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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Saturday
Apr232011

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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Thursday
Apr212011

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."

Thursday
Apr212011

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!

Thursday
Apr212011

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.

Thursday
Apr212011

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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Wednesday
Apr202011

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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Tuesday
Apr192011

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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Monday
Apr182011

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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Monday
Apr182011

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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