The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war. The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for 'unjust enrichment' — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor."

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

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 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

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:

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Sunday
Jun102012

The Commentariat -- June 11, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "Liberals Remind Him of Nazis." The NYTX front page is here.

Government Is the Solution (And Liberals Should Say So). E. J. Dionne: "Let's turn Ronald Reagan's declaration on its head: Opposition to government isn't the solution. Opposition to government was and remains the problem. It is past time that we affirm government's ability to heal the economy, and its responsibility for doing so."

TARP o' Marks. In a blogpost, Paul Krugman explains what the Spanish bailout means: It "may -- may -- put a temporary end to the 'doom loop' of funds fleeing Spanish banks, forcing the banks to sell assets, driving asset prices down and creating further doubts about solvency." ...

     ... AND elaborates in his column: "Put it all together and you get a picture of a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.... Whatever the deep roots of this paralysis [in Europe & the U.S.], it's becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don't despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner."

Jill Lepore has a long, discouraging piece in the New Yorker on the Supremes: "However the Court rules on health care, the commerce clause appears unlikely, in the long run, to be able to bear the burdens that have been placed upon it. So long as conservatives hold sway on the Court, the definition of 'commerce' will get narrower and narrower, despite the fact that this will require, and already has required, overturning decades of precedent. Unfortunately, Article I, Section 8, may turn out to have been a poor perch on which to build a nest for rights." ...

... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: whatever the Court decides, health care providers and government officials can look forward to a messy, complicated implementation.

New York Times Editors: "The federal courts that have reviewed [the Defense of Marriage Act] since 2010 have found that it fails to meet the most elementary test of constitutionalismy." But Republicans keep defending it anyway.

The Washington Post has published another excerpt from David Maraniss's biography of President Obama. This one is about Barry's days as a basketball player at Punahou High, which had an outstanding team.

Kyrie O'Connor of Salon interviews Gail Collins about Collins' new book As Texas Goes....

Matthew Wald of the New York Times: "... the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets on Wednesday to consider President Obama's choice to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.... For the first time, the president has chosen a geologist for the post, Allison M. Macfarlane of George Mason University, and her expertise aligns with the pressing concerns facing Congress and the nuclear industry."

Ryan Lizza Is an Oracle. In a New Yorker feature, he speculates on what President Obama will accomplish in his second term.

LEAKS!

Grumpy McCain Is a Psychic. Ashley Killough of CNN: "Sen. John McCain continued his blitz against the Obama administration Sunday, saying the president was responsible for the recent national security leaks -- whether he knew about them or not. 'It's obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are in the administration,' McCain said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'The president may not have done it himself, but the president certainly is responsible as commander in chief.'" ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on Obama's "press problem" & his penchant for whacking whistleblowers: "... the better way to achieve consistency would be to chase fewer leakers, not more. Instead, the Administration seemed overly alarmed by goading from Republicans like John McCain -- who talked about 'gravely serious breaches of our national security' and wanted not just any old investigation but a special prosecutor -- and treated this as a matter of pride. In trying to look tough, [the administration] gave into bullying, demanding to know who told rather than giving its own policies the hard look they need." ...

... New York Times reporter David Sanger reveals his source to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

Presidential Race

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Googles racists to give a picture of how important racial animus was in the 2008 presidential election.

News Ledes

** Washington Post: "The nation's largest health insurer will keep in place several key consumer provisions mandated by the 2010 health-care law regardless of whether the statute survives Supreme Court review. Officials at UnitedHealthcare will announce Monday that whatever the outcome of the court decision -- expected this month -- the company will continue to provide customers preventive health-care services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law."

CBS News: "U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is being investigated in a felony hit-and-run case after allegedly crashing a Lexus into two vehicles in California on June 9, Los Angeles County police have confirmed." Los Angeles Times story here. ...

     ... AP Update: "Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area that left him injured and unconscious, the government said Monday." ...

     ... New York Times Update 2: "By late Monday night, Mr. Bryson informed the White House that he would be taking a medical leave of absence to undergo tests and evaluation and that Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank would assume his duties."

New York Times: "Starting four days of evidence by political leaders about the sway of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers over public life in Britain, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke passionately on Monday about a 2006 story published in The Sun, a Murdoch tabloid, saying his infant son had cystic fibrosis, and denied that his family had given permission for it to appear." The Guardian's liveblog is here.

