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White House Live Video
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 -- Oct. 13, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. AP: "President Barack Obama is hailing the rebound of the U.S. auto industry, pointing to progress since his administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address that auto sales are the highest they've been in more than four years and the industry has created nearly a quarter of a million new jobs."

My column for the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' assessment of the Biden-Ryan debate. Comments are open at NYTX.

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "Although Mr. Obama got a distinctly poor poll in Florida, which showed him seven points behind there, the rest of Thursday's state-level data, like a series of polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College, were reasonably good for him."

** David Maraniss in the Washington Post: "The Denver debate was the second ineffective performance in a row for Obama, following his convention speech in Charlotte. That moment, protected by Clinton's incandescent oration the night before, had no discernible negative effect but, taken in tandem with the debate, intensifies the question of whether the president can talk his way out of his latest trap. His history shows that, after flailing around, he tends to respond when the pressure is greatest -- and that he appreciates the role of rhetoric." CW: Maraniss, who has studied Obama a lot more closely than I have, nevertheless arrived at about the same conclusion I did regarding the pathology that drives politicians like Bill Clinton & Obama. However, it is reasonable to presume -- based on the evidence -- that Romney performs superbly under pressure, too. (Don't get me into the pathology that drives that SOB!) So if both men are on game, we're in for a battle of two ruthless titans Tuesday. They'll make affable laughing Joe look like a real sweetie-pie.

** David Roberts of Grist tears into Martha Raddatz & the inside-the-Beltway closed loop of mind-numbing Very Serious Person gobbledygook. Good for him. This is a must-read. ...

... CW: This isn't. I am linking this story only because I find it hilarious. Daniel Halper's big news at the Weekly Standard is that MARTHA RADDATZ VISITED BIDEN AT HIS RESIDENCE IN MARCH. Holy Cow! Were they having an affair or what? Well, yes, Raddatz was attending a Women's History Month affair, probably with 200 other women. Jill & Joe Biden hosted the reception. Were Martha & Joe caught on tape in flagrante? Unhappily, no: THERE WAS NO POOL REPORT THAT MIGHT HAVE RECORDED THE DETAILS. So, okay, a cover-up! And a mainstream media conspiracy! I hardly ever get to use my exclamation key. I think I'll get a job in Right Wing World "journalism." There are so many sensational scoops in those parts.

... When Mr. Ryan said last night that Gov. Romney was a car guy, I thought, well, if having an elevator to stack them counts, I guess he was. -- Bill Clinton ...

... Matt Taibbi: Joe Biden was right to laugh derisively at Paul Ryan. The junior league budget flim-flam Romney & Ryan are pushing cannot be taken seriously. ...

... Rick Hertzberg: Romney won the first debate because Obama let him win. Obama lost "Joe Biden won, but not because Paul Ryan let him. Ryan came in second, you might say, but he didn't lose." Hertzberg parses Biden's response to Ryan's remark on the stimulus. It was a masterful turn. ...

... Hertzberg & John Cassidy talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the debate:

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable. Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night's debate, 'We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.'"

... Nielsen: "An estimated 51.4 million people tuned in to watch the sole debate between sitting Democratic V.P Joe Biden and ... Paul Ryan on Thursday, October 11." ...

... BUT Gail Collins thinks now that the veep debate is over, it's over. She was more taken with the Sherman-Berman dust-up, that almost ended in fisticuffs. (See yesterday's Commentariat.) ...

... People Who Make Me Want to Blow up the Teevee, Tom Brokaw Edition:

** Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Wiping out itemized deductions and raising taxes on investment income would generate only enough cash to pay for a minuscule reduction in federal tax rates, according to an official analysis, raising new questions about the workability of Republican-style tax reform. In a report released Friday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for tax policy, concluded that such changes would pay for a 4 percent reduction in tax rates next year -- far short of the 20 percent reduction sought by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney." CW: if Obama doesn't use this in Tuesday's debate, he'll be fired. ...

... Always good to see an AP story like this one from Andrew Taylor: "Romney's plan offers the dessert of sweeping tax cuts but not the vegetables of how he would pay for it.... Friday ... the nonpartisan tax analyst for Congress released a study that says eliminating all itemized deductions would pay for just a 4 percent cut in tax rates -- far below Romney's 20 percent target." ...

... Contributor Roger Henry points to this column by conservative David Frum of Newsweek: of the Romney budget plan, Frum writes "... even if the plan works exactly as advertised, Romney would transfer the tax burden from the plutocrats to the orthodontists."

New York Times Editors: "A campaign should demonstrate seriousness of purpose and a set of core beliefs, and it should signal to voters whether a candidate shows trustworthiness and judgment. Those things don’t seem to matter to Mitt Romney. From the beginning of his run for the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney has offered to transfigure himself into any shape desired by an audience in order to achieve power. There isn't really a Moderate Mitt; what is on display now is better described as Convenient Mitt."

