The Ledes

Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

AP: "Islamic State fighters shot down a Syrian war plane using anti-aircraft guns on Tuesday, the first time the group has downed a military jet since declaring its cross-border caliphate in June, a group monitoring the civil war said."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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."

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 17

11:50 m ET: President Obama speaks at MacDill AFP in Tampa, Fla.

12:00 noon ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Nuns on the Bus rally in Des Moines, Iowa; will make effort not to insult Roman Catholics

2:00 pm ET: Recovery at the White House: celebrating 25 years (of something)

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

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CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

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Friday
Jul132012

The Commentariat -- July 14, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Debtors Prisons. New York Times Editors: in violation of their Constitutional right to equal protection, "judges routinely jail people to make them pay fines even when they have no money to pay.... This devastating problem has gotten far worse the past five years, the result of budget-strapped state courts looking for sources of revenue.... This revenue-oriented approach is made worse by the increasing use of for-profit companies to collect fees owed to the courts.... State judicial leaders need to ... monitor and discipline judges who continue to allow the poor to be imprisoned, flouting the Constitution, Supreme Court holdings and basic fairness."

New York Times Editors: "The House Agriculture Committee's farm bill makes unconscionable cuts to food stamps and free school meals while protecting powerful farm interests."

Presidential Race

Callum Borchers & Brian MacQuarrie of the Boston Globe: Romney's account of when he left Bain has "evolved." "In a November 2000 interview with the Globe, Romney's wife, Ann, said he had been forced to lessen, but not end entirely, his involvement with Bain Capital."

Dave Weigel: "What confounds me about the Bain Capital/Romney story's current iteration is that there's such a long, uncontested record describing Romney's ties to the company through 2002." For example:

Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions. But he will leave running day-to-day operations to Bain's executive committee.(Greg Gatlin, "Romney Looks To Restore Olympic Pride," The Boston Herald, 2/12/99) ...

... Lisa Lerer & Julie Davis of Bloomberg News: "Romney is named as one of two managing members [emphasis added] of Bain Capital Investors LLC in annual reports filed in Massachusetts as late as 2002, adding a new corporate entity to a growing number of Bain-related investments and funds that list the Republican presidential candidate as controlling the company three years after he said he left it." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "A July 19, 1999 press release distributed on behalf of Regan Communications and Bain Capital described Mitt Romney as the 'Bain Capital CEO' and said he was 'on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.' The press release, which announced the creation of a new private equity firm by two of Bain's managing directors, included a quote from Romney giving his blessing to the new venture. 'While we will miss them,' Romney said, 'we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm.'" ...

... David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix: "In a controversial investment deal that led to a federal inquiry, Mitt Romney personally signed SEC documents reporting the sale of Bain Capital shares in 2000 and 2001 -- during the time when he was on leave of absence to run the Salt Lake Olympic Games. The Boston Globe reported in 2003, during the SEC investigation, that "Romney ... signed the SEC's necessary documents for Bain when his company -- and he as an individual shareholder -- sold their stakes in DDi in the fall of 2000 and in the winter and spring of 2001. SEC records indicate that Romney remained well into 2001 as a general partner in three of the four Bain funds that are involved in the DDi transactions.'" ...

... Steve Benen: "In 2002, a Boston Globe article quoted a former Bain Capital executive named Marc B. Wolpow who said Mr. Romney remained in a very active role at Bain Capital while he was supposedly on a leave of absence for his [1994] Senate race. Wolpow specifically said of Romney's role, "I reported directly to Mitt Romney.... You can't be CEO of Bain Capital and say, 'I really don't know what my guys were doing.'"

... Jason Cherkis & Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: "Mitt Romney's repeated claim that he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false, according to Romney's own testimony in June 2002, in which he admitted to sitting on the board of the LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment during the period.... In the testimony..., Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. '[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,' he said. Romney's sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: "Romney didn't mention Bain Capital in his testimony as one of the companies with which he continued to work while leading the Olympic committee. Asked whether Romney attended any meetings or participated in any phone calls for Bain -- as he did for other firms -- a Romney spokeswoman reiterated that the candidate didn't have an 'active role' in the company during that time." CW: sounds like a yes.

