The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index reached a milestone on Tuesday, closing above 2,000 for the first time ever, if just barely. It was a lazy day of trading that picked up on some encouraging signs in the United States economy, but not enough for sustained optimism in the market."

ABC News: "A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified."

New York Times: "A 33-year-old American who was fighting for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was killed in recent days in a battle with a rival group in Syria, a senior American official said on Tuesday. The authorities identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego. According to a human rights group that tracks the conflict in Syria, Mr. McCain was killed in a battle in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Mr. McCain had been on a watch list of potential terrorism suspects maintained by the United States government, American officials said."

New York Times: "Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict."

New York Times: "Burger King Worldwide agreed on Tuesday to buy the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons for about $11.4 billion, creating one of the biggest fast-food operations in the world – with a little help from Warren E. Buffett. As part of the transaction, however, the American burger giant will move its home to Canada, where the combined company’s biggest market will be."

Washington Post: "Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit."

Public Service Announcement

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
August 27

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: White House Veteran Entrepreneur Champions of Change forum

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

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

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.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

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.

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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Monday
Aug062012

The Commentariat -- August 7, 2012

Today in Mass Murders News

I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence. And as I've already said, I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress. -- President Obama, on the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin (See video following today's Ledes) ...

... Charles Pierce on Ann Althouse's "confusion." Althouse is a conservative law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who is right good at defending the right. In a post yesterday, she "explained" why Wade Page would reasonably have known that Sikhs weren't Moooslums. Conservatives really don't want to own their own terrorist extremist white supremacist mass murderer. Mr. Pierce demurs. CW: Conservatives really don't want to own their own terrorist extremist white supremacist mass murderer, so they are working overtime to pretend Page's motives were in no way akin to the views of your ordinary real-American winger bigots. ...

Juan Cole: Wade Page "operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims [which] ... has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of ... Rupert Murdoch. Among them is also Rush Limbaugh, who, incredibly, is still broadcast to US soldiers abroad. Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY)... John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires.... Some ... are connected to the US arms industry.... Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with...." Thanks to Kate M. for the link. ...

... Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones: "Using photos of Wade from his white-power band's Myspace page, it's possible to see what concerned police: Much of his body reads like a poster text for white nationalism. In particular, a tattoo on Page's left shoulder ... suggests he was a committed devotee of white-power ideology. The tattoo consists of a large '14' in Gothic lettering superimposed on a black cross in a circle. The cross, known elsewhere as 'Odin's Cross,' is 'one of the most popular symbols for neo-Nazis and white supremacists,' according to the Anti-Defamation League. It's also used as a logo by Stormfront.org, one of the world's most-visited racist web forums." ...

... Erica Goode & Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "To some who track the movements of white supremacist groups, the violence was not a total surprise. [Wade] Page, 40, had long been among the hundreds of names on the radar of organizations monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and his role as the leader of a white-power band called End Apathy.... Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Mr. Page had come to the center's attention a decade ago because of his affiliation with rock bands known for lyrics that push far past the boundaries of tolerance." ...

... Scott Bauer & Todd Richmond of the AP have more on Wade Page's history. ...

... Here's the Washington Post story by Michael Laris, et al.

... Greg McCune of Reuters: "The semiautomatic handgun used in the deadly attack on a Wisconsin Sikh temple is the same type used in other recent U.S. mass shootings, including one at a theater in Colorado, and the attack on a congresswoman in Arizona, gun experts said. Wisconsin shooter Wade Michael Page used a Springfield 9mm semiautomatic handgun to carry out the attack at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, officials said. As in several other recent mass shootings, the gun had been purchased legally, at a Milwaukee-area gun store called the Shooter Shop."

Mark Greenblatt, et al., of ABC News: "The psychiatrist who treated suspected movie-theater shooter James Holmes made contact with a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about her patient's behavior several weeks before Holmes' alleged rampage, sources told ABC News."

Tim Gaynor of Reuters: Jared Loughner, "accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others, including then-U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a Tucson shooting rampage last year was expected to plead guilty on Tuesday if a judge finds him mentally competent...."

... AND reporters at Mother Jones have updated their interactive Mass Murder Map. The map includes "details on the shooters' identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed." Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

* * *

Gary Gensler, Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in a New York Times op-ed: "The Barclays case demonstrates that Libor has become more vulnerable to misconduct. It's time for a new or revised benchmark -- an emperor clothed in actual, observable market transactions -- to restore the confidence of Americans that the rates at which they borrow and lend money are set honestly and transparently."

Surprise, Surprise! New York Times Editors: "Republican lawmakers demanded ... [spending] cuts last year as part of their brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, and business lobbies have generally supported slashing the deficit. But now that the cuts are imminent, corporate executives seem to have realized that the last thing the economy needs is a large budget cut across the board.... Now it is up to Democrats to force Republicans to rework the coming spending cuts and tax increases in a way that benefits most Americans and the broader economy."

Reed Abelson & Julie Creswell of the New York Times: "HCA, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States with 163 facilities, had uncovered evidence ... showing that some cardiologists at several of its hospitals in Florida were unable to justify many of the procedures they were performing.... Unnecessary -- even dangerous -- procedures were taking place at some HCA hospitals, driving up costs and increasing profits.... In some cases, the doctors made misleading statements in medical records that made it appear the procedures were necessary, according to internal reports.... Documents suggest that the problems at HCA went beyond a rogue doctor or two."

