The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, November 20, 2014.

New York Times: "Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday. He was 83." CW Note: as of 7:40 am ET, the Times had not yet published Nichols' obituary but will do so at this link....

 

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
November 21

7:30 am ET: Vice President Biden and President Poroshenko of Ukraine deliver joint statements in Kyiv, Ukraine (audio only)

8:30 am ET: Vice President Biden attends a roundtable discussion on anti-corruption & reform efforts in Kyiv (audio only)
3:55 pm ET:President Obama speaks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

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

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

Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

Washington Post: "They have spawned parodies from 'Ellen' to 'South Park' to 'Saturday Night Live,' but Lincoln is laughing all the way to the bank thanks to its commercials starring Matthew McConaughey. There was more from the Hollywood Reporter: 'Lincoln announced that its overall sales were up 25 percent last month, the strongest October for the beleaguered marque since 2007.'" ...

... Here's one of the McConaughey ads:

Jim Carrey nails it in an SNL skit:

... AND Ellen Degeneres takes the bull by the horns in another:

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Monday
Sep172012

Caught on Tape

During the next 48 hours & beyond you will likely hear or read quite a few boneheaded pundits saying that the Romney Tapes are just like Barack Obama's "guns & religion" remark. Libertarian Conor Friedersdorf (here) & David Graham (here), both of the Atlantic, have already rolling out that meme. They are wrong. The comparison is facile and, well, stupid.

The similarities are obvious. Both men were running for president. Both were speaking at what they thought was a private meeting. Both were speaking to wealthy donors. Both were talking about how to persuade voters. Both said things they would have "rephrased" for general public consumption. And both were caught on tape.

But that's where the similarities end. The thrust of their remarks could not be more different.

Read what Obama said.

... the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre...I think they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy.' That's...there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing....

So the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What's the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American.... Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives....

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

There is a fundamental difference here. Obama is explaining, albeit in a ham-handed way, why people in these forgotten town have given up. But he does not write off the people. He is sympathetic to their plight. He gets -- or thinks he gets -- why they are cynical. Given all that, he still wants to convince them that government can help them. He wants them to feel that once again they have a stake in the American system.

Obama's view of people who are down on their luck is the exactly the opposite of Romney's attitude.

Obama wants to give these people hope. Romney writes off the very same people -- these losers who don't earn enough to pay taxes.

Obama says circumstances have beat these people down. It is exterior factors (hmm, like Bain Capital outsourcing offshoring their jobs) -- factors largely beyong these individuals' control -- that have caused small-town people to become "cynical" & to look for scapegoats & crutches. Romney, the offshoring pioneer, says these people are moochers who have failed to take "personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Obama says he wants to give these people another shot at the American dream. Romney says it's "not his job to worry about those people."

Obama wants to include these people, even knowing they may reject him. Romney has already excluded them. In their unguarded moments, Obama illuminates the Democrats' big tent, Romney illustrates Republicans disdain for ordinary Americans.

Carl Sandburg once said the ugliest word in the English language was "exclusive." Mitt Romney illustrates why.  


If you wish to comment on this post, you can do so in the Comments section of the September 18 Commentariat, posted below.

Monday
Sep172012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 18, 2012

Art by Eric Leppanen.

Allison Linn of NBC News: out-of-work Mainer Eric Leppanen, once a heavy credit-card user, "recently found [a] box of 169 credit cards [he had discarded]. He used the cards, plus 50 state quarters, to create his own artistic tribute to the boom years of the early 2000s. He calls the piece 'Indebted States of America.'"

"America's Bloodiest Day." CW: I missed this piece by Rick Beard in yesterday's New York Times: "By 5 p.m., the Battle of Antietam was over. Over 22,000 Americans lay dead or wounded or were among the missing: the highest single-day casualty total of the Civil War.... (Sept. 17 also proved to be the war's deadliest day for civilians, when 78 workers in the Allegheny Arsenal were killed in an explosion.) An official with the Sanitary Commission wrote: 'No words can convey the utter destruction and ruin. For four miles in length, and nearly a half mile in width, the ground is strewn with hats, caps, clothing, canteens, knapsacks, shells, and shot. Visit a battlefield and see what a victory costs.'"

