The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

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 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

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.

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:

"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. ...

... UPDATE. 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.

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Saturday
Aug252012

The Commentariat -- August 26, 2012

CW: I'll be spending Sunday -- as I did most of Saturday -- preparing for an unwelcome visit from Isaac. By Monday, I probably won't have power. The last two times a hurricane hit here, the power was out for 5 days. So I'll be back when I'm back. Update: Isaac is forecast to move in a more westerly direction, leaving SW Florida just out of the "forecast cone." Doesn't change my plans for today, but it might mean I mostly retain power.

The Times has a good feature on the 1969 moon landing, which begins here. Produced in 2009, the Times is reprising it because of the death of Neil Armstrong (see yesterday's Ledes).

Prof. Robert Self in the New York Times on conservatives & the "antisocial contract." "The social contract says that though our individual fates differ, we have a collective destiny, too. Many of us respond viscerally to comments from politicians like Mr. Akin because he leaves us wondering what place for women Republicans see in that collective future.... What liberal women saw [in the 1970s] as routes to equality, conservatives saw as invasions of the private sphere of morality, an invasion only a huge, interventionist government could accomplish."

The New York Times Editors are appalled at the failure of the Justice Department to prosecute the fraud & other unlawful acts that brought us the Great Recession. "As far back as 2009, when the Justice Department lost a financial fraud case against a pair of hedge fund managers at Bear Stearns, it seems to have made an institutional determination that it could not win against big banks and top bankers. That stance has dovetailed with the Obama administration's emphasis on protecting the banks from any perceived threat to their post-bailout recovery."

The Economist: "... the past seven years have seen a fivefold increase in people [in the U.S.] who call themselves atheists, to 5% of the population, according to WIN-Gallup International, a network of pollsters. Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans who say they are religious has fallen from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2011."

The Spy Who Was Sent out in the Cold. Jeff Stein of the Washington Post: the travails of Gwenyth Todd, an American expert on the Middle East.

Presidential Race

Scary Picture Horror Show. Art by Victor Kerlow for the New York Times.

Jeff Zeleny & Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney is heading into his nominating convention with his advisers convinced he needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters." CW: because so far he's been playing nice.

Seriously, Girls, We Love Ya. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News: "Mitt Romney and ... Rep. Paul Ryan made a direct appeal to female voters Saturday, telling supporters at an Ohio rally that, if elected, they would do more to help women in business."

Ben Feller of the AP: "President Barack Obama said Mitt Romney has locked himself into 'extreme positions' on economic and social issues and would surely impose them if elected, trying to discredit his Republican rival at the biggest political moment of his life. In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to 'own up' to the responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates":

     ... The full transcript of the interview is here.

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "Only four years after Democrats seemed on the verge of historic policy gains, Republicans could reverse many of those gains and then some. They could cut the top tax rate to its lowest level in 80 years (as Mr. Romney proposes) and make major changes to federal programs.... A Romney administration would ... take a more laissez-faire path than any wealthy country has previously tried." ...

... A hard-hitting Obama campaign ad -- "Mitt Romney -- An End to the Medicare Promise":

... ** Carol Giacomo of the New York Times on Romney's plan to force-feed the Pentagon. "Linking a budget to the G.D.P. is a bizarre way of addressing defense needs -- which rationally should be based on a disciplined analysis of threats and the nation's tolerance of risk. This certainly won't provide any incentive for reform in a Pentagon that spends with more waste and less economic bang for the buck than other federal departments." CW: Giacomo doesn't say so, but Romney's plans for outlandish defense spending are not about defense. They're about military contractors.

"Too Late to Shake that Etch-a-Sketch." Maureen Dowd: "Even if he wanted to, Mitt couldn't reveal himself. He has recast his positions so many times, he doesn't seem to know who he is.... Even teaming up with the most policy-specific Republican House member in a bid for reflected ideological clarity has not worked. Rather than Mitt's gaining focus, Paul Ryan is losing it.... Even though he once seemed to have sensible, moderate managerial instincts, he won't stop ingratiating himself with the neo-Neanderthals. That's the biggest reveal of all."

Congressional Races

Nick Carey of Reuters: "Missouri conservatives say they are rallying around U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin despite his controversial comments about rape because they are outraged that 'establishment' Republican Party leaders tried to railroad him out of the race." CW: altho it's certainly a longshot, pissed-off anti-abortion fanatics might just forget to pull the lever for Willard. Combined with moderates horrified by the Ryan-Akin no-exceptions stance, Obama might squeak out a win in Missouri. (Okay, when pigs fly. But remember, I'm facing a weather situation in which some wild boar -- of which we have a'plenty -- will fly.)

News Ledes

The Weather Channel's hurricane tracker for Tropical Storm Isaac is here.

AP: "The son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani network was been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, Afghanistan's intelligence agency said Sunday, providing the first public confirmation of rumors that have been swirling for days about the key member of a militant group the U.S. considers one of the most dangerous in the region. The Taliban rejected reports of Badruddin Haqqani's death, however, saying that he was alive and well in Afghanistan."

AP: "At least three employees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have made serious complaints alleging inappropriate sexual behavior by [Suzanne Barr,] a senior Obama administration political appointee and longtime aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.... Barr is accused of telling a male subordinate he was 'sexy' during an office party and asking a personal question about his anatomy. She is separately accused of offering to perform a sex act with a male subordinate while on business travel in Bogota, Colombia. She is also accused of calling a male subordinate from her hotel room and offering to perform a sex act."

