The Ledes

Friday, August 1, 2014.

Miami Herald: "Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled Friday that the Florida Legislature must immediately revise its congressional map and gave it until Aug. 15 to submit a revised map."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/01/4266657/florida-judges-orders-special.html#storylink=cpy

New York Times: "A newly agreed cease-fire in the Gaza conflict collapsed hours after it came into effect on Friday with the Israeli military announcing that a soldier appeared to have been captured by Palestinian militants who emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Gaza health officials said that 27 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded as Israeli forces bombarded the area." ....

... Hill: "The White House on Friday blasted Hamas for violating a 72-hour cease-fire agreement.... White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged reports that Hamas had used the cease-fire as cover to carry out an attack on Israeli soldiers. 'That would be a rather barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement,' Earnest said on CNN’s 'New Day.' 'Hamas is entirely responsible for upholding their end of the bargain, and it’s apparent that they did not do that.' ...

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday urged Qatar and Turkey to use their influence to secure the release of an Israeli soldier who apparently was captured in Gaza shortly after an announced cease-fire went into effect."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 31, 2014.

Washington Post: A "confluence of worries sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling more than 300 points, its worst one-day drop since February. The plunge snapped a string of five straight monthly gains, and pushed the blue-chip index to a slight loss for the year. But it wasn’t just stocks that suffered. Oil fell to its lowest level since March, gold dropped and even Treasurys edged lower."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Thursday that he would not agree to any cease-fire proposal that does not allow the Israeli military to complete its mission of destroying Hamas’s tunnel network in Gaza." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional, 72-hour humanitarian truce to begin Friday morning, diplomats from the United States and the United Nations announced Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the 24-day-old conflict. In a joint statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said both sides in the conflict are sending delegations to Cairo for negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting cease-fire."

USA Today: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban two months ago, will meet next week with the senior Army officer investigating the circumstances of his capture in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Wednesday. Bergdahl, who spent five years in captivity, plans to meet with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the investigating officer, in San Antonio, where Bergdahl is stationed, according to lawyer Eugene Fidell."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
August 1

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

Contact the Constant Weader

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Constant Comments

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

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

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

Friday
May112012

The Commentariat -- May 12, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

David Ingram of Reuters: "Two big cases addressing marriage rights for gays and lesbians are on track to reach the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this year, keeping the focus on an issue President Barack Obama reignited with his endorsement this week."

Risky Business

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "Soon after lawmakers finished work on the nation's new financial regulatory law, a team of JPMorgan Chase lobbyists descended on Washington. Their goal was to obtain special breaks that would allow banks to make big bets in their portfolios, including some of the types of trading that led to the $2 billion loss now rocking the bank."

Peter Eavis & Susan Craig of the New York Times: "Every big bank has risk controls. Teams of executives are assigned to manage and review trades to ensure the bank’s safety and health. Yet trading debacles happen with surprising regularity. Last year, losses at two big institutions rocked the financial world. MF Global went out of business after making an ill-timed bet on European debt. Before that, a UBS trader in London lost the firm $2.3 billion. The 2008 financial crisis was the result of major risk miscalculations that brought down several big financial institutions, including Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and the American International Group."

It just shows they can't manage risk -- and if JPMorgan can't, no one can. -- Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund.

Daniel Wagner of the AP: "JPMorgan is the largest bank in the United States and was the only major bank to remain profitable during the 2008 financial crisis. That lent credibility to its tough-talking CEO, Jamie Dimon, as he opposed stricter regulation in the aftermath. But Dimon's contention that the $2 billion loss came from a hedging strategy that backfired, not an opportunistic bet with the bank's own money, faced doubt on Friday, if not outright ridicule."

Ben Protess, et al., of the New York Times: "While the [$2BB] loss [JPMorgan Chase experienced] is not a huge threat to a bank as large and powerful as JPMorgan, whose shares tumbled 9.3 percent on Friday, it is a stark reminder that the banking system remains vulnerable to market shocks more than three years after the financial crisis. It has heightened concerns that big banks continue to make risky financial bets that could threaten the economy. ...

