The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."


New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.


CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:


Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Whole Food Business Model: We Cheat You, But Not so Much You'll Notice. Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times: "Whole Foods Market is paying $800,000 in penalties after an investigation found the supermarket chain overcharged customers throughout California. During a yearlong investigation, state and local inspectors found the Austin, Texas, grocer charged more than advertised for a wide range of food products, according to a statement from the Santa Monica city attorney's office. Problems included failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up fresh food, putting smaller amounts into packages than the weight stated on the label, and selling items by the piece instead of by the pound, as required by law, the statement said.... 'Based on a review of our own records and a sampling of inspection reports .... our pricing on weighed and measured items was accurate 98% of the time,' the company said in a Tuesday statement." ...

... CW: Besides, if you shop at Whole Foods -- at no charge to you -- you can learn that unions are like herpes, ObamaCare is a form of fascism & climate change is "perfectly natural."

Teenaged curiosity about sex is quite natural, but it can be a bummer.The Vagina Dialog. Turned out to Require a Large Cast of Supporting Characters. Jen Kirby of New York: "An American student studying abroad in Germany captured the world's attention yesterday by achieving the remarkable feat of getting himself stuck in a giant vagina sculpture and needing 22 firefighters to rescue him. But Fernando de la Jara, the artist behind the now-infamous work, took it all in stride.... 'It's participatory art,' de la Jara said. 'It should be entered.'"


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The Commentariat -- June 4, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on a news report about Willard that neglected mentioning a few facts.

Paul Krugman: "... the best argument against Republicans’ claims that they can fix the economy [is] the fact ... that we have already seen the Republican economic future — and it doesn’t work." ...

... Decca Aitkenhead of the Guardian interviews Krugman who lets on that his audiences are smarter than the Very Serious People.

Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "Days before Bank of America shareholders approved the bank's $50 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch in December 2008, top bank executives were advised that losses at the investment firm would most likely hammer the combined companies' earnings.... But shareholders were not told about the looming losses..., leaving them instead to rely on rosier projections.... What Bank of America's top executives ... knew about Merrill's vast mortgage losses and when they knew it emerged in court documents filed Sunday evening in a shareholder lawsuit.... The disclosure ... is likely to reignite concerns that federal regulators and prosecutors have not worked hard enough to hold key executives accountable for their actions during the financial crisis." CW: who could have guessed? ...

... Nelson Schwartz & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: "A small group of shareholder advocates delivered an urgent message to top executives at JPMorgan Chase more than a year ago: the bank's risk controls needed to be improved. JPMorgan officials dismissed the warning from the CtW Investment Group, the advocates, who also cautioned bank officials that the company had fallen behind the risk-management practices of its peers."

New York Times Editors: the I.R.S. should end the farce of groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS being allowed to claim itself a "social welfare organization" with tax-exempt status. ...

... Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Montana) in a New York Times op-ed: "In Montana's frontier days, we learned a hard lesson about money in politics, one that's shaped our campaign-finance laws for a century and made our political system one of the country's most transparent. Those laws, and our political way of life, are now being threatened by the Supreme Court -- which is why I recently signed a petition for a federal constitutional amendment to ban corporate money from all elections."

Stephen Colbert explains an aspect of Obama's foreign policy:

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is rewriting the nation's environmental laws to speed the extraction and export of oil, minerals and other materials to a global market clamoring for Canada's natural resources.... Economic and political factors account for the controversial gambit. High prices for oil and minerals, along with demand from Asia, have given Canada new incentive to tap into its resources, and new technology has made extraction easier.... The strategy has won plaudits from energy industry officials and some economists, while sparking an outcry from environmentalists and their allies in Parliament."

The Washington Post is running a series on cyberwar, which you can link here. I'm sure it's interesting and really important; I'm just not smart enough to grasp it all, but I'm sure most of you are.

Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine has a long piece on NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose next act, Sherman writes, is "mayor of the world."

Here's a portion of Elizabeth Warren's speech at the Massachusetts Democratic convention Saturday. She won the nomination with about 96 percent of the vote:

... From Warren's Website, here's the transcript.

