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

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

Los Angeles Times: "The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were revealed this morning in Los Angeles. 'La La Land' did what 800-lb gorillas are supposed to do: dominate the Oscar nominations tally, pulling down 14, including actor, actress, director and picture. Ava Duvernay’s '13th' joins 'O.J.: Made in America' among best documentary feature nominees, continuing our ongoing conversation about race in the United States. Speaking of which, with Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga getting acting nominations, the 89th Academy Awards will definitely not be so white." This article includes a complete list of the nominees.

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- 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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