Saturday
Jun092012

The Commentariat -- June 10, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "What Ever Happened to Bradley Manning?" The NYTX front page is here.

New York Times Editors: "If you wanted to reproduce the conditions that led to the Great Recession in 2007, the easiest way would be the plan unveiled last week by House Republicans: gut the regulators who are supposed to keep the worst business practices in check." Read the entire editorial. CW: The nicest thing I can say about House Republicans is that they are corrupt, devious fuckers. And that would be my polite mode.

Get off the Dime, Ben! Christina Romer in the New York Times: "By law, the Fed is supposed to aim for maximum employment and stable prices.... The Fed is the only plausible source of immediate help for the American economy. It was set up as an independent body precisely so that somebody can do what's right when politicians can't or won't.... The academic literature shows that monetary policy can be very effective at reducing unemployment in situations like ours.

Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post has a long piece on President Obama's tense relationships with Hispanic & gay civil rights leaders.

One More Reason to Love Joe Biden. The Vice President invites the press and their families to his home at the Naval Observatory every year. My son's excuse for dousing David Brooks: 'Biden told me to!' -- Ben Smith of BuzzFeed

Robert Reich: "The public’s growing disdain of the Supreme Court increases the odds that a majority will uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare." CW: I happen to think Reich is being a cockeyed optimist here, but read his rationale & see what you think. Also, bear this in mind: the public likes the individual mandate even less than they like the Court. So, if Reich is correct, that John Roberts is concerned about the Court's unpopularity, wouldn't Roberts want to do the popular thing & squish the individual mandate?

Missed this story which Steve Benen highlights in "This Week in God": Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "... a group of Roman Catholic nuns is planning a bus trip across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation's poor and disenfranchised. The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican's doctrinal office.... The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the 'Fortnight for Freedom,' events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration's violations of religious freedom."

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: Senate Majority Leader Harry "Reid [D-Nevada] is now activating the vaunted Nevada Democratic machine he has helped build on behalf [of] Rep. Shelley Berkley. The seven-term Las Vegas congresswoman is challenging Reid's junior partner, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, for his job." Nevada offers "a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup." The state's primaries are this Tuesday; both Berkley & Heller are expected to win easily.

Presidential Race

The Obama campaign runs a new Web ad hitting Romney for advocating the firing of teachers, firefighters & police:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "An increasingly effective Syrian rebel force has been gaining ground in recent weeks, stepping up its attacks on government troops and expanding the area under its control even as world attention has been focused on pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with a U.N. cease-fire. The loosely organized Free Syrian Army now acknowledges that it is also no longer observing the truce, although rebel commanders insist they are launching attacks only to defend civilians in the wake of concerns generated by two recent massacres in which most of the 186 victims were women and children." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Violence is continuing in Syria, with activists reporting government assaults on the southern city of Deraa and Homs in the centre of the country. At least 52 civilians were killed around the country outside Damascus on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Britain-based activist group."

AFP: "The IMF and US both praised a Eurogroup deal giving Spain a lifeline of up to €100 bn ($125 billion) to save its stricken banks, with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde calling it a 'credible back stop' for the banking system."

Reuters: "Iran's state finances have come under unprecedented pressure and the resilience of ordinary people is being tested by soaring inflation as oil income plummets due to tightening Western sanctions and sharply falling oil prices. Tough financial measures imposed by Washington and Brussels have made it ever more difficult to pay for and ship oil from Iran. Its oil output has sunk to the lowest in 20 years, cutting revenue that is vital to fund a sprawling state apparatus."

AP: "Hosni Mubarak is slipping in and out of consciousness eight days after the ousted Egyptian leader was sent to prison to begin serving a life sentence, a security official said on Sunday. With rumors of the former president's death spreading rapidly, authorities granted his wife, former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, and the couple's two daughters-in-law special permission to visit him in Cairo's Torah prison early that morning."

AFP: "Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip celebrates his 91st birthday at home on Sunday, after five days of hospital treatment for a bladder infection sparked concerns about his health. The outspoken Duke of Edinburgh left London's King Edward VII hospital on Saturday, just in time for his birthday."