New York Times: "Syrian troops have killed hundreds of people suspected of being rebels and sympathizers in the last two days in a town outside Damascus, dumping executed victims in basements and a mosque, activists said, raising the specter of a massacre by Syrian troops as bad as any atrocity committed since the Syrian uprising began nearly 18 months ago."

Washington Post: "China's arms exports have surged over the past decade, flooding sub-Saharan Africa with a new source of cheap assault rifles and ammunition and exposing Beijing to international scrutiny as its lethal wares wind up in conflict zones in violation of U.N. sanctions."

Friday
Aug242012

The Commentariat -- August 25, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' columns & "conversation" about Paul Ryan. The NYTX front page is here.

Gail Collins: "In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent. And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.... We are never going to have a sane national policy on guns until the gun advocates give up on the fantasy that the best protection against armed psychopaths bent on random violence is regular people with loaded pistols on their belts." Read the whole column.

The difference between an intelligent conservative and, say, Paul Ryan: (1) a conservative has some dumb theories: (2) the dumb theories are tried and they don't work; (3) he changes his mind. Ryan is right there on (1) and (2); he can't do (3). The smart conservative in this case is Judge Richard Posner. Eliot Spitzer has the overview. ...

... Speaking of dumb ideas & Paul Ryan. Even if you're not vaguely interested in the gold standard, watch the segment, because Ezra Klein -- and Jared Bernstein -- makes the topic understandable:

Presidential Race

Birther-in-Chief

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "At a campaign stop in his home state of Michigan Friday, Mitt Romney made a joke referencing the continued doubts about President Obama's birth certificate raised by Romney supporters like Donald Trump." ...

... Philip Rucker & Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Whether he meant to or not, Mitt Romney on Friday injected the toxic issue of birtherism into an already bitter presidential race at an unhelpful time for the presumptive Republican nominee." ...

... Greg Sargent: "... it looks to me like a major mistake. Coming just after days spent debating Todd Akin's 'legitimate rape' remark, this is again a reminder of the extreme voices in the GOP, which Romney has at times been slow to denounce. And it seems less than presidential, to put it mildly.... It will be easy for the Obama campaign to seize on this to raise questions about Romney's judgment, temperament, and character. Wow."

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Once again, Romney panders to the party's most loathsome elements. Looked at that way, it's kind of disgraceful. Imagine Obama joking, 'No one's ever asked to see my special underwear.' Right wingers would instantly seize on that as an example of offensive religious bigotry. Romney would demand an apology, and the story would float around for days." ...

... Digby: "I don't know what they're seeing in the polls, but saying this on top of the 'welfare' lie makes it clear they're going full blown white privilege solidarity now.... This isn't even dogwhistling. It's a primal scream." ...

... Imani Gandi of Angry Black Lady Chronicles: "The people in the media who are excusing his comments as being merely a joke response to Obama's Seamus shade are also assholes. (I'm looking at you, Jim Acosta.) The Birther conspiracy is a lie. Romney strapping Seamus to the roof of his car isn't. The people who were claiming that because Barack Obama is selling mugs with his birth certificate on it, Mitt Romney's 'joke' is no big deal are assholes. (I'm looking at you, Chris Moody.) That is nothing more than 'black people can say 'nigger' so why can't I?' argument." CW: and thank you for explaining to the unaware why Romney is projected to get zero percent of the black vote (see yesterday's Commentariat).

... ** Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "... He was engaging in ironic post-birtherism -- showing solidarity with birthers by making a humorous remark that can be plausibly denied as a joke later. This is a necessary device for a Republican politician who wants to rile up the base without seeming like a lunatic, because the belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States is still held by nearly half of self-identified Republicans even after the very public release of the president's birth certificate. Birtherism remains the most frank and widespread evidence of racial animus among some of the president's critics.... Birtherism is more than just a conspiracy theory about the president's birth. Its underlying principle is a rejection of American racial pluralism.... It comes across as gloating about the fact that, as a rich white man born into a wealthy and powerful family, Romney has rarely been subject to the kind of racist or sexist assumptions that clog the daily lives of millions of Americans. Romney might as well joke that he's never been mistaken for a waiter in a restaurant or a clerk in a retail store, or that he's never been selected for extra screening at an airport or randomly told to empty his pockets by the NYPD.... That should not be a point of pride for Romney; it should be a matter of anger and disappointment. " ...

... Mitt uses the opportunity as a vehicle to show what a great sense of humor he has:

... Annie-Rose Strasser, et al., of Think Progress: "... as Republicans head down to Tampa for their convention next week, they are preparing to see a veritable festival of politicians who have dabbled in -- or fully embraced -- birtherism." The reporters list "the members of the birther bunch who will be speaking in Tampa next week." CW: See, people, you're taking this all wrong. Mitt was just preparing to be a good host to his guests at next week's party party. ...

... The Obama campaign's 30-second response:

... Here's the Ta-Nehisi Coates piece whom a number of writers at the linked posts mention. ...

... Ezra Klein has the disturbing numbers ... and Coates:

... Desperately Seeking White People. Ashley Parker & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "In his introduction Thursday to the exurban, nearly all-white audience at an orchard farm here, Mr. Ryan, too, seemed to emphasize cultural differences with Mr. Obama. 'Remember about four years ago when he was talking to a bunch of donors in San Francisco and he said people in states like ours, we cling to our guns and our religion?' Mr. Ryan said, emphasizing the word 'our.' It was a reference to Mr. Romney's native Michigan and Mr. Ryan's Wisconsin, but also, it seemed, to differences based on religion and class. 'I just have one thing to say," Mr. Ryan added. "This Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged, and proud of it.'"