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "Romney didn't start pushing the idea that he’d severed all ties with Bain in '99 until late in the '02 campaign, when Democrats played up Bain's closure of a Kansas City steel plant, a move that cost 700 workers their jobs."

For Romney, the Buck Stops Elsewhere. President Obama speaks with Scott Thuman of Washington D.C.'s ABC-7 News on Romney's failure to take responsibility for the actions of the company he headed. (Via Greg Sargent.) The text is here:

Charles Blow: "Mitt Romney's stories just don't jibe."

Gail Collins: "While he was in Utah getting the luge runs in shape, Romney was also still getting a six-figure salary for being a Bain 'executive.' Perhaps for Mitt, that was just the going-away equivalent of a monogrammed briefcase."

On Friday Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post "fact-checker," is standing behind his earlier determination that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, and keeps giving Pinocchios to the Obama campaign. He tried to justify the earlier assessment Thursday, too. Here's the original assessment, dated January 18, 2012. ...

... Brad DeLong has 137 Pinocchios for Glenn Kessler: "In 2002 Mitt Romney decided that he had retired from Bain in 1999. Yes, you read that correctly. When Mitt Romney took over the Salt Lake City Olympics in February 1999, he intended to come back and run Bain Capital full-time afterwards -- and he wanted to make sure that everybody at Bain Capital knew that he was still the boss... and that everybody should be careful to make sure that their actions were things Romney approved of. Come 2002, Mitt Romney decided that he was going to run for Governor of Massachusetts. So come 2002 Romney decides that he had retired from Bain Capital back in 1999. Yes. As Glenn Kessler says: 'when Romney decided to run for governor in 2002, he received a retirement package that was dated Feb., 1999'." ...

... Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast: "Kessler bizarrely asserts that telling the SEC that someone is the CEO and sole owner of a company, when he isn't, is no big deal. He says that all Romney did was list 'a misleading title.' Misleading? Really? Either you are CEO or you aren't.... How does Romney attend board meetings of Bain acquisitions, sign six filings on Bain acquisitions, get a six figure salary as an executive, list himself as sole owner and CEO with the SEC in these years, and insist he was not 'involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way'? Bain went further and stated that in the period involved Romney had 'absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies.' All of this is a spectacular contradiction -- and yet Kessler, defending, one suspects, his own reputation, refuses to give an inch." ...

... Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: the reporting "of Kessler's own colleague [Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post] on pre-1999 outsourcing suggests that the Obama attack was more accurate than Chicago itself realized when it first launched the charge."

Dave Weigel: "Explaining why Romney himself wasn't really CEO during his leave of absence (when he was trying to save the American Olympics, for Pete's sake!) involves explaining some complicated corporation-fu. In the meantime, the Obama campaign can use 'outsource' in every other graf of its press releases, and ignore the Fact-Check squads."

Steve Benen has Volume 25 of "Mitt's Mendacity," & Vol. 25 has 25 examples of Mitt's lies of the week.

"The Sideshow Bob Defense" Jonathan Chait of New York: "Conn Carroll of the conservative Washington Examiner has what he considers a knock-out response -- if Romney is a felon, why hasn't Obama prosecuted him?"

The Incredible Shrinking Résumé. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "In a bizarre if somewhat predictable development, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a very prominent supporter of Mitt Romney's candidacy and a possible running-mate, had this to say today: 'Asked during a press conference here whether he thought Romney's experience at Bain should be part of his 'record,' McDonnell shook his head and said 'No. No.' ... I thought Romney's experience at Bain was precisely what Mitt's been citing all along as his principal qualification to be president. He hardly ever mentions his tenure as governor of Massachusetts...."

