the European Union would swing the vote in her favor, but many lawmakers dismissed those changes as ineffectual or cosmetic and voted against the deal by 391 to 242. After the vote, the prime minister defended her agreement as the 'best outcome' for the United Kingdom and betrayed her frustration in addressing the lawmakers, who are scheduled to vote later this week on whether to seek an extension to leave the bloc."

Costa Rica's "Green New Deal." Somini Sengupta> & Alexander Villegas of the New York Times: "Costa Rica ... wants to wean itself from fossil fuels by 2050, and the chief evangelist of the idea is a 38-year-old urban planner named Claudia Dobles who also happens to be the first lady. Every country will have to aspire to something similar, scientists say, if the world is to avert the most dire consequences of global warming. And while Costa Rica's carbon footprint is tiny compared to other countries, Ms. Dobles has a higher goal in mind: Getting rid of fossil fuels would show the world that a small country can be a leader on an awesome problem and improve the health and well-being of its citizens in the bargain.... Costa Rica's green bid, though fraught with challenges, has a head start. Electricity comes largely from renewable sources already -- chiefly hydropower, but also wind, solar and geothermal energy. The country has doubled its forest cover in the last 30 years, after decades of deforestation, so that half of its land surface is now covered with trees. That's a huge carbon sink and a huge draw for tourists. Also, climate change is not a divisive political issue."

Reader Comments (20)

“That Time Tucker Carlson Called Me the C-Word”
by Joan Walsh of The Nation

https://www.thenation.com/article/tucker-carlson-c-word-joan-walsh/

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAuntHattie

@Aunt Hattie: Linked this a couple of days ago yesterday.

March 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Looks like we have entered an era of scam overloads with Inspector Friday's, "Nothing but the facts" and his busy busting bees working overtime. OR–-we have always been dealing those cards underneath the table and word just didn't get out for one reason or another.

The school scam was a stunner! And as is the pattern these days, the tweeter feed went on overtime. Talk about just deserts.

Rachel's coverage of the airline problem was most informative. One thing she mentioned was that Elaine Chou, the head of transportation, has the authority to stop those planes from flying until the problem is solved. If true, why wouldn't she?

The sun is finally out, the chill winds have subsided and it's a good time to stretch one's legs and breathe deeply. Sometimes I feel like I am living in an alternative universe ––I even had a dream the other night that Matt Shlaff (of all people) was kidnapped in Pakistan, jailed and then beheaded. I mean, when dreams get that political it might mean chill and start reading some John Updike.

"The world is too much with us..."

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: Yeah, I don't understand why the Boeing 737 Max is still flying. Not only could Trump, Chou & the FAA ground the planes, so could the airlines & the pilots & flight attendants unions. By planning a fix, Boeing has implicitly acknowledged a problem.

Why would a commercial airline put a plane in the air that it had been warned (by the two crashes) could take a nosedive, killing everyone on board? Maybe the brass care more about their companies' bottom lines, but they certainly have to factor in the massive storm of lawsuits that would bankrupt them if a 737 Max crashed under these circumstances. There's something wrong with this picture.

March 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

One more thing about the statements by the misogynistic, morally bereft coward and supporter of child rape, Tucker Carlson. In his mealy mouthed, whiny defense he states that Media Matters "caught" him saying "naughty" things.

Wrong. This makes it sound as if Media Matters had set a trap for him which somehow made the revelation of Carlson's moral turpitude invalid. All they did was to publicize pronouncements ol' Tuck made when appearing on a radio program, pronouncements even the host of that show, the illustrious Bubba the Love Sponge, found to be unusually rancid, even for shock jock radio (not so much however that he cast out the offending asshat).

Carlson then tries to delegitimize the entire exposé by whining that Media Matters gets some of its funding from George Soros. This is not unlike a criminal complaining that the cops who arrested him for crimes he committed are paid by taxpayers, some of whom are against crooks and criminal enterprises.

Media Matters was founded by David Brock, formerly a hard right-wing journalist. According to Brock, MM receives about 10% of its funding from Soros.

