The Ledes

Sunday, September 21, 2014.

New York Times: "Afghanistan’s election commission on Sunday pronounced Ashraf Ghani the winner of the country’s presidential election, but it withheld an announcement of the total votes won, despite an exhaustive and costly audit process overseen by the United Nations and financed by the American government. The suppression of the vote totals was apparently the final step necessary for the two presidential candidates to sign an American-brokered agreement to form a power-sharing government, giving the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, substantial powers in what is, in effect, the post of prime minister."

New York Times: "NASA’s latest Mars spacecraft, Maven, arrives Sunday evening to study the mystery of what happened to the planet’s air. A 33-minute engine firing, beginning at 9:37 p.m. Eastern time, will put Maven in orbit around the planet. Acknowledgment will reach mission controllers 12 1/2 minutes later, the time it takes for a radio signal to travel to Earth from Mars. NASA’s website will provide a live broadcast beginning at 9:30 p.m."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL":

The Ledes

Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Guardian: "The United States has quietly released 14 Pakistani citizens from military detention in Afghanistan, where the US holds its most secret cohort of detainees in its war on terrorism. The US military transferred the 14 to Pakistani government custody on Saturday. It did not publicize the release, as is typical with releases from the detention center on the outskirts of Bagram Airfield which is known formally as the Detention Facility in Parwan. A Pakistani human rights group instead announced the transfer and said it was the largest number of Pakistanis the US has thus far released."

New York Times: "Polly Bergen, an actress, singer and businesswoman who won an Emmy in 1957 for her portrayal of the alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan and was nominated for another 50 years later for her role on the television show 'Desperate Housewives,' died on Saturday at her home in Southbury, Conn. She was 84."

New York Times: "The two candidates for president of Afghanistan have agreed on a power-sharing deal that will give the losing candidate substantial influence in the next government, initialing the American-brokered deal Saturday night and promising to sign it at a formal ceremony on Sunday. The deal promised an end at last to the tumultuous, five-month-long aftermath of the Afghan presidential elections, although previous settlements have repeatedly collapsed at the last minute despite the candidates’ promises."

New York Times: "A Texas man who scaled the White House fence made it through the North Portico doors on Friday night before being apprehended, the Secret Service said. The intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, was arrested just inside the doors and taken to George Washington University Hospital after complaining of chest pains, said Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman. None of the Obamas were home when the security breach occurred about 7:20 p.m., but White House staff members were evacuated as a precaution, officials said. President Obama and his daughters had left for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., just minutes before the incident." ...

     ... New Lede: "The Secret Service will conduct an internal review of its security procedures around the White House after a man who jumped the fence Friday night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue managed to make his way through the front door of President Obama’s home before being stopped, officials said Saturday." ...

     ... ** Washington Post UPDATE: "Within seconds, the man who relatives said served as a sniper in the Iraq War got to the front double doors of the North Portico, turned the brass knob and stepped inside the vestibule. There he was grabbed and subdued by an officer standing post inside the door. He was carrying a folding knife with a 2-1/2 inch serrated blade." ...

... Fox "News": "A New Jersey man was arrested Saturday outside the White House after driving up to a gate and refusing to leave, less than 24 hours after another man jumped the fence and got inside the presidential mansion before being arrested, which has resulted in increased security and a “comprehensive internal review,” according to the Secret Service."

New York Times: "Forty-nine Turkish hostages who had been held for months in Iraq by Islamic State militants were returned to Turkey on Saturday after what Turkey said was a covert operation led by its intelligence agency. The hostages, including diplomats and their families, had been seized in June from the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul." ...

     ... Too Good to Be True? AP UPDATE: "Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world's most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo. But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital's airport, experts had doubts about the government's story."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 19

10:00 am ET: Annoucement of Department of Defense awards on biofuel production

10:15 am ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden host a White House event to launch the "It's on Us" campaign

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Friday
May172013

The Short Life of Umbrella-Gate

An Investigative Report

President Obama & PM Erdogan of Turkey at a joint presser Thursday.

Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas. -- Sarah Palin

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post elaborates on conservative outrage over President Obama's elitist, unamerican activity. (The true challenge of the conservative life is that one must exist in a perpetual state of outrage. It seems likely that the only reason liberals are liberals is that they are too lazy & irresponsible to live in a constant cloud of fury and existential indignation.)

Hawaii, Birthplace of Umbrella-Gate. Not surprisingly, then-Vice President Richard Nixon began the tradition of having retainers hold the umbrellas of Presidents & presidential hopefuls. Nixon began this practice in Hawaii, of all places, a year before President Obama was allegedly born there. The obvious similarities between the Nixon & Obama scandals are stunning & incontrovertible:

Update. Contributor Dan Sheerin adds this excellent image of President Gerald Ford one-upping the guy who handed him the top job. Ford's umbrella-holding serviceman is Lt. Col. Robert Blake, a military aide with a chestful of medals. AND, as Sheerin points out, you can purchase the photo on ebay. Buy It Now for $23.88! Like Obama, Ford was hosting foreign dignitaries, among them West German President Walter Scheel. Unlike Obama, who called for the umbrellas specifically for the benefit of PM Erdogan, Ford did not bother to protect his distinguished guests from the rain. A shocking diplomatic catastrophe made all the more curious by Scheel's apparent indifference (he's smiling in the photo) to the affront. Not to mention, Col. Blake, the Umbrella Man, looks pretty content, too.

