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.
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."
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.)
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."