Campaign Outsider Presidential Bakeoff 2020™ (Part 3)

Latest in our ongoing series

Itemizing this one deduction as NBC gets ready for the first Democratic debates on June 26-27 by assigning one moderator for every two candidates (that would be five – count ’em, five – moderators if you’re keeping score at home).

The lineups, via Politico.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Item: Donald Trump represents the What of It wing of the Republican Party

Over the past few years we’ve grown accustomed to the knee-jerk GOP whataboutism (but Hilary’s emails!) from Donald Trump and the Trumpiacs. But now we seem to be moving into a new phase in which the Cheeto in Chief’s default response to criticism has morphed from I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I? to nonchalant whatofitism.

Exhibit A: Trump’s Kellyanne-urism regarding her numerous Hatch Act violations.

From Politico:

Trump says he won’t fire Kellyanne Conway

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he has no plans to fire top aide Kellyanne Conway after an independent federal agency recommended that she be removed from her job after she repeatedly used her office for political purposes . . .

On Friday, Trump fiercely defended Conway and criticized the Hatch Act, saying it unfairly muzzles officials.

“It really sounds to me like a free-speech thing. It doesn’t sound fair,” Trump said during an interview with “Fox & Friends.”

“No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a tremendous person, tremendous spokesperson,” Trump added. “They have tried to take away her speech and I think you’re entitled to free speech in the country.”

Trumplation (pat. pending): Conway violated federal law? What of it.

Back on planet earth, as Friday’s Politico Playbook PM noted:

REMEMBER: THE SUPREME COURT ruled that the Hatch Act does not violate free speech. (If you care, see United Public Workers v. Mitchell and United States Civil Service Commission v. National Association of Letter Carriers.)

(Just for the record, Donald Trump does not care.)

Nor does he care about the constitutional oversight role of the U.S. Congress (what of it); or anything that former White House counsel Don McGahn told the Mueller investigation about Trump’s attempts at obstruction of justice (“It doesn’t matter,” he told George Stephanopoulos in an ABC News interview); or his blatant, unlawful willingness to accept re-election help from foreign governments – again (what of it); or the 10,796 false or misleading claims he’s made over 869 days (“I like the truth,” he told Stephanopoulos. “I’m actually a very honest guy”).

That’s how the president of the United States conducts himself?

What of it.

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The Arts Seen in NYC (‘Summer with the Averys’ Edition)

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Big Town last weekend to check out this that and the other thing and, say, it was swell.

After the usual funhouse ride through Six Flags Over Midtown Manhattan, we headed down to The Museum at FIT to catch Minimalism/Maximalism (through November 16), which in fairness should really be called Artful/Awful.

An example of the former:

Narciso Rodriguez, evening dress, spring 2011, USA.

An example of the latter:

Comme des Garçons, bodysuit, Multidimensional Graffiti collection, Spring 2018, Japan.

‘Nuf ced.

From there we drifted up Sixth Ave to Bryant Park to soak in la comedie humaine – and how lucky were we to catch this year’s inaugural Yoga Night! Slogan:”Perfect your downward dog at our outdoor yoga classes.”

Representative sample:



When the Yoga Mistress started taking about centeredness and mindfulness, though, we took ourselves elsewhere.

After a nice dinner at The Red Flame (which blessedly is now rid of the scaffolding that has obscured the diner for umpteen years), we wandered over to the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre for the Almeida Theatre production of Ink. (That’s a lot of -re theaters, eh?)

It’s 1969 London. The brash young Rupert Murdoch (Tony winner Bertie Carvel) purchases a struggling paper, The Sun, and sets out to make it a must-read smash which will destroy – and ultimately horrify – the competition. He brings on rogue editor Larry Lamb (Olivier winner Jonny Lee Miller) who in turn recruits an unlikely team of underdog reporters. Together, they will go to any lengths for success and the race for the most ink is on! Inspired by real events . . .