President & Mrs. Reagan greet guests while scandalously standing under an umbrella which a retainer holds:

Carrying on the grotesque tradition which Nixon & the Reagans firmly established, Reagan's successor George H. W. Bush stands beneath an umbrella held by a marine. Note how the marine has to hold his arm WAY UP because the upper-crusty Bush has placed himself on a pedestal. Not surprisingly, Bush lost his re-election bid. Later, combat veteran Sgt. Randolph C. Bumbershoot told reporters that holding an umbrella for a tall guy standing on a pedestal was the most difficult mission of his military career.

     Update: Commenter DTA1401 has assumed that Marine means "U.S. Marine." As s/he says, "those are not American military uniforms." I think Sgt. Bumbershoot is a Maltese Marine.

Campaigning in 2008, Palin's hapless running-mate John McCain stands under an umbrella which an aide is holding:

When asked why he couldn't hold his own umbrella, McCain apologized, explaining he has difficulty raising his arms as the result of injuries sustained while in captivity during the Vietnam War. But his real reason was likely a fear of looking like this:

Update. Commenter American Vet -- one of those perpetual-state-of-outrage people -- observes, "Not one picture you posted, shows any American Military Personnel holding an umbrella for any leader. Investigative report indeed, big difference." Howz this? The man to the left of Bush Pere appears to me to be an "American Military Person" as does the man to the right of Bush Fils. Each of these apparent American Military Personnel is holding an umbrella for the President. (Note also that the populist Democratic president appearing in photo with Bush I is holding his own umbrella, & perhaps coincidentally, looks like the happiest guy in the crowd):

OOPS! Palin herself is not like "most Americans" who "hold their own umbrellas":

Ever:

-30-

References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
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Reader Comments (17)

Those are not US Marines in the picture of George H. W. Bush under the umbrella being held by men in uniform. Those are not American military uniforms of any kind, and US servicemen do not salute like that. The picture was obviously taken in a foreign country.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTA1401

Well, well, well––wouldn't you know, the God's Own Party smarty Palin person, the one who has always been the wettest behind the ears says ya gotta carry your own umbrella just like a regular fella even though you are POTUS or a head of state–––BUT wait! Our very own intrepid Constant Weader has dug up a few photos that belie Miss Grizzly Bear's assertion ( on her asparagus, I imagine). The irony these days never tires of showing itself, does it?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@DT1401: You are correct that they're not US Marines. Also note the salute with palm facing out. American service personnel salute with the palm down. The narrative never said US Marines, though. Sgt Bumbershoot clarified the matter.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

Not one picture you posted, shows any American Military Personnel holding an umbrella for any leader. Investigative report indeed, big difference.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmerican Vet

Perhaps Obama should have run over and held PM Erdogan's umbrella. Yeah, black guying holding the umbrella, sounds about right to me.

Marie great observation that Republican = outrage 24/7.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

@American Vet. Point taken (although this was not Palin's point). See update.

And for those of you inclined to take me literally, even on a ridiculous subject, let me just say that I have no problem with the POTUS seeking shelter under an umbrella which another person is holding, particularly while conducting public functions. The "dignity of the office" & all.

In the case of Obama's calling for umbrellas, he did so during a joint presser with a foreign leader. To have left the prime minister of Turkey out in the rain would have been a diplomatic embarrassment, & to have asked for an umbrella for Erdogan but not for himself would have been just as bad, suggesting Erdogan was a wimp but he wasn't.

Palin's tweet was stupid on every level.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

This report seems a bit incomplete, the product perhaps of typically lazy librul internet delving.

I would like to know who was holding the umbrellas ready to hand before the indolent, meanie President inflicted such horrid indignity on soldiers, whose limbs as we all know are trained, designed and intended to heft only weapons, via a kind of inverse Hippocratic Oath, to do only harm. Who were those umbrellas intended to embarrass? The President? The Marines? You and me? The entire country? Who looked at the forecast, anticipated the opportunity and provided the materiel to make yet another explosive scandal possible?

Now there was the evil genius I'd like to uncloak. Was there a grinning Cheney standing just offstage out of camera range? My suspicions are aroused.

I could research the matter a bit more, but as a librul, I'm far too lazy.

Have a great weekend, all.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@American Vet; no disrespect, Sir. The following quote is from US Marine Colonel David E. Lownds about his orders to hold Khe Sanh in 1968; "Marines have one funny habit- they do what the hell they're told." The President is Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces. When he says, "Jump" on the way up a US Marine says "Sir, How high? Sir" Again, no disrespect, Sir The President didn't want to get wet. Where the hell was the meteorologist; is my question. Probably Air Force.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

How and why is this a problem? How does the holding of an umbrella for the Commander in Chief become a scandal?

