TOPIC OF THE DAY – 2013

12.31 StompBeast.com lists The Book of Levon among the 51 Best Books about Music in 2013
12.31 Michael Moore in the Times: “Obamacare is awful. That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get. Unfortunately, this meant that instead of blaming companies like Novartis, which charges leukemia patients $90,000 annually for the drug Gleevec, or health insurance chief executives like Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, who made nearly $102 million in 2009, for the sky-high price of American health care, the president’s Democratic supporters bought into the myth that it was all those people going to get free colonoscopies and chemotherapy for the fun of it.I believe Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could — is a result of one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go. When right-wing critics “expose” the fact that President Obama endorsed a single-payer system before 2004, they’re actually telling the truth. What we now call Obamacare was conceived at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and birthed in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor. The president took Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions. In effect, the president was simply trying to put lipstick on the dog in the carrier on top of Mitt Romney’s car. And we knew it.By 2017, we will be funneling over $100 billion annually to private insurance companies. You can be sure they’ll use some of that to try to privatize Medicare.For many people, the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act risks being a cruel joke. . . . And yet — I would be remiss if I didn’t say this — Obamacare is a godsend. My friend Donna Smith, who was forced to move into her daughter’s spare room at age 52 because health problems bankrupted her and her husband, Larry, now has cancer again. As she undergoes treatment, at least she won’t be in terror of losing coverage and becoming uninsurable. Under Obamacare, her premium has been cut in half, to $456 per month.Let’s not take a victory lap yet, but build on what there is to get what we deserve: universal quality health care.”
12.27 Susan Toepfer dies at 65.
556418_10201743986934328_1512910785_n12.26 Cara and Ginny visit the tree.
strong>12.26 Paul Blair dies at 69. Among his accomplishments in baseball, which included being part of four World Championship teams, the elegant centerfirelder hit a grand slam inside the park home run on August 26, 1973, which my Dad and I witnessed in person.
12.23 Vito Rizzuto, Canadian mob boss, dies. “Mr. Rizzuto’s management style was pretty unique, at least compared to American crime figures, who went to violence as an instant default,”journalist Lee Lamothe wrote in an email. “He was born into the Mafia and, from his father, inherited the ‘Sicilian view’: Better to share than to shoot.”
12.14 Peter O’Toole dies at 81.
12.7 David Simon in the Guardian: “The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It’s a juvenile notion and it’s still being argued in my country passionately and we’re going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I’m astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?”
12.5 Nelson Mandela dies at 95.
12.1 Peter Kaplan dies at 59
11.24 Pope Francis: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”
12.7 David Simon in the Guardian: “The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It’s a juvenile notion and it’s still being argued in my country passionately and we’re going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I’m astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?”
12.5 Nelson Mandela dies at 95.
12.1 Peter Kaplan dies at 59
11.24 Pope Francis: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”
11.14 Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: ““The last thing was Olivia, it says that I wanted to eat her pussy. I never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I’m happily married. I have more than enough to eat at home.”
11.6 1379597_10152059970096477_1560255439_n
11.3 Philip Galanes, Dick Cavett and Alec Baldwin in discussion in the New York Times:
PG: Of course, you went on to write for Johnny Carson, when he took over the “Tonight” show from Jack Paar. Have you read the new tell-all about Carson by Henry Bushkin?
DC: I rather liked it. I thought it must be true. There were sides of Johnny that I didn’t know. But I know he was one of the unhappiest men in the world. But he loved me, so I felt good about him.
AB: Why do you think he was so unhappy
DC: Oh, God, he had a wretched mother. One time, Johnny wins some great prestigious award, and she says, “I guess they know what they’re doing.”
AB: The mother said that?
DC: Yeah. She never encouraged him. And when I worked for him, there was an awful lot of tension. He was like a wire, a tight wire.
PG: You can see it in the early clips.
DC: You can. And he had a wife on the ledge, and drinking troubles. His happiest hour was when he was out there on the set, and the rest of his life was really horrible.
11.2 Doug Ireland dies
10.27 Johnny Carson debuts on the NY Times bestseller list at Number 9.
10.27 Lou Reed dies
10.25 James Wolcott: `Wisdom is for statues. Humor uncaps our inhibitions, unleashes our energies, seals friendships, patches hurts. Laughing is probably the most alive you can be.”
10.24 Molly
: Happiest sappiest girly-face making contented sighing grinning from ear to ear most in love girl in the world
10.18 Mitch McConnell: “There’s not much education in the second kick of a mule.”
10.17 Line of the day, from my brother Matt: “Not much to report. Megan‘s getting all A’s again. Michelle is still dating her like minded slug boyfriend, Lorenzo. She says she has never related to anyone like him before. I wanted to ask: “What do you relate to exactly? That together you make twice as much not happen? Or is there a synergystic effect wherein your combined slugness makes even less happen than the sum of your individual slugness.”
get-attachment10.17 Saw Rose and Elaine in Maryland
10.16 Republicans routed; government shutdown lifted
10.15 Janet Maslin in the Times: “Henry Bushkin’s “Johnny Carson” is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what he’s talking about. Though early readers have been shocked, just shocked, by Mr. Bushkin’s treachery, they have also been drawn ravenously to his book. . . .It’s easy to approach this book thinking that its author has an ax to grind. Maybe he does, but his account sounds unexaggerated, credible and willing to place blame wherever it belongs.”
10.9 and 10.10 Spent days with Henry
10.8: Rep. Michelle Bachmann: “As of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists.Now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s End Times history. Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand.” Bachmann added. “When we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; these days would be as the days of Noah.”
10.1 Chris Matthews tells story on Morning Joe about negotiations between Democrats and Ronald Reagan. At one point, Jim Wright says to Reagan, half-seriously, and now you’ll have to give up the tax cuts you enacted last year.” Reagan chuckled. “I can crap a pineapple,” he said, “but I can’t crap a cactus.”
9.27 During the WNBA playoffs, Diana Taurasi of Phoenix kisses Seimone Augustus of Minnesota; ref awards double personals 9.25 Guido Barilla, president of the family-owned Barilla pasta company, said in a radio interview on Wednesday that his company only supports “the traditional family” and that LGBT people “can go eat someone else’s pasta.”9.25 According to a new study by Andrew Rushby published in Astrobiology, the world will end between 1.5 billion and 2.25 billion years from now, when the expanding sun engulfs the earth.
get-attachment9.21 Appeared on the New York Talks segment of BBC 5’s Up All Night show, with my friend Matthew Fenton and host Dotun Adebayo.
9.20 Boston Globe:Pope Francis, in an extraordinary interview that electrified the Catholic world, said that the Roman Catholic Church has become unduly obsessed with condemning abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. The church, he said, should emphasize compassion and mercy instead of “small-minded rules.”“We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,”
9.13: Paul Krugman in the Times: “[According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez],top income shares took a hit during the Great Recession, as things like capital gains and Wall Street bonuses temporarily dried up. But the rich have come roaring back, to such an extent that 95 percent of the gains from economic recovery since 2009 have gone to the famous 1 percent. In fact, more than 60 percent of the gains went to the top 0.1 percent, people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million.Basically, while the great majority of Americans are still living in a depressed economy, the rich have recovered just about all their losses and are powering ahead. . .. I’d note that a large proportion of those superhigh incomes come from the financial industry, which is, as you may remember, the industry that taxpayers had to bail out after its looming collapse threatened to take down the whole economy. . . .[T]he effect of that concentration is to undermine all the values that define America. Year by year, we’re diverging from our ideals. Inherited privilege is crowding out equality of opportunity; the power of money is crowding out effective democracy.”