Presidential Race

Poker Face Edition. In today's installment, Harry Reid once again demonstrates how Mormons gamble.

This whole issue is not about me. This whole controversy would end very quickly if he would release his income tax returns like everybody else has done that's running for president. -- Harry Reid, yesterday

[Mitt Romney is] the most secretive candidate since Richard Nixon. It's clear Mitt Romney is hiding something, and the only way for him to clear this up is to be straight with the American people and release his tax returns. -- Adam Jettleson, Reid's spokesman

... "The 'Missing Evidence' Instruction": Joe Conason in the National Memo: "There is a legal doctrine that applies to Romney's current behavior, as Indiana attorney John Sullivan points out -- and it doesn't place the burden of proof on Reid:

At law, if a person in control of evidence refuses to produce the evidence, then the jury is instructed that there is a presumption that the evidence would be against the party failing to produce. It is called the 'Missing Evidence' instruction.

     "The missing evidence is in Romney's grasp, yet he insists that he will never produce it. Does anyone need instruction from a judge to make the correct inference?" ...

... OR, as Hunter of Daily Kos puts it, "Whatever's in Mitt Romney's old taxes, whether it be zero-tax years or Swiss tax amnesties or non-tithing or that he made several million dollars on a new product called Fetus Chow, it's apparently so bad that America wouldn't vote for the rich business guy if they saw it. At this point, that's damning enough." ...

... House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi connects Secret Mitt's secret tax returns to Secret Mitt's secret tax policy of raising taxes on the middle class while lowering taxes on millionaire & billionaires like Willard who already use extraordinary means to further reduce their tax rates -- to somewhere around nothing. ...

... Imani Gandy in Balloon Juice: "Politifact calls Harry Reid a liar; wishes there was a way to prove that Romney paid income tax." CW: as the cited title implies, a pretty funny post.

... David Dayen of Firedoglake: "If Republicans thought they could bully Harry Reid into backing down about his comments over Mitt Romney's taxes, they simply miscalculated, and all their outrage has done is keep a story front and center that they would rather push to the margins. ...

... CW: Outraged by unproved allegations made by a friend of Harry Reid's, John Sununu jumps in to make an unproved allegations about President Obama. Tom Ovadia of Politico: "John Sununu ... [called] Sen. Harry Reid ... a 'bumbling Senate leader' and alleg[ed] that President Barack Obama is 'behind this dishonesty and misrepresentation.'" With video. ...

... Amy Parnes of The Hill: "The White House on Monday distanced President Obama from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes in a decade. White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that Reid (D-Nev.) 'speaks for himself' and had spoken on the issue without any guidance from Team Obama."

Alexander Burns of Politico: "In a new ad from Romney and the Republican National Committee, the GOP candidate laments Obama's support for waiving welfare work requirements for states that want to implement different policies." CW: oh, look, in an update Burns (no relation) writes, "... Romney supported certain welfare waivers for states, when he was governor of Massachusetts." Includes attack ad. Read the whole post, especially the update.

It's like Robin Hood in reverse -- it's Romney Hood. -- President Obama on Mitt Romney's tax plan

President Obama’s lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state's early voting period. -- Mitt Romney

PolitiFact: "It is simply dishonest for Romney and his backers to claim that Obama's effort to extend early voting privileges to everyone in Ohio constitutes an attack on military voters' ability to cast ballots on the weekend before elections."

Jonathan Chait of New York: "If Romney is conceding that voting is a fundamental right rather than a privilege -- not all Republicans concede this anymore -- and, more importantly, that practical impediments can interfere with that right, then what justification do they have for their wide-ranging campaign to deny the same convenience to other Americans?"

David Firestone of the New York Times on Mitt Romney's "extraordinary lie" about early voting in Ohio.

Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch: "The Romney campaign and veterans groups opposed to a lawsuit in Ohio filed by President Barack Obama's campaign continue to portray the suit as an objection to certain voting privileges for military voters. But two constitutional-law professors from different battleground states -- Ohio and Florida -- strongly disagree with the Romney campaign, and some other veterans groups say that Romney is supporting denial of voting access to hundreds of thousands of Ohio military veterans by opposing Obama's lawsuit." CW: though this appears to be a straight he-said/he-said news story, it doesn't make the Romney case look good. The headline is "Experts: Romney's wrong on Ohio early-voting suit." We like to see stories like this hit the local papers. Via Greg Sargent.

** Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: "Ann Romney, [who has multiple sclerosis,] has done much to raise the profile of an incurable, degenerative illness that afflicts some 400,000 Americans.... But ... MS advocates say that policies [Mitt] Romney now supports would be detrimental for many MS sufferers, and they are actively opposing these proposals.... Romney has pledged to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act.... He also would turn Medicaid, the government health care plan for children and the poor, into a block grant, a plan that would ultimately cut millions from the program. And when he promises to replace Obamacare, Romney has offered only a few weak substitutes, such as capping damages in malpractice lawsuits. All of this would have tremendous implications for people with multiple sclerosis." CW: read the whole post. Thanks to Lisa for the link. ...

