The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

New York Times: "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty Wednesday as the government declared three days of official mourning and grappled with the aftermath of an attack on a school by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 145 people. The national flag was lowered to half-staff on all official buildings and prayer services were scheduled across the country." ...

... The Washington Post profiles "Mullah Radio," the leader of the Taliban attack on schoolchildren & teachers.

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
December 17

12:01 pm ET: President Obama makes a statement about Cuba

1:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

4:15 pm ET: President Obama speaks at a Hanukkah reception

8:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks at a Hanukkah reception

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

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

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

CW: For those of you who don't like hassling with DVDs, I accidentally found a cheap alternative to Netflix. Although I will continue to subscribe to Netflix's streaming videos, Netflix doesn't stream most decent movies. Instead, you have to maintain a (second) monthly subscription, then order & return the DVDs. However, YouTube now allows you to stream movies (you can watch them -- more than once -- during a 48-hour period.) There's no monthly fee, & you can play the movies on your TV via various devices. I have a Google dongle on one TV & a Blu-Ray box on another. The YouTube streaming videos work on both (you have to download on the Chrome browser). Setting up an account was very easy. Since I watch few movies, this works perfectly for me. When Ben Bradlee died, I watched "All the President's Men" for the umpteenth time, & today I watched "Good Night & Good Luck." Big advantage: instant gratification! I'm not sure if YouTube is good for more recent movies.

The Rockefellers Are Leaving the Building. New York Times: "By this time next year, they will have vacated the 56th-floor aerie [in 30 Rock] they have occupied since 1933 and moved to somewhat less rarefied headquarters across 49th Street. One of the country’s great dynastic families is downsizing."

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Tuesday
Oct162012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 17, 2012

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: President Obama "regained full command of his vision and his legacy, leaving Mitt Romney sputtering with half-answers, deceptions and one memorable error." ...

... Some of the Times' regular op-ed contributors give their early reactions to the debate. ...

... Ross Douthat writes a fair & balanced (and here I mean that) right-wing perspective on the debate. ...

... By contrast, Stephen Stromberg, a reliable liberal, was disappointed by what Obama didn't say. ...

... CW: generally speaking, they are outraged over there in Right Wing World, outrage being their natural state of being. So, today, you get headlines like this: "Candy Crowley disgraces herself with outrageous tagteam hit on Romney over Libya" and "Michelle Obama broke agreed upon rules, clapped at debate."

You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking. -- Willard Romney to the President of the United States during last night's town-hall

Charles Pierce: "I thought that, given the roll he's been on, Romney would be able to keep both Snippy Willard and Dickhead Willard in check.... But not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president's face. He got in Crowley's face."

Michael Grunwald of Time: "Finally, Obama makes his case for four more years."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Moderate Mitt took a beating last night, and that Obama did as much as he's ever going to do in laying out a second-term agenda."

Greg Sargent: "This race will still be the dead heat tomorrow that it was yesterday, but Obama made big strides towards turning things around tonight."

** "Binders Full of Women." David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix: during the debate, Romney claimed, "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women." Bernstein writes: "Not a true story. What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government.... They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.... Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.... Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent.... None of the senior positions Romney cared about -- budget, business development, etc. -- went to women." ...

     .. Via Amy Davidson of the New Yorker, who writes, "One got the sense of Mitt Romney coming from a place where women were generally in the other room, waiting to be invited in only when the moment -- or the visibility of the job -- called for it." CW: we will be hearing more about binders full of women. ...

... Beth Healy of the Boston Globe: "Romney, however, did not have a history of appointing women to high-level positions in the private sector. Romney did not have any women partners as CEO of Bain Capital during the 1980s and 1990s.... Today, 4 of out of 49 of the firm's managing directors in the buyout area are women."

... Ha! John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "By the end of the debate, there was already a Facebook page and a Tumblr with the name 'bindersfullofwomen.'" ...

From the tumblr page.

... AND here's the Twitter account Romney's Binder. ReTweets include, "When Romney flies, he flies TransVaginal." ReTweets include other women's issues too: "Nothing should stand between a woman and her doctor except an HMO, picketers and the state legislature."

Zeke Miller & Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "Barack Obama turned his administration's worst foreign policy disaster into a dramatic victory in Tuesday's debate when Mitt Romney sought to stretch the criticism of the Obama Administration's handling of the incident":

     ... Jonathan Bernstein says of this exchange: "This was the night in which the conservative closed information feedback loop and its close cousin, lazy mendacity, caught up with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- in a big way.... The closed information loop leaves conservatives vulnerable, and it makes it very difficult for them to govern effectively when they are in office." CW: I wouldn't call it lazy mendacity; I think it's more akin to audacious mendacity. Romney, Ryan, et al. may not always know when they're lying, but oftentimes they know, & they're proud of the stuff they make up. ...

... Everything Is the President's Fault. Marcy Wheeler on "The Libya Question." CW: looks like the Dick in John Dickerson (of Slate & CBS News & PBS & wherever) is well deserved. Or is it John Bickerson? Turns out it's President Obama's fault that reporters didn't more actively & prominently report his various remarks on the Benghazi attack. See, we don't have a better press corps because, um, the President failed to something, something. ...