Local News

Randy Lobasso in Salon identifies another group who won't be able to vote under Pennsylvania's new voter suppression law: women who have changed their names, usually because of marriage or divorce. Lobasso cites an expert: "Only 66 percent of women have an issued photo ID with their current name." So it's women in transition, students, minorities, poor people -- I believe that's called the Democratic demographic. President Obama cannot win the general election if he doesn't win Pennsylvania. And that is the point of the law.

Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "Late last week, Gov. Nikki Haley [R] of South Carolina vetoed a whole slate of budget items, including half a million dollars for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention." Haley's justification for the veto: domestic violence & rape are a "distraction" from other public health issues.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "President Obama barnstormed five cities across Virginia this weekend, stepping up his attacks on Republican Mitt Romney as the two candidates demonstrated the hard fight ahead in a state crucial to the battle for the White House."

AP: "President Barack Obama is keeping up a drumbeat of skepticism over Mitt Romney's insistence -- displayed in a blitz of TV interviews -- that he stepped down from his private equity firm years earlier than federal records indicate. Obama planned another day of campaigning in Virginia on Saturday.... Advisers said he would remind voters of the discrepancies between Securities and Exchange Commission filings and Romney's recollection of his role at the Boston-based firm."

New York Times: As the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State came to light, football coach Joe Paterno & his family negotiated a new retirement package that was even sweeter than his previous contract provided.

Savvy! New York Times: "JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Friday that losses on its botched credit bet could climb to more than $7 billion and that the bank's traders may have intentionally tried to obscure the full extent of the red ink on the disastrous trades. Mounting concerns about valuing the trades led the company to announce that its earnings for the first quarter were no longer reliable and would be restated. Federal regulators ... are now looking at whether employees of the nation's biggest bank by assets intended to defraud investors...."

Houston Chronicle: "The state's argument for a voter ID law met with skepticism Friday from federal judges who questioned Texas attorneys about the lack of witnesses and the need to prove the law is fair to minority voters."

New York Times: "Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing 'Driving Miss Daisy' in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a father's best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 77."

Reuters: "Visa Inc, MasterCard Inc and banks that issue their credit cards have agreed to a $7.25 billion settlement with U.S. retailers in a lawsuit over the fixing of credit and debit card fees in what could be the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history."

New York Times: "Syria has started moving some parts of its huge stockpile of chemical weapons out of storage, American officials said Friday, but it was uncertain whether the transfer was a precaution as security conditions across the country rapidly deteriorated, or something more sinister."

Washington Post: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi today. ...

     ... Update: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in Friday on Egypt's efforts to define its post-revolutionary course, saying that the United States supports the country's 'full transition to civilian rule' and the return of its politically powerful military to a 'purely national security role.'"

Washington Post: Members of the public and Congress are furious over the Made in China labels on the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms. Designer Ralph Lauren doesn't have a U.S. manufacturer.

Thursday
Jul122012

The Commentariat -- July 13, 2012

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "Despite the recent run of disappointing economic data, a broad range of experts and forecasters expect the economy to improve slightly in coming months, thanks to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing. Call it a firming up, if not quite a comeback."

"Geithner Tried to Curb Rate-Rigging in 2008." Ben Protess of the New York Times: "When Timothy F. Geithner ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he acknowledged fundamental problems with the process for setting key interest rates in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.... Mr. Geithner, who is now the United States Treasury secretary, questioned the integrity of the benchmark as reports surfaced that Barclays and other big banks were misrepresenting the rates." ...

... Jia Lynn Yang has the Washington Post story here.

Nikita Stewart of the Washington Post: Washington, D.C. "Mayor Vincent C. Gray's 2010 campaign inaccurately documented at least $100,000 in expenses in records filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, according to campaign treasurer Betty R. Brown.... Her comments underscore the extent of the legal troubles concerning Gray's official mayoral effort, including guilty pleas from three associates in a federal probe of the campaign.... According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, more than $653,000 was secretly poured into a separate 'shadow campaign' whose spending was never reported."

Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Richard O'Dwyer, an enterprising 24-year-old college student from northern England..., started [a Website] that helped visitors find American movies and television shows online. Although the site did not serve up pirated content, American authorities say it provided links to sites that did. The Obama administration is seeking to extradite Mr. O'Dwyer from Britain on criminal charges of copyright infringement. The possible punishment: 10 years in a United States prison." CW: it's okay to help your Hollywood campaign contributors beat pirates, but isn't this too much?

"Perfect Attendance. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) cast her 5,000th consecutive vote Thursday, earning her the third-longest consecutive-vote streak of any senator in U.S. history. Standing at her desk shortly after 2 p.m., Collins beamed before her name was called on a vote to table a proposal on tax cuts for small businesses.... Not only has her vote streak consecutive, but it accounts for every vote held in the Senate since she joined the chamber in January 1997."

New York Times Editors: "For all its right-wing political muscle, ALEC has long enjoyed tax-exempt status as a nonpartisan charity under section 501(c )(3) of the tax code, which is supposed to bar it from influencing legislation as a substantial part of its activities. And because it is a charity, its donors are allowed to deduct contributions from income taxes.... Marcus Owens, the former chief of the I.R.S. division in charge of tax exemptions, has recently filed a complaint with the I.R.S. charging ALEC with illegal lobbying and partisan violations that should lead to revocation of its tax exemption. We agree."

New York Times Editors: "As the nation moves toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, there should be at least five justices willing to say that."

Presidential Race

President Obama on the biggest mistake of his first term:

     ... President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. -- Mitt Romney, reacting to the President's remarks

... CBS News: "President Barack Obama questioned presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's economic credentials, saying that while his tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital doesn't 'disqualify' him from running for president, it won't necessarily translate into job growth for Americans":

      ... CW: Obama could have been, um, more forceful. He seems a lot less comfortable than we are about slamming Rmoney. P.S. Charlie Rose won his V.S.P. merit badge, didn't he?

Robin Wells in the Guardian: "From images of corporate raiding, to luxury speedboats, to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, to mega-mansions in the Hamptons, this week's stories suggest that the candidacy of Mitt Romney -- poster-boy for the symbiotic relationship between big money and the modern Republican party -- is in serious trouble.... The domination by the super-wealthy means that Republicans not only have no interest in the welfare of the rest of the 99.9%, they have no understanding of why this is a problem. The noblesse oblige days of the old money, such as the Bushes, the Kennedys and the Roosevelts are long gone...." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the 'we are V.I.P.' crowd has fully captured the modern Republican Party.... If you're really concerned about the [tax] incentive effects of public policy, you should be focused not on the rich but on workers making $20,000 to $30,000 a year, who are often penalized for any gain in income because they end up losing means-tested benefits like Medicaid and food stamps."

** Bombshell! Callum Borchers & Christopher Rowland of the Boston Globe: "Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.... The timing of Romney's departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date. Contradictions concerning the length of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital add to the uncertainty and questions about his finances." ...

... This piece by Josh Marshall of TPM, published July 10, covers the territory the Globe reporters expand. ...

... AND this from David Corn of Mother Jones, dated July 2: "... documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission ... list Romney as an active participant in the investment [in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics].... Responding to a recent Washington Post story reporting that Bain-acquired companies outsourced jobs, the Romney campaign insisted that Romney exited Bain in February 1999, a month or more before Bain took over two of the companies named in the Post's article. The SEC documents undercut that defense...." CW: We should give more credit to bloggers who so often lay the groundwork for MSM reports that get all the attention. ...