CW: Mencimer links to this video on MittRomney.com (one of my favorite sites) in which the Romney family talks about Ann's illness. The video, released in late May 2012, obviously should be one that, among other goals, puts candidate Mitt in a positive light. While their sons say Mitt has been very supportive of Ann, the only things Mitt says in the video -- titled "Soul Mate," are,

Probably the toughest time in my life was standing there with Ann as we hugged each other and the diagnosis came. As long as it's not something fatal, I'm just fine. I'm happy in life as long as I've got my soul mate with me.

     ... Ann learns she has a debilitating illness, yet somehow it's all about Mitt -- how tough her illness is on him, how he's just fine and he's happy in life. This is absolutely the closest Mitt can come to feelings of love and empathy for another human being. He doesn't get close, and evidently he and his campaign advisors see nothing wrong with his sheer selfishness. ...

... This is a tough anti-Romney ad, which I think reflects exactly the trait we see in the "Soul Mate" spot:

     ... CW: normally, I find this type of ad unfair. After all, every person in power -- even a well-meaning, caring person -- makes decisions that have negative impacts on other people's lives. But I think the ad reflects a true thing about Romney -- that he doesn't care how his decisions hurt other people; ergo, his positions on health care.

AND in Sporting News for the Super-Rich, CBS News reports, "Ann Romney said her horse Rafalca had another 'fabulous' ride at the Olympic team equestrian dressage competition and that she's thinking of breeding the German-born mare when she stops competing in a year or two. Rafalca, the 15-year-old bay that has inspired political jokes about Mitt Romney's wealth and Republican presidential ambitions, had a solid performance Tuesday, although rider Jan Ebeling said he wished the score of 69.302 percent could have been higher. The low score confirmed that Rafalca won't advance to the individual medal competition Thursday."

Congressional Races

Cameron Joseph of The Hill: "The big-spending GOP outside group Crossroads GPS has bought $7.2 million in airtime in five key Senate states, an ad-tracking source told The Hill. The ads will begin to air this Wednesday in Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Virginia -- all key swing states The Hill rates as 'toss-ups.' The GOP needs to gain a net of four seats for Senate control."

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "As they kick off tough reelection battles, the GOP [Congressional freshmen] are taking pains to distance themselves from a Capitol that remains toxic, casting themselves as the same insurgent forces that swept to power in 2010. Far from embracing the Congress that they promised to change, the freshmen are taking an ice pick to it," effectively pretending their opponents -- not they -- are the incumbents. ...

... Dave Weigel finds some Democratic incumbents who are doing the same.

News Ledes

AP: "Congressman Todd Akin has won a hard-fought Republican primary for the right to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin on Tuesday topped businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman in a primary in which all three leading candidates portrayed themselves as the top conservative choice. McCaskill was unopposed in the Democratic primary."

AP: "Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra has won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, overcoming a challenge from two Republicans who questioned his record as a conservative. The Holland former lawmaker defeated Clark Durant of Grosse Pointe and former Kent County Judge Randy Hekman of Grand Rapids Tuesday in the GOP primary. He'll advance to a November matchup with Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow."

AP: "Jared Lee Loughner agreed Tuesday to spend the rest of his life in prison, accepting that he went on a deadly shooting rampage at an Arizona political gathering and sparing the victims a lengthy, possibly traumatic death-penalty trial."

AP: "A major fire at one of the country's biggest oil refineries that sent scores of people to hospitals with breathing problems will push gas prices above $4 a gallon on the West Coast, analysts said Tuesday. The fire, which sent plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay area, erupted Monday evening in the massive Chevron refinery about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco."

AP: "A Texas man, [Marvin Wilson,] convicted of killing a police informant two decades ago was executed Tuesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments that he was too mentally impaired to qualify for the death penalty."

AP: "The Federal Aviation Administration will bar airports nationwide from using a traffic-reversing operation that led to a close call last week at an airport near the nation's capital."

New York Times: "Marvin Hamlisch, the singularly productive and sensationally decorated composer of musicals like 'A Chorus Line' and songs like 'The Way We Were,' has died, his family said Tuesday through a representative. He was 68." ...

     ... Update: the Times' obituary is here. The Times also features videos of performances of Hamlisch's songs here.

The Hill: "Missouri's hotly contested Republican Senate primary will be decided on Tuesday, with major implications for the fall campaign against embattled Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) -- and control of the Senate."

Detroit News: "Headlining the ballot [in Michigan] is a GOP primary for U.S. Senate among Pete Hoekstra, Clark Durant and Randy Hekman.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Nearly 900 Roman Catholic nuns will gather in St. Louis this week to discuss their future relationship with the Vatican.... In the spring, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog office issued a report that questioned the organization's fidelity to some church teachings, accused it of 'serious doctrinal problems' and announced that three U.S. bishops would temporarily take the group's reins in order to reform it. This week, the members of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious -- which represents 80 percent of the country's 57,000 Catholic nuns -- will discuss their options, which could range from accepting the reforms to severing their official connection to the Vatican."

More on the Mars landing at this NASA.gov page.

Charlotte Observer: "Andrew Young, the ex-aide to John Edwards, and his wife will not be prosecuted for criminal contempt for their actions in a civil case brought against them by Edwards' former mistress, the district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties announced Monday." Via Kevin Robillard of Politico.

