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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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.)

Reader Comments (34)

A Massachusetts friend taped Elizabeth Warren at an event in Franklin, MA on Jan.2. Listen to her passion, her common sense, her vision...
I vote for her to be a featured speaker at the Democratic Convention this summer.

Sorry to see that you are closing shop, your insight has been a bright spark in an increasingly dim light of US journalism, Many Thanks!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterglobalme

You're going the wrong direction, Marie. It's cold and snowy in New Hampshire. My husband and I moved from Boston area to Louisville last February. I miss many things of my old Massachusetts hometown, but at least, I didn't have to give up Reality Chex when we moved. It's been one of my continuity comforts. I will miss your comments and your site greatly when you close it down.

Good luck with whatever it is you're moving on to.

The imminent closing of Reality Chex is the end of something so special and unique that it's a like a small death. I love this place that I go to first every morning and check back in later in the day. But I have marveled at how much work this must be and how Marie handles it all. Since she has connected with the NYT eXaminer I assume she will lend her expertise there (they need more contributions!). So–– sad as this news is, I wish Marie the very best––she has given us all a taste of what a really good site can be and I, for one, am most grateful.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

don't move, marie!!! don't close up shop!!!
where else will i ever be able to see elizabeth warren (thanks trish ramey) AND mavis staples all at once??
here's to strong women!!!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Here's to strong women, indeed. They keep us sane.

And Marie has most certainly aided in that effort.

I am most grateful for our connection and for her many efforts. She has aided in an effort the Romans described as "adaequatio intellectus et rei", helping our minds abide the truth.


January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

This is very, very, very bad news.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

Realitychex has been my breakfast read every morning. I will miss it. As good a news aggregating site, with witty commentary, will be difficult if not impossible to find. Good luck with whatever awaits you. Hope to see you somewhere on the the Examiner. All the best Marie.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS..aka...backwater


Most of us who have read your incisive digestion of contemporary politics (and its wider cultural and historical context) are sorry to hear that you will discontinue RealityChex.

Given the magnitude of the work and cost involved in producing RealityChex, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’ve grown tired of doing it. Writing for the NYTimes eXaminer (along with presumably some remuneration as a regular writer there) would undoubtedly be less tiring and more attractive to you. Additionally, perhaps you have other unstated personal reasons for the discontinuance of RealityChex and your move, which we readers and commenters respect and do not expect you to reveal — even if too many of the Facebook generation believe that everyone’s life should be an open book.

May I suggest that you maintain RealityChex for your own occasional postings should such urge make itself felt? Despite any opportunities at the NYTimes eXaminer or elsewhere, there is something to be said for a venue for expression over which one has complete control. As A. J. Liebling once said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Drumlevitch

It sucks that you are leaving, but I am glad you are still writing.

I lived in New Hampshire for 4 1/2 years as a kid. Those were my happiest years. But I don't miss the snow.

Many good wishes and warm thoughts to you!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE. Adams

I'm a little shell shocked as it were, so I'll wait for my emotions on this to settle down before commenting.... meanwhile;
I would humbly submit that if Marie has decided to move on then it is up to us to come up with our own forum on which to share links and comments on the stories of the day, important developments in Democracy and/or world events of note. I have heard Yahoo offers a free service of some sort to allow a type of forum (nothing as elaborate as Reality Chex I'm sure) that we could all contribute to from time to time or daily or even hourly if your schedule (or health) permits such extravagance... if anyone here knows what I'm referring to perhaps you could post info, if I haven't seen anything from anyone by Sunday afternoon I'll take the initiative and get the particulars and post them here or send e-mails to those of you who have been kind enough to correspond with me personally...

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

Well, I just signed on late this evening to the news that Marie is moving on. I have been reading the Realitychex news and comments for a little over a year and will miss this place of human interaction and thought provoking effort. I do understand - what an effort it must be.

After reading and seeing the interaction of all of you for a while I became brave enough to write something and with Marie's understanding published under my other "name." I just cannot thank her enough. And thank you to all the contributors and regulars. All of you are amazing!

So, I will continue to read what Marie writes where ever she is published.

Thank you just does not do it, but that's said from the heart.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfromtheheartland

P.S. I would suggest the new name be "Reality Principle"

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

We will all miss Off Times Square! I thank you, Marie, for your generosity and intelligence in making available and monitoring this unique forum. I have visited many blogs, and OTS consistently has the most informed, curious and articulate commenters. I will miss reading what all of you have to say.

I appreciate so much, Marie, that you do not allow ad hominem attacks in your comment section, and that you do not disrespect people with whom you disagree. Indeed, you have kept this a lively forum with diverse points of view.

We all will miss you. Goddess-speed! And thank you.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison


Am I just dense--don't answer that!--or is @Marie just putting us on?

And am I even more dense in believing that you all really think that @Marie is really leaving? Is the joke on ol' Zee?

