The Wires

Washington Post: "Cheap Chinese caviar is flooding the U.S. market, causing prices to plummet, and with it, the product’s cachet. Wholesale prices have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, down 13 percent just in the past year. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the import price has gone from $850,000 per ton in January 2012 to $350,000 per ton in November 2018." Mrs. McC: This makes me very happy. I love caviar (I've only had the cheaper kind), but I seldom buy it because of the expense. I have some in the pantry now, but I'm going to check the price at the grocery store now in hopes it's something I can enjoy more often. Status symbol? I couldn't care less.

New York Times: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday [April 15] to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, a nod to journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press. The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting prize for disclosing clandestine payoffs by the president’s associates to two women who were said to have had affairs with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, cost children their lives."

Medlar's Sports Report. New York Times: "Tiger Woods’s comeback from personal and professional adversity is complete: He captured his fifth Masters title and his 15th major tournament on Sunday, snapping a championship drought of nearly 11 years. It was a monumental triumph for Woods, a magical, come-from-behind win for a player who had not won a major championship since his personal life began to unravel on Thanksgiving night in 2009, when a marital dispute led to a car accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines. On the golf course, he had a series of back and leg injuries that led to an addiction to painkillers and culminated in pain so searing that, before surgery in 2017, he had questioned whether he could play professionally again." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Oh yeah? Trump can beat Tiger any day.

Tom Jones of Poynter picks the top 25 movies ever about journalism.

New York Times: "For 340 days, Scott Kelly circled the Earth aboard the International Space Station, gathering data about himself." His twin brother Mark Kelly, planted on Earth, did the same. "On Thursday..., NASA researchers reported that [Scott Kelly's] body experienced a vast number of changes while in orbit. DNA mutated in some of his cells. His immune system produced a host of new signals. His microbiome gained new species of bacteria. Many of these biological changes seemed harmless, disappearing after he returned to Earth. But others — including genetic mutations and, after his return, declines in cognitive test scores — did not correct themselves, provoking concern among scientists."

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times: now does his first drafts of columns as well as other traditional writing tasks by speaking into his phone. "I open RecUp, a cloud-connected voice-recording app on my phone.... Every few days, I load the recordings into Descript, an app that bills itself as a “word processor for audio.” Some of my voice memos are more than an hour long, but Descript quickly (and cheaply) transcribes the text, truncates the silences and renders my speech editable and searchable.... New advances — like smarter and more ubiquitous voice assistants; better text-to-speech synthesis; easy-to-use audio and video production apps like Descript and Anchor; and gadgets that burrow the internet into your ears, like Apple’s AirPods and Amazon’s reported forthcoming AirPod clones — point to a profound shift in computing. Soon it might be possible to conduct a large slice of digital life, including work, without being glued to a screen."

New York Times: "In a cave in the Philippines, scientists have discovered a new branch of the human family tree. At least 50,000 years ago, an extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon, researchers reported on Wednesday. It’s possible that Homo luzonensis, as they’re calling the species, stood less than three feet tall. The discovery adds growing complexity to the story of human evolution. It was not a simple march forward, as it once seemed. Instead, our lineage assumed an exuberant burst of strange forms along the way.Our species, Homo sapiens, now inhabits a comparatively lonely world. 'The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,' said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada, who was not involved in the new discovery."

New York Times: "At 9 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, [April 10,] a group of astronomers who run a globe-girdling network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope are expected to unveil the first-ever images of a black hole. For some years now, scientific literature, news media and films have featured remarkably sophisticated and academic computer simulations of black holes. If all has gone well, the images today will reveal the real thing, and scientists at last will catch a glimpse of what had seemed unseeable."

      ... Update: "Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had observed the unobserveable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.... To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space."

"A commemorative print from 2008 of Mr. Robbins’s original paint-by-numbers creation in 1950, an abstract still-life. His boss then asked him to make something more representational, and an industry was born." CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "Dan Robbins was no Leonardo da Vinci. But he copied one of the master’s basic techniques and thereby enabled children to grow up believing that they, too, could paint 'The Last Supper.' Mr. Robbins, a package designer who died on Monday at 93, helped to conceive what became known as paint by numbers. He copied the idea from Leonardo, who numbered the objects in the background of his paintings and had his apprentices paint them with designated colors. With paint-by-numbers kits, young baby boomers in the 1950s followed the same mechanics as those Renaissance artisans, coloring inside the outlines of images of everything from seascapes and the Matterhorn to kittens and Queen Elizabeth II. The process opened up art to the masses — another notch on the continuum of a limitless democratic American ethos that promised “a chicken in every pot” and 'every man a king.'”

