The Ledes

Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

New York Times: "With NATO leaders expected to endorse a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops for Eastern Europe this week, a senior Russian military official said on Tuesday that Moscow would revise its military doctrine to account for 'changing military dangers and military threats.'”

Guardian: "Syrian rebels have issued three demands for the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers they've held captive for five days, Fiji's military commander has said. Brig Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front wants to be taken off the United Nations terrorist list, humanitarian aid delivered to the capital Damascus, and compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers."

AP: "U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said, and a witness described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader. Al-Shabab had attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people a year ago this month and the U.S. had targeted planners of the bloody assault."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 1, 2014.

Guardian: "The UK and US governments have criticised, in unusually strong language, Israel's decision to approve one of the largest appropriations of Palestinian land for settlement in recent decades. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he deplored the move as 'particularly ill-judged'."

Al Jazeera: "Iraqi Kurdish forces and Shia armed volunteers have retaken more northern towns from the Islamic State group, killing at least two of its senior fighters, sources have told Al Jazeera. A day after breaking the siege in the town of Amerli north of Baghdad, government forces retook the town of Sulaiman Bek on Monday, removing another key stronghold of the Islamic State group." ...

... Guardian: "Barack Obama on Monday formally notified Congress that he had authorised targeted air strikes in Iraq to help deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Shia town of Amerli, the White House said in a statement."

Washington Post: Pakistan's "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was clinging to power Monday as protesters stepped up their assault on government buildings while the capital was gripped with fear and confusion about whether the country’s powerful military will step in to defuse the tension. As the demonstrations calling for the prime minister’s resignation enter their third week, Sharif is trying to navigate Pakistan’s worst political crisis in more than a decade."

Guardian: "The American government on Monday asked North Korea to release three Americans currently held in the communist country, after foreign media outlets were allowed to interview detainees. 'Out of humanitarian concern for Jeffrey Fowle, Matthew Miller, and their families, we request the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] release them so they may return home,” said Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the State Department, in a statement. 'We also request the DPRK pardon Kenneth Bae and grant him special amnesty and immediate release so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care.'”

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 2

12:30 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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-- Constant Weader

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Sunday
Jul152012

The Commentariat -- July 16, 2012

CW: Sorry for the slow morning. I had major connection problems overnight, & among the sites I couldn't access was my own. I'll try to get up to speed shortly, though I expect interruptions, access-wise & otherwise.

Banksters! Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "Some of the nation’s biggest brokerage firms appear to be giving a handful of top hedge funds an early peek at ... changes in [their] analysts' views ... of a company's prospects ... allowing them to trade on the information before other investors get the word." CW: these are not "savvy businessmen"; they're cheats, liars & crooks. ...

... Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has so far escaped responsibility for the spreading Libor fixing scandal by releasing documents showing that when he became aware of the problem in 2008, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he made recommendations to address it.... [But] the recommendations Geithner sent to London did not come from staff, but rather were proposed by major banks and more or less forwarded on verbatim." Thanks for the link go to Kate M., who shares my opinion of Wall Street's Man in Washington.

Bill Keller debunks five myths about the Affordable Care Act. Little of this will be news to Reality Chex readers, but Keller's piece provides good responses for you to toss at your Foxbot friends when they start explaining why ObamaCare is the canary in the coalmine of civilization.

Sen. Dr. No Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) writes an op-ed in the New York Times claiming Republicans are only to happy to raise taxes and they just pay no attention at all to Grover Norquist. To be fair, Coburn -- who is retiring, so he doesn't have to face Norquist/Tea Party wrath -- has been more willing than most in his party to discuss raising taxes in exchange for cuts in the social safety net. ...

... AND, in another op-ed from a Very Serious Jerk, Larry Summers writes in the Washington Post that the wealth inequality he helped create is maybe not such a good thing. One of his revolutionary suggestions for reducing inequality: "... the custom could be established [at top private universities] that for each 'legacy slot' room would be made for one 'opportunity slot.'" Summers was president of Harvard till nobody there could stand him, either. ...

... E. J. Dionne takes a whack at conservatives' "solutions" to wealth inequality, & notes that David Brooks' ruminations are "wrong."

NEW. Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation's wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise."

Presidential Race

NEW: Anthony Gardner in Bloomberg News: "What's clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm's partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses. What's less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public...." Gardner works at a private equity fund and was director of European affairs in the U.S. National Security Council in 1994-95."

NEW: Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Mitt Romney on Monday accused President Barack Obama of running a 'campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty,' while brushing aside suggestions from anxious conservatives to release more than two years of tax returns." ...