9.10 From The Superficial: “While speaking at GQ‘s Man of The Year Awards, Russell Brand thought it’d be hilarious to joke about the fact that Hugo Boss, the event’s sponsor, made a fortune selling uniforms to the Nazis. Which it was unless you’re an editor for GQ whose corporate sponsor you (accurately) linked to one of the most historic genocides in the history of man. Via The Daily Mail: `While on stage, Brand told the gathered celebrities and politicians, ‘If anyone knows a bit about history and fashion, you know it was Hugo Boss who made uniforms for the Nazis.’ He then added, with less than subtle irony, ‘But they looked fucking fantastic, let’s face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality.’ Shortly afterwards, Brand was kicked out by the magazine’s editor, Dylan Jones. According to the comedian’s Twitter feed, the two men exchanged angry words, with Jones saying, ‘What you did was very offensive to Hugo Boss.’ Brand replied, ‘What Hugo Boss did was very offensive to the Jews.’”
9.6 James Kwak, in The Baseline Scenario, on the carbon tax: “Republicans like to say that they are opposed to deficits and that debt is evil. (Debt ceiling, anyone?) But when confronted with a proposal that makes perfect economic sense and reduces deficits, they reject it—on the grounds that it would “finance larger government.” Instead, they insist on offsetting the tax increase—which, remember, is economically efficient standing on its own. Essentially, Mankiw’s argument (OK, he’s placing it in the mouths of “Republicans,” but he’s a Republican, too) is that a carbon tax is good, but additional tax revenue that would reduce the deficit is bad.”
9.6 Steve Chmelar, the man credited with inventing the foam finger, said Miley Cyrus “took an honorable icon . . .and degraded it.”
9.2 John Cleese on the BBC: “”The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada. The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years. The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability. Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.” The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.” Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels. The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy. Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.”
9.2 Fran Lebowitz (two years ago): “No one earns a billion dollars—you steal a billion dollars. You earn ten dollars an hour.”
9.2 64 year-old Diana Nyad becomes the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. The swim took 53 hours.
get-attachment-19.1 Spied at Yankee Stadium
8.31 David Frost dies at 74
8.31 Midnight Ramble with William Bell and Steve Forbert
8.30 Seamus Heaney dies at 74
8.29 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “The black community in 1968 had born the brunt of roughly 100 years of lynchings, beatings, rapes, firebombs and racist policy . The American state which Barack Obama represents regarded Apartheid — not as an unfortunate side-effect — but as one of its necessary premises. Nothing was immune — not postbellum reunion, not Prohibition, not the New Deal, not the G.I. Bill, nothing. In the main, the black community responded to this campaign of white terrorism and racist policy with stoic protests, hypermorality and nonviolence. Bloody Sunday was not original. It just happened to be televised. There is the rub: In the 1960s, black men and women who carried the pain of living in a white terrorist state, who carried the pain of redlining, of job discrimination, of being cheated out of land, cut on the television and saw black women and children getting the shit kicked out of them. No one was being punished. Sometimes the police were doing the kicking. They saw this, and they stewed. They’d seen it before. And as they had in the face of racial pogroms, and in the face of slavery itself, they closed their mouths, swallowed the daggers, and got dressed for work.Martin Luther King turned this stoic tradition into high art. It was a kind of jujitsu by which our pain could be made redemptive. The price was high. If that imagery cut black folks to the core, one wonders how far it went in normalizing the idea of the black body as the rightful field for violence. If you accept that being twice as good is the price of the ticket, then you accept a double standard, and thus necessarily accept the precepts of racism. The response to this bargain was to bug King’s phones, to send lewd tapes of his affairs to his wife, to plant informants in his inner circle. The heads of the American state signed off on this bugging. Jackie Kennedy held him in contempt. John F. Kennedy liked to demean him as “Martin Luther Queen.” The response of the white public was considerably more vicious. And so for daring to oppose Vietnam, for challenging Apartheid, for claiming that garbage workers are people, they murdered him. None of us in this generation can truly know how it must have felt to be black, to have come out of the long night of slavery, into the clutches of revanchists, to have survived only to see your great ambassador slaughtered like a dog. Barack Obama doesn’t know anything about this. None of us know anything about this. None of us can really know how deep that pain must have cut. Anger is human. It is fantastic to see the head of the same American state that created the ghettoes (which predictably exploded) attack the people imprisoned there for being self-defeating. Like Du Bois, Barack Obama has taken the stage at a moment when it is popular to assert that black people are the agents of their own doom. The response to Trayvon Martin, indeed the response to Barack Obama himself, has been to attack black morality, to highlight black criminality and thus change the conversation from what the American state has done to black people, to what black people have done to themselves. Like Du Bois, Barack Obama believes that these people have a point. Du Bois’s biographer, David Levering Lewis, says that Du Bois came to look back back on that speech with some embarrassment. I don’t know that Barack Obama will ever reach such a conclusion. Indeed, if we are — as the president asks us to be — honest with ourselves, we will see that we have elected a president who claims to oppose racial profiling one minute, and then flirts with inaugurating the country’s greatest racial profiler the next. If we are honest with ourselves we will see that we have a president who can condemn the riots as “self-defeating,” but can’t see his way clear to enforce the fair housing law that came out of them. If we are honest with ourselves we will see a president who believes in particular black morality, but eschews particular black policy. It is heartbreaking to see this. But it is also clarifying.”
SNN3101GXIN_1799431a8.29 Parliament rejects military operations against Syria. The Sun comments.
8.25 Miley Cyrus twerks at the MTV Music Awards
8.18 Sarah Lyall in The New York Times: “a country where even Conservatives are proud of the nationalized health service cannot comprehend a system that leaves tens of millions of people unable to afford basic health care. A country that all but banned guns after the slaughter of 16 small children in Scotland in 1996 cannot understand why some Americans’ response to mass shootings is to argue for more gun rights, not fewer. Despite the sometimes immature behavior of Britain’s legislators, they manage to enact laws without deliberately obstructing the running of the country. Britons are perplexed by the sclerotic hatred infecting so much political discourse in America. And not one Briton I ever met understood why being able to see Russia from Alaska was at one time apparently considered an acceptable foreign-policy credential for a prospective vice president. Britons admire and consume American culture, but feel threatened by and angry at its excesses and global dominance. They are both envious and suspicious of Americans’ ease and confidence in themselves. They want American approval but feel bad about seeking it. Like a teenager worried that his more popular friend is using him for extra math help but will snub him in the cafeteria, they are unduly exercised by the “special relationship” — endlessly deconstructing what it meant, for instance, when in 2009 Gordon Brown, then the prime minister, gave President Obama a handsome penholder made of wood from a Victorian anti-slave ship, while Mr. Obama reportedly gave him a stack of movies that were incompatible with British DVD players. Also, Britons are not automatically impressed by what I always thought were attractive American qualities — straightforwardness, openness, can-doism, for starters — and they suspect that our surface friendly optimism might possibly be fake. (I suspect that sometimes they might possibly be right.) Once, in an experiment designed to illustrate Britons’ unease with the way Americans introduce themselves in social situations (in Britain, you’re supposed to wait for the host to do it), I got a friend at a party we were having to go up to a man he had never met. “Hi, I’m Stephen Bayley,” my friend said, sticking out his hand.“Is that supposed to be some sort of joke?” the man responded.”
get-attachment-28.16 The Civil War painting and photography exhibits at the Met were ho-hum, frankly, but the statuary was swell!