Friday
Jun082012

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

CW: Optimism! So if we could build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam & the Empire State Building during the depths of the depression, why the hell don't we do something equally fabulous now? Tim Egan celebrates the anniversaries of the Golden Gate Bridge & the Seattle Space Needle, built 25 years later.

... I spoke too soon. It just occurred to me that an old friend of mine -- Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University in Chicago -- just built this -- and he began the project just as the recession hit. Chicago Tribune story here. The building was dedicated May 5 of this year.

 

 

New York Times Editors: "Religious conservatives are losing one of their primary arguments for trying to ban the morning-after birth control pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken within days after sexual intercourse.... As Pam Belluck reported in The Times on Wednesday, the latest scientific findings and expert opinion indicate that the pills work by delaying ovulation.... This page supports easy access to the morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription.... We also support a treatment regimen based on RU-486, which does abort an implanted embryo weeks after the morning-after pill no longer works. It provides a safe alternative to the dwindling availability of surgical abortions in many areas. The decision on taking RU-486 should be left to women and their doctors."

CW: I see Charles Pierce & I are on the same page (see my comment in yesterday's Commentariat): "The recall provision exists in Wisconsin law not as a kind of impeachment-by-other-means, but as a direct response to the depredations of corporate wealth upon the political commonwealth that were rife the last time we had a Gilded Age. That so many Wisconsinites forgot this is a tribute to seven months of television advertising and the fact that we don't teach civics any more.... The recall was a vehicle, nothing more, and, if nothing else, it kept Walker from calling the legislature into special session to do even more damage before the November elections."

Yesterday I linked to a story of dubious origin that charged that White House e-mails proved President Obama had secretly broken his campaign pledge to fight for the importation of safe, cheaper drugs. Peter Baker of the New York Times confirms the story. His piece, which tells what happened step-by-step, is worth a read.

Woodward & Bernstein: Nixon -- "Far worse than we thought." The Post has a page of links to stories on Watergate; to refresh your memories or perhaps learn some of the highlights for the first time, this is a good place to start.

Presidential Race

James Downie of the Washington Post responds to Republicans going nutso over President Obama's remark yesterday that "The private sector is doing fine," a remark he later walked back in an Oval Office press availability. It's doing a lot finer, Downie argues, than it would be under Romney's economic prescription. ...

... Here's the walkback. Note the President's reference to firefighters, police & teachers:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

.... Who Needs Firemen, Police & Teachers? Here's part of Willard's response to Obama's presser yesterday:

     ... Read Steve Benen on this. He's livid: "Let's be clear about this: Romney is rejecting the idea of saving the jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. He sees this as an applause line. The Republican nominee for president believes we can 'help the American people' by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers." ...

     ... Greg Sargent, in the same vein: "At the same time, however, Romney takes care to show great sympathy with first responders. As Jonathan Chait has noted, Romney has spoken movingly of the financial plight of firefighters under Obama, even though they belong to the parasitic class that he is trying to scapegoat for the economic misery of other Americans. ...

We knew Mitt Romney liked firing people, but we didn't know that included firefighters and cops. Middle-class voters already distrust Mitt Romney for being out-of-touch and uncaring about regular folks. Bragging about wanting to give pink slips to first responders only cements that perception. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

     ... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos gets it exactly right: "In his words, firing government workers would put other Americans 'back to work.' But that's nuts. Anytime somebody loses a job, it's bad news for the economy. That alone demonstrates that Mitt Romney doesn't understand what it takes to be president." CW: note that in his walkback, the President makes crystal clear that he understands that working teachers, firefighters & police contribute to the economy.

Steve Benen chronicles "Mitt's Mendacity" of the week. Benen finds 20 whoppers in Week 21. The segment from Rachel Maddow's show embedded in the post brings home the point that Willard is completely -- and oddly -- shameless. When he's caught in a lie, he just keeps telling it. He has even defended telling lies as a valid & standard political tactic.

Andrew Sullivan: Obama "must make it plainer that, in this country's politics, he is still the change agent. If he weren't, why would they have done so much to stop him?"