Presidential Race

Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker analyzes ten campaign ads. And the latest salvo from the Obama camp, an ad that will run in nine swing states:

That stimulus [President Obama] put in place -- it didn't help private sector jobs, it helped preserve government jobs. And the one place we should have shut back -- or cut back -- was on government jobs. We have 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let's send them home and put you back to work. -- Mitt Romney, May 29

Private sector jobs have increased under Obama and government jobs have fallen, making Romney's assertion incorrect.... If one assumes Romney was referring to federal workers, then his statistic is accurate but his comment makes little sense. He says he wants to cut back government jobs, even though Obama added jobs in areas that Romney identifies as critical -- and even though such cuts in government employment would further reduce overall employment. We had given him Two Pinocchios for the previous way he had used this 145,000 figure but given the context of this statement, we have no choice but to increase the number. -- Glenn Kessler, Washington Post fact-checker

Right Wing World

George Packer & Amy Davidson of the New Yorker discussed the extremism of the Republican party late last week:

"Evolution is hooey." Gail Collins in the New York Review of Books: "Texas certainly didn't single-handedly mess up American textbooks, but its size, its purchasing heft, and the pickiness of the school board's endless demands -- not to mention the board's overall craziness -- certainly made it the trend leader. Texas has never managed to get evolution out of American science textbooks. It's been far more successful in helping to make evolution -- and history, and everything else -- seem boring." CW: Toldja Collins could write serious stuff.

Local News

Reuters: "Two public opinion polls released on Sunday show Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walkerwith a lead of three and six percentage points two days before the election to recall.... Both findings were within the margin of error so the results could be even tighter." ...

... This Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel overview seems kinda pro-Walker to me, but there appears to have been a real effort to be objective, & the video is a good overview of the recall. (The Journal-Sentinel endorsed Walker in the recall election.) --

News Ledes

FP: "Chinese authorities have rounded up hundreds of activists in the capital Beijing, rights campaigners and petitioners said Monday, as they marked the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The detentions came as Washington angered Beijing by calling for all those still jailed over the demonstrations on June 4, 1989 -- when hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters were shot and killed by soldiers -- to be freed."

AFP: "The three Swedish nationals and one Tunisian living in Sweden had pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges, but a district court found all four 'guilty of terrorism', chief judge Katrine Eriksen said in the unanimous verdict, which was broadcast live. However Sahbi Ben Mohamed Zalouti, Munir Awad and Omar Abdalla Aboelazm -- all Swedish citizens of Tunisian, Lebanese and Moroccan origin, respectively -- and Tunisian national Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri were found not guilty of a secondary charge of weapons possession due to a technicality, she said. Prosecutors had charged that the four planned to 'kill a large number of people' at the Jyllands-Posten's offices in Copenhagen when they were arrested on December 29, 2010."


The Commentariat -- June 3, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is a three-fer -- Dowd, Friedman AND Douthat. The NYTX front page is here.

Here's the first segment of ABC News' "This Week":

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... George Stephanopoulos: "This morning on 'This Week,' New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan a 'fraud' as Romney campaign senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom confirmed his candidate's support for the plan that would trim trillions in federal spending over the next decade."

Michael Linden in Think Progress: "Even with [Friday]'s disappointing and troubling jobs report, private sector job creation under President Obama has far exceeded private sector job creation under President Bush.... But there is one area of job creation where President Bush clearly outshines President Obama: the public sector":

... Floyd Norris of the New York Times: "... the outlook [for economic recovery -- anywhere] is far darker than it seemed to be only a couple of months ago." ...

... Déjà vu All Over Again. Here in the U.S., that might be because we're smack dab in the middle of repeating the mistake of 1937 -- reduced government spending. Krugman has a chart. ...

... Steve Weissman & Frank Browning in Salon: in Europe, Krugman is a rock star.

Tim Arango & Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "Despite sectarian bombings and political gridlock, Iraq's crude oil production is soaring, providing a singular bright spot for the nation's future and relief for global oil markets as the West tightens sanctions on Iranian exports. The increased flow and vital port improvements have produced a 20 percent jump in exports this year to nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, making Iraq one of the premier producers in OPEC for the first time in decades."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "The American nuns who were harshly condemned by the Vatican in April as failing to uphold Catholic doctrine finally responded on Friday in their own strong terms, saying the Vatican's assessment was based on 'unsubstantiated accusations' and a 'flawed process,' and has caused scandal, pain and polarization in the Roman Catholic Church."