8.15 ABC News: “On Wednesday, Newt Gingrich also said that lawmakers who criticize Obamacare but offer no alternatives will be left with “zero answer” for constituents who ask for a policy solution to the president’s health care reform law. “I would bet for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks while your members of Congress are home and you look at them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’ and they will have zero answer,” Gingrich told state party chairs, activists, and operatives at the Republican National Committee summer meeting. “We are caught up right now in a culture – and you see it every single day – where as long as we are negative, as long as we are vicious, as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to worry, so we don’t. “This is a very deep problem,” he added. “I’m being totally candid with you.” He recalled that the GOP was able to block “Hillarycare” in 1994 because they had a “positive alternative approach” to health care.”
8.15 Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post: “The United States spends much less on the education and well-being of poor people, especially poor children, than any other rich country — and that retards their chances of escaping poverty. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development points out that the United States is one of only three rich countries that spends less on disadvantaged students than on other students — largely because education funding for elementary and secondary schools in the United States is tied to local property taxes. By definition, poor neighborhoods end up with badly funded schools. In general, the United States spends lots of money on education, but most of it is on college education or is otherwise directed toward those already advantaged in various ways.There is debate about the effectiveness of certain early education programs such as Head Start. It may be that providing help to “at-risk families” — treating drug-addicted mothers for example — has a bigger impact on children than a specific enrichment program. Though, clearly, most of us believe that these enrichment programs work. [Ottawa University’s Miles] Corak points out that the well-off in the United States spend nearly $9,000 a year on books, computers, child care and summer camps — nearly seven times what families in the bottom fifth of earners spend. In fact, this is part of what makes mobility low. In any event, what’s apparent is that countries — and most parts of the United States — that invest heavily in all their children’s health care, nutrition and education end up with a much stronger ladder of opportunity and access.”
8.14 The night after hitting 2 homers and knocking in 6 runs, the Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano hits 2 homers and knocks in 7, versus the Angels.
yorkbell8.14 York Bell, whoever she is, on the cover of New York.
8.14 Jack Germond dies at 85. “Jack died from the consequences of a life well-lived,” said his wife.
8.14 Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post: “Whether one likes or dislikes Hillary, few dispute that she has matured in her public role. Her résumé can be topped by few and the symbolic power of electing a woman president — especially this woman — can’t be overestimated. Many doubtless shudder at the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the most powerful person in the world, but we’ve done worse. For what it’s worth, many in the Bush White House said privately they hoped Hillary would win because they felt she was better prepared to handle international challenges. Whatever transpires during the next three years, we can be sure the world’s women are watching closely. In 2007 when I traveled through the Middle East with then-first lady Laura Bush, every woman I met was riveted by the U.S. presidential election and wanted to talk about only this question: Will Hillary win?
In 2008, it seemed possible. In 2016, barring a Benghazi surprise, it seems probable.”
8.13 Joe Nocera in the Times: “ In five years as wards of the government, Fannie and Freddie have actually shown the kind of role they could play. They are no longer bullies. They don’t really function as private companies anymore — nor do they have a mission to help people gain the American dream. Their portfolio is supposed to be gradually unwound. They have more capital. In other words, their sole role now is to guarantee and securitize mortgages. And they are making huge amounts of money — much of which is going to the government. Fannie Mae, for instance, recently announced a quarterly profit of $10.1 billion, and said it was making a $10.2 billion payment to Treasury. “At the current pace,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “over the next year, Fannie and Freddie are likely to repay the government more money than they borrowed.” Does housing finance need reform? Yes. Do we need private capital to return? Of course. But the easiest and most sensible reforms would take advantage of what we already have — two boltcompanies that know how to handle credit risk — instead of trying something new and untested, purely because Fannie and Freddie are political poison.”
8.11 Usain Bolt wins 100m sprint at World Track Championships in Moscow
8.9. Woody Allen, in Esquire: “What people who don’t write don’t understand is that they think you make up the line consciously — but you don’t. It proceeds from your unconscious. So it’s the same surprise to you when it emerges as it is to the audience when the comic says it. I don’t think of the joke and then say it. I say it and then realize what I’ve said. And I laugh at it, because I’m hearing it for the first time myself.
8.8 Interviewed Patricia Heaton
8.5 Baseball suspends Alex Rodriguez for the rest of the 2013 and all of the 2014 seasons, a total of 211 games; A-Rod appeals the suspension
8.5 Paul Krugman in the Times: `For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party’s base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities — deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy. At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told — for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don’t do anything for people like them. (Don’t let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can’t get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.The result is what we see now in the House: a party that, as I said, seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing.’
100_08878.4 Harper’s Ferry
8.1 “The adage holds that Democrats fall in love, while Republicans fall in line, ABC’s RICK KLEIN notes. These days, though, the GOP line looks more like a scrum – or, more accurately, competing lines forming at odd angles on a range of different issues. From immigration and national security policies to how far to take the fight against Obamacare – which the Republicans are practically unanimous in hating – major players inside the Republican Party are deeply divided against one another in unusually public fashion. With the party’s splits on vivid display on both Capitol Hill and among expected players in the nascent 2016 campaign, the question growing inside Republican circles is whether the deep rifts will heal themselves in time for the next election, where GOP leaders see huge opportunities to make gains. “We have an identity crisis, and you see the identity crisis playing out through all the various fissures,” said Ron Bonjean, a veteran Republican strategist. “It could take several election cycles until we actually come to consensus again. Our party may have to go to the brink of disaster before we pull back and realize what we have to do.”
7.31 ABC’s RICK KLEIN: In this corner, meet the King of Bacon, with his Snookie suntan and wrapped in the flag of 9/11 victims … facing off against – gasp! – the Washington politician, doused in tea and brandishing his well-worn copy of the Bill of Rights. The villainous name-calling is great fun, but the Chris Christie-Rand Paul brawl of 2013 has layers beyond it that suggest this is a fight that will extend through the 2016 primary season, and perhaps beyond. This is the type of fissure that’s natural for a party that will be losing its common enemy (the term-limited president) in time for the next election. And this is the particular split that should have been imagined back in 2010, when the tea party wave that swept Paul to office in Tennessee actually had about no connection to Christie’s election as a tough-talking New Jerseyan a year earlier. In the meantime, it’s a showcase for two of the largest personalities in the Republican Party today, a pair of all-out street fighters who have, shall we say, strong opinions on the topics of the day.
