The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

White House Live Video
February 10

2:10 pm ET: President Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly

2:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden participates in a discussion of the "cancer moonshot" (audio only)

4:25 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Hoogland Center for Arts in Springfield, Illinois

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Monday
Sep032012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 4, 2012

Presidential Race

You can watch the Democratic convention without annoying commentary on C-SPAN (online here). The convention schedule -- according to C-SPAN -- is here; it appears coverage begins at 5:00 pm ET & times for everything else (as listed at 2:00 pm ET) are TBA.

Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "On Tuesday, a group of more than 100 protesters shouting 'Obama is a traitor' temporarily shut down official bus service that ferries around delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The protesters, some of whom were lying down in the street, were surrounded by Charlotte police, who used their bicycles to build a barrier around the group."

NEW. Ben Pershing of the Washington Post: "Former congressman Virgil Goode Jr. has qualified for the presidential ballot in Virginia, the State Board of Elections ruled Tuesday, adding a potential obstacle to Republican Mitt Romney's hopes of winning the pivotal state. The state Republican party has already challenged the eligibility of Goode, who is the Constitution Party's nominee, and could still get him knocked off the ballot."

NEW. USA Today: "Reporter Dianne Derby [of KKTV-Colorado Springs] asked Obama, 'your party says you inherited a bad situation -- you've had three and a half years to fix it -- what grade would you give yourself so far for doing that?' Replied Obama: 'You know I would say incomplete … but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.'"

NEW. Michael Tomasky of Newsweek on the 5 GOP myths the Real Obama must shatter.

Looks as if Time is going to have a cover a day this week. Today's celebrates Michelle Obama, who will speak at the convention tonight. The accompanying story, by Michael Scherer is okay, too.

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: The First Lady will speak at the convention tonight. "Michelle Obama comes to the 2012 Democratic National Convention with a delicate task: helping her husband's campaign reach out to women, who are a vital part of his coalition, without veering too far into an increasingly polarized battle over women's issues." CW: if Mrs. Obama listened to Thompson & her "experts," she couldn't say anything more than "Good evening," "I love being a traditional stay-at-home Mom & the only reason I'm out tonight is to be with my husband Whatzizname," & "Good night & God bless America." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The revelation that as of Monday afternoon, [Bill] Clinton still hasn't finished writing his speech or submitted it for vetting by the campaign raised a new question: Could Clinton be the DNC's Clint Eastwood?" ...

... NEW. BUT David Maraniss, who has written biographies of both Bill Clinton & Barack Obama, sees Clinton as a "key asset" for Obama: "There is nothing formulaic about Clinton's presence at the Democratic National Convention this year. He is not just another old presidential war horse being trotted out for nostalgia or a staged show of unity. When Obama called in late July to say he would be grateful if his Democratic predecessor would give the speech placing his name in nomination, something that no former commander in chief has done before, it was an acknowledgment of how much the sitting president needs the former president. And Clinton, who loves to be needed as much as he needs to be loved, responded with an enthusiasm and diligence that served as yet another signal to people close to both men that an old wound has for the most part been healed."

Matt Miller of the Washington Post: "With no serious ideas to renew upward mobility, and a budget plan that perversely undermines it by slashing preschool and college aid for poor youths, the entire [Republican convention] pitch, on closer examination, seemed a hollow exercise in nostalgia. Unfortunately, the Democrats ... will do only marginally better.... Given President Obama's proposals, the outer limits of Democratic ambition are unequal to today's challenges."

Donna Cassata of the AP: "Democrats unveiled a party platform at their national convention Monday that echoes President Barack Obama's call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans while backing same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Delegates will vote Tuesday to adopt the platform that reflects the president's argument that his work is unfinished and he deserves another four years to complete the job." You can read the proposed platform here. CW: I read the parts that particularly interested me -- mush peppered with warmed-over platitudes. ...

... NEW. Matt Cooper of the New York Times: "The platform that the Democratic Party plans to approve Tuesday at its convention in Charlotte, N.C., offers a stark contrast to the platform that Republicans approved last week at their convention in Tampa, Fla., especially on social issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the future of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, and labor policy and taxes." Cooper looks "at some of the crucial differences."

[Republicans] have spent a lot of time creating a fictional Barack Obama who is supposedly taking the work out of welfare reform, or doesn't think small businesses built their own businesses. -- Barack Obama, in an interview with Susan Page of USA Today

NEW. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has a personal stake in the election: no matter how crazy Congressional Republicans get, if Obama is re-elected, ObamaCare will be implemented & Drum can get health insurance, something he wouldn't be eligible for otherwise because of pre-existing conditions.