Carlson, on the other hand, receives 100% of his funding from Fox, a propaganda operation that only pretends to have something to do with journalism, as is clear by their continued support for him and his despicable beliefs.

So he's going on "vacation"? How convenient. Gives sponsors a breather and perhaps stems their rush for the door.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Pardon my unhealthy fascination with this latest college cheating scandal, but heard of it yesterday and had a call about it from one of my sons last night and it's still on my mind this AM.

Part of the fascination stems from our family's personal connection to one of the universities involved--and now furiously and amusingly engaged in damage control, I might add--but more of it is related to the thinking expressed in the Levitz piece above. I see and mostly agree with the point made about American "meritocracy", though I would add two thoughts to his argument.

First, the cynic speaks: Any system that purports to define the American Dream's behavioral ethos as opportunity based on merit is polluted from the start when it equates merit and money. To the great extent we in the US have done that, we shouldn't even be having the discussion because it's pointless. The counter examples are legion. Rich idiots. Rich lowlifes. Today's Commentariat mentions more than a few.

Second, most cultures have had difficulty coming up with behavioral rules about regarding inheritance, and we're certainly no exception. If there is such a thing as merit, however defined, do or should the offspring necessarily (or deservedly) get their portion in their turn? Should titles of nobility be heritable? How about the sins of the fathers? Money?

The R's know the answer to that last one. With the 2017 tax scam, they decided that more than 20 millions dollars can now slip untaxed downhill from one generation to the next, ensuring more "merit" for some someones than for others for years to come.

Finally, the entire business of college admissions--who goes and how they get there--has in itself provided a clear window into what we really think about the merit thing. The rapid expansion of university level education's availability that followed the establishment of land grant colleges told a story of equal opportunity that might be said to have come to full flower with the California university system of the 1960's and '70's, when a mostly free post-high school education was available to virtually all who applied.

Those days are long gone, and their passing has much to do--as both a reflection and a cause-- with the rising wave of inequality we are experiencing once again in the way the nation goes about it business.

Many factors here, of course. The most prominent is cost, highlighted in the trillion plus of college debt that didn't exist 60 years ago. But I'm thinking the admissions squeeze is also a consequence of sheer numbers, of more people each trying to get into the same small places.

That university I mentioned earlier accepted around 1500 undergraduate students/year when the US pop was around 180 million. It now accepts about 2000 when the population is around 327 million. Admissions have increased about one third, the population from which it draws, more than 80%. If these numbers were the only driving factor they alone would alone have been enough to have made the college admissions game much more difficult to win over the last sixty years.

And here we are. When your culture (for many of the wrong reasons) thinks that it's vitally important that your children be admitted to an "elite" school, and when their chances of attaining that goal become more unlikely with each passing year because they are competing with millions more than your generation had to, desperation is bound to keep pace with difficulty.

Not an excuse but part of the explanation, I think.

Don't mean to diminish the seriousness with which I take this ethical lapse or the bigger social and economic problems it represents. I wish it were all more surprising, but I did get a chuckle out of how much people spent trying to cheat their kids' way into one educational paradise or another--and how little they really accomplished.

And that was before the embarrassment of having their names published in the NYTimes rogue gallery.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Resubmitting this. Returned to my inbox but didn't appear first time...

Pardon my unhealthy fascination with this latest college cheating scandal, but heard of it yesterday, had a call about it from one of my sons last night, and it's still on my mind this AM.

Part of the fascination stems from our family's personal connection to one of the universities involved--and now furiously and amusingly engaged in damage control, I might add--but more of it is related to the thinking expressed in the Levitz piece above. I see and mostly agree with the point it makes about American "meritocracy", though I would add two thoughts.

First, the cynic speaks: Any system that purports to define the American Dream's behavioral ethos as opportunity based on merit is polluted from the start when it equates merit and money. To the great extent we in the US have done that, we shouldn't even be having the discussion because it's pointless. The counter examples are legion. Rich idiots. Rich lowlifes. Today's Commentariat mentions more than a few.

Second, most cultures have had difficulty coming up with behavioral rules about regarding inheritance, and we're certainly no exception. If there is such a thing as merit, however defined, do or should the offspring necessarily (or deservedly) get their portion in their turn? Should titles of nobility be heritable? How about the sins of the fathers? Money?

