The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.


The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

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January 7 & 8 Open Thread

This is the last comments thread on Realty Chex Off Times Square.

"Willard Must Be Destroyed" -- Charles Pierce

Write what you will. I am busy packing my bags to move to New Hampshire where I will live free or die, a state where Republican voters may not only decide who will be the next POTUS, their locally-elected representatives are handily dispensing with all that unncessary folderol in the overly-progressive U.S. Constitution, to-wit:

** You Thought I Was Kidding When I Said The GOP Wants to Take Us Back to the Dark Ages. They're already back to 1215. That's close:

     Karen Langley & Matthew Spolar of the Concord Monitor: Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature plan to introduce a bill requiring all civil rights legislation to derive from the Magna Carta. You can't make this stuff up. Here's their whole bill:

All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived.

     The bill doesn't specify which version of the Magna Carta must be cited, so I guess there's some leeway. Here's the model -- directly from the Magna Carta, mind you, that women's rights legislation would have to follow: "No-one is to be taken or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of anyone save for the death of that woman’s husband." Bankers & the Anti-Defamation League will love this one from the 1297 (and more important) version of the charter: "If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age." BTW, -- much as they cherished it -- the Brits repealed most of the Magna Carta in the 19th century. In New Hampshire, the GOP is bringing it back!

Also, New Hampshire is an especially great place to be really rich, as one of my detractors (falsely) claimed I am:

Live Free or Die if You're a One Percenter. Center for Tax Justice: "Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s $6.6 trillion tax plan would give the richest one percent of New Hampshire residents an average tax cut of $125,900 which would be over 90 times as large as the average tax cut of $1,400 that the middle fifth of the state’s residents would receive. Former Senator Rick Santorum’s $9.4 trillion tax plan would give the richest one percent of NewHampshire residents an average tax cut of $219,570, which would be over 90 times as large as the average tax cut of $2,390 that the middle fifth of the state’s residents would receive." (File is a pdf.)


January 6, 2012 -- E.H.C.

On the Day of the Epiphany, I ended up posting quite a few links to stories in the Commentariat that reminded us that Elections Have Consequences, which is an epiphany I wish would dawn on some of our readers. Read these stories -- or at least the links (though Lithwick & Bernstein really are essential reading) -- and tell me if and why you still think voting for Republicans and/or third-party candidates is a good idea.

** Elections Have Consequences. Dahlia Lithwick in the Washington Monthly: "If you care about the future of abortion rights, stem cell research, worker protections, the death penalty, environmental regulation, torture, presidential power, warrantless surveillance, or any number of other issues, it’s worth recalling that the last stop on the answer to each of those matters will probably be before someone in a black robe. Republicans have understood that for decades now, and that’s why the federal bench — including the Supreme Court — is almost unrecognizable to Democrats today."

Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "... while corporate profits have rebounded to their pre-recession heights, setting a record in the third quarter of 2011, corporate tax revenue has yet to follow suit.... Corporate tax revenue has plummeted for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the growth of deductions, loopholes, and outright tax evasion that helps companies limit, or entirely eliminate, their income tax liability. 30 major corporations, in fact, paid no corporate income tax over the last three years, while making $160 billion in profits." CW: this story also falls in the "Elections Have Consequences" category. These companies aren't paying their fair share because Congress has decided they don't have to. Another good reason to support Sen. Bernie Sanders' Constitutional Amendment drive.

Elections Have Consequences. Brian Beutler of TPM: Mitt Romney's tax plan is a fucking disaster: "... the plan constitutes a major tax cut for wealthy Americans. But compared to today’s rates, Romney proposes effective tax increases for people making less than $40,000." Includes an interactive chart that shows the biggest break would be for those earning over a million a year, & the biggest tax increase would be for those earning less than $10,000 a year. And in case you're the last person in Amurrica who thinks Republicans care about the deficit, "The Romney plan would reduce federal tax revenues substantially."

Elections Have Consequences. If you think Mitt Romney will "move to the center" should he become president, as Nicholas Kristof argued in his wishful-thinking column yesterday (see my rebuttal of one aspect of it here), read Jonathan Bernstein's article in the Washington Monthly. Guess what? "Campaign promises set the presidential agenda, even when they don’t tell you which items will pan out and which won’t.... So as you listen to Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republicans..., don’t assume that it’s all meaningless, empty rhetoric that will be dropped once the campaign is over and governing begins. Don’t assume, either, that ... specific pledges made in the primary season will be left behind...." BTW, you can blame Steve Forbes for the deficit. (Read Bernstein to find out why.)

Write on this or something else. BTW, good discussions in the January 4-5 Not-GOP Thread.


