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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 -- May 23, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer today is a brief word on Brother Ross. The NYTX front page is here.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January would suck $607 billion out of the economy next year, plunging the nation at least briefly back into recession, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday." ...

... Stan Collender of Capital Gains & Games in Roll Call: Speaker John Boehner is "exceptionally irresponsible."

Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic tells you more than everything you ever wanted to know about Elizabeth Warren's totally Caucasian heritage: "If there's no easily located evidence that Warren has Native American ancestry, there's also no evidence Warren used her family story to boost herself into a Harvard job.... But the longer the questions about Warren linger, the harder it will be for voters to feel like they know who she really is."

Natasha Lennard of Salon: "The [Chicago Police Department] has been congratulated for handling NATO protests.... However..., the ongoing persecution of anarchists and activists with entrapment, intimidation and trumped-up charges [may remain]."

Charles Pierce on the lawsuits brought by Roman Catholic organizations against the Obama administration's ruling on contraceptive coverage (see also Tuesday's News Ledes): "... the University of Notre Dame, has gone to the lawyers to avoid having to cover medicines for their Prebyterian charwomen of which the Roman Catholic Church does not approve because those medicines might help ladies exercise their ladyparts in ways that the Roman Catholic Church does not authorize. As always, of course, this has required some recreational prevarication, and some muted weeping over how Holy Mother Church has been the real victim in all of this.... I find it damned interesting that Holy Mother Church is so ready to appeal to the secular courts in this matter when it spent the better part of three decades arguing that the secular courts had no business investigating the various illegal fondlings and rapings that passed for sexy sexytime among the Church's richly upholstered middle management officials." ...

... Maureen Dowd: "The church insists it's an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it's about birth control, and women's lower caste in the church. It's about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it's about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn't be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be.... The lawsuit reminds [us] that what the bishops portray as an attack on religion by the president is really an attack on women by the bishops."

Wrong: any religion that a guy who looks like this to be celibate, even if he is a jerk.... Celibacy Is Such an Excellent Idea. Nicole Winfield of the AP: "The Legion of Christ religious order, already discredited for concealing the crimes of its pedophile founder, suffered another blow to its credibility Tuesday after its superior admitted he knew in 2005 that his most prominent priest had fathered a child, yet allowed him to keep teaching and preaching about morality.... The Rev. Thomas Williams, the public face of the Legion in America, admitted last week that he had violated his vow of celibacy and fathered a child several years ago, going public with a statement after The Associated Press presented the Legion with the accusation."



Right: anybody who tells this guy to STFU.AND There Must Be Some Reason Rand Paul Reminds Me of an 8th-Grader. Lee Drutman of the Sunlight Foundation. "Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record.... Today’s Congress collectively speaks at a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level." The high-falutinest: Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-CA) (grade 16); the simpletoniest: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) (grade 7.95), & a close third was our favorite simpleton, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (grade 8.03).

This tribute to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, which took place at the end of April, was a discussion among all of the women on the Court. It was quite delightful to hear. The discussion begins about 4:15 min. in:

Weird Politicians' Tricks. Apparently Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), in the throes of a tough primary battle, thinks Jewish people love their moms a lot more than do non-Jews. He sent the original family photo -- at left -- to people with "non-Jewish" name; the version at right, with his mother photoshopped in, went to voters with Jewish surnames:

Via Buzzfeed.     ... But wait, wait, there's more! BuzzFeed: "Today, he claimed it was a clever scheme aimed at forcing the press to print pictures of his family. He doesn't seem to be joking." With video.

Presidential Race

Your job as president is to promote the common good. That doesn't mean the private equity guys are bad guys. They are not. But that no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber. And, by the way, there are a lot of awful smart plumbers. -- Joe Biden, at a campaign stop in Keene, New Hampshire

You Must Remember Bush. Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... the Obama campaign has been a little too quiet in reminding voters exactly what kind of economic catastrophe Obama inherited, whom he inherited it from, and how closely Romney's economic program resembles what was in place just before the meltdown that started this all."

Tim Noah of The New Republic: "Private Equity Ain't No Reform Movement." See also, if you missed it, my related NYTX column, published yesterday. ...

... Bain Capital? What's That? Mark Murray of NBC News: "... regarding Romney's past work at the private-equity firm Bain Capital, [an NBC/Wall Street Journal] poll shows that 9 percent have a positive view of the firm and 19 percent have a negative view; 53 percent either weren't sure or weren't familiar with it. In the last two weeks, the Obama campaign has pointed to examples where Bain -- under Romney's leadership -- took over companies, saddled them with debt, laid off workers, all while making big profits for the investors."

Jamelle Bouie has a very good post in the WashPo on Obama's spending habits: Obama has slowed government spending more than any president since the 1950s, and "a President Romney would finance massive tax cuts with soaring deficits. Instead of trying to stop the 'prairie fire of debt,' as promised in his speech [last week], he would spark it."

Friends of Mitt. Alex Pareene of Salon: Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio sends deputies to Hawaii in search of the real birth certificate. "But yes a completely crazy person who is in charge of law enforcement for the most populous county in Arizona is probably going to attempt to arrest Barack Obama at some point. I guess at least he's not directly involved with the Mitt Romney campaign, like Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Romney’s Arizona campaign co-chair who's currently leading a separate investigation into proving the president's secret foreignness. (Though Arpaio was honorary campaign co-chair in 2008, when he was still a stalwart harasser of Hispanics, but before birtherism had been properly invented.)" ...

... Hawaii Is Tired of Trying to Reason with You Birthers. Nick Martin of TPM: Hawaii gives Ken Bennett a taste of his own medicine. You want Obama's birth certificate? Prove you're qualified. Jill Nagamine, a Hawaii Deputy Secretary of State, to Bennett & an associate: "My client stands willing to provide you with the verification you seek as soon as you are able to show that you are entitled to it." ...