The R's know the answer to that last one. With the 2017 tax scam, they decided that more than 20 millions dollars can now slip untaxed downhill from one generation to the next, ensuring more "merit" for some someones than for others for years to come.

Finally, the entire business of college admissions--who goes and how they get there--has in itself provided a clear window into what we really think about the merit thing. The rapid expansion of university level education's availability that followed the establishment of land grant colleges told a story of equal opportunity that might be said to have come to full flower with the California university system of the 1960's and '70's, when a mostly free post-high school education was available to virtually all who applied.

Those days are long gone, and their passing has much to do--as both a reflection and a cause-- with the rising wave of inequality we are experiencing once again in the way the nation goes about it business.
Many factors here, of course. The most prominent is cost, highlighted in the trillion plus of college debt that didn't exist 60 years ago. But I'm thinking the admissions squeeze is also a consequence of sheer numbers, of more people each trying to get into the same small places
.
That university I mentioned earlier accepted around 1500 undergraduate students/year when the US pop was around 180 million. It now accepts about 2000 when the population is around 327 million. Admissions have increased about one third, the population from which it draws, more than 80%. If these numbers were the only driving factor they alone would alone have been enough to have made the college admissions game much more difficult to win over the last sixty years.

And here we are. When your culture (for many of the wrong reasons) thinks that it's vitally important that your children be admitted to an "elite" school, and when their chances of attaining that goal become more unlikely with each passing year because they are competing with millions more than your generation had to, desperation is bound to keep pace with difficulty.

Not an excuse but part of the explanation, I think.

Don't mean to diminish the seriousness with which I take this ethical lapse or the bigger social and economic problems it represents. I wish it were all more surprising, but I did get a chuckle out of how much people spent trying to cheat their kids' way into one educational paradise or another--and how little they really accomplished.

And that was before the embarrassment of having their names published in the NYTimes' rogue gallery.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Oops. Excuse the double post.

Impatience is not a virtue, Kenny. His mother told him and told him, but he didn't listen.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The college entrance scam is more or less the (il)logical conclusion to a situation that has been in place for thousands of years, to wit: them that gots, gets.

It's always been the case. You come from wealth and privilege, you have inside information into how things work, you have connections the rest of us never do, your parents make sure you have a leg up on everyone else, you have opportunities less fortunate kids will never see. But for some, even that's not enough. It's not enough that you make (or have inherited) enough money to live in a ritzy neighborhood with great schools, you can hire tutors for your kids who give them all the inside dope on taking SAT tests and help them turn barely readable essays into modern Montaigne. None of that is enough. Now, you have to cheat as well.

And the backdoor technique for getting little Jared and little Donald into swanky Ivy schools is only better in that it's mostly legal. You give the schools a bundle of cash, little Jared and little Donald get a place that would formerly have gone to some truly deserving students. And this is the real scandal. That in many cases, the kids who get in don't deserve to be there. They keep out much more deserving (and smarter) kids who could go on to do something for the country and the world at large, rather than simply go into daddy's business and pile up the money for themselves.

Look at Jared Kushner (and Trump, for that matter). Had they not been given a boost, had they had to settle, like everyone else, for where they could legitimately gain entrance, based on sub-par grades, who knows what might have happened? For one thing, we night not now have sub-par intellectual midgets running the country.

But, as I say, this situation has obtained for thousands of years. And it cuts across the entire society. My kid is playing baseball now. But even at his age (he's not yet in Little League), there are parents whose means allow them to send their kids to private coaches and play on expensive travel ball teams that put them far above kids from households of average incomes. Every year that goes by, these kids get further and further beyond the regular kids. By the time they get to high school, they are far advanced. All because their parents had the money to make it happen. Which means that those other kids have to be much, much better, on their own, in order to keep pace.

Still and all, you would think that people like Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy would be smart enough not to get involved in a scam with a huckster when they're betting their kid's future. Doesn't this kid already have it all? They're wealthy far beyond anyone most of us will ever know. Which means it's not really about the kid, but about them. It makes them look like better parents if the kid goes to Yale or Georgetown.

