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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December 5 -- Police State

** Max Blumenthal in the Exiled Online: "Israeli occupation forces ... trained U.S. police for a coordinated crackdown on 'Occupy' protests.... The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed.... The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration.... Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level.... Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).... PERF gained notoriety when [its director Chuck] Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against 'Occupy' protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the 'Occupy' movement.... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus." Read the whole article, which Kate M. called to my attention. ...

... See also this Democracy Now! "discussion on policing and the Occupy Wall Street movement with Chuck Wexler, director of [PERF] ... and with Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle." Video & transcript...." ...

... Norm Stamper in The Nation: "US police forces have become increasingly militarized, and it’s showing in cities everywhere.... The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders — a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood — is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country." ...

... To your left: what the well-dressed, militarized riot policeman will be wearing when s/he confronts you.

For you masquerade fans, the New York Times depicts more Riot Cop Fashion Design through the Years here. Or what not to wear when attempting to impersonate an officer. It's so outre.

A brief overview by Chi Birmingham & Alex Vitale is here. Even the writers' names sound like those of fashion designers.



CW: Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns & Money elaborates on a point I made on Off Times Square the other day (although I wasn't aware this was a purposeful, oft-repeated practice): "... the Senate ... decided to punt on the question of whether the executive can arbitrarily and indefinitely detain American citizens simply by declaring them terrorists. While dismaying, this is part of an ongoing pattern many political scientists (including yours truly) have identified: legislators deliberately putting contested issues into the courts. Issues like the constitutionality of arbitrary detention end up in the courts not because the judiciary is 'usurping' legislative power but because that’s how legislative majorities want it." ...

... Here's Charlie Savage's underlying story, which is as helpful as it can be under the circumstance that Senators don't agree on WTF they voted for. As Lemieux writes, let the Supremes decide. ...

... Ray McGovern, in a TruthOut essay: "Conflicting legal interpretations of the bill are now more about whether military detentions would be mandatory or would the president still retain some discretion. In sum, the wording appears to create a parallel military justice system that, theoretically, we are all subject to. All that would be needed is an allegation by someone that we assisted someone who in some way assisted someone else in some way. An actual terrorist act would not be needed – and neither would a trial by one’s peers as guaranteed by the Constitution to determine actual 'guilt.'” Should you be worried? Sounds like it. Thanks to Valerie L.T. for the link.

Perpectual War, Con'd. Glenn Greenwald: "Given the theories used to justify Bush/Cheney powers — ones that were just repeated almost verbatim by Obama lawyers when asked about the Awlaki assassination — how can anyone coherently have objected to the Bush/Cheney Guantanamo detention system but support Obama’s assassination powers now?"

     ... The underlying AP story by Matt Apuzzo: "U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday. The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen. The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States."

The Little King & His Enforcer. Alex Pareene of Salon: "The mayor of New York and his police commissioner reveal just how comfortable they are with autocracy."

All of the above are articles I've linked either today or in days past. Karen Garcia has a good overview of all this, and includes links to Naomi's Wolf's much-panned Guardian essay, which I linked to way back when, along with a pan or two. Garcia ties it together in a lovely bow.

AND for some historical context:

Whaddaya think?


December 2, 3 & 4 -- Outrage, Anyone?

What's irritating you today? I'm going with this:

** Eliot Spitzer in Slate: while telling the public, the market, their own shareholders & the Congress that they were solvent & didn't need TARP money, the big banks borrowed $7.7 "— one-half of the GDP of the entire nation.... This was perhaps the single most massive allocation of capital from public to private hands in our history, and nobody was told.... So where are the inquiries into the false statements made by the bank CEOs?... In addition to the secrecy, what is appalling is that these loans were made with no strings attached, no conditions, and no negotiation to achieve any broader public purpose." The banks made about $13 billion in profits on these near-zero-interest loans. Spitzer suggests some appropriate paybacks to the public. ...

... Judy Woodruff of PBS "News Hour" interviews Bob Ivry, one of the Bloomberg News reporters who broke the story of our $7.7-billion gift to Wall Street. Thanks to Haley S. for the link to the video & to the Spitzer post:

Update: Let's continue in this vein. We've got a good start.

BTW, my New York Times eXaminer column on the New York Times' new comments format is here. It includes excerpts from a few comments by Off Times Square contributors. I heartily suggest you read my column all the way to the end. Or at least read the end. No, sing the end. The NYTX front page is here.


December 1 -- Mistrusted!

CW: The New York Times has rolled out its full "Trusted Commenter" program, and I of course remain among the mistrusted. As my avatar appeared in the comments section of one of the columns -- a new feature -- I made a test comment to see what would happen. Nothing. My comment "is awaiting moderation." Same ole, same ole.

For more info on the program, here's the Times' help page, and here's a note from Jill Abramson, the Times' executive editor on the program.

If you tried to comment, please share your experience, whether you're "trusted" or "mistrusted." (If you got one of those "congratulations, we trust you" letters, I'd love to have you reproduce it.)

Write on this or something else.


November 30 -- Open Thread

Carry on. I have to be away for a good part of the day. -- CW


November 29 -- Fox "News"

Poll of the Month. "Fox 'News' -- Making Americans Ignorant 24/7." Fairleigh Dickinson University: "Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.... People who watch Fox News ... are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all.... Exposure to Sunday morning news shows helps respondents on" a question about the Occupy movement. "Listening to NPR also helps, but the biggest aid to answering correctly is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart...."

How could this be?