Frank Bruni has a pretty good post on the viral video I'm just not going to embed. (Bruni has it.) I've read elsewhere that people have recommended that the parents of the toddler singing the hate hymn should be arrested for child abuse; I don't really disagree with that. Or maybe the whole damned congregation can be sent to one of those re-education camps Michele Bachmann claims Obama has planned.

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: A Congressional primary "in northern New Jersey, between Rep. Steven R. Rothman and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. has exposed old wounds in the Democratic Party dating to the bitter 2008 primary contest between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama is backing Rothman, while Bill Clinton is supporting Pascrell. Their reasons are simple: Rothman endorsed Obama in the 2008 primary, and Pascrell endorsed the former first lady."

Presidential Race

Maureen Dowd seems to think President Obama is diddling around in the White House trying to "find himself." CW: I think that's nonsense, but some people like this stuff. Besides, no use looking for Romney. There's no there there. ...

... For another superficial look at the candidates, Mark Leibovich of the New York Times finds that Willard & Barack have a lot in common: they like chicken & Star Trek. CW: how is it possible that two people who like chicken & Star Trek can disagree on policy? I guess we'll have to wait till next week for that insiight.

An Inconvenient Comparison. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "On Thursday, Mitt Romney campaigned at the headquarters of Solyndra -- the first renewable energy company to receive a federal loan under the stimulus — and reiterated his debunked claims that its bankruptcy symbolized the corruption and cronyism of the Obama administration. But just one day later, a solar panel developer 'that landed a state loan from Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor' went belly up, the Boston Herald reports, creating an inconvenient storyline for the GOP presidential nominee.... Konarka is the second Massachusetts solar company ... to receive taxpayer dollars under Romney's tenure and subsequently declare bankruptcy." The Boston Herald story is here & comes down hard on Romney, noting near the top of the story that "Romney personally doled out a $1.5 million renewable energy subsidy" to the failed company.

Local News

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "While the [Wisconsin] candidates were on the trail, their campaign organizations were maneuvering armies of volunteers to man phone banks and fan out across neighborhoods. With few if any undecided voters remaining, Democrats and Republicans are relying on turnout operations to get their voters to the polls and decide races for governor, lieutenant governor and four state Senate seats."

Dara Kam of the Palm Beach Post: "Florida elections supervisors said Friday they will discontinue a state-directed effort to remove names from county voter rolls because they believe the state data is flawed and because the U.S. Department of Justice has said the process violates federal voting laws."

News Ledes

Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee continued with a Thames River flotilla:

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    ... There's more footage from the BBC here.

Orlando Sentinel: "George Zimmerman returned to the Seminole County jail today. He will remain without bond until a judge decides whether he should be free before his second-degree murder trial."

Reuters: "Egyptian pro-democracy campaigners called for a new uprising on Sunday, enraged that a court had spared former leader Hosni Mubarak his life over the killing of protesters during the street revolt that ended his three-decade rule. In the first judicial reckoning of a leader toppled in last year's Arab spring uprisings, Mubarak was handed a life prison sentence. His sons were found innocent of corruption charges and senior policemen were acquitted.Thousands took to the streets for protests that went on through the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in other cities...."

AFP: "Police in China beat and detained political activists marking the 23rd anniversary of the brutal crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protests on Sunday, rights campaigners said. Officers used violence against activists in the southeast province of Fujian and detained them, while more than 30 people who came to Beijing "to petition" were held and forced to return to their home province, the activists reported."

AP: "Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday that his country is facing a 'real war,' warning that he will not be lenient with the terrorists he says are behind the country's uprising."

AP: "Vice President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley married a Pennsylvania doctor [Howard Krein] at a ceremony in Delaware, the vice president's office announced late Saturday."


The Commentariat -- June 2, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Guardian story here.

Digby has a terrific post in Mother Jones on the modern history of Jim Crow-type voter suppression and how the Democrats have been letting Republicans get away with it, even after the 2000 election travesty in which the Florida tally was a direct result of Jeb Bush's suppression of eligible Florida voters. ...

... Charles Blow covers the most of the same material, but it bears repeating. See also yesterday's News Ledes.