     ... CW: Oh, looks like even the Globe agrees with me. From Dylan Byers of Politico: "Globe editor Martin Baron said Thursday that the paper failed to credit other news organizations, such as Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo, that had previously reported on the story. Baron said it was a 'mistake' the passages giving credit were removed and that the paper will remedy the error online but added that the Globe 'advanced the story with a more comprehensive and complete look that broke significant news.'" ...

     ... In an interesting update on the Globe story itself, Dylan Byers reports that the Rmoney campaign asked for a correction, and the Globe said no. Byers has the "no" memo from Globe editor Martin Baron, which is pretty good.

... Mackenzie Weinger & Dylan Byers of Politico: "The Obama campaign went on the attack Thursday after a bombshell report revealed that Mitt Romney was the CEO of Bain Capital for years longer than he has previously admitted. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said this new disclosure shows Romney is 'the most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon.'" ...

... John Aravosis of AmericaBlog: "1. Romney told the SEC that he remained the firm's 'sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president' up until 2002. 2. But Romney said in a more recent financial disclosure form that he left Bain in 1999 -- so the two federal forms contradict each other, at least one is a lie." ...

... Jennifer Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney either lied in federal filings that show he worked at Bain Capital through 2002 and could be guilty of a felony, or has lied to the American people in saying he left the company in 1999, the Obama campaign is arguing in light of news reports on the firm’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 'This is serious business,' said Bob Bauer, the Obama campaign's counsel, in a conference call for reporters...." ...

... Steve Benen: "When the editors of FactCheck.org initially took Romney's claims at face value to reject Democratic criticisms, they said the candidate must be telling the truth about his Bain departure date, because if he didn't really leave until 2002, then 'Romney would be guilty of a federal felony by certifying on federal financial disclosure forms that he left active management of Bain Capital in February 1999.' FactCheck.org meant that to be proof that Romney's claims were true. Now that there's ample evidence to the contrary, it's worth considering that whole 'guilty of a federal felony' question again." ...

... "I Did Not Have Economic Relations with That Company." Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "It doesn't seem too hard to believe that while Romney was in Salt Lake, he also continued to be involved in the major decisions at Bain -- even if he wasn't available to pitch for the company softball team.... But if he were to admit that, then he'd have to answer specific questions about his knowledge of the steel mill that went bankrupt, the outsourcing companies, and so on. And there is nothing in the world Mitt Romney wants to do less than have to answer specific questions about Bain and what he did there." ...

... Henry Blodgett of Business Insider: "Sorry, Mitt Romney, You Can't Be Chairman, CEO, And President Of A Company And Not Be Responsible For What It Does...." ...

... Kevin Roose of New York magazine tells Romney's side: "It depends on what the meanings of "manager" and "CEO" are." ...

Oh, There's More. David Corn: Romney "decries China poaching US jobs. But at Bain he held a large stake in a Chinese company that did just that." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Mitt Romney sure picked a bad day to call the President a liar." ...

... "Projecting Mendacity." Ed Kilgore on the Rovian Rmoney attack ad on Obama: "... the new gambit from his campaign is probably also designed to (a) chip into Obama’s continuing advantage in personal favorability, while (b) reinforcing among GOP 'base' voters the meme that the whole Obama enterprise is a vast Potemkin Village disguising his radicalism and unsavory association with America-haters and Christ-haters." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein, writing in the Washington Post, remarks that these financial bombshells are just coming out now because Rmoney's amateur opponents in the primary didn't do any serious oppo research. CW: I suspect the Obama team was preparing to make the case John Aravosis so succinctly crystallize. The "sources" Aravosis cites are pretty much out in the open: they're public documents that any oppo team would check. That's why the Obama campaign ads accused Rmoney of doing stuff that took place after 1998. Fact-checkers have panned the ads, but the Obama camp had it right all along -- and I think they knew it.

... Dierdre Walsh of CNN: "The chief of the House Republicans' campaign arm said Thursday it was 'fair game' for people to ask for more information about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's personal financial records. 'His personal finances, the way he does things, his record, are fair game,' Texas Republican Pete Sessions told CNN."