100_08457.30 Mammoth Cave
7.30 Pope Francis: “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”
7.27 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “[Felix Salmon writes that] `Larry Summers is, to put it mildly, not good at charming those he considers to be his inferiors, but he’s surprisingly excellent at cultivating people with real power.’ In my personal experience, especially in the business world, this is absolutely the worst personality trait you can find in anyone you are thinking of hiring. You see it a lot, especially in senior executives. Unfortunately, at the time of hiring, you only see the ability to manage up—not the inability to treat subordinates decently. By the time you figure it out, you’ve already suffered serious organizational damage. (Thanks to my friend Marcus Ryu for identifying this problem so clearly.) Powerful, self-confident people—like Barack Obama—are especially vulnerable, because they tend to make decisions based on intuitive judgments, and they form those judgments based on personal impressions—exactly the thing that two-faced psychopaths are good at making. (I’m not saying that Larry Summers is necessarily a psychopath, mind you—but apparently a lot of corporate CEOs are.)”
clouds7.26 Weird clouds over Michigan last night.7.26 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “Since the beginning of the current round of perceived deficit problems in the late 1970s, tax revenues have shifted away from income taxes (especially the corporate income tax) and toward payroll taxes—at a time when real wages have been falling. This trend was accentuated by the 1997 (Clinton-Gingrich) and 2003 (Bush) tax cuts, which reduced capital gains taxes first to 20 percent and then to 15 percent. As capital gains have made up a larger and larger share of income, we have been taxing them less and less, with only a partial correction this year. Our one significant wealth tax—the estate tax—was slashed by Bush; even after the latest tax compromise, the exemption is set at $5 million and indexed for inflation, as compared to $1 million (unindexed) only twelve years ago. The reasons are obvious. As much as conservatives like to portray the federal government as some kind of Leviathan out to maximize its own size at the expense of the people, the reality is that for decades people who want to cut taxes have either held the reins of power or been able to veto policies they oppose. Since they are backed by the wealthy, of course they have set about reducing taxes on wealth at every opportunity. How is that going to change—when conservatives have more than a 2-to-1 advantage in outside spending (7-to-1 for groups that don’t disclose their donors)?
7.25 Into the city to see Henry, David Berger, Susan Weaving
7.23 Mulberry & Prince Streets, 6:20 PM
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7.22 The Prince of Cambridge is born. Very unlikely I will ever see him crowned king.
7.21 Van Jones on ABC’s This Week: “I’ve watched Liz Cheney. I don’t think she’s big on potholes in Wyoming. I don’t think this about the people of Wyoming. I don’t think she’s about the Republican Party that much because she’s going to get a net zero increase in Republicans if she wins. I think she’s running for president. I think this is about the Cheney brand. I think she’s running for president in 2020. And I hope the people in Wyoming have enough sense to know when they’re being used.”
7.20 Helen Thomas dies at 92.
7.20 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “When you have a society that takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging.It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn’t come back from twenty-four down.To paraphrase a great man: We are what our record says we are. How can we sensibly expect different?”
7.19 Stifling week-long heat wave–97 degrees today, with a real feel of 106. Supposed to break tomorrow.
7.19 Dana Milbank in the Post: “Liz Cheney’s Senate candidacy gives me hope. I’m not hopeful because I’d like the former vice president’s daughter to become a senator, though my job would surely be more entertaining if she were to dislodge the unexciting incumbent, Sen. Mike Enzi, in Wyoming’s Republican primary. What fills me with hope is the instant denunciation of her run — by conservative Republicans. . . .The race won’t be about ideology (Enzi is as conservative as they come) but about temperament: Enzi is agreeable, and Cheney is, well, not. The opposition to her candidacy, particularly among Senate conservatives, is therefore an encouraging sign that the tea party fever may be breaking — and that the Senate may be recovering from its paralysis.”
7.19: President Obama, in remarks on Trayvon Martin:<``For those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
Handout image of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of August 1 issue of Rolling Stone magazine7.18 Controversial cover of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
7.15 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: “To me, and to many who watched the trial, the fact that Zimmerman recklessly initiated the tragic encounter was enough to establish, at a minimum, guilt of manslaughter. The six women on the jury disagreed. Those jurors also knew that Martin, at the time of his death, was just three weeks past his 17th birthday. But black boys in this country are not allowed to be children. They are assumed to be men, and to be full of menace. I don’t know if the jury, which included no African Americans, consciously or unconsciously bought into this racist way of thinking — there’s really no other word. But it hardly matters, because police and prosecutors initially did. The assumption underlying their ho-hum approach to the case was that Zimmerman had the right to self-defense but Martin — young, male, black — did not. The assumption was that Zimmerman would fear for his life in a hand-to-hand struggle but Martin — young, male, black — would not. If anyone wonders why African Americans feel so passionately about this case, it’s because we know that our 17-year-old sons are boys, not men. It’s because we know their adolescent bravura is just that — an imitation of manhood, not the real thing. We know how frightened our sons would be, walking home alone on a rainy night and realizing they were being followed. We know how torn they would be between a child’s fear and a child’s immature idea of manly behavior. We know how they would struggle to decide the right course of action, flight or fight.And we know that a skinny boy armed only with candy, no matter how big and bad he tries to seem, does not pose a mortal threat to a healthy adult man who outweighs him by 50 pounds and has had martial arts training (even if the lessons were mostly a waste of money). We know that the boy may well have threatened the man’s pride but likely not his life. How many murders-by-sidewalk have you heard of recently? Or ever?The conversation we need to have is about how black men, even black boys, are denied the right to be young, to be vulnerable, to make mistakes. We need to talk about why, for example, black men are no more likely than white men to smoke marijuana but nearly four times as likely to be arrested for it — and condemned to a dead-end cycle of incarceration and unemployment. I call this racism. What do you call it?”
<1trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-verdict-new-york-daily-news__oPtstrong>7.15 The New York Daily News
7.14 Visit Crumpler’s Bluff VA, then home
7.13 Cory Monteith found dead
7.13 George Zimmerman acquitted of all charges in the death of Trayvon Martin
7.13 Visit Fort Fisher, then drive to Franklin VA
7.12 Drive to the Albemarle Museum in Plymouth NC, then head to Kure Beach NC
7.11 Take Hampton Roads Harbor Tour, then drive to Williamston NC
7.10 Drive to Hampton VA, visit museums at Newport News and Norfolk
7.9 Drive to Annapolis, vist the Naval Academy
7.8 Drive to Edgewood, visit Rose
7.7 Molly and I see the Yankees. Hot day, good seats, unfortunate outcome.
7.7 Cara waits on Coach Calipari.
7.7 Andy Murray wins Wimbledon.
7.4 Morsi ousted in Egyptian military coup.
6.29 Lincoln XKZ, dinner at the Old Post Road Restaurant.
6.28 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Near the end of his speech, the president urged his audience to: “Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.” Normally, one would be tempted to dismiss this as the sound of someone waving away the need for hard choices. But, in this case, it was simple good sense: We really can invest in new energy sources, divest from old sources, and actually make the economy stronger. So let’s do it.”
photo-136.27 The Mogul at Sardi’s
6.27 ABC News: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act as an “extraordinary day.” “Equal protection will not simply be a promise unfulfilled; it will be a promise kept,” said Pelosi, as she joined the LGBT community of Congress for a news conference. But not every member of Congress was pleased with the decision. Rep. Michele Bachmann, said marriage is something only “God will define.” “The Supreme Court, though they may think so, have not yet arisen to the level of God,” Bachmann said. When presented with Bachmann’s response to the decision, Pelosi scoffed, grumbling, “Who cares?