Stanley Fish: "We have decided that the potential unhappy consequences of a strong free speech regime must be tolerated because the principle is more important than preventing any harm it might permit. We should not be surprised, however, if others in the world -- most others, in fact -- disagree, not because they are blind and ignorant but because they worship God and truth rather than the First Amendment, which not only keeps God and truth at arm's length but regards them with a deep suspicion."

Presidential Race -- Romney Tapes, Part 2

David Corn of Mother Jones: "Romney spoke of 'the Palestinians' as a united bloc of one mindset, and he said: 'I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way.' ... In public, Romney has not declared the peace process pointless or dismissed the two-state solution." Take a look at Corn's whole post. There is more.

AP: "GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told donors in a newly released video clip that Palestinians 'have no interest' in peace with Israel and suggested that efforts at Mideast peace under his administration would languish."

Presidential Race -- Romney Tapes, Part 1

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "All the Sad Young Men," 1936

** Jonathan Martin of Politico on why Obama is winning. This is a good, comprehensive, impartial analysis. ...

... NEW. Ramesh Ponnuru, an editor & contributor to the right-wing National Review, writes a Bloomberg News opinion piece that knocks the wind out of some conservative memes about voter preferences & GOP policy. ...

... NEW. Jon Chait of New York has a very good post on the significance of Romney's remarks: "Instead the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party. He believes that market incomes in the United States are a perfect reflection of merit. Far from seeing his own privileged upbringing as the private-school educated son of an auto executive-turned-governor as an obvious refutation of that belief, Romney cites his own life, preposterously, as a confirmation of it. ('I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.')"

Nicely timed:

The End of the Line for Willard. David Corn of Mother Jones: "During a private fundraiser earlier this year..., Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don't assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.... To protect the confidential source who provided the video, we have blurred some of the image, and we will not identify the date or location of the event, which occurred after Romney had clinched the Republican presidential nomination":

     ... Corn has three more short videos embedded in the linked post, and writes he will be publishing more. ...

... Here's Corn on Rachel Maddow's show. He has an interesting tale about the venue where the Romney Tapes were recorded:

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The blunt political and cultural assessment by the Republican presidential candidate offers a rare glimpse into Mr. Romney's personal views as the campaign enters its final 50 days. Liberals quickly condemned the remarks as insensitive and Mr. Obama's campaign accused him of having 'disdainfully written off half the nation.'" ...

      ... Update: Romney responds to release of the video. ...

      ... Michael Barbaro of the New York Times on how Romney's mini-presser came about. Read to the end.

Had [my father] been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this. -- Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser, pointing out, I guess, that "those people" get all the breaks

 

... Digby: "He's literally saying that nearly half the country is a bunch of parasites.... I don't know that I've ever seen a presidential candidate with more contempt for the American people than Mitt Romney. It's one thing for a candidate to attack his opponent, but to attack half he country as a bunch of losers you don't have to care about is just unprecedented. He's obviously as much a believer in twisted Randroid tropes as his chosen VP." ...

... Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic: "What is most jarring about Romney's comments here is ... that sense that Romney's grasp of America is so thin, that he believes that half of it is dismissible strictly on the grounds of laziness." ...

... ** "Thurston Howell Romney." David Brooks: "... as a description of America today, Romney's comment is a country-club fantasy. It's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney." ... CW: a la Lyndon Johnson's response to Walter Cronkite's criticism of the Vietnam War, Romney -- if he knew any history, which he probably doesn't -- would be saying right now, "If I've lost Brooks, I've lost the election."

... Paul Krugman: "... if you look at the facts, you learn that the great bulk of those who pay no income tax pay other taxes; also, many of the people in the no-income-tax category are (a) elderly (b) students or (c) having a bad year, having lost a job -- that is, they're people who have paid income taxes in the past and/or will pay income taxes in the future. The idea that half of Americans are just grifters is grotesque. If this is real, it's very, very ugly." CW: it's real. Michael Shear's post quotes a Romney spokesperson, who doesn't even try to deny it; she just says Romney is "concerned" about the grifters. ...