President Obama signed a bill yesterday designed to improve health care for veterans. The bill also prohibits protesting within 300 feet of a military funeral. He answered a press question about the Oak Creek, Wisconsin murders:

Sunday
Aug052012

The Commentariat -- August 6, 2012

CW: my DSL (& my land line) is down, so I am relegated to McDonalds again, which means I'm working only Mickey D. hours. Update: At 1 pm ET, my DSL is still down, but I must leave this place! I'll be back this evening.

CW: With a caveat on his WikiLeaks slam -- and here too he may not be entirely wrong -- Bill Keller has an interesting column this week on government leaks to reporters. As usual, Keller is insufferably smug, but -- to my surprise -- I agree with most of his column. If better-informed writers disagree, I'll be sure to post their critiques.

New York Times Editors: "Senate Republicans regularly promote themselves as the true custodians of national security. This claim seemed particularly hollow last week when they helped block a new measure aimed at protecting America's vulnerable computer networks from attack by, among others, potentially hostile foreign governments.... The cost of inaction is already high.... The Obama administration, including senior military leaders, lobbied hard for the bill, which was three years in the making and the product of a bipartisan effort. In the end, their common sense pleadings could not compete with the Chamber of Commerce, which has funneled millions of dollars to Republican political campaigns."

Fiscal Cliffitis. Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "A rising number of manufacturers are canceling new investments and putting off new hires because they fear paralysis in Washington will force hundreds of billions in tax increases and budget cuts in January, undermining economic growth in the coming months."

Azam Ahmed & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Major banks, which often band together when facing government scrutiny, are now turning on one another as an international investigation into the manipulation of interest rates gains momentum. With billions of dollars and their reputations on the line, financial institutions have been spreading the blame in recent meetings with authorities.... While acknowledging their own wrongdoing, institutions are pointing out actions at other banks that they believe are worse -- and in some cases, extend to top executives." CW: so much for honor among thieves.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "In courthouses across the country, lawsuits are challenging state laws that dictate who may vote, when they may vote and whether their ballot will be counted once they have voted. There is a special urgency in the presidential election's swing states. Lawyers in Colorado are poised to challenge the secretary of state's proposed purge of noncitizens from voter rolls. A half-dozen suits are aimed at Florida's raft of voting changes. A Pennsylvania judge is deciding whether a voter ID law there violates the state constitution. In Ohio, the Obama campaign has filed suit against a law passed by the state's Republican leadership to shorten the early-voting period. And [a] separate issue ... was whether Ohio must count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct when the mistake was the fault of a poll worker rather than the voter." ...

... Prof. Richard Hasen in a New York Times "Campaign Stops" post: "I have not found a single election over the last few decades in which impersonation fraud had the slightest chance of changing an election outcome -- unlike absentee-ballot fraud, which changes election outcomes regularly. (Let's face it: impersonation fraud is an exceedingly dumb way to try to steal an election.) ... Pennsylvania is a symptom of a partisan system gone wild.... Unlike impersonation fraud, noncitizen voting cannot be dismissed as a Republican fantasy.... Partisan attempts at manipulation of election rules have become more entrenched and sophisticated."

Jason Felch & Kim Christensen of the Los Angeles Times: "For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America has relied on a confidential blacklist known as the 'perversion files' as a crucial line of defense against sexual predators.... A Los Angeles Times review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country...." CW: excuse me for not being surprised.

Reformed Reagan-Bush staff economist Bruce Bartlett of the New York Times: "Republicans are adamant that taxes on the ultra-wealthy must not rise to the level they were at during the Clinton administration, as President Obama favors, lest economic devastation result. But they have a problem -- the 1990s were the most prosperous era in recent history. This requires Republicans to try to rewrite the economic history of that decade.... But it is clear from the experience of the 1990s that they can play a very big role in reducing the budget deficit and are not necessarily a drag on growth. And the obvious experience of the 2000s is that tax cuts increase the deficit and don't necessarily do anything for growth. Those arguing otherwise need to make a much better case than they have so far."

Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press."

More Climate Change Fallout. Grant Schulte of the AP: "Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, dry summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees." CW: wonder if the fishers of fishes are attributing dead fish to God's will, too. ...

... A Cultural Climate Change Fallout. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "More quickly than any other place in the United States, the Alaskan Arctic is being transformed by global warming. The impacts of climate change are threatening a way of life. The dilemma for the federal government -- and state and local officials -- is whether to try to preserve, if it is even possible, the heritage of the Inuit villages, their ice cellars, sod ancestral homes and cemeteries ringed with spires of whalebones. Or spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to move even one village."

Donovan Slack of Politico: "Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggests that declining public approval of the court dates back to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, which decided the 2000 presidential race." CW: but don't think this was an intellectual breakthrough moment for O'Connor. She also "demurred on taking responsibility. 'I don't see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote,' she said. 'They all counted.' O'Connor said she has no regrets about her vote." Not. My. Fault. ...