Mark Felsenthal of Reuters: "President Barack Obama toured hurricane-stricken Louisiana on Monday and promised federal recovery help as he sought to show his administration was on top of the disaster response on the eve of his Democrats' national convention in North Carolina." ...

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "Mr. Obama's timing was decided in consultation with local officials, White House aides said, to avoid the presidential entourage getting in the way of the cleanup." ...

... Ben Feller & Kasie Hunt of the AP: "Prior to his visit to Louisiana, Obama's remarks about the storm have focused on what money and resources the federal government can marshal to help. Romney used his trip Friday to emphasize the need for charitable donations to help people recover. On the flight from Ohio, White House press secretary Jay Carney said natural disasters are 'apolitical,' but ... 'It is worth noting that last year there was an effort to underfund the money that's used to provide relief to Americans when they've been hit by disasters.... That effort was led by congressman Paul Ryan, who is now running to be vice president.'"

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama pointed to his bailout of the auto industry, which Mitt Romney opposed, as a major argument for his re-election over the Republican rival as he spent a fourth Labor Day with union workers in a swing state."

NEW. Sour Grapes. CNN: Florida Republicans are taking to the airwaves to hammer their state's former GOP governor for his speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, the Republican Party of Florida announced Tuesday. The group's ad features old news clips of former Gov. Charlie Crist proclaiming his conservative credentials, including praising President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, saying he was 'about as conservative as you can get.'" CW: no, he wasn't. Crist governed as a pretty moderate Republican. ...

... NEW. A little background on Crist from Tim Padgett of Time. I didn't know about "Chain Gang Charlie."

Republicans to Obama, "We can criticize you, but you can't answer." Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "At the same time that they've been pushing the 'are you better off?' question, Republicans have also opened up a personal, character-based attack on Obama: claiming he ducks responsibility for his own time in office by constantly blaming George W. Bush for everything. Got that? Obama is being asked to compare the economy now to what it was like before he took office -- but if he says anything bad about how things were four years ago, it's evidence of a character deficit."

Joe Biden has an answer for "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?":

... NEW. BUT Sheldon Alberts of The Hill: "Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in 'worse condition' now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance," according to a new Hill poll. CW: in a related AMA study, researchers found that 52 percent of likely voters suffer from severe memory loss and/or are ignorant as dirt (which I didn't realize was a medical term). ...

... NEW. Paul Krugman, Dean Baker & "The Fire Last Time" -- a better metaphor for "are you better off?" Here's Baker's post. ...

... NEW. Zack Beauchamp & Judd Legum of Think Progress post 10 headlines from September 2008 that answer the question. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week -- are Americans better off than they were four years ago -- the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: 'Absolutely.'" ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time has a longer answer. CW P.S. How come Plouffe, Axelrod & O'Malley are so flatfooted? It wasn't a hard question to answer. ...

... Ed Schultz has a history lesson, too:

After working for 4 years to keep the economy in the tank, Republicans plan to upstage the Democratic convention with Friday's economic reports, which they hope will be bad. These are real patriots, aren't they? In addition, as Greg Sargent reports, they will make Obama's jobs numbers look bad by saddling him with numbers attributable to Bush. (Of course Obama can't complain; he's not allowed to mention Bush -- see Jonathan Bernstein above.)

Steve Kornacki of Salon on why the GOP convention was a dud.

Reality Chex' First International Contest. Watching the few snippets of Paul Ryan's convention speech I could stomach, I was struck that Ryan reminded me of some high school kid I knew; I just couldn't remember who. This morning I realized it wasn't someone I knew, or even -- technically -- someone. Ryan reminded me of a 1950s-early '60s sitcom character. Be the first to guess who & win a year's free subscription to Reality Chex. ...

We've Got a Winner! Mushiba wins the grand prize in Reality Chex' First International Contest -- an incredibly prestigious award. For the answer, see Mushiba's response among today's excellent Comments. Update: Akhilleus made me tart up this prestigious award. All in all, when the subject is Paul Ryan, I guess tacky is appropriate.

NEW. Stephen Webster of the Raw Story: "A video released this weekend by action movie hero Chuck Norris claims that America faces '1,000 years of darkness' if President Barack Obama is reelected." Via Adam Sorensen of Time, who writes that Norris is "determined not to cede the role of action movie star saying crazy things about Obama."