... Paul Krugman calls the moment "Chicken Hawk Down."

Andy Borowitz: "Romney sets new personal best for faking empathy.... Tonight's display of bogus sensitivity made a big impression on a post-debate focus group, as a majority of participants agreed with the statement, 'Mitt Romney has the facial expressions of someone who cares about me.' ... 'It was an awesome display of stamina,' said ... Paul Ryan, who watched Mr. Romney pretending to be empathic from a shelter in Virginia, where Mr. Ryan was pretending to feed a homeless orphan."

Nate Silver: "Scientific polls conducted after Tuesday night’s presidential debate in New York give a modest edge to President Obama."

Scott Wilson of the Washington Post has a lengthy rundown of the debate. ...

... Here's the New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny. ...

... CNN has the full transcript.

Rachel Maddow called this evening President Obama's best debate ever. I think she's right. ...

... Maddow says the CNN insta-poll said President Obama won the debate 46-39 among debate watchers. ...

... Even this stuffed shirt agrees:

New York magazine puts together a video of "The Debate in Under Three Minutes":

Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Police arrested Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, on Tuesday after a failed attempt at attending the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y."

The New York Times is liveblogging & fact-checking the debate. They have done quite good work in the two previous debates.

Greg Sargent: The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal "to overturn an appeals court decision to reinstate early voting [in Ohio] on the weekend and Monday before the election. This is a big, big victory for the Obama campaign, and it could arguably make a difference to the outcome in the critical state of Ohio."

Ann Romney, Low-Information Voter. Colby Itkowitz of the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Morning Call: "Ann Romney called it a 'myth' that her husband has veered to the right over the years, insisting there is little difference between the moderate figure who was governor of Massachusetts and the conservative who is running for president."

Ha Ha. Creepy Guy Caught with Pants Down. Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Dinesh D'Souza, the president of the Evangelical New York City school King's College and the right-wing author and director behind the fear-mongering 2016 Obama's America, has some explaining to do. The Christian magazine World reports today that D'Souza showed up for a speech at a Baptist church last month with someone who was not his wife of twenty years, but a much younger woman.... D'Souza reportedly introduced [her] as his fiancée, and although they shared a hotel room, he assured his conservative colleagues that 'nothing happened.'" D'Souza told a reporter he & his wife were divorced, but he didn't even file for divorce until the day the reporter contacted him. "After facing questions about the rushed arrangement, D'Souza told the magazine, 'I have decided to suspend the engagement.'"

Local News

Norimitsu Onishi of the New York Times: Four of the 11 California ballot propositions "are initiatives of single rich individuals, while others are being challenged by equally wealthy critics pouring in millions of dollars to defeat them -- a sign, in this era of 'super PACs' and Citizens United, of the increasingly sophisticated use of the populist tool by the wealthy to influence politics in the nation's most populous state."

Ian Lovett of the New York Times: "Los Angeles could soon become the largest city in the country to offer municipal identification cards to illegal immigrants, with the goal of allowing them to open bank accounts and gain access to other services. A City Council committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to solicit proposals from private companies to develop and operate a city ID card system. The plan will now go to the full Council for a vote."

News Ledes

Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald: "Libyan authorities have named Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, as a commander in the attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens last month."

AP: "U.S. home construction is making a comeback that could invigorate the economy's still-weak recovery. Builders last month started construction on single-family houses and apartments at the fastest rate in more than four years.... And they laid plans to build homes at an even faster pace in coming months -- a signal of their confidence that the housing rebound will last. The pace of construction has grown steadily in the past year, and analysts expect it to keep rising. The increase has been fueled by record-low mortgage rates, more stable home prices and a shortage of previously occupied homes for sale."

AP: "The family of ex-U.S. Sen. George McGovern says the 90-year-old is 'no longer responsive' in hospice care. McGovern's family issued a statement Wednesday afternoon through Avera McKennan Hospital. His daughter, Ann McGovern, earlier told The Associated Press that her father is 'nearing the end' and appears restful and peaceful."

Washington Post: "Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan is facing questions about whether he gave misleading information to Congress about security risks posed by a prostitution scandal embroiling agents in Cartagena, Colombia, according to three government sources familiar with an internal investigation."

AP: "A former used-car salesman accused of conspiring with Iranians in an audacious murder-for-hire plot pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping plan the assassination of a Saudi diplomat at a posh Georgetown restaurant. Manssor Arbabsiar, 58, a Texan with dual Iranian and U.S. citizenship, entered the plea in a New York courtroom just over year after his arrest in a case that shocked the world and drove U.S.-Iranian relations to a new low."

New York Times: "Federal authorities on Wednesday charged a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man with conspiring to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan,after he tried to detonate a van filled with what he believed to be explosives. The entire plot was in fact an elaborate F.B.I. sting. The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, came to the United States in January...."

AP: "A judge set a tentative trial date next year for a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. In her first hearing since taking over the case, Judge Debra S. Nelson said June 10 would be the start of George Zimmerman's trial, though the date could change as both sides get prepared for what is expected to be a three-week trial."