Larry Lamb is tasked by Rupert Murdoch with overtaking – in one year – The Mirror, which has the largest circulation in the U.K. (four million daily), while The Sun is among the smallest.

No spoilers here. But I will say that the production is loud, manic, and fabulously staged. And the actors are terrific.

Here’s a clip about the Theme Weeks that The Sun incessantly ran.



(More clips here.)

The play is not just smart – it’s prescient. The Sun was determined to be a disruptor, giving voice to the people and relying on them for content.

One last note: An Australian woman was sitting behind us, decrying how Rupert Murdoch has been so destructive to democracy the world over. But she failed to recognize the creative Murdoch – the one who has seen the gaps in the media world that he could fill with The Sun, the Fox Broadcast Network, the Fox News Channel.

The mistake people make is in thinking Rupert Murdoch has bedrock conservative principles. Not even close. He’s only interested in principal – how much money he can make exploiting the public’s basest instincts.

And that’s what Ink so deftly illustrates.

* * * * * * *

Bright and early next morning it was off to the Museum of Modern Art – which will close this weekend to undertake a four-month $450 million expansion – to check out Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern, which we missed last time we were in the Big Town.

“I have a live eye,” proclaimed Lincoln Kirstein, signaling his wide-ranging vision. Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern explores this polymath’s sweeping contributions to American cultural life in the 1930s and ’40s. Best known for cofounding New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Kirstein (1907–1996), a writer, critic, curator, impresario, and tastemaker, was also a key figure in MoMA’s early history. With his prescient belief in the role of dance within the museum, his championing of figuration in the face of prevailing abstraction, and his position at the center of a New York network of queer artists, intimates, and collaborators, Kirstein’s impact remains profoundly resonant today.

Oh, yes – and major enabler of Nazi-sympathizing starchitect Philip Johnson. But we’ll pass over that in silence, as Cicero used to say.

Here’s MoMA’s video if you’re interested. And here are the images. For us, the best parts of the exhibit were the artworks Kirstein himself collected, such as this one.



Overall, an admirable presentation about a not-so-admirable guy.

Our farewell tour continued at The Frick Collection, which is planning a renovation of its own, as The Art Newspaper reported last fall.

Met plans to leave Breuer building, making way for the Frick

The Brutalist structure will house Frick’s historic collection during expansion of its 70th Street home

Brace yourself, traditionalists: Henry Clay Frick’s venerable Old Master paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and porcelain seem destined for a change of scene.

In an unusual game of musical chairs, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Frick Collection announced today (21 September) that the Met will vacate the Brutalist Breuer building on Madison Avenue in 2020. Its departure will make way for the Frick to move in late that year while its mansion undergoes a renovation and expansion five blocks away.

In addition to the sheer pleasure of wandering through Frick’s old pad, there was Whistler as Printmaker: Highlights from the Gertrude Kosovsky Collection (through September 1).

The Frick Collection is pleased to announce a promised gift of forty-two works on paper by James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), from the collection of Gertrude Kosovsky. An exhibition highlighting fifteen prints and one pastel from the gift is now on view in the Cabinet Gallery. The collection was formed over five decades by Mrs. Kosovsky, with the support of her husband, Dr. Harry Kosovsky, and includes twenty-seven etchings, fourteen lithographs, and one pastel, which range from Whistler’s early etchings dating from the late 1850s to lithographs of the late 1890s.

As per usual with Whistler’s etchings, they were a joy to look at – especially with the aid of the magnifying glasses the Frick kindly provided.

Also on display was Elective Affinities: Edmund de Waal at The Frick Collection (through November 17) – “a temporary installation of sculptures by acclaimed author and ceramist Edmund de Waal. Site-specific works made of porcelain, steel, gold, marble, and glass are displayed in the museum’s main galleries alongside works from the permanent collection.”

Representative sample:



Here’s a video that features the artist discussing his technique and the concepts behind the installation. It’s definitely worth the ten minutes.