     ... AP Update: "The state of Hawaii has verified President Barack Obama's birth records to Arizona's elections chief after a nearly three-month back and forth that Arizona officials said could have ended without the incumbent's name on its November ballot.... It's not immediately clear whether the information will satisfy Bennett. A spokesman says he received the verification and will comment Wednesday."

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "Mr. Bennett ... is co-chairman of the Mitt Romney campaign in Arizona. Mr. Romney should disavow this 'investigation.' Or make Mr. Bennett stop it. Or kick him off the campaign. Or better yet, disavow the investigation, make Mr. Bennett stop it – and then kick him off the campaign."

Former Governor, Former DNC Chair, Former Obama Booster Ed Rendell. Part 1. Part 2. With friends like these....

... BUT Obama's former car czar, the ethically-challenged Steve Rattner, embraced by the right for his remarks about Bain Capital, is definitely in Obama's camp. He writes quite a good explanation of Romney's Bain business in today's New York Times. His remarks do not help Willard. ...

... Ana Marie Cox, in the Guardian, has the best commentary yet on Cory Booker's apostasy.

Local News

Dr. Marvin Schwalb tells off the Star-Ledger. (See also Comments to today's Commentariat.)

Charles Pierce, who used to write for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on the paper's endorsements of "Scott Walker, the google-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The director of the U.S. Secret Service publicly apologized for the first time Wednesday for a prostitution scandal that has rocked his agency as senior lawmakers strongly disputed his insistence that what unfolded last month in Cartagena, Colombia, occurred in isolation."

New York Times: "At least three shareholder lawsuits have so far been brought against Facebook and the three leading underwriters of the I.P.O., Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, alleging that Facebook failed to disclose material information about its growth prospects."

Washington Post: "President Obama sent 1,000 Air Force Academy cadets into active duty Wednesday by laying out his vision for a postwar America in which the United States leads beyond the battlefield and defiantly challenging his critics' notion of waning American influence."

AP: "Regulators are examining whether Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that shepherded Facebook through its highly publicized stock offering last week, selectively informed clients of an analyst's negative report about the company before the stock started trading." New York Times story here.

New York Times: "After weeks of fevered debate, speculation and argument, Egyptians went to the polls on Wednesday in the Arab world's first competitive presidential election, choosing between a dozen candidates spanning the nation’s secular and Islamist traditions after decades of authoritarian rule."

New York Times: "Six global powers including the United State resumed negotiations with Iran [in Baghdad] on Wednesday a day after Tehran signaled willingness to allow potentially intrusive international inspections of secret military facilities, raising expectations that it was searching for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program."

AP: "Several small groups of Secret Service employees separately visited clubs, bars and brothels in Colombia prior to a visit by President Barack Obama last month and engaged in reckless, 'morally repugnant' behavior, Sen. Susan Collins says.... In remarks prepared for the first congressional hearing on the matter Wednesday, Collins, R-Maine, also challenged early assurances that the scandal in Colombia appeared to be an isolated incident." ...

... Washington Post: "Four Secret Service employees have decided to fight their dismissals for engaging in inappropriate conduct in Colombia last month, a development that could unravel what has been a swift and tidy resolution to an embarrassing scandal over agents' hiring of prostitutes."

Washington Post: "Public opinion continues to shift in favor of same-sex marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, which also finds initial signs that President Obama's support for the idea may have changed a few minds. Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal...."

Washington Post: "President Obama won his 34th and 35th consecutive Democratic primary contests on Tuesday night, claiming victories in Arkansas and Kentucky. But his margin was surprisingly small in Arkansas — a state in which he was opposed by Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe, who had previously been on the presidential primary ballot in Louisiana, Missouri and New Hampshire and will be on the ballot in Texas next week. Wolfe has also run unsuccessfully for Congress four times." CW: Surprisingly? Not really. Maybe it should have dawned on the reporters that Arkansas has an open primary; i.e., Republicans can vote in the Democratic primary.

Blood Money. AFP: "The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said Tuesday it is taking legal action to stop an online auction of a vial said to contain the late US president's blood, condemning the sale as 'craven.' ... The vial was accompanied by a laboratory report and a letter from the seller -- who claims he offered it to the Reagan National Library, but was turned down."

AP: "Court records show a Miami college student intends to plead guilty to making threatening posts against President Barack Obama on Facebook.... Federal prosecutors say Serrapio posted threats on Facebook in February coinciding with a speech Obama gave at the University of Miami. Serrapio attends a different school, Miami-Dade College."

Reader Comments (2)

Let me share a story about the what journalism has become. Twelve days ago, the NEWARK Star Ledger posted a front page article questioning the logic behind a bill in the State Legislature to create a new research building in Newark between the NJ Institute of Technology and the 'State's medical school'. This made no sense because the Governor planned to give the 'State's medical school' to Rutgers University. Both the 'medical school' and Rutgers are in New Brunswick, NJ. The 'journalist' and I assume the editor who proofed it were apparently unaware that for the last 43 years the State had another medical school, by far the largest and most nationally prominent, located about a mile from the Star Ledger offices in NEWARK. Strangely it is called the New Jersey Medical School. I wrote a letter to the editor explaining reality and they did publish it. The good news is that they were embarrassed enough to allow me to submit an op-ed piece providing a more accurate view of reality. Will see if they publish that.
In any case this goes beyond sloppy, beyond stupid and beyond possible. Welcome to the MSM.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Dave S.

I think you may be looking for a link to my post from Sullivan's blog regarding Bain. I'd provide you with a link - but you are looking at it in its entirety. It was part of a thread that has gone on for some time. Here is a link for another post on the same subject later that day:

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon
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