Thursday Reads: Villager Gossip, A Priceless Art Discovery, The Troubled NFL, And The Psychopathic One Percent


Good Morning!!

All the villagers are talking about the gossipy new book about the 2012 presidential campaign by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down. I can’t bring myself to read it, but Pat J. said she is reading it, so maybe she can give us more detail on the story of Romney adviser Stuart Stevens vomiting backstage after Clint Eastwood’s embarrassing performance at the Republican National Convention.

Lawrence O’Donnell had Heilemann on his MSNBC show last night. O’Donnell “loved” book and was especially joyful about the anecdote about Stevens. I have to admit, it’s pretty funny. The Washington Post has a lengthy review of the book with some more interesting bits.

On Chris Christie:

According to the authors, Romney and his team were shaken by what they discovered about Christie during “Project Goldfish,” as the hush-hush veep search process was known. His “disturbing” research file is littered with “garish controversies,” the authors write: a Justice Department investigation into his free-spending ways as U.S. attorney, his habit of steering government contracts to friends and political allies, a defamation lawsuit that emerged during a 1994 run for local office, a politically problematic lobbying career that included work on behalf of a financial firm that employed Bernie Madoff. And that’s not to mention the Romney team’s anxiety about the governor’s girth.

For Christie, who is coasting to reelection on Tuesday and already laying behind-the-scenes groundwork for a 2016 presidential bid, the book’s revelations are a Drudge-ready public relations nightmare that will send his advisers scrambling to explain awkward aspects of his record and his personal life just as he is stepping onto the national stage.

Mitt Romney is apparently obsessed with fat people, and even criticized men on his staff if they went out with women that Romney deemed to be too “fat.” You can just imagine what he thought of Chris Christie. From an earlier WaPo article:

Romney initially crossed Christie off his short list. The governor’s vetting file was incomplete, and Romney had been bothered by Christie’s propensity to show up late at campaign events and by his lack of physical fitness, the book says.

“Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus,” the authors write. “Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, ‘Guys! Look at that!’”

It brings back memories of the tales about Romney bullying classmates in high school. What a horrible man he is! There’s much more gossip in the Post review if you’re interested.


Corporate media and talking heads have been busy trying to interpret Tuesday’s election results as helpful for Republicans.  Supposedly the only reason Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia and Chris Christie is now on the fast track to the White House–sorry Hillary.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal: Tell Me Again Who Won in Virginia?

Before we get into any more election analysis, I have to make a preliminary objection to what we are hearing this morning about the Virginia governor’s race. Yes, we all play the expectations game, and Terry McAuliffe only won by two-and-a-half percent, which is less than most of the late polls anticipated. But to read this morning’s spin, you’d think he (and the Democratic Party) actually lost. The results are being widely read exactly as Ken Cuccinelli wanted them to be read: a negative “referendum on Obamacare.” Politico’s James Hohmann, in a piece entitled “Why Terry McAuliffe barely won,” draws bright red arrows pointing to an exit poll showing that 53% of voters said they opposed Obamacare. That’s entirely in line with about three years of polling about the Affordable Care Act, and doesn’t indicate any last minute “surge” against the law.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: The Wrong Election Takeaways From Christie’s Win, Virginia, and More:

The conventional wisdom on New Jersey: Huge Chris Christie win sets him up to steamroll his way to the Republican nomination in 2016, proving that a more mainstream conservative can win in a blue state. The conventional wisdom on Virginia: Ken Cuccinelli’s stinging loss in a purple state in an off-off-year election against Terry McAuliffe, a flawed Democratic candidate, shows not only that he was too extreme but also that Virginia is inching its way into the Democratic column. As the Times put it in its headline, “McAuliffe Win Points to Virginia Changes.”

Well, God invented conventional wisdom so people like me could beat it down. In New Jersey, Christie doesn’t emerge from his victory nearly as strong as he appears to. And the Virginia outcome isn’t really very strong for Democrats, especially down the ballot. No, I’m not buying into the right-wing spin that Cuccinelli’s narrow margin of defeat really represents some kind of loss for Obamacare. It does not.

Read the rest at the link.

Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast: Chris Christie Is No George W. Bush, and 2016 Is Definitely Not 2000:

In the wake of Chris Christie’s reelection romp on Tuesday, the press is filled withcomparisons between the New Jersey governor and a pre-presidency George W. Bush. They’re both Republican governors who appear moderate and bipartisan compared to their party’s zealots in Washington. They’re both beloved by big donors. Each has made inroads among the Democratic-leaning constituencies with whom Republicans must do better. But there’s a problem with the analogy. It’s unlikely Christie can “win” the presidency by running as a second Bush, in part [because] America still remembers the first one.

Lots more at the link.


In other news…

Did you hear about the priceless art works stolen by the Nazis that were found in a dirty, run-down apartment in Munich, Germany? From NPR:

The revelation Monday that more than 1,000 paintings and prints seized by the Nazis during World War II were found in a Munich apartment has set off excitement in the art world and spurred anger among Jewish groups that German officials didn’t publicize the discovery when it was first made.

With a potential value of $1.35 billion, the trove of art contains previously unknown works by Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall; other artists represented include Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

The stash of art was reported by Germany’s Focus magazine Monday, under the headline “The Nazi Treasure” (Der Nazi-Schatz). Tax officials discovered the cache when they visited the cluttered Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, a descendant of a man who was an official in wartime Germany.

Of nearly 1,400 oil paintings, prints and other works, 1,285 had been stacked in a drawer, unframed. They include work by German expressionists such as Franz Marc and Max Beckmann, in addition to a previously unknown self-portrait by Otto Dix. The trove also includes Albrecht Dürer and Canaletto, who worked in earlier centuries — a detail that could make the collection’s origins even more difficult to explain.

The paintings were found in 2011, but the stunning and unprecedented discovery was just announced this week. A couple more links:

Max Fisher at WaPo: Why Nazi-seized art is only now resurfacing – and how it will change the art world.

Bloomberg: Nazi Art Trove Surprises Family Searching for 70 Years.

This will be a story to watch for anyone who is interested in fine art. We still don’t know for sure which paintings were found.


The NFL is back in the news, and, again, it’s not in a good way. It’s a story of racially charged bullying and hazing at the Miami Dolphins. Reportedly, a veteran player, Richie Incognito was told by someone at the team to “toughen up” rookie Jonathan Martin. Even the GM may have been involved. Incognito, who is white, chose to do so by leaving messages containing racial slurs on Martin’s voicemail. Martin, who is African American, ended up in the hospital for emotional distress and eventually left the team. If you can believe it, other Dolphins players and veterans of the team are supporting Incognito.

Here are a couple of interesting reactions to the story.

Valerie Strauss at the WaPo: If a 6’5, 312-pound Miami Dolphin can be bullied…

Jonathan Martin, the  6-foot-5-inch, 312-pound Miami Dolphin offensive lineman who left the NFL team because he was being bullied by at least one other player, has done a  favor for school kids everywhere.

How can such a big guy get bullied? Because bullying behavior isn’t about physical intimidation. It’s about mind control and creating fear — and no one, not even very large professional athletes — are immune. That’s a useful message for kids and adults working to create safe climates at their schools.

So is the way Martin ultimately handled his problem. After many months of being a victim, he got up, walked away and later accused the Dolphins of creating and allowing an unsafe work environment. He is forcing the powers that be to take a look at the problem. As my Post colleague Sally Jenkins wrote in this column:

Turns out the real tough guy is Martin, whose decision to rebel against a vicious culture in the Dolphins’ locker room has triggered a league-level investigation of [suspended Dolphin Richie] Incognito, and, if reports are true, needs to extend to other veteran players and management as well.

In schools, the programs that work best in combating bullying are those that teach kids that they can’t stand by and watch bullies go after other students. Bystanders have to get help — and everybody in the school, adults included — have to be on the same page. That didn’t happen in Miami.

Veteran WaPo sportswriter Tom Boswell: Richie Incognito bullying allegations are the latest in long list of NFL problems.

Where are we? Where is pro football? The NFL doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a reality problem. And it may be a grave one. Every month — and it seems every few days — the NFL is inundated by new, barely suspected revelations. What has the NFL become? Or is this what it has been for some time? Is the truth coming out of the shadows?

The list is stunning. Its cumulative effect, not any one particular item, is the true confidence-shaking shock.