From the Frick we moseyed up Fifth Ave to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the main attraction right now is Camp: Notes on Fashion (through September 8).

Through more than 250 objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present, The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition explores the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp'” provides the framework for the exhibition, which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.

Here’s Sontag’s essay and here’s a guided tour of the exhibit.



Sontag says that “the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” The Met exhibit says that Camp is whatever the curator wants it to be. So the whole thing – audio, video, clothing, accessories, etc. – is a hot mess. Add to that the swarms of people taking selfies and barely looking at any one thing for more than ten seconds and the whole thing teeters into the realm of the ludicrous.

But if Camp is a hot mess, Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll (through October 1) is just hot.

The exhibition is co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and [presents] approximately 130 instruments alongside posters and costumes. Many of rock’s most celebrated and recognized instruments are featured, representing artists across generations and subgenres. In addition to institutional and private collectors, many musicians are lending their performance and recording instruments.

You can see the instruments here, from the Beatles drum kit to Jimmy Page’s guitar that was stolen from a Minneapolis airport in 1970 and – amazingly – returned to him (the exhibit doesn’t say how) in 2015. A Whitman’s Sampler of videos can be found here.

Last stop at The Met was the roof to take in Alicja Kwade: ParaPivot (through October 27).

Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade’s (born 1979, Poland) work is elegant, rigorous, and highly experiential. Using a wide range of media, Kwade creates sculptures and installations that reflect on time, perception, and scientific inquiry. With equal parts poetry and critical acumen, she calls into question the systems designed to banish doubt from the world and make sense of an otherwise unfathomable universe. Ultimately, Kwade seeks to heighten both the mystery and the absurdity of the human condition in order to enhance our powers of self-reflection.

For The Met, Kwade has created two sculptures using steel and stone to evoke a miniature solar system . . .

Here’s video of the artist talking about her work. It’s really quite smart.



From there we wandered down Madison to Gagosian Gallery to see Picasso’s Women: Fernande to Jacqueline (through June 29).

I am perhaps a painter without style. 
—Pablo Picasso

Gagosian, in partnership with members of the Picasso family, is pleased to present Picasso’s Women: Fernande to Jacqueline, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures that attests to the central role and influence of the many women in Picasso’s life. It has been organized in honor of the gallery’s late friend and colleague, Sir John Richardson.

In the early 1960s, Richardson was planning to write a study of Picasso’s portraits and spent hours with the artist, poring over reproductions of his works. As Picasso spoke about the complexities of his pictorial thinking—pointing out, for example, that a portrait of Dora Maar might also contain elements referring to her romantic predecessor Marie-Thérèse Walter, and her successor Françoise Gilot—Richardson began to believe that a detailed biographical treatment of Picasso’s portraiture would close a notable gap in Picasso scholarship. Decades later he would sit down to write what would become the monumental multivolume biography, A Life of Picasso.

Thumbnail summary: Picasso unequivocally loved Marie-Thérèse Walter.



Dora Marr?



A bit more conflicted.

Then we swung by The Met Breuer (probably not part of our farewell tour since we’ll be back in the Big Town a couple of times before it closes) to catch Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee (through September 29).

Phenomenal Nature marks the first retrospective of the artist in the United States. The exhibition brings together fifty-seven works by Mukherjee and explores the artist’s longstanding engagement with fiber, along with her significant forays into ceramic and bronze towards the middle and latter half of her career.

A committed sculptor who worked intuitively, Mukherjee explored the divide between figuration and abstraction. Nature was her primary inspiration, and she was further informed by her enthusiasm for Indian historic sculpture, modern design, and local crafts and textile traditions. Phenomenal Nature highlights the radical intervention Mukherjee made in her adaptation of crafting techniques with a modernist formalism.

Representative samples:




We didn’t know what to expect from the exhibit, but it’s a knockout.

To finish things off, we caught the Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Donald Margulies’ Long Lost (through June 30).