The blind trust is an age-old ruse. -- Mitt Romney, 1994, on Ted Kennedy's blind trust ...

... Todd Purdum of Vanity Fair: Romney "assures us that his assets are held in a 'blind trust' over which he exerts no control. But just how blind are such trusts, anyway? In Romney's case, apparently not quite blinkered enough to keep his trustee -- who is also his personal lawyer and longtime friend Bradford Malt -- from investing more than $10 million of Romney's money in an investment fund managed by Romney's son Tagg." Via Greg Sargent. ...

      Also from the Purdum post, which is well-worth reading in full:

As a freshman senator, Barack Obama — whose wealth comes almost entirely from his book royalties -- set up a blind trust but later that same year sold all of his stocks and closed the trust because he decided that even such an arrangement could not protect him from the appearance of a conflict. Most of his wealth is now invested in U.S. Treasury bonds and diversified funds -- about the most transparent option available. What's good for the country is good for Obama, and vice versa, to coin a phrase.

Yo! Those welfare queens booed me at my NAACP gig because I'll make sure the government doesn't give them any 'more free stuff.' -- Mitt Romney, at a fundraiser, paraphrased (but not off the mark)

Jay Rosen of NYU: "Suppose a major party candidate for president believed we were in a 'post-truth' era and actually campaigned that way. Would political reporters in the mainstream press figure it out and tell us? I say no. They would not tell us. Not in any clear way."

AND Andy Borowitz forwards a note from Willard's doctor attesting to the candidate's memory loss.

News Ledes

On CNN, "... Mitt Romney offered a vocal defense Friday of his tenure [at Bain] and strongly disputed reports he left the firm years later than he has previously said." CW: "A vocal defense"? Does that mean he wasn't singing AND dancing? Here's the CNN interview:

Romney says Obama owes him a apology:


Same story at ABC News. Here's the transcript of Jonathan Karl's interview of Romney.

New York Times: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York learned in April 2008, as the financial crisis was brewing, that at least one bank was reporting false interest rates.... Although the New York Fed conferred with Britain and American regulators about the problems and recommended reforms, it failed to stop the illegal activity, which persisted through 2009.... Timothy F. Geithner, who served as the head of the New York Fed during the crisis years, and other regulators raised concerns about Libor. But they did not stop the problems."

Bloomberg News: "JPMorgan Chase & Co. had already lost more than $700 million on synthetic credit bets and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was told that number could climb to almost $1 billion when he dismissed press reports about the positions in April as a 'tempest in a teapot.'"

New York Times: "A county judge in Alabama has temporarily shut down a system in a town near Birmingham where people fined for speeding and unable to afford the ticket are handed over to a private probation company and sometimes sent to jail, where additional fees are imposed."

New York Times: "Mitt Romney will submit to five network and cable television interviews this afternoon after several days of being hammered by President Obama’s campaign on his personal wealth and his time at Bain Capital."

The Hill: "President Obama mocked Republicans on Friday for seeking to repeal the healthcare law 33 times instead of working to pass a tax extension that would help the middle class. Kicking off a two-day, five-stop bus tour in Virginia, Obama sought to hammer home his latest message to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year as part of an effort that, he says, would help the middle class."

Washington Post: "A D.C. police officer who worked as a motorcycle escort for White House officials and other dignitaries was moved to administrative duty Wednesday after he allegedly was overheard making threatening comments toward Michelle Obama, according to several police officials."

Al Jazeera: "Syria's opposition has urged the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution against Damascus following reports by activists that regime forces massacred at least 150 villagers in the central province of Hama."

Guardian: "China's growth has slowed to its lowest rate since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009, though analysts voiced optimism on Friday that the economy may have bottomed out already. Second-quarter growth of 7.6% -- down from 8.1% in the previous three months -- was in line with expectations...."