... NEW. Mackenzie Weinger of Politico: "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz offered Mitt Romney and his campaign team some stark advice on Monday: They 'need to put their big boy and big girl pants on and defend his record.... They don't want to show us his record. They're running the most secretive campaign for president of a major party in history.'"

** New York Times Editors: "After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it's clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn't want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin." ...

... After three days of the New York Times not covering the story, today Nicholas Confessore & Michael Shear have a long piece looking at the evidence for and against Romney's claim that he "left Bain" in February 1999.

... The Personal Is Political." Paul Krugman: "The point is that talking about Mr. Romney's personal history isn't a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters." ...

... T. J. Walker, writing in Forbes, lists 35 questions Romney must answer before the controversy surrounding his "retirement" from Bain is resolved." ...

... Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign's national press secretary, put out a memo (pdf) to the media highlighting some of Walker's questions. Via Greg Sargent. ...

... No Apologies. President Obama on WAVY-TV (Richmond, Virginia). The transcript is here. Via Taagen Goddard:

Drip, Drip. Ryan Grim & Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post: "Add another document to the pile of evidence contradicting Mitt Romney's continued insistence that he ended his active role with Bain Capital in early 1999.... A corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts in December 2002 -- a month after Romney was elected governor -- lists him as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, LLC...." ...

... Matt DeLong of the Washington Post: "Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie defended his candidate from attacks over the timing of his departure from Bain Capital during an appearance on CNN's 'State of the Union' Sunday, saying Romney retired 'retroactively' from the firm." With video. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Over the last few days, Mitt Romney has seen his business experience, which began the campaign as his primary qualification, turn into something perilously close to a scandal. It's now time for a recurrent phase in the campaign called Republicans Give Advice to Mitt Romney. Attack! Defend! Show us your taxes! (The last category, I would note, consists entirely of people who have never seen Romney's taxes.)"

Tom Edsall in the New York Times: there's not much merit to Mitt Romney's "merit-based" society. CW: no kidding. See, for example, Gretchen Morgenson's story, linked above.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations." CW: Who said there were no do-overs in life? These spokespeople who can't speak & think at the same time will soon insist on a 4-minute delay on the teevee, too: Eric Fehrnstrom's Etch-a-Sketch remark surely would have been Etch-a-Sketched, bleeped or cut. But seriously, the major media could put a stop to this gaffe-pass practice if the big guys all just said no. ...

... Jonathan Chait agrees with me: "Reporters, then, should just try saying no."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Trying to shift the presidential campaign narrative away from his personal finances and tenure at Bain Capital, Republican Mitt Romney will launch a fresh assault this week accusing President Obama of political cronyism at the expense of middle-class workers." This Web video is a piece of the assault:

... AND there's this one:

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The [Romney] commercial illustrates how Obama abandoned the rhetoric of 'hope and change' and went negative by playing quotes from CBS's Bob Schieffer, the New York Times' David Brooks, and Time's Mark Halperin.... Now two of the three journalists have responded, and surprisingly, they weren't flattered by being dragged into an attack ad without their permission." CW: You'll have to read Hartmann's post to find out which of the three "journalists" (actually, only one is a journalist; the others are hacks) hasn't complained about appearing in the Romney ad; if you try to guess, your first two guesses don't count.

News Ledes

Guardian: "New York and Connecticut attorneys general have joined forces to investigate alleged manipulation of the Libor interest rates. The scandal is already being investigated by the US justice department and financial regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. But the involvement of New York state is likely to ramp up the investigation."

Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for global growth to the lowest level since 2009, when the world was first emerging from the great recession. The IMF said Monday it expects the world economy to grow 3.5% this year, 0.1 percentage points lower than its forecast three months ago, and warned that a sharper downturn was possible if policymakers in Europe and the US fail to act."

AP: "The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS. The agency approved Gilead Sciences' pill Truvada as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners."

New York Times: "Gunners on a United States Navy supply ship in the Persian Gulf near the coast of the United Arab Emirates opened fire on a small motorized vessel on Monday after the small vessel disregarded warnings and rapidly approached, the United States Fifth Fleet command reported."

The Guardian is liveblogging the civil war in Syria, describing "fierce fighting" in Damascus. The New York Times story is here.

Reuters: "The U.S. Marshals Service has captured Vincent Legrend Walters, one of the law enforcement agency's 15 most wanted fugitives, in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Walters, 45, wanted on kidnapping, murder and drug charges stemming from a 1988 San Diego case, was apprehended Friday morning, then transported to Mexico City where he will await extradition to the United States...."