Right Wing World

I'll admit I won't be reading these posts, but the headlines made me LOL:

     ... David Hill of the Washington Times: "Bedbugs an increasing concern at DNC hotels."

     ... John Fund of the National Review: "The crack hotels of the DNC." ...

         ... Jim Newell of Wonkette has a funny response to Fund's post. Frankly, I can't stop laughing at the thought of the prissy Fund getting stuck in a sleazy motel.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Major automakers reported Tuesday that sales grew 19.9 percent in August despite higher gas prices during the month. Analysts said the wide range of fuel-efficient models on the market, particularly new small cars from the Detroit automakers, had helped spur demand and accelerate the industry's recovery."

New York Times: "More than 100,000 Syrians fled their country last month, a sudden acceleration of the exodus prompted by 18 months of conflict, the United Nations said Tuesday."

AP: "A former Navy SEAL's insider account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden contains classified information, the Pentagon said Tuesday, and the admiral who heads the Naval Special Warfare Command said details in the book may provide enemies with dangerous insight into secretive U.S. operations.... At the Pentagon, press secretary George Little ... told reporters during a briefing that the Pentagon is still reviewing what legal options should be taken against the author."

Y!-Tech: "Just months after a half-million Yahoo! passwords, 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords, and 55,000 Twitter passwords were leaked, the hacktivists at AntiSec have found their next data goldmine: a stash of 12.4 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDID). According to the Anonymous-allied hackers, a list of 12.4 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDID) was found on an FBI agent's Dell notebook. Each UDID was associated with user names, device info, and in some cases, phone numbers, names, and addresses.... AntiSec leaked 1,000,001 of those UDIDs to bring light to the government's data collecting effort." ...

     ... Update: Gizmodo has some analysis.

Washington Post: "The United States is nearing an agreement with Egypt's new government to eliminate a significant portion of the $3.2 billion owed by the economically struggling nation, U.S. officials said Monday. The discussions are the first major negotiation between the Obama administration and Egypt's new democratically elected leaders."

Reader Comments (25)

The responses of the Obama team to the "are you better off?" question were pitiful. It's an easy answer: "Hell, yes."

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Is Clint Eastwood the epitome of the modern GOP? Cranky old white guy, made his living pretending to be a shoot 'em up hero in a fantasy world, rambling on to an imaginary person in an empty chair.
Or is he the most brilliant Democratic strategist, whose satire was perhaps just a tad too subtle?

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

I sent this letter to the editors of the Newark Star Ledger. Lets see if they have the guts to publish it.

'Your editorial, 'Ryan's Biggest Raids', is a correct assessment of the Republican plan for Medicaid and Medicare, 25 million more without proper healthcare. However you did not mention the real result of this plan, the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year.
So the Republicans have no problem killing people if it will get them one vote or one penny. That is the reality. I know it's ugly but it is the truth.
Tell me, what do we call it when someone deliberately removes the IV from an ill person?'

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

So let's talk about last night's Brooks, wherein he suggests three bold (his words) ideas for Obama's convention speech, which seemed to me far less helpful than a sure recipe for hari-kari.

I see the comment I sent to the Times last night is not yet posted, an electronic vacuity I don't like but am getting used to...so I avail myself of Reality Chex's generous white space.

"Re: your three ideas, Mr. Brooks. (which were for the President to talk about climate issues, the limitations of capitalism and to embrace Bowles-Simpson, taking BOLD positions on each)

The first two are total anathema to the nihilist party you often represent--you know, the one that would rather topple the temple than see it headed by a black priest-- and would thus meet them only with derision and the usual pack of massively well-funded lies. You know as well as anyone that capitalism is always good and should be worshiped every day of the week, and... What are you talking about? We have no climate problems. If we did, surely a candidate accepting his party's nomination for President wouldn't make light of them in his acceptance speech as the nihilist candidate just did.

As for Simpson-Bowles, the current President (the one who now occupies the chair) has already endorsed part of the suggested package, to my mind, even some of its worst parts, but had his offer roundly rejected by the nihilists who refuse to raise taxes even by a penny on any of those--corporate or individual (oh, that's right, they're the same)-- who have benefitted the most from this nation's largesse.

So...who are you really talking to here? Who are you trying to convince? The ones who want to preserve or those who wish to destroy the temple?"