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such works as Time Stands Still and Dinner with Friends returns to MTC with a funny, unsettling, ultimately moving play about the limits of compassion and filial obligation. When troubled Billy appears out-of-the-blue in his estranged brother David’s Wall Street office, he soon tries to re-insert himself into the comfortable life David has built with his philanthropist wife and college-age son. What does Billy really want? Can he be trusted? And how much can family bonds smooth over past rifts?

The real question – and problem with the play – is this: Could Billy be any more unlikable and unsympathetic? The actors are fine, but the play itself is weak.

Representative samples:



Then again, as my late, great father-in-law Marvin used to say, a bad play is better than a good movie.

* * * * * * *

On the way home we swung by the Bruce Museum in Greenwich to see Summer with the Averys [Milton | Sally | March] (through September 1).

On May 11, 2019, the Bruce Museum [opened] Summer with the Averys [Milton | Sally | March]. Featuring landscapes, seascapes, beach scenes, and figural compositions—as well as rarely seen travel sketchbooks­—the exhibition takes an innovative approach to the superb work produced by the Avery family. Along with canonical paintings by Milton Avery, the show offers a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the remarkable art created by Avery’s wife Sally and their daughter March.

Milton Avery, his wife Sally Michel, and their daughter March were inveterate summer travelers, with destinations including Mexico; Laguna Beach, California; Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula;  Provincetown, Massachusetts; Woodstock, New York; the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire; Yaddo in upstate New York; and Europe.

What the exhibit vividly displays is not just the closeness of the family, but the familial resemblance of the art they produced.

Milton Avery (American, 1885-1965). Thoughtful Swimmer, 1943.



Sally Michel (American, 1902-2003). Swimming Lesson, 1987.



March Avery (American, b. 1932). The Dead Sea, 2009.



Just a terrific exhibit.

Before we left the museum we looked in on Sharks! Myths and Realities and learned this fun fact: More Americans are killed every year by ballpoint pens and vending machines than by sharks.  You should look it up.

Then it was home again, home again jiggedy-jig.

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Juul Labs’ Vape-and-Mirrors 21+ Advertising Campaign

Juul Labs, which owns 75% of the e-cigarette market and is valued at over $38 billion, has been running a series of full-page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that are at best misleading – and at worst deceiving – the American public.

Key statement: “JUUL Labs applauds the states that have gone to 21+ and supports making it the standard nationwide.”

Except . . . this New York Times piece by Sheila Kaplan a month ago.

In Washington, Juul Vows to Curb Youth Vaping. Its Lobbying in States Runs Counter to That Pledge.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For months, Juul Labs has had a clear, unwavering message for officials in Washington: The e-cigarette giant is committed to doing all it can to keep its hugely popular vaping products away from teenagers.

But here in Columbia, the South Carolina capital, and in statehouses and city halls across the country, a vast, new army of Juul lobbyists is aggressively pushing measures that undermine that pledge.

The company’s 80-plus lobbyists in 50 states are fighting proposals to ban flavored e-cigarette pods, which are big draws for teenagers; pushing legislation that includes provisions denying local governments the right to adopt strict vaping controls; and working to make sure that bills to discourage youth vaping do not have stringent enforcement measures.

And this: “Though Juul supports numerous state bills that would raise the legal age for buying vaping and tobacco products to 21, some of those bills contain minimal sanctions for retailers. Others fine only the clerks and not the owners for violations.”

Beyond all that, Juul looks to be running the ad playbook refined by the tobacco industry, as Yahoo Finance’s Aarthi Swaminathan has reported: “In January, a team at Stanford recently published a report that found that Juul’s ‘principal advertising themes … are closely aligned with that of traditional tobacco advertising.'”

Case in point:

No wonder, then, that tobacco giant Altria recently purchased a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion, which produced the $38 billion valuation.

One final calculation:

E-cigarettes + tobacco industry + a slew of lawsuits filed by individuals and state attorneys general against Juul Labs = one very expensive vapescreen like the 21+ campaign.

