The newspaper columnist who may think her politician husband is an 'idiot'
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Sarah Vine, columnist for The Daily Mail in London, is verging on techno self-immolation. Keep her temporarily away from a keyboard, especially after sending an email meant for her husband to a member of the public, who then leaked it. (The Guardian) The problem is that her husband, Michael Gove, whom she met while they were both journalists at The Times of London, is a member of Parliament and a leader of the "Leave" the European Union movement. Her email is such that Guardian columnist Zoe Williams facetiously thinks it must be "an elaborate sabotage by someone who hates Sarah Vine." (The Guardian)
She treats her spouse like a child though offering some flattery — and badmouthing another "Leave" leader, Boris Johnson, who just announced he will not run for prime minister in a Conservative regime. In the note seemingly intended for her spouse and two aides, Henry Cook and Beth Armstrong, she writes, “'Very important that we focus now on individual obstacles and thoroughly overcome them...I really think Michael should have a Henry or a Beth with him for this morning’s crucial meetings. One simple message. You MUST have SPECIFIC assurances from Boris, OTHERWISE you cannot guarantee your support. The details can be worked out later on, but without that you have no leverage."
Williams notices the mix of flattery but the condescending way she reiterates such rudimentary counsel. Then there are the capital letters — "as if she is yelling to make herself heard through a veil of senility. She addresses him as if he has just woken up from a 20-year snooze and has never heard of the Houses of Parliament — or to put it another way, is a complete idiot. "
Williams concludes: "Thought about too deeply, it just engenders this awful sadness: for the country, for the future, for the pettiness that has brought us here, for the hollow compliments that pass for intimacy between these solipsistic people, for the whole rotten business. I prefer the sabotage theory."
A Trump menage a trois
Amid (untrue) rumors of Donald Trump having invited Mike Ditka (yes, Ditka) to speak at the Republican National Convention, Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed arranged a three-way (call) among herself, Trump and Ditka. (Sun-Times) Ditka was on a fancy golf course in Highland Park, Illinois.
"Trump: 'Coach Ditka, I really appreciate everything you’ve said about me. You are a winner. A real winner.'" Then "Ditka: 'Everything you say about things, about the country, I agree with your opinions. You resonate with my kind of people. I believe in what you say wholeheartedly.'" Trump said New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick is a chum. Ditto former basketball coach Bobby Knight. "My polling went up 10 points after Bobby came out in favor of me," said Trump, who said he'd be honored if Ditka spoke.
Replied Ditka from the hallowed grounds of the all-male Bob O’Link Golf Club (wouldn't that have been a lovely issue for Hillary): “I’m not big into doing things like that. I’m not going to change opinions, opinions are like assholes. I believe in the way the Constitution was written. But people want to change that. Immigration. Same thing.” Alas, then the connection was lost.
We can only hope the ever-resourceful Sneed can now hook up Trump with Vladimir Putin, Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto or maybe even Rosie O'Donnell. If she's busy, Megyn Kelly can fill in.
Facebook fiddles with its algorithms
It announced another of its big changes yesterday, which will surely hurt news organizations now relying heavily upon Facebook even as they badmouth it as a quasi-monopolist. (Poynter) Those involve "significant changes to how it picks what visitors see on their News Feed, Facebook’s term for the stream of updates that essentially function as its homepage." (Time)
Headline of the day
Let's see. Do you go for "Benchmark Special: Is Norway's 'EU Decaf' a Post Brexit Lifeline?" (Bloomberg) or "Leah Remini To Piss Off Tom Cruise For An Eternity With Reported Scientology Series"? (Huffington Post) The sum and substance of it all: "Leah Remini isn’t done telling all. The self-proclaimed troublemaker is reportedly helming a new TV series about 'the way Scientology rips apart families' — a subject with which she is all too familiar. Journalist Tony Ortega, who lent his expertise to the 2015 Scientology exposé 'Going Clear,' wrote in a blog post Monday morning that production for the series is already underway." One hopes that, like Scientology, she straddles the boundaries between psychology and religion in the quest for immortal, high ratings.