Guardian: "In the 50s, the American art world took itself extremely seriously. Abstract painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko painted sublime slabs that were praised in hushed voices. Painting-by-numbers may not have been intended as a parody of this modernist reverence – but it sure looked that way. Robbins designed quaint scenes of farmhouses and mountain valleys that anyone could complete – they were good, solid pictures for good, solid middle-American homes. Yet the relationship between painting-by-numbers and modern art is more complicated than it looks. The earliest kit Robbins devised was a cubist still life in the style of Picasso, for the sharp planes of colour were, he said, easy to adapt. He called it Abstract No 1. It was his boss at the Palmer paint company in Detroit, where he worked as a package designer, who insisted he create homely American scenes instead. Robbins was thrilled when, as he remembered: 'Someone entered a completed Abstract No 1 in an art show and won. The judges were quite embarrassed, but the prize resulted in lots of debate about the concept of art …'”

NBC News: “Researchers who used DNA to identify ... the bones [of] Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community..., are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female. That’s the eye-opening takeaway from a new Smithsonian Channel documentary titled 'The General Was Female?,' which premieres Monday and is part of the 'America’s Hidden Stories' series.”

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Sunday
Oct102010

The Commentariat -- October 11

A Heartwarmer. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. Mr. Biden visits his Scranton home.

Robert Kuttner, writing in the Huffington Post, makes a few minor factual errors in his post (e.g., it wasn't a pocket veto), but his overall point is worth considering (or hoping for!): "By pocket-vetoing the bill that sailed through Congress to expedite mortgage foreclosures, President Obama may have begun a chain reaction that will blow up Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's confidence game with the banks."

Paul Krugman: "... if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried." ...

... This New York Times page breaks down where the stimulus money went.

... Krugman has a brief post on the Economics Nobel recipients; his take is the same as mine: "And yes, this is the same Peter Diamond whose nomination to the Fed board has been held up because of Republican doubts about his qualifications." Krugman links to his August 6 post:

Senate Republicans holding up Peter Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board on the grounds that he may not be qualified to make monetary policy. Aside from the fact that the same Senators cheerfully confirmed Bush nominees who didn’t know much about economics of any kind, this is especially stupid right now. ...

Sen. Richard Shelby.I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job. -- Sen. Richard Shelby, on Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond, who was Ben Bernanke's econ professor. Shelby returned Diamond's "unacceptable" nomination to the White House ...

       ... CW: there are times when Republican hypocrisy is so ripe, they can smell it in Norway. ...

... Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "Companies still aren't finding it easy to fill job vacancies," partly because traditional jobs have morphed into ones that require broader experience. "The total number of job openings does remain historically low: 3.2 million, down from 4.4 million before the recession. But the number of openings has surged 37 percent in the past year. And yet the unemployment rate has actually risen during that time."

Washington Post Editorial Board: the U.S. tax code provides for spending $200 billion a year on social programs for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans. "The code is salted with 'tax expenditures' -- programs, many worthy, designed to promote policies from homeownership to education to retirement savings" The code "lacks transparency and accountability" and "tends to award the most help to those who need it least."

CW: ever wonder why Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson took that low-paying government job as Dubya's Treasury Secretary? Think it was to nobly serve his country? Gary Gordon of McClatchy News: while Goldman CEO, "Paulson had presided over the firm's plunge into the business of buying up subprime mortgages ... and then repackaging them into securities.... During Paulson's first 15 months as the treasury secretary..., Goldman unloaded more than $30 billion in dicey residential mortgage securities ... and became the only major Wall Street firm to dramatically cut its losses and exit the housing market safely. Goldman also racked up billions of dollars in profits by secretly betting on a downturn in home mortgage securities." Experts say it's obvious Paulson's inaction at Treasury was designed to maximize Goldman profits despite the disastrous consequences for the markets & the American economy. CW: and Paulson will never suffer any consequences.

MoveOn.org gets hold of a prospectus for RepubliCorpTM. Interactive:

The Cabal of Multinational Corporations is pleased to formally announce RepubliCorpTM, a new combined entity following our complete merger with the Republican Party.