You do the math.

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Dead Blogging Sondheim’s ‘Pacific Overtures’ at Lyric Stage

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Lyric Stage Company to catch Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman) and say, it was . . . subarashi.

This startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece puts a cap on Spiro Veloudos’ multi-year Sondheim Initiative. An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.

Sondheim/Weidman collaborations tend to be equal parts weird and engrossing, and Pacific Overtures is no exception. The Lyric’s producing artistic director Spiro Veloudos is something of a Sondheim soulmate, having staged ten of Sondheim’s musicals in the past 20 years. (The Lyric’s production of Sondheim/Weidman’s’s Assassins was surpassing strange and entirely compelling.)

Here’s the Lyric’s trailer for the current production, but to get a true sense of Sondheim’s brilliant lyrics, check out this performance of “Please, Hello” (at 1:29:28) from the original 1976 Broadway production. In it, emissaries from the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, Russia, and France crowbar their way into Japan at the end of the 19th century. (You can read the lyrics here.)


Not to get technical about it, but the Lyric’s version is way more fun.

The cast is uniformly terrific (special shoutout to Gary Thomas Ng and Karina Wen), and the musicians are exceptionally adroit.

The production runs through June 16th. Well worth a trundle.

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Rest in Peace Anne Adams, Television Producer Extraordinaire

I loved working with Anne Adams at WGBH’s Greater Boston, where she was supervising producer from 1998 to around 2006.

She was smart, funny, and cynical – everything you could ever ask for in a co-worker.

And now she’s gone.

From Bryan Marquard’s Boston Globe obituary.

Anne Adams, WGBH-TV producer who ‘truly had an impact,’ dies at 55

With uncommon range, Anne B. Adams produced TV news and feature programs about everything from the Oklahoma City bombing to cooking and concerts, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to cancer and caring for elderly parents.

At WGBH for the past two decades, her work was honored with Emmys, James Beard awards, along with a George Foster Peabody Award for “Depression: Out of the Shadows.” After she was diagnosed with cancer 2½ years ago, her constant goal was returning to her job as a senior program producer so she could shepherd more quality shows to completion.

“The one thing driving her was getting back to work,” said her husband, Peter Masalsky. “There’s a notebook on her desk with plans for the shows and the shoots and the guests.”

I remember interviewing Anne for the Greater Boston supervising producer job – which she was supremely overqualified for – on WGBH’s loading dock so I could smoke while we talked. She looked at me like, there is something seriously wrong with you, bub.

So I hired her.

And never regretted it for a single moment.

Anne Adams was talented, accomplished, and sharp in every sense of the word.

It’s just so sad she’s no longer with us.

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Campaign Outsider Presidential Bakeoff 2020™ (Part 2)

Itemizing a few deductions now that Joe Biden has concluded his to-be-or-not-to-be-a-candidate interior monologue.

Item: The hardworking staff will be president before Bill de Blasio is

This is just idiotic.

Bad enough that the 2020 Democratic presidential field includes the likes of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Nowhere), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Meshuggeneh), and the Bay State’s own Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Doghouse). Now we get  this (via the unsinkable Maggie Haberman‘s Twitter feed).

The Daily Beast summed it up this way: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Unites the Nation: No One Wants Him to Run for President.

But wait! There’s more!

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Why Not?) has thrown his ski cap into the ring, forcing his brother James, who happens to be the editorial page editor of the New York Times, to recuse himself from all 2020 presidential coverage.

Thanks, bro.

Also jumping in the pool: Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Bollocks), whose best moment just might have occurred in Saturday’s Boston Globe Sports Brief column.

As freak-presidential-hopeful-for-30-seconds Michael Avenatti might say, basta!

Item: Pete Buttigieg is a total media machine

Consider these several facts:

• A few months ago, 37-year-old South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg had about 60,000 follower on Twitter. He now has over a million.