Is this justice?
"The embattled judge in the Stanford sexual assault trial is presiding over a similar case in which a Latino man is facing a much harsher sentence than Brock Turner, raising questions about how the former student may have benefited from his privileged background. Raul Ramirez, a 32-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who admitted to sexually assaulting his female roommate in a case that has similarities with the Stanford case, will be sentenced to three years in state prison under a deal overseen by judge Aaron Persky, according to records obtained by the Guardian." (The Guardian)
Benghazi and the press
The Republican-led House investigation of Benghazi seems done and with it the latest iteration of a Washington tradition of high-profile probes with negligible impact. The conventional view is that clashing interpretations of what it actually disclosed about then-Secretary of State are explained simply: it's a window onto increasing political polarization. But a Penn State law professor, who is both a chronicler of such investigations and a former Hill staffer, suggests this: it's less a reflection of such polarization in the political process as it is of the ideological fragmentation of the press that covers the same process. (U.S News & World Report)
Jeff Bezos' technology spending
His 2012 decision to spend $775 million on Kiva robots has belatedly spurred a "robot arms race." (Bloomberg) These days, "Amazon has about 30,000 Kiva robots scuttling about its warehouses across the globe," estimating it's shrunk operating expenses by 20 percent. "According to an analysis by Deutsche Bank, adding them to one new warehouse saves $22 million in fulfillment expenses."
A man who still soars above the competition
ESPN was caught in a College World Series weather delay last night, filling the time with a few highlights, features and gabbing about the impending free agency for big NBA stars, notably LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Put aside the league's somewhat complex salary rules. Or how both men will ultimately fetch deals bringing them well over $200 million for six or so years. There was this: the highest annual salary any NBA player has ever received is that of Michael Jordan way back in 1997-1998. It was $33 million, as ESPN pundit Brian Windhorst noted and had underscored several hours earlier.(ESPN) It's a standard impervious to even dramatic sports inflation over nearly 20 years.
What financial pundits really mean
Here's a neat Unofficial Pundit-to-English Translation Guide for next time you check CNBC or Fox Business Network, courtesy of sometime pundit Barry Ritholtz (Bloomberg):
When a pundit says, “We suggest reducing exposure.”
They really mean, We had bet the Brits would vote remain.
When a pundit says, “I’m not a foreign policy expert, but…,”
They really mean, Prepare for a useless, uninformed opinion.
When a pundit says, “The macro forces at work...”
They really mean, I’m inventing a reassuring narrative."
I listened so you didn't have to this morning
"This has been his worst month," born-again Trump critic Joe Scarborough said of Trump this morning on "Morning Joe." His lack of discipline is "mind-blowing," said Joe, as if taken aback by a searing new insight into Trump. Polling mania dominated the discussion, even if most political scientists might caution about paying undue attention to polls well before we've had the two conventions (one a couple of weeks after the second convention tend to be predictive).
CNN offered a somber relief from the politics echo chamber by focusing back on the Istanbul airport attack (with show host Brooke Baldwin now dropped into the scene via the standard outside-the-airport stand-up). And over on Fox, there was Geraldo Rivera, an irrepressible 72, live from Jerusalem about a Fox poll claiming a majority of Americans want profiling for law enforcement reasons. But he did rail against law enforcement "political correctness. "It's absolutely dumb to pretend that a 75 year old Jewish lady in a wheelchair represents an equal threat to someone from one of the conflict zones, a 23-year-old single male."
Sumner Redstone's pre-holiday drama
As a Massachusetts court holds a hearing Thursday in the latest chapter of the soap opera legal drama, "the stakes are much higher and the legal terrain far more complex. At issue now is whether Mr. Redstone knew what he was doing in recent weeks when he reordered the power structure atop his media empire, which includes controlling stakes in Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp." (The Wall Street Journal)
Well, Sumner, do try to have a good holiday weekend. I'm off to northern Michigan with a stop in Grand Rapids tonight to catch the West Michigan Whitecaps against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. As Great Britain frets over independence from the European Union, I will enjoy our independence from England.