Steve Benen publishes Vol. 31 of "Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity." ...

... Benen didn't include this one, but let's add it. Kyle Cheney of Politico: "On Thursday, Mitt Romney ripped President Barack Obama's health law for establishing an 'unelected board' that can 'tell people what kind of health care they can have.' The clear implication was that Romney's plan doesn't have an equivalent to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel established in Obama's law that's charged with clamping down on Medicare spending. But Romney's law had a powerful, unelected board of a different kind, one that has vexed Republicans and business groups for years. That entity, called the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority -- which oversees the Massachusetts health insurance exchange -- has made many of the most critical decisions about the type of health care Massachusetts residents must obtain."

Karoli of Crooks & Liars shares this audio of Romney talking to people about appalling working conditions at a factory in China. Mitt appears to be mentioning the factory as an example of how much better off we are in the U.S. The problem with that? As far as Karoli can tell, Mitt it talking about a factory Bain Capital purchased as part of its outsourcing program -- that is, he was moving U.S. jobs to this horrible sweatshop. So Mitt is A-okay with "exploiting women and making them work for nothing so billionaires become mega-billionaires." Hey, it's just business, for Pete's sake. Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link. Here's the audio:

More from the Department of Dumb Ideas. New York Times Editors: "On Thursday, Mitt Romney unveiled the latest in a series of bad ideas for taking government duties out of Washington and hiding them in the back rooms of state capitols. Mostly, Mr. Romney wants to allow states to quietly smother social programs the federal government has run for decades. In the case of his new energy policy, he wants to give states power to bypass Washington's caution in burrowing for oil, gas and coal on federal lands.... Mr. Romney wants to put these programs on the backs of state governments he knows cannot handle the load, then reduce the resources they have now."

Anna Mulrine of the Christian Science Monitor: "The US military is pushing back against the campaign of a group of former Special Operations Forces officers who have spoken out against President Obama in what some have described as a latter-day 'Swift Boat' campaign.... Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to the film, warning that using the uniform for partisan politics erodes the trust that people have in their military."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has postponed an in-your-face visit to Tampa scheduled for Monday, his office said Friday night. Mr. Biden planned a campaign stop in the city even as Mitt Romney’s nominating convention got underway. But his office said the visit might drain law enforcement resources needed to deal with Tropical Storm Isaac."

Right Wing World

** Dana Milbank describes some of the proceedings & policies proposed & passed in the Republican party platform. It's a whole party full of crazy uncles aunts. ...

... In his column, Milbank writes that reporters know only snippets of what's in the platform as it won't be released till Monday. Actually, the geniuses at the RNC accidentally posted it briefly on their Website, & Politico captured it. You can read the whole putrid thing here (pdf).

News Ledes

New York Times: "Republicans on Saturday canceled the opening day of their national convention, saying their first concern was for the safety of delegates and guests in the face of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is strengthening and is headed toward Florida's west coast."

New York Times: "Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday."

New York Times: "All nine people wounded in the shooting outside the Empire State Building on Friday morning were hit by police gunfire, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Saturday."

New York Times: "The two men at the center of a fatal shooting outside the Empire State Building on Friday had brushed shoulders for years -- often literally, two large egos stuffed into a small office -- and yet could hardly have been less alike."

Thursday
Aug232012

The Commentariat -- August 24, 2012

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "Americans nearing retirement age have suffered disproportionately after the financial crisis: along with the declining value of their homes, which were intended to cushion their final years, their incomes have fallen sharply. The typical household income for people age 55 to 64 years old is almost 10 percent less in today's dollars than it was when the recovery officially began three years ago...."

Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "The middle class is shrinking, and so is its share of America's income and wage growth, according to a new study released Thursday. The study from the Pew Research Center found that the middle class -- defined as Americans with incomes between $39,000 and $118,000 -- fell backward in income for the first time since the end of World War II, and the number of Americans who fit into that category shrunk from 61 percent in 1971 to just 51 percent in 2011.... The 'lost decade' for the middle class corresponds to declining tax rates for the wealthy and a growth in corporate profits. In the last 12 years, incomes for the wealthiest 400 Americans quadrupled even as their tax rates were halved, and executive compensation has grown 127 times faster over the last three decades than worker pay, one study found."

Matt Miller in the Washington Post: the real Medicare villains? Inefficient healthcare providers.

CW: meant to link this yesterday; forgot. Linda Greenhouse on the status of free speech. "... maybe it's time to stop looking for free-speech consistency and to acknowledge that most justices are no different from most of us. We all love the First Amendment -- when it suits us."

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "... residents of Ilion, [New York,] a community whose history and economy are indelibly linked to one of America’s more celebrated gunmakers, are starting to worry about Remington's future. The recent mass shootings at a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Colorado and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin have galvanized advocates of tougher gun laws in Albany, and Remington has made it clear that such laws could prompt it to leave New York for a more sympathetic state." CW Memo to dimwitted Remington execs: if you know how to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, you know how to manufacture other things, too. Why not retool for peace?

Presidential Race

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "Plans are underway for Mr. Romney to be nominated on Monday -- not Wednesday as previously thought -- because of a potential threat from Tropical Storm Isaac and concerns about a possible disruption during the roll call vote from Ron Paul supporters at the Republican National Convention next week."

Secret Mitt, Ctd. Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "Denver TV reporter Shaun Boyd wanted to ask Mitt Romney about Todd Akin and the abortion controversy roiling the GOP Thursday. But the Romney campaign refused. In a broadcast on Thursday, Boyd revealed the Romney campaign's demand that she not ask about Akin.... Boyd told TPM that the Romney campaign offered her station an interview with Romney.... A campaign staffer whose name she didn't divulge told her what questions she wasn't allowed to ask.... Back in May, Romney snapped at Boyd when she asked about medical marijuana -- an issue before Colorado voters in November -- and gay marriage. She reported that dust-up with Team Romney on the air at the time, too." With video. ...