Daniel Gross of Yahoo! News found quite a bit of good and not-so-bad news in yesterday's economic numbers. ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The odds surely increased Friday that the Federal Reserve will ride again to the rescue of the faltering economic recovery, making borrowing a little cheaper for a little longer, as it has done repeatedly over the last four years."

** Fire Eric Holder. Joe Nocera: "... the Justice Department has ... taken after the smallest of small fry [in the national mortgage fraud debacle] -- and then trumpeted those prosecutions as proof of how tough it is on mortgage fraud. It is a shameful way for the government to act." The DOJ was willing to spends tens of millions prosecuting John Edwards for hiding his mistress, "Yet this same Justice Department isn't willing to use similar resources ... to go after the pervasive corporate wrongdoing that gave us the financial crisis and the Great Recession.... George W. Bush has turned out to be tougher on corporate crooks than Barack Obama." ...

... Sari Horwitz & Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post report on how the Obama Justice Department got on board the John Edwards case, an effort begun by George Holding, a Bush holdover prosecutor who is now running for Congress as a Republican. Includes video of three jurors speaking to Matt Lauer on yesterday's "Today Show."

Riding in Cars with Candidates. Gail Collins: "... somehow, the public realized that [John Edwards] who looked so good and sounded so glib was really a fraud. Even without knowing about the secret love child or the sleazy right-hand man, or the impressive ability to stare right into a TV camera and lie like a rug, they got his number and picked other people to run for president. Voters' gut instincts are generally pretty good. They certainly were with John Edwards. Which is, in a way, a happy ending to an awful story."

Dan Amira of New York magazine: "Good news. People eat other people on a pretty regular basis." See also today's News Ledes.

Presidential Race

The MSM are beginning to fact-check Willard:

     ... Jake Tapper of ABC News: "Yesterday in California, Mitt Romney stood in front of the failed Solyndra factory and said 'an independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had steered money to friends and family, to campaign contributors.' In a TV ad focused on Solyndra, the Romney campaign makes a similar claim, saying the 'Inspector General said that contracts were steered to friends and family.' This isn't true. [blah blah]... That isn't correct. [blah blah]... The charge is simply false." ...

     ... AP: "Mitt Romney ... didn't get the story completely straight when he accused the administration of favoring 'cronies.'" ...

... BUT. Media Matters: "Economic experts agree that spending cuts in a weak economy hurt the creation of jobs and economic growth. Though Republicans in Congress spent much of 2011 demanding spending cuts, the media are amplifying their attacks on President Obama's economic record."

... Ha Ha. Simon van Zuylen-Wood of The New Republic: even as Willard has been hammering Obama on Solyndra & green energy loans & promising to abolish the entire DOE loan program, "a surprising dissent can be found in Ohio Senator Rob Portman [R], often mentioned as a potential [Romney] running mate, who has sponsored a bill that would expand the program. And since he assumed office, in 2010, Portman has relentlessly badgered Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve a guarantee four times larger than Solyndra's for a teetering Ohio nuclear facility. Can the GOP handle a potential veep who seems A-OK with such innovation-killing 'government overreach'?"

** Andrew Miga of the AP: "With a few strokes of his pen on a sleepy holiday six months after he became governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney quietly scuttled the state government's long-standing affirmative action policies.... When civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups finally learned of Romney's move two months later, it sparked a public furor." CW: Read the whole story.

Julie Davis of Bloomberg News: "Romney ... doesn't intend to offer targeted relief for the 11.5 million American homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, [Romney's policy adviser] said, suggesting that such actions are temporary fixes insufficient to stabilize the housing market. 'Governor Romney has indicated that there are some steps we ought to take to ensure that we're growing our economy.... I do think we have to resist the temptation for short-term approaches.'" CW: Remember when Romney said, "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process"? He meant it.

It's Friday, so time for another installment of Steve Benen's epic WIP, Mitt's Mendacity, which is now in Vol. XX, & lists Willard's 18 Whoppers of the Week.

AND Mitt is still rich. His financial disclosure statements are here.

