The Ledes

Monday, October 20, 2014.

New York Times: "At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease."

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

New York Daily News: "Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested twice this weekend — just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication, police said. The outgoing Republican senator from Dickson, Tenn., has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor, Lt. Todd Christian said." CW: Another fine representative of the people.

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Guardian: "A cruise ship carrying a Dallas healthcare worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port on Sunday.... A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas on 8 October, showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers the unidentified woman was tested for Ebola but the results were negative."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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

White House Live Video
October 20

1o:00 am ET: Affordable Care Act Champions of Change meeting

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

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

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story.

Christopher Schmidt says, "On Oct 8th, I was flying my quadcopter at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] when a hawk decided he wasn't too happy with my invasion of his airspace:

... CW: Thanks to Julie L. for the link. So one way to get rid of those annoying drones that will soon be hovering in your air space is to take up falconry. (Since bringing down other people's drones may be illegal, blame the bird.)

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Sunday
Sep302012

The Commentariat -- October 1, 2012

Reader Creag H. points out this remark which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made last week when speaking before the Clinton Global Initiative. You can watch her full speech here:

... one of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country. You know I'm out of American politics, but it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don't invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally. And so it means for leaders telling powerful people things they don't want to hear.

Richard Hasen in Slate: at issue in "an appeal being argued today by telephone, SEIU v. Husted..., at issue are potentially thousands of Ohio ballots that the state will not count solely because of poll worker error.... A numberof the state's polling places, especially in cities, cover more than one voting precinct, and in order to cast a valid vote, a voter has to be given the correct precinct ballot. Poll workers, however, often hand voters the wrong precinct ballot mistakenly."

GOP voter suppression & voter fraud notwithstanding, these stars think voting is a good idea:

Paul Krugman is planning President Obama's second term, & he is warning him off Simpson-Bowles -- "a really bad plan.... This election is ... shaping up as a referendum on our social insurance system, and it looks as if Mr. Obama will emerge with a clear mandate for preserving and extending that system. It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation’s future, for him to let himself to be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" by agreeing to a Catfood Commission-style "Grand Bargain." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: "The looming payroll tax hike ... is entirely pointless. Neither progressive ideology nor conservative ideology in any sense mandates that we implement a big regressive tax increase amidst a period of sky-high unemployment. Doing so is only going to stall the household deleveraging process, make it harder for businesses to get customers, and immiserate stretched American families. We really need to stop this."

** This you gotta read. And many thanks to Calyban for catching it, because I missed it. J. D. Kleinke, a fellow of the righty-right-wing American Enterprise Institute & an specialist of health care, writing in Sunday's New York Times, makes the case for ObamaCare. Kleinke lists element after element of ObamaCare & explains why these features are conservative. "The real problem with the health care plan -- for Mr. Romney and the Republicans in general -- is that political credit for it goes to Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Romney is in a terrible fix trying to spin his way out of this paradox and tear down something he knows is right -- something for which he ought to be taking great political credit of his own." CW: I hope Obama is taking note.

Chrystia Freeland in the New Yorker: "... Hostility toward the President is particularly strident among the ultra-rich." When you read the excuses & rationalizations billionaire Leon Cooperman comes up with to justify himself & his disdain for Obama, you may laugh out loud (he didn't send a thank-you note when I gave him a self-published book of poetry my granddaughter wrote) or feel like throwing something -- Obama never worked a day in his life. This isn't Right Wing World; it's Rich Wing World. These people, who think so much of themselves, are ignorant myth-peddlers; for instance, this should sound familiar:

Our problem, frankly, is as long as the President remains anti-wealth, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-private-aviation, he will never get the business community behind him. The problem and the complication is the forty or fifty per cent of the country on the dole that support him. -- Leon Cooperman

Ernesto Londoño and Abigail Hauslohner of the Washington Post write an interesting account of the lax security in Benghazi, Libya, before terrorists there killed four Americans, including the ambassador.

Gerardo Reyes & Santiago Wills of ABC News: Univision uncovers new details about "Fast & Furious": "Univision News identified a total of 57 more previously unreported firearms that were bought by straw purchasers monitored by ATF during Operation Fast and Furious, and then recovered in Mexico in sites related to murders, kidnappings, and at least one other massacre. As part of Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allowed 1,961 guns to 'walk' out of the U.S. in an effort to identify the high profile cartel leaders who received them."

Presidential Race

This whole race is going to be turned upside down come Thursday morning. -- Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), predicting Mitt Romney will win the presidential debate Wednesday ...

Mitt Romney has had a lot more time to debate, the president has not debated in the past four years in terms, of a campaign debate. I think the president will hold his own, but he's not known for sound bites. And these are 60 second, 90 second responses. -- Brad Woodhouse of the Democratic National Committee, predicting Mitt Romney will win the presidential debate Wednesday

Alex Pareene of Salon thinks Mitt may find his inner Dick Cheney during the debates & advocate for torture.