Saturday
Jul142012

The Commentariat -- July 15, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "When Did He Leave & When Did He Know It?" You can guess the subject matter. The NYTX front page is here.

Illustration by Ben Wiseman for the New York Times.Frank Bruni: "WHENEVER you doubt that the future can improve upon the past or that government can play a pivotal role in that, consider and revel in the extraordinary greening of New York."

Digby: "According to Media Matters, with the exception of Spitzer and Chris Hayes, TV news has pretty much avoided even mentioning [the LIBOR] scandal, much less trying to explain it":

CW: I hope you readers who thought I was a dope for citing the case of Tomas Lopez -- the young man fired from his lifeguard's job for trying to save a swimmer outside his assigned "zone" -- as an example of the perils of privatization, will read Steven Pearlstein's Washington Post article on the story, which he describes as "a parable about outsourcing and how it is reshaping large swaths of the economy." Pearlstein makes a number of the same points I did, and then some. I might be a dope, but I have company!

Peter Maass & Megha Rajagopalan in the New York Times: "THE device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone -- guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Let's stop calling them phones. They are trackers.... The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ... noted that GPS data can reveal whether a person 'is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups -- and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.'"

Speaking of trackers, Scott Shane of the New York Times on "the moral case for drones." Something of a must-read, no matter what your opinion of drones is now.

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: "First, it was kings and queens. Now, it is heads of state -- and the secretary of state. During a CNN interview that aired Tuesday, Senator Scott Brown said that President Obama and other powerful Democrats are regularly phoning him to get help passing their legislation.... In reality, Brown's staff says he has spoken by phone with Clinton just twice during his Senate career -- most recently over a year ago, on July 5, 2011.... Brown's staff says he has spoken with the vice president by phone just once. As for Obama himself, Brown's staff says the two have spoken by phone just once, in April 2010.... But the president also hosted Brown in June 2010 for a face-to-face talk in the Oval Office."

Presidential Race

Sing along with Mitt:

Your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this: if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. -- Mitt Romney, referring to the people who booed him at the NAACP convention ...

... Suzie Madrak: "As far as free lunches go, we of course just witnessed the biggest government handout in history, one that Romney himself endorsed. Four and a half trillion dollars in bailout money already disbursed, trillions more still at risk in guarantees and loans, sixteen trillion dollars in emergency lending from the Federal Reserve, two trillion in quantitative easing, etc. etc. All of this money went to Romney's pals in the Wall Street banks that for years helped Romney take over companies with mountains of borrowed cash. Now, after these banks crashed, executives at those same firms used those public funds to pay themselves massive salaries." Read her whole post on Willard's "character." ...

... Here's the piece by Matt Taibbi -- which Madrak cites -- on Romney big "outreach" to "those people" who are all about "free stuff." ...

... Digby: "... as usual, it's only the average Joe in a bind who needs to be taught a lesson in personal responsibility."

Tony Soprano Explains "Planned Bankruptcy a la Mitt":

Jordy Yager of The Hill: "Rep. Ron Paul said that the Republican Party is scared to let him speak at the national convention in Florida next month.... 'I think the Romney campaign organization is very insecure,' said Paul in an interview with Fox Business News on Friday."

"Perhaps there's a contradiction there":

Local News

Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times: "The federal government has granted Florida election officials access to a database of noncitizen residents for use in Republican-backed efforts to remove people who are not American citizens from voter registration rolls."

News Ledes

New York Times: "As regulators ramp up their global investigation into the manipulation of interest rates, the Justice Department has identified potential criminal wrongdoing by big banks and individuals at the center of the scandal. The department's criminal division is building cases against several financial institutions and their employees, including traders at Barclays...."

New York Times: "A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama."

Washington Post: "Japan on Sunday recalled its ambassador to China as the result of a reigniting territorial dispute between the East Asian neighbors. The uninhabited and long-contested Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan but claimed by China, have again turned into a flashpoint amid Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's recent proposal to buy the territory from a private Japanese landowner. China sent three ships to the area last week as an apparent response, prompting a protest from Japan."

AP: "Syria on Sunday denied U.N. claims that government forces used heavy weapons during a military operation that left scores dead and brought immediate international condemnation, while the International Committee of the Red Cross said it now considers the conflict in the country a civil war."