AP: "Prosecutors have won a key legal ruling in their case against a former CIA officer accused of leaking the names of covert operatives to journalists. Prosecutors will not have to prove that John Kiriakou actually intended to harm the United States by allegedly leaking the covert officers' identities. Instead, they will only have to show that Kiriakou had 'reason to believe' that the information could be used to injure the U.S."

New York Times: "A week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency made public its evidence in a doping case against Lance Armstrong..., Armstrong on Wednesday stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, his cancer foundation, the organization that inspired millions fighting the disease. The fallout from the antidoping agency's report also prompted Nike, the company that stood by Armstrong through more than a decade's worth of doping allegations, to terminate his contract on Wednesday."

Monday
Oct152012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 16, 2012

Presidential Race

Annie-Rose Strasser in TruthDig: "Five Facts to Commit to Memory before Watching Tonight's Debate."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "the second presidential debate is designed to be a little less stiff -- a free-flowing question-and-answer session between the candidates and a studio audience. But behind the scenes, little is left to chance." CW: and here I was, hoping for a cheesy pizza preference question when the leadership of the free world is at stake (see yesterday's Commentariat).

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Two weeks ago, Obama tried to stay above the fray, backing down from nearly every attack he and his campaign have been firing at Romney by proxy -- both on television and in solo rallies across the country. Tuesday at Hofstra, will throw all the punches he pulled two weeks ago, his aides promise."

Matt Miller in the Washington Post: "Team Obama shouldn't be planning to refight the first debate. It should be prepared for a Romney who'll show up with new surprises.... Above all, it means laying out a bolder vision for a second term than the poll-tested small ball that passes for Obama's agenda thus far -- an agenda designed to help the president limp to victory, rather than address the country's real needs." CW: I've been thinking the same thing for two weeks: the next two debates will each bring a new "October Surprise" from Rmoney, just as the first one did. (I don't think Miller is necessarily right about what Romney's surprise will be, but it will be something designed to throw Obama again.) ...

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek has some excellent advice for Obama on how to approach the debate with Romney. Too bad Tomasky wasn't on Obama's debate prep team -- not that Obama would have listened to him.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones isn't so sure, based on Obama camp spin, that they know the difference between a "debate" and a "town hall" -- not that the presidential debate shows are truly debates or the town-hall show is really a town-hall meeting. If Obama behaves more as Al Gore did in the clip Serwer includes than as Bill Clinton did in the Serwer clip, we're looking at President Romney. CW: while these clips may be extreme examples, you can really see why Clinton won & Gore lost, not on substance but on style.

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Vice President Joe Biden will appear on all three network morning shows on Wednesday, less than 10 hours after President Barack Obama faces off against Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate."

Nate Silver: "National polls showed a modestly favorable trend for President Obama, allowing him to gain slightly in our forecast. (Mr. Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College are now 66.0 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight model, up from 63.4 percent on Sunday.)" ...

... Say What???? Susan Page of USA Today: "Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation's top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank." ...

     ... Nate Silver tweets: "Looking at breakouts of 'swing states' from national polls is just dumb when there are dozens of actual swing state polls out every week."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama and his wife, Michelle, announced on Monday that they would both vote early, and Mrs. Obama was photographed holding an absentee ballot for Illinois that she later dropped in the mail. Mr. Obama followed up her announcement by saying that he would vote early, in person, on Oct. 25, the next time he planned to be in Chicago.... They are throwing their weight behind the Obama campaign's aggressive push for early voting...."

NEW. Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker on what women want. "When some, usually more affluent, women can easily obtain birth control, and others cannot, that has real economic implications, both for individuals and for social equity. Romney and Ryan would prefer that you forget it, but women's issues are everybody's issues." CW: let's hope Obama takes Nancy Pelosi's advice of last week & reminds voters of how different their policies are on women's health care: i.e., Romney sez, "Girls, you're on your own. P.S. If you need an abortion, go to a private clinic in Europe. Otherwise, you're going to jail in the U.S."

Falling on Her Sword. Secretary of State Clinton says she takes responsibility for the lack of security at the Benghazi consulate:

Ashley Parker & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have begun a late push to raise tens of millions of dollars in the closing weeks of the election, cash that will finance a last-minute barrage of advertising that Mr. Romney's aides believe is critical to beating President Obama. In an e-mail to top donors and fund-raisers on Monday afternoon, Mr. Romney's campaign said that it had raised $170 million in September, almost as much as the near-record $181 million raised by Mr. Obama, but the campaign added that it needed to bring in even more money in October to capitalize on Mr. Romney's surge in polls in swing states like Florida and Ohio."

RomneyMath. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney's promise to create 12 million jobs during his first term in office -- a labor increase that Moody's said will likely happen anyway -- doesn't add up: "This is a case of bait-and-switch. Romney, in his convention speech, spoke of his plan to create '12 million new jobs,' which the campaign's White Paper describes as a four-year goal. But the candidate's personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade -- which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney's economic plan. The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren't the same thing -- not by a long shot."