     ... CW: Okay, so Romney says attacks on his business career should be off the table, he almost never talks about his stint as governor, he has yet to release even one full set of tax returns & he & Lady Romney insist you people won't get access to more than two, he seldom talks about his religious beliefs or his work as a Mormon bishop, most important -- he won't reveal many of his policy proposals till after the election, and now reporters can't ask him about topical subjects. Mitt is not running for president; he's running for absolute dictator, and he is running as a dictator.

The Onion. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Mitt Romney said Thursday night that big businesses are 'doing fine,' using similar language that the presumptive nominee has hammered President Obama for using to describe the private sector earlier this year.... Romney then added that the reason that big businesses are 'doing fine in many places' is because they are able to invest their money in 'tax havens.'" CW: Since Romney likes firing people, the campaign should fire the special valet responsible for dislodging Willard's foot from his mouth. ...

... "The Bain Files. Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Caymen Schemes." John Cook of Gawker: "Gawker has obtained a massive cache of confidential financial documents that shed a great deal of light on those finances, and on the tax-dodging tricks available to the hyper-rich that he has used to keep his effective tax rate at roughly 13% over the last decade." Gawker has made the 950 pages of documents available online & is inviting analysis & commentary. ...

... ** Nicholas Confessore, et al., of the New York Times: "As part of his retirement agreement with Bain, Mr. Romney has remained a passive investor in the company's ventures and continues to receive a share of the firm's investment profits on some deals undertaken after his departure.... The documents also reveal that Bain held stakes in highly complex Wall Street financial instruments, including equity swaps, credit default swaps and collateralized loan obligations.... Bain private equity funds in which the Romney family's trusts are invested appear to have used an aggressive tax approach, which some tax lawyers believe is not legal, to save Bain partners more than $200 million in income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes."

... Matthew Mosk & Emily Friedman of ABC News: "The private equity firm founded by ... Mitt Romney made use of arcane techniques in several of its Cayman Islands-based funds to avoid U.S. taxes, according to a trove of Bain Capital's private audit and finance records made public on the website Gawker [Thursday]. The audited financial statements of one of the Cayman Islands funds make note of the use of 'blocker' entities, which are used to help retirement accounts and nonprofit entities avoid some taxes. Financial statements for another fund note that it 'intends to conduct its operations so it will … not be subject to United States federal income or withholding tax....'" ...

... Richard Adams of the Guardian: Mitt Romney's assets are so broad-based "it's almost as if Romney needs to make a financial disclaimer for every policy position he takes." CW: Of course, he won't. Ethics are just not his thing.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Willard tells how his years at Bain taught him how to be an excellent president. I'm sure some of you could help him revise it to make his pitch a tad more honest.

Fellow Robber Barons, I promise you a New Gilded Age. Eric Lipton & Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "By proposing to end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling and coal mining on government lands, Mitt Romney is making a bid for anti-Washington voters in key Western states while dangling the promise of a big reward to major campaign supporters from the energy industry."

Nicholas Riccardi of the AP: "... Mitt Romney said Thursday his plan to provide health insurance to everyone in Massachusetts was superior to the one it inspired, President Barack Obama's much-debated national law."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "A colorful team of advertising gurus -- including a onetime 'Wheel of Fortune' contestant, a guy nicknamed for a 'Super Mario' character and a burly Texan who came up with the 'Beef, it's what's for dinner' slogan -- have converged on the campaign's drab headquarters [in Boston] to dream up the ads they hope will propel Romney to the White House." CW: they call themselves "Mad Men." But anyone who would try to sell Mitt Romney can't even measure up to Don Draper's dubious moral standards.

Paul Krugman on Ayn Rand aficionado Paul Ryan: "In pushing for draconian cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other programs that aid the needy, Mr. Ryan isn't just looking for ways to save money. He's also, quite explicitly, trying to make life harder for the poor -- for their own good.... very much in line with Rand's worship of the successful and contempt for 'moochers.'" Ryan also bases his views on monetary policy on a speech by a character is Atlas Shrugged who "denounces the notion of paper money and demands a return to gold coins. For the record, the U.S. currency supply has consisted overwhelmingly of paper money, not gold and silver coins, since the early 1800s.... So ... Mr. Ryan ... wants to turn the clock back not one but two centuries.... Mr. Ryan is considered the modern G.O.P.’s big thinker. What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels?" ...

... Obviously, Krugman gets his inspiration from the comics. Thanks to contributor Platteville Walt for the link. Daily Kos publishes Tom Tomorrow's strips:

Melissa Boteach of the Center for American Progress lays out the ways Romney/Ryan would undermine the welfare-to-work program by drastically cutting programs on which the working poor rely. In the meantime, of course, they have employed the diversionary tactic of falsely accusing Obama of "gutting" the work requirement of the law. Here's a handy chart:

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "Republicans have adopted a party platform on immigration that would require employers nationwide to verify workers' legal status and deny federal financing to universities that allow illegal immigrant students to enroll at lower in-state tuition rates.... The party's platform stance comes as Mitt Romney has been moving to court Hispanic voters before the general election.... Recently, Mr. Romney has sought to soften his stance, saying he would consider a Dream Act for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.The party platform offers no support for that proposal."