JPMorgan has lost, in this one set of transactions, five times the amount they claim financial regulation is costing them. -- Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) ...

... Nelson Schwartz & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie "Dimon's reputation and possibly his influence have been cut down to size. The trading loss disclosed late Thursday is a rare misstep by a man who prides himself on having his fingers on the pulse of his 270,000-employee company, and it suggests his vaunted confidence edged toward hubris." ...

... Here are some videos of Dimon complaining about regulation & the Volcker Rule.

... New York Times Editors: "... the loss also occurred because of a continued lack, nearly four years after the crisis, of rules and regulators up to the task of protecting taxpayers and the economy from the excesses of too big to fail banks; and, yes, of protecting the banks from their executives' and traders' destructive risk-taking.... JP Morgan, like the nation's other big banks, is still engaged in activities that can provoke catastrophic losses.... Mitt Romney has called for repealing Dodd Frank. That may win him Wall Street cash, but it is profoundly dangerous."

Presidential Race

Dan Eggen & Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage is energizing Christian conservative support for Mitt Romney in a way that the likely GOP nominee has so far not been able to do on his own, according to religious leaders and activists. Pastors in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and other swing states are readying Sunday sermons inveighing against same-sex unions, while activist groups have begun laying plans for social media campaigns, leaflet drives and other get-out-the-vote efforts centered on the same-sex marriage issue. Romney could benefit from a strong turnout among evangelicals and other social conservatives, many of whom remain skeptical of his commitment to their causes."

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "A majority of Americans, 60%, say President Barack Obama's newly announced support for same-sex marriage will make no difference to their vote. Twice as many say it will make them less likely to vote for Obama as say more likely, though roughly half of the 'less likely' group are Republicans who probably would not support Obama anyway."

Mitch Weiss of the AP: "Once a bright spot for President Barack Obama, North Carolina is now more like a political migraine less than four months before Democrats open the party's national convention in Charlotte. Labor unions, a core Democratic constituency, are up in arms. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue isn't running for re-election; Democrats say she was likely to lose. The state Democratic Party is in disarray over an explosive sexual harassment scandal. Voters recently approved amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.... And unemployment in the state remains persistently high.... Now traditional Democratic Party groups are threatening huge protests in part because they're deeply uncomfortable that the convention is being held in one of the least union-friendly states. And thousands of Democrats across the country are calling for the convention to be relocated because of the gay-marriage vote."

Not Bringing the Scissors Today. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's commencement address Saturday at Liberty University, the evangelical institution in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell, comes on the heels of President's Obama's announcement Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage. But in a conference call with reporters Friday, Romney campaign aides said ... Mr. Romney would not overtly wade into the issue of same-sex marriage. 'Marriage isn't the focus of the speech, but he will mention the fact that marriage is an enduring institution, which deserves to be defended,' one aide said." ...

     ... Update. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post reports on Romney's speech at Liberty.

Steve Benen catches Romney in 20 lies this week. (CW: The funniest one, to me, is his repeated insistence that Syria is Iran's route to the sea -- funny because Iran & Syria don't even share a border & Iran has hundreds of miles of coastline. Maybe if Romney hadn't let Ric Grenell go, Grenell would have updated Romney's stupid stump speech.)

Charles Blow: "There was a malicious streak at the core of the high-school boy in these accounts. Romney's muddled and confusing explanation and half-apologies only reinforce concerns that there is also something missing from the core of the man: sincerity and sensitivity. Targeting the vulnerable is an act of cowardice. The only way to vanquish cowardice is to brandish courage. Romney refused to do so."

Beth Reinhard of the National Journal: As Massachusetts governor, Romney's evolving record on anti-gay bullying got worse, not better, as he repositioned himself to run for president.