6.26
Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.
6.25 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote Tuesday’s opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, was 10 years old in 1965, when police officers beat and gassed citizens in Selma, Ala., demonstrating for the right to vote; that assault, and King’s subsequent march from Selma to Montgomery, spurred passage of the very law Roberts and his colleagues undid on Tuesday by declaring a key provision outdated. But if Roberts was ready to move on from that bit of civil rights history, 80-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a young law professor during the civil rights era, was not going to let Roberts and his colleagues in the majority ignore that they were invalidating years of bipartisan efforts in Congress toward “achieving what was once the subject of a dream: the equal citizenship stature of all in our polity, a voice to every voter in our democracy undiluted by race.” In her quietly spoken but powerfully worded dissent read from the bench, Ginsburg invoked “the great man who led the march from Selma to Montgomery, and there called for the passage of the Voting Rights Act?.?.?. ‘The arc of the moral universe is long,’ he said, but ‘it bends toward justice,’ if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion. That commitment has been disserved by today’s decision.” It was difficult to hear the tiny and frail Ginsburg in the chamber. But her dissent, joined by the other three liberal justices, was a sharp rebuke of the conservatives for the yawning gap between their frequent vows of judicial modesty and the “hubris” apparent in their “demolition” of the Voting Rights Act. “What has become of the court’s usual restraint?” she asked the judicial activists of the right.”
0625-wendy-davis_full_6006.25 Texas State Senator Wendy Davis pulls an 11 hour filibuster to stop bill that would limit abortion rights and closed virtually abortion clinics in Texas. A star is born.
6.24 Chicago Blackhawks beat Boston Bruins for Stanley Cup, winning the sixth game by scoring 2 goals within 17 seconds within the last couple minutes of play.
6.20 After stirring Games 6 and 7, the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship
6.19 James Gandolfini dies at 51.
6.16 Went to Xavier’s XO in Yonkers with Greg and Susan. It was great. I had champagne mangos with goat cheese for an appetizer, and scallops for an entree. Magnificent!
6.15 Patriots owner Robert Kraft says Russian president Vladimir Putin stole his Super Bowk ring
6.14 Paul Krugman in the Times: “A much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves. I’ve noted before that the nature of rising inequality in America changed around 2000. Until then, it was all about worker versus worker; the distribution of income between labor and capital — between wages and profits, if you like — had been stable for decades. Since then, however, labor’s share of the pie has fallen sharply. As it turns out, this is not a uniquely American phenomenon. A new report from the International Labor Organization points out that the same thing has been happening in many other countries, which is what you’d expect to see if global technological trends were turning against workers.And some of those turns may well be sudden. The McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report on a dozen major new technologies that it considers likely to be “disruptive,” upsetting existing market and social arrangements. Even a quick scan of the report’s list suggests that some of the victims of disruption will be workers who are currently considered highly skilled, and who invested a lot of time and money in acquiring those skills. For example, the report suggests that we’re going to be seeing a lot of “automation of knowledge work,” with software doing things that used to require college graduates. Advanced robotics could further diminish employment in manufacturing, but it could also replace some medical professionals. So should workers simply be prepared to acquire new skills? The woolworkers of 18th-century Leeds addressed this issue back in 1786: “Who will maintain our families, whilst we undertake the arduous task” of learning a new trade? Also, they asked, what will happen if the new trade, in turn, gets devalued by further technological advance? And the modern counterparts of those woolworkers might well ask further, what will happen to us if, like so many students, we go deep into debt to acquire the skills we’re told we need, only to learn that the economy no longer wants those skills? Education, then, is no longer the answer to rising inequality, if it ever was (which I doubt). So what is the answer? If the picture I’ve drawn is at all right, the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society — a society in which ordinary citizens have a reasonable assurance of maintaining a decent life as long as they work hard and play by the rules — would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too. And with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income. I can already hear conservatives shouting about the evils of “redistribution.” But what, exactly, would they propose instead? 6.12 In The Washington Post: “The head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, defended his agency’s broad electronic surveillance programs Wednesday, saying that they have helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks and that their recent public disclosure has done “great harm” to the nation’s security.”
6.11 Joe Biden: ““This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance — at least since I’ve been alive — distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm. … But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky (Rand Paul) — or the old senator from Kentucky (Mitch McConnell). . . .Think about this: Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”
6.10 James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, on why he said No last March when he was asked by Congress what he thought was an “unfair” question about whether theNational Security Agency intentionally collects any kind of data on millions of Americans: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner possible.”
6.10 Fred Kaplan in Slate: “[Surveillance expert Brian Jenkins, who still has close contacts inside the intelligence community, has been concerned about these dangers for most of the past decade, beginning with the hasty passage of the Patriot Act and the subsequent news stories about NSA domestic surveillance outside the purview of Congress or the courts set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress forced the shutdown of that surveillance program, which was known as Total Information Awareness, and passed new laws, expanding the powers of the FISA courts, so that it could rule not just on individual search warrants but also on massive data-mining expeditions. In fact, though, these steps were illusory. “They put in place the principle of oversight,” he said, “but the practical impact—the actual oversight—is less than it was before. In part, this outcome stems from the technology itself. “The people who set up this program didn’t intend to be malevolent,” he said. “It’s capacity-driven. We have this enormous capacity to collect and sort data. We do this because we can, and because it’s the one area where the government can really overmatch its terrorist adversaries. The problem is what happens incrementally. “What now seems extraordinary is soon accepted as normal, and becomes the baseline for the future,” Jenkins said. “Over a period of time, this baseline shifts, and these new intrusions accumulate and reinforce one another—and that fundamentally changes things.This dynamic has taken hold in many liberal democracies during crises and wars. “In the past, at the end of the emergency, the balance has shifted back and a lot of those powers were ended,” he said. “But we’re in a situation now that doesn’t have a finite ending. If there isn’t an end, then these powers accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. This is a fundamental difference. What we put in place becomes a permanent part of the landscape. “We are driven,” he continued, “by fears of what might happen, not by things that have happened.” He noted that since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been 42 terrorist plots in the United States. All but four of them were halted. Three of those succeeded and killed a total of 17 people. “Not that this isn’t a tragedy,” he said, “but, really, in a society that has 15–16,000 homicides every year, it isn’t a lot. “The point,” he said, “is that if we are fearful of what might be, and if there is no visible end to this—you can always fear what might be—then there will be no occasion for reconsidering the measures we’ve put in place.”