Flim-Flam Man Zips His Lips. Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post: "On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan claimed that Americans don’t know enough about what a Romney-Ryan presidency would do, which explains the campaign's current troubles. But when Chris Wallace pressed Ryan to discuss the specifics of the Romney-Ryan tax plan, the mathematics of which have confounded non-partisan experts, he refused even to say how much the tax cuts the ticket has proposed would cost." With video. ...

... Romney has promised $5 trillion in tax cuts skewed toward millionaires and billionaires, but refused to say how he'd pay for them without raising taxes on the middle class or exploding the deficit. He's promised to repeal ObamaCare, but refused to say what he'd replace it with to protect the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. He's promised to repeal Wall Street reform, but refused to say what he'd replace it with so that big banks aren't writing their own rules again. -- Obama Campaign

David Carr of the New York Times: the conservative claim that the liberal mainstream media have rigged coverage of the presidential election -- and poll results -- is bogus. "Even if legacy media still maintained some kind of death grip on American consciousness, it would be hard to claim that the biggest players in those industries are peddling liberal theology." Carr cites the Wall Street Journal, the paper with the highest U.S. circulation & Fox "News," the cable news channel with the highest ratings, plus radio showmen Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. to argue that "the growing hegemony of conservative voices makes manufacturing a partisan conspiracy a practical impossibility."

Paul Krugman on the short memories of political pundits. Funny line: "The only [GOP primary] contender who even looked on paper like a real alternative, Rick Perry, turned out to have three major liabilities: he was inarticulate, he was slow on his feet, and I can't remember the third (sorry, couldn't help myself)."

Michael Shear of the New York Times suggests five possible sources of an October Surprise that would shake up the presidential election.

AND for those readers who took Roger Simon seriously last week when he wrote that Paul Ryan called Willard "The Stench," you've got a lot of company. Also, it's one of those stories you just want to believe.

Local News

More GOP Voter Fraud. Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times: "Formal complaints filed with the state [of California] by at least 133 residents of a state Senate district [in Riverside] say they were added to GOP rolls without their knowledge, calling into question the party's boast that Republican membership has rocketed 23% in the battleground area." CW: the trick was to tell people they were signing a petition for some liberal thing, then telling them they also had to fill out a voter registration form. Apparently, if the signer didn't fill in the party affiliation, the recruiter checked the Republican box.

Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "California has become the first state to ban the use for minors of disputed therapies to overcome' homosexuality, a step hailed by gay rights groups across the country that say the therapies have caused dangerous emotional harm to gay and lesbian teenagers. 'This bill bans nonscientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide,' Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement on Saturday after he signed the bill into law. 'These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.'" ...

... Don Thompson of the AP: Brown also "signed SB9, by Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco. It would let the inmates [who were sentenced to life imprisonment as juveniles] ask judges to reconsider their sentences after they serve at least 15 years in prison."

Jonathan Capehart: DNA evidence does little to back up George Zimmerman's story that he killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

News Ledes

Reuters: "U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly expanded in September for the first time since May as new orders and employment picked up, but the pace of growth showed the economy was still stuck in a slow recovery."

New York Times: "An apprentice elevator mechanic whose murder conviction was overturned after he had spent nearly 11 years in prison has been paid $2 million by New York State to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit he filed." CW: one of many "it could happen to you or me" stories.

New York Times: "The federal mortgage task force that was formed in January by the Justice Department filed its first complaint against a big bank on Monday, citing a broad pattern of misconduct in the packaging and sale of mortgage securities during the housing boom. The civil suit against Bear Stearns & Company, now a unit of JPMorgan Chase, was brought in New York State Supreme Court by Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general who is also a co-chairman of the task force, known as the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group." CW: Look, Ma, no criminal charges.

Washington Post: "Protesters affiliated with last year's Occupy demonstrations in Washington are planning a series of events to mark the one-year anniversary of the protests. Occupy D.C. participants say they plan to 'shut down K Street' Monday morning, and they say traffic disruptions are possible."

AP: "A lawyer for a cameraman who was accompanying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly in New York says his client has defected. Paul O'Dwyer, a New York City-based lawyer who is representing Hassan Gol Khanban, confirmed Sunday that his client is seeking asylum in the U.S. He provided no other details."

Guardian: "A Moscow court has delayed an appeal hearing by jailed anti-Kremlin punk band until 10 October over procedural concerns."

Saturday
Sep292012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 30, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the New York Times' policy of using the term "illegal immigrants" to describe undocumented residents.

** David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "Mr. Obama’s biggest mistake as president has not been the story he told the country about the economy. It’s the story he and his advisers told themselves."

"To See Ourselves as Others See Us." Kevin Sieff & Richard Leiby of the Washington Post: "Eleven years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of insider attacks that have threatened to undermine the military partnership. So the Afghan army is trying something new: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it's likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge." Sieff & Leiby include English translations of some of the advice in the booklet -- definitely worth a read.