Right Wing World

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Broun owes an apology to history."to

Dana Milbank compares Richard Mourdock, who beat out Sen. Dick Lugar in the Indiana primary to Keith Judd, the federal inmate "who won 41 percent of the ballots against President Obama in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary."

New York Times Editors: "For more than a year, House Republicans have energetically worked to demolish vital social programs that have made this country both stronger and fairer over the last half-century. At the same time, they have insisted on preserving bloated military spending and unjustifiably low tax rates for the rich. That effort reached a nadir on Thursday when the House voted to prevent $55 billion in automatic cuts imposed on the Pentagon as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, choosing instead to make all those cuts, and much more, from domestic programs."

Local News

Tim Ghianni of Reuters: "Tennessee teachers can no longer condone so-called 'gateway sexual activity' such as touching genitals under a new law that critics say is too vague and could hamper discussion about safe sexual behavior. Governor Bill Haslam's office Friday confirmed that he had signed the bill, which stirred up controversy nationwide and even was lampooned by comedian Stephen Colbert." CW: in related news, the state's top sociologists, psychiatrists and other members of the scientific community have remarked on the anomaly that the state's adult legislators are more interested in sex than are teens. A Vanderbilt University bacteriologist has recommended testing the water in the drinking fountains at the capitol building in Nashville. "There's something wrong with these people," she said.

Jason Stein & Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use 'divide and conquer' as a strategy against unions. Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor's campaign -- making her Walker's single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.... In the 2010 campaign, Walker won the support of Operating Engineers Local 139, a union that represents about 9,000 heavy equipment operators in Wisconsin. The union is not endorsing anyone in this year's recall election. Terry McGowan, the union's business manager, said the union gave its 2010 endorsement only after getting assurances Walker would not pursue right-to-work legislation.... But he added that divide and conquer is a phrase that is anathema to those in the labor movement. 'It means turning worker against worker,' he said." Via Charles Pierce.

News Ledes

** New York Times: "Louis H. Pollak, a federal judge and former dean of two prestigious law schools who played a significant role in major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, died on Wednesday at his home in Philadelphia. He was 89."

New York Times: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday sharply criticized the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, over his handling of child sexual abuse cases among the borough's large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community."

AP: "An Israeli envoy will submit a letter to the Palestinian president regarding the possibility of substantive peace talks, said officials from both sides Saturday. The modest exchange is the highest-level communication between the two sides in months."

Guardian: "Chicago police have been accused of intimidating protesters ahead of the Nato conference next week. A video posted to YouTube appears to show officers saying they would 'come looking for' protesters after a traffic stop in the city." Includes video.

Washington Post: "Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has given up his U.S. citizenship, a move that will reduce his taxes when Facebook goes public in the coming weeks. Saverin, who was born in Brazil and moved to the U.S. in 1992 and has been a U.S. citizen since 1998, has decided to become a resident of Singapore."

Thursday
May102012

The Commentariat -- May 11, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "The Essential Mitt Romney." The NYTX front page is here.

Today Paul Krugman directly attacks David Brooks' most recent column. Krugman doesn't mention Brooks by name, so see if you can spot the direct refutation. "... claims that our problems are deep and structural offer an excuse for not acting, for doing nothing to alleviate the plight of the unemployed.... Inventing reasons not to do anything about current unemployment isn’t just cruel and wasteful, it's bad long-run policy, too." The last word: "David Brooks is off today."

Savvy Businessmen. Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion trading loss, which was disclosed on Thursday, [see today's News Ledes] could give supporters of tighter industry regulation a huge new piece of ammunition as they fight a last-ditch battle with the banks over new federal rules that may redefine how banks do business. 'The enormous loss JPMorgan announced today is just the latest evidence that what banks call "hedges" are often risky bets that so-called "too big to fail" banks have no business making,'; said Senator Carl Levin...." ...

... Kevin Roose of the New York Times: "The news of JPMorgan Chase's estimated $2 billion loss stemming from a misguided hedging strategy in the bank's chief investment office has set off a spring-loaded schadenfreude cannon among the industry’s critics.... Since the shocking disclosure, [CEO Jamie] Dimon was flayed by industry analysts as well as media onlookers for having been a vocal opponent of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul while at the same time overseeing risky trades that could hurt his bank's earnings."

