The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America." -- CW 

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody." -- CW 

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings." -- CW 

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

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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.

Reader Comments (7)

The game is blame. Blame Wall Street, blame the government, blame the poor, blame the rich, blame everyone except yourself. We have come to this point for two reasons. First is the fact that for some, greed is everything. It is not only money but their proof of how wonderful they are. For the rest, its the fact that it is so much more fun to blame others than to stand up and except responsibility.
In the last 30 years, voter turnout in national elections is typically about 52-53%. In off years it is 36-37%.
There is connection between yesterdays comments issue and today. We believe that democracy is free. Not free of money but free of effort and responsibility. And the first responsibility is to learn the facts. But not in America. We are the land of the Kardashians. We don't teach our children the facts, we hide behind religion. We don't read the news, we listen to Fox. It is so much more fun and so much easier to blame others. America is doomed. The culture is the culture of blame.

P.S. Here is my request to my fellow citizens. As a start, how about responding to JFK's request and pick up your ass on Nov. 6, 2012 and act like the citizen in a democracy.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Sorry. This has nothing to do with the serious stuff. I was just reading another Iowa poll story (I'm reluctant to call it a report) that proclaimed while Romney was barely ahead of Paul, Santorum was surging. I jumped up on my chair and shouted "And the winner is Feedlebaum!" My sister thought I'd lost it. Maybe I have.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@Marie Burns: Thanks for calling attention to Stephen Marche’s Esquire article on the decline of American social mobility and its effects.

@(all): While I agree in general with Marvin Schwalb's point that the bulk of Americans share blame for our political situation via inadequate engagement with the democratic process, including voting and taking the initiative to becoming well-informed citizens, such failure must be evaluated in its context.

With regard to information acquisition, the average American is pure rube, with an inherent bias in favor of "impression", and little or no formal training in evaluation of information for veracity or logical consistency. Pitted against him (or her) is a sophisticated machinery of disinformation that would put Third Reich propaganda methods to shame.

As noted in the Marche article, also present are memes such as "The American Dream" and a public belief in opportunity and economic mobility that far exceeds the reality of what is currently available. Such beliefs promote public political passivity in the face of social and economic injustice in the same way that religious belief in rewards in some afterlife helped produce a largely un-rebellious European feudal peasantry.

With regard to active engagement in political action, the U.S. has little history of general strikes, and it has been decades since the civil rights battles and Vietnam-era anti-war protests. Many Americans currently alive have never learned the importance and methods of mass political action. As far as voting is concerned, given our recent choices, I would assert that it is NOT irrational for citizens to have concluded that voting makes insufficient difference; indeed, one could argue that to continue to believe in it in the context of our present candidates is an exercise in insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Actually, I'll go further and say that the vast contrast between Obama's implied promises as a candidate versus his actual behavior once elected has done a generation's worth of damage to public belief in the value of voting and citizen efforts to assist candidates for elective office.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFred Drumlevitch

I think that @Marvin Schwalb has put his finger on the root cause of the current mess in which we now find ourselves: at best, only slightly more than one-half of eligible voters bother to participate in national elections, and, in off years, that number drops to only a little more than one-third of the electorate.

Those who regularly refuse to participate are either brain-dead—or have already given up all hope for an honest government—and maybe the latter are actually the smart ones.

Among those of us who have faithfully continued to vote, well, we have allowed our politicians—who seem to be mostly interested in lining their pockets and getting re-elected so they can enrich themselves yet more—to increasingly divide us on emotional social issues while promising only all-or-nothing solutions. We elect and re-elect them on narrow issues, they create a great deal of sound and fury in defense of what they promised us on these issues, and secretly enrich themselves and their pals while we’re not looking.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Still, perhaps an old dog can learn new tricks.

One thing you Progressives out there have convinced this Conservative of is that—as Charles Pierce and David Cay Johnston have put it—the game is rigged. And our politicians are doing the “rigging.”

As I stated in yesterday’s posts, my solution is to vote ALL the rascals out, and, I admit, this will seem to most of you out there to largely benefit me. I regret this, as I know that there is no way that I will ever convince some of you that I’m not secretly laughing up my sleeve at you.

But @Fred Drumlevich speaks of “the importance…of mass political action.” I can’t think of any greater “mass political action” than throwing ALL the bums out, as opposed to—once again—voting for the lesser of two evils instead of making a statement.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZee

@Zee. Throwing the bums out is never a good idea. Holding the bums accountable is. Election day is not the end of a citizen's responsibility, only a halftime respite.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Change is coming. The Republicans are almost certain to take control of the Senate. The Republicans will probably maintain control of the House. No matter who wins the White House our deserved disaster is on the way. Just a year of tax cuts for the wealthy, legislated pollution and trickle down economics added to spending cuts will have more than half of Americans suffering.
When this tipping point is reached, those that ignored all the indications will come awake and we will have a broad based rebellion. This rebellion will be met by either a police state or a radical response, a New Deal for Americans.
The example of the response to OWS indicates that a police state is most likely. I believe Americans will not accept a police state and "we shall overcome"
It is later than you think.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Change is coming. The Republicans are almost certain to take control of the Senate. The Republicans will probably maintain control of the House. No matter who wins the White House our deserved disaster is on the way. Just a year of tax cuts for the wealthy, legislated pollution and trickle down economics added to spending cuts will have more than half of Americans suffering.
When this tipping point is reached, those that ignored all the indications will come awake and we will have a broad based rebellion. This rebellion will be met by either a police state or a radical response, a New Deal for Americans.
The example of the response to OWS indicates that a police state is most likely. I believe Americans will not accept a police state and "we shall overcome"
It is later than you think.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle
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