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney unveiled an energy plan Thursday that he said would make North America energy independent by 2020.... His plan would allow states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders, as well as aggressively expand offshore oil and gas drilling -- including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas -- as part of a broader effort to reach energy independence.... Mr. Romney has raised considerable money from donors with ties to the oil industry."

Peter Orszag in the Washington Post exposes 5 myths about Paul Ryan's budget, beginning with "If you take out everything Ryan is assuming and look at his concrete proposals, his budget is not fiscally conservative. Without the magical reductions in Medicaid, other spending and tax breaks, his plan would expand the deficit in 2040, not reduce it." CW: something weird about the Post's publication of Orszag's opinion piece: in one iteration (here), it begins with these remarks:

I've worked closely with Rep. Paul Ryan. He's an honest and amiable guy. In part because of his winning personality, Ryan ... has convinced many in Washington that his budget blueprint is a serious proposal for solving our long-term fiscal problems. Unfortunately, it’s not....

      ... But in the for-print iteration, which I linked above, this preamble is missing.

Fraud Squad, the Portrait. Found this over in Right Wing World while checking out a site that uses some of my stuff. A screenshot of a video, the image struck me as a study in made-for-TV fakery: Mitt and his sidekick all dressed up in their "regular people" disguises complete with frozen-friendly grimaces, poised in front of a Murican flag for an extra dose of "authenticity." Maybe their real selves -- if they have real selves -- are behind that blue curtain.

Susan Saulny & Christine Haughney of the New York Times profile Janna Ryan, Paul Ryan's wife.

AND Contributor Marvin Schwalb passes along these hilarious "Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews." Cursor through & pass 'em on. ...

** PLUS this Harvard Law School Revue (I spelled that right) article -- complete with footnotes -- by one Baroque Yo Mama is the real deal. Read it.

Congressional Races

Rasmussen Reports: "Embattled Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has now jumped to a 10-point lead over her Republican challenger, Congressman Todd Akin, in Missouri's U.S. Senate race. Most Missouri Republicans want Akin to quit the race while most Missouri Democrats want him to stay." CW: Rasmussen, a Republican pollster, isn't particularly reliable. ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Given the very well-documented pro-GOP 'house effect' of Rasmussen polls, some will wonder if ol' Scott [Rasmussen] put a thumb on the scales for Claire." ...

... Nate Silver: "My view is that the Rasmussen Reports poll represents a more-realistic portrayal of the race as it stands now" than does the Public Policy poll, conducted 48 hours earlier, which showed Akin with a one-point lead over McCaskill. ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: "Todd Akin hasn't had many high-profile supporters with him in the trenches this week, but Mike Huckabee became an important and emphatic exception Thursday afternoon, sending a message to his own supporters that accuses Republican elites of trying to drum a good man out of a winnable Senate race." ...

... David Graham of The Atlantic: Huckabee's "jab at the RNC is especially pointed. That's because Huckabee is scheduled for a primetime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, with a 7 p.m. address on Monday in Tampa. And he's one of the most well-liked figures in the GOP, a friendly, affable guy with a wide reach (through radio and TV) and almost unparalleled cachet among Christian conservatives, meaning he's nearly untouchable.

E. J. Dionne provides a transcript of part of his interview with Elizabeth Warren. Topics: the Affordable Care Act & the application of her religious beliefs.

Right Wing World

"The Crackpot Caucus." Tim Egan: "On matters of basic science and peer-reviewed knowledge, from evolution to climate change to elementary fiscal math, many Republicans in power cling to a level of ignorance that would get their ears boxed even in a medieval classroom. Congress incubates and insulates these knuckle-draggers." Egan provides a brief rundown of some of the most prominent ignoramuses in Congress.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Daryl Hine, an admired poet who adhered to classical themes, complicated formal structures and intricate rhyming patterns to explore themes of philosophy, history and his own sexuality, died on Monday in Evanston, Ill. He was 76."

New York Times: "Apple won a decisive victory on Friday in a lawsuit against Samsung, a verdict that will give Apple ammunition in a far-flung patent war with its global competitors in the smartphone business.... That is not a big financial blow to Samsung, one of the world's largest electronics companies. But the decision could essentially force Samsung and other smartphone makers to redesign their products to be less Apple-like, or risk further legal defeats."

New York Times: "China is moving ahead with the development of a new and more capable generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles, increasing its existing ability to deliver nuclear warheads to the United States and to overwhelm missile defense systems, military analysts said this week."

New York Times: "Several people were shot, one of them fatally, by a gunman outside the Empire State Building shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday, according to the police and city officials. The gunman was killed by the police, officials said."

New York Times: "A volley of American drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt early Friday killed at least 18 people, security officials said, marking a sharp escalation of the controversial C.I.A.-led campaign that continues to roil relations with Pakistan."

New York Times: "A court on Friday sentenced Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who admitted killing 77 people, to at least 21 years in prison after ruling that he was sane when he carried out his country's worst peacetime atrocity. The sentence was the most severe permitted under Norwegian law, but it can be extended at a later date if he is still deemed to be a danger to society."

Washington Post: "Scores of mutilated, bloodied bodies have been found dumped on the streets and on waste ground on the outskirts of Damascus in recent days, apparently the victims of a surge of extrajudicial killings by Syrian security forces seeking to drive rebel fighters out of the capital and its suburbs."