Wait, wait. There's there's a link to the details at RomneyTaxPlan.com. -- Victoria D.

"Arithmetic over Illusion." In a Web video, the Explainer-in-Chief explains Romney's tax plan:

     ... CW: Have you ever heard Obama so clearly state the Romney flim-flam tax plan? Or much of anything else "my opponent" proposes? No, I didn't think so. And pay attention to Clinton's demeanor. I think I mentioned the other day that he can take down an opponent's false claims without anger or out-and-out derision. Instead, he appears to speak to voters as a friend who is helping them out. He is a master. ...

... New York Times Editors: "... members of Washington's reality-based community have a habit of popping up to point out the many deceptions in the [Romney] campaign's blue-sky promises of low taxes and instant growth. The [Congressional] Joint Committee on Taxation ... [found that] ending all those deductions would only produce enough revenue to lower tax rates by 4 percent. Mitt Romney says he can lower tax rates by 20 percent and pay for it by ending deductions. The joint committee's math makes it clear that that is impossible.... The Romney campaign claims it has six studies proving it can be done, but, on examination, none of the studies actually make that point, or counterbalance the nonpartisan analyses that use real math."

Whoopi! Huffington Post: "Barbara Walters announced on Monday's 'View' that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney canceled on the ABC daytime talk show. His wife Ann will still appear on Thursday's show." With video.

Debunking Dad: The Real George Romney. Several Reality Chex contributors recommended this piece by John Bohrer in yesterday's BuzzFeed, which sheds new light on George Romney's character & political career. Rather than portraying George as a principled politician, Bohrer describes him as an opportunist who did what he needed to do to sell himself. The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, after all. ...

... One man cited in Bohrer's piece -- has a different view of George Romney. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "A longtime aide to George W. Romney issued a harshly worded critique of Mitt Romney, accusing him of shifting political positions in 'erratic and startling ways' and failing to live up to the distinguished record of his father.... Walter De Vries, who worked for the senior Mr. Romney throughout the 1960s, wrote that Mitt Romney's bid for the White House was 'a far cry from the kind of campaign and conduct, as a public servant, I saw during the seven years I worked in George Romney's campaigns and served him as governor.' ... Mr. De Vries, who said he wished to the see the Republican Party return to its moderate roots, said he intended to vote for Mr. Obama on Election Day."

** New York Times Editors: if Romney wins, abortion rights go. "We do not need to guess about the brutal consequences of overturning Roe. We know from our own country's pre-Roe history and from the experience around the world.... Women's health, privacy and equality would suffer. Some women would die. Mr. Romney knows this, or at least he used to. Running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts in 1994..., Mr. Romney spoke of a young woman, a close relative, who died years before as result of complications from an illegal abortion to underscore his now-extinct support for Roe v. Wade. In a report in Salon last year, Justin Elliott ... found that when the young woman passed away, her parents requested that donations be made in her honor to Planned Parenthood. That's the same invaluable family-planning group that Mr. Romney has pledged to defund once in the White House."

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times has a useful piece explaining Romney's & Obama's differences on trade with China.

With Armaggedon approaching -- or, to borrow from Akhilleus'commentary, a crossing of the Rubicon about to occur at Hofstra -- let us bask in the memory of happier times -- way last week:

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week 'ramrodded their way' into the group's Youngstown, [Ohio,] soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall." ...

"I keep my good-works photo-op apron crisp & clean by only washing dishes that are already clean."... Um, the dishes didn't need washing. Oh, and there were no people there having soup. Neetzan Zimmerman of Gawker has the pathetically hilarious details. But, hey, Paul Ryan looks really compassionate when he's railroaded press photographers in to take his picture looking compassionate.

Other Stuff

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "If he gets another four years in the White House, [President Obama] already has plans to go right back on the campaign trail to build support for his deficit-reduction framework, Democrats say, and administration officials are debating whether Mr. Obama should make some concession to Republicans to spur negotiations." CW: sure sounds familiar, doesn't it? It would be nice if, instead of "building support for his deficit-reduction framework" & "making some concession to Republicans to spur negotiations," Obama took Jon Chait's advice (see link in yesterday Commentariat) & just stuck it to Congressional Republicans, something he would easily be able to do because of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Monetary policy, while highly accommodative by historic standards, may still not have been sufficiently accommodative given the economic circumstances.... With the benefit of hindsight, monetary policy needed to be still more aggressive. -- William Dudley, President of the New York Fed

No shit. -- Constant Weader

A doctor writes to Paul Krugman adding another way that emergency rooms do not care for patients with life-threatening illnesses. CW: Mitt Romney doesn't care if they die. See also Krugman's column linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

Kevin Roose & Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine have a little on Vikram Pandit's ouster as CitiGroup CEO (see today's News Ledes) but not much.

News Ledes

New York Times: "An officer for the Central Intelligence Agency was killed on Saturday in a suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan, American officials said Tuesday."

AP: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for voters in the battleground state of Ohio to cast ballots on the three days before Election Day, giving Democrats and President Barack Obama's campaign a victory three weeks before the election. The court refused a request by the state's Republican elections chief and attorney general to get involved in a battle over early voting."