Update: In our Continuing Education series dedicated to making sure Reality Chex readers are way better informed than Foxbots, we bring you Jon Stewart lecturing on "competitive shopping":


November 28 -- The Pits

AP photo.Christian Davenport of the Washington Post: "For the moment, let’s say we’re not buying the official, nothing-to-see-here story the White House is dishing about the gaping hole being ripped into the lawn outside the Oval Office. Let’s say we suspect the construction crews that have been dipping their backhoes into the most secure soil in the free world are doing something more complex than mere utility work. The feds may claim that it’s just 'upgrades and replacement of utility infrastructure' of a size and complexity that require the excavation of a hole so big it could easily fit the entire Cabinet — and maybe some members of Congress, too. But they’re somewhat vague as to the specifics. And so we wonder.... Much of Washington is down and out of sight." The article goes on to describe a few other underground facilities.

Hmm. What do you think that digging at the White House is all about? Serious answer not required.

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November 26 & 27 -- Open Thread

Your innermost thoughts, please. About politics!

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November 25 -- Black Friday

Prof. Robert Frank, in a New York Times op-ed, on "How to End the Black Friday Madness": "Inspired by the 9-9-9 proposal of the Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, I call it the 6-6-6 plan — an across-the-board 6 percent national sales tax (on top of any existing state and local sales taxes) in effect from 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 6 a.m. on Black Friday." CW: Black Friday always reminds me of the film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" a story (based on a 1935 novel by Horace McCoy) about Depression-era dance marathons. In both, desperate Americans put themselves under extreme stress and complete with other desperate people for a few extra bucks the rich toss out as part of a scheme to further enrich themselves. ...

... Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times: "As the busiest retail weekend of the year begins late Thursday night, the differences between how affluent and more ordinary Americans shop in the uncertain economy will be on unusually vivid display.... Many affluent shoppers will avoid the [Black Friday] scene altogether.... Still, a deal is a deal.... Neiman Marcus sold out of pewter-color Ferraris (luggage set matching the interior included) at $395,000 each within 50 minutes of making 10 of them available through its 'fantasy' holiday catalog late last month." ...

... A statement from Adbusters is here. Related AP story here.

... Update: Karen Garcia has a lovely post on "The Nightmare before Christmas." Don't miss the comparative photos.

... Update 2. Borowitz Report: "In what economists are hailing as a clear sign of economic recovery, Walmart customers across the USA jammed into stores on Black Friday, sometimes killing each other to buy useless shit.... Dr. [Davis] Logsdon said that the increased violence and mayhem at retail outlets across the country was 'a testament to the greatness of the American consumer.”

What are your thoughts about Black Friday?

CW P.S. I owe quite a few of you responses to your comments from the past several days. I haven't forgotten; I'm just always running up against the clock.

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Thanksgiving 2011 Open Thread

One thing to be thankful for -- I'm not going ask you to tell us what you're thankful for. (But you can if you want to.) It's Readers' Choice Day.

From the Commentariat:

On the front page of the New York Times is a six-part video by food writer Melissa Clark with helpful advice on how to cook a turkey. For classic hints on fowl preparation, we turn to this old chestnut from "Julia Child":

... AND here's hoping your Thanksgiving goes better than Loudon Wainwright III's. "Thanksgiving" begins 3 minutes in. Another classic (P.S. If all does not go well, consider your family "normal"):

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November 23 -- "Obama, Occupied"

Shawna Thomas of NBC News: "During his speech in Manchester, N.H. today, President Obama found himself interrupted by members of Occupy New Hampshire. The protesters handed out fliers along with attempting to employ a 'human microphone' to deliver a message of dissatisfaction to the president. They got about halfway through before others in the crowd began to counter-chant with the President’s 2008 slogan of 'Fired up. Ready to go.'”

... Here's how Peter Wallsten & Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post report the story. ...

Here's Karen Garcia on "Obama, Occupied." ...

See also Adam Martin & Alexander Abad-Santos of The Atlantic. Read the comments here, too.

As far as I'm aware, the only thing the White House has said about the use of force against Occupy protesters was this:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: He’s [Obama is] aware of it, obviously, from the reports. And our position and the president’s position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues, and we would hope and want, as these decisions are made, that it balances between a long tradition of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in this country and obviously of demonstrating and protesting, and also the very important need to maintain law and order and health and safety standards, which was obviously a concern in this case. -- Pool report from Aboard Air Force One, President's Australia trip, Nov. 16, 2011. Via Karen Garcia

In two subsequent press conferences, Carney said nothing. The first was about U.S.-Asia policy, but the second -- held after the U.C. Davis pepper spraying -- was of a general nature, and no reporter even asked about police actions against students and others.

What do you think President Obama should say?


November 22 -- John F. Kennedy

A flyer distributed in downtown Dallas in the days prior to the Kennedy assassination. Via New York Magazine.** "What Killed JFK." Frank Rich in New York Magazine: "What defines the Kennedy legacy today is less the fallen president’s short, often admirable life than the particular strain of virulent hatred that helped bring him down. After JFK was killed, that hate went into only temporary hiding. It has been a growth industry ever since and has been flourishing in the Obama years. There are plenty of comparisons to be made between the two men, but the most telling is the vitriol that engulfed both their presidencies." CW: this is the writer the New York Times let go.

     ... Rich refers to this video in his essay. Here's another, which also includes excerpts from the audio tapes of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s 1964 interview of Jaqueline Kennedy:

Today is the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Write on this or something else.

Thanks to everyone who wrote on the U.C. Davis atrocity. Those who contrasted Newt with the protesters are onto something. Newt is like a Super John Pike coldly planning to pepperspray us all.

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November 21 -- U.C. Davis

If you haven't seen them already, I think you'll have to watch at least part of one of the videos of the policeman pepper-spraying U.C. Davis students. There are two videos posted on yesterday's Commentariat, along with quite a few links to articles. There are a couple of good articles in today's Commentariat, too: by Glenn Greenwald and by Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post. There are also some good comments in the Off Times Square weekend thread.

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