... AND where are all those freeloaders? Oh, my goodness gracious me! A whole passel of them just might be Republicans!

     ... Map via David Graham of The Atlantic.

... AND, as Kevin Roose of New York magazine points out, some of those freeloaders are Mitt's BFFs: "There are two primary ways to pay no (or negative) federal income taxes. The first is to be poor, and the second is to be elderly.... There, are, of course, some exceptions to the old-or-poor rule. As Bruce Bartlett noted last year, roughly 12 million households making over $33,542 in 2011 paid no federal income tax. And there are an untold number of illegal tax evaders who haven't paid a dime either. (Like Wesley Snipes!) But the most egregious members of the 47 percent are the 3,000 people who made more than $2,178,866 in 2011 (putting them in the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers), and yet paid no federal income taxes." ...

... AND, since Lord & Lady Willard Romney won't release their own tax returns -- for all we know, they are among the non-taxpaying freeloaders. Of course we already know they're major moochers, since they have knocked themselves out not to pay their fair share of income tax. Their own record of serial tax avoidance makes Mitt's little "socioeconomic theory" one giant, oozing corpuscle of hypocrisy. ...

... ** Ezra Klein: "Part of the reason so many Americans don't pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans.... When you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan's 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.... Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich.... Romney's theory here is ... actually core to his economic agenda." ...

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "Romney appears to conflate a few things — Obama's approval rating, the percentage of people who do not pay income taxes and people who rely on government assistance. There may be some overlap between these groups but they really are not the same thing.... Perhaps it is too much to expect a politician to be entirely accurate in a closed door speech, but one would think he would have even less need to stretch the truth if he thinks the cameras are not rolling."

... Josh Barro of Bloomberg News: "You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president." ...

     ... John Sides of the Monkey Cage runs the numbers & agrees with those of you who have argued that gaffes are not game-changers: "Many a news cycle was built on a 'gaffe' with a remarkably short shelf life."

... Joe Coscarelli of New York on how President Jimmy Carter's grandson helped leak the secret Romney video. CW: nice payback for Romney's nasty remarks about President Grandpa!

Even tho, like Barro, I think the presidential race is over, let's keep at it. Here's an Obama campaign ad hitting Romney on his promise to get tough on China:

... AND what's left of the campaign will be dirty. Charles Pierce: "There's really only one campaign left to [Romney] now.... It's going to get extraordinarily dirty extraordinarily fast. There is going to be pale birtherism and barely covert racism.... There is going to be poor-baiting, and gay-baiting, and ladyparts-baiting, and probably baiting of things I haven't thought of yet. The polite part of the campaign is going to be Romney's effort to convince You that he was really talking about Them when he was calling people moochers and sneak thieves."

AP: "Republicans ... produced an 'Apprentice'-style Donald Trump video that they never showed to delegates." CW: aw, shucks. The "you're fired" part would have been so clever.

"Patriot Games," by the Gregory Brothers for the New York Times:

News Ledes

Chicago Tribune: "The Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates decided this afternoon to end the city's first teacher strike in 25 years and return more than 350,000 students to the classroom Wednesday."

Washington Post: "The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday called for more hearings on whether a new Republican-backed voter ID law can be implemented this fall without disenfranchising voters who currently lack the needed photo identification. The decision drew sharp rebukes from two of the six justices. They said it was already clear that some legitimate voters could not secure the needed ID in time for the election."

AP: "The United States said Tuesday it is ending the U.S. Agency for International Development's operations in Russia after a Kremlin demand that the aid organization leave the country, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama;s policy of 'resetting' relations between Washington and Moscow."

Washington Post: "The USS Long Beach, the first nuclear-powered surface warship in history, went around the world in a 1964 tour designed to showcase the possibilities of nuclear power.... The ship, which is docked in Bremerton, Wash., is saying its final goodbyes. But there won't be a ceremonial sinking; instead, the Navy is sending the ship off for scrap."