Elizabeth Titus of Politico: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the latest high-ranking Democrat to defend the Obama administration's handling of information following the Sept. 11 Libya consulate attack, saying he was 'deeply concerned about recent attempts to politicize the tragic events.'"

Follow-Up. A couple of days ago I posted a video of a young woman in Colorado who was trying to register only declared Republican voters. In an article on the growing evidence of GOP-sponsored voter registration fraud in Florida, Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times writes, "In Colorado, a young woman employed by Strategic Allied was shown on a video outside a store in Colorado Springs recently telling a potential voter that she wanted to register only Republicans and that she worked for the county clerk's office. The woman was fired, said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party." Strategic Allied is the same outfit -- hired & recently fired by the GOP -- that has been submitting false voter registration forms & committing other related crimes & misdemeanors.

Presidential Race

Quote of the Day. You know, I think my biggest concern, obviously, would just be for his mental well-being. -- Ann Romney, responding to a question about what her "primary worry" would be about a Romney presidency. Thanks to reader Judy K. for the link. ...

Mike Lillis of The Hill: "Rallying the Democratic faithful in Fort Myers, Fla., [Vice President] Biden characterized [Rep. Paul] Ryan as 'the ideological center' of the Republican Party and warned the crowd that Romney's plan to cut Medicare -- among other popular federal programs – is hiding in plain sight. 'What Gov. Romney did in picking Paul Ryan is he has given clear definition to all those vague assertions he was making during his primary campaign,' Biden said. '[And] nowhere is it more clear what they would do than in Medicare.'"

The Obama campaign is back to hitting Romney for destroying "good American jobs" as part of Bain Capital's corporate takeovers. There's a much more comprehensive hit list at this campaign Webpage. Via Alexander Burns of Politico:

Ann Gerhart & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post on Mitt Romney & His Money. The writers try to explain Mitt's relationship to the Almighty Dollar; it is largely positive, but informative. There's a related photo slideshow here.

* * *

Peter Baker & Ashley Parker: "With more than 50 million people watching and the presidency at stake, the candidates will meet for their first debate on Wednesday at the University of Denver, and both are cramming like college students before an exam.... Mr. Romney's team has ... equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy." CW: can hardly wait. Nothing is funnier or more effective than a spontaneous bon mot you've been practicing for 6 weeks. ...

... Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog: "... if Romney competently delivers a zinger or two, Chuck Todd will no doubt replicate the restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally, and he won't be faking. People like him will declare Romney the victor as a result."

... CW: A few weeks ago, Jim Lehrer announced the topics for the first debate. I have a couple of suggestions for questions that would fit right in and keep the candidates from rambling or going off-topic:

     (A) Mr. Romney, how much do you hate the 47 percent of Americans who are in the tank for President Obama? Answer (1) for "I don't hate them; I don't even think about those low-life moochers. They're not my problem." Answer (2) for "I wouldn't use the word 'hate.' More like 'despise,' 'disdain' or 'abhor.'" Answer (3) for "I hate their lazy, dissipated guts, & I have a plan that will make most of them self-deport in leaky rowboats. Thanks for asking, Jimbo."

     (b) Mr. President, Sir, have you ever traveled with Bo on the roof of the Beast? Answer (1) for "No, absolutely not." Answer (2) for "No, and I wouldn't put a kitty or a gerbil or a pet lizard on the roof. Unlike Willard there, I'm an animal lover. And a people lover. I care about every one of you, my fellow Americans, and I'm ready to devote the next four years of my life to serving you-all. God bless America."

     I hope some of you will suggest equally appropriate, fair & balanced questions.

CW: I can't tell which of these posts from Dan Amira of New York magazine, on the campaign's attempts to set debate expectations, is factual, so you be the judge. This one sounds pretty good, but Amira's report on memos from the campaigns seems plausible, too.

* * *

Tom Friedman: "Mitt Romney ... acts instead as if he learned his foreign policy at the International House of Pancakes, where the menu and architecture rarely changes.... Romney has chosen ... to go with the same old G.O.P. bacon and eggs -- that the Democrats are toothless wimps who won't stand up to our foes or for our values, that the Republicans are tough and that it is 1989 all over again. That is, America stands astride the globe with unrivaled power to bend the world our way, and the only thing missing is a president with 'will.' The only thing missing is a president who is ready to simultaneously confront Russia, bash China, tell Iraqis we're not leaving their country, snub the Muslim world by outsourcing our Arab-Israel policy to the prime minister of Israel, green light Israel to bomb Iran -- and raise the defense budget while cutting taxes and eliminating the deficit."