RepubliCorpTM combines the ethics-free campaigning savvy of the GOP with the limit-free spending power of Corporate AmericaTM. This merger is precisely timed: With the recent Citizens United ruling finally placing the United States Government on the open market, RepubliCorpTM is now perfectly positioned to lead our hostile takeover bid, currently scheduled for completion on November 2nd 2010.

Howard Kurtz & Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape. What has emerged is a form of narrowcasting, allowing candidates a welcoming platform that helps them avoid hostile press questioning and, in some cases, minimize the slog and the slip-ups of retail campaigning."

I have 11-year-old twin boys, and this campaign has allowed us to accelerate awkward conversations. -- Delaware Democratic Senate nominee Chris Coons, when asked about his opponent's denunciation of masturbation ...

... Frank Bruni of the New York Times profiles Chris Coons, Delaware's Democratic nominee for Senate. CW: finally, someone in the MSM decides to mention the candidate who is actually qualified to serve.

Of "Speedos & Grinding." Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino defends remarks he made yesterday about gays, says he's not a bigot. CW: you decide. Update: here's a clip:

"Fraud Files" introduces you to Florida's Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. Sadly, this is an accurate portrait & the scary music is apt:

West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, who is running for the Senate, answers his opponent's "hicky" ad:

Jane Lorber of the New York Times: "Brave New Films, the documentary film company behind a series of damaging anti-McCain viral videos during the 2008 presidential campaign, has put its sights on Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California. In the latest of three videos attacking Ms. Fiorina..., several former Hewlett-Packard employees who were laid off during Ms. Fiorina’s tenure as chief executive ... describe her as ruthless and extravagant." (See the earlier videos at the link.):

Stolen Valor. Dan Elliott of the AP: "The Justice Department is battling to save a federal law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero, appealing two court rulings that the statute is an unconstitutional muzzle on free speech.... The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal, whether or not an impostor seeks financial gain."

Russell Gold of the Wall Street Journal: "Surprise inspections of deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico dwindled to about three a year over the past decade, even as exploratory drilling far from shore increased.... And since 2004 federal authorities haven't made a single surprise inspection on any of the 50 or so deepwater natural gas and oil production platforms in the Gulf, despite a law requiring periodic unannounced inspections."

If It's Broke, Don't Fix It. Change Its Name. "... the Minerals Management Service was recently renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Nice work, Ken Salazar!

John Hamilton of Media Matters on how right-wing talkshow pundits like Glenn Beck & Michael Savage inspire acts of violence against progressives & authorities, including the President. ...

... If you missed it, also see Dana Milbank's column on Beck's violence-inspiring rhetoric, which I linked Saturday. Milbank briefly covers the same ground Hamilton does.

Reuters picture via the Daily Mail.I know it must be true because I read it in the Daily Mail: at the rally in Philadelphia yesterday, someone threw a book at President Obama. In an unrelated incident, police removed a naked man from the crowd. The article has photos of both. CW: I'm sparing you the photos of the naked man, who needs to start working out.

     Update: according to The Weekly Standard the man who streaked the rally was named Juan James Rodriguez, & billionaire Alki David promised him $1 million for the stunt. Forget the starving children of the world. This is a great way to spend your money, Mr. David.

You can see the flying book near the end of this video clip:

     ... Update: "Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Politico that the book lobbing incident was not a threat, but friendly fire. 'The book was thrown by an over-exuberant person,' he said. 'It wasn’t a threatening thing, the person wanted to give the president the book.'"

At long last, C-SPAN has made video of the rally available. President Obama begins speaking about 10 minutes in:

Saturday
Oct092010

The Commentariat -- 10-10-10

In a debate on Fox "News" this morning, when challenged by Democrat Debbie, Wasserman-Schultz, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor "repudiated" Republican House candidate Rich Iott for his participation in a Nazi SS re-enactment organization. Here's the video:

Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "In an interview this week, a senior administration official confirmed that the White House and Treasury Department had received warnings that the mortgage industry employed inexperienced staffers to oversee foreclosures, had problems handling documents and communicating with borrowers, and often failed to comply with regulations.... The only immediate response to warnings was a letter to servicers urging them to behave better. But in June, the administration enacted a policy requiring that servicers try to modify a loan before beginning the foreclosure process." CW: does HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan ever do anything?