Tim Egan remembers his mother. Perhaps he will cause you to remember yours. If she's still around, tell her something fulsome.

Ray Rivera & Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "... in recent years, as allegations of child sexual abuse have shaken the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, victims' rights groups have expressed concern that [Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes] is not vigorously pursuing these cases because of his deep ties to the rabbis. Many of the rabbis consider sexual abuse accusations to be community matters best handled by rabbinical authorities, who often do not report their conclusions to the police." Guardian story here.

Peter Wallsten & Scott Wilson of the Washington Post: "Some inconsistencies remain in Obama's stance [on gay marriage]. Though he thinks gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, he still says he views it as a states' rights issue at a time when many states are moving to tighten prohibitions on same-sex unions."

Presidential Race

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "At the very least, this makes Biden a major figure in what will go down as one of the Obama administration's signature moments, guaranteeing that his vice presidency will be remembered in history -- something that can't be said for many of his predecessors. But this also has the potential to generate newfound respect and appreciation for Biden among the younger, more culturally liberal party base, voters who until now have been conditioned to regard Biden as an almost comic figure -- the tone-deaf, gaffe-prone great-uncle of American politics."

NEW. Reader Bonnie has been catching up on some serious epistolary prose. ...

     ... Andy Borowitz reports on Mitt Romney's letter to the American people about his days as a merry prankster. The letter ends, "I hope when you vote in November, you won't judge me as the teenager who bullied one gay boy, but rather as the adult who fired thousands of people. Vote for me." ...

     ... Octogenarians Helen & Margaret correspond about Mitt's youthful hijinks. Helen doesn't think Mitt should be the one in three million people who becomes president. CW: Poor Helen! She seems unaware that it's Mitt's turn.

Felony bullying = Gang physically attacks a gay person.
Boyish hijinks = Romney-led gang physically attacks a gay person.

... See the Jason Horowitz WashPo story linked in yesterday's Commentariat. ...

... Emily Friedman, et al., of ABC News: Stu White, "one of Mitt Romney's closest friends and a high school classmate, has been asked by the Romney campaign to come out and offer 'supporting remarks' in defense of the candidate.... According to White, he knows of several other classmates that have also been approached by the campaign to counter the article.... One former classmate and old friend of Romney's -- who refused to be identified by name -- said there are 'a lot of guys' who went to Cranbrook who have 'really negative memories' of Romney's behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as 'like Lord of the Flies.' The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember it." ...

We were like a pack of dogs. This was bullying supreme. -- Phillip Maxwell, Friend of Mitt's ...

... David Muir of ABC News: "A high school classmate of presidential candidate Mitt Romney told ABC News today that he considers a particular prank the two pulled at Michigan's Cranbrook School to be 'assault and battery' and that he witnessed Romney hold the scissors to cut the hair of a student who was being physically pinned to the ground by several others." ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "Mitt Romney clashed with a state commission tasked with helping LGBT youth at risk for bullying and suicide throughout his term as Massachusetts governor over funding and its participation in a pride parade. He eventually abolished the group altogether."

... Kaia Mursi of Wonkette: "Mitt Romney is sorry if he hurt you when he went too far." ...

... ** Jamison Foser of Media Matters: "A clear, forceful statement of regret and denunciation of bullying could have been incredibly powerful -- a welcome and valuable contribution to ongoing efforts to reduce the kind of anti-gay bullying Romney once led.... Instead, Romney offers a perfunctory apology -- while laughing -- for 'hijinks and pranks' that 'might have gone too far.' ... Just yesterday, Romney indicated he still favors bullying of gays -- only now he prefers to use the law rather than a pair of scissors."