Friday
Jul132012

The Commentariat -- July 14, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Debtors Prisons. New York Times Editors: in violation of their Constitutional right to equal protection, "judges routinely jail people to make them pay fines even when they have no money to pay.... This devastating problem has gotten far worse the past five years, the result of budget-strapped state courts looking for sources of revenue.... This revenue-oriented approach is made worse by the increasing use of for-profit companies to collect fees owed to the courts.... State judicial leaders need to ... monitor and discipline judges who continue to allow the poor to be imprisoned, flouting the Constitution, Supreme Court holdings and basic fairness."

New York Times Editors: "The House Agriculture Committee's farm bill makes unconscionable cuts to food stamps and free school meals while protecting powerful farm interests."

Presidential Race

Callum Borchers & Brian MacQuarrie of the Boston Globe: Romney's account of when he left Bain has "evolved." "In a November 2000 interview with the Globe, Romney's wife, Ann, said he had been forced to lessen, but not end entirely, his involvement with Bain Capital."

Dave Weigel: "What confounds me about the Bain Capital/Romney story's current iteration is that there's such a long, uncontested record describing Romney's ties to the company through 2002." For example:

Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions. But he will leave running day-to-day operations to Bain's executive committee.(Greg Gatlin, "Romney Looks To Restore Olympic Pride," The Boston Herald, 2/12/99) ...

... Lisa Lerer & Julie Davis of Bloomberg News: "Romney is named as one of two managing members [emphasis added] of Bain Capital Investors LLC in annual reports filed in Massachusetts as late as 2002, adding a new corporate entity to a growing number of Bain-related investments and funds that list the Republican presidential candidate as controlling the company three years after he said he left it." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "A July 19, 1999 press release distributed on behalf of Regan Communications and Bain Capital described Mitt Romney as the 'Bain Capital CEO' and said he was 'on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.' The press release, which announced the creation of a new private equity firm by two of Bain's managing directors, included a quote from Romney giving his blessing to the new venture. 'While we will miss them,' Romney said, 'we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm.'" ...

... David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix: "In a controversial investment deal that led to a federal inquiry, Mitt Romney personally signed SEC documents reporting the sale of Bain Capital shares in 2000 and 2001 -- during the time when he was on leave of absence to run the Salt Lake Olympic Games. The Boston Globe reported in 2003, during the SEC investigation, that "Romney ... signed the SEC's necessary documents for Bain when his company -- and he as an individual shareholder -- sold their stakes in DDi in the fall of 2000 and in the winter and spring of 2001. SEC records indicate that Romney remained well into 2001 as a general partner in three of the four Bain funds that are involved in the DDi transactions.'" ...

... Steve Benen: "In 2002, a Boston Globe article quoted a former Bain Capital executive named Marc B. Wolpow who said Mr. Romney remained in a very active role at Bain Capital while he was supposedly on a leave of absence for his [1994] Senate race. Wolpow specifically said of Romney's role, "I reported directly to Mitt Romney.... You can't be CEO of Bain Capital and say, 'I really don't know what my guys were doing.'"

... Jason Cherkis & Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: "Mitt Romney's repeated claim that he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false, according to Romney's own testimony in June 2002, in which he admitted to sitting on the board of the LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment during the period.... In the testimony..., Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. '[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,' he said. Romney's sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: "Romney didn't mention Bain Capital in his testimony as one of the companies with which he continued to work while leading the Olympic committee. Asked whether Romney attended any meetings or participated in any phone calls for Bain -- as he did for other firms -- a Romney spokeswoman reiterated that the candidate didn't have an 'active role' in the company during that time." CW: sounds like a yes.

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "Romney didn't start pushing the idea that he’d severed all ties with Bain in '99 until late in the '02 campaign, when Democrats played up Bain's closure of a Kansas City steel plant, a move that cost 700 workers their jobs."

For Romney, the Buck Stops Elsewhere. President Obama speaks with Scott Thuman of Washington D.C.'s ABC-7 News on Romney's failure to take responsibility for the actions of the company he headed. (Via Greg Sargent.) The text is here:

Charles Blow: "Mitt Romney's stories just don't jibe."

Gail Collins: "While he was in Utah getting the luge runs in shape, Romney was also still getting a six-figure salary for being a Bain 'executive.' Perhaps for Mitt, that was just the going-away equivalent of a monogrammed briefcase."

On Friday Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post "fact-checker," is standing behind his earlier determination that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, and keeps giving Pinocchios to the Obama campaign. He tried to justify the earlier assessment Thursday, too. Here's the original assessment, dated January 18, 2012. ...