Guardian: "The Nato-led military strategy in Afghanistan has been thrown into disarray after joint on-the-ground operations were suspended because of a collapse in trust over the killings of Americans and other Nato soldiers by Afghan government forces."

Washington Post: "Anti-American protests that started in Cairo and spread across the Muslim world have stalled negotiations to provide crucial U.S. economic assistance to Egypt, U.S. officials said Monday."

Washington Post: "Ten people were killed near Kabul’s airport Tuesday when a suicide car bomber rammed into a minivan carrying foreign aviation workers, police said. A Pakistan-based militant group said it carried out the attack to avenge an Internet video that defames the prophet Muhammad."

Sunday
Sep162012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 17, 2012

Colin Moynihan of the New York Times: "As the Occupy Wall Street protests reach their first anniversary on Monday, numerous activities have been planned to highlight issues like the presence of corporate money in politics, the foreclosure of homes and the type of risky speculation that caused JPMorgan Chase to lose as much as $9 billion this year betting on credit derivatives." ...

... The One Percent Court:

"The Lie Factory." Jill Lepore of the New Yorker on the history of campaign consulting. "No single development has altered the workings of American democracy in the last century so much as political consulting, an industry unknown before Campaigns, Inc. [was founded in 1933.] In the middle decades of the twentieth century, political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money. [Clem] Whitaker and [Leone] Baxter, [who founded Campaigns, Inc.,] were the first people to make politics a business."

New York Times Editors: A "bill, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, would hire veterans as firefighters and police officers and for conservation jobs in national parks and on other public lands, through grants to federal departments and agencies and contracts with state and local governments and private organizations. It would give a lift to veteran entrepreneurs and contractors.... Ms. Murray has tried to make her bill as bipartisan as possible." Nevertheless, Republicans are trying to defeat it. "'Where is our honor? Where is our valor? Where is our sacrifice?' thundered [Sen. Tom] Coburn [R-Okla.], suggesting that giving jobs to veterans was an affront to American values." The bill is scheduled for a vote Wednesday.

The Actuary. In a New York Times op-ed, Steve Rattner, the financier & Obama car czar advocates for death panels. CW: I hope his parents are in a safe house where he can't find them.

CW: I have a gut-level disagreement with Glenn Greenwald's absolutist stance on free speech. But I'd love to have input from others on this.

Brett Smiley of New York: "New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd rings in the Jewish new year Sunday with a controversy brewing over her column titled "Neocons Slither Back," in which she peddles Jewish stereotypes and uses anti-Semitic imagery, according to a number of writers, editors, and observers." CW: I saw some of the criticism yesterday, & I really don't agree with it. Maybe if I were Jewish, I'd have a different take, but I agree with Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "There's nothing anti-Semitic in Dowd's column."

     ... Cartoon by Jeff Danziger. His Website is here.

Presidential Race

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama, under renewed fire from Mitt Romney for not standing up to China on behalf of American workers, used a rally in [Ohio] ... on Monday to announce a new trade case against Beijing. He said it was Mr. Romney who had sent jobs to China through his zealous practice of outsourcing at Bain Capital.... 'Ohio,' the president declared, 'you can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs.... We've brought more trade cases against China in one term than the previous administration did in two -- and every case we've brought that's been decided, we won.' " ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: Ed Gillespie, "a top strategist for Mitt Romney, conceded Monday that the campaign has not provided enough specifics about the candidate's vision for the country and pledged a renewed effort in the last 50 days of the race to better communicate with voters."

Soledad O'Brien of CNN tries to pin down Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on just when President Obama's "apology tour" was:

Jeff Mason of Reuters: "On long flights to swing states in the West and late nights at the White House after his children have gone to bed, President Barack Obama is cramming" for the presidential debates.

Philip Rucker & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney, who last week struggled with his responses to a major ­foreign-policy crisis in the Middle East, will now turn his focus back to the economy with a new offensive aimed at recharging a campaign that even some allies believe he is losing. The Obama campaign, also sobered by the violent deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya, seems willing to join Romney in a debate about the economy instead." ...