Local News

CW: I'm posting this story only because the island is a few miles upriver from my house:

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "On Thursday, a 1.4-acre patch of land on the Caloosahatchee River off Fort Myers, Fla., was gaveled away in an unusual Internet auction that featured the private island.... The new owner walked away with $258,5000 worth of sand, rock, oak trees and sea grapes, and, of course, a battalion of Florida's unofficial mascots, mosquitoes." CW: Alvarez is exaggerating the mosquito population; the water here is brackish, so mosquitoes can't mate & there's always a breeze on the river. This is a manmade island, built when the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel through the river to complete the Intercoastal Waterway. Another larger island, near the city center, is for sale for about $5 million. Other islands in the river are bird sanctuaries. ...

... In slightly more important Florida news ... Joseph Williams of Politico: "Good-government advocates have sued the state of Florida, alleging its purge of non-citizens from voter rolls has swept up too many legally-registered African American and Latino voters and is undermining laws that ensure fair access to the ballot box."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A federal health official's ruling has cleared the way for 50 different types of cancer to be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

AP: "Spain could ask for a rescue of its troubled banks this weekend when European finance ministers hold an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss its hurting lending sector, a move that would turn the nation into the fourth from the 17-nation eurozone to seek outside help since the continent's financial crisis erupted two years ago." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Responding to increasingly urgent calls from across Europe and the United States, Spain on Saturday requested assistance for its cash-starved banks. European finance ministers in turn promised up to $125 billion in aid, which they hope will quell rising financial turmoil ahead of elections in Greece that could roil world markets."

Guardian: "Bradley Manning has failed to persuade a military judge to throw out half of the counts against him in a pre-trial hearing before his court martial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks. Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over the proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defence motion that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier should be dismissed."

Washington Post: "Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown pleaded guilty Friday to lying on bank-loan applications and violating a city campaign law, branding a once-promising star in local politics as a convicted felon."

AP: "China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday."

Thursday
Jun072012

The Commentariat -- June 8, 2012

** "The Triumph of Radical Individualism." Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "Conservatives have succeeded in convincing working- and middle-class people not just that they shouldn't feel solidarity with other members of their class, but that they shouldn't feel solidarity with anyone at all. It required a lot of work, particularly when you consider how much they rely on encouraging feelings of tribalism in other realms, like nationhood, religion, and region. But the conservative message on economics has always been brutally individualistic, essentially arguing that in the economic realm, no one is meaningfully connected to anyone in any way."

Robert Burns of the AP: "Suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year -- the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war. The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan -- about 50 percent more."

Paul Krugman: "... if you want to see government responding to economic hard times with the 'tax and spend' policies conservatives always denounce, you should look to the Reagan era -- not the Obama years.... Reagan may have preached small government, but in practice he presided over a lot of spending growth -- and right now that's exactly what America needs."

** Linda Greenhouse, in Slate, calls for a Constitutional Amendment limiting federal judges -- including the Supremes -- to 18-year terms.

David Lightman of McClatchey News: "Five months before Election Day, Republicans are poised to retain control of the House of Representatives and inch close -- and perhaps win the majority -- in the Senate. The outlook is driven by local factors rather any kind of wave for or against either major political party. Indeed, the lack of a national tide could help the Republicans hold the House, where they're expected to lose seats but not enough to cost them the majority." Thanks to James S. for the link. I think.

... Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal analyzes the results of California's new "top two" primary election system, which was supposed to general more centrist candidates. Pretty interesting. Bottom line, so far: "... the rules also create the likelihood of some very unconventional campaigns with Republicans appealing to Democrats, and Democrats courting Republicans. That doesn't mean that, once candidates get elected, they'll become more moderate and change their voting behavior. It does mean they'll pander as much as possible to win."

Kevin Drum: "Conservatives have made a big deal out of the fact that 38% of households with a union member voted for the union-busting Scott Walker in Tuesday's election.... For better or worse, about 37% of union members [usually] vote for Republicans, both nationwide and in Wisconsin. On Tuesday they did it again. So whatever lessons there are from Tuesday's election, the idea that union members are somehow abandoning their own cause isn't one of them." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald, writing in Salon, provides an overview of what a right-wing rock star Scott Walker is now. Seitz-Wald sees the recall effort as a big blunder. CW: I don't.

Adam Liptak & Allison Kopicki of the New York Times: "Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices' decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News."