New York Times: "A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the terrorism conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden whose case has been one of the most tangled to emerge from the war crimes trials of detainees held by the military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The court found that Mr. Hamdan's conviction by a military commission for providing material support for terrorism could not stand because, under the international law of war in effect at the time of his actions, there was no such defined war crime."

Reuters: "Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit has resigned effectively immediately, the company said on Tuesday in a statement from Chairman Michael O'Neill." CW: oh, there will be more to this story, which at this point is just an item. ...

     ... Update: here is more from the New York Times, but nothing really definitive as far as I can see to explain Pandit's "surprise" resignation. ...

     ... Update Update: more from the Times.

AP: "The White House, under political pressure to respond forcefully to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, is readying strike forces and drones but first has to find a target."

AP: "Several paintings have been stolen from a museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam that was exhibiting works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh."

Sunday
Oct142012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 15, 2012

 

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "President Obama still appeared to hold a narrow Electoral College lead on the basis of state-by-state surveys, while national polls were suggestive of a tie or perhaps the slightest edge for Mitt Romney." ...

... Nincompoops Will Decide the Election. Alex Altman of Time: "As his standing in the polls improves, Mitt Romney is piling up public endorsements from a new cohort of voters: the celebrity train-wreck set.... Lindsay Lohan..., Hulk Hogan.... But the celebrity migration to the Romney camp is be a symptom of a potentially serious problem for Barack Obama: an indication that so-called low-information voters.... the bulk of undecided voters are undecided because they are not trying very hard."

The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal, which endorsed John McCain in 2008, endorses President Obama for re-election. Their editorial is eminently sensible. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "To prepare for the second round of the presidential debates, President Obamaretreated [to the Kingsmill Plantation resort in Williamsburg, Virginia,] this weekend.... Mr. Obama is practicing how to challenge Mr. Romney, something he inexplicably shied away from in Denver on Oct. 3..., how to accuse Mr. Romney of twisting the facts without seeming rude." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "Obama ... simply needs to invite voters to see that Romney, the product, will give them no clue as to what Romney, the person, might do as president. Romney keeps changing the packaging because he knows that the policies inside the box are not what voters are looking for."

... Mark Halperin of Time: "While an early October memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns and the bipartisan commission sponsoring the debates suggests CNN's Candy Crowley would play a limited role in the Tuesday-night session, Crowley, who is not a party to that agreement, has done a series of interviews on her network in which she has suggested she will assume a broader set of responsibilities." Both Obama's & Romney's campaigns have "expressed concern."

The Obama campaign is up with a new ad. The voiceover announcer sounds familir:

... Here's a new pitch. The Obama campaign touts the improved economy:

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Now campaigning as the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee, [former GOP New Mexico Gov. Gary] Johnson is still only a blip in the polls. But he is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma, enjoys the support of a few small 'super PACs' and is trying to tap into the same grass-roots enthusiasm that helped build Representative Ron Paul a big following.... Both sides agree that Mr. Johnson, whose pro-marijuana legalization and antiwar stances may appeal to the youth vote and whose antigovernment, anti-spending proposals may appeal to conservative fiscal hawks ... has the potential to draw from both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama." Republicans are trying to thwart Johnson's candidacy through a variety of means.

Jonathan Chait of New York on how Obama & Romney each plan to govern: "... shortly after the next Inaugural Ball -- perhaps very, very shortly after -- the great stalemate between socialism and social Darwinism will break open and likely turn decisively in one direction or the other." CW: couldn't get the printer-friendly version to load, so you'll have to cursor through or give it a try. I haven't had time to read Chait's piece as I have some "other obligations" this morning, but I plan to go back to it.

Rosie Perez nails it:

"Death by Ideology." Paul Krugman: "Last week..., Mr. Romney declared that nobody in America dies because he or she is uninsured.... This followed on an earlier remark by Mr. Romney -- echoing an infamous statement by none other than George W. Bush -- in which he insisted that emergency rooms provide essential health care to the uninsured. These are remarkable statements. They clearly demonstrate that Mr. Romney has no idea what life (and death) are like for those less fortunate than himself.... A literal description of [the Romney-Ryan] plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income."

Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News: "The father of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed in the attack in Benghazi last month, said his son's death shouldn't be politicized in the presidential campaign. 'It would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue,' Jan Stevens, 77, said.... Mitt Romney ... has criticized President Barack Obama for not providing adequate security in Libya, saying the administration has left the country exposed to a deadly terrorist attack. The ambassador's father, a lawyer, said politicians should await the findings of a formal investigation before making accusations or judgments." (See also New York Times editorial linked under Other Stuff.) ...

Ben Geman of The Hill: "President Obama's senior campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday defended the administration's handling of the consulate attack in Libya, accusing Mitt Romney of trying to 'exploit' the issue."

