The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, March 25, 2017.

New York Times: "Five years after a child sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State, damaging its reputation, exposing a revered coach as a serial predator and sending him to prison, a jury on Friday convicted the former president of the university of child endangerment for failing to stop the abuse. On its second day of deliberations, the jury in Harrisburg, Pa., found Graham B. Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was also found not guilty of two felony charges, for his handling of allegations against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach." -- CW 

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


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- 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 

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April 23 -- Charles Blow

He Might Be a Racist. Charles Blow met newly-minted birther Donald Trump at a party, and here's how it went:

... he immediately started in on a speech about how beloved he was among blacks. He said that everywhere he went, blacks were telling him to run for president and that some hip-hop stars had told him that he was the most popular white man among black people.

Trump probably didn't even notice Blow was black.

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April 22 -- Paul Krugman

"Patients Are Not Consumers." Paul Krugman: "The idea that ... doctors are just 'providers' selling services to health care 'consumers' — is, well, sickening. And the prevalence of this kind of language [coming from Republicans] is a sign that something has gone very wrong not just with this discussion, but with our society’s values."


April 22 -- David Brooks

Brooks Does Broadway. David Brooks sees the musical/satirical comedy "The Book of Mormon." "The religions that thrive have exactly what 'The Book of Mormon' ridicules: communal theologies, doctrines and codes of conduct rooted in claims of absolute truth." He goes on to extol the virtues of "rigorous theology" and "rigorous codes of conduct." We need rules!


April 22 -- Tim Egan

Tim Egan compares Donald Trump to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who currently on trial for a sex scandal involving underage prostitutes:

Hair plugs for Berlusconi, a pricey thatch of some sort for Trump. Berlusconi regularly insults women in public. Trump has also publically called at least one woman a 'fat pig.' Berlusconi brought sexed-up game shows to Italian television. Trump has a silly 'reality' show in which he plays a business mogul. Berlusconi, at 74, socializes with teenage girls. Just shy of his 60th birthday, the thrice-married Trump said that if then-24-year-old Ivanka Trump were not his daughter, 'perhaps I’d be dating her.' ...

The fact-denying block of the Republican party seems to grow daily, thanks to people like Trump.


April 21 -- Gail Collins

Gail Collins writes one of her most affecting columns on the Texas fiscal crisis and how the state legislature plans to make it worse by cutting family planning funds:

... the ... fiscal megacrisis that goes back to 2006, when the Legislature cut local property taxes and made up for the lost revenue with a new business tax. The new tax produced billions less than expected to the shock and horror of everyone except all the experts who had been predicting that all along.

Governor Perry blames the whole thing on President Obama.

Texas’ problems are of interest to us all because Texas is producing a huge chunk of the nation’s future work force with a system that goes like this:

• Terrible sex education programs and a lack of access to contraceptives leads to a huge number of births to poor women. (About 60 percent of the deliveries in Texas are financed by Medicaid.) Texas also leads the nation in the number of teenage mothers with two or more offspring.

• The Texas baby boom — an 800,000 increase in schoolchildren over the last decade — marches off to underfunded schools. Which are getting more underfunded by the minute, thanks to that little tax error.

And naturally, when times got tough at the State Capitol, one of the first things the cash-strapped Legislature tried to cut was family planning.

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April 21 -- Nicholas Kristof

In his column today, Kristof defends his friend Greg Mortenson against charges of misuse of charitable contributions. Here's some background information, beginning with the "60 Minutes" report that brought this story to the forefront:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast reports on the Mortenson scandal.

Julie Bosman & Stephanie Strom of the New York Times have a long report on the Mortenson fiasco in particular & unvetted "memoirs" in general.

Washington Post Update: Mortenson e-mailed a statement to supporters, which includes a claim that "he's having surgery this week for a hole in his heart." CW: not sure surgery is going to take care of that.

CBS News/AP Update: "The attorney general in the state of Montana has launched an inquiry into the charity run by 'Three Cups of Tea' co-author Greg Mortenson." With related video.

CBS News/AP Update 2: "... a memo prepared by external lawyers for CAI warned in January that Mortenson could conceivably be liable for as much as $23 million in back taxes and penalties tied to 'excess benefits' he received from CAI thru 2009." With video.

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April 20 -- Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd must have been traveling lately, as she's just getting around to complaining about TSA pat-downs. After recounting some horror stories, she give us some good news:

John Pistole, the T.S.A. chief and 26-year veteran of the F.B.I., said ... they are trying to move past a 'one-size-fits-all' program and implement 'a risk-based, intelligence-driven process' by the end of the year that would have more refined targeting. If passengers are willing to share the same information they give to airline frequent-flier programs, he said, maybe some day they will be able to 'keep their jacket on and their laptop in their briefcase and hang on to that unfinished bottle of water.'

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April 19 -- David Brooks

I think it's wrong to call David Brooks clueless. He knows just what he's doing. Today he "explains" "Why Trump Soars." Brooks claims Donald Trump is now so popular among Republicans (and everybody!) because

... he is actually riding a deep public fantasy — the hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times. He is riding something else: the strongest and most subversive ideology in America today. Donald Trump is the living, walking personification of the Gospel of Success.

CW: if you believe this, then you believe "the War of Northern Aggression," a/k/a the Civil War, was about states' rights and the Ku Klux Klan is a circle of brotherly love.

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April 19 -- Joe Nocera

Fracking Joe Nocera of the New York Times has dropped his advocacy for natural gas drilling to get back to something he knows something about: "the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ... is a coddler, a protector, an outright enabler of the [financial] institutions it oversees." 

It has consistently defended the Too Big to Fail banks. It opposes lowering hidden interchange fees for debit cards, even though such a move is mandated by law, because the banks don’t want to take the financial hit. Its foot-dragging in implementing the new Dodd-Frank laws stands in sharp contrast to, say, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is working diligently to create a regulatory framework for derivatives, despite Republican opposition. Like the banks, it views the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the enemy.

And, as we learned last week, it is doing its darndest to make sure the banks escape the foreclosure crisis — a crisis they created with their sloppy, callous and often illegal practices — with no serious consequences. There is really no other way to explain the “settlement” it announced last week with 14 of the biggest mortgage servicers (which includes all the big banks).

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