A new Obama campaign ad running in seven swing states:

Jed Lewison provides another great video on Romney v. Romney. In at least half of those remarks, Romney has to be lying, since he's contradicting himself. But he sure looks sincere in every clip.

It's Week 38 of Steve Benen's Chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity. Congratulations, Mitt Romney, on telling 39 big lies in one little week. (Last week, as I recall, Mitt told a mere 38 lies. He's getting better.)

Igor Volsky of Think Progress finds another instance in which Romney-Ryan, after complaining bitterly about government spending being a big waste that doesn't create jobs, run an ad in Ohio complaining that Obama is cutting military spending which will cost Ohio -- jobs. CW: what is it about Republicans that makes them think the only government spending that creates jobs in spending on destructive stuff? Oh, yeah, their military contractor backers.

Reader Comments (17)

I hate being the prophet of doom but we should be planning on how to respond to an R&R victory.
Romney has years of experience dominating boards, committees and other executives. Executives get to be top dog by dominating the other males.
The truth will not do Obama any good because he has never been able to sell anything. He does not have the presence of a leader.
Romney will spout lies and half truths with conviction, force and aplomb. The Media and the other under informed will eat it up. The diffident Obama will not win any debate unless Romney really screws up. Romney will be the most reasonable candidate since Eisenhower and slightly to his left for the next two debates. He will say what is acceptable as he did in the first debate. Never mind anything he said before this.
Four years of Romney and the tea party are certain to create a social and economic debacle. Who will lead the cringing,cowardly Democrats from the wilderness? Who will pick up the pieces?
Hillary is tough enough and smart enough but a little old. Elizabeth Warren if elected to the Senate is possible. Who else? Win or lose, Obama will never be a leader again, he had his chance.
Obama and a weak Democratic party have let the unified Republicans make asses of them for three years.
As a New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt, yellow dog Democrat I resent Obama's repeated capitulations to Republican, right wing crap.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Marie, thank you for linking to David Roberts excellent column. Although I thought Radditz did a way better job than Lehrer, her basic questions left a lot to be desired. She was pretty good in follow ups.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.


I just finished watching Darrell Issa dominate Bill Maher on Real Time. Yikes. Bill is usually so good at ducking the slime. But Issa is a confident, psychopathic ideologue who puts forth a deadly charm offensive. He does not have correct facts, but he makes them up and ACTS as if he does. (Note: Ann Coulter was Bill's first guest and was so off the wall crazy, I thought she had taken a bit too much angel dust before going on the show.)

Here, to my mind, is the big problem. Image. The American people are besotted by image. Truth matters little. Mitt Romney (and Darrell Issa) have deep, loud voices--speak with conviction, look sincere, and smile arrogantly when others disagree with them. Issa even made fellow panelist, Ben Affleck, look meek, and he is an intelligent, savvy, fact-driven guy.

What this says to me is that unprincipled, lying chameleons--who look good and speak clearly, with seeming sincerity--will take and hold center stage. An introverted Black guy who says "uh" and "um" and speaks like a Constitutional Law professor has no chance--unless he is giving a practiced speech, and has no competition and/or interruptions. He is not schooled in changing his mind on the dime and lying convincingly. Also, he sees this "debate thing" as the shallow, silly, media invention that it is. And he has not yet learned to suffer fools gladly. I think this could lose him the election. He would do better if he had the Irish charm of Uncle Joe Biden. No kidding.

That said, I do think Obama will win the election. He has a fantastic campaign organization, and he is set to win Ohio and Michigan as well as the traditional Blue states. The working class people--especially the auto industry--are going to vote for him, because he actually has helped them. They know they will get less than nothing from MittWitt. Other than Ohio and Michigan--I see no good news!

As my friend Akhilleus says: Remember the Fucking Supremes!

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

In a very good description of last night's debate wherein she listed Biden as the clear victor, Joan Walsh concluded thusly, " In five days, Obama will face Romney again and all of this will matter much less. But Biden dialed down Democratic panic and reminded Americans he’s part of a team that’s fighting for them."
That last comment was very interesting to me, because I have begun to feel strongly that a great slogan for Obama-Biden would be, "Fighting for YOU!"
Anyway, I loved the fight and spirit of Biden last night.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Sometimes, 'very serious' retired news readers should stay retired, (i.e.; People Who Make Me Want to Blow up the Teevee, Tom Brokaw Edition:)

Or, to put it another way, "...Mr. Brokaw, I knew Walter Cronkite, and you sir are no Mr. Cronkite.!"

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

I encourage everyone to read Marie's column today. I think it is one of her best.

And David Roberts––dynamite piece–-grist for the mill, indeed. This is what I meant yesterday when I wrote about the speed that pundits, bloggers, tweeters, etc. voice their opinions before actually digesting the material. Roberts evidently chewed a bit before putting pen to paper.