Musical Interlude

Big Brother Is Here and His Name Is Obama Romney. Charles Duhigg of the New York Times: "Strategists affiliated with the Obama and Romney campaigns say they have access to information about the personal lives of voters at a scale never before imagined. And they are using that data to try to influence voting habits -- in effect, to train voters to go to the polls through subtle cues, rewards and threats in a manner akin to the marketing efforts of credit card companies and big-box retailers." Thanks to a reader for pointing me to this story, which I skipped over earlier. Her comment: "incredible and scary."

CW: Oops, forgot to run this yesterday. Thanks to contributor Diane for reminding me:

"Arianna Huffington"'s review of Martha Raddatz's performance is fairly funny, too:

Mike Elk of In These Times: "In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president.... Enclosed with the letter was a flyer listing Koch-endorsed candidates, beginning with Romney.... The packet also included an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch." Via Yahoo! News. ...

... Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "Chris Hayes reported today on another CEO -- Arthur Allen of ASG Software Solutions -- who said in an email to his employees that they'd only have themselves to blame if they lose their jobs if Obama wins."

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: "Former South Carolina Governor and Fox News contributor Mark Sanford wandered off the Appalachian Trail again Sunday morning when, in yet another completely isolated example of a Republican being totally-not-racist even though he sounds racist, said that President Obama is going to 'come out and throw a lot of spears' at Tuesday’s upcoming debate." (See also story below re: Tommy Thompson's son.)

AND AP: "Pizza Hut is rethinking its contest daring people to ask 'Sausage or Pepperoni?' at the presidential debate Tuesday. After the stunt triggered backlash last week, the company says it's moving the promotion online, where a contestant will be randomly selected to win free pizza for life. In a segment on Comedy Central's 'Colbert Report,' host Stephen Colbert asked, 'What could be more American than using our electoral process for product placement?'"

Congressional Races

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: Jason Thompson, the son of former Governor and Wisconson Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, speaking this morning at a brunch attended RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that 'we have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago -- or Kenya.'" CW: hard to figure why these candidates' supporters are overt racists, isn't it? (See yesterday's Commentariat for a few examples.)

Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "The bruised feelings of retiring Senate centrists have created headaches for Republican and Democratic leaders who are trying to keep control of their seats. Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are staying aloof from the battles for the seats they are vacating, giving challengers a better chance of flipping them." CW: bruised feelings? Maybe these senators just have principles & won't support a candidate with whom they fundamentally disagree. Oh, wait. Joe Lieberman.

Eric Moskowitz of the Boston Globe writes an in-depth piece on Elizabeth Warren as a teacher. Sorry, Scott Brown, no expose' here. She's tough and her students love her. Thanks to contributor Julie L. for the link.

Edward McClelland of NBC Chicago: Republican Joe "Walsh is a shameless, sexist, racist, creedist, colorist, national originist political bully who will do and say anything to win." And he just might win. A recent poll has him up by more than 2 points over Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. CW: maybe Frank Rich -- see link below -- is right.

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. has been out of the public eye since June when his office said he was suffering from exhaustion, revealing later that he was receiving treatment for bipolar II disorder. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that ... the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal probe into allegations that he used campaign money to decorate his house." CW: Mental illness or not, Jackson is a sleazy crook. ...

... An Unusual Convalescence. Update. John Cook of Gawker: "According to two independent sources, Jackson was spotted drinking at Bier Baron Tavern, a craft beer bar not far from Dupont Circle, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights last week. Each night, he was accompanied by a different woman. According to both sources, Jackson was drinking." Heavy on the sleazy.

Other Stuff

CW: Well, this is depressing. Frank Rich has a long piece in which he argues that no matter who wins this election, the Tea Party philosophy will eventually prevail. My comments on Chait's piece, above, are applicable here, too.

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats. That conclusion ... casts into doubt whether the White House's strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government."

"Republicans Have No Shame." New York Times Editors: "... the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don't seem to get the hypocrisy, or maybe they do and figure that if they hurl enough doubts and complaints at the administration, they will deflect attention from their own poor judgments on the State Department's needs." ...

Deborah Kenny, the principal of Harlem Village Academies: "... the solution [to teacher accountability] being considered by many states -- having the government evaluate individual teachers -- is a terrible idea that undermines principals and is demeaning to teachers."

Bill Keller writes about British sexual predator [Sir] Jimmy Savile whose popular BBC television shows gave him access to young girls. Mark Thompson, who was head of the BBC when it killed a story about Savile's crimes (the story was produced after Savile's death), is about to become the New York Times' CEO.

John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News remembers Arlen Specter.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Dr. S. Ward Casscells, a nationally prominent cardiologist who astonished himself and those who knew him by joining the Army Reserve at 54 and volunteering to go to Iraq before being appointed the Pentagon's top medical officer, died on Sunday in Washington. He was 60. The cause was complications from prostate cancer, his family said."

New York Times: "The Pentagon and State Department are speeding up efforts to help the Libyan government create a commando force to combat Islamic extremists like the ones who killed the American ambassador in Libya last month and to help counter the country's fractious militias.... The Obama administration quietly won Congress's approval last month to shift about $8 million from Pentagon operations and counterterrorism aid budgeted for Pakistan to begin building an elite Libyan force over the next year that could ultimately number about 500 troops."