With Friends Like These.... Frankly, the Romney people did the only thing they could. They used their strengths -- which were money and the super PAC and a willingness to go after me very aggressively -- to offset my strength, which was an ability to define a larger, better future. It's not bad to say [Romney] has proven he will do what it takes to beat Obama. It's the nature of our current political culture that cynicism trumps idealism. -- Newt Gingrich, newly-minted Romney surrogate

With Friends Like These.... Rodney Hawkins of CBS News: "Former President Bill Clinton, seeking to contain the political damage from his earlier praise of Mitt Romney's 'sterling' business background, said on Friday that his remarks shouldn't be construed as an endorsement." CW: Clinton's remarks about Romney are, for me, just another of many reminders of what a lousy, right-wing president Clinton was. ...

... Tim Mak of Politico: "Mitt Romney on Friday thanked former president Bill Clinton for complimenting his work at Bain Capital, saying he was 'happy to see President Clinton … called my record superb.'" ...

... Karoli of Crooks & Liars has a good take on Clinton's sterling remark: "Once again, a surrogate steps all over the campaign message in order to praise ... Bain Capital? And not just any surrogate, either. Bill Clinton, who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall into law, which is ultimately responsible for the 2008 meltdown on Wall Street. That very same Bill Clinton."

** Steve Benen nails Congressional Republicans for causing the near-zero jobs growth: "As panic sets in after [Friday]'s brutal jobs report, take a moment to consider a hypothetical: what would the economy look like today if Congress had followed Obama's lead, responded to public-opinion polls, and passed the American Jobs Act? In 2012, do you think the nation could use those 1.3 million jobs or not?." CW: Obama kinda sorta said this yesterday & has done a slightly better job of it in his weekly address. But he needs to really lay it out -- then present a full-fledged program of what Congress should do instead of campaigning on this nitpicking Congressional "honey-do" list.

... Bernie Becker of The Hill: At a committee hearing, "A top House Democrat slammed Jeb Bush on Friday for criticizing President Obama's economic policies while not condemning those of his brother, former President George W. Bush. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, noted that hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs in the months before former President Bush left office in 2009, and said Bush's policies tipped the scales toward the wealthy and Wall Street."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: President Obama told a group of Minnesota donors that he thinks Republicans will get more reasonable after the election since he won't be running for re-election & they'll start being cooperative. CW: He said this in the state that brought us Michele Bachmann.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The Fox News producer behind a provocative four-minute anti-Obama video that aired Wednesday and caused the network considerable embarrassment has found his career on ice. The producer, Chris White, had been offered a job by CNN before the video was broadcast. But on Thursday, a CNN spokeswoman said that the network would not be hiring him." ...

... BUT. Here's a surprise. Alex Alvarez of Mediaite: "Chris White ... will remain at Fox News." He did something terrible for which he was "not authorized," but we're keeping him on anyway. See links in the May 31 Commentariat. ...

... John Hudson of the Atlantic, who must be dumb as a post, said the video below, produced by an outside entity and aired in February on Chris Matthews' show -- which is commentary, not news -- was just like Fox "News"'s "factual" hit job on President Obama. Anyway, the video is humorous:

... Meanwhile, a much smarter guy at the Atlantic -- Jim Fallows -- republishes John Sides' charts tracking positive & negative MSM coverage of Obama & Romney. "Main point: At no time in the past year has coverage of President Obama been as positive as that of Governor Romney. Indeed, at no time in the past year has it been on-balance positive at all."

Local News

President Clinton stumps for Barrett:

An outtake from Thursday's gubernatorial debate in Wisconsin. (I looked for video of the full debate yesterday and couldn't find it -- but the audio is here):

... Charles Pierce comments on the debate.

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "After building questions about the durability of her Senate candidacy, Elizabeth Warren displayed brute strength today by winning the endorsement of 96 percent of delegates to the state Democratic convention and blocking potential opponent Marisa DeFranco from the party's primary ballot. The win allows Warren to instead focus on Republican Senator Scott Brown in the general election."

Guardian: "The Queen has kicked off the first major event of her diamond jubilee weekend, driving on to Epsom racecourse before the Derby to be greeted by 130,000 enthusiastic racegoers. Fans in the stands gave the monarch and Duke of Edinburgh a huge cheer as they were driven down the course past the hospitality tents."