... Digby adds context:

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, attending a Washington, DC, party and watching the news networks predict Florida, and thusly the presidency, for Democrat Al Gore, says aloud, 'This is terrible.' Her husband explains that she is considering retiring from the Court, but will only do so if George W. Bush, a fellow Republican, is in office to appoint her successor. -- Jake Tapper (3/2001)

At a November 29 dinner attended by clerks from several justices, a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor tells the group that O'Connor is determined to overturn the Florida Supreme Court's decision to go ahead with manual recounts of election ballots (see 3:00 p.m., November 16, 2000). One clerk recalls the O'Connor clerk saying, 'she thought the Florida court was trying to steal the election and that they had to stop it.' O'Connor has the reputation of deciding an issue on her 'gut,' then finding legal justifications for supporting her decision. Unbeknownst to anyone outside the Court, O'Connor has already made up her mind. -- Vanity Fair (10/2004)

Joe Hagan profiles Maricopa County, Arizona''s brutal Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Rolling Stone. Notably, the voters keep re-electing him & Fox "News" keep inviting him back on the air.

Presidential Race

Tom Hamburger & Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post: "David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser who was President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010 from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran's government. A subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, about a month before he joined the White House staff.... At the time of Plouffe's speeches, MTN had been in a widely reported partnership for five years with a state-owned Iranian telecommunications firm. There were no legal or ethical restrictions on Plouffe being paid to speak to the MTN subsidiary.... In recent weeks, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has accused the administration of being soft on Iran." ...

     ... Glenn Greenwald: "The reason the Post sees this as some sort of a scandal and the reason it will resonate – namely: the money Plouffe received is tainted by virtue of a connection to the Evil Persian Regime — is frivolous and cynical, just part of the ongoing Washington fear-mongering orgy over Iran." But, speaking of "dirty money" (see links re: Sheldon Adelson below) read the whole post.

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama, emboldened by the Supreme Court's affirmation of his health care overhaul, is now embracing the law while campaigning for re-election, just as Republican rival Mitt Romney steps back from it. Obama sees a second chance to sell voters on the issue despite deep skepticism about it from many people. Romney is avoiding answering hard questions about how he would tackle health care, and thus missing the chance to energize voters who oppose the law." CW: about time, Barry.

Reality Check. Glenn Greenwald: "Here we have the political campaign of the same President who, in another moment of trailblazing, has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and whose top aides secretly met at coffee houses with industry lobbyists to draft bills so as to evade disclosure and record preservation requirements, marching, apparently with a straight face, behind the banner of transparency to demand disclosure of his opponent's tax returns."

Rick Klein of ABC News: "The nation has met Barack Obama's Mitt Romney. If it's going to meet Romney's version of himself, it will happen this month, or not at all. It was supposed to start last month, with picked-up ad spending and a foreign trip built around a choreographed Olympic moment. But the foreign trip fell flat amid distractions at every stop, and Democrats continued to break through with their assault on Romney's transparency and business record."

The Italian Job. Jesse Drucker, et al., of Bloomberg News: "Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid. Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries.... Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million" while avoiding taxes.

Inventing Controversy. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "A pro-Israel group last week began running ads knocking President Obama for failing to visit Israel.... Then, on Sunday, the Romney campaign echoed this charge with its own ad also calling attention to Obama not visiting Israel as president. Obama visited Israel in 2008, as a presidential candidate, but thus far has not visited the Jewish state during his presidential term.... Only four of the last 11 presidents visited Israel during their presidency, and two -- Nixon and George W. Bush -- waited until their second term to make their first trip. In both cases, they visited in the last year of their presidencies.... Only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, then, visited Israel in their first term. And of the last four presidents, two never visited Israel...."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney raised $101.3 million in the month of July, his campaign said Monday, marking the second straight month in which the GOP presidential candidate has pulled in nine figures." ...

     ... Update. Michael Shear & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The president's campaign announced on Twitter on Monday morning that his July fund-raising topped out at about $75 million. 'Every bit helps,' the campaign tweeted, noting that 98 percent of the contributions were under $250. Mr. Obama's advisers have all but conceded the money race to Mr. Romney."

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Paul Ryan-for-VP chatter has heated up in the past two days, thanks in part to him updating his Federal Election Commission filings for his PAC, suddenly canceling a planned appearance at an anti-Obamacare rally and winning praise from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the best pick." ...

... Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor & DNC chair, has his own GOP veep pick:

Screw the Dual Mandate. Kevin Bohn of CNN: "... Mitt Romney said Saturday that he does not support the Federal Reserve enacting a new stimulus program to boost the economy, telling CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that a previous effort by the nation's central bank did not have a major impact." With video. ...

... A More Honest Assessment. Grace Wyler of Business Insider: "Romney's comments echo those of many of his fellow Republicans, who have raised concerns that any additional stimulus between now and the election would boost the markets, and improve President Barack Obama's chances for re-election.... Romney did tell CNN that he thinks "now is the time for something dramatic," but did not specify what that action should be." CW: he wouldn't, would he?

Dirty Harry. Priebus Keeps It Classy. George Stephanopoulos of ABC News: "Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus called Sen. Harry Reid a 'dirty liar'." this morning on 'This Week' for accusing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of not paying taxes. ...

... Charles Mahtesian of Politico: Priebus's comment & a similar one by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are indications Reid's own finances will be a GOP target. ...

... Steve Kornacki: "Whatever you think of Reid’s tactics, this really is the definition of taking one for the team."

Dirty Money. Andre Tartar of New York magazine: "Billionaire Romney-backer Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas casino company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is at the center of a year-long money laundering investigation, The Wall Street Journal reports." ...

Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "... what was this ever-so-guarded, moralistic ('I want to clean up the moral pollution on TV and the Internet') politician doing at a $50,000-a-couple fundraiser in Jerusalem with Sheldon G. Adelson -- proprietor of one of the largest, if not the largest, gambling and casino operations in the world -- seated in the honored position at his side? Adelson and his company are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice on allegations of foreign bribery. In addition, the United States Attorney's office in Los Angeles is investigating whether Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. failed to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to casinos in violation of money-laundering laws.... At a minimum, Romney could tell us how he reconciles the values he says he stands for with the basis on which Adelson's fortune is built." Edsall reviews some of Adelson's legal difficulties.

Congressional Races

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "As the three Republican candidates [for Missouri's U.S. Senate nomination] battled it out, [Sen. Claire] McCaskill (ConservaD) has had to buckle down as well. Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, David and Charles Koch's Americans For Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the 60 Plus Association have dumped as much as $15 million into the state since July 2011 to [oppose McCaskill].... The sustained campaign could become a textbook for future efforts in a new era of anything-goes campaign financing, both Ms. McCaskill and her opponents say. Most of the spending is coming from tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations like Crossroads GPS, which may accept large corporate and individual donations without disclosing donors' identities."

Elizabeth Warren, in a Politico opinion piece: "Washington politicians line up 10-deep to claim they support small businesses, but they avoid talking about a harsh reality: The system is rigged against small business. These owners can't afford armies of lobbyists in D.C., but the big corporations can. It's those armies of lobbyists that create the loopholes and special breaks that let big corporations off the hook for paying taxes. While small businesses are left to pay the bills.... If a business makes it big, the reward shouldn't be the ability to rig the system to stop the next guy."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Thwarting controls against money laundering, [British bank] Standard Chartered Bank enabled Iranian banks and corporations to hide roughly 60,000 transactions worth at least $250 billion within the bank, New York state's banking regulator charged Monday."

ABC News: "The gunman who opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed six people has been identified as Army veteran Wade Michael Page. Page, 40, opened fire outside the temple before entering around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and killed six people. He served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998. Though police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, but Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists."

New York Times: "In a flawless, triumphant technological tour de force, a plutonium-powered rover the size of a small car was lowered at the end of 25-foot-long cables from a hovering rocket stage onto Mars early on Monday morning." NASA's Website is here, with links to numerous stories & pix on Curiosity.

New York Times: "President Bashar al-Assad fired his prime minister on Monday, Syria's official media reported, as activists countered that he defected to neighboring Jordan in what seemed a further indication of disarray among loyalists following a series of high-level defections and a rebel bomb attack last month that killed four of the Syrian leader's closest security aides." ...

     ... Al Jazeera Update: "Riad Farid Hijab, the Syrian prime minister, has joined the opposition, he has announced, after state television reported that he was sacked this morning. The former prime minister arrived in Jordan after being smuggled across the border, Jordanian authorities confirmed to Al Jazeera on Monday."

Saturday
Aug042012

The Commentariat -- August 5, 2012

Once again inspired by P. D. Pepe, I have taken a whack at Our Young Man from the Vatican, waxing eloquent today all All's Wrong with Obama. The NYTX front page is here.

James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute in a Washington Post op-ed: "In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.... We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs.... The future is now. And it is hot." ...

... Seth Borenstein of the AP reports on the report.

Bill Vlasic, et al., of the New York Times: if U.S. policymakers could entice the Japanese to build cars in the U.S., maybe a similar approach should be taken for the tech industry, where so much product is built in Asia.

New York Times Editors: "Massachusetts will be the first state to try to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it will grow no faster than the state economy."

How come "ordinary citizens go to jail when they break the law, while the elites face a mere slap on the wrist"? A few theories.

Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Illinois) talks to Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times about her husband's illness, which she characterizes as depression, possibly triggered by weight-loss surgery.

Presidential Race

"The Vanity of Perfectionism." Robert Parry in AlterNet on the foolishness of people "on the American Left ... who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.... When we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view.... U.S. elections should not be primarily about us." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

An Obama Landslide? Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Liberals don't want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romney's path to victory is getting harder every day."

A Romney Landslide? James Pethokoukis of the (right-wing) American Enterprise Institute: "Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president's term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts. And he's predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008." ...

... On Hibb's model, contributor Victoria D. points to this post by Ezra Klein, who relies heavily on a lot of work by Nate Silver. Klein (& Silver) note that "Hibbs's model in particular performs well for the years from which it extrapolates -- that is, the elections from 1952 to 1988 -- and very poorly for elections before and after.... The model predicted that Al Smith would win in 1928, Thomas Dewey would win by a landslide in 1948, and that Al Gore would have won comfortably in 2000. In sum, Silver alleges, the model does worse than just positing that each party will get 50 percent of the vote. So take Hibbs's findings with a grain of salt":

Chart by Nate Silver.

Let's Just Lie. Reid Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney sparked a Saturday tit-for-tat by claiming, without pointing to any evidence, that President Obama 's campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. Obama's campaign responded, ripping Romney for 'completely fabricating' a claim it called 'shameful.' At issue: A lawsuit the Obama campaign filed July 17 that seeks to restore three days of early voting for all of the state's voters. At no point does the lawsuit attempt to curb the rights of active military.... Romney's spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama's lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters." ...