Keeping It Classy. Matt Dixon of the AP: "In audio picked up by an answering machine, a volunteer for the Republican Party of Clay County can be heard calling President Barack Obama 'a Muslim' and saying he wants to 'get rid of your Medicare' while reaching out to voters in support of Mitt Romney's campaign. The call was made as part of a statewide phone bank for Romney's campaign being conducted by the Clay County GOP."

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times discusses a remark by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a Romney advisor, in which Bolton likened President Obama's foreign policy to a homophobic slur.

Nicholas Lemann talks about his profile of Mitt Romney which appears in this week's New Yorker (the article is firewalled):

News Ledes

New York Times: "Only two days after joint operations between American and Afghan forces were said to be returning to normal, five people -- two Americans and three Afghans -- were killed when a pitched battle broke out between soldiers of the two sides.... Afghan officials said that the clash on Saturday was a misunderstanding and that the Americans apparently attacked an Afghan National Army unit in error. A top coalition officer said the Americans were attacked first...."

AP: "U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war have reached 2,000, a cold reminder of the human cost of an 11-year-old conflict that garners little public interest at home as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its combat forces by the end of 2014. The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police against American and NATO troops...." ...

... Washington Post: "An apparent insider attack killed one NATO soldier and a civilian contractor Saturday, hours after the United States said joint raids with Afghan forces were returning to normal. Saturday's attack, which also killed several Afghan troops...."

New York Times: "Xi Jinping, who, despite a recent two-week absence from public view that raised questions about his health, is on the cusp of taking over as China&'s supreme leader at a party congress that officials announced Friday would begin Nov. 8."

Al Jazeera: "At least 25 people have been killed in a series of attacks in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and elsewhere. Four car bombs in the Taji neighbourhood in the north of the city killed at least six and injured eight others...."

AP: "Three weeks after a massive Catalan separatist march in Barcelona -- the biggest since the 1970s -- the independence flags still flutter from balconies across Spain's second largest city. Spain's crushing recession has had this divisive consequence: soaring popular sentiment in Catalonia that the affluent region would be better off as separate nation."

Reuters: "Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam...."

Guardian: "A Russian court is due to hear the appeal of jailed punk band Pussy Riot on Monday against a two-year sentence for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a Moscow cathedral. The case against Pussy Riot highlighted the crackdown on freedom in Vladimir Putin's Russia and the rising power of the Russian Orthodox church."

AP: "Neil Young, the Black Keys, Foo Fighters and others wowed thousands who turned out Saturday night for a free concert in Central Park to call attention to poverty worldwide. Dubbed the Global Citizen Festival, the concert also featured K'naan, John Legend and Band of Horses, with Young's performance capping off the evening. Video of the event was streamed worldwide as about 60,000 music fans crowded the park's Great Lawn...."

AP: "Carmageddon II, the sequel to last year's shutdown of one of the nation's busiest freeways, is going according to script as many Los Angeles drivers heeded warnings to stay off [Interstate 405]. Traffic tie-ups were minimal Saturday as construction crews worked around the clock to tear down a portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge on Interstate 405 as part of a $1 billion project to add a new carpool lane. Officials said the demolition was on schedule and that they expect to reopen the freeway as planned for Monday morning."

Friday
Sep282012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 29, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     The transcript is here.

The Republican Voter Fraud Scandal Grows. Matea Gold, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant. The controversy in Florida -- which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County -- has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting. The RNC paid the company at least $3.1 million -- routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia -- to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do." ...

... CW: this story was first exposed by blogger Brad Friedman & amplified by at least one other blogger, Gregg Flynn of Blue North Carolina, before mainstream media began picking it up. The Internets is where it's at.

Joe Nocera: U.S. News & World Report's college rankings are a counterproductive sham. "Universities that want to game the rankings can easily do so. U.S. News cares a lot about how much money a school raises and how much it spends: on faculty; on small classes; on facilities, and so on. It cares about how selective the admissions process is. So universities that once served populations that were different from the Harvard or Yale student body now go after the same elite high school students with the highest SAT scores. And schools know that, if they want to get a better ranking, they need to spend money like mad -- even though they will have to increase tuition that is already backbreaking." Schools lose points for effecting cost-saving measures. ...

     ... CW: bear in mind when reading Nocera that here -- and oftentimes -- he makes a broad assertion based on a single source who has a vested interest in pushing the assertion. I think Nocera & his source are probably right in this case, but if you have different information, please share it. Nocera's "methodology" is really unserious, & the Times should be ashamed for allowing him to repeatedly push the agendas of people he likes. This would be a good place for a little he-said/she-said.

Prof. Roger Martin, in a New York Times op-ed, writes that the capitalistic battle of today is not merely between capital & labor, but among capital labor and "talent." The result, labor loses.

Jim Fallows, who is a long-time friend of Sen. Jim Webb, comments on Webb's remarks -- embedded in yesterday's Commentariat -- about Mitt's characterization of the "47 percent": "This is a theme straight out of Webb's heart and brain and soul. I remember hearing almost exactly the same views from him when we first met in the late 1970s. We sometimes think about campaigns as if they're all about positioning and micro-strategy and all the rest. But every now and then we see the genuine passions and principles that are at stake." CW: watch the video if you missed it.