6.10 Mark Thiessen in The Washington Post: “he leaked NSA operations are not warrantless. And, in the case of Verizon, they do not even involve wiretapping. The Verizon court order shows that what is being tracked is not the content of the communications but the records of which phone number called which number, as well as the location and duration of the calls. In Smith v. Maryland , the Supreme Court held that there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus no Fourth Amendment protection, for the phone numbers people dial (as distinct from the content of the call), because the number dialed is information you voluntarily share with the phone company to complete the call and for billing purposes. Why does the NSA need to collect all that data? One former national security official explained it to me this way: If you want to connect the dots and stop the next attack, you need to have a “field of dots.” That is what the NSA is collecting. But it doesn’t dip into that field unless it comes up with a new “dot” — for example, a new terrorist phone number found on a cellphone captured in a raid. It will then plug that new “dot” into the “field of dots” to find out which dots are connected to the new number. If you are not communicating with that terrorist, your dot is not touched. But the NSA needs to have the entire field of dots so it can unravel the network connected to that terrorist.In the case of the PRISM program, the NSA is targeting foreign nationals, not U.S. citizens, and not even individuals in the United States. And all of this collection is being done with a warrant, issued by a federal judge, under authorities approved by Congress.” 6.10 Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post: “By one view, American policy is actually too lenient toward multinationals: U.S. taxes on most foreign profits are deferred until the profits are repatriated to the United States. Naturally, as with Apple, profits are often left abroad; according to one estimate, they now total about $1.9 trillion. Raise rates on foreign profits, say critics. Bring some home. The rebuttal from companies is that the 35 percent top U.S. corporate tax rate — the highest among advanced nations — deters U.S. investment. Lower U.S. rates, say companies. More foreign profits would return; U.S. investment would rise.Maybe do both: raise taxes on foreign profits; use the resulting revenue to cut the 35?percent corporate rate. See what happens. But even if U.S. investment responds, the great schism will endure. Multinationals are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan while we still view them as national champions.”
6.2 Rep. Darrell Issa calls White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” on CNN.
get-attachment.aspx_-e13701016934525.31 Ugo Rondinone sculpture Human Nature, in front of 30 Rock.
5.29 In the Times: “Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census and polling data released Wednesday. This share, the highest on record, has quadrupled since 1960. . . .Demographically and socioeconomically, single mothers and married mothers differ, according to the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey. The median family income for single mothers — who are more likely to be younger, black or Hispanic, and less educated — is $23,000. The median household income for married women who earn more than their husbands — more often white, slightly older and college educated — is $80,000. When the wife is the primary breadwinner, the total family income is generally higher.Such marriages are still relatively rare, even if their share is growing. Of all married couples, 24 percent include a wife who earns more, versus 6 percent in 1960.”
5.29 Eduardo Porter in the Times: “ You may have heard of Google’s “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich” — an increasingly popular route through Ireland and the Netherlands that cleanses corporate cash of most of its tax liability.Amazon and Facebook like the sandwich, too.Don’t forget the fabled tax wizards in General Electric’s accounting department. Or what about Starbucks, which paid a grand total of $13 million in British corporate taxes over 15 years on revenue of more than $5 billion? Starbucks is not a complex technology firm with a subsidiary in a low-tax Caribbean island charging its headquarters through the nose to license some cutting-edge software patent. It’s a chain of coffee shops, part of the predigital economy.Still, despite a 31 percent market share, the company’s British subsidiary managed to report losses in 14 of its first 15 years.The case of Starbucks is particularly troubling for every government concerned about how it is going to finance itself in the future.As Edward Kleinbard of the University of Southern California noted: if Starbucks could generate so much “stateless” income — beyond the reach of tax authorities both where it makes and sells the Frappuccinos and where it is incorporated as a company — “any multinational firm can.”
5.28 Met with Sid Holt at ASME
5.28 Paul Krugman in the Times: The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage. No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and in this case, we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform. Yet important new evidence — especially from California, the law’s most important test case — suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success.”
Allure-Magazine-Naked-Issue-Nude-Celebrities-04162013-03-580x4355.24 Jennifer Morrison in Allure
5.23 Mark Miller in the Washington Post: “Tim Cook and his colleagues have a fiduciary duty to minimize Apple’s taxes under the law. The ways and means may be arcane and look fishy to the untutored eye, but Apple didn’t make the rules, it’s playing by them. What pension fund that owns Apple shares would cheer its bosses for paying more in taxes than the company legally owed? The real scandal isn’t Apple’s planning but the enormous waste of human talent now dedicated to shrinking corporate America’s tab because of the complexity of the tax code. Brilliant minds that might have invented new products or services, or even pursued humbler vocations (such as gardening) that improve the human condition, end up marinating for decades in byzantine fusses over “transfer pricing,” “income-shifting” and “deferral.”
5.22 The New York Times: “The James Rosen case follows other signs that the administration has gone overboard in its zeal to find and muzzle insiders. The Associated Press revealed last week that the government had secretly seized two months’ worth of records for telephones used by the agency’s staff, partly to determine the source of a leak about a report involving a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen. At least two other major leak investigations are continuing. Six current and former administration officials have been indicted under the old Espionage Act for leaking classified information to the press and public. In 2010, a federal judge in Maryland sentenced a leaker to 20 months in jail while admitting that he was “in the dark as to the kind of documents” involved in the leak or what impact they had on national security. Obama administration officials often talk about the balance between protecting secrets and protecting the constitutional rights of a free press. Accusing a reporter of being a “co-conspirator,” on top of other zealous and secretive investigations, shows a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press.
Disunion-cover5.21 Disunion cocktail party at Trish Hall‘s. Lovely acknowledgement in the book by George Kalogerakis.
5.20 Massive, mile-wide tornado destroys Moore OK; more than 20 dead.
5.4 Jim Porter, newly elected NRA president, said in a speech last year that the “NRAwas started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the ‘War of Northern Aggression.’ Now y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ down south.”
5.1 Sen. Pat Toomey, on failure of the gun registration bill to pass: ““In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”
4.29 From the Washington Post: ““Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye,’” Sandra Day O’Connor told the Chicago Tribune editorial board, in reference to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision resolving a dispute over the 2000 election in George W. Bush’s favor. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.” It’s not the first time O’Connor has expressed doubt about siding with the majority in the 5-4 decision. In a 2010 interview, she said she didn’t know if it was right. But, she added, she didn’t worry about it because several recounts found that Bush would have won the state regardless. (Those recounts — the one requested by Al Gore and the one ordered by the state Supreme Court — were limited. Had Gore been able to trigger a statewide recount the result likely would have been different, a 2001 Post analysis found.) She has also linked declining public perception of the Supreme Court to that decision.
4.29 Jason Collins in Sports Illustrated: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
4.27 Steven Soderbergh, at a talk in San Francisco: “ “Cinema is a specificity of vision. It’s an approach in which everything matters. It’s the polar opposite of generic or arbitrary and the result is as unique as a signature or a fingerprint. It isn’t made by a committee, and it isn’t made by a company, and it isn’t made by the audience. It means that if this filmmaker didn’t do it, it either wouldn’t exist at all, or it wouldn’t exist in anything like this form. . . .When I was coming up, [making an independent film] was like trying to hit a thrown baseball. Now, it’s like trying to hit a thrown baseball with another thrown baseball.”