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "... there’s something especially troubling about this; it seems to reveal a privileged young man with no empathy at all for those who were different.... Perhaps even more disturbing: in this incident we see the special treatment granted to people like Romney. He suffered no consequences at all for his sadistic prank." CW: Romney was the governor's son. His victim later was permanently expelled when a student prefect caught him smoking a cigarette. ...

... Paul Waldman of the American Prospect: "Is there a correlation between the kind of cruel streak that makes you hold down a screaming, crying boy and cut off his hair, and the kind of cruel streak that makes you want to take away people's health insurance?" Waldman doesn't think so. Suppose Romney instead had stood up for the gay kid against other bullies. "Would that make it less abhorrent that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or that he wants to cut social programs, or that he wants to cut protections for clean air and clean water, or that he thinks gay people should be second-class citizens? No. Whether he wants to do those things because deep down in his soul he's a cruel person and always has been, or because ... he believes in an ideology that is fundamentally cruel, doesn't matter a bit." ...

... Alec MacGillis of The New Republic thinks "the prep-school Mitt was an insecure figure, even a sort of misfit," & that explains "his oddly sensitive temperament." ...

... "The Content of His Character." Jonathan Chait of New York magazine revives a story of George W. Bush in 1965 -- the same year Romney & his gang attacked the gay student -- telling friends who made fun of a "queer" to "Shut up." "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?" Bush said to his friends.

... AND Chait digs up exculpatory evidence: "... he also forcibly cut a dude's hair in college: 'At Stanford, he lured rival University of California students into a trap in which his buddies "shaved their heads and painted them red," according to a 1970 speech at Brigham Young University by his father, George Romney.' ... Maybe Romney didn't hate gays -- maybe he just hated hair. Or, other peoples' hair, anyway. Perhaps that is the deeper fixation: It is not enough for Romney to have perfect hair. Others must have terrible hair." ...

Right Wing World

Steve Benen: (For backstory, see yesterday's News Ledes.) "To offset the Pentagon cuts Republicans proposed but no longer support, the House GOP voted to find all of the savings by taking from programs that benefit struggling workers and families. Today's measure is nothing short of brutal, slashing food stamps, nearly eliminating job-training programs, eliminating health care subsidies, slashing the child tax credit, and taking school meals from 200,000 low-income children. And all of this would come on top of the spending cuts Democrats already agreed to as part of the same debt-ceiling deal. It's almost as if House Republicans want to collectively personify C. Montgomery Burns." ...

"GOP Leaves Debt Accord in the Dust." David Rogers of Politico has a good straight report on the bill.

Swiss Miss

May 9. Devin Henry of the Minn Post: "Michele Bachmann (R-Switzerland). Rep. Michele Bachmann lives in Stillwater, hails from Iowa and works in Washington, D.C. -- and as of March is a citizen of the country of Switzerland. Bachmann's spokeswoman confirmed that the third-term Republican and some of her family had became citizens of Switzerland." ...

... May 10. Devin Henry: "U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann intends to withdraw her dual citizenship in Switzerland, she said in a statement. Bachmann says she sent a letter to the Swiss consulate in Chicago asking for her citizenship to be withdrawn. She said she did so to make clear her loyalty to the United States." CW: Bachmann denies she is the model for the little Swiss girl who appears on the hour & bangs herself on the head on a brand of Swiss cuckoo clocks. Bachmann also has renounced Nestle's in favor of Hershey's chocolate, & she denies the voice on this recording is hers:

News Ledes

New York Times: "A judge in Virginia has cleared [J. Randolph Babbitt,] the former chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, of the drunken driving charges that cost him his job at the agency.

President Obama, in Nevada, spoke today on helping responsible homeowners:

Washington Post: "President Obama rolled into a modest hilltop neighborhood [in Reno, Nevada,] Friday to champion his administration's efforts to help underwater homeowners get back on their feet -- and to urge Congress to do more.... Obama announced a dramatic spike in the number of Americans who are taking advantage of federal programs that let them refinance their loans."