New York Times: "An Egyptian judge on Saturday sentenced former President Hosni Mubarak to life in prison for the killing of unarmed demonstrators during protests that ended his rule.... His interior minister, Habib el-Adly, was sentenced to life for the same reason, but the charges against other Interior Ministry officials were dismissed. The judge also dismissed the bribery charges against Mr. Mubarak and his sons, concluding that the statute of limitations had lapsed." ...

... Reuters: "Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarakand other defendants standing trial with him must be retried with solid evidence, the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement issued on Saturday by the campaign of its presidential candidate."

AP: "The U.N.'s top human rights official said Saturday that there should be no amnesty for serious crimes committed in Syria, even if the threat of prosecution might motivate members of the regime to cling to power at all costs."

AP: "Two female foreign aid workers and their two Afghan colleagues were rescued in a pre-dawn raid Saturday after being held by militants for 11 days in a cave in northern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led military coalition said. The women -- Helen Johnston and Moragwe Oirere -- and the two Afghans were kidnapped on May 22 in Badakhshan province. The four work for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organization based near Lausanne, Switzerland."

AP: "The credibility of Trayvon Martin's shooter could be an issue at trial after a judge said that George Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances to obtain a bond, legal experts say. That's because the case hinges on jurors believing his account of what happened the night the 19-year-old was killed."

AP: "For more than 50 years, the New York Mets chased that elusive no-hitter. Johan Santana finally finished the job. Santana pitched the first no-hitter in team history, helped by an umpire's missed call and an outstanding catch in left field in an 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night." New York Times story here. And a banner headline in the New York Daily News online edition, natch.

Weird "News." New York Daily News: "With fears of a possible 'Zombie Apocalypse' growing, the feds have been forced to deny that the undead are real. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made it clear in a statement that flesh-eating, undead creatures definitely don't exist. 'CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms),' CDC spokesman David Daigle wrote to the Huffington Post on Thursday."


The Commentariat -- June 1, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' column explaining the cause of the euro-crisis. The NYTX front page is here.

Quote of the Day. In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children? -- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, responding to news that when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan paid off pedophile priests to leave the priesthood

Paul Krugman explains to shut-ins the pitfall of austerity fiscal policies during a recession, then illuminates the ulterior motive behind austerity measures.

Irin Carmon of Salon explains Trent Frank's disgusting sex-selection bill, which was defeated in the House yesterday only because it was brought up under rules which require a two-thirds majority vote. CW: the way I see it: more than half of the members of the House of Representative are sociopathic, misogynistic monsters.

Ken Vogel of Politico on "aggrieved mega-donors" who seriously resent our making them the butt of jokes and other, worser stuff. Dr. CW: One of the symptoms of Billionaires Acquired Disease (BAD): a remarkably thin skin.

Presidential Race

Glenn Thrush & Josh Boak of Politico: "Renewed concerns about the global recovery, compounded by the slow-motion fiscal train wreck in Europe, a slowdown in China and Friday's Dow sell-off that put the index in negative territory for the year have seriously undercuts Obama's main reelection strategy: Making the race a referendum on Romney."

I'd like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birth place of the president being set by the Constitution, I'd like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States. -- Mitt Romney, on Tuesday ...

... "The Wrong Résumé." Tim Egan: "... history shows that time in the money trade is more often than not a prelude to a disastrous presidency. The less experience in business, the better the president."

Jim VandeHei & Mike Allen of Politico: the librul media are picking on Mitt & Ann Romney while giving the Obamas a pass. CW: In this piece, VandeHei & Allen pretend they are just reporters here & not actual scribes for the vast right-wing conspiracy. ...

... I see Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine agrees with me: "Brownnosing Politico A-team Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei have a real gem today [Thursday] called 'To GOP, blatant bias in vetting,' in which they allow Republicans to once again essentially ask: If our nation's newspapers love Barack Obama so much, why don't they marry him?" Coscarelli adds, "Nevermind that Politico covered the hell out of the Romney bullying story, too, while largely ignoring Obama's marijuana fandom, which has come up before and never resulted in anything resembling a hate crime." ...

... The New York Times' front-page Ann Romney story, which has drawn GOP complaints, is here. This is the first time I've linked it. I read it, and it doesn't appear to be a hit job, just a slice of the lives of the rich & famous -- which happens to involve lawsuits. The only part I thought made Mrs. Romney look bad came from her own deposition testimony, where she stereotyped Germans. ...