4.24 Washington Post: “This year, the government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees for bank accounts that have nothing in them. At last count, Uncle Sam has 13,712 such accounts, each with a balance of zero. These are supposed to be closed. But nobody has done the paperwork yet.”
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4.19 Jimmy Vivino, Garth Hudson et al play The Band at Tarrytown Music Hall, with Dave Jensen.
4.19 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apprehended in Watertown, hiding in a boat, after all-night manhunt.
boston-marathon-bombing-suspects4.19 Suspects identified as brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now dead.
4.18 One suspect killed in gun fight with police in Watertown MA; second suspect flees.
4.18 Photos of two suspects released.
4.15 Bombings at the Boston Marathon. Three killed, hundreds wounded.
4.14 Ain’t In It for My Health, plus Dirt Farmer Band, with Ken Smith, at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn
4.12 Jonathan Winters dies at 87.
Pope Francis, Patti Smith4.11 Lunch with Henry Bushkin
4.10 Pope Francis greets Patty Smith in St. Peter’s Square.
4.8 Overheard at The New York Times: “What kind of God allows Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello to die on the same day?”
4.7 Roger Sterling, in the season opener of Mad Men: “”What are the events in life? It’s like, you see a door. The first time you come to it, you say, ‘Oh, what’s on the other side of the door?’ Then you open a few doors and then you say, ‘I think I want to go over a bridge this time. I’m tired of doors.’ Finally you go through one of these things, and you come out the other side, and you realize that’s all there are: doors! And windows and bridges and gates. And they all open the same way. And they all close behind you. Look, life is supposed to be a path, and you go along, and these things happen to you, and they’re supposed to change your direction, but it turns out that’s not true. Turns out the experiences are nothing. They’re just some pennies you pick up off the floor, stick in your pocket, and you’re just going in a straight line to you-know-where.”
4.6 Interview between The New York Times and Louis CK:
Does it matter that what you’ve achieved, with your online special and your tour can’t be replicated by other performers who don’t have the visibility or fan base that you do?
Why do you think those people don’t have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What’s different between me and them?
You have the platform. You have the level of recognition.
So why do I have the platform and the recognition?
At this point you’ve put in the time.
There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.
4.5 According to White House press secretary Jay Carney, Obama called Harris Thursday evening to apologize for his comments. “He fully recognizes the challenges women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on appearance. They’re old friends. He certainly regretted that [his comments] caused a distraction.”
4.4 Michele Obama to a Vermont TV station: “”You know, when you’ve got the husband who’s president, it can feel a little single — but he’s there.”
4.4 President Obama on California Attorney General Kamala Harris at a Democratic National Committee fundraising lunch in Atherton, California: “She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough. She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general … It’s true! C’mon.”
gamethrones3.31 Ginny and Molly visit The Game of Thrones pop up exhibit in Manhattan
3.30 Fabulous Midnight Ramble, featuring Eric Anderson, with Dave and Joe Jensen
3.30 Breakfast at Old Post Inn in Bedford with Ginny and Molly11photo-11
3.26 Matthew Weiner in the Saturday Evening Post: “I’m like every dad, I’m a joke. [He has four sons.] My anger’s a joke. My dissatisfaction’s a joke. My rules are a joke. I’m always fighting to enforce my authority. I work so much that when I come home and say, ‘Hey everybody, don’t do it this way,’ they’re like, ‘If you were here you’d know this is the way we do it.’ It’s like I’m powerless. You know what, once you take physical violence out of the equation, you really have no control over another person.”
3.25 Dinner at Old Route 22 Diner with Ginny and Molly
3.24 La Salle makes the Sweet 16!
3.22 Rand Paul at CPAC: ““There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street. Likewise, there is nothing progressive about billion dollar loans to millionaires to build solar panels.”
3.16 Dinner at Le Bouchon in Cold Spring with Ginny, Greg, Susan, Tim and Cathy
3.10 Dinner at Haymount House with Paul and Ann Lindstrom
Rodman-Kim-courtside3.3 Dennis Rodman returns from visiting Kim Jong Un in North Korea. “ “He loves basketball. … I said Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there” as a way to warm up relations between the US and North Korea.
3.1 President Obama: “I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”
2.27 Sheila Bair in the Times: “Government actions, not merit, have fueled these extremes in income distribution through taxpayer bailouts, central-bank-engineered financial asset bubbles and unjustified tax breaks that favor the rich. This is not a situation that any freethinking Republican should accept. Skewing income toward the upper, upper class hurts our economy because the rich tend to sit on their money — unlike lower- and middle-income people, who spend a large share of their paychecks, and hence stimulate economic activity. But more fundamentally, it cuts against everything our country and my party stand for. Government’s role should not be to rig the game in favor of “the haves” but to make sure “the have-nots” are given a fair shot. . . .Why haven’t Republicans made an issue out of this? No doubt some fear that discussing it openly would catalyze support for redistributionist policies, which are anathema to a party that prides itself on increasing the pie, not redividing it. But there are other policy options to demonstrate Republicans’ commitment to the average Joe and Jane that are very much in the party’s tradition. . . Republicans should put fundamental tax reform on the table and make it our priority to end preferential treatment of investment income, which lets managers of hedge funds pay half the tax rate of managers of shoe stores. . . .If we eliminate this and other unjustified tax breaks, we can produce enough new revenues to lower marginal rates and reduce the deficit.”
2.25 Anthony Lane in The New Yorker: “Yesterday belonged to Shirley Bassey—to Adele, too, and, at a lesser volume, to Barbra Streisand—but mainly to Dame Shirley. These women know how to catch an audience, hold it tight, hit their marks, storm their high notes, and put on a damn fine show. If their stage-commanding ease was so complete that any latecomers, switching on halfway through, must have wondered whether the Academy Awards had been kidnapped and held hostage by the Emmys, well, tough. Streisand may have to rein the voice in these days, but she is enough of a pro to offer compensation, and even the tiny switch from “the way we were” to “the way you were,” in the final line of her song, though it sounds cheesy in the telling, came off as the smartest of grace-notes, as a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch. No doubt it was rehearsed to the hilt, but, in contrast to the iron-heavy tread with which so many of the actors recited their lines, it still felt like someone thinking, or feeling, on her feet. As for Adele, she knows full well that her song for Skyfall. . .could be one of the very few cultural items from those honored last night that will gain permanent entry to the pantheon of cinematic memories. . . .That is why Adele performed the number with such restraint, untempted by the need to try too hard, and conducting her own voice with those beautiful, carving gestures of her right hand . . .All of which leaves Bassey [singing “Goldfinger”. . . .Here was the Bond song, all a-glitter, not merely repeated but refreshed for our delight. And our lady, at the gilded age of seventy-six, was no less fair. The spider-like pause, on “It’s the kiss of death,” was left to hang far longer, and more luxuriously, than it was in the original recording; the climactic growl on “only gold” would have sent Richard Parker packing; and, as for the knowing, hands-on-hips mini-shimmer at the words “pretty girls,” even the girlish Jennifer Lawrence must have been left pondering what it yet might take, in the long haul of stardom, to own the town. The assembled throng rose before Bassey had even signed off; these folk know royalty when they see it. . . .For an instant, we could all party like it was 1964.”
