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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."

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:

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The Commentariat -- March 24, 2012

Sorry, the site has been down for maintenance all morning.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

David Maraniss of the Washington Post on the striking parallels in the lives of Presidents Bill Clinton & Barack Obama. ...

(... Not to be confused with Dana Milbank's Washington Post column on the striking parallels in the personality traits of Mitt Romney and Milbank's dog Z.Z.)

In a Washington Post op-ed, Reniqua Allen argues that "the first black president has made it harder to talk about race in America." If, like me, your first thought was, "Nah," listen to what Geraldo Rivera has to say in the clip below, & be assured that racism is alive and well outside the Deep South. P.S. When I see a black kid in a hoodie approaching, I do not cross the street, I do not even think about crossing the street, I do not give him a second thought, though if we make eye contact and/or we're not on a crowded street, I say hello or good morning. I think my reaction -- or lack thereof -- is normal, not even slightly extraordinary. Evidently Geraldo would not agree.

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "As it prepares to take power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is overhauling its relations with the two main Palestinian factions in an effort to put new pressure on Israel for an independent Palestinian state. Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank."

Change is, yes, health care reform. You want to call it Obamacare — that’s okay, because I do care. That’s why we passed it. That is why we passed it — because I care about folks who were going bankrupt because they were getting sick.  And I care about children who have preexisting conditions and their families couldn’t get them any kind of insurance. And so now we’ve got reforms that will ensure that in this great country of ours you won’t have to mortgage your house just because you get sick. -- President Obama in Atlanta last week ...

... ** Former Clinton DOJ attorney Walter Dellinger, who filed a brief on behalf of the Congressional Democratic leadership defending the Affordable Care Act, debunks five myths about the law. CW: this should be required reading for every opponent of the law. ...

... ** Jonathan Chait of New York magazine on "the barbarism of the health-care repeal crusade." Read the whole post to see how Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan -- and the whole right-wing gang -- fit into the picture. "The conservative movement’s fanatical determination to achieve this goal — through the courts, through the election, through sabotage of its implementation by denying funds and refusing to confirm administrators — reveals an even higher level of commitment to the principle of denying health insurance to the undeserving." ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "... what, if anything, to do about the nearly 50 million Americans who today lack health insurance? Those millions of uninsured rarely intrude into the promises from GOP congressional leaders and the party’s presidential field to defend liberty by repealing Obama’s plan." ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post takes on Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post: "I’m still not sure whether Charles Krauthammer’s Friday column is actually a Stephen Colbert-like parody of over-the-top conservative opposition to President Obama’s health-care law." Stromberg refutes Krauthammer's self-parody point-by-point.

Major Garrett of the National Journal: "'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.' With that one sentence, President Obama on Friday placed himself in the middle of a raging national debate as a parent, a president, and an African-American speaking to and for the black 'community.'" ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Many of us have been sympathetic to the restraints [President Obama] wears while nevertheless wondering when he would say something about the tragedy. He did so Friday with a palpable sadness, for the family of Trayvon Martin, for himself, and for all of us." ...

... Manuel Roig-Franzia, et al., of the Washington Post examine George Zimmerman's multi-racial ethnicity, his upbringing and his hopes -- to be a policeman. Zimmerman is the man who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

Right Wing World ...

... is horrified President Obama spoke out in sympathy for Trayvon Martin's parents. Something about black panthers. AND there's this:

CW: This has to be the worst presidential campaign ad since LBJ's "Daisy" ad of 1964. As Dylan Byers of Politico notes, "Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad morphs into U.S. president Barack Obama right about the time the narrator says 'sworn American enemy.'" Byers has more here, and sorry, the Santorum spokesmen's phony excuses don't cut it.

Contributor Marvin Schwalb has a good assessment of the elements of Right Wing World in today's comments. And Schwalb presents a logical argument for banning hunting! A perfect means to drive the NRA nuttier.

Kevin Drum: that nice Paul Ryan cares three percent more about the poor than he cared last year. (I'm pretty sure my math is wrong here, but when it comes to toting up the kindliness of Paul Ryan, the figures are so teensy it doesn't really matter -- I think the right answer is closer to 5 %. Whoop-tee-do!)

It's Friday so it must be time for Steve Benen's countdown of Mitt Romney's Lies of the Week: "It was heartening that Mitt Romney's habitual dishonesty generated far more attention than usual this week, but the scrutiny doesn't appear to have discouraged the Republican frontrunner, who had an incredibly mendacious week.... Take a look at the 11th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. Unfortunately, it's one of the longest editions to date."

Nia-Malika Henderson & T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "Ahead by double-digits in polls [in Louisiana, Rick] Santorum is expected to do well and to continue his streak of strong showings in the South. Yet, with a delegate gap that keeps getting wider, the final vote tally in Louisiana may not matter much in the long run given that the former senator from Pennsylvania faces daunting odds and a difficult stretch of contests next month.