... ** Paul Waldman of American Prospect notes that "the 'liberal bias' complaint never gets old.... VandeHei and Allen's article is a masterpiece of unsupported claims, false equivalences, speculations about what news stories 'imply,' and Republican complaints taken not as complaints but as truths.... This article is really a triumph for conservatives and their strategy of working the refs. But it also shows how thin the evidence is when someone tries to make the case." ...

... John Sides of the Monkey Cage: "The Project for Excellence in Journalism [has found] ... that every point in the past 10 months, Obama has received more negative coverage than positive coverage. The tone of Romney coverage has shifted depending on primary campaign events, but, as of the end of April, positive coverage still outweighed negative coverage. At that point, Romney received about as much positive coverage as Obama received negative coverage."

Heather Hurlburt of the Guardian: "Mitt Romney's sabre-rattling on Syria signifies nothing." ...

... Maeve Reston & Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: "Mitt Romney's foreign policy argument against a second term for Obama has been sharp: He says his Democratic rival has made the U.S. less safe by failing to lead on the world stage. Romney has roughed up Obama with a hawkish tone -- at times bordering on belligerent. Yet for all his criticisms of the president, it has been difficult to tell exactly what Romney would do differently."

The Boston Phoenix editors recommend Donald Trump to be Mitt Romney's running mate -- "two tycoons for the price of one." Excellent choice.

Local News

Patrick Marley, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stayed on the offensive Thursday in his second and final debate with Gov. Scott Walker, focusing on an ongoing secret investigation of Walker aides and divisions within the state since Walker was sworn in 17 months ago."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Stung by a new report showing that the nation’s job market is sputtering, President Obama made a new appeal Friday for Congress to enact measures to revive the economy, not only to shake the United States out of its torpor but to act as a buffer against storm clouds in Europe":

New York Times: "... the Chinese government detained a security official early this year who is suspected of passing information to the United States, a person with knowledge of the case said Friday."

Miami Herald: 'The Justice Department ordered Florida's elections division to halt a systematic effort to find and purge the state's voter rolls of non-citizen voters. Florida's effort appears to violate both the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act -- which governs voter purges -- T. Christian Herren Jr., the Justice Department's lead civil rights lawyer, wrote in a detailed two-page letter sent late Thursday night. State officials ... indicated they might fight DOJ...."

New York Times: "A Florida judge on Friday revoked the bond of George Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, after state prosecutors argued that Mr. Zimmerman, with the help of his wife, had misled the court about his finances."

Bloomberg News: "American employers in May added the fewest workers in a year and the unemployment rate unexpectedly increased as job-seekers re-entered the workforce, further evidence that the labor-market recovery is stalling." ...

... On the Other Hand -- Bloomberg News: "U.S. consumer spending rose in April, a sign that households are supporting the economy as the labor market seeks to gain momentum." ...

... BUT STILL -- Bloomberg News: "U.S. stocks tumbled, erasing the 2012 advance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as employers added the fewest workers in a year, the unemployment rate rose while manufacturing output shrank in Europe and slowed in China." ...

... New York Times story here.

New York Times: "From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program. Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks -- begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games -- even after an element of the program accidentally became public...."

New York Times: "The United States, Turkey and Qatar were among [United Nations] members calling for a special session on Syria in an attempt to increase international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.... Russia, Mr. Assad's key ally, and China have resisted calls in the Security Council for tougher sanctions against Syria."

New York Times: "Ireland on Friday appeared headed toward adoption of the European Union's fiscal compact, but stocks fell and the dollar rose by midday in Europe after data showed unemployment in the euro zone rising to a record." ...

... Washington Post: "European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned in Brussels on Thursday that he considered the euro zone's current structure 'unsustainable,' and said the region's governments must surrender far more budget and regulatory power to a central authority if the currency union is to be saved."

ABC News: "President Obama will unveil a new initiative today that will, for the first time, allow some U.S. service members to receive civilian credentials and licenses for skills they learn in the military. The effort, announced by the White House late Thursday, is aimed at boosting employment among post-9/11 veterans, some of whom have had difficulty obtaining jobs in high-skill industries because their training is not immediately transferable to the private sector."