... CW: if you'd like to know what Romney will have to say AND what's wrong with it, Paul Krugman lays out Romney's "five points to nowhere" & has the point-by-point breakdown. If you want to skip the five points & go with five words, here's a good overview: "You've got to be kidding." As for how effective Romney's economic offensive will be, Krugman writes,

What the Romney revival people imagine is that he can now go out and aggressively sell his carefully unsubstantive economic ideas, without letting voters know that his underlying ideas involve things they really don't want. I suppose a master politician might be able to pull that off. But you go to an election with the candidate you have ...

... Jeff Zeleny & Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "With time dwindling for him to gain an edge in the presidential race and with an outbreak of finger-pointing signaling trouble in his campaign, Mitt Romney plans to begin an offensive this week, his aides said, seeking to give voters a clearer picture of where he wants to take the country." ...

... McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney's campaign has concluded that the 2012 election will not be decided by elusive, much-targeted undecided voters -- but by the motivated partisans of the Republican base.... Three Romney advisers told BuzzFeed the campaign's top priority now is to rally conservative Republicans, in hopes that they'll show up on Election Day, and drag their less politically-engaged friends with them. The earliest, ambiguous signal of this turn toward the party's right was the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate, a top Romney aide said." ...

... Rick Klein of ABC News: "Things haven't been going Mitt Romney's way since roughly the moment that Clint Eastwood dressed down that empty chair.... Romney has struggled to fill the leadership chair himself, despite several high-profile opportunities handed to him by national and international events."

Paul Krugman: In response to the Fed's announcement that it would introduce a new round of quantitative easing, "Republicans ... have gone wild, with Mitt Romney joining in the craziness. His campaign issued a news release denouncing the Fed's move as giving the economy an 'artificial' boost -- he later described it as a 'sugar high' -- and declaring that 'we should be creating wealth, not printing dollars.' ... What about Mr. Romney's ideas for 'creating wealth'? The Romney economic 'plan' offers no specifics about what he would actually do. The thrust of it, however, is that what America needs is less environmental protection and lower taxes on the wealthy. Surprise!" ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in Salon: Why did Mitt Romney pull out the "liberal media" canard last week? Because he's got nothing else.

Mike Allen & Jim VandeHei of Politico have a long, mildly interesting piece on how the Romney campaign screwed up the Republican convention, especially the last night & Romney's speech. The blame goes to Stuart Stevens, Romney's chief strategist, who scrapped the prepared speech 8 days before the convention, then largely scrapped another one, written days later, then helped Romney write his own. ...

... Taylor Berman of Gawker: "The sources [from inside the Romney camp] in the article, which includes the sort of shit flinging you'd expect to read after a candidate loses, not before, fault Stevens for Romney's mediocre speech and Clint Eastwood's spectacular performance art piece at the RNC, amongst other campaign snafus."

E. J. Dionne: "Many conservative commentators attribute Obama's bounce to Romney's failure to be specific enough. They don't want to acknowledge that on core issues, the electorate is far closer to Obama's moderate progressivism than to Romney and Ryan's conservatism."

Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker on God's seat at the conventions.

Congressional Races

Robert Rizzuto & Shira Schoenberg of MassLive: "... Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren has pulled ahead of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, according to a new poll. The survey of Bay State voters conducted Sept. 6-13 by the Western New England University Polling Institute through a partnership with The Republican and MassLive.com, shows Warren leading over Brown, 50 to 44 percent, among likely voters." CW: if the poll is accurate, it's a stunning turnaround from a poll published last week that showed Brown with a 5-point lead. In any event, it looks as if the convention speech helped, & fired up Massachusetts Democrats. ...

... Public Policy Polling: "Things have been going Elizabeth Warren's way in the Massachusetts Senate race over the last month. She's gained 7 points and now leads Scott Brown 48-46 after trailing him by a 49-44 margin on our last poll." Via Taegen Goddard.