The NFL is now the league of murder charges against Aaron Hernandez — gang execution style. The NFL is the league of murder, then suicide, with Jovan Belcher killing his girlfriend and then shooting himself in the head in a parking lot by his stadium as his coach and general manager watched….

The NFL is the league where future Hall of Famer Junior Seau, barely retired, shot himself in the heart so his brain could be studied by science to help prove that chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a core part of football, with risk of brain damage down to the smallest kids who play it….

The NFL is the league of thug bullies such as suspended Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, who allegedly extorted money, texted racist insults and made death threats to a younger teammate. It’s the league of $15,000 stripper parties in Las Vegas, paid for by intimidated, hazed rookies who don’t make the trip but pay the check even if it busts them.

The article is well worth a read even if you don’t follow sports.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the studies that show that rich people are more narcissistic, less empathetic, more likely to be dishonest, rude, and thoughtless than other people. Here a long read at Alternet about the top 1% as functioning psychopaths: Inside the Psyche of the 1% — Many Actually Believe Their Ideology of Greed Makes for a Better World.

Do the rich and super-rich tend to be psychopaths, devoid of guilt or shame? Are the 1% lacking in compassion? Does their endless accumulation of possessions actually bring them little to no happiness? To each of these, the answer is “yes”—but a very qualified “yes” with lots of subtleties. Even more important is what these issues suggest for building a society which does not ravage the last remnants of wilderness and rush headlong into a climate change tipping point.

Check out the article to get all the details.

Those are my offerings for today; now what are you reading and blogging about? Please share your links in the comment thread.

50 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Villager Gossip, A Priceless Art Discovery, The Troubled NFL, And The Psychopathic One Percent”

  1. RalphB says:

    I think this is true for now about Christie and it’s even truer for Jeb (the smart one)….

    It’s unlikely Christie can “win” the presidency by running as a second Bush, in part [because] America still remembers the first one.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I have to kidsit for much of the day today, so I won’t be able to comment much. I’ll try to check in this afternoon.

    Have a great day everyone!

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Enjoyed your post BB.

    I’ve been following the story of Incognito and Martin closely and what is apparent to me is that the NFL creates or allows and normalizes an environment where masculinity is defined by how mean and vicious and intimidating and angry and hostile and vulgar you can be, and how good you are at dragging your teammates into the act. This morning I read that many of the dolphins players are supporting Incognito and slamming Martin for not dealing with it like a “real man”. I read some of the messages and I can’t even imagine how Martin could have dealt with it other than sinking to Incognito’s level. And people wonder why gay men in the NFL,( and we know statistically there have to be a few) don’t come out? Can you even imagine what playing in the NFL with all of the hate speech that is tolerated and encouraged in the locker room must be like for a gay NFL player? I know what I had to listen to during my 40 years of working and it was tame compared to how most of these guys react to gay men.

    I listened to former NFL wide-receiver Cris Carter say on ESPN during the run up to the NFL draft that if Manti Teo wanted to play in the NFL he needed to find a real girlfriend. Another member of the ESPN panel, a woman, said “oh no, you didn’t just go there” . I immediately shot off a complaint to ESPN because you can’t ignore homophobia.

    Ok….sorry for rattling on, but as a person who played sports, coached sports and loves sports I don’t accept bullying and intimidation as a team value.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I was listening to the sports station on the way over here, and they had two former NFL players on who were basically blaming Martin for the whole thing. What was really upsetting was that they ignored the racial aspect of the story completely.

  4. This was a cool post BB, hey…when you go see your nephews, show them this picture…they may get a kick out of it:

  5. ANonOMouse says:

    McAuliffe’s first act as VA Governor will be:

    “Terry McAuliffe said in his first press conference that his first executive order will be to ban discrimination against LGBT state employees.”

    “In his first day as Governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe has declared a new day for LGBT equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Inclusion and equality won in yesterday’s election, while the politics of hate and discrimination were soundly defeated. We look forward to working with the governor-elect on moving Virginia forward.”


    • dakinikat says:

      Hope he can work on getting rid of the ultrasound vaginal probe rape law soon

      • janicen says:

        We did. Ultrasound is mandatory but not vaginal probe ultrasound. I’m pretty sure that was the compromise they came to when McDonnell wanted to be considered for Veep and he was looking bad to the national audience.