And a wonderfully stupid coda to all this is the typically dense reaction of Junior to the college entrance scam. Don, Jr., mocking the Hollywood denizens for using wealth to buy their way into elite universities, seems to forget that he--and his brother-in-law--is the beneficiary of a similar scam. Daddy only got into Penn because Grandaddy Fred bought his way in. Jared only got into Harvard because of the same reason.

So them that gots, gets. Sometimes they get more than they bargained for. But mostly not.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Lord Dampnuts & Kushner were not the only Trump family members who benefited from donations Daddy made to the colleges that would admit them. According to a very good report in the Daily Pennsylvanian, Trump made -- or pledged to make, and you know how that goes -- in the neighborhood of $1.4MM to Penn. "This string of donations Trump may have made in the late nineties roughly coincides with his children’s enrollment at Penn. Donald J. Trump Jr. began classes at Penn in 1996 and Ivanka Trump in 2000."

It's a family tradition! Sweet.

March 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Ken Winkes: No need to apologize. Perfection is not a feature of this Comments section. The software often does something weird with comments.

March 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

PD,

If you're going to Updike it, some of the novels are fine but avoid "Witches of Eastwick. Every writer deserves one or two duds, and this is Updike's. There's a reason this one was made into a movie. Mediocrity transfers much more easily to the screen. But really, his best stuff, in my opinionated opinion, is his non-fiction work. Read "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", his account of Ted Williams' last game in Fenway Park. Doesn't get much better.

And if that doesn't work, there's always Proust.

Good--grand--writing offers a balm for the weary in this age of cynical greed and corruption. Marie's quote from Richard II reminds me of that sterling quartet of plays from Will's late middle period, ending in Henry IV, part I and II, and Hank Cinq. Some of his best stuff, and the sort of writing that removes one, for the duration of its reading (or watching), from the current tawdry plane of habitation into a literary Garden of Eden.

"He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian."

So hope we all.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

My other privileged son sent this in response to my earlier post, adding some more relevant numbers which I had omitted.

".....though I don't think college admissions/college education is only 80% more immoral than before.

Christopher Hedges' description of the loss of college "liberal" values (including 'fair play') in the beginning of the book you got me [Ken wishes he could recall which book that might be] (he got into one of his ideologically saturated rants about page 50, but prior to that was fair) since the 1950s (acknowledging the pre-existing rancidity of certain aspects of the education/class/racial/etc system at that time [as Akhilleus said, it's always been with us]) is also accurate. The commodification of college education in a society that sees learning as a route to money/class (rather than just learning or service to a greater good) ties into broader cultural changes, which have been for the worse.

Thinking about the competition for elite colleges, too. There are now many millions (women, minorities) more than the simple increase in national population who are competing for access to those colleges who previously had very limited access. Maybe there's enough there to get to the proportional relationship you need to explain the worsening of the college admission scramble (I'd say it's 300% worse than 1970- what's your guess?)."

What yours? Whatever it is, I'd submit it was one of the multitude of factors that brought us the Pretender.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

My husband's career was in higher education, finance even, and he ended with a long stint in a first-tier private college. He had a lot of interaction with donors and says nothing has changed to get where we are now. The people with money always succeed best, first, highest. I, the daughter of a penniless European history professor and a Girl Scout leader, had to get my education as I could. I know that if they had been able to afford it, they would have sent me to expensive private music camp in Michigan, with 10 weeks of prestigious study with gold-star musicians, but I did not get there until I was in college, as a camp counselor with no music lessons on the side. My undergrad study as a flute player was with a bassoonist, until I finally made it to grad school to study with a flutist, and my parents had nothing to do with any of it except to pay for undergrad study at a small state university where Pop taught. I'm certainly not regretting any of it, but I knew even back then that money provides for advanced skills and thus for better jobs, etc. It just seems more grandified now. More opportunities for cheating-- And it starts with lotteries for coveted spots in preschools for one's toddlers. It's a mess created long ago and this nest of vipers has been found out, but it's so widespread, how can it be fixed?? Marie Antoinette would be proud.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Apologies for T. Carlson reiteration.
I’m unable, sadly, to log-on with any frequency.
Peace & Cheers

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAuntHattie

Jeanne,

Your experience is similar to millions of kids in this country who don't come from privileged backgrounds. Another benefit (of the many) of privilege, for students and recent grads, is being able to take internships and/or low paying entry level positions in businesses that set one up for high paying jobs and advancement a few years down the line. Kids who have to fend for themselves right after college can simply not take a year's unpaid internship, even if that might be the best entree into the career of their dreams.