... Speaking of which, here is Vol. XXVIII Steve Benen's "Mitt's Mendacity."

Right Wing World *

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois, asked a Washington, D.C. federal court on Wednesday for an emergency injunction against the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate because the rule forces the school to cover emergency contraception.... But Wheaton's health plan already covered emergency contraception when the mandate was announced..., and tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify for the one-year reprieve President Barack Obama put in place for religious institutions that have moral objections to contraception." Via Steve Benen.

"Land's End." Joseph Conn in Wall of Separation: "Notorious Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land has announced his retirement.... Land, head of the so-called Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, lobbied for the SBC for nearly 25 years. He is the embodiment of the SBC's conversion from friend of religious liberty to agent of theocracy. A faithful advocate of the Religious Right agenda for 25 years, Land has been shrill, aggressively partisan and deeply hostile to the church-state wall." Via Steve Benen.

* Where Hypocrisy never sleeps.

News Ledes

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek about 10:15 a.m. Sunday that left seven people dead, including the shooter, and three people injured is being treated as a domestic terrorist incident, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. Oak Creek police officers who responded to a 911 call about the shooting were helping a victim when the shooter ambushed one of the officers, shooting the officer multiple times. A second Oak Creek officer returned fire, killing the shooter, Edwards said. The wounded officer, described as at least a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon and was expected to survive, Edwards said during a 4 p.m. news conference." New York Times story here. ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians' bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations."

AP: "A possible plea deal in the deadly Tucson shootings that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Loughner is competent to enter a plea...."

AFP: "... The Mars Science Laboratory and rover Curiosity -- designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission" -- is scheduled to land on Mars early Monday morning. First signals would reach NASA "at 1:31 am Eastern time (0531 GMT).... That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth."

AP: "Several wildfires raging around the parched Oklahoma landscape prompted more evacuations on Sunday as emergency workers sought to shelter those forced out by flames that destroyed dozens of homes and threatened others in the drought-stricken region."

Friday
Aug032012

The Commentariat -- August 4, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... Here's the transcript.

Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic: "... there are now fewer public sector employees per American than at any time dating back to the Carter administration (To be clear, we're talking state, federal, and local here).... If the share of government workers was back to 2007 levels, we'd have about 1.7 million more jobs than we do today." With charts. Here's the overview of the Brookings Institution report Weissman cites. ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "Even as the national unemployment rate ticked up ever so slightly in July, the unemployment rate for veterans fell to its lowest level in more than three years, dropping to 6.9 percent. That figure is the lowest monthly unemployment rate for all veterans since before President Obama took office.... The unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars remained higher than the national unemployment rate, but it too appears to be trending in the right direction."

Gail Collins: The Do-Nothing Congress has no time to save the Post Office, but plenty of time to name post offices; it has no time to pass a farm bill during a national emergency but plenty of time to vote 33 times against ObamaCare. "Maybe it's possible [for Congress] to have a negative approval rating."

New York Times Editors: Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) showed "utter disdain" for the House Ethics Committee that reprimanded her. "She was found to have misused House resources, violated campaign restrictions on staff members, withheld subpoenaed documents and sought to manipulate witnesses and evidence. In the process, she most likely broke federal law, while showing a 'near total deflection of responsibility,' the panel concluded."

Solomon Banda of the AP: "... some are wondering whether the [University of Colorado's threat assessment] system broke down.... A university psychiatrist was so alarmed by graduate student James E. Holmes' behavior that she tried to bring him to the attention of the school's threat assessment team more than a month before the attack, but the group never met to talk about him because he had already taken steps to drop out.... University Chancellor Don Elliman has repeatedly said the school did all it could with regard to Holmes.... However, KMGH-TV and the Denver Post ... said police were never contacted."

Judy Chu (D-Calif.) in a New York Times op-ed: "I introduced the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, which asks the military to make hazing a crime, requires the Defense Department to come up with a comprehensive anti-hazing plan, and creates a tracking system for hazing incidents. These provisions passed the House in May as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but the Senate still needs to act. And the sooner it acts, the better, because we know this is just the beginning of what we need to do to eradicate hazing. Our military doesn't have to abuse its own to be strong."

Charles Blow: "A young man is stopped by police, who find $10 worth of drugs on him; he had twice been searched by officers and then double handcuffed behind his back and placed in the back of a police car; yet, somehow, he retrieves a gun that both searches failed to find and uses it shoot himself in the right temple? That is what police in Jonesboro, Ark., say happened on the evening of Sunday, July 29, to Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old African-American man from Southaven, Miss., a suburb of Memphis."

"Still Puritan after All These Years." Matthew Hutson in a New York Times Sunday Review piece: "... present-day Americans still exhibit, in their attitudes and behavior, traces of those austere English Protestants who started arriving in the country in the early 17th century."

Contributor Victoria D. recommends this excellent piece by Karoli of Crooks & Liars on Campbell Brown, former CNN "journalist"/hack/stealth Romney surrogate & wife of Romney advisor Dan Palestinian-Culture-Sucks Senor. So do I.

Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post: America's First Ladies didn't/don't like the job.