... Brad DeLong has 137 Pinocchios for Glenn Kessler: "In 2002 Mitt Romney decided that he had retired from Bain in 1999. Yes, you read that correctly. When Mitt Romney took over the Salt Lake City Olympics in February 1999, he intended to come back and run Bain Capital full-time afterwards -- and he wanted to make sure that everybody at Bain Capital knew that he was still the boss... and that everybody should be careful to make sure that their actions were things Romney approved of. Come 2002, Mitt Romney decided that he was going to run for Governor of Massachusetts. So come 2002 Romney decides that he had retired from Bain Capital back in 1999. Yes. As Glenn Kessler says: 'when Romney decided to run for governor in 2002, he received a retirement package that was dated Feb., 1999'." ...

... Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast: "Kessler bizarrely asserts that telling the SEC that someone is the CEO and sole owner of a company, when he isn't, is no big deal. He says that all Romney did was list 'a misleading title.' Misleading? Really? Either you are CEO or you aren't.... How does Romney attend board meetings of Bain acquisitions, sign six filings on Bain acquisitions, get a six figure salary as an executive, list himself as sole owner and CEO with the SEC in these years, and insist he was not 'involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way'? Bain went further and stated that in the period involved Romney had 'absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies.' All of this is a spectacular contradiction -- and yet Kessler, defending, one suspects, his own reputation, refuses to give an inch." ...

... Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: the reporting "of Kessler's own colleague [Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post] on pre-1999 outsourcing suggests that the Obama attack was more accurate than Chicago itself realized when it first launched the charge."

Dave Weigel: "Explaining why Romney himself wasn't really CEO during his leave of absence (when he was trying to save the American Olympics, for Pete's sake!) involves explaining some complicated corporation-fu. In the meantime, the Obama campaign can use 'outsource' in every other graf of its press releases, and ignore the Fact-Check squads."

Steve Benen has Volume 25 of "Mitt's Mendacity," & Vol. 25 has 25 examples of Mitt's lies of the week.

"The Sideshow Bob Defense" Jonathan Chait of New York: "Conn Carroll of the conservative Washington Examiner has what he considers a knock-out response -- if Romney is a felon, why hasn't Obama prosecuted him?"

The Incredible Shrinking Résumé. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "In a bizarre if somewhat predictable development, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a very prominent supporter of Mitt Romney's candidacy and a possible running-mate, had this to say today: 'Asked during a press conference here whether he thought Romney's experience at Bain should be part of his 'record,' McDonnell shook his head and said 'No. No.' ... I thought Romney's experience at Bain was precisely what Mitt's been citing all along as his principal qualification to be president. He hardly ever mentions his tenure as governor of Massachusetts...."

Local News

Randy Lobasso in Salon identifies another group who won't be able to vote under Pennsylvania's new voter suppression law: women who have changed their names, usually because of marriage or divorce. Lobasso cites an expert: "Only 66 percent of women have an issued photo ID with their current name." So it's women in transition, students, minorities, poor people -- I believe that's called the Democratic demographic. President Obama cannot win the general election if he doesn't win Pennsylvania. And that is the point of the law.

Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "Late last week, Gov. Nikki Haley [R] of South Carolina vetoed a whole slate of budget items, including half a million dollars for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention." Haley's justification for the veto: domestic violence & rape are a "distraction" from other public health issues.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "President Obama barnstormed five cities across Virginia this weekend, stepping up his attacks on Republican Mitt Romney as the two candidates demonstrated the hard fight ahead in a state crucial to the battle for the White House."

AP: "President Barack Obama is keeping up a drumbeat of skepticism over Mitt Romney's insistence -- displayed in a blitz of TV interviews -- that he stepped down from his private equity firm years earlier than federal records indicate. Obama planned another day of campaigning in Virginia on Saturday.... Advisers said he would remind voters of the discrepancies between Securities and Exchange Commission filings and Romney's recollection of his role at the Boston-based firm."

New York Times: As the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State came to light, football coach Joe Paterno & his family negotiated a new retirement package that was even sweeter than his previous contract provided.

Savvy! New York Times: "JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Friday that losses on its botched credit bet could climb to more than $7 billion and that the bank's traders may have intentionally tried to obscure the full extent of the red ink on the disastrous trades. Mounting concerns about valuing the trades led the company to announce that its earnings for the first quarter were no longer reliable and would be restated. Federal regulators ... are now looking at whether employees of the nation's biggest bank by assets intended to defraud investors...."

Houston Chronicle: "The state's argument for a voter ID law met with skepticism Friday from federal judges who questioned Texas attorneys about the lack of witnesses and the need to prove the law is fair to minority voters."

