The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 29

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

 

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Sunday
Sep162012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on a Times' story about Romney playing a fun-loving human being on the teevee while Ryan attacked President Obama at the Value Voters Summit. Commenting on NYTX is open to all. ...

Quote of the Day: We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. -- Rick Santorum, to Values Voters

... Josh Glasstetter of Right Wing Watch has more on the backers & speakers at the Values Voters Summit where Ryan spoke. What is most disturbing is that a vice-presidential candidate, members of Congress and two sitting governors are right at home with this bunch of documented wackos & holy warriors. ...

... Steve Benen has more in a feature he's carried over from his days at Washington Monthly: "This Week in God." ...

... Brian McLaren, writing on CNN's "Belief" blog: "... any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse." Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

"Don't Tell Anyone, But the Stimulus Worked." David Firestone of the New York Times: "On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent. The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down."

Presumption of Guilt, with a Price. Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: more than 300 district attorneys across the nation are allowing debt collection companies to use their stationery & permitting those debt collection companies to not only threaten criminal prosecution for writing bad checks but also to con the check-writers into taking costly, stupid classes on "financial accountability." CW: one irony: the biggest debt collection agency using this D.A. scam -- went bankrupt. Maybe that shoulda taken their own stupid class. P.S. This egregious practice is just what Americans should expect to happen when private corporations take over public functions. Privatization is a racket.

Jeremiah Goulka explains in a Salon piece why he left the GOP. The ignorance Goulka admits is stunning, but let's give him credit for admitting it. There are millions of Americans who are just as ill-informed as Goulda once was and living lives just as insular as Goulka's was. Thanks to Lisa for the link.

Presidential Race

John Ingold of the Denver Post: "Mitt Romney canceled his Sunday afternoon campaign rally after a fatal small-plane crash at the airport in Pueblo, [Colorado,] closed down two of three runways. An experimental, home-built airplane crashed as it was attempting to land at Pueblo Memorial Airport around 9 a.m. Sunday. The man ... died in the crash. He was the only person on board. Romney, making his first campaign visit to Colorado in a month, had been scheduled to speak at the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum on the airport's grounds at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is declining to endorse Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's charge that President Barack Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus' during his first term in office. In an interview aired Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press,' Netanyahu initially demurred on Romney's comments, but then appeared to distance himself from the GOP candidate's inflammatory charge. 'You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that,' the Israeli prime minister said." CW: Evidently Bibi has been reading the polls.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: after initially faltering in public opinion polls, Democrats are winning the Medicare argument again. CW: Calmes is writing what is mostly a horse-race story, but she does write: "At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages.... Critics say the fixed payments might not keep up with rising insurance costs and could leave older Americans facing cutbacks in care or paying more out of their own pockets." (Emphasis added.) That's about as pro-Romney/Ryan as a report can get & not qualify as an op-ed piece.

"The Foreign Relations Fumbler." Nicholas Kristof: "... every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things.... It has been unseemly for Romney to side with a foreign leader [Netanyahu] in spats with the United States." Kristof also writes, "President Obama himself blew it a few days ago by mistakenly asserting that we didn't consider Egypt an ally." CW: that was no fumble. See Juan Cole's take, linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

"Neocons Slither Back." Maureen Dowd: in his Values Voters speech, “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte. A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel's neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it's all ominously familiar." ...

... Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Fear of President Barack Obama -- not enthusiasm for Mitt Romney -- is driving religious conservatives to pull the lever for the GOP nominee this November.... Conservatives attending the [Values Voters Summit] said they worried about a range of things during a possible Obama II, from implementation of the president's health care law, and a move to what they saw as more 'socialist' policies to the end of the very values -- including the protection of life and traditional marriage -- that they came to the summit to support. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor ... framed the campaign as a battle for the very core of the country, saying another term for Obama would continue the nation's decline. 'This election is going to determine whether or not the very moral fabric of our country will be upheld, or whether it will be torn apart,' he said."

Dylan Byers of Politico: Romney's "blame the liberal media" ploy isn't working all that well when a good deal of the criticism is coming from the right.

Right Wing World

It seems Right Wing World is winging out over "brownshirted enforcers ... [who made] a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration." I won't link to the original Instapundit post, but here are comments by John Cole of Balloon Juice and David Watkins of Lawyers, Guns & Money, both of whom cite the "key bits" of "evidence" that has led Instapundit to regretfully demand that President Obama immediately resign in disgrace.

Local News

Deborah Charles of the AP: "Voting-rights groups that virtually stopped registering voters in Florida for a year as they challenged the state's new restrictions on elections now are scrambling to get people there registered for the November 6 election."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Having been rebuffed privately by President Obama last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took to the airwaves in the United States on Sunday to warn that Iran was only six or seven months from having -90 percent' of what it needed to make an atomic bomb."