Presidential Race

Rachel Maddow in an excellent segment on Mitt Romney's history of, um, lying about his taxes:

     ... AND one on Romney's insistence in 1994 that Ted Kennedy release his tax returns, etc.:

Brian Beutler of TPM: "Romney's most recent financial disclosure form revealed that his tax-deferred individual retirement account holds upwards of $100 million -- an amount that ... raises legal and ethical questions. IRAs are intended to allow workers to put away modest sums of money each year in order to help finance a middle class retirement. The savings are tax deferred, but there's a legal limit -- now $6,000 -- on how much each IRA holder can contribute annually. Now top Democrats on the Budget, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce Committees want to know how people of Romney's wealth can end up with 100,000 times that much money in a single IRA, and how much the tax and investment strategies they employ cost the Treasury in revenue every year." With copy of letter from to top Treasury & Labor officials from Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Sam Youngman of Reuters: "Under pressure to reveal more about his personal finances..., Mitt Romney on Friday said he had paid 'a lot of taxes' every year.... Romney said the sources of [Harry] Reid's accusations [that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years] may be within the White House or President Barack Obama's re-election campaign."

Spending More Time with His Family. Arlette Saenz & Emily Friedman of ABC News: Romney "Spokesman Rick Gorka, whose curse-laden flap with the press in Poland rounded out the news reports culminating Romney’s trip, is 'taking some time off the trail' after a week abroad, per a Romney aide. Gorka normally serves as the traveling spokesman for Romney on all his campaign trips."

No Apologies? No Principles. Ginger Gibson of Politico: "At a news conference in Las Vegas, Romney wouldn't weigh in on either the fight over comments by the president of the fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A over gay marriage or an effort spearheaded by Michele Bachmann calling for an investigation into Huma Abedin and alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the federal government." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Mitt Romney is most amusing when he has to go la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you at the cultural-issues antics of his party's base.... Even as his most loyal supporters treat this election cycle as marking the Final War for the Preservation of Civilization, the candidate himself continues to pretend it's all about GDP growth and out-year budget estimates. It's just ha-larious."

AND Willard Gets a Key Endorsement. CBS News: "Porn star Jenna Jameson chose a familiar stage to make her endorsement for the 2012 presidential election Thursday night. At a San Francisco strip club, the former adult actress and stage performer said she was ready for a Romney presidency. 'I'm very looking forward to a Republican being back in office,' Jameson said while sipping champagne in a VIP room at Gold Club in the city's South of Market neighborhood. 'When you're rich, you want a Republican in office.'" ...

... Okay, maybe this is a better one. Steve Peoples of the AP: "Clint Eastwood just made Mitt Romney's day. [He] endorsed the Republican presidential candidate Friday night during a Sun Valley fundraiser. 'I think the country needs a boost,' Eastwood told The Associated Press as he joined other Romney supporters for the private campaign event. In February, Eastwood told Fox News that he wasn't supporting any politician at that time. Some saw the 'halftime in America' ad he made for the Super Bowl as a nod toward President Barack Obama. Eastwood responded then by saying he was not 'politically affiliated' with the president." CW: What he meant was, "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office."

Congressional Races

Lucas Johnson of the AP: "The Tennessee Democratic Party is disavowing the man who won the party's nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Bob Corker in November, saying the little-known candidate belongs to an anti-gay hate group. Mark Clayton, 35, reported raising no money and campaigned little but received more than 48,000 votes, twice the number of his nearest competitor in Thursday's seven-candidate Democratic primary. Clayton is vice president of Falls Church, Va.-based Public Advocate of the United States, which calls itself a conservative advocacy group. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the organization an anti-gay hate group." CW: Congratulations on your re-election, Sen. Corker. And thanks to reader Jeanne B. for the link.

News Ledes

Birmingham News: "- A federal judge ... sentenced former Gov. Don Siegelman (D-Ala.) to 78 months in prison.... A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman of federal funds bribery on allegations that he sold a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's 1999 referendum campaign to establish a state lottery. Siegelman served nine months of an 88-month sentence before being released in March 2008 on an appeal bond. A federal appeals court tossed out two of the charges against him, which prompted today's resentencing."

Reuters: "Wildfires burned out of control on Friday in Oklahoma, destroying homes and shutting down highways in a state that has suffered 18 straight days of 100-plus degree temperatures and persistent drought. Emergency officials counted 11 different wildfires around the state, with at least 65 homes destroyed in parched areas north and south of Oklahoma City and south of Tulsa."

Reuters: "The University of Colorado has hired a former federal prosecutor to probe its handling of a former graduate student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in a shooting spree at a movie theater in a Denver suburb, the school said on Friday."

AP: "Iran claimed Saturday it has successfully test-fired an upgraded version of a short-range ballistic missile with improved accuracy, increasing the Islamic Republic's capability to strike both land and naval targets."

AP: "The Afghan parliament passed votes of no confidence Saturday against the country's defense and interior ministers, a blow to the government of President Hamid Karzai as it attempts to project an image of stability while international forces draw down."

AP: "Senate Democrats rejected a Republican effort to force defense contractors to send out notices of possible job layoffs four days before the election, calling the move politically driven and purely speculative based on looming spending cuts. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 17-13 against an amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The provision would have overturned Labor Department guidance this week to federal contractors that they do not have to warn their employees about potential layoffs from the automatic, across-the-board cuts that kick in Jan. 2."