January 4 and 5, 2012 -- Not-GOP

Let's see if we can get through the day talking about something other than Republican presidential candidates. But do let's talk. (And if you can't help yourself, feel free to break the rule of the day. We're mostly libruls here. We break rules.)

Update: My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' "Real America." The NYTX front page is here. The column is a slight cheat on today's rule in that Brooks mentions one of the GOP candidates, though he is not the star of the column. Also, the column includes a Very Important Point that our friend Kate Madison made....

... AND please consider making a contribution to NYTX, which is doing a very good job of keeping 'em honest over at the Times.

Update 2: We didn't get far yesterday, so let's keep on keepin' on. However, feel free to mention the GOP presidential contenders. I think I can stand it. How about you? Speaking of which ...

... My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Mitt Romney, the New York Times' favorite presidential candidate.


January 2 & 3 -- Iowa Predicitions

Okay, let's hear your predictions on which GOP presidential candidate will will the Iowa Caucuses. No, Iowa is not in the Caucasus Mountains. But it is extremely Caucasian.

Here is the Des Moines Register final poll to help you out: "The Des Moines Register’s latest Iowa Poll shows a surprise three-way match-up in contention to win the Iowa Republican caucuses: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum." Public Policy Polling results are here:

Ridiculous answers are acceptable, as always. Speaking of ridiculous answers, @Forrest Morris's intrepid investigative reporting on the New Year's Resolutions of seven of the candidates, published in the Weekend Thread, may be of help.

Update: John Cassidy of the New Yorker has some Handy Handicapping Hints that might be more Helpful than Morris's. ...

... AND here's the latest from the super-reliable Nate Silver.

Update 3: All the news is Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, so let's keep at it.


Weekend Open Thread -- When Two Days Seems Like Two Years

¡Felíz Año Nuevo!

                                           --- from a place not far from Cuba

Write what you will. Ridiculous New Year's resolutions would be welcome. Also, if you want the definitive inside scoop on Who Shot JFK, you will find the answer, and tantalizing details, in yesterday's thread....

     ... Update: also from yesterday's thread, do go to @Fred Drumlevitch's links to stories about (and in) The Realist. I'd never heard of The Realist, but it turns out to have been a big influence on all of our lives.


December 30 -- Conspiracy!

James Kirchick of The New Republic in a New York Times op-ed: "... there is one major aspect of [Ron Paul's] newsletters, no less disturbing than their racist content, that has always been present in Paul’s rhetoric, in every forum: a penchant for conspiracy theories.... Paul has frequently attacked the alleged New World Order that 'elitist' cabals, like the Trilateral Commission and the Rockefeller family, in conjunction with 'globalist' organizations, like the United Nations and the World Bank, wish to foist on Americans.... Paul has not just marinated in a stew of far-right paranoia; he is one of the chefs.... Ron Paul is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who regularly imputes the worst possible motives to the very government he wants to lead." ...

Ron Paul Isn't the Only Crazy Conspiracy Theorist Running for President:

Michele Bachmann is up against not only the other candidates, but up against President Obama, who has Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube in its back pocket. I believe that helped him win the last election. No president should have the monopoly of those companies in their back pocket. -- Jonathan, a radio talkshow caller ...

... I absolutely agree, Jonathan. We have seen, whether it is the head of Facebook or Google, it is clear there is an alliance with the Obama administration, as well as with NBC. -- Michele Bachmann

Update: Yippee! Another Bachmann Conspiracy Theory! John McCormick & Lisa Lerer of the Washington Post: "Michele Bachmann pressed her allegations that the former head of her Iowa presidential bid was bribed by the campaign of rival Ron Paul to endorse him, even as one of her own aides denied the charge. The aide who issued the denial later quit Bachmann’s campaign, the candidate said." Bachmann is a gift who keeps on giving.

I don't think it's fair that wingers get all the crazy conspiracy theories. Can you think of any for progressives? (BTW, Kirchick's op-ed is very good.)


December 29 -- Low-Information Voters

Sorry, I'm literally having technical difficulties this morning. My computer crashed and lost quite a bit of stuff. I'll get it back up when I get it back up. In the meantime, here's this thought:

Yesterday, @Marvin Schwalb raised an issue that has vexed me, too: what about the millions of Americans who are eligible to vote but don't? So here's a scenario:

It's late on a Thursday afternoon in September 2012. You have just come home from a trip to the local high school where you have been registering 18-year-olds to vote. You get out of your car, pick up the voter registration material -- including new, unused voter registration forms -- and notice your next-door neighbor working in his yard. He waves you over.