New York Times: "Health officials are warning that more people may be at risk from contaminated drugs made by a Massachusetts company linked to a growing meningitis outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration reported on Monday that the company's products may have also caused other types of infections in patients who have had eye operations or open-heart surgery.... The New England Compounding Center has shut down and recalled all its products. At least five states, besides Massachusetts, have suspended the company's license: Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia."

Washington Post: "The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks appeared in court Monday at the Guantanamo Bay prison for a week of pretrial motions that are expected to touch on claims of torture at secret CIA sites and the public's right to unfettered access to the proceedings. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 47, and his four co-defendants were quiet during the opening day of motions, a break from their disruptive and defiant behavior during their arraignment in the spring."

New York Times: "The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether Arizona may require proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in federal elections. The federal appeals court in San Francisco blocked the state law in April, saying it conflicted with a federal one. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case early next year, and the law will remain suspended in the meantime."

Washington Post: "Britain and Scotland signed an accord Monday clearing the way for a historic vote on independence that could see this island's northern lands stand alone for the first time in three centuries as Europe's newest overeign state. Monday's accord effectively launches a critical two-year independence campaign during which the Scottish National Party -- whose surprise victory in regional elections last year propelled the push for a referendum -- will go toe-to-toe against those fiercely opposed to rupturing modern Britain."

New York Times: "The European Union toughened sanctions against Iran on Monday because of the disputed Iranian nuclear program, banning trade in sectors like finance, metals and natural gas, and making business transactions in many other areas far more cumbersome."

New York Times: "Two Americans, Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd Shapley, were awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday for their work on market design and matching theory, which relate to how people and companies find and select one another in everything from marriage to school choice to jobs."

New York Times: "The American Civil Liberties Union is accusing Morgan Stanley of fueling the production of risky, expensive loans that targeted African-American borrowers. In the lawsuit, expected to be filed on Monday, the A.C.L.U. claims that Morgan Stanley is culpable for predatory loans made through the New Century Financial Corporation because the investment bank lent billions of dollars to New Century, a now-defunct subprime lender, and pressured it to make troublesome loans to African-American borrowers who could not afford them."

New York Times: "The Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban last week for advocating girls' education has been flown to Britain for emergency specialist care.... Malala Yousafzai, 14, left an air base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where she was being treated for head wounds in a military hospital, on an air ambulance sent from the United Arab Emirates."

Saturday
Oct132012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 14, 2012

Presidential Race

Nate Silver Today: "President Obama halted an 8-day winning streak for Mitt Romney in the FiveThirtyEight forecast on Saturday, with his chances of winning the Electoral College ticking up to 62.9 percent from 61.1 percent on Friday. One should be careful about making too much of this: Mr. Romney has made very strong gains in the forecast over the past week-and-a-half to draw the race nearly even. It is unlikely that there will be a major change in the landscape until Tuesday's debate in New York." ...

Nate Silver Yesterday: "Mitt Romney continues to surge in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, and Friday may have featured his best set of polls all year." ...

... Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks." ...

... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Ohio poll finds Barack Obama leading 51-46, a 5 point lead not too different from our last poll two weeks ago when he led 49-45. The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they've already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven't voted yet...." ...

... Sam Youngman of Reuters: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is recovering ground in the critical swing state of Ohio as he rises in the polls and crowd numbers swell after his strong debate performance last week against President Barack Obama. Despite pundits and pollsters dismissing Romney's chances in the state in late September, the Republican is now either tied or just barely trailing Obama in Ohio ahead of the next presidential debate on Tuesday night."

AP: "Bruce Springsteen will be back campaigning for President Barack Obama. The musician will join former President Bill Clinton at a Thursday rally in Parma, Ohio, two days after the second presidential debate. Obama will not attend the rally. Springsteen also will appear at a campaign event Thursday in Ames, Iowa."

Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The fact that Mitt Romney's tax plan is mathematically impossible was reinforced again on Friday, when Mark Zandi, a former John McCain campaign adviser and Chief Economist at Moody's Economy, admitted as much. Speaking on CNN's 'Starting Point,' Zandi acknowledged a study by the Tax Policy Center that shows Romney's plan to lower taxes by 20 percent across the board, while making up those losses in government revenue by closing loopholes on the wealthy, doesn't add up. Zandi even went so far as to say that "the arithmetic doesn't work as it is right now." ...

... Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic runs down the "six independent studies" Rmoney & AynR. are always citing as absolute proof their magical numbers work. Hilariously, one of the "independent studies" was cooked up by the Romney campaign. ...

... John Amato of Crooks & Liars says "Obama should slam Romney on his 'six studies' falsehood." CW: yeah, Steve Benen comes up with about 30 things every week Obama should slam Romney for. Good luck with that.

Danny Hakim of the New York Times: "During Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts, he cumulatively spent more than a year -- part or all of 417 days -- out of the state.... More than 70 percent of that time was spent on personal or political trips unrelated to his job.... Mr. Romney ... took lengthy vacations and weekend getaways. But much of his travel was to lay the groundwork for the presidential ambitions he would pursue in the 2008 election, two years after leaving office. During his last year as governor, he was largely an absentee chief executive." CW: sorta the Sarah Palin of Massachusetts, though at least she flat-out quit.