New York Times: In Greece, "Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza..., rejected calls to join a unity government, pushing Greece closer to new elections in a climate in which it is becoming increasingly difficult for any party to enforce Greece's debt deal with foreign creditors."

New York Times: "Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary, testified in the so-called Leveson inquiry into press ethics on Friday, facing close scrutiny about her ties to Prime Minister David Cameron before and after he took office." The Guardian is liveblogging the hearing, including livestreaming video here. ...

     ... An updated Guardian story is here.

Reuters: "JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, said it suffered a trading loss of at least $2 billion from a failed hedging strategy, a shock disclosure that hit financial stocks and the reputation of the bank and its CEO, Jamie Dimon. For a bank viewed as a strong risk manager that went through the financial crisis without reporting a loss, the errors are embarrassing, especially given Dimon's public criticism of the so-called Volcker rule to ban proprietary trading by big banks." Guardian story here. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Regulators are investigating potential civil violations surrounding the $2 billion loss that JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Thursday, raising further questions about the trading activities at the nation's biggest bank."

Wednesday
May092012

The Commentariat -- May 10, 2012

Who(m) Are You Going to Believe?

** James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a New York Times op-ed: "Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening.... Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history.... [If Canada exploits its tar sands oil,] over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California's Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.... President Obama speaks of a 'planet in peril,' but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world's course." ...

Greg Sargent: "A bipartisan group of Senators is going public today with a call for Senate hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would expand the ban against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all but the smallest private-sector employers...."

I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. -- Barack Obama ...

... See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... Rick Klein of ABC News: also from the interview of President Obama, in a segment not yet aired, Obama said,

This is something that, you know, we've talked about over the years and she [Michelle Obama], you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I'll be as president. ...

      ... Update: here's the full transcript of the interview. AND, finally, the full interview:

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... CW: Update: Obama must be happy with his decision to go public with this; what with our being such close personal friends, he just e-mailed me the video of his remarks.

... David Corn of Mother Jones: "Asked about the timing of Obama's announcement, a White House official tells me that 'this was something the president has been thinking of doing for several months. He spoke a lot with Mrs. Obama. He gave a lot of thought to this. He saw his daughters being friends with children with same-sex parents. He saw what was happening at the state level in New York and elsewhere. This has all been informing his thinking for months, and he had planned to do something prior to the convention.' Did Biden's remarks speed up the process? 'That made it happen sooner than later,' this source says." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed with the chronology of an evolution. He was for it before he was against it before he was for it. ...

... Frank Bruni: "... history was made today, and millions of Americans right now feel that their country has shown them a new, heightened degree of the respect they richly deserve. Our highest elected official, our president,said that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, something that none of his predecessors had done, something that he had refused to do since becoming a national political figure. There's a powerful message in that." ...

... NEW. BUT. John Cook of Gawker: "He now believes that gay couples should be able to marry. He doesn't believe they have a right to do so. This is like saying that black children and white children ought to attend the same schools, but if the people of Alabama reject that notion -- what are you gonna do? ... Equality is not a state-by-state issue.... Anyone who supports the legitimacy[of state gay marriage bans] -- as Obama just did, in no uncertain terms -- even if they oppose the policy, is adopting the retrograde position in the contemporary gay marriage debate. Obama is moving backward, not forward." ...

... BUT BUT. Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly: Obama's "comments tend to be read outside of the context of other actions being taken by the administration.... If the administration were still defending DOMA and had taken no position on the level of scrutiny to be applied to sexual orientation classifications, then Obama's statement might mean that his view is that states have unfettered rights to legislate as they they wish on marriage. But, that is not the circumstances in which he makes these comments. Instead, Obama's position now is three-fold: (1) he personally supports same-sex marriage; (2) he believes as a policy matter that state, and not federal, law should define marriages, as it always has been in this country; and (3) he believes that there are federal constitutional limitations on those state decisions." CW: I agree with Geidner. My reading is that Obama did much more for gay marriage before yesterday than he did yesterday. He walked the walk before he talked the talk -- which is unusual for a politician. ...