2.24 Seth Mcfarlane hosts the Oscars, behaves fairly witlessly. Argo, admittedly fictionalized, beats Zero Dark ThirtY, which was arguably accurate.
2.20 From Dwight Garner‘s review of Clive Davis‘s memoir, in the Times: ““The Soundtrack of My Life” is studded with pretty good moments. Mr. Davis told the young Bruce Springsteen that he should move around more onstage. When Mr. Davis invited Lou Reed along on a beach trip, Mr. Reed commented, “Clive, if I ever get a tan, my career would be over.”
2.20 Hilary Mantel in The London Review of Books: “Kate [Middleton] seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture. Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation. When her pregnancy became public she had been visiting her old school, and had picked up a hockey stick and run a few paces for the camera. BBC News devoted a discussion to whether a pregnant woman could safely put on a turn of speed while wearing high heels. It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken. And in the same way one is compelled to look at them: to ask what they are made of, and is their substance the same as ours.”
2.12 Obama pushes for gun control in State of the Union address.

2.11 Jim Greer pleads guilty on five counts.
2.11 Pope Benedict announce his resignation.get-attachment1
2.8 Bill Clinton on gun control: ““I think we ought to stay with this issue, but you can do it in a way that recognizes that there are people out there that aren’t supposed to be part of our demographic, they’re thinking about this too. … I guarantee you, a lot of people from where I grew up were asking themselves this practical question: If that young man had had the load three time as often as he did, would all those children have been killed? People just out in the country that make a living … they asking questions, they’re thinking about it … And they’re more likely to be able to figure out the answer to that than most of us who don’t live with this every day. So turn in to this. Treat these people as our friends and neighbors, people we share a country with.”
2.8 A foot of snow
2.5 The Huffington Post: “The Obama administration believes that high-level administration officials — not just the president — may order the killing of “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or an associated force even without evidence they are actively plotting against the U.S. “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” states the Justice Department white paper. . . .The paper states that the U.S. would be able to kill a U.S. citizen overseas when “an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government” determines the target is an imminent threat, when capture would be infeasible and when the operation is “conducted consistent with applicable law of war principles.” The white paper suggests that such decisions would not be subject to judicial review and outlines a broad definition of what constitutes “imminent” threat.”
richard_III_skeleton_620x3502.4 Experts from the University of Leicester concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt” that skeletal remains found in a parking lot in England were those of King Richard III, for centuries the most reviled of English monarchs. The king was killed on Aug. 22, 1485, at the Battle of Bosworth Field. The remains were found in a corner of the buried ruins of the Greyfriars Priory, where John Rouse, a medieval historian writing in Latin within a few years after Richard’s death, had recorded him as having been buried.
2.3 Ravens beat 49ers, 34-31, in riveting, eventful Super Bowl.superbowl
2.3 The Huffington Post: “A former LAPD detective who believes his father killed the “Black Dahlia” 66 years ago claims a cadaver dog’s recent search of his old Hollywood home uncovered the scent of human decomposition. The severed body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short — nicknamed the Black Dhalia in media reports at the time — was found on Jan. 15, 1947, in a vacant lot near the intersection of 39th Street and Norton Avenue in South Los Angeles. Nearly seven decades later, the infamous case remains unsolved. Author Steve Hodel made the claim in his 2003 book, Black Dahlia Avenger, that his father, Los Angeles doctor George Hill Hodel, committed the murder. Hodel has said he believes his father killed Short at the historic “Sowden House” in Hollywood where the family lived at the time. Hodel said Friday that a November search of the home by a cadaver dog, named “Buster,” and a retired police sergeant turned up the scent of human decomposition, sbsun.com reported. “Buster immediately took off … and ran to a vent located at the southwest corner of the property where he alerted, indicating he had picked up the scent of human decomposition,” Hodel told the website. Samples from the basement’s dirt floor were reportedly taken for testing.
wjo22.2 Westchester Jazz Orchestra with Dave Jensen, Joe Jensen and Greg Schmidt.
2.1 Ed Koch dies at 88
1.25 Bobby Jindahl: ““We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,” he said. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”
1.24 Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan on the GOP’s situation: “The public is not behind us, and that’s a real problem for our party.”
1.23 Pop up dinner with Ryan Umane.
1.23 Hilary Clinton at Senate hearing: “”What difference does it make at this point?”
1.21 President Obama, in his Inauguration Address: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
1.14 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “Given this weak Republican position, Obama must be tempted by a shiny political object: the destruction of the congressional GOP. He knows that Republicans are forced by the momentum of their ideology to take positions on spending that he can easily demagogue. He is in a good position to humiliate them again — to expose their internal divisions and unpopular policy views. It may even be a chance to discredit and then overturn the House Republican majority, finally reversing his own humiliation in the 2010 midterms.”
1.14 “President Obama: We are not a deadbeat nation.”
1.14 “President Obama: “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people. They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,”
1.4 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions. Now, the president has said that he won’t negotiate on that basis, and rightly so. Threatening to hurt tens of millions of innocent victims unless you get your way — which is what the G.O.P. strategy boils down to — shouldn’t be treated as a legitimate political tactic. But will Mr. Obama stick to his anti-blackmail position as the moment of truth approaches? He blinked during the 2011 debt limit confrontation. And the last few days of the fiscal cliff negotiations were also marked by a clear unwillingness on his part to let the deadline expire. Since the consequences of a missed deadline on the debt limit would potentially be much worse, this bodes ill for administration resolve in the clinch.
So, as I said, in a tactical sense the fiscal cliff ended in a modest victory for the White House. But that victory could all too easily turn into defeat in just a few weeks.”
vicki1.4 Vicki likes her new bed.
1.4 David Brooks in the Times: “In his extremely French book, A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues, the contemporary philosopher André Comte-Sponville argues that “politeness is the first virtue, and the origin perhaps of all the others.” Politeness is a discipline that compels respectful behavior. Morality, he writes “is like a politeness of the soul, an etiquette of the inner life, a code of duties, a ceremonial of the essential.”
1.4 Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican Congressman, describing John Boehner’s challenge as Speaker of the House to the Times: “It’s a little bit like being the head caretaker of the cemetery. There are a lot of people under you, but nobody listens.”
1.3 Uzoamaka Maduka, editor of The American Reader, quoted in The New York Times: “I’ve always viewed the smoke break as the golf course of the creative class.”
1.3 Chris Christie, on the decision of the House Republican leadership to defer hurricane relief legislation to the next session, which will result in a 3-4 week delay in getting aid to storm victims: ““There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.”
1.3 Nicholas Kristof in the Times: “From afar, Westerners sometimes perceive China as rigidly controlled, but up close it sometimes seems the opposite. There are rules, but often they are loosely enforced, or negotiable.” Here, too, eh?
1.1 House raises taxes on rich, averts fiscal cliff. The bizarre House GOP, unable to take yes for an answer, fails to get spending cuts or entitlement reform.

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