The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States economy rebounded heartily in the spring after a dismal winter, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, growing at an annual rate of 4 percent from April through June and surpassing economists’ expecations. In its initial estimate for the second quarter, the government cited a major advance in inventories for private businesses, higher government spending at the state and local level and personal consumption spending as chief contributors to growth."

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war. The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for 'unjust enrichment' — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor."

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

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

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

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

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

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Off Times Square

 

This section is kaput. I will leave it up for several weeks or a month so you can retrieve any of your old comments you want to save for your posterity. See the Commentariat for additional information. -- Constant Weader

To return to the Constant Comments Home page, click here or on the navigation bar above.

Saturday
Jan072012

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.)

Friday
Jan062012

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.

Wednesday
Jan042012

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.

Monday
Jan022012

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.

Saturday
Dec312011

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.

Friday
Dec302011

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.)

Thursday
Dec292011

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?

Wednesday
Dec282011

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.

Monday
Dec262011

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.

Sunday
Dec252011

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.

Marie

Sunday
Dec252011

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:

Wednesday
Dec212011

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.