AP: "Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam video produced in the United States clashed with police as they tried to march toward the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi." ...

... Guardian: "Defence secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that the US was still on standby to deploy elite forces to protect American interests in cities caught up in a wave of Muslim protest, but that the level of violence appears to be levelling off." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration ordered the evacuation of all but emergency U.S. government personnel, and all family members, from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday and warned Americans not to travel to those countries. The action came as leaders across the Muslim world took stock of their relationship with the United States, a major provider of aid and investment, and struggled to balance it with the will of their populations." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people in connection to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, Libya's parliamentary chief said." ...

... Al Jazeera: "The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans and ten Libyans was the work of 'experienced masterminds' that had been planned well in advance, the Libyan president says. 'I think this was al-Qaeda,' President Mohamed al-Magarief told Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid on Friday...." ...

     ... ABC News Update: "U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance."

Washington Post: "Four international service members were killed early Sunday near a remote NATO installation in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them.... The deaths at a remote checkpoint in Zabul province marked an escalation of so-called insider attacks on foreign troops.... On Saturday, an Afghan gunman thought to belong to the local police killed two British soldiers in southern Helmand province."

Chicago Tribune: "Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal. Hundreds of union leaders are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout." ...

     ... Update: "The Chicago teachers strike will continue Monday as the union's House of Delegates refused to halt the walk out this afternoon and signaled classes may not resume before Wednesday."

AP: "About 300 people observing the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street marched to a small concrete park in New York's lower Manhattan that served as headquarters for the protest movement and was its birthplace. Police patrolled the crowd Saturday and took at least a dozen people into custody near Trinity Church that borders Zuccotti Park.... Protesters marched from Washington Square Park and headed south down Broadway to Zuccotti Park, chanting as they went."

Reader Comments (8)

Marie, thank you for pointing out Kristof's (possible) error in characterizing Obama's "ally" remarks as a flub. Juan Cole is most convincing that it was not, that it was in fact a persuasive use of diplomacy, which showed great subtlety and sophistication - two qualities you could never attribute to Romney. According to Cole, the message sent to Morsi worked.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: Dumber than a bullfrog; I guess I can admire Mr. Goulka's awakening. Hard to admit having the wool pulled over your eyes for a lifetime. But come on, does anybody grow up that isolated or insulated from the realities of our society? I think the key is his repeated thought that because he was born and raised better than all the rest of us, he deserved his position. That is the core belief of the Republicans.
GOP; Greedy, Oblivious, Pendejos. But better late then never.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Just followed your link to Steve Benen's post, where toward the latter part of his otherwise salient post, he says: "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this rather disconcerting."

Benen is certainly given to understatement following the details he highlighted as to what was said and played out at the Values Voter Summit.

He should rephrase it to say. "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this f&@#ing insane."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Having read Goulka's confessions I must confess I was moved by his previous naiveté and his now rude awakenings. Kate and I could send this piece to our brothers and say––SEE––stop being such chumps and open your eyes––but alas, I doubt it would change anything.

While on the Salon site I happened to come upon another little gem: Katie Billotte's "Conservatives Killed the Liberal Arts," with a photo of Bill Buckley on the front piece looking as though he's had one too many martinis as he was wont to have.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Thank the Universe! MoDo is back on her game temporarily, I am sure, seens to gave given up her grudge against Barry. Taking on Paulie AynRyn and his NeoCon mentor, Dan Senor, is exactly what she should be doing. Dan Senor, talk about a know-nothing, dumbass creep. He still believes we liberated Iraq! Yikes.

IMHO after Obama is safely reelected, we should take up the worthy cause (again) of bringing the NeoCon war zombies to justice. We may have to be rid of Eric Holder to do that, but I am beginning to see the stirrings of a new movement--smart people who are horrified that the "crazier than shit-house rat" slimebags are trying to dance their way back into the ballroom of the Imperial Prom. BTW, I think Liz Cheney should be her father's prison cellmate. They could survive for awhile on their pate of vitriol!

Maybe I am dreaming, but I am not the only one...........

P.S. Remember the Supremes!

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I especially liked the Rick Santorum quote of the day "we will never have smart people on our side". Doesn't that say it all? What person with any smarts would commit to a group that obviously hates them?
Oh! I forgot, millions are doing it, which just proves that otherwise
intelligent people can be brainwashed by repeating the same lies over and over. WTF.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

This quote from the Reuters article on voter registration in Florida makes me despair, especially about the chances of taking Florida:
"Two weeks ago, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law. But because the law was in place for about a year, its impact was stark, especially among Democrats.
The Florida Times Union has said 11,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections."
The bastards.
I do wonder why a system couldn't have been put into place by Dems to offset the negative effects of the law - but it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

This passage from Brian McLaren's article is profound:
"Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.