October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@MAG, I couldn't agree more I've been throwing up in my mouth every time I've had to hear Tom Blowchow pontificate on some subject for the last several years now. He is no Walter Cronkite. Walter had a depth of understanding of national issues that the light weight, news reader from South Dakota has never been able to approach.
David Frum in Newsweek has a nice description of how The Rats tax plan dines on the "merely rich" to feed the ultra rich, the top 1% of the top 2%. I feel sorry for Republicans who believe they are 'all in this together'.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

Re: Marie's David Brooks forgets American History


October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

''Get rid of the loop holes for the top earners"

If this actually happens....... how long do you think it will take for slime bag lobbyist to get bigger and better breaks for their "customers",down the road?
Altho Romney can lay down a 10K wager with his lunch money, I can only offer a $5 wager. I say six months.
Any takers?

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Lowery

"Lying is an accursed vice. It is only our words which bind us together and make us human. If we realized the horror and weight of lying, we would see that it is more worthy of the stake than other crimes.... Once let the tongue acquire the habit of lying and it is astonishing how impossible it is to make it give it up."

A thought-provoking quote in this era of Post-Truth Politics where lies have taken center stage of American culture like never before. Now that it's understood by the GOP that calculated bold and brazen lying can effectively get you to the top, I see no reason for them to reverse course, ever. The Dems will adopt and adapt. Lies have always been at the heart of politics, but at least they used to go out of their way to wrap them in fancy presents. Now they're served up cold, raw with a soulless stare down and a cheesy smirk. The fact-checking industry will prosper but with little effects as the general public is numbed down by corrupt salesmen without an honest bone in their body.

Shall we bring back the Inquisition? A few serial fibbers burned at the stake could turn the tide. Drastic times call for drastic measures

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersafari

And another thing.

We are becoming a Nation of takers. I have yet to hear of a politician not taking a campaign donation or a top earner NOT taking a tax break.
Excellent day for a rant. I feel better already.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Lowery

My favorite part of Marie's column is the last paragraph. One of the ways that I can occasionally temper my loathing for folks like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, the Tea party congressmen, etc is to know that the brothers Koch and their ilk see these guys as expendable parasites. There is a delicious irony in that.

As for Brooks, he's a nightcrawler twisting at the end of a hook, his relevance will soon be swallowed by a fish. In the meantime he is desperately trying to hang on and contemplating life as fish poop.

Obama will persevere, it is one of his strongest characteristics. Now if I were a Republican and thought I was ordained to restrict "you peoples' " freedoms I would restrict all reality shows to pay-per-view at a $100 a pop to be used as an education tax. People have lapped up so much ignorance, an insatiable capacity for lies and sleaze, no wonder Lord Small Balls gets ratings.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

The Republican proposal to reduce everyone's tax bracket by 20% seemed to spring out of nowhere. The conversation had been simply about whether to let the incredibly low Bush tax rates expire in their entirety, or expire at all. Then suddenly came this proposal to reduce the already historically low rates even further, but ah!: they had to be revenue netral as a nod to the deficit, so loopholes must be closed. Now we get into a big fight over the unspecified loopholes.
My question is this: why reduce the marginal rates (in a regressive way at that) thereby twisting everyone into knots at how to "pay for them" - which means increasing the burden on taxpayers in some way by playing around with deductions to get back to the point you started? I just honestly do not get it. It seems like a real gimmick to me, a way to sneakily lower burdens for the uber-wealthy, as has been pointed out by some.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Kate: I realize that the news has not been good for the past two weeks. But I'm willing to bet Obama does a little better than just Ohio, Michigan and the traditionally blue states: he looks to pull in at least three of the following: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virginia. It would not be a blow out, but a solid victory. And right now, it looks like I'll collect on my better with Marie on a Warren victory.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

@PD: I have to agree with you that Marie's column today was (yet again) terrific, and especially that last paragraph. I hope I live long enough to see Brooks and company realize that he is only one of us expendable worms, to be discarded at the whim of his plutocrat bosses.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Another take on Raddatz and DC think by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian.
I'm a year older than Biden. My interest in US politics began with McCarthy and was fully formed by the time of Nixon. Perhaps that explains my preference for the old heart-on-his-sleeve Biden over the cool Ayatolla Ryan (can't separate his political and religious selves) with his amoral self aggrandizing core.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercowichan

It's laughable that losers want to denigrate Raddaz, but not Lehrer. Denigrate Biden, but not Romney for his TOTAL disregard for Lehrer and the President.Yeh. Romney is good at dominating boards and lying boldly to close the deal,.but that is not what this debate is all about.The pontification of his philosophy is not a plan or a solution to the ills of the society.To listen to the post analysis you would think he walked on water and jobs will be created as soon as he reached the shore of the White House. Biden did give facts, Romney gave blather,Biden did give facts Ryan gave aspirations. Neither Ryan or ROMNEY WON THE DEBATE.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRueben Scott
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