Presidential Race

Lydia Saad of Gallup: "Gallup election polling trends since the advent of televised presidential debates a nearly a half-century ago reveal few instances in which the debates may have had a substantive impact on election outcomes. The two exceptions are 1960 and 2000, both very close elections in which even small changes could have determined who won. In two others -- 1976 and 2004 -- public preferences moved quite a bit around the debates, but the debates did not appear to alter the likely outcome." Saad has the numbers, of course.

Markos Moulitsas: The Rasmussen polling operation "is doing its mightiest work to try and keep the fiction of Romney's candidacy alive, which really, is the only reason it exists." With charts to prove his point.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Obama administration's shifting accounts of the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, have left President Obama suddenly exposed on the national security and foreign policy issues where he had enjoyed a seemingly unassailable advantage over Mitt Romney in the presidential race." ...

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "The two most discussed candidates to be America's next top diplomat now find themselves on opposite sides of the Libya issue, with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the role of defending the administration's narrative and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) promising tough congressional oversight while giving the State Department room to conduct its own investigation. As the controversy over the administration's handling of the issue grows, Rice's comments on the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi are coming under increasing attack. Her insistence on a number of Sunday talk shows Sept. 16 that, according to the best information available at the time, the attack was an unplanned assault and the result of an anti-Islam video is facing harsh criticism from senators."

Jonathan Landay & Lesley Clark of McClatchy News: "Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a 'deliberate and organized terrorist attack,' the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration's initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video. The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts." ...

... CW: Greg Sargent, BTW, characterizes the DNI's statement as a Friday afternoon news dump because, um, it was a Friday afternoon news dump. This suggests to me that -- contra the McClatchy report -- the goal wasn't to "shield the White House." If it had been, DNI would not have tried to bury the news.

... Bobby Cervantes of Politico: "Rep. Peter King [{R-NY}, who never saw a rolling camera he didn't like,] called for the resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for initially saying that the deadly Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was spontaneous." ...

... BUT WAIT! There's More. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: Mike Huckabee hints that President Obama should be impeached over his administration's evolving remarks about the Libya incident. ...

... CW: I know it's election season, but Peter King is a sitting Member of Congress & chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Mike Huckabee is a former governor who thought he should be president. Don't these yahoos have some responsibility to stick to rational remarks? ...

Finally, Time to Play "Where's Willard?" Major Garrett of National Journal (& formerly of Fox "News") writes, "Nearly two weeks after promising to launch a multilayered critique of President Obama's handling of the Arab Spring, Mitt Romney has remained oddly silent even as evidence grows the administration misled the country about the motives behind the lethal attack in Libya that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead." Via Greg Sargent.

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: Mitt Romney just discovered the primaries are over, & he's running in the general election. Or something like that. He's "recalibrating his message"; i.e., changing his story.

Scott Shane of the New York Times: the Romney campaign tries to hang the Jimmy Carter label on President Obama. "Historians say the broad parallels between Mr. Carter's term and Mr. Obama's make for legitimate comparisons. But many of the details differ, and some tilt decisively in Mr. Obama's favor, both factually and politically."

CW: I'm totally with Ta-Nehisi Coates on this: Mitt's "47 percent" remark was no gaffe: "It is a thesis, delivered at some length, with confidence and vigor. It is unfortunate for Romney that it is now public, and that it fits right into the narrative Obama started drawing months ago. But I don't think this was a 'slip-up.'"

In Week 36 of Steve Benen's chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity, Benen identified 37 lies.

Right Wing World

CW: I have been making the point for some time that birtherism is beyond ridiculous because whether or not Barack Obama was born in the U.S., nobody doubts his mother was an American citizen, thus making Barack a "natural-born American," just like, say, John McCain, who was born in Panama to American parents. Well, evidently a few birthers got the message, so now there is a sickening, festering movement to smear the President's mother. The crazies -- a few of whom are rather prominent -- are not calling her a Russian-born Communist plant yet, but just you wait. Steve Benen has the details on the smears. ...

... Here's more from Michelle Goldberg of Newsweek.

Congressional Races

Freedom's Just Another Word for "Discrimination." I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. -- Rep. Todd Akin (RTP-Missouri), on why he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "Gender discrimination in compensation has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. But ... [Rep. Todd] Akin responded to a question about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- which made it easier for workers to sue over unequal pay -- by suggesting that employers shouldn't even be barred from paying women less in the first place." CW: As Ari Berman pointed out while appearing on MSNBC today, this is the same argument employers used during the Gilded Age to quash child labor laws. You can see why Newt Gingrich -- who thinks poor (read "black") children should take the jobs of school janitors -- has endorsed Akin. Newt & Akin are of a feather. ...