Gail Collins thinks of six things you need to know about the GOP primary race. CW: that's about as long as such a list should get.

News Ledes

Well, this complicates the story:

New York Times: "Rick Santorum was projected as the winner of the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday night, capturing a deeply conservative state with a hefty portion of the kind of evangelical Christian voters who have helped him claim victories in 10 other states." The Washington Post is updating results here.

AP: "President Barack Obama is opening his pitch for faster work to lock down nuclear material that could be used by terrorists with an up-close look at the nuclear front lines along the heavily militarized border with volatile North Korea. Obama arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning, local time, for three days of diplomacy."

New York Times: "The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.... An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops."

AP: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital, his office said."

NBC News: "More than a decade before former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse, a psychologist warned university police that his actions fit that of a 'likely pedophile’s pattern.'” Includes video story.

AP: "U.S. investigators believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday."

AP: "Dozens of French Muslims are training with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears of future attacks following the shooting deaths of seven people in southern France allegedly by a man who spent time in the region, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday."

New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The four Republican candidates for president crisscrossed Louisiana on Friday in a last bid for votes before today's primary. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for a ballot that also includes some local races and issues."

Politico: "Jon Corzine inappropriately ordered the removal of $200 million from customer funds while serving as the head of MF Global, according to a memo released Friday by a House Financial Services subcommittee -- a finding that appears to contradict the former New Jersey governor’s congressional testimony. The money contributed to the disappearance of an estimated $1.6 billion in client money."

New York Times: "The New York City police detective who fired the first shots in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell in 2006 has been fired, and three others involved in the shooting are being forced to resign, law enforcement officials said on Friday. The decision came after a Police Department administrative trial in the fall found that the detective, Gescard F. Isnora, had acted improperly in the shooting that killed Mr. Bell on what was supposed to have been his wedding day and that he should be fired."

Reuters: "Syrian forces pounded the central city of Homs with mortar fire while troops backed by heavy armor stormed rebellious towns across the country on Saturday, leaving six civilians and four soldiers dead, opposition activists said."

Guardian: As expected, "US army staff sargeant Robert Bales has been formally charged 17 counts of premeditated murder, a capital offence that could lead to the death penalty in the massacre of Afghan civilians, the US military said."

AFP: "A piece of an old Russian satellite whizzed by the International Space Station on Saturday, forcing its six-member crew to temporarily take shelter in two Soyuz escape capsules, officials said. The incident was the third of its kind in more than a decade of continuous inhabitation of the orbiter, whose first element was launched by Russia in 1998, the US space agency NASA said in a series of Twitter updates."

Reader Comments (4)

Ridicule is the only way to attack the NRA. They have an unbelievable position of power over politicians. They will beat you as a candidate and they will send someone after you if you oppose them. There is no way to make an impression with a direct attack.
Those volunteer firemen down at the fire house will never believe any level of gun control is anything but an evil conspiracy.
As a former Michigander I understand their position to some degree. As a matter of fact, most of those firemen in Michigan have about half a dozen gun in their homes and neither they or their friends have shot anyone.
In all of those rural areas where people hunt deer or pheasants and rabbits and ducks, the IRA has everyone convinced that the "bunny huggers" and the liberals are scheming to "take their guns away."
The IRA sells irrational positions as fighting against the gun control forces trying to get their foot in the door.
For politicians gun control is a lose, lose and a waste of effort. Perhaps, in a generation or two, things will change.

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Two worlds. That is what this race for POTUS has established. There is no way to clearly establish the 'conservative' world. It has many parts that politicians play to make them come together. There is the fundamentalist piece, hiding behind your god. There is the macho piece, the pathetic attempt of men to rule over women. And of course the racist piece, the need to know that there is someone worth less than you (often a tough job). There is the most ridiculous piece that freedom requires no government, accept when you need it (which is always) and there is the greed piece which allows the political part to use the other pieces to fill their pockets. For me, I have never been able to understand how people live in an alternate universe. But the good news is that that other universe is eroding in other parts of the world, mainly Europe which demonstrates that for the most part this is all about how people are brought up. Sort of Stockholm syndrome for children. So it can go away. I hope that the exposure of this universe will be the beginning of its end.

P.S. On a related matter, since the right to own a gun, under the second amendment, is to provide for militias, there is no right to shoot an animal. So it would be perfectly constitutional to ban hunting. Wouldn't that be fun? Macho, macho man!

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Regarding the Steve Benen article, Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XI (!):
When Romney states one of his outrageous falsehoods, would it be too much to ask the press to request specifics? He gets away with a lot simply because they don't ask him to back up his assertions.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

After watching Geraldo for the first time in years: he and his network are like cartoon characters of journalists and journalism. If life is about nothing more than having an easy life they seem to be accomplished at a shallow insipid existence. Some people do a public service to watch and report on these people and their organization. Watching dullards is a public service for those of us simply lacking in patience.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625
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