• Pete’s husband Chasten Buttigieg – who not long ago was a homeless community college student/barista – has over 300,000 followers.

• The two of them are the cover story in this week’s Time magazine.

The boys also scored the Page One power position in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe.

Man, that is some serious media mojo.

Item: Peggy Noodnik writes again (Edition Umpteen)

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan had one of her We Are the World moments in the latest Weekend Edition of the paper.

Republicans in a Nation Needing Repair

I want to say something big, quickly and broadly.

This week I talked with an intelligent politician who is trying to figure out the future of the Republican Party. He said that in presidential cycles down the road, it will be a relief to get back to the old conservatism of smaller government, tax cuts and reduced spending. I told him what I say to my friends: That old conservatism was deeply pertinent to its era and philosophically right, but it is not fully in line with the crises of our time or its reigning facts. As Lincoln said, the dogmas of the past are inadequate to the present: “As the cause is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

What the nuts graf:

But beyond that fact is something bigger. America needs help right now and Americans know it. It has been enduring for many years a continuing cultural catastrophe—illegitimacy, the decline of faith, low family formation, child abuse and neglect, drugs, inadequate public education, etc. All this exists alongside an entertainment culture on which the poor and neglected are dependent . . .

Wait, what? America’s poor and neglected are dependent on our entertainment culture?

What in the world does that mean?

Do you have any idea?

‘Cause we sure as hell don’t.

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Campaign Outsider’s Presidential Bakeoff 2020™ (Part 1)

Itemizing a few deductions on the state of the Democratic Presidential Primary now that the number of declared candidates has hit the Big Two-Oh.

From the New York Times:









Then there are the real long shots to run:

Except that the one in the middle – Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – “has been successfully treated for prostate cancer, clearing the way for a [likely] 2020 presidential campaign” according to the ABC affiliate in Denver.

With that as prologue . . .

Item: Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Who?) is #5 on Q1 fundraising list

The hardworking staff came across this first-quarter fundraising chart at Axios the other day.

Wait, what? Erstwhile Maryland congressman John Delaney, who started running for president in July of 2017, has raised $12 million since the first of the year?

From The Hill:

Delaney . . . loaned his campaign $11.7 million in the first three months of 2019. But he received less than $435,000 in outside contributions, the smallest amount of any candidate in the race.

In other words: Okay, folks – move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

Item: Regardless, Sen. Cory Booker (D-I Got a Boo) decided to whack Delaney

Also from The Hill:

Booker denies ‘swipe’ at John Delaney after his campaign sent fundraising email attacking Delaney

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) denied that his campaign was taking shots at other candidates on Tuesday just days after a fundraising email sent by Booker’s team appeared to criticize a fellow Democrat running for the party’s nomination.

Booker was questioned by reporters on the campaign trail after a fundraising email sent over the weekend referenced former Rep. John Delaney’s (D-Md.) decision to donate $11 million to his own White House bid.

“Friend, this weekend, we found out that one of the other Democrats in this race has given over $11 million of his own money to his campaign. Self-funding is something Cory just can’t and would never do,” the email obtained by CNN read.

Booker’s response? “I’m not even sure what you’re talking about, because again we are not taking swipes at other candidates.”

Booker, as it happens, is polling at 3% in Iowa, roughly in the same zip code as Delaney.

If that’s any indication, this Democratic presidential primary is on track to be like World War I – long battles for small gains.

With, most likely, commensurate results.

Item: Elizabeth Warren’s campaign officially in spaghetti-meets-wall phase 

There’s no question that from the standpoint of substantive policy proposals, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-7%) has far outstripped the Democratic presidential primary field. But her latest agenda item – calling on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump – is just, well, harebrained.

For two basic reasons:

1) It’s an empty exercise, since there’s no chance that 20 of Warren’s GOP counterparts would vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial.

2) It’s counterproductive, since impeachment proceedings would be more likely to return Trump to the Oval Office than remove him from it.