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    Not to be a bully, but I’m laughing at Richie Incognito’s name.
    Were his emails anonymous?

  7. dakinikat says:

    Interesting story about a man that turned the tables on the anti choicers who stalk and harass pro-choice people. I wish I had thought about this when it was happening to me as a pro-choice candidate in Nebraska where violence against pro-choice people isn’t unusual.

    • dakinikat says:

      and speaking of anti abortion nutzoids:

      U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the United States Senate Thursday.

      The legislation bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless an abortion would protect the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. The bill currently has 33 cosponsors.

      “At twenty weeks, mothers are encouraged to speak and sing as the baby can recognize the voice of the mother,” Graham said in a press release. “The question for the American people is, ‘Should we be silent when it comes to protecting these unborn children entering the sixth month of pregnancy? Or is it incumbent on us to speak up and act on their behalf? I say we must speak up and act.”

      Graham was joined at the Capitol Hill introduction by U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and leaders of the pro-life community.

      “Science and technology have advanced tremendously since 1973,” said Graham. “We now know that an unborn child at the twentieth week of pregnancy can feel pain. In fact, anesthesia is administered directly to unborn children in second trimester fetal surgery. Given these facts and my continued strong support for life, I believe there is a compelling interest in protecting these unborn children who are among the most vulnerable in our society. I’m confident that over time the American people and their elected representatives will say yes as well. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is the new front in protecting the rights of the unborn. I’m very proud to be leading this charge.”

      It’s that stupid idiot fetal pain lie again.

      • dakinikat says:

        I am getting sick of the Republicans making up non existent scientific findings and just pushing it on the media.

      • NW Luna says:

        And once it’s out of the uterus, they don’t care if that previously precious unborn now goes hungry or cold or lacks healthcare. Callous hypocrites.

    • dakinikat says:

      BREAKING: The Senate voted 64-32 today to end decades of employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

      • dakinikat says:

        Huffington Post ‏@HuffingtonPost 20s
        ENDA passes the Senate but religious leaders rallied against – “Jesus must be SO embarrassed”

        • ANonOMouse says:

          This is semi-good news because Boehner will not bring it to the floor of the House. Even if he did his christonuts would vote against it because everyone knows that jesus dislikes teh gay so much that he doesn’t won’t teh gay to have the right to work. praze the lord!!!!

        • NW Luna says:

          The Jesus who ran the money-lenders out of the Temple would be very angry that his followers have forgotten about helping the poor, healing the sick, and doing unto others as you would do for yourself.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Dubya continues to be an embarassment

    In fairness, George W. Bush may be raising $ to convert Jews, but he’s only doing it so that the world will end.

    • RalphB says:

      His world should end and soon. Those of us who live in reality wouldn’t miss the delusions.

  9. dakinikat says:

    Wow, here’s a cringe worthy analysis of Virginia Governor’s race at Politico:

    Anna Palmer and John Harris should be flogged.

    It’s the GOP establishment’s fault. If they had stopped poor-mouthing their own party — something they complain indignantly about when tea party activists do it — Cuccinelli could have spent all his fighting time on McAuliffe instead of on rear-guard battles.

    • RalphB says:

      Don’t know about Anna Palmer but John Harris is a long time incredible idiot who’s worthless.

  10. RalphB says:

    I’ll bet this guy is no pushover!

    tpm: Montana Dem Compares Tea Party To Taliban, Shutdown To 9/11

    A Democratic contender to succeed retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) cited what he called the Tea Party’s “Taliban”-like government shutdown as the catalyst for his Senate run. …

  11. NW Luna says:

    It’s about time:

    The FDA planned to announce Thursday it will require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats, saying they are a threat to people’s health. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.

    Hamburg said that while the amount of trans fats in the country’s diet has declined dramatically in the last decade, they “remain an area of significant public health concern.” The trans fats have long been criticized by nutritionists, and New York and other local governments have banned them.

    The agency isn’t yet setting a timeline for the phase-out, but it will collect comments for two months before officials determine how long it will take. Different foods may have different timelines, depending how easy it is to find a substitute. “We want to do it in a way that doesn’t unduly disrupt markets,” says Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods.