Your neighbor is a friendly guy, you like him, but you don't know him well. You've chatted with him over the year or so he's lived there about family, the weather, sporting events. So he asks what you've been up to and you tell him about your afternoon. "Really?" sez he. "Gee, I've never voted. My parents didn't vote either. Just not a family tradition. Besides, I don't follow the news. Never watch it. I barely know who's running for President much less Senator or mayor or whatever." (Nobody is running for mayor -- the mayoral elections are in April.)

Obviously, you have no idea how this guy will vote. There's no family tradition where he might be a "legacy" Democrat or Republican or independent. He's a complete know-nothing.

What do you do? Even if he registers, he probably won't vote. And if he votes, how will he choose candidates? He might vote for the side you don't like, and you care about who gets elected. Do you hand the guy one of those registration forms you're holding? Do you urge him to vote for your guy Joe Blow? Do you promise to take him to the polls?

Or do you decide an uninformed voter is a danger to democracy and switch the topic to the autumnal equinox?


December 28 -- American Caste

** Stephen Marche of Esquire: "... a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility.... In the United States, the emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it's the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine.... The majority of new college grads in the United States today are either unemployed or working jobs that don't require a degree. Roughly 85 percent of them moved back home in 2011, where they sit on an average debt of $27,200. The youth unemployment rate in general is 18.1 percent.... The Tea Partiers blame the government. The Occupiers blame the financial industry. Both are really mourning the arrival of a new social order, one not defined by opportunity but by preexisting structures of wealth." ...

... ** "Income Inequality Is a Symptom, Not the Disease." Charles Pierce on how Bill Clinton made you poor and the New York Times and University of Chicago say it isn't so.

Do read Charles Pierce's commentary; it's pretty good. Then add your own.


December 26 & 27 -- Why Vote?

Commenters and I are always writing about why it does/doesn't matter whether or not we vote Democratic, Republican or Neither of the Above. So please share with us at least one reason -- whether or not that "reason" will influence your own vote (its still a secret ballot, after all!) -- progressives should vote Democratic, Republican or neither.

Or write about something else.

Also, thanks again for your comments over the holidays.

Update: My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's column, which he titled "The Cratchit Tax Credit." I call it the "Ebenezer Scrooge Tax Break," and I explain why. I guess Douthat is one good reason to vote. Somebody has to cancel out his vote. I just took dibs (though I'll accept challenges from anyone who claims a higher right to be the anti-Douthat voter). God bless us, every one.


December 22 & Etc. (Con'd.)

I can't figure out how to re-enable comments on our continuing thread, so if you want to comment, you can do so here.

Happy Holiday, Everybody! And thank you to every one of you who has contributed here over the past six months. It's been a joy.



December 22 & Etc.

Here's a short post on celebrations of the Winter Solstice. And how will you be celebrating Yule?

Update: let's continue. Besides, I would not want readers to miss yesterday's responses, which were quite beautiful. It is not, however, necessary to try to match them or follow in the same vein. Whatever interests you will be fine.

BTW, my column for the New York Times eXaminer just went up. It's on Part 2 of Brooks' list of best magazine essays -- so the boxed set made in out in time for Christmas. I'd like to box Brooks' ears. Ho ho ho.

Update 2: okay, we've found a place where we all differ. I thought maybe this year, since a number of you had suggested some good Christmas songs, I'd also do a post on the good ones. I listened to several of your suggestions -- they would definitely have fit well into my Worst Songs scheme! There's no accounting for taste, especially in music. So here's one I like (and so do almost 36 million other people):

Then there's this from the 1998 Olympics. I was living in Italy at the time & I watched it live on a little 15" TV with lousy audio. It still gave me chills. As it does today:


December 21 -- Whatever

I'm at a loss. Help me out.

BTW, I'm looking forward to again creating my annual "Worst Christmas Songs Ever" special gift to humbuggers. If you have favorites of the genre, let me know. A link would be helpful.

Also, if you're still shopping, commenters made excellent suggestions yesterday for books for adults and children.

AND I agree with Robert Pear of the New York Times: this part of Tea Party Scrooginess has not gotten enough attention: ""More than three million people stand to lose unemployment insurance benefits in the near future because of an impasse in Congress over how to extend the aid and how to offset the cost. Jobless benefits have been overshadowed by debate on a payroll tax cut, but have become a huge sticking point in negotiations on a bill that deals with both issues. Republicans would continue aid for some of the unemployed, but would sharply reduce the maximum duration of benefits and impose strict new requirements on people seeking or receiving aid." Having to pay a little more in payroll taxes will work hardships on some families; others will hardly notice. BUT. Almost everyone on unemployment insurance needs those payments to survive. And GOP protests to the contrary, people who collect unemployment benefits are not slackers living a life of luxury on the public's dime. They are looking for work: active job-hunting is a condition of collecting the checks.