Power to the Luddites! Frank Rich doesn't think the Internet has had much of a positive effect on politics: "Nowhere, perhaps, is the gap between the romance and the reality of the Internet more evident than in our politics." Rich concurs with Malcolm Gladwell that "social media increase the efficiency of the existing order rather than empowering dissidents." As a bit of anecdotal evidence, Rich cites the case of South Carolina's Alvin Greene, who got more than three times the number of primary votes as did Delaware's Christine O'Donnell. And Greene doesn't even own a computer! ...

... Maureen Dowd compares elements of David Fincher-Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network" to Richard Wagner's "Das Rheingold." Dowd concludes, "the passions that drive humans stay remarkably constant, whether it’s a magic ring being forged or a magic code being written." ...

... CW: since both Rich & Dowd comment on "The Social Network," let's let Zuck speak for himself:

In a Washington Post op-ed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner defends the TARP by "tackling five myths" about it.

Making New York City a World Class City:

... BUT Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times writes that the rollout today of a couple of new, speedier bus routes was a bit of a bumpy ride; passengers couldn't figure out the new rules.

New York Times graphic.The Car that Drives Itself. John Markoff of the New York Times: Google "has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.... Seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light." Look Ma, No Hands:

Faiz Shakir of Thing Progress: "After consulting with the Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles today largely dismissing concerns about the Chamber’s foreign sources of funding as a means to raise money to air political attack ads." Both reports concentrated on "AmChams," but "'AmChams' are only a small piece of the puzzle. Most of the Chamber’s foreign sources of funds come from large multi-national corporations which are headquartered abroad, like BP and Siemens. Direct contributions from foreign firms also are accepted under the auspices of the Chamber’s 'Business Councils' located in various foreign countries." With graph.

In a humorous post, Alex Pareene of Salon discovers where Bob Woodward got the crazy idea the White House was contemplating a Biden-Clinton job exchange in 2012. "'It's on the table,' Woodward said. Wow! Except, as the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder succinctly tweeted: 'No, it's not.' CW: I won't give away the answer." Here's Ambinder's as-written-by-Woodward post.

... Some people are just born to be slaves.... It's just probably a matter of intelligent design. -- Rush Limbaugh

And God Created Slaves. Media Matters catches Rush explaining human nature:

We conservatives believe government is bad and we’ve got the candidates to prove it. -- P.J. O’Rourke

Stupid Candidate Tricks. Jeff Simon of CNN: "Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle told a crowd of Tea Party rally-goers last week that two cities — Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas — are under Sharia law, the sacred law of Islam.... Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly told the Associated Press that Angle’s comments were 'shameful' and 'totally irresponsible.'" Another problem? "Well, Frankford, Texas doesn’t really exist."

John Schwartz of the New York Times: "Sunday is the big day for saying 'I do.' More than 39,000 couples chose 10/10/10 as their wedding day — a nearly tenfold increase over the number of nuptials on Oct. 11, 2009, the comparable Sunday last year...."

Friday
Oct082010

The Commentariat -- October 9

Dana Milbank: "why [Glenn] Beck is dangerous: because his is the one voice in the mass media that validates conspiracy theories held by the unstable.... It's not that Beck is directly advocating violence but he's giving voice and legitimacy to the violent fringe." ....

Rich Iott, third from left, in a Nazi SS uniform. Iott in the Republican nominee for Congress in Ohio's 9th District.... GOP Congressional Nominee: I'm Not a Real Nazi, but I Play One on Weekends. Joshua Green of The Atlantic: "Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite..., for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments. Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott's participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.... Historians of Nazi Germany vehemently dispute" the Iott organization's "sanitized, romantisized view" of the SS Wikings . Historian Charles W.Sydnor, Jr. says, "re-enactments like the Wiking group's are illegal in Germany and Austria." Iott said he joined the Wikings "as a father-son bonding thing." ...

... CW: this is jaw-dropping & stomach-turning. Will the GOP demand Iott withdraw his candidacy? Minority Leader John Boehner is an Ohio Congressman. He had to know about this guy. Here's a recruitment video Iott's SS re-enactment group produced that is beyond shocking:

... Steve Benin: despite "a disclaimer noting that they 'do not embrace the philosophies and actions' of the Nazis..., Iott's little troupe also said it exists in part to 'salute' the 'idealists' and 'front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS' and their 'basic desire to be free.' It also characterizes Wiking volunteers as 'valiant men...." Benin notes that Iott is a Republican "party favorite," not a fringe candidate. ...