... Sally Jacobs of the Boston Globe on Elizabeth Warren's Amerindian heritage. CW: I used to live near one of the Oklahoma towns Jacobs cites as a place where Warren's Amerindian relatives lived. A number of my neighbors there, who passed for white, appeared to be of American Indian heritage. I don't remember the women as well as the men, & I remember them because they were drop-dead handsome. I believe Warren.

"Crocodile Tears." Dan Avery of Queerty (Sept. 12): During the Democratic convention, Brian Nemoir, "a member of Republican Tommy Thompson's Senate campaign team sent out a mass email to right-wing bloggers ridiculing Thompson's lesbian Democratic opponent, Tammy Baldwin, for celebrating at a Wisconsin Capital Pride Rally in 2010.... This week, Thompson ... apologized for the gay-baiting email and tweets, explaining he was 'very upset' about them: 'I thought it was a mistake, I'm sorry, and he's apologized, I believe. He shouldn't have done it.' Clearly Thompson is furious at Nemoir -- but not so furious that he fired him. Nemoir has been removed as spokesman but will remain active in the Thompson campaign."

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon interviews Wayne Powell, the Democrat running to unseat "self-absorbed egomaniac" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Right Wing World

** Frank Rich spends a week listening to & reading right-wing media and finds "a Republican party far more despairing than the lamestream knows." CW: I was going to write something like this, but Rich beat me to it: "I finished the week with sympathy for true believers on the right who are far more divorced from their own political party and the nation's culture than even those on the left who are perennially disillusioned by Obama, the Democratic hierarchy, and their own journalistic Establishment." Well, I probably wouldn't have included the "sympathy" part.

NEW. Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "'Nutjobs stuck in the thirteenth century' is just one insult used in the parody song showcased by ... Mike Huckabee on his website Monday. Huckabee, an outspoken Islamophobe, is the latest media figure today to embrace anti-Islam rhetoric to explain the violent anti-American protests in the Middle East." Shen has the audio. Not as irresponsible as the movie trailer, but offensive, disrespectful & stupid, particularly at this time. Bear in mind, quite a few people thought Huckabee should be president. Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

Ghostbusters. Stephanie Saul of the New York Times has a long piece on True the Vote, an offshoot of the Tea Party that is obsessed with dedicated to eliminating voter fraud. Their favorite urban legend is one about "those people" being bussed into polling places in a bus nobody has ever actually seen. "In some versions the bus is from an Indian reservation; in others it is full of voters from Chicago or Detroit. 'Pick your minority group,'" a Wisconsin elections official said. And get this: the founder & president of True the Vote, Catherine Engelbrecht, "said that until four years ago she was apolitical, a churchgoing mother of two.... 'Then in 2008, I don't know, something clicked,' she said. 'I saw our country headed in a direction that, for whatever reason -- it didn't hit me until 2008 -- this really threatens the future of our children.' -- CW: it's a mystery, isn't it, just what clicked for Catherine in 2008? Sorry, Frank Rich, these people make me want to scream.

Grover Norquist, playing the part of a wino in "Atlas Shrugged, Part 2." Or else, just Grover Norquist.The Reliable Source, Washington Post: Mr. Anti-Tax has a cameo role in "Atlas Shrugged, Part 2." Should make the movie a real hit.

News Ledes

NBC News: "Looking to reignite their movement on its one-year anniversary, several hundred Occupy Wall Street activists protested in lower Manhattan Monday, staging a sit-in near the iconic New York Stock Exchange and swarming through the streets in costumes and toting American flags and signs. Roughly 100 protesters were believed to have been arrested, including some rabbis and pastors who had sat down in the street and sidewalk, blocking them...."

Chicago Tribune: Chicago "Mayor Rahm Emanuel late Sunday called the [Chicago teachers' union] walkout 'illegal' and pledged to seek an injunction in court to force an end to the city's first teachers strike in a quarter century." ...