Have to get my licks in while I'm still around because I plan to sit out one month of the election run-up far, far away, sans computer. It's a mental health thing and I'm looking forward to the self-prescribed treatment. In these dire times, it can't hurt.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

So, the "Me" Party is getting ready to trash the President on the jobs numbers, even before they are announced. You can bet that even if a relatively large number of jobs are added the Republicans will spin it as a negative. Never mind that they refused to support the stimulus, which added many jobs. Never mind that they caused a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating by threatening default....forget that even now they are quashing confidence in the economy and markets by threatening to walk us off a "fiscal cliff."
The closest metaphor to describe the nihilistic, obstructionist Republicans is the proverbial joke about the kid who killed his parents and complained about being an orphan.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Ken: Just finished reading Brooks and now your response which lightened my fury a wee bit. Asking why God put Obama on this earth, as Brooks does in his first sentence, set the tone for his whole piece of blarney. I cannot fathom what in heavens possessed him to write such a farcical fantasy––could it be that the music he hears in all those elevators that he mentions has affected his mode of operations, leaving him without anything worthy to say except for strains of "The Impossible Dream," "Over the Rainbow," and "Climb every Mountain," milling around in his mind. Poor Brooks––drunk on medleys, devoid of sober sagacity.

@ Marie: I'm thinking, I'm thinking! I, too, said he reminded me of a high school debater, but your challenge is intriguing. Don't keep us guessing too long––plez~~~~~~~~~

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie, my entry in the Reality Chex' First International Contest is Eddie Haskell, of Leave it to Beaver.

From Wikipedia: He (Eddie) was known for his neat grooming - hiding his shallow and sneaky character. Typically, Eddie would greet his friends' parents with overdone good manners and often a compliment such as, "That's a lovely dress you're wearing, Mrs. Cleaver." However, when no parents were around, Eddie was always up to no good - either conniving with his friends, or picking on Wally's younger brother Beaver. Eddie's two-faced style was also typified by his efforts to curry favor by trying to talk to adults at the level he thought they would respect, such as referring to their children as Theodore (Beaver's much-disliked given name) and Wallace, even though the parents called them Beaver and Wally. . . . A weaselly wise guy, Eddie could be relied upon to connive and instigate schemes with his friends . . ."

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Don't know if Reality Chex ever posted this link. My daughter-in-law recently sent it to me as a followup to an article I wrote for an an on-line AFL-CIO newspaper a few months back. I liked what I wrote, titled "Bainfocals", but Matt Taibbi did a better and much lengthier job. Even at its length, it's worth the read.


http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Gloria,

An interesting idea about Eastwood.

His appearance at the recently concluded Orgy crystallizes an essential aspect of right-wingers: mistaking fantasy for the real world. Theirs is the kind of magical thinking that hoists made up fairyland heroes whose exploits, like Ryan's imaginary marathon times, are no more real than the fictional characters in a Louis L'Amour novel or a Hollywood movie.

They confuse tough talk and braggadocio for an ability to achieve great and important things in the real world. Thus, they believed that with their Special Surprise Guest, they were going to get Dirty Harry, no nonsense All-American killer who offs the bad guys and tells namby-pamby liberals to "fuck off". Instead they get Clinton Eastwood, Jr. an actor/director/producer of numerous successful and popular entertainments.

But this decision also exposes their chronic lack of critical thinking. Have they not been paying attention to Eastwood's films over the last 40 years or so? He left the Man With No Name a long time back. His films are not John Wayne type "America, love it or leave it" screeds. They tend towards a middle ground of uncertainty and nuance and respect for the depth of human emotion and connection. Anyone watching Outlaw Josey Wales would not find a typical Republican hater of outcasts and the "other". Anyone watching Million Dollar Baby couldn't miss Eastwood's character's fatherly connection to and love for the boxer he decides to train and to look after. And when she is severely injured, he demonstrates his devotion to her by acceding to her request for him to let her go. Anyone remember the last time Republicans thought euthanasia was a good idea? And there are many more examples of these kinds of subtle, gray area explorations in his work.

Clearly, as usual, the Republicans didn't do their homework, going instead, for a kind of Georgie Bush "gut feeling". Because that always works so well.