New York Times: "Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing 'Driving Miss Daisy' in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a father's best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 77."

Reuters: "Visa Inc, MasterCard Inc and banks that issue their credit cards have agreed to a $7.25 billion settlement with U.S. retailers in a lawsuit over the fixing of credit and debit card fees in what could be the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history."

New York Times: "Syria has started moving some parts of its huge stockpile of chemical weapons out of storage, American officials said Friday, but it was uncertain whether the transfer was a precaution as security conditions across the country rapidly deteriorated, or something more sinister."

Washington Post: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi today. ...

     ... Update: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in Friday on Egypt's efforts to define its post-revolutionary course, saying that the United States supports the country's 'full transition to civilian rule' and the return of its politically powerful military to a 'purely national security role.'"

Washington Post: Members of the public and Congress are furious over the Made in China labels on the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms. Designer Ralph Lauren doesn't have a U.S. manufacturer.

Thursday
Jul122012

The Commentariat -- July 13, 2012

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "Despite the recent run of disappointing economic data, a broad range of experts and forecasters expect the economy to improve slightly in coming months, thanks to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing. Call it a firming up, if not quite a comeback."

"Geithner Tried to Curb Rate-Rigging in 2008." Ben Protess of the New York Times: "When Timothy F. Geithner ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he acknowledged fundamental problems with the process for setting key interest rates in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.... Mr. Geithner, who is now the United States Treasury secretary, questioned the integrity of the benchmark as reports surfaced that Barclays and other big banks were misrepresenting the rates." ...

... Jia Lynn Yang has the Washington Post story here.

Nikita Stewart of the Washington Post: Washington, D.C. "Mayor Vincent C. Gray's 2010 campaign inaccurately documented at least $100,000 in expenses in records filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, according to campaign treasurer Betty R. Brown.... Her comments underscore the extent of the legal troubles concerning Gray's official mayoral effort, including guilty pleas from three associates in a federal probe of the campaign.... According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, more than $653,000 was secretly poured into a separate 'shadow campaign' whose spending was never reported."

Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Richard O'Dwyer, an enterprising 24-year-old college student from northern England..., started [a Website] that helped visitors find American movies and television shows online. Although the site did not serve up pirated content, American authorities say it provided links to sites that did. The Obama administration is seeking to extradite Mr. O'Dwyer from Britain on criminal charges of copyright infringement. The possible punishment: 10 years in a United States prison." CW: it's okay to help your Hollywood campaign contributors beat pirates, but isn't this too much?

"Perfect Attendance. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) cast her 5,000th consecutive vote Thursday, earning her the third-longest consecutive-vote streak of any senator in U.S. history. Standing at her desk shortly after 2 p.m., Collins beamed before her name was called on a vote to table a proposal on tax cuts for small businesses.... Not only has her vote streak consecutive, but it accounts for every vote held in the Senate since she joined the chamber in January 1997."

New York Times Editors: "For all its right-wing political muscle, ALEC has long enjoyed tax-exempt status as a nonpartisan charity under section 501(c )(3) of the tax code, which is supposed to bar it from influencing legislation as a substantial part of its activities. And because it is a charity, its donors are allowed to deduct contributions from income taxes.... Marcus Owens, the former chief of the I.R.S. division in charge of tax exemptions, has recently filed a complaint with the I.R.S. charging ALEC with illegal lobbying and partisan violations that should lead to revocation of its tax exemption. We agree."

New York Times Editors: "As the nation moves toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, there should be at least five justices willing to say that."

Presidential Race

President Obama on the biggest mistake of his first term:

     ... President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. -- Mitt Romney, reacting to the President's remarks

... CBS News: "President Barack Obama questioned presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's economic credentials, saying that while his tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital doesn't 'disqualify' him from running for president, it won't necessarily translate into job growth for Americans":

      ... CW: Obama could have been, um, more forceful. He seems a lot less comfortable than we are about slamming Rmoney. P.S. Charlie Rose won his V.S.P. merit badge, didn't he?

Robin Wells in the Guardian: "From images of corporate raiding, to luxury speedboats, to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, to mega-mansions in the Hamptons, this week's stories suggest that the candidacy of Mitt Romney -- poster-boy for the symbiotic relationship between big money and the modern Republican party -- is in serious trouble.... The domination by the super-wealthy means that Republicans not only have no interest in the welfare of the rest of the 99.9%, they have no understanding of why this is a problem. The noblesse oblige days of the old money, such as the Bushes, the Kennedys and the Roosevelts are long gone...." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the 'we are V.I.P.' crowd has fully captured the modern Republican Party.... If you're really concerned about the [tax] incentive effects of public policy, you should be focused not on the rich but on workers making $20,000 to $30,000 a year, who are often penalized for any gain in income because they end up losing means-tested benefits like Medicaid and food stamps."