... Rebecca Schoenkopf of Wonkette: "When Republican consultant Kellyanne Conway told Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin to be more like David Koresh -- the cult leader in Waco whose standoff with the ATF led to the death of 80 of his followers and himself -- apparently, Todd Akin listened! So how did Todd Akin set his compound on fire today? Oh just by saying that the Equal Pay Act, which dates back to 1963 and says it is illegal to pay Fallopian-Americans less than men solely on the basis of their plumbing, is unfair, because freedom." ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "So the only 'freedom' Akin is talking about here is the freedom of businesses to break the law. Which he thinks is fine, because he doesn't think that equal pay should be the law, even in largely unenforceable theory. Just like he doesn't think there should be a minimum wage. Hey, then businesses could pay women, like, 50 cents an hour. That's freedom for you!" ...

... CW: I hope readers don't pay too much attention to Schoenkopf & Clawson. They are just girls, they probably have PMS & they clearly have "issues." Let's hope they are not getting paid as much as the guys writing in the profitable bloggersphere. Besides, it's a disgrace those feminazis are not home making meatloaf, mashed potatoes & babies for their deserving hubbies. ...

... Update: Todd Akin distances himself from David Koresh. CW: see, Akin is way more liberal than you thought.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Washington Democrats ... moved into the Maine Senate race on Friday with a sizable advertising buy to attack the Republican seeking to succeed Senator Olympia J. Snowe.... The $410,000 ad buy came as the position of the front-runner, former Gov. Angus King, an independent, has seen some erosion. Washington Democrats ... have avoided supporting their own candidate, Cynthia Dill, a state senator, hoping that Mr. King would walk away with the race and ultimately side with Democrats in Washington."

Ian Lovett of the New York Times: California's new voting law pits Democrat against Democrat in an expensive Congressional race in the San Fernando Valley.

News Ledes

BBC: "The youngest prisoner to be held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre has been returned to his native Canada. Omar Khadr had been held at the US base in Cuba since 2002, after being detained in Afghanistan aged 15. A military plane flew Khadr, the last Westerner at Guantanamo, to Canada early on Saturday. He will serve the rest of his eight-year jail term in Canada. He pleaded guilty to killing a US soldier in Afghanistan."

Washington Post: "Yemen's leader said Saturday that he personally approves every U.S. drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda's gains. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also provided new details about the monitoring of counterterrorism missions from a joint operations center in Yemen that he said is staffed by military and intelligence personnel from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman."

New York Times: "Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper's founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86."

AP: "... the Supreme Court is embarking on a new term beginning Monday that could be as consequential as the last one, with the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights."

AP: "One Somali journalist was shot dead by gunmen on Friday while a second journalist was beheaded and his body dumped in the street, officials and residents said, two attacks that bring the number of Somali journalists killed this year to 15."

Reuters: "Authorities in Libya thwarted plans for a huge demonstration against militia in the capital Tripoli on Friday, while in Benghazi, scene of mass anti-militia protests last week, supporters of an ousted Islamist group returned to the streets. Activists had hoped that a planned demonstration in the capital would be as successful as a giant anti-militia protest held in Benghazi last week, but only about 400 protesters turned up on Friday after the country's mufti and mosque preachers warned people not to attend."

Thursday
Sep272012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 28, 2012

Voter Fraud, Palm Beach County, Florida-Style. Philip Elliott of the AP: "Republicans on Thursday fired a vendor suspected of submitting 108 questionable new voter registrations in Florida's Palm Beach County, ground zero for disputed ballots in 2000's presidential race. The Republican Party of Florida used Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting to help register and turnout voters in Florida.... The Florida state party had paid the firm more than $1.3 million so far, and the Republican National Committee used the group for almost $3 million of work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.... Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher's staff noticed signatures that looked alike and incomplete forms submitted on Sept. 5 by Strategic Allied Consulting. Bucher met with prosecutors on Monday to request an investigation." ...

... Lee Fang of The Nation: "The contractor in Florida..., Strategic Allied Consulting, [is] a business entity created a few months ago and registered online by a former Arizona Republican Party director named Nathan Sproul. Sproul ... is infamous for accusations that his firms have committed fraud by tampering with Democratic voter registration forms and suppressing votes. Sproul was hired by the Romney campaign for a period of five months that began last November and ended in March. But now there's evidence that the payments continued, only to a different name.... Strategic Allied Consulting recently put up a proxy to hide the fact that its website was registered by Sproul.... The firm has been aggressively hiring in Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida." ...

... AND the North Carolina GOP also Wipes Egg off its Face. Mark Binker of WRAL (Raleigh, North Carolina): "Republicans have been running on a platform that includes requiring photo ID when voters go to the polls as a way to combat voter fraud. So there's an heavy dose of irony that the GOP has been paying a company that is itself linked to questionable voting practices. Asked several questions about this today, North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood e-mailed me the following: "The NCGOP takes any threat to the voting process very seriously. We have terminated our relationship with Strategic Allied Consultants." ...