Only the American voter can successfully achieve the latter.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, we have the worst of both worlds here: Robert Mueller adheres to Department of Justice guidelines and declines to indict Trump for obstruction, and there’s not even a remote chance that Trump can be removed from office despite committing clearly impeachable offenses.

That means, as Charlie Sykes noted in this episode of The Bulwark Podcast, that Donald Trump is effectively above the law, at least while he remains in office. There’s something terribly wrong about that.

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Oh No the New York Times Di’int Print ‘Fucked’ on Page One!

Hey, the Nude York Times is one thing.

But the Crude York Times is something else.

From today’s front page:

Of course, that should come as no surprise after the Grey Lady printed Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood grab ’em boast verbatim on Page One in 2016.

Even so . . .

“I’m fucked”?

That’s fucked up, yo.

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The Nude York Times (Lucian Freud ‘Monumental’ Edition)

From our Grey Lady pearl-clutching desk

As the hardblushing staff has dutifully noted for the past handful of years, the New York Times is increasingly willing to bare all in the name of art – or commerce – in its advertising.

Representative samples include this ulp-skirt ad from Louis Vuitton five years ago . . .



and this Gagosian Gallery ad three years ago . . .



and this Christie’s ad the same year . . .



and this M.S. Ray Antiques ad two years ago . . .



and this really weird Met Breuer ad last year.



Now comes the latest Naked City ad in the Times, from Friday’s Weekend Arts II section.



The Acquavella exhibit Lucian Freud: Monumental (through May 24) looks, well, very Lucian.


Acquavella Galleries is pleased to present Lucian Freud: Monumental, a loan exhibition focusing on the artist’s naked portraits, a subject that has long enjoyed special significance in his oeuvre. Curated by the artist’s longtime studio assistant and friend, David Dawson, Monumental will include thirteen major paintings, including depictions of his most important models from the 1990s and 2000s.

Regardless, that latest Times ad represents one more instance of the Grey Lady opening the kimono.

Wider and wider.

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New York Times Doubles Down On Its Half-True ‘Truth’ Ad

As the hardworking staff noted on Saturday, for the past two years the New York Times has been one of the leading voices in the news media’s Pep Squad for Truth – those preaching-to-the-choir ad campaigns aimed at convincing the American public that real news matters.

Representative sample of the Times’ “Truth” campaign:



Problem is, the latest additions to the campaign are only semi-truthful.

The new ads revolve around Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, who “traveled to Iraq five times and unearth[ed] more than 15,000 documents to detail the Islamic States’ bureaucratic and brutal rule.”

Here’s the TV spot.



And here’s a double-truck from yesterday’s A section of the Times.



The left-hand page quotes Callimachi: “You have to be on the ground if you want to try and understand the story. And for me, I’m trying to understand ISIS.”

The right-hand page features this copy:

Except those ads decidedly do not tell the full story. As we’ve said, there’s no question that Callimachi’s digging produced some spectacular reporting last year, as well as the riveting podcast, Caliphate.

But the full story of Callimachi’s document snatch is a lot more complicated. Last May, a piece by Maryam Saleh in The Intercept detailed the legal and ethical questions raised by the removal of the documents from Iraq. More recently, a group of Middle Eastern scholars criticized George Washington University for cooperating with the Times in creating an online archive of the ISIS files, as Inside Higher Ed’s Elizabeth Redden reported.

[The Middle East Studies Association’s] Committee on Academic Freedom wrote in a Sept. 25 letter to George Washington that its involvement with the archiving project implicates the university in many of the moral, ethical and professional issues it believed to be at stake in the newspaper’s decision to remove and publicize the documents.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, in this Q&A last May Callimachi and Times editors addressed many of the concerns that critics have raised (and yes, the original documents were delivered to the Iraqi government).

(Two be sure graf goes here)

Also to be sure, no advertiser is obliged to reveal the whole truth in its ads. In this case, though, the irony is just too thick not to, well, document it.

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