C'mon guys. This can't be real. @Marie can "Live Free or Die" anywhere she chooses. And damn' well will...

I have every confidence that Reality Chex OTS will be here on the morrow.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

Unless, of course, I've finally pissed her off so much that she's really calling it quits. Damn! I'd only just gotten started!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

As some of you may know I signed up for Americans Elect, I checked on the website to see who they might have up for President, the top four are (in order) Ron Paul, Barack Obama, Jon Huntsman and Bernie Sanders. As I said at the beginning of the existence of Americans elect WE can make it our own by e-mailing our friends and families, posting and sharing on facebook etc.
America is special and so are it's people the conservatives will go along with whatever eventually becomes mainstream- that's what they do, respect authority and established norms, WE progressives need to (re) establish some new cultural norms.

ouch, gotta go...

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

Marie - Thank you. Reality Chex has been my lifeline to sanity in these very troubled times. How I will miss it! When I realized that many of the NYT commenters were far smarter than the authors of the opinion pieces they were writing, I was stunned to see that you above all wrote nearly everything I wanted to say and could never find the words. Then I clicked on your name and found a brand new world.

Best wishes for your future. I can only hope it's not quite so hectic as maintaining the site must be.

Maggy Holman

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggy Holman

@Marie; Thanks for all the hard work.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG


Well, I just read your announcement on the January 8 "Constant Comments" page. This is for real.

Let me say that I, too, am dismayed that RC OTS is coming to an end, soon to be followed by the closure of Reality Chex altogether.

@Marie, in the span of a mere six months you have provided me with an amazing education as to the real state of affairs in America.

Prodded by you, Valerie Long Tweedie, The Dok, Kat, JJG, Akhilleus, Fred Drumlevitch, Denis Neville, Calyban, PD Pepe, FromTheHeartland, Carlyle, James Singer, forrestmorris, and others whose names escape me just now, I am a significantly different person than I was when I stumbled upon RC back in June.

Some of you, I know, I will continue to interact with over at Sardonicky, and perhaps on Fred's blog.

Most importantly, I have made two good friends here at RC with whom I will keep in regular contact via e-mail, who will, I am sure, help me to continue my education.

Thank you. Marie, I will miss you and the amazing enterprise that is Reality Chex. I wish I had found you sooner.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

Thanks for all your intelligent, insightful posts. I've often wondered how you ever found the time and energy to maintain Reality Chex. You will be missed!


John Chaldu

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Chaldu

Marie, I am so disappointed that you may stop creating RealityChex. It is not just the content that is so wonderful. There is something about the format that makes the site such a joy to read. I don't get that same feeling at NYTeXaminer or any other blog I read. I'd rather subscribe to your page than any of the others.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Just getting to see this page and am stunned by the news!

Marie, you bring a wit and intelligence insight to the ever more maddening political scene...and make me hope that with you and other like you perhaps there is a chance things might get more sane. At the very least, continue to call out the charlatans!

Welcome 'us' to NH! Happens that I am also packing and likely to move near Portsmouth—if the seller takes my offer. Don't want to do it, but thinking of the positive side—getting more of us Democrat/Independents among the "Live Free or Die" crowd will add much needed blue to the voter base. That's a good thing!

As a frequent night-owl, I have been amazed at your early morning/just after midnight posts and gathering of various media stories—almost as quickly as the online article(s) appear. Your research is great, you back up arguments with cogent facts and details. Have often thought of you as the woman-who-never-sleeps!

No wonder you want a break! ...and get a life!
Bonne chance!

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

You must be aware by now that we are all going to miss you immensely, not just for all the great information, but also the humor
and honesty from you and also the commenters. Thank you, thank you
for what you did, and hopefully you will continue to do even if in another venue.
@The Doktor-
In case you ever come up with anything resembling RealityChex, I
would appreciate knowing about it. My e-mail address is: and I thank you in advance.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Add my echo to the expressions of dismay at Marie's news, though I, too, have often wondered how Marie has had the time and energy to keep this up day after day for hours on end. Periodically I have had to take a break from the endless news cycle, and yet Reality Chex has been right here when I was ready to return. Who knew that following a favorite Times commenter would lead to so many stories and perspectives not covered by the msm? Many thanks, Marie, and welcome to New England!

Since this is the last opportunity to post on OTS, I wanted to mention my recent discovery of the works of Wendell Berry. (Yes, I know I'm late to the party on this.) What a sage! In this essay from 2001, he was already addressing the issue of corporate personhood.
For anyone wishing to read more by Berry, this site is a good resource:

Finally, I've long been searching for a source listing products manufactured in the U.S., and came across this website just last week. It's not complete, but is better than any other that I've found.

Oh, how I wish the conversations could continue. I've learned so much from all of you. Thank you.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice
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