Wednesday
Jul112012

The Commentariat -- July 12, 2012

CW: it's another day in DemoLand, so again I'll be ignoring you in favor of salvaging baseboards & door moldings, choosing lovely, affordable fixtures for the bahth & making other executive decisions.

CW: Linda Greenhouse has a fascinating take on Chief Justice John Roberts' switcheroo on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and it please me that she agrees with a theory I proffered in a NYTX column: "I doubt there was a single reason for the chief justice's evolution..., but let me suggest one: the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices. The opinion pointedly signed individually by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have invalidated the entire Affordable Care Act.... This astonishing act of judicial activism has received insufficient attention..., but it surely got the chief justice's attention as a warning that his ostensible allies were about to drive the Supreme Court over the cliff and into the abyss."

They’ve got a website, God bless them. It's always good to put a website up with some black faces on it. Outreach. -- Michael Steele, former RNC chair, on the GOP's effort to woo black voters

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "Even that website, it turns out, doesn’t exist."

Presidential Race

Gail Collins: "Barack Obama, who ... has royalty income, is a small business. Possibly the only small business the Republicans do not love."

"Don't know much about his-to-ry, Part 1":

... Part 2:

We've of course released all the financial statements that are required by law and then two years of tax returns -- the most recent year will be released as soon as that's prepared. Other financial disclosure is there, the same information that John McCain, or John Kerry for that matter released when they were running for president. -- Mitt Rmoney

Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: [Romney] has released one year of his returns and an estimate of his 2011 returns.... He received an extension and said at the time he would release them in the next six months, which would be October. John McCain released two years, but John Kerry actually released more than that in his 2004 race, going back to 1999. He released many more returns as a United States senator, as many as twenty. McCain released a total of six documents, two for himself, two for his wife Cindy McCain, and two for the McCain Family Foundation.

... Does he know one and one is two?

CW: a vignette in a piece by Adam Serwer on Romney's "long, troubled history with the NAACP": "in 2006 the local NAACP slammed Romney for referring to a perennially unfinished public works project in Boston, the Big Dig, as a 'tar baby.' Eric Fernstrom, a top Romney adviser (then and now), claimed that Romney was unaware of the racial connotation and was merely trying to describe 'a sticky situation.' Still, Romney apologized." CW: I find it totally believable that Romney would have no idea he was making a racial slur. The guy has never had anything but the most minimal contact with people of color, and no interest in any cultural niche that differs from his own. When you're busy making millions, you don't have time to consider the sensibilities of others.

I believe his vested interests are in white Americans. You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he's coming from. He's talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts -- black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work. -- Charlette Stoker Manning, chair of Women in NAACP, on Rmoney's speech before the NAACP convention

Judd Legum & Scott Keyes of Think Progress have a good follow-up report on reaction to Romney's speech at the NAACP convention. Um, people didn't like it. ...

Right Wing World

... Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh said Mitt Romney’s speech Wednesday to the NAACP fell flat because it was 'over these people's heads' and that the group booed the Republican candidate, who 'sounded like Snow White with testicles,' simply because he's white. Limbaugh... claimed that President Barack Obama insulted the group by sending Vice President Joe Biden instead. CW: I didn't see anything in the news about attendees booing Biden, and he looks as white as Romney. Of course recognizing the internal inconsistency in his own argument is "over Rushbo's head."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The most senior officials at Penn State University failed for more than a decade to take any steps to protect the children victimized by Jerry Sandusky, the longtime lieutenant to head football coach Joe Paterno, according to an independent investigation of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last fall." Former FBI director Louis Freeh led the investigation. The group's report is here.

New York Times: "Wells Fargo, the nation's largest home mortgage lender, has agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. If approved by a federal judge, it would be the second largest residential fair-lending settlement in the department's history."