New York Times: "International nuclear inspectors will soon report that Iran has installed hundreds of new centrifuges in recent months and may also be speeding up production of nuclear fuel while negotiations with the United States and its allies have ground to a near halt, according to diplomats and experts briefed on the findings."

iCrooks. AP: "South Korea's Samsung won a home court ruling in its global smartphone battle against Apple on Friday when judges in Seoul said the company didn't copy the look and feel of the U.S. company's iPhone, and that Apple infringed on Samsung's wireless technology. However, in a split decision on patents, the panel also said Samsung violated Apple technology behind the bounce-back feature when scrolling on touch screens, and ordered both sides to pay limited damages."

Wednesday
Aug222012

The Commentariat -- August 23, 2012

Amina Kahn of the Los Angeles Times: "After two weeks of taking stock of its surroundings, the Mars Curiosity rover has taken its first 'baby steps' and sent back images of its first tracks, NASA officials said Wednesday.... NASA officials also announced that the touchdown spot has been officially named "Bradbury Landing," in honor of the renowned science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who died earlier this year."

Gina Kolata of the New York Times tells the story of how genome scientists solved the mystery of an outbreak of a deadly bacterium infection in a hospital.

Forget all that if Republicans gain control of the federal government:

 ... CW: Actually, Matthews & I are being totally unfair. Some Republicans care about science. Here's Kevin Williamson of the ultra-conservative National Review explaining evolutionary biology, of all things:

What do women want? The conventional biological wisdom is that men select mates for fertility, while women select for status -- thus the commonness of younger women's pairing with well-established older men but the rarity of the converse.... You want off-the-charts status? Check out the curriculum vitae of one Willard M. Romney: $200 million in the bank (and a hell of a lot more if he didn't give so much away), apex alpha executive, CEO, chairman of the board, governor, bishop, boss of everything he's ever touched. Son of the same, father of more. It is a curious scientific fact (explained in evolutionary biology by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis — Willard, notice) that high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons.... Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5)....

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.... From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama's vote....

      ... Those of you who claim conservatives are anti-woman are so wrong. It's just that fathering girls proves a man is a sissy -- like one of those lower beings who possess "fallopian tubes." David Atkins of Hullabaloo has the nerve to call Williamson's scientific hypothesis "sneering social darwinism." I don't know David Atkins, but if he has children, I'll bet their no-account girls. ...

... Aw, even Gail Collins is proving me wrong. Republicans aren't anti-science. They're originalists. Collins points out that Akin's "legitimate rape" remark "goes back to our forefathers, who believed that in order for our foremothers to conceive, 'the womb must be in a state of delight.' ... The idea never entirely faded away, possibly because it reflects so well on male lovemaking prowess. (Failure to conceive, by the same rule, was all because of female frigidity.)"

Michael Grunwald of Time on the Party of No's 2008-09 plan to vote against every Obama proposal. The magazine has an excerpt from Grunwald's book on the subject, but it is subscriber-firewalled. Grunwald's post, however, has the gist of the story. This makes me wonder why the administration bothered at all to consult with Republicans. And why the hell did Sen. Max Baucus spend months courting Chuck Grassley & other Republican senators on the healthcare law?

Shaila Dewan & Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "The number of existing homes sold rose 2.3 percent in July from the previous month, according to figures released Wednesday. Volume was up more than 10 percent from a year ago. For several months, economic data and accounts from real estate agents across the country have calmed fears that the overall market could take another big step down.... Yet the nascent recovery is still a convalescent one, with the pace of activity uneven and far below the levels reached before the bubble burst."

Presidential Race

Quote of the Day -- From the "With Friends like These..." File: If the campaign is about issues, we win. If it's about Mitt Romney's record as a businessman, then we don't win. If it's about Mitt Romney's tax returns, then we don't win. If it's about whether people like Mitt Romney more than Barack Obama, then we don't win. -- Rick Santorum

Michael Cooper & Dalia Sussman of the New York Times: "The Romney-Ryan proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage is deeply unpopular in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to new polls that found that more likely voters in each state trust President Obama to handle Medicare."

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: Exelon, an Illinois-based energy producer, has profited from a close relationship with President Obama & his associates. "Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon's competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies. In addition, Exelon ... was chosen as one of only six electric utilities nationwide for the maximum $200 million stimulus grant from the Energy Department." ...

... Stephen Braun of the AP: Herbert M. Allison, Jr., "a veteran Wall Street executive who performed an independent review that exonerated the Obama administration's program of loans to energy companies, contributed $52,500 to re-elect President Barack Obama in the months since completing his work, according to an Associated Press review of campaign records. The executive defended the integrity of his conclusions and said he decided to donate to Obama after his work was finished."

Erika Ritchie of the Orange County (California) Register: "Rick Warren, Saddleback Church's pastor, announced Wednesday that a civil forum planned with President Barack Obama and ... Mitt Romney at the church has been canceled because of what Warren saw as uncivil discourse between the two campaigns." CW: I am terribly disappointed to be deprived of the opportunity to hear these guys talk about god and stuff.

A good ad featuring That Guy:

Demo-graphics: Romney's support among black voters? Zero percent. CW: So here's my racist comment for the day, based on statistics, for Pete's sake: black people are way, way smarter than white people.

Clifford Krauss & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney plans to unveil an energy plan Thursday morning in Hobbs, N.M., that would allow states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders, as well as aggressively expand offshore oil and gas drilling -- including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas -- as part of a broader effort to reach energy independence." CW: See? There is more than one kind of rape.