Where I work, kids right out of college who come from well off families, can work for a year or two learning the ropes. They're not suffering. They all drive late model luxury automobiles and they don't have to worry about not making enough to pay the bills (which less well off kids try but soon have to quit to take better paying jobs). This gives them time to learn the skills and gain the experience that will put them in an excellent position for high paying jobs within just a few years of graduation.

Rich kids can do this easily. It ain't fair, but that's the way it is.

Another outcome of such situations is what I would call the empathy gap. Kids who never have to worry about money (not all, but, in my experience, a fair number) have no idea how most citizens of the world live. This isn't to say that they can't gain that knowledge, second hand, but it would be difficult, if not impossible, for most to ever have a visceral appreciation for the lives of others who have not had their opportunities and privileged upbringing.

Want an example? How about Tucker Carlson? How about the Trump kids? How about Trump himself?

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Jeanne -

I’ve been deeply touched by your personal narrative. And so applaud your pursuit of music. I hope you’re still picking up that flute..

You’ve brought some thoughts to mind:

My Dad came to the U.S. at age five and *earned* his “higher education” by way of hard-won scholarships, while working thick schedules throughout.

My goddaughter, whose father is a building superintendent, has (only) been able to attend pre-school this year thanks to the random luck of a NYC lottery.

I am disgusted (understatement) by this university scam, especially upon learning that some/all (?) of the young students were exploited by being kept ignorant of the dishonesty. I wonder how that realization is playing out on the homefronts. (At least intensive Family Therapy will be affordable.) Yet I am enjoying fleeting bits of Schadenfreude from the parents’ loud naming and shaming on multiple media sites.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAuntHattie

What everyone has said about the inequality inherent in college admissions -- yes. But here's something else. My parents were pretty poor & they couldn't afford to contribute much toward the costs of my college education (tho they did contribute). I got through largely on scholarships, loans, & my own work savings. However, my parents gave me something intangible that most of you also got, either at home or perhaps from a teacher or other mentor: an understanding that a college education was worth the cost & effort, for the value of the education itself or for your future professional prospects (or, back in the day, for your marriage prospects). Or some combination thereof.

Now that the costs of higher education limit the ability to get that education, that encouragement may weigh a bit less, but for a significant period of time, when many of us could go to good, low-cost state universities or get scholarships to private schools, our parents' (or others') encouragement was more important than their financial contributions. We all knew kids who decided not to go to college because they would rather get a crappy job, a car & spending money than "waste their time" in college. In many cases, I'm sure that was because their parents also didn't put much store in education for education's sake.

So when I say my parents sent me to college, I mean it, even though they paid only a small part of the costs. It was what they taught me, not the size of the checks they wrote.

March 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Mrs. Bea McC. -

“. . . It was what they taught me . . . “

¡Indeed & Ditto!

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAuntHattie

Many graduates of large and small universities, colleges and community colleges are saddled with huge debt. The national total is about one and one half trillion dollars. This is an anchor on our economy,
That wonderful socialist F. D. R. set up a corporation back in the thirties to buy all defaulting mortgages and refinance them with thirty year mortgages at a reasonable rate. It took years but the deal ended with a small government profit.
Buy the student debt, refinance with thirty year contracts and charge the bank refinance rate or the ten year bond rate. Much lower payments would allow these young Americans to get married, buy cars and houses and instead of having that promised "trickle down", we will have a real "push up".
Of course the vulture bankers will cry and their minions in Congress will protect them. This is, after all, an oligarchy.

March 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle
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