And Eastwood himself is no John Wayne. He put his money where his mouth was. He ran for mayor and was pretty good at it. Granted it wasn't mayor of Newark or some embattled inner city, but still he did it. Okay, so he's voting for Romney. Great. Everyone gets to vote for whomever they want (at least so far). But as a political polemicist, he leaves a lot to be desired. It was a weird, out of body experience which, if anything, made me feel bad for the old guy. He stuttered and started and stopped (and didn't you love the look of stunned shock on Lady Ann's face as this farce went on and on and on?).

So instead of Dirty Harry shooting up treasonous liberals, they got a real guy. An 82 year old man who is much better on a set with a script and a crew creating fictional texts than he is at off the cuff political stand up comedy.

We all have our limitations. That's at least one of his.

The Republicans? Theirs is much more dangerous. Belief in magic and fantasy does not guarantee one of the better bridges to good government. But time and again, despite the dismal real world outcomes of their delusional fancies, they keep on keepin' on.

Our problem is that they are not alone. Plenty of voters have been taken in by the right-wing apparitions that, if they buy them wholesale, will turn out to be more nightmare than dream.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Okey dokey-

I am making my guess about Paulie Ryan. He looks exactly like David Nelson, the older son in the Ozzie and Harriet series. Same kind of direct, blue-eyed stare and self-righteous expression. He couldn't possibly be Ricky Nelson, because he is not bratty or interesting.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I'm stymied here recalling 50's/60's sitcoms. We didn't get our black & white set until the late 50's. All I remember is "Rocky (Bullwinkle) & Friends", so sans the the mustache...I'm proposing wicked, sneaky Boris.

Oops! See that Mushiba won already! David Nelson? Yeah I get the attitude thing.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Marie,

I am awe struck at winning this incredibly prestigious award! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I would like to thank The Almighty Google for the guidance and strength it gave me to do a most laborious search for 50s sitcoms and narrowing down that search to my two contenders, David Nelson (yes, @Kate Madison) and Eddie Haskell.

Critical thinking skills, determining the facts, you say . . . @Akhilleus, "But this decision also exposes their (RNC) chronic lack of critical thinking" (to select Clint Eastwood).

However, I also remember watching Leave it to Beaver (originally and not the reruns) and thinking that Eddie was such a suck up.

Finally, my greatest gift is a year's free subscription to Reality Chex ~ this will make my journey to November 6 easier even though I will still bay at the moon and run around screaming, "Remember the Supremes."

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Congrats Mushiba, I'd nearly forgotten Eddie Haskell, truly the epitome of slime ball in the Cleaver world. The Wikipedia description fits Ryan like a glove.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

I see the Republicans are setting up a TV studio in Charlotte so they can provide helpful commentary during the DNC, seeing as they took their chance and tossed it into a backed up toilet in some public men's room inhabited by gay right-wingers trying to hide their un-biblical lust.

Just imagine the howls if Democrats had done this to them. But here's the idea. Can't you just see it now? The President takes the podium and says "My plan is to ensure healthcare for all Americans and to support the rights of same-sex couples as full-fledged citizens of this country, and to make sure that children brought to this country by immigrant parents have a chance to make a life for themselves in America and add to the common good of all of us."

Cut to GOP TV.

"And now, Newt Gingrich will translate those lies."

"Thank you Sean, and for all of you real Americans, good, white, Christians, who don't understand Swahili or whatever the hell they speak in Kenya, some damn Muslim gibberish, no doubt, here's what president Nee-groe Osama just said:

He wants to steal your God given rights, given to you by God Almighty, and take your money and give it to inner city people (you know who I mean) and then he wants to spit in the eye of God by allowing HO-MO-SEX-U-Als and other filthy perverts to get MARRIED--just like you! Finally, he's going to run you out of your non-segregated neighborhoods by allowing illegal immigrants to take your homes and your jobs. Then he's going to issue a presidential decree emptying your bank accounts and giving all your money to foreign brown people who are mostly murderers and drug lords and whose mothers and sisters are mostly prostitutes."

"Well, thank you Newt for that very revealing and true account of what Osama is trying to pull off here this week. Next up: Sarah Palin on responsibility in governing. Stay tuned, lots more from Charlotte."

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Mushiba,

My congrats too.

I can just see Ryan doing his Eddie Haskell routine, smarmy smile and all, "Why thank you Mrs. Cleaver, and may I say you look lovely today."

My impression as a kid watching Eddie, and my impression today watching Ryan is pretty much the same.

Fuck off, weasel.