Washington Post: "Vice President Biden made an impassioned appeal to the nation's oldest civil rights group Thursday, calling on members to rally behind the first black president and reject a Republican vision for the country that would roll back progress for minorities. Speaking at the NAACP conference in Houston a day after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appeared there, Biden delivered a sharp rebuttal to Romney's contention that his policies would be better for black families than President Obama's have been...."

New York Times: "Yahoo confirmed Thursday that a file containing approximately 400,000 usernames and passwords to Yahoo and other companies was stolen Wednesday. A group of hackers, known as the D33D Company, posted usernames and passwords for what appeared to be 453,492 accounts belonging to Yahoo, but also Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, BellSouth and Live.com users."

Tuesday
Jul102012

The Commentariat -- July 11, 2012

CW: I won't be doing much today. I have a crew here ripping out my so-called master bathroom, & I have to "attend to" them.

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "David Brooks on Why the Maid's Daughter Can't Get a Good Job." ...

     ... The NYTX front page is here. A rather fabulous entry on the page: Patrick Somerville's "Thank You for Killing My Novel."

"GOP to the Uninsured: Drop Dead." Matt Miller of the Washington Post: "The Republican message to uninsured Americans in the wake of the Supreme Court's recent ruling couldn't be clearer: You're on your own." CW: Miller is fairly conservative (he's one who advocated for a third-party presidential candidate), so this both fairly damning -- & accurate.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, due in part to tax cuts sought by President Obama to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday."

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Romney has resisted all demands for more [financial] disclosure, leading to growing criticism from Democrats that he is trying to hide his fortune and his tax schemes from the public. Given the troubling suspicions about his finances, he needs to release many more returns and quickly open his books to full scrutiny." A pretty good rundown of Mitt's shady shelters.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Waging old battles with new zeal, the House passed a bill on Wednesday to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul law less than two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld its major provisions as constitutional. The bill was approved by a vote of 244 to 185, with five Democrats supporting repeal. It has no chance of approval in the Senate and would face a veto from Mr. Obama if it ever got to him."

Washington Post: Mitt Romney's "speech [in Houston, Texas] before the NAACP drew him the most hostile reception from any campaign audience so far this year and Romney appeared visibly unsettled by three rounds of loud boos from the crowd."

AP: "A federal judge on Wednesday continued to block a state law that threatened to shut down Mississippi's only abortion clinic and make it nearly impossible for a woman to get the procedure in the state. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III temporarily blocked the law July 1 and extended that order Wednesday, though he did not say when he would rule on the clinic's request to put the law on hold for a longer period. If he grants that request, the case eventually would go to trial."

Washington Post: "About 2.3 million Northern Virginia residents were without emergency 911 telephone service for several days last week after a backup generator failed following severe thunderstorms in the region, a senior Verizon official told government leaders Wednesday. The outage, which prevented hundreds, perhaps thousands, of calls for help from getting through to emergency responders, was among the worst public safety fallouts from the June 29 storm...."

Washington Post: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) "joined other lawmakers Wednesday in calling on Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to disclose more details about his absence from Congress since June 10. Jackson's wife also said she hoped doctors would soon release information about the lawmaker, while some Democrats said again that the congressman should be permitted to sort out his personal issues beyond the public spotlight." ...

     ... ABC News Update: "Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who took a mysterious leave of absence from Capitol Hill last month is being treated for a 'mood disorder,' his physician said Wednesday."

AP: "The president of Florida A&M University submitted his resignation Wednesday, the same day the university was sued by parents of a drum major who died during a hazing. It was unclear if the two events were related. James Ammons announced the resignation, which takes effect Oct. 11, in a letter to the chairman of the university's governing board."

New York Times: "In a case that is part parable of high-society travail and part police-beat mystery, investigators awaited the outcome on Wednesday of further tests to discover what killed American-born Eva Rausing, one of Britain's richest women, after her body was discovered at her upmarket home and her husband arrested." More on the troubled lives of Rausing & her husband Hans Kristian Rausing from the Guardian.