... WAIT! WAIT! Major Omelet Scrub. -- ... Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "Election officials in six Florida counties are investigating what appears to be 'hundreds' of cases of suspected voter fraud by a GOP consulting firm that has been paid nearly $3 million by the Republican National Committee to register Republican voters in five key battleground states.... In addition to Palm Beach County, where election officials initially reported 106 instances of suspected fraudulent registration forms, officials in Okaloosa, Pasco, Santa Rosa, Lee and Clay counties have also reported instances of possible fraudulent forms submitted by the firm, officials said.... the Republican National Committee said it had severed its ties to the firm altogether." CW: this doesn't mean the Romney campaign, which had previously directly employed Sproul, has no ties to whatever Sproul is calling his voter-fraud ops now. ...

... Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "For more than a year, [Ari] Berman [of The Nation] has been waging a one-man war on the GOP's voter suppression efforts. In this Q and A with The National Memo, he explains how this coordinated effort to deny the vote to core members of Obama's winning coalition from 2008 could still swing the 2012 election, despite some recent victories in federal court."

James Dao of the New York Times: a "crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.... The agency has already completed more than one million claims for the third consecutive year. Yet it is still taking about eight months to process the average claim, two months longer than a decade ago. As of Monday, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending." ...

... Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced Barack Obama at a campaign stop in Virginia yesterday. Watch it. And Gen. Shinseki better get his act together over there at the VA:

... Charles Mahtesian of Politico: "... coming from Webb -- a voice for the white working class, a former Navy secretary and decorated Vietnam veteran whose son left college to enlist as an infantry private in the Marine Corps and fought in the Iraq War -- his words carry a punch that few other Democratic surrogates can muster."

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "As of Thursday..., United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, had received more than 100,000 applications [for deportation deferral]..., with more than 63,000 in the last stages of review. But so far the agency has confirmed only 29 approvals."

Paul Krugman: "If Germany really wants to save the euro, it should let the European Central Bank do what's necessary to rescue the debtor nations -- and it should do so without demanding more pointless pain."

CW: Yeah, I know we shouldn't joke about such a serious subject. I'll quit when Bibi's cartoonist quits.

... Joshua Keating of Foreign Policy presents "Great Moment in U.N. Prop Use." ...

... Jay Newton-Small of Time: Hmm, what do you do when you're a world leader & your multiple attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election fail? "Netanyahu's speech on Thursday didn't leave much for Romney to put in a press release. So, what changed in the past week that led Netanyahu to back off of Obama? Perhaps he got a look at recent polls showing Obama pulling ahead in key swing states and increasing his lead nationally. It's one thing to put a finger on the scale when a race is close and quite another to flat out provoke the man he's likely going to have to spend the next four years working with.

Presidential Race

Helene Cooper & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... with 39 days to go, President Obama and Mitt Romney dueled in [Virginia] on Thursday, both trying to lock up support from voters with ties to the military."

Nate Silver: "... there looks to be about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Romney will win, but also about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Obama will actually beat his 2008 margin in the popular vote. The smart money is on an outcome somewhere in the middle -- as it has been all year. But if you can conceive of a Romney comeback -- and you should account for that possibility -- you should also allow for the chance that things could get really out of hand, and that Mr. Obama could win in a borderline landslide. ...

... Yo, Mitt. Time to Hitch Your Wagon to Dubya's Star. Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News: "For all the talk about whether Mitt Romney should distance himself from George W. Bush -- and the policies of the last GOP White House -- a new survey shows that the former president actually has better favorability ratings than the Republican nominee. A Bloomberg News National Poll released Wednesday has Bush receiving a favorable rating from 46 percent of those surveyed and an unfavorable rating from 49 percent. That's compared to Romney's 43 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the 'super PAC' supporting President Obama..., a significant donation that could help spur more contributions in the closing weeks of the election campaign."

In this Web video, the Obama campaign rebuts Romney's claims that President Obama has misrepresented Romney's positions:

     ... AND Greg Sargent reports that

Elections Matter. Tim Egan: "The biggest threats [to our public lands] over the last 50 years have come from demands of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion -- a Western-sounding name for a property grab by well-connected special interests.... Romney has promised to let oil companies have their way -- no surprise, given that his chief energy adviser, Harold Hamm, is an oil billionaire with stakes in multiple energy sites throughout the West.... No major-party presidential nominee has ever taken a stance as radical as Romney'."

Elections Matter. We'll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now. -- Mitt Romney, on plans to torture prisoners. Charlie Savage of the New York Times has the whole story. AND Andy Rosenthal has more.