If Right Wing News can be believed, Obama reneged on his campaign promise to push for the importation of cheap, safe drugs in a secret deal with Big Pharma in 2009.

Advice from the Career Corner. If you aspire to a career as a diplomat, especially if you aspire to be confirmed as Ambassador to Iraq, do not have sex with someone other than your spouse on the roof of the roof of a Saddam Hussein palace. People have video cameras. Jim Inhofe (R-Crazy) likes to watch.

Kevin Drum zeros in on Obama's biggest mistake of 2009. And Drum fingers just the right guy -- Tim Geithner: "Although Obama didn't have the leverage to get more stimulus spending even if he'd wanted it, he could have done more on the housing front, [which]... was quite feasible and would probably have made a noticeable difference in keeping the recovery on a stronger track.... Tim Geithner just didn't like the idea of pressing harder on the mortgage relief front, and Obama went along."

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "The first look at the 2012 FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast has Barack Obama as a very slight favorite to win re-election. But his advantage equates to only a two-point lead in the national popular vote, and the edge could easily swing to Mitt Romney on the basis of further bad economic news."

Joan Walsh of Salon: Romney didn't just dodge the draft; he lied about it. "Romney's dissembling here, all captured in newspapers in real time, should be a real problem for him."

** Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid lays out the Romney Rules, as defined by Willard. I think he should add a coda, "It's our turn now," as defined by Mrs. Willard. ...

... Jonathan Chait analyzes a Romney lie. Well, lies. CW: I'm beginning to think Romney cannot construct a truthful sentence with the name "Obama" in it.

What's the matter with Bill Clinton? John Dickerson of Slate ticks off six theories that are making the rounds. Pick your own. You can choose more than one. ...

News Ledes

President Obama held a press conference on the economy today:

     ... New York Times: Republicans went ballistic when Obama said, as part of a response to a reporter's question, "the private sector is doing fine." He had to clarify later.

New York Times: "The NATO and United States troop commander in Afghanistan flew to the eastern part of the country on Friday to apologize personally to surviving family members for a coalition airstrike earlier this week that local officials said killed 18 civilians. The apology by the commander, Gen. John R. Allen, was the first admission by coalition forces that the strike on Wednesday had killed civilians...."

New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday assigned two United States attorneys to lead separate criminal investigations into recent disclosures to the news media of national security secrets, saying they were authorized to 'follow all appropriate investigative leads within the executive and legislative branches of government.'"

Crackdown. New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin signed into law on Friday a measure that will impose heavy fines on people who organize or take part in unsanctioned demonstrations, giving the Russian authorities powerful leverage to clamp down on the large antigovernment street protests that began six months ago and seemed to be re-energized after Mr. Putin's inauguration last month."

Reuters: "The Federal Reserve rejected pleas by the U.S. banking industry in releasing on Thursday a rigorous interpretation of an international agreement on higher capital standards for banks, known as Basel III.... The new capital standards would force banks to rely more on equity than debt to fund themselves, so that they are able to better withstand significant losses."

New York Times: "With the Syrian conflict escalating perilously after government troops and civilian supporters prevented unarmed United Nations monitors from investigating a massacre, fresh fighting was reported elsewhere on Friday as the authorities sought to extend their writ in an area under stubborn rebel control." ...

     ... Update: the story has a new lede: "Confronting a scene of congealed blood, scattered body parts, shelled buildings, bullet holes and the smell of burned flesh, United Nations monitors in Syria quietly collected evidence on Friday of a mass atrocity in a desolate hamlet, more than 24 hours after Syrian forces and government supporters blocked their first attempt to visit the site."

New York Times: "Senior inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog renewed talks with Iran on Friday aimed at securing access to restricted sites where the agency believes scientists may have tested explosives that could be used as triggers for nuclear warheads, officials at the agency said."

Guardian: "The department of justice is reviewing the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, following demands by campaigners who say the tactic is unconstitutional and racially discriminatory." CW: in case you're wondering why I didn't link the New York Times story on this, it's because there isn't one.

AP: "Britain's media ethics inquiry says Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor Gordon Brown will both appear to give evidence at [Leveson inquiry] hearings next week. The inquiry also said Friday that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Treasury chief George Osborne will both appear." Guardian story here.