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "The supreme irony of the Romney/Ryan assault on Obama is that it's the accusers who are guilty of proposing to 'gut' work-based welfare reform, which is not and never was just a matter of imposing work requirements and time-limits and expecting all those lazy women-with-kids to get off their duffs and accept those plentiful, well-paying jobs.... a robust [Earned Income Tax Credit and minimum wage; food assistance; medical assistance; child care; Head Start; job training; and yes, education assistance. The Ryan Budget proposes scaling back the EITC and radically reducing both food assistance and the availability of health insurance for the working poor, not to mention the drastic non-defense discretionary budget cuts it demands that are almost certain to devastate every other 'work support' offered by federal or state governments.... While no one expects the GOP campaign to admit they'd unravel nearly every policy that made the 1996 law work as well as it did, they should at least have the decency to stop accusing Obama of 'gutting' an initiative whose spirit and letter they reject root and branch." ...

... Wolf Blitzer, not usually the sharpest tack in the box, very effectively tears John Sununu apart on the Romney/Ryan welfare claims:

All the Fact-Checkers Are Biased against Mitt. Justin Sink of The Hill: "Mitt Romney said Wednesday that the fact-checkers who have criticized his recent attacks on President Obama's welfare changes were examining the issue 'in the way they think is most consistent with their own views.' ... Fact-checking website Politifact -- which the Romney campaign has cited repeatedly themselves -- awarded Romney's claims a "Pants on Fire" rating, deeming the attack a 'drastic distortion' of the changes to the welfare program."

Liberal Harvard economist David Cutler in The New Republic: "Supporters for the Romney-Ryan approach to Medicare have a new talking point. They say a new study by 'three liberal Harvard economists' proves that the plan's competition will reduce health care costs without harming beneficiaries. But the study doesn't say that. And I should know. I'm one of the economists who wrote it...."

No. 2 Man on the Fraud Squad. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: Paul Ryan "was for cutting defense spending before he was against it.... Even though Ryan voted for the Budget Control Act, and thus for the sequester, he's slamming President Obama for the cuts. The cuts he voted for. And in doing so, he's embracing something he says he doesn't believe in -- jobs created by federal spending. 'It's either lose defense-related jobs in Pennsylvania or put small businesses further at a competitive disadvantage,' Ryan said on Tuesday...."

Timothy Homan & Steve Walsh of Bloomberg News: "Ryan’s level of support [for anti-choice measures] outdoes that of his House colleague Todd Akin...."

... Jon Walker of Firedoglake: "... because of Akin's controversy, Paul Ryan has started to be asked very pointed questions about the similarity to his own views. Recently he was asked about it by KDKA in Pittsburgh:

      "... Ryan apparently accepts the scientific fact that rape can result in pregnancy, but he still thinks a women who is raped should be forced to carry their rapist's child to term." ...

... Steve Benen: "Under the legislation Ryan pushed, if a 13-year-old girl who was impregnated by a 24-year-old man would not be able to use Medicaid funds to terminate the pregnancy, unless she could prove she'd been 'forcibly' raped. If 'there's no splitting hairs over rape,' why did Paul Ryan help champion legislation that would have split hairs over rape?" ...

... Digby: "... the birth control answer is such a straight up lie that I can hardly believe he didn't start smirking like Beavis and Butthead when he said it. Both he and Romney have promised to shut down Planned Parenthood, they both agree that no insurance plans should be forced to offer it, they are both in favor of allowing 'conscience exceptions' to anyone who can't bring themselves to participate in contraceptive evil. Basically, he's saying 'sure you sluts can have your birth control --- if you can find it.'" ...

... Dana Milbank: "Does [Ryan] now regret his sponsorship of legislation that made a distinction between 'forcible rape' and other kinds -- a position eerily similar to Akin's 'legitimate rape'? 'That bill passed, I think, by 251 votes,' Ryan replied. 'It was bipartisan.' He neglected to mention that it passed after removal of the 'forcible' language.... Ryan recently hail[ed Akin] as 'a great asset' on Ryan's budget committee and an example of 'exactly the kind of leadership America needs.'"

Pema Levy of TPM: "Ryan insisted that the harsh spotlight currently falling on the party over women’s issues won't ultimately impact on how women vote in November. 'And I don't think they're going to take the bait of all these distractions that the president is trying to throw at them," [he said in the KDKA interview]. Really, ladies, your cute little so-called rights are a distraction from the real issue of ensuring that Willard & I get bigger tax cuts.

Congressional Races

The interesting thing here is that this is an individual who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology but somehow missed science class. -- President Obama, on Todd Akin, speaking at a fundraiser last night. Obama also called Akin "senator," an unfortunate slip ...

... John Eligon & Monica Davey of the New York Times: Todd Akin could still win his Senate race. "A pile of factors ... could make the situation survivable: local backlash against all the national party meddling, an intensely grass-roots fund-raising effort (Mr. Akin, a six-term congressman, has sent e-mails seeking $3 contributions from supporters in recent days), an influx of aid from some Christian groups, and a state that has in recent years grown more conservative than the national bellwether it was once seen as."

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on how the Akin uproar is playing out in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race. ...

... E. J. Dionne: Sen. Scott "Brown is a truly gifted retail politician, and [Elizabeth] Warren will never out-personality Mr. Personality. To win, she'll have to link thoughts and ideas to feelings, a skill rarely demanded of law professors." ...

... Public Policy Polling: "Scott Brown has returned to the lead in the crucial Massachusetts Senate race. The two were tied at 46% in PPP's late June poll, but in the firm's first test of likely voters in this fall's election, Brown tops Elizabeth Warren, 49-44." ...

... Adam Sorensen of Time: "PPP found that 24% of voters who'd like to see Democrats hold the Senate in November aren't backing Warren. In other words, voters loyal to the national Democratic Party do not necessarily feel that same loyalty toward Warren, nor do they strongly associate Brown with national Republicans."

Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: since Todd Akin's voting record is consistent with that of many other Republicans, "Voters should know for sure -- what, exactly, do Mr. Akin's fellow Republicans find so offensive and indefensible about the candidate's comments? Reporters should put that question to every Republican running for national office."

Right Wing World

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Judge Tom Head, a county judge in Lubbock, Texas, announced on a local television station that he would personally join the resistance against a United Nations' takeover of American sovereignty, which he says will occur if Obama is reelected." CW: Oh yeah? He should personally be tried for treason. It's a hangin' offense, Judge. Also, I am curious to know what Obama has so far failed to turn over the keys of the country to the U.N. ...

... CW: So, in reading the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, I find that all this U.N. takeover talk is a ploy to raise county taxes. More money needed for public safety -- i.e., arming & training the good people of Lubbock for the day the U.N. troops arrive. 

And the sheriff, I've already asked him, I said 'you gonna back me' he said, 'yeah, I'll back you&rs'. Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me. -- Judge Bone Head

       ... Certainly is an original way to undermine the Grover Norquist pledge. ...

... Meanwhile, back in bucolic New Hampshire.... WMUR: Frank Szabo, "a Republican candidate for Hillsborough, [New Hampshire,] County Sheriff, said Wednesday that he believes elective abortions are unlawful and he wouldn't reject the use of deadly force to stop them. ... Szabo explained the difference by referring to the issue of slavery, which he said used to be legal but was never lawful under the Constitution. He said that even though elective abortions are legal in New Hampshire, with some restrictions, he doesn't consider them lawful.... Szabo maintains that the county sheriff is a position that doesn't answer to any other public official." CW: A sheriff is like a god, I guess.

AND Charles Blow has found a guy -- some preacher named Jesse Lee Peterson who "has made a number of appearances on Fox News" and is associated with Sean Hannity through a Tea Party group -- who has this to say:

I think that one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should've never turned it over to women.... They're voting in people who are evil.

      ... CW: not a gaffe -- just another knuckledragger (to borrow John Boehner's description of some of his Congressional conservative brethren) like Todd Akin saying what he really believes. At the top of his column, Blow asks, "Why do any women vote Republican?" I would refer him to Kevin Williamson, linked above: because, like Mitt Romney, so many Republican politicians are hot rich men with lots of Y chromosomes.

News Ledes

New York Times: "After more than a decade of outrunning accusations that he had doped during his celebrated cycling career, Lance Armstrong, one of the best-known and accomplished athletes in recent history, surrendered on Thursday, etching a dark mark on his legacy by ending his fight against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs.... He will almost certainly be stripped of his seven Tour titles, the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics and all other titles, awards and money he won from August 1998 on."

USA Today: "A group of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents filed a lawsuit against their own agency Thursday, arguing that the Obama administration is not letting them fully identify and deport illegal immigrants."

New York Times: Gen. John Allen of the U.S. Marines, "the senior commander in Afghanistan, made new allowances on Thursday that Taliban influence could play a large role in attacks by Afghan security forces on Americans, saying that up to one-quarter of the killings could be caused by Taliban infiltration or coercion. But he reiterated that most of such insider attacks have still been attributed to personal grievances and animosities."

Los Angeles Times: "Assistant Dist. Atty. Karen Pearson revealed that ... [James] Holmes, [accused of killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater and] once a doctoral student in an elite neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Denver, had failed oral exams on June 7, made unspecified threats serious enough for campus police to be notified, and had his access to university buildings on the Anschutz Medical Campus revoked. He withdrew from the university June 10."

KTLY Spokane, Washington: "Ambassador Ryan Crocker, one of the most decorated State Department diplomats in the last half century, was arrested on August 14 by the Washington State Patrol for hit-and-run and DUI in Spokane Valley."

New York Times: "The anonymous Navy SEAL member who has written a book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden remained anonymous for less than 24 hours. At midday Thursday, Fox News identified him as Matt Bissonnette, a 36-year-old originally from Alaska, and hours later Defense Department and military officials confirmed his identity."

Washington Post: "A judge in Lamar County, Texas, ruled Wednesday night that TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline has the right of eminent domain, rejecting a plea by farm manager Julia Trigg Crawford and dealing a blow to landowners and environmentalists.... The ruling by Judge Bill Harris removes yet another potential obstacle for TransCanada, which already has permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for the southern leg of the pipeline, which starts in Cushing, Okla., and runs to Port Arthur, Texas."

New York Times: "Efforts led by the United States and Israel to isolate Iran suffered a setback on Wednesday when the United Nations announced that Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, would join officials from 120 countries in Tehran next week for a summit meeting that Iran has trumpeted as a vindication of its defiance and enduring importance in world affairs."

Washington Post: "Penn State's disgraced former president is trying to convince the public he had no idea that Jerry Sandusky was a child molester -- and that he most certainly did not protect one. With a network TV appearance, a magazine interview and a news conference held by his lawyers, Graham Spanier portrayed himself Wednesday as the innocent victim of a witch hunt and a rush to judgment by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, whose university-commissioned report on the sex-abuse scandal prompted the NCAA to hit Penn State with a $60 million fine and other sanctions."

Washington Post: "A U.S. commando involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year has written an inside account of the still-classified mission that is scheduled to be released next month, according to the book's publisher.... If the description is true, the book would shatter the secrecy maintained by members of the team of Navy SEALs involved in the raid.... It could also raise legal and political issues for the Obama administration, which has carried out an aggressive crackdown on leaks even while it has also been accused of offering access to journalists and moviemakers to exploit the success of the bin Laden operation." Reuters story here.