Sam Baker of The Hill: "Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) did not appreciate Paul Ryan calling him a supporter of the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan during Thursday's vice presidential debate.... Wyden made clear on his Facebook page that he does not support the plan Romney and Ryan are advancing, despite his past partnership with Ryan."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "The Getty Images photo was taken at a Romney/Ryan campaign event in Lancaster, Ohio on Friday. A Romney spokesperson commented that the shirt was 'reprehensible and has no place in this election.'" ...

... David Neiwert of Crooks & Liars: "Now, candidates can't really be blamed for all the nutcases they attract. But what exactly did Republicans think was going to be the outcome when Romney and Co. began indulging in a campaign employing barely-disguised racial dog whistles anyway?" ...

OR, if you own a retail business, you can showcase a racist smear right in your big ole storefront window, as this guy in Spring Lake, New Jersey, is doing. CW: don't you love the way people cite the First Amendment as an excuse for the most indefensible expressions? "The Constitution made me do it."

Maureen Dowd knocks Obama, Biden, Ryan, lets Romney off the hook.

Other Stuff

** "The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent. Chrystia Freeland in a New York Times op-ed: "The irony of the political rise of the plutocrats is that ... they threaten the system that created them."

Prof. Nicholas Carnes in the New York Times: White-collar millionaires "have a super-majority in the Senate, a majority in the House, a majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.... With so few leaders with experience in working-class jobs..., economic policy routinely tilts toward outcomes that help white-collar professionals at the expense of the working class. Social safety net programs are stingier, business regulations are flimsier, tax policies are more regressive, and protections for workers are weaker than they would be if our lawmakers came from the same mix of classes as the people they represent."

Gretchen Morgensen of the New York Times reads the new book by Sheila Bair, who was FDIC chair during the 2008 financial crisis. News flash: Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke & Tim Geithner were not out to help you.

Steven Yaccino of the New York Times: "Dozens of colleges have begun their own voting registration drives in orientation programs, class registration, intranet Web sites and other interactions crucial to campus life, institutionalizing services that had often been left to outside efforts. As a result, thousands of students registered to vote, updated their addresses or requested absentee ballots from their home states within days of arriving to campus this fall, officials at several universities said."

"Bachmann Family Values." Frank Bruni interviews Michele Bachmann's gay relative, who is hoping the Minnesota referendum on the November ballot banning gay marriage doesn't pass, as she wants to marry her long-time partner. Her relationship with Bachmann is, well, strained.

Profs. Graham Allison & Shea Feldman in a New York Times op-ed: "Mr. Netanyahu's about-face [on an early military strike against Iran] resulted from a long-building revolt by Israel's professional security establishment against the very idea of an early military attack, particularly one without the approval of the United States."

Local News

CBS Tampa: "The Florida State Board of Outrageous Racism Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race. On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level." See, kids, reading is not all that important a skill for field hands. ...

... The lyrics to our Florida state song are here. The state officially revised them way back in 2008 to make them, um, less offensive. I learned the original version when I was in grade school. I expect the Florida Department of Outrageous Racism is fixin' to change the lyrics back.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Arlen Specter, the irascible senator from Pennsylvania who was at the center of many of the Senate's most divisive legal battles -- from the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Clarence Thomas to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton -- only to lose his seat in 2010 after quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82." The Washington Post obituary is here.

New York Times: "Enmeshed in a bruising political battle over new mining rules seen as vital to Afghanistan's economic future, the country's mining minister on Sunday disclosed about 200 previous mining contracts for the first time, portraying the move as an attempt to bring transparency to a process vulnerable to corruption."

 

Space: "An Austrian daredevil plummeted into the record books today (Oct. 14), breaking the mark for highest-ever skydive after leaping from a balloon more than 24 miles above Earth's surface. Add one more feat: Going supersonic. Felix Baumgartner's ... harrowing plunge shattered the skydiving altitude record, which had stood for more than 50 years, and it notched a few other firsts as well. During his freefall, for example, Baumgartner became the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier...." Video above.

New York Times: "Suddenly, the Portuguese ... have joined the swelling ranks of Europe's discontented, following Greece and Spain, after the government tried to take another step up the austerity path last month. For many here, it was one step too far, driving tens of thousands into the streets in the largest protest of Portugal's crisis."

AP: "Syrian government forces appear to have recently made use of cluster bombs, weapons banned by most countries because of the danger they pose to civilians, a New York-based rights watchdog said Sunday.Human Rights Watch said in a report that Syrian activists posted at least 18 videos on Oct. 9-12 showing remnants of the bombs in or near several towns...."

AP: "The space shuttle Endeavour is finally on the home stretch of its journey through Los Angeles streets to its retirement at a museum. Officials are estimating that the space craft will reach the California Science Museum around 6 a.m. PDT Sunday. It was originally expected to arrive early Saturday evening, but it hit repeated delays throughout the day."