P.S. Does this award come with a trophy? A giant golden Reality Chex disco ball to hang in your living room? See if you can find one of those crazy 1960s rotating colored christmas tree lights to illuminate your prize! Green with envy here.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oh-h-h-h, Marie, I have been so stunned ~ and honored ~ that I won your contest that it did not occur to me there might be a trophy. Is there, is there?? Akhilleus idea sounds perfect because a golden disco ball can represent the 'times past' agenda of the R/Rs and their sycophant followers ~ and, if it is a Reality Chex golden ball, it can be a symbol of mocking their course of action.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

First things first.

Marie, love the disco ball. Mushiba can display it proudly!

Okay now back to something I meant to bring up earlier before I got sidetracked by Dirty Harry.

This morning on NPR there was a mention of tonight's keynote speaker, Julian Castro, mayor of San Antone. Already the droolers are out trying to kidney punch him. Before he even opens his mouth. So NPR interviews some mucky-muck, high grand dragon of some Texas Teabagger army. This guy, who has never met Castro, states that Castro is just like Obama because they both were indoctrinated at an early age by radicals. We all know the fantasy bullshit they sling about the president, but I didn't know very much about Castro whose mother, Rosie Castro, was an indefatigable worker for Latino voting rights starting in the 70s. She decided that the best way for her community to become players in America was to organize and coordinate voting registration drives. She belonged for a time to a group called La Raza Unida which did exactly that. The group organized Latino groups and tried to work within the system to give their community a bigger voice in housing, education, and public policy.

This, to Teabaggers, is radical.

Trying to use peaceful, lawful, political organization to encourage members of their community to become more educated and engaged in the public forum is RADICAL to Republicans, especially if these people are black (Obama) or Hispanic (the Castros).

These people are the height of fucking infamy.

Oh, by the way, unlike Republican "self-starters" (Ann Romney, Carly Fiorina) who have found some success, Rosie Castro now sits on a board. But not the board of IBM or the Carlyle Group, or some bank or corporation. She works for public housing in San Antonio.

Guess that's a radical move too. These non-whites, whaddaya gonna do? Deport 'em all. Or maybe, as the Rat suggests, they'll self-deport.

As I say, I don't know a lot about the Castros (yet), but I hope Mayor Castro's keynote makes Chunky Christie's self serving pap come off like the 8th grade, half-assed, lie-riddled, dog-eaten homework it sounded like.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Apparently Repugs are doubling down on the $716 billion cuts to Medicare lie. The Dems should not be struggling so hard to answer this. How about summarizing it thus: we are cutting overpayments to providers by eliminating waste and fraud over a ten year period.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I wonder how many of the Occupy protesters in Charlotte are Rove plants. Either that, or they're just stupid.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I have to point all of you exceptional people out here to Charlie Pierce's riff on what Democrats SHOULD be talking about at the Convention of People Who Look And Sound Like Real Americans currently going on in North Carolina. His essential point is that the Party of Pig People are inordinately concerned with electing Jeff Davis who will help to permanently rid them of "coloreds" and others whose antebellum authenticity as "real Americans" was nil, ergo the deluge (my word of the day) of voter suppression scams.

These people are inches away from demanding a reinstatement of runaway slave laws.

Don't think for an instant that Willard the Rat wouldn't sign them with great pomp.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Thank you, Marie, I LOVE the Disco Ball and will display it proudly!!!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Mushiba---Disco Balls are only for the Gay Community, 'cause
disco was outlawed by straights about 20 years ago. I have a small
one over the dining room table, but if yours is a large one from
Marie, I would like to bid on it. What say?

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Akhilleus, I realise Eastwood has evolved nuance over the past 40 years - partly why I thought he was a Democratic plant. But after the feckless responses to the RNC convention I realised that the only smart Democratic strategist out there is James Carville's daughter.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

@forrest morris, while I understand your desire to bid on my disco ball because it is, indeed, a treasure, there are three reasons why I am not accepting bids: 1) This is a trophy from Marie and Reality Chex for winning an incredibly prestigious award so no price can be placed on it; 2) Akhilleus did a fine job in forcing Marie to 'tart up' (in her words) so I am most respectful of their efforts; and, 3) My same gender oriented friends would be upset with me because they have first dibs on borrowing it.

Thank you, though, for your interest ~ long live the spirit of disco!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Re: "You were a little hard on the beaver last night,Ward" What fifty years brings. Everybody knew Eddie was a little shit fifty years ago. Today he would be held up as a fine example of American exceptionalism.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG
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