     ... Update. Young Mausers. Stephen Webster of the Raw Story: "Iott was a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee's so-called 'Young Guns' program, but a GOP-owned domain dedicated to America's 'future leaders' appears to have scrubbed his name from a list of 'contenders'. ...

... It sends a chilling message to all Americans, especially to veterans and to those of the Jewish faith that John Boehner and the Republican leadership in Washington would actively seek out candidates like this and embrace them. -- Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

     ... ** Update: Mediaite has video of Joshua Green telling the Rich Iott story on Bill Maher's "Real Time."

Peter Yost of the AP: "Before President Barack Obama picked him to be his next national security adviser, Tom Donilon was a lobbyist for mortgage giant Fannie Mae and fought off congressional attempts to impose new regulations. As Fannie Mae's legal counsel and top strategic thinker in the late 1990s to the middle of this decade, Donilon left his sizable imprint on the company long before its takeover by the government amid the wreckage of the housing market." ...

... Josh Gerstein & Abby Phillip of Politico have more on Donilon's tenure at Fannie Mae. Yost implies Donilon left before Fannie Mae got in big trouble; Gerstein & Phillip give you a picture of how close Donilon was to Fannie Mae's problems -- one of their sources calls Donilon "an enabler." They also note that he doesn't have much foreign policy experience. ...

... BUT Fred Kaplan of Slate writes that "Donilon has been de facto national security adviser for many months now, while [former advisor Jim] Jones has been, to a startling degree, a West Wing wallflower."

Peter Bacon of the Washington Post: "... in what could be a preview of Washington in 2011, two men are engaged in an almost daily debate about the [Republican Pledge to America] and what it means: President Obama and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).... Many Republican candidates haven't even read" it.

Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "The long-simmering feud between Democrats and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has erupted into a full-scale war. The chamber, one of Washington's most influential lobbying groups, emerged from the background of the midterm elections this week, spending millions of dollars on ads to help Republicans and fending off Democratic allegations that the effort may include money collected from foreign firms." You can play through some of the Chamber's anti-Democratic ads here.

Urban Planning. The United States of the twenty-first century should start to look more like an archipelago of cities in a sea of open landscapes. -- Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior

CW: Thursday I questioned the legality of the President's pocket veto of a bill that would facilitate foreclosures since the Senate was technically in session & the House had "agents" in place to "receive messages." Later, other bloggers raised the same issue. The President (or his legal staff) got the message:

To leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed, in addition to withholding my signature, I am returning H.R. 3808 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this Memorandum of Disapproval. -- Barack Obama

Good political commentary from Bill Maher during an appearance on CNN:

Paul Krugman recommends Mike Konczal's post on foreclosure fraud. With charts!

We have all the junk in the world.... I mean, you can gain 15 pounds in a hurry. -- a Bloomberg employee ...

... Fun Hypocrite of the Day (it's early -- there may be more). Anemona Hartcollis of the New York Times reports that "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to prohibit poor New Yorkers from using food stamps to buy sugary sodas like the ones that are available free to his business’s employees.... He is known for negotiating voluntary reductions in salt by food companies, and putting salt on his own saltine crackers; for fighting rising obesity among his constituents, and for serving comfort food like grilled hot dogs and ice cream sundaes at his town house."

When I speak to God, it is called prayer. When God speaks to me, it is called paranoia. Mental illness is not absent when it is covered with religious words. -- Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong on Christine O'Donnell's assertion that it was "God's plan" for her to campaign & win the Delaware Senate seat

Commentary from RepublicanLand:

Paul Craig Roberts, a Reagan Treasury appointee & a former Wall Street Journal editor, on "America's Third World Economy" & yesterday's jobs report:

Part of [last month's] loss of 159,000 government jobs was offset by 64,000 new private sector jobs. Where are the new jobs? They are in nontradable lowly paid domestic services: 32,000 were in health care and social services, and 33,900 were in food services and drinking places. There you have it. That is America’s 'New Economy.'

Jack Goldsmith, who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, withdrew the infamous Torture Memoes (& shortly thereafter resigned), writes an op-ed in the New York Times arguing for military detention of terrorists instead of trials. CW: I'm not saying I agree with Goldsmith, but his POV is worthy of a hearing.

Former First Lady Laura Bush writes an op-ed in the Washington Post urging that peace negotiators in Afghanistan embrace women's rights: "Offenses against women erode security for all Afghans -- men and women. And a culture that tolerates injustice against one group of its people ultimately fails to respect and value all its citizens."