     ... NBC News Update: "A Cook County Circuit Court judge on Monday declined a request to hold a same-day hearing for an injunction to immediately end Chicago's teacher strike. During a short meeting, Judge Peter Flynn postponed the requested hearing until Wednesday.... That comes after the Chicago Teachers Union's delegates are scheduled to meet and vote on a proposed contract."

Washington Post: "After days of anti-American turmoil in the Muslim world, governments on Sunday looked ahead to a week of trying to make an uneasy accommodation between the anger of their citizens and their desire to convince the United States of their goodwill. But U.S. diplomatic outposts remained under threat. In Pakistan, at least one protester was killed and 18 were injured Sunday as hundreds of people broke through a barricade in a march to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, and thousands more rallied in Lahore, where American flags were burned, the Associated Press reported." ...

... AP: "Hundreds of Afghans burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base as a demonstration against an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad turned violent in the Afghan capital early Monday. And in Jakarta, Indonesians angered over the film clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails and burning tires outside the mission. At least one police officer was seen bleeding from the head and being carried to safety by fellow officers."

New York Times: "The Obama administration plans to file a broad trade case at the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Monday accusing China of unfairly subsidizing its exports of autos and auto parts, a senior administration official said late Sunday, in a move with clear political implications for the presidential elections less than two months away."

AP: "U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that U.S. and Japanese officials have agreed to put a second missile defense system in Japan. The exact location of the installation has not yet been determined."

Space: "A Soyuz spacecraft carrying two Russian cosmonauts and an American spaceflyer has landed safely back on Earth, wrapping up a four-month mission to the International Space Station."

Sunday
Sep162012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on a Times' story about Romney playing a fun-loving human being on the teevee while Ryan attacked President Obama at the Value Voters Summit. Commenting on NYTX is open to all. ...

Quote of the Day: We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. -- Rick Santorum, to Values Voters

... Josh Glasstetter of Right Wing Watch has more on the backers & speakers at the Values Voters Summit where Ryan spoke. What is most disturbing is that a vice-presidential candidate, members of Congress and two sitting governors are right at home with this bunch of documented wackos & holy warriors. ...

... Steve Benen has more in a feature he's carried over from his days at Washington Monthly: "This Week in God." ...

... Brian McLaren, writing on CNN's "Belief" blog: "... any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse." Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

"Don't Tell Anyone, But the Stimulus Worked." David Firestone of the New York Times: "On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent. The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down."

Presumption of Guilt, with a Price. Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: more than 300 district attorneys across the nation are allowing debt collection companies to use their stationery & permitting those debt collection companies to not only threaten criminal prosecution for writing bad checks but also to con the check-writers into taking costly, stupid classes on "financial accountability." CW: one irony: the biggest debt collection agency using this D.A. scam -- went bankrupt. Maybe that shoulda taken their own stupid class. P.S. This egregious practice is just what Americans should expect to happen when private corporations take over public functions. Privatization is a racket.

Jeremiah Goulka explains in a Salon piece why he left the GOP. The ignorance Goulka admits is stunning, but let's give him credit for admitting it. There are millions of Americans who are just as ill-informed as Goulda once was and living lives just as insular as Goulka's was. Thanks to Lisa for the link.

Presidential Race

John Ingold of the Denver Post: "Mitt Romney canceled his Sunday afternoon campaign rally after a fatal small-plane crash at the airport in Pueblo, [Colorado,] closed down two of three runways. An experimental, home-built airplane crashed as it was attempting to land at Pueblo Memorial Airport around 9 a.m. Sunday. The man ... died in the crash. He was the only person on board. Romney, making his first campaign visit to Colorado in a month, had been scheduled to speak at the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum on the airport's grounds at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is declining to endorse Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's charge that President Barack Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus' during his first term in office. In an interview aired Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press,' Netanyahu initially demurred on Romney's comments, but then appeared to distance himself from the GOP candidate's inflammatory charge. 'You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that,' the Israeli prime minister said." CW: Evidently Bibi has been reading the polls.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: after initially faltering in public opinion polls, Democrats are winning the Medicare argument again. CW: Calmes is writing what is mostly a horse-race story, but she does write: "At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages.... Critics say the fixed payments might not keep up with rising insurance costs and could leave older Americans facing cutbacks in care or paying more out of their own pockets." (Emphasis added.) That's about as pro-Romney/Ryan as a report can get & not qualify as an op-ed piece.