** Bombshell! Callum Borchers & Christopher Rowland of the Boston Globe: "Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.... The timing of Romney's departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date. Contradictions concerning the length of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital add to the uncertainty and questions about his finances." ...

... This piece by Josh Marshall of TPM, published July 10, covers the territory the Globe reporters expand. ...

... AND this from David Corn of Mother Jones, dated July 2: "... documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission ... list Romney as an active participant in the investment [in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics].... Responding to a recent Washington Post story reporting that Bain-acquired companies outsourced jobs, the Romney campaign insisted that Romney exited Bain in February 1999, a month or more before Bain took over two of the companies named in the Post's article. The SEC documents undercut that defense...." CW: We should give more credit to bloggers who so often lay the groundwork for MSM reports that get all the attention. ...

     ... CW: Oh, looks like even the Globe agrees with me. From Dylan Byers of Politico: "Globe editor Martin Baron said Thursday that the paper failed to credit other news organizations, such as Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo, that had previously reported on the story. Baron said it was a 'mistake' the passages giving credit were removed and that the paper will remedy the error online but added that the Globe 'advanced the story with a more comprehensive and complete look that broke significant news.'" ...

     ... In an interesting update on the Globe story itself, Dylan Byers reports that the Rmoney campaign asked for a correction, and the Globe said no. Byers has the "no" memo from Globe editor Martin Baron, which is pretty good.

... Mackenzie Weinger & Dylan Byers of Politico: "The Obama campaign went on the attack Thursday after a bombshell report revealed that Mitt Romney was the CEO of Bain Capital for years longer than he has previously admitted. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said this new disclosure shows Romney is 'the most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon.'" ...

... John Aravosis of AmericaBlog: "1. Romney told the SEC that he remained the firm's 'sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president' up until 2002. 2. But Romney said in a more recent financial disclosure form that he left Bain in 1999 -- so the two federal forms contradict each other, at least one is a lie." ...

... Jennifer Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney either lied in federal filings that show he worked at Bain Capital through 2002 and could be guilty of a felony, or has lied to the American people in saying he left the company in 1999, the Obama campaign is arguing in light of news reports on the firm’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 'This is serious business,' said Bob Bauer, the Obama campaign's counsel, in a conference call for reporters...." ...

... Steve Benen: "When the editors of FactCheck.org initially took Romney's claims at face value to reject Democratic criticisms, they said the candidate must be telling the truth about his Bain departure date, because if he didn't really leave until 2002, then 'Romney would be guilty of a federal felony by certifying on federal financial disclosure forms that he left active management of Bain Capital in February 1999.' FactCheck.org meant that to be proof that Romney's claims were true. Now that there's ample evidence to the contrary, it's worth considering that whole 'guilty of a federal felony' question again." ...

... "I Did Not Have Economic Relations with That Company." Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "It doesn't seem too hard to believe that while Romney was in Salt Lake, he also continued to be involved in the major decisions at Bain -- even if he wasn't available to pitch for the company softball team.... But if he were to admit that, then he'd have to answer specific questions about his knowledge of the steel mill that went bankrupt, the outsourcing companies, and so on. And there is nothing in the world Mitt Romney wants to do less than have to answer specific questions about Bain and what he did there." ...

... Henry Blodgett of Business Insider: "Sorry, Mitt Romney, You Can't Be Chairman, CEO, And President Of A Company And Not Be Responsible For What It Does...." ...

... Kevin Roose of New York magazine tells Romney's side: "It depends on what the meanings of "manager" and "CEO" are." ...

Oh, There's More. David Corn: Romney "decries China poaching US jobs. But at Bain he held a large stake in a Chinese company that did just that." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Mitt Romney sure picked a bad day to call the President a liar." ...