    Heaven forbid that markets be disrupted simply to save thousands of lives per year.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Good news from the EU’s Court of Justice:

    Refugees facing imprisonment in their home country because they are gay may have grounds to be granted asylum in the European Union, the 28-nation bloc’s top court ruled Thursday.

    The existence of laws allowing the imprisonment of homosexuals “may constitute an act of persecution per se,” if they are routinely enforced, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said.

    A homosexual cannot be expected to conceal his sexual orientation in his home country to avoid persecution since that would amount to renouncing a “characteristic fundamental to a person’s identity,” the EU court added.

  13. NW Luna says:

    Science news, and another reason for governmental funding for research:

    Scientists studying the terrifying meteor that exploded without warning over a Russian city last winter say the threat of space rocks smashing into Earth is bigger than they thought.

    Meteors about the size of the one that streaked through the sky at 42,000 mph and burst over Chelyabinsk in February — and ones even larger and more dangerous — are probably four, five or even seven times more likely to hit the planet than scientists believed before the fireball, according to three studies published Wednesday in the journals Nature and Science. ….

    Up until then, scientists had figured a meteor causing an airburst like that was a once-in-150-years event, based on how many space rocks have been identified in orbit. But one of the studies now says it is likely to happen once every 30 years or so, based on how often these things are actually hitting.

  14. RalphB says:

    We Interrupt This S#%tstorm to … After 6 weeks of bungled rollout and a month of horrific press, public support of and opposition to Obamacare remains exactly where it was the day before rollout.

    This has to be killing the GOP and the MSM. All that flung propaganda and nobody gives a damn what they’re saying. 😉

    • NW Luna says:

      Heh. Reminds me of when the wingnuts were trying to convince themselves that all the polls were wrong around the end of the ’12 election season.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        LOL!!!! Their “un-skewed” polling that left Willard Mitt waiting at the altar, was just another one of those lame brained schemes by the GOP/TP to convince the public that if you just look at it through their cockeyed prism you will see that it’s not what it really is.

        Their theory is that if they say something long enough and loud enough folks will believe them, especially if they accompany their lie with a Pie Chart or a Graph. They’re so fucking stupid!!!!

    • RalphB says:

      At least the dude was fired …

      Not hacked: NCDOT alert blames traffic on ‘Women Drivers, Rain, Obama Care’

      The North Carolina Dept. of Transportation (NCDOT) alerted residents on Wednesday that traffic conditions were suffering because of ‘Women Drivers, Rain, Obama Care.’

      According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the NCDOT’s Traveler Information Management System (TIMS) sent out the alert to notify travelers of a traffic accident that had supposedly closed an exit ramp on I-440 in Wake County. TIMS sends messages through both email and Twitter.

      “Women Drivers, Rain, Obama Care,” the message said. “Stay Home.”

  15. NW Luna says:

    This is cool:

    Now movie theaters in equality-minded Sweden are introducing a new rating to highlight gender bias, or rather the absence of it.

    To get an “A” rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test, which means it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. ….

    Beliefs about women’s roles in society are influenced by the fact that movie watchers rarely see “a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them,” Tejle said, noting that the rating doesn’t say anything about the quality of the film. “The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens.” ….

    Sweden’s advertising ombudsman watches out for sexism in that industry and reprimands companies seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes, for example by including skimpily clad women in their ads for no apparent reason other than to draw eyeballs.

  16. RalphB says:

    One of Springsteen’s best songs …

    • RalphB says:

      Examiner: ‘The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle’ turns 40

      Forty years ago today, “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle,” Bruce Springsteen’s second studio album was released. The record’s elaborate lyrics and mesh of musical genres gave birth to some of Springsteen’s most memorable characters, scenes and melodies.

      So here’s a toast to Little Angel, Sandy, Pinball Way, the Aurora, Loverboy out on the Kokomo, Kitty, Jack Knife, Wild Billy, Spanish Johnny, Puerto Rican Jane, Little Dynamite, Little Gun, Jack The Rabbit, Weak Knees Willie, Sloppy Sue, Big Bones Billy, the little cafe where they play guitars all night and all day, Billy, Diamond Jackie, the fish lady, the junk man, Rosalita and Madam Marie.