Seriously? This is a problem?

Lou Dobbs, who, like so many other whining chicken hawks, spent zero days in uniform, deems it an outrage that the president ask a Marine to hold an umbrella, seems to be one and the same with so many others who find this situation unacceptable. Why then, did they, or any of the multitude of critics and haters, find it completely acceptable that Army Green Berets held umbrellas over the heads of both Bush 41 and Bush 42. Army Special Forces personnel are somehow less deserving of the kind of "respect" that a request for holding an umbrella over the head of their Commander in Chief might suggest?

And why is it an outrage to ask military personnel to accept this task but okay for civilians or military personnel from other countries? And why is it such an outrage to ask a member of the American Military to perform this task for their Commander in chief? It's not like he's demanding that they mow his lawn or walk the frickin' dog.

This is nothing but another made up scandal by the right and all those who hate this president, whether for his party affiliation, skin color, or both. And THAT is the true scandal here.

I have never in my life heard anything so ridiculous as these caterwauling babies crying about how Obama "disrespects" the military because they had to hold an umbrella. Are you freakin' kidding me???

You want to talk about disrespect? How about a president who deserted in time of war and then primps and prances about in a flight suit when declaring that the war he lied to start has been finished (we won't mention that that war is still going on a decade after that disgraceful, mendacious, insulting, and eminently disrespectful action).

So anyone who is up in arms about this had better be ready to explain why it was okay for plenty of former presidents to request such assistance but not for this one, because if they can't, that is the real disgrace.

And those who suggest that the president should have demanded that Secret Service agents hold umbrellas at the expense of their actual jobs are either completely bereft of rationality or simply stupid.

This is nothing but Obama Hatred and I'll be thrilled to debate anyone who thinks differently. What's next? OUTRAGE because the president doesn't drive his own car or drop off his own dry cleaning?

Ridiculous.

None of these people would dared have complained about this had it been Saint Ronald of Reagan or Deserter Bush.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oops, sorry, I meant Bush 43.

And Marie, thanks for your investigative report.

It answers all the questions and rebuts the ridiculous and stupid, stupid, stupid questions surrounding this non-scandalous scandal.

Is this really all we have to worry about?

If that were the case, the problems of the country, the hemisphere, the world, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, would all be put to bed, neatly.

Oh, wait, you mean that hasn't happened??

Shit, we better be more concerned with freakin' umbrellas from here on out.

What kind of "investigation" would suffice? I'd love to know. Would it be one that confirms the outrage of the haters?

Yeah, probably. That might do it.

Black, Mooslim, Kenyan, Democratic president dares to ask Marine to hold an umbrella, which becomes a scandal even though white presidents have been doing this thing for decades.

Whooooooo.....seems pretty fucking scandalous to me.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The army personal had an umbrella and the president HAD to ask him to hold it for him when it started raining?
pff. only in murricca

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I kinda like this as a scandal marginally intelligent citizens can jump on. Provides humor; keeps them occupied.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@American Vet: That most certainly is a US Marine holding the umbrella for the Commander in Chief. The people who said the Army personnel holding the umbrellas for Bush pere are Green Berets, They're not, The beret was the standard Army headgear at the time. If you look closely, the berets are black, not green.

Honestly, I saw more mature behavior in Junior High than the current crop of Republicans.

.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

@anonymous. Catchy name. Clearly you're not following the thread.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@James Singer. I would wholeheartedly agree with you but for the racial animus that surrounds this ludicrous "issue." Looking for pix, I trolled a few Websites where the mouthbreathers comment, & many have projected their own racial hatred onto Obama: thus, in their twisted little minds, Obama only asked for umbrellas because he wanted to humiliate white Marines & make them look like lawn jockeys on the black man's turf. The lowlifes are alive & well on the Internets.

There's a whiff of racism in Palin's criticism, though I'd put most of it down to her rampant case of sociopathy: it's okay when I do it but not when Obama does it, even if I do it routinely & Obama does it at official events.

When Palin acknowledges that the Bushes & other presidents didn't always hold their own umbrellas at official functions, I'll take back my whiff-of-racism charge. In any event, she owes the President another apology.

Some commenters complained that it was atrocious Obama made a Marine hold an umbrella for a "foreigner." Wait till they find out the "foreigner" is a Mooslim, something they can't tell because Erdogan wears Western suits & presumably did not show up at the White House gate astride a camel, which are likely scarce in Turkey.

Marie

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@Marie: One of my ex-wives, a Turk, will attest to the fact that there are no free-ranging camels in Turkei.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Also this one of President Ford ... and it's even for sale! http://www.ebay.com/itm/1975-Presidential-Umbrella-Lt-Col-Robert-Blake-President-Ford-Press-Photo-/200764318807

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan Sheerin

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