"The Foreign Relations Fumbler." Nicholas Kristof: "... every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things.... It has been unseemly for Romney to side with a foreign leader [Netanyahu] in spats with the United States." Kristof also writes, "President Obama himself blew it a few days ago by mistakenly asserting that we didn't consider Egypt an ally." CW: that was no fumble. See Juan Cole's take, linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

"Neocons Slither Back." Maureen Dowd: in his Values Voters speech, “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte. A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel's neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it's all ominously familiar." ...

... Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Fear of President Barack Obama -- not enthusiasm for Mitt Romney -- is driving religious conservatives to pull the lever for the GOP nominee this November.... Conservatives attending the [Values Voters Summit] said they worried about a range of things during a possible Obama II, from implementation of the president's health care law, and a move to what they saw as more 'socialist' policies to the end of the very values -- including the protection of life and traditional marriage -- that they came to the summit to support. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor ... framed the campaign as a battle for the very core of the country, saying another term for Obama would continue the nation's decline. 'This election is going to determine whether or not the very moral fabric of our country will be upheld, or whether it will be torn apart,' he said."

Dylan Byers of Politico: Romney's "blame the liberal media" ploy isn't working all that well when a good deal of the criticism is coming from the right.

Right Wing World

It seems Right Wing World is winging out over "brownshirted enforcers ... [who made] a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration." I won't link to the original Instapundit post, but here are comments by John Cole of Balloon Juice and David Watkins of Lawyers, Guns & Money, both of whom cite the "key bits" of "evidence" that has led Instapundit to regretfully demand that President Obama immediately resign in disgrace.

Local News

Deborah Charles of the AP: "Voting-rights groups that virtually stopped registering voters in Florida for a year as they challenged the state's new restrictions on elections now are scrambling to get people there registered for the November 6 election."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Having been rebuffed privately by President Obama last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took to the airwaves in the United States on Sunday to warn that Iran was only six or seven months from having -90 percent' of what it needed to make an atomic bomb."

AP: "Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam video produced in the United States clashed with police as they tried to march toward the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi." ...

... Guardian: "Defence secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that the US was still on standby to deploy elite forces to protect American interests in cities caught up in a wave of Muslim protest, but that the level of violence appears to be levelling off." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration ordered the evacuation of all but emergency U.S. government personnel, and all family members, from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday and warned Americans not to travel to those countries. The action came as leaders across the Muslim world took stock of their relationship with the United States, a major provider of aid and investment, and struggled to balance it with the will of their populations." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people in connection to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, Libya's parliamentary chief said." ...

... Al Jazeera: "The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans and ten Libyans was the work of 'experienced masterminds' that had been planned well in advance, the Libyan president says. 'I think this was al-Qaeda,' President Mohamed al-Magarief told Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid on Friday...." ...

     ... ABC News Update: "U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance."

Washington Post: "Four international service members were killed early Sunday near a remote NATO installation in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them.... The deaths at a remote checkpoint in Zabul province marked an escalation of so-called insider attacks on foreign troops.... On Saturday, an Afghan gunman thought to belong to the local police killed two British soldiers in southern Helmand province."

Chicago Tribune: "Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal. Hundreds of union leaders are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout." ...

     ... Update: "The Chicago teachers strike will continue Monday as the union's House of Delegates refused to halt the walk out this afternoon and signaled classes may not resume before Wednesday."

AP: "About 300 people observing the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street marched to a small concrete park in New York's lower Manhattan that served as headquarters for the protest movement and was its birthplace. Police patrolled the crowd Saturday and took at least a dozen people into custody near Trinity Church that borders Zuccotti Park.... Protesters marched from Washington Square Park and headed south down Broadway to Zuccotti Park, chanting as they went."