... NEW. AND. Josh Barro of Forbes sees other federal matters related to gay marriage which the Obama administration will have to address. CW: I happen to think the courts in their ponderous ways, will address many of these issues. The amendment to North Carolina's state constitution passed this week simply cannot pass U.S. Constitutional muster. Obama might try to executive-order some of these laws & amendments out of existence, but the issues will still wind up in federal court, as they should.

... NEW. From Stinky Cheese to "General Hospital." Dana Milbank: Obama metamorphosis makes great daytime teevee.

... AND from Right Wing World. Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit: "He just threw MILLIONS of Christian Americans under the bus.  Personally, I don't have a problem with gay relationships. I don't have a problem with gay unions. I do have a problem with a president pushing a law on the people with the specific intent of punishing the Church and Christian Americans." CW: Yeah, Jesus is weeping, yada yada yada. ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine: "... the always reasonable Fox Nation essentially put out a call to arms, declaring in an all-caps headline, 'OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE.' But so much for brand unity, because Fox News anchor Shep Smith was not shy on-air about his agreement with the president's stated belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry":

 

Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not. -- Mitt Romney, today ...

... Steve Benen: "Romney is now positioned to the right of Bush/Cheney on legal recognition of same-sex partnerships -- Dick Cheney endorsed marriage equality, and George W. Bush backed civil unions. Yes, Bush was more progressive in 2004 than Romney is in 2012." ...

... NEW. Noam Scheiber of The New Republic on the downside for Romney: "... while swing voters may be ambivalent about gay marriage itself, they're much less comfortable with displays of intolerance. Many of the same voters who profess squeamishness over the idea would punish a politician for crusading against it.... Unfortunately for Romney, the one thing Obama's announcement deprives him of is opportunities to duck the issue."

Why does gay marriage always fail at the ballot box? Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Turnout is ... a factor. Older voters tend to vote in higher numbers, and there's a stark age divide on gay marriage. As Columbia Political Science professor Jeffrey Lax wrote in 2009: 'If policy were set by state-by-state majorities of those 65 or older, none would allow same-sex marriage. If policy were set by those under 30, only 12 states would not allow-same-sex marriage.' Primaries, like the one in North Carolina..., are particularly low turnout affairs -- giving opponents to gay marriage the edge."


CW: I meant to link this post by Michael Shear of Time Wednesday morning but got sidetracked. Sen. Dick Lugar's concession statement is indeed worth reading. ...

... Abby Rapoport of the American Prospect: "Lugar's hardly been a profile in courage these past few years and releasing an honest statement about the state of the party would likely have been significantly more impressive if he had done it when he was active and wielded influence, rather than after his party gave him the boot. But nonetheless, this may be one of the most forceful and direct criticisms of the GOP from someone in office."

... Ezra Klein: In Richard Mourdock, who bested Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary largely on the argument that Lugar voted to confirm Justices Sotomayor & Kagan, Jonathan "Chait [of New York magazine] sees 'the frightening outlines of a future systemic crisis' here. But I might rephrase that a bit: I see the the outlines of a necessary systemic crisis leading to an overdue set of procedural reforms in the Senate." ...

... Doug J. of Balloon Juice: "Our system isn't set up to deal with what the national Republican party already has become, let alone what it is becoming. There are lots of levers a minority party can pull to stop the wheels of government, and there's not much reason for Republicans not to pull them. It doesn't hurt the party much politically to do so—the media will just tell us that both sides do it, that it all started with Robert Bork -- whereas it does hurt individual Republicans when they won't take part in the destruction." ...

... NEW. Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Tuesday’s landslide victory in the GOP primary by Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a staunch conservative who beat longtime Sen. Richard G. Lugar, gave Democrats hope for claiming a seat they have not seriously contested in three decades." ...

... Josh Israel of Think Progress: former Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri), who is also an Episcopalian priest, is aghast that Dick Lugar was defeated & predicts the demise of the Republican party or something. CW: I was aghast that Danforth handpicked Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. As ye sow, so shall ye reap, Brother John.