Jimmy Kimmel found the first take of Romney's "Too Many Americans" ad:

... Thanks to contributor James S. for the link. And as Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's Comments, it is surprising Romney would admit he thinks there are "too many Americans." I think we know who-all the Romney Plan would slate for "voluntary deportation." I'm sure I'm one....

Coincidentally, Jonathan Chait of New York magazine noticed something similar about this Obama ad, in which Romney provides the voiceover:

     ... Chait writes, "What's devastating about the ad, aside from the juxtaposition of Romney's words against photos of regular Americans, is ... the sound of silverware clinking on china in the background as Romney speaks. That detail contrasts the atmosphere Romney inhabits with the one in which most Americans live. You can tell, even though you're not seeing this, that the remarks are being made to people enjoying a formal dinner.... The Republican Party is going down because its candidate was seen advocating exactly the beliefs that make the party so dangerous and repellant."

CW: On September 22, when Romney dumped his 2011 tax return, I asked what the deal was with the Romneys' getting charitable deduction for a family trust. Well, finally somebody half-explains the "charitable gift" Romney gave to the kids:

... Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg News: Mitt Romney has "enhanced his family's wealth by moving assets worth $100 million into a trust while taking steps to avoid paying any gift taxes. The trust's value isn't counted in the $250 million that his campaign cites as Romney's net worth.... Use of these types of trusts has grown as the wealthy employ increasingly sophisticated techniques to avoid both estate and gift taxes on money they transfer to their families.... Romney has vowed as president to cut the gift tax rate and repeal the federal estate tax altogether -- calling it the 'Death Tax.' ... Public exposure of Romney's various tax avoidance tactics may spur legislation cracking down on them...." ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes, in plain English, how it works: "First, Romney undervalues the assets he puts into the trust so he owes little or no gift tax. Then, later, when the assets appreciate, he pays only the capital gains tax, which is considerably lower than the gift tax. And to make it even better, he pays the capital gains tax out of his own pocket, so the trust owes nothing. It's like making a second gift to his kids free and clear."

... David Corn: "Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then 'harvest them at a significant profit' within five to eight years.... In this clip, Romney mentioned that it would routinely take up to eight years to turn around a firm -- though he now slams the president for failing to revive the entire US economy in half that time." Includes video.

"Wake the Fuck Up!" Thanks to contributor Janice for the link:

Paul Ryan Joins the Poll Conspiracy Theorists. Katie Glueck of Politico: "Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday dismissed polling that shows him and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney trailing in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. 'I don't actually believe the validity of that particular poll,' Ryan told Fox News's Neil Cavuto, adding that he wouldn't get 'into all the methodologies of it.' It wasn't immediately clear to which poll Ryan was referring, but several surveys have found the Republican ticket sliding in the Badger State.... Ryan is the latest conservative to challenge the veracity of polls." ...

... CW: Maybe we should quit with all the theories -- including mine -- as to why Romney appears to be losing and settle on the real reason: the Eddie Haskell Factor. When those undecideds happen to catch a glimpse someplace on the teevee of Ryan's cloying hangdog phoniness, they go all June Cleaver.

AND Surprise, Surprise. Drudge and Co. Go Full Racist. Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic has the full story on the Drudge "Reports"'s feature "Obama Has My Vote -- He Gave Me a Free Phone."

Congressional Races

Claire, You Ignorant Slut. How to Recapture the Women's Ladies' Vote. Todd Akin assesses his debate last week with Sen. Claire McCaskill Turns out Claire used to be more "ladylike." Akin complained that McCaskill was "aggressive" in a senatorial debate they participated in last week. Apparently Akin believes that a lady senator should not talk back to a gentleman debater. Why, a real lady would never participate in something so tawdry as a political debate in the first place. ...

... Good Luck, Todd! Alexander Burns of Politico: "While the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement this week expressing support for Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's Senate campaign, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn" told the Lexington Courier-Journal that the National Republican Senatorial Committee "does not intend to put money into" the McCaskill-Akin race. "I just think that this is not a winnable race," he said.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper's founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86."

New York Times: "Spain's ailing banking industry could need as much as 59.3 billion euros, or $76.4 billion, in additional capital, according to an independent banking assessment published on Friday. The report paves the way for Madrid to request bank rescue loans that European finance ministers have agreed to extend."

Washington Post: "U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya involved a small number of militants with ties to al-Qaeda in North Africa but see no indication that the terrorist group directed the assault, U.S. officials said Thursday. The determination reflects an emerging consensus among analysts at the CIA and other agencies that has contributed to a shift among senior Obama administration officials toward describing the siege of U.S. facilities in Benghazi as a terrorist attack."

New York Times: "Chinese leaders announced on Friday that Bo Xilai, a disgraced Communist Party aristocrat, had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted on criminal charges, a move that effectively ends his remarkable political career."

Bloomberg News: "President Francois Hollande's first annual budget raised taxes on the rich and big companies and included a minimum of spending cuts to reduce the deficit."