... "Projecting Mendacity." Ed Kilgore on the Rovian Rmoney attack ad on Obama: "... the new gambit from his campaign is probably also designed to (a) chip into Obama’s continuing advantage in personal favorability, while (b) reinforcing among GOP 'base' voters the meme that the whole Obama enterprise is a vast Potemkin Village disguising his radicalism and unsavory association with America-haters and Christ-haters." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein, writing in the Washington Post, remarks that these financial bombshells are just coming out now because Rmoney's amateur opponents in the primary didn't do any serious oppo research. CW: I suspect the Obama team was preparing to make the case John Aravosis so succinctly crystallize. The "sources" Aravosis cites are pretty much out in the open: they're public documents that any oppo team would check. That's why the Obama campaign ads accused Rmoney of doing stuff that took place after 1998. Fact-checkers have panned the ads, but the Obama camp had it right all along -- and I think they knew it.

... Dierdre Walsh of CNN: "The chief of the House Republicans' campaign arm said Thursday it was 'fair game' for people to ask for more information about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's personal financial records. 'His personal finances, the way he does things, his record, are fair game,' Texas Republican Pete Sessions told CNN."

The blind trust is an age-old ruse. -- Mitt Romney, 1994, on Ted Kennedy's blind trust ...

... Todd Purdum of Vanity Fair: Romney "assures us that his assets are held in a 'blind trust' over which he exerts no control. But just how blind are such trusts, anyway? In Romney's case, apparently not quite blinkered enough to keep his trustee -- who is also his personal lawyer and longtime friend Bradford Malt -- from investing more than $10 million of Romney's money in an investment fund managed by Romney's son Tagg." Via Greg Sargent. ...

      Also from the Purdum post, which is well-worth reading in full:

As a freshman senator, Barack Obama — whose wealth comes almost entirely from his book royalties -- set up a blind trust but later that same year sold all of his stocks and closed the trust because he decided that even such an arrangement could not protect him from the appearance of a conflict. Most of his wealth is now invested in U.S. Treasury bonds and diversified funds -- about the most transparent option available. What's good for the country is good for Obama, and vice versa, to coin a phrase.

Yo! Those welfare queens booed me at my NAACP gig because I'll make sure the government doesn't give them any 'more free stuff.' -- Mitt Romney, at a fundraiser, paraphrased (but not off the mark)

Jay Rosen of NYU: "Suppose a major party candidate for president believed we were in a 'post-truth' era and actually campaigned that way. Would political reporters in the mainstream press figure it out and tell us? I say no. They would not tell us. Not in any clear way."

AND Andy Borowitz forwards a note from Willard's doctor attesting to the candidate's memory loss.

News Ledes

On CNN, "... Mitt Romney offered a vocal defense Friday of his tenure [at Bain] and strongly disputed reports he left the firm years later than he has previously said." CW: "A vocal defense"? Does that mean he wasn't singing AND dancing? Here's the CNN interview:

Romney says Obama owes him a apology:


Same story at ABC News. Here's the transcript of Jonathan Karl's interview of Romney.

New York Times: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York learned in April 2008, as the financial crisis was brewing, that at least one bank was reporting false interest rates.... Although the New York Fed conferred with Britain and American regulators about the problems and recommended reforms, it failed to stop the illegal activity, which persisted through 2009.... Timothy F. Geithner, who served as the head of the New York Fed during the crisis years, and other regulators raised concerns about Libor. But they did not stop the problems."

Bloomberg News: "JPMorgan Chase & Co. had already lost more than $700 million on synthetic credit bets and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was told that number could climb to almost $1 billion when he dismissed press reports about the positions in April as a 'tempest in a teapot.'"

New York Times: "A county judge in Alabama has temporarily shut down a system in a town near Birmingham where people fined for speeding and unable to afford the ticket are handed over to a private probation company and sometimes sent to jail, where additional fees are imposed."

New York Times: "Mitt Romney will submit to five network and cable television interviews this afternoon after several days of being hammered by President Obama’s campaign on his personal wealth and his time at Bain Capital."

The Hill: "President Obama mocked Republicans on Friday for seeking to repeal the healthcare law 33 times instead of working to pass a tax extension that would help the middle class. Kicking off a two-day, five-stop bus tour in Virginia, Obama sought to hammer home his latest message to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year as part of an effort that, he says, would help the middle class."

Washington Post: "A D.C. police officer who worked as a motorcycle escort for White House officials and other dignitaries was moved to administrative duty Wednesday after he allegedly was overheard making threatening comments toward Michelle Obama, according to several police officials."

Al Jazeera: "Syria's opposition has urged the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution against Damascus following reports by activists that regime forces massacred at least 150 villagers in the central province of Hama."

Guardian: "China's growth has slowed to its lowest rate since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009, though analysts voiced optimism on Friday that the economy may have bottomed out already. Second-quarter growth of 7.6% -- down from 8.1% in the previous three months -- was in line with expectations...."