Presidential Race

** NEW. Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney, boy homophobe and serious, serial bully. All those anti-bullying PSAs are aimed to protect teens from guys like Romney, who led a violent physical attack on a (then-suspected) gay student at his tony prep school. The school did nothing. Romney can't recall a thing about it. Horowitz found five independent witnesses to the physically bullying incident.

David Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama on Wednesday roundly dismissed GOP rival Mitt Romney's claim to credit for the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry as 'one of his Etch-A-Sketch moments,' in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts." The full ABC News video, which includes Obama's "Etch-a-Sketch" comment, is above.

Jamelle Bouie: "... if there's anything that truly stands out about Romney’s speech in Michigan, it's the extent to which its stuffed with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and outright lies. Romney claims that Obama has brought 'big government' 'back with a vengeance' -- the truth is that government spending has fallen sharply after a decade increase under President Bush.... Romney attacks Obama’s plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the rich as a 'throwback to discredited policies', but doesn't tell his audience that those are Clinton-era rates. He attacks the Affordable Care Act as a takeover of American health care (false), blames Obama for the accumulation of debt (false), and warns -- apocalyptically -- that Obama will 'substitute government for individuality, for choice, for freedom.' ...Constant mendacity is the norm for Romney and his campaign, and odds are good that he won't suffer for it. Campaign reporters don't have a strong incentive to challenge him on his misrepresentations, and interested parties have a hard time dealing with the deluge."

News Ledes

The Hill: "The House voted Thursday to override steep cuts to the Pentagon's budget mandated by last summer's debt deal and replace them with spending reductions to food stamps and other mandatory social programs.... Members approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act in a party-line 218-199 vote. As expected, the bill was supported by nearly all Republicans -- only 16 opposed it, and no Democrats supported it."

News & Observer: "Prosecutors rested their case against former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards Thursday afternoon by showing jurors a 2008 TV interview in which Edwards acknowledged having an affair with Rielle Hunter, but denied he was the father of her newborn child."

Six Degrees of Stupid. Politico: "Just hours after President Barack Obama publicly backed gay marriage, the House struck back and passed a measure aimed at reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. With a 245-171 vote, the House voted to stop the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to actively oppose DOMA -- the Clinton-era law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that the Obama administration stopped enforcing in February 2011."

AP: "Federal authorities said Wednesday that they plan to sue Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office over allegations of civil rights violations, including the racial profiling of Latinos."

Washington Post: "The parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American captured by the Taliban nearly three years ago, have made an emotional appeal for the Obama administration to make a deal with the insurgents to release him in exchange for Afghan prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

New York Times: "More than 40 people were killed and at least 170 injured by two powerful explosions outside a key intelligence headquarters in Damascus early on Thursday, Syrian state television reported. The blasts peeled open a new, more treacherous front in the struggle for the country."

Guardian: "Pakistan's prime minister [Yousaf Raza Gilani] has insisted his country had not been 'complicit' in sheltering Osama bin Laden and said the fact the late al-Qaida leader was able to live undetected for so long in Pakistan was down to a universal 'intelligence failure'."

Guardian: "The Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says police have detained his sister-in-law and nephew in a campaign of revenge against his family as he prepares to move to the US."

Guardian: "Vidal Sassoon, who has died aged 84 after suffering from leukaemia, became the most famous hairdresser of the 1960s, creating styles that caught and then boosted women's new feelings of personal freedom. In doing so, he changed the craft of hairstyling for ever."

New York Times: "After months of testimony in the phone hacking scandal, focused mostly on the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's businesses here, a judicial inquiry resumed hearings on Thursday into the extent and closeness of personal ties between the tycoon's British newspaper executives and Prime Minister David Cameron. The so-called Leveson inquiry ... summoned Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World Sunday tabloid who later became Mr. Cameron's communications director both in opposition and in office."

"Big-Boy Pants." Reