The Ledes

Sunday, August 30, 2015.

New York Times: "Iran’s judiciary sentenced two people to 10 years in prison on Sunday for spying for the United States and Israel, but their names were not released, local media reported. It was not clear if the Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian, who faces similar charges, was one of them."

New York Times: "Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,' using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 82." ...

... Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times: "Dr. Sacks ... was a polymath and an ardent humanist, and whether he was writing about his patients, or his love of chemistry or the power of music, he leapfrogged among disciplines, shedding light on the strange and wonderful interconnectedness of life — the connections between science and art, physiology and psychology, the beauty and economy of the natural world and the magic of the human imagination."

AP: "Los Angeles and the U.S. Olympic Committee have struck a deal that will make the city America's 2024 Olympic bidder pending approval by the city council next week. If the council approves the deal at a meeting Tuesday, the USOC will announce Los Angeles as its candidate, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press."

AP: "Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said that late on Friday the jets began attacking Isis targets across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President spoke about his upcoming trip to Alaska, during which he will view the effects of climate change firsthand. Alaskans are already living with the impact of climate change, with glaciers melting faster, and temperatures projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "Thai authorities arrested a foreign man Saturday they said had been holed up in a suburban apartment with bomb-making equipment and stacks of passports, the first possible breakthrough in the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine nearly two weeks ago."

New York Times: "An Egyptian judge on Saturday handed down unexpectedly harsh verdicts in the trial of three journalists from the Al Jazeera English news channel, sentencing them to at least three years in prison on charges that human rights advocates have repeatedly dismissed as political in nature. The journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, had said they were expecting to be exonerated or sentenced to time already served. Egyptian officials have strongly suggested they were eager to be rid of the case, which had become a source of international embarrassment for the government...."

Washington Post: "Tropical Storm Erika was losing its punch as it drenched Haiti and the Dominican Republic early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path, killing at least 20 people and leaving another 31 missing on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

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Saturday
Sep082012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "Stupid Stuff New York Times Columnists Wrote Today." It's a four-fer. The NYTX front page is here. Comments are open to all on NYTX.

Bob Woodward has a long piece in the Washington Post on the debt crisis, which is based on his new book. CW: Wimpiest wimp in the room (IMHO): Tim Geithner.

Adam Himmelsbach of the New York Times: "The N.F.L. has long fought the stigma of having a homophobic culture. Now, two pro football players have powerfully lent their support for same-sex marriage, taking a political figure to task in the process." Here's the full letter from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to Maryland sate delegate Emmett Burns (no relation, I swear). The last word is, appropriately, "Asshole."

Presidential Race

Bounce. Alina Selyukh of Reuters: "President Barack Obama ... widened his narrow lead over ... Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday. The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama ... with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney [47-43].... Obama increased his lead over Romney in certain favorable characteristics. Asked who was more 'eloquent,' 50 percent ... favored Obama, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Asked about being 'smart enough for the job,' 46 percent sided with Obama compared to 37 percent for Romney. In fact, Obama led Romney in a dozen such favorable characteristics, such as 'represents America' or 'has the right values.' The only such category in which Romney had an advantage was being 'a man of faith,' as 44 percent picked Romney...." ...

... Thud. Sam Wang of Princeton U.: on "the best glimpse we are going to get of the negative post-GOP-convention bounce. Basically, their convention appears to have helped Obama.... Why would the Republicans be hurt by their own convention? ... (1) The Ryan-VP bounce effectively used up whatever room there was for a bounce.... (2) The GOP convention was not particularly inspiring. Indeed, the most notable event was Clint Eastwood's empty-chair routine, which overshadowed Romney's acceptance speech." ...

... Nate Silver: "The question now is not whether Mr. Obama will get a bounce in the polls, but how substantial it will be."

The New York Times has a slideshow of B&W photos taken backstage at the Democratic convention.

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Kicking off a two-day bus tour through [Florida]..., the president told a rally [in Seminole] that Mitt Romney's running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, had proposed overhauling Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system that could mean higher costs for beneficiaries.... The president's advisers have indicated that they are eager to re-engage their opponents on their Medicare plan, while the Romney camp would prefer to talk about the economy.... Mr. Romney has sought to blunt Mr. Obama's Medicare offensive with attacks of his own, something Obama advisers appeared to await eagerly." ...

... Erik Wasson of The Hill: "At a St. Petersburg, Fla. rally, Obama noted that [Bill] Clinton 'made the case as only he can.... After he spoke, somebody sent out a tweet that said "you should appoint him 'secretary of explaining stuff.' ... I have to admit, it didn't say "stuff". I cleaned that up." CW: Akhilleus had some other suggestions for Cabinet positions in the September 7 Commentariat. ...

... President Obama cracks a birther joke.

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "In an interview with NBC’s 'Meet The Press' set to air on Sunday morning, Mitt Romney said former President Bill Clinton elevated the Democratic National Convention and suggested the contrast between Clinton and other convention speakers might have worked against President Obama.... David Gregory spoke with Romney over of two days this week, and also interviewed Ann Romney. It's the first time since 2009 that Mitt Romney has sat for an interview with the Sunday news program." See also Infotainment. ...

     ... CW: since the GOP convention was a comparative flop, I'm not so sure Romney is the best person to critique the Democratic convention. But then it's David Gregory asking the questions. I'll bet he came down really hard on Ann Romney, her husband's so-called "women's ambassador," for refusing to address women's health issues. Sample women's health question: "Lady Romney, is it true that a woman should always brush her hair a hundred strokes a day?" Answer: "Well, of course -- if she doesn't have a lady-in-waiting to do it for her. And, you know, David, I've been talking to thousands of women all across this country, and that's what they're telling me -- they're praying for me & they're worried that if Mitt isn't elected, they could lose their ladies-in-waiting. For women, the economy is the most important issue." ...

     ... Update: Mitt tells Greggers he can do simple arithmetic, but his answers are still secret. ...

     ... AND. Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Mitt Romney is slamming the 2011 deal that ended the protracted congressional fight to raise the debt limit -- a vote that his own vice presidential pick backed.... 'I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it.'" CW: Mitt's story is becoming, "I chose Paul Ryan as my running mate because I disagree with every one of his policy positions & every vote he cast in Congress." ...

... George Stephanopoulos: "Putting himself at odds with his GOP presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan this morning on 'This Week' refused to tell me that he would reject a hypothetical debt reduction deal -- composed of spending cuts and tax hikes by a ratio of ten to one - that Mitt Romney famously rejected during a presidential primary debate last year."

Willard Whitey Is at It Again. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... at a Saturday afternoon rally [in Virginia Beach, Virginia], Mr. Romney did not just recite the Pledge of Allegiance; he also metaphorically wrapped his stump speech in it, using each line of the pledge to attack President Obama." CW: Read the whole post. This is Romney (a) repeatedly lying about President Obama & (b) identifying him as "Not American." Yo, Dante Alighieri, time for a 10th circle of hell. I don't know about you, but Romney sure energizes me. ...

... That reminds me. Here's Steve Benen's 33rd weekly installment of "Mitt's Mendacity."

Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Paul Ryan said today the president has gone to 'great lengths' to make gas more expensive in this country." CW: this would be because it is always a good idea for an incumbent to raise gas prices right before an election. Probably the reason Obama caused Hurricane Isaac that shut down rigs in the Gulf & nearby refineries. He doesn't just control the National Weather Service; he controls the weather.

"Fair & Balanced" Fox "News" covers the conventions:

Missed this: Andrew Restuccia of Politico answered a question I had about the Democratic convention: "Where's Al Gore?"

Congressional Races

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is running an ad in which he features President Obama paying him a compliment. CW: It's an excellent spot; now I see why he's whupping Elizabeth Warren:

News Ledes

AP: "The U.S. government is selling more of its shares in insurer American International Group Inc., in a move that should decrease its holdings below a majority stake for the first time since the $182 billion bailout in 2008. The sale is the latest step to recoup taxpayer money spent on the largest bailout of the financial crisis."

AP: "Damaging storms that spawned tornadoes in New York City, darkened tens of thousands of homes in the Washington, D.C., area and flooded New England streets turned a normal day of rest into a day of cleaning up for many East Coast residents on Sunday. No serious injuries were reported when a twister hit a beachfront neighborhood Saturday on the edge of New York City and a second, stronger tornado followed moments later about 10 miles away. Residents got advance notice...."

AP: "Insurgents killed at least 44 people in a wave of attacks against Iraqi security forces on Sunday, gunning down soldiers at an army post and bombing police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs, officials said. The violence, which struck at least 11 cities and wounded nearly 240 people, highlighted militant attempts to sow havoc in the country and undermine the government."

Reader Comments (11)

After reading Steve Benen's latest piece I have to wonder if Romney knows he is lying or is he disconnected from reality?

September 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

He knows he's lying, Victoria; he just thinks it's OK because it's legal, which seems to be a common contemporary standard of right and wrong. Don't have time for a long comment on the matter, but it seems lying has become the soup de jour of political and business discourse. My sense is that lying is more common, expected and accepted than it was forty or fifty years ago. Perhaps because I took social obligations seriously as a child--fear of terrestrial and heavenly punishment likely had something to do with that-- inertia carried that same sense into my dotage, flavored with an appreciation of nuance I did not have as a child I'm sure, but still strong enough to dictate much of my behavior.

Why is it happening, if indeed it is? Lots of reasons, but I'll jot down three.

Generations of consumers inured to advertising. We expect the claims to be exaggerated. We know those who want to sell us something lie all the time. Everybody does it and we are used to it. It's standard practice, so common and so acceptable that when a pharmaceutical company lies about one of its products and actually kills dozens, even hundreds of people, no one is tried for murder...

Second, the media. No, not the weasel-y "fact checkers," though they are annoying enough. Rather the sheer volume of information, of print, speech, sight and sound presented to the public. It's such a morass that only those with a developed critical faculty can separate the value from the slag. Or those who know enough about the complexities of economics, let us say, or science, to know when they are being fed a story designed to coincide with the beliefs--try, "I'm a child of God and He will take care of me," something appealingly simple like that--that filters the din the media flings in their direction. Sometimes hearing only what we want to hear is self-protection.

Third, we have little social obligation to those we do not know, and those who don't know us and have no social contact with us can exert little social control on our behavior. A truism maybe, but even more true now in a country of more than 300 million disparate folks. Our size, our social arrangements and our geography all make it easy to lie and get away with it.

In a way this election might be thought of as a grand experiment in how much control we care to exert over lying and liars, despite all the above. I'm not sure which way I'd bet.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Re: the multitudinous and many faceted lies of the Rat.

For some time there has been a particular strain of Republicans (starting with the neo-cons ) who not only have no problem lying, they revel in it. Remember the Bush people declaring that they make their own reality? That meant that reality, ergo truth, was whatever they said it was. Furthermore, they were taught, by evil neo-con philosopher king Leo Strauss (from the execrable school of misery, miscalculation, and misanthropy, the University of Chicago--I just had a thought about what a different world it would be today if that school, or at least its worst offenders, Strauss and all his little acolytes and Milton Friedman and his band of babbling monetarists, had just disappeared from the map round about 1950 or so) that they were superior to all the rest of us and thus had no obligations of morality, ethics, or truth, since they were destined to be masters of the earth. Thus lying to achieve their ends was a noble (Strauss' word, believe it or not) enterprise.

We've all seen how that worked out. But even for those who are not native Straussians, the lying thing caught on big with the right. Embarrassing fact? Lie about it. Inconvenient truths? Rip whoever has the temerity to state them by lying about them and denying those truths. It's a get out of morality card. And after a while it becomes second nature. Just look at Captain Lying Jowls, Mitch McConnell. Not necessarily an ideologue, just an inveterate liar. He blows with whatever wind flaps his cheeks from the right. Which means you can tell that he's lying because his lips are moving.

But over and above that, The Rat has his Mormon faith which has some kind of weird rule that states that if you're doing it for god, it's okay to lie.

So, a perfect trifecta of why the Rat will say whatever he has to say in order to steal victory and seal the fate of hundreds of millions of 99 percenters.

Add to that Ken's reference to the many Americans who can't be bothered with the truth or who simply want "reality" to mirror their own version of it. Then, if you include the vast numbers of Americans who, either through virulent or hidden racism, or who just buy Republican racist lies at face value and would vote for a loaf of moldy bread before voting for a black man--especially one who hates America, is a fascist AND a socialist, comes from Kenya and isn't an American at all, worships Allah, and is himself a racist, then we've got real problems.

Folks, this isn't going to be at all easy. A supine press, congenital liars, racists and haters on all sides and billionaires who are gleefully, thanks to the Little Johnny and the Five Dwarfs, pouring tens of millions into the tanks of Rove and his assorted super pac killing machines.

I'd love to be extremely optimistic, but it's getting harder all the time. At this point I'm going to say that Obama will win. Mostly because seriously entertaining the opposite outcome would make me want to shoot myself.

P.S. If that isn't enough bad news for a Sunday morning, think about this. I did a quick check on Milton Friedman to find out the exact time period he was at Chicago. Here's a short list of the people and organizations he has profoundly influenced:

Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet (!), Bill Buckley, Alan Greenspan, David Friedman, the Cato Institute and......

BEN BERNANKE!


Happy Sunday!

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: Lying lower than a snake's belly; Great post, Ken, I have thought about lying for a while now and came to one of your conclusions; fifty years of being blasted by teevee telling me "how white my shirts can be". One of my simple thoughts is today's communication allows 'little lies' to snowball up into 'big truths'. When I watch Fox News (there's a gun pointed at my head) I notice quick sound bites of 'little lies' followed by a wrap-up 'big truth'.
The other thought I've had across my mind is "Swear to God" truth, so help me god. If you are going to lie through your fucking teeth; who better to back you up but GOD?
Finally there's "just the facts, madam" remember the cop show, I can't come up with the name, "Highway Patrol"? anyways the case is shut and the perp is doing hard time because the dicks got "just the facts". Now days it seems as if we want everything but the facts.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

OMG Maureen Dowd's snarky brother Kevin must have written today's commentary in the NYTimes (and they forgot to list his byline ) ...or else she's really pissed because either she didn't get to go on Air Force One with other journalists, or doesn't have the one-on-one access to Obama that she thinks is her due. Something sure is eating at her. This is the second Valley Girl snit in about a week.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Beautifully stated, Ken, and absolutely spot on analysis of society's growing lack of regard for truths of all kinds. As a child and into my teens, I resorted to lying to authoritarian parents to avoid punishments. As my conscience matured, I finally figured out that it was so much easier to just take my lumps than try to remember the lies. And now, to me, it's like the old saw, "There's nothing worse than a reformed drunk," only in my case a "reformed juvenile liar," that has made me so intolerant of people's loose association with reality and easily verifiable facts.

Some years ago when chat rooms were all the rage, I worked with a young woman who frequented them for fun and relaxation. One day she was recounting her experiences and mentioned something personal about her that I knew was untrue. I asked her how she could have said that to strangers and her reply, "Oh, everybody lies on the internet." I was incredulous and for the life of me could not understand why anyone would want to converse with people if you couldn't believe a damned thing they said.

An ex-husband to whom truth was the words he was speaking at the time rather than an actual accounting of events, a child who hasn't learned the teenage lessons of its mother, a drug addicted former daughter-in-law, and the endless barrage of prominent liars we are faced with on a daily basis in our current political climate, and I've become a real cynic

In a conversation with one of my sons a few days ago, he was telling me about a friend of his who, on the subject of Willard the Rat's finances, constantly replied, "You can't prove that," or "Well, it isn't illegal," to any of the points my son highlighted. All the instances mentioned were easily verifiable--some through Willard's own publicly admitted statements and others with just a few keystrokes, but that made no difference to the friend--he was steadfast in his delusions.

The chasm that divides the political sides of this country is so wide and ever broadening that I don't know how we can possibly bridge it. I know I never go to right-wing websites or Fox News to see what the "other" side is hearing/reading, and I can only assume that those of the other side of the chasm refuse to visit--let's just say the fabulously informative web site RealityChex for instance--sites where their preconceptions could be challenged. So without an impartial and truthful media, how does someone without the pure conviction of a Democrat or an evangelical get to the verifiable facts regarding issues?

And JJG, were you perhaps thinking of Dragnet and Sgt. Joe Friday who I seem to recall always politely asked for "just the facts, ma'am."

And finally to yesterday's comment from Mae Finch being a lurker because she felt "out of her depth," here, I must add that I, too, feel a great humility when I read the thoughts expressed by, what I believe to be, the most intelligent and well-reasoned commenters on any blog I've ever read (Charles Pierce's commenters are worth a read, also). Thanks for letting me participate.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

Take it back, Akhilleus. The 1950 cutoff presents a few problems, the whole school of economics and Wolfowitz and Chalabi make for a difficult rebuttal, but please consider.... Studs Terkel, Katherine Graham, Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag, Nichols & May, Paul Sills, Carl Sagan, Phillip Glass, Seymour Hirsh, Ab Mikva, Kurt Vonnegut and a bunch of Nobel winners in the sciences which I think includes Watson and Collins.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

I couldn't believe how pitiful and distorted was Maureen Dowd's column this week. It was as if she had a preconceived point she wanted to make and twisted the President's address in order to make it. Even third-grade logic would inform a person that Obama would not blame the electorate for any disappointments of the last four years. He's not going to denigrate us and then ask for our vote.
I am grateful for Marie's excellent takedown of this buffoon in today's Examiner. She went on to analyze the foolish column Bruni wrote about the convention; and Douthat's column which was predictably obtuse; she finished up with Friedman, at least his unintentionally hilarious opening.
The New York Times REALLY needs a better stable of columnists for political writing. The only one who is reliably good is Tim Egan.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Haley,

Good point. Okay, how about just certain individuals from Chicago?

(Add David Brooks to that list, btw)

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: I have just finished feeding the sled dogs on my way to the North Pole to interview S. Claus and I couldn't help but think about Marie's column in todays Ex. What is wrong with Ms. Dowd? I always took her as a gossip columnist but an interesting one. I read Obama's speech twice and got none of the emotions she got out of it. Here's how I would paraphrase his speech in a few sentences.
Thanks for you're support. We've carried a heavy load, heavier than most think. Most of the important things we've tried to do are works in progress. Progress has been slow because of the forces opposing our progress are powerful and non-compromising. Remember we are juggling more than one ball. We are out of one war; We got some sense of justice on 9.11 and I'm not afraid of pulling the trigger. Health, education, and the social net must be protected and promoted. We the people must unite against the idea that it is too late. Thanks again for your help. . So who has a better take on Obama's speech? Get Ms. Dowd a private chat with the President and a pony ride with the promise that if she's good; ice cream after.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

My brother, who is not always easy to talk to about politics, said he was going to vote for the Prez because BHO didn't wear magical underwear. Does this mean there's an underwear card yet to be played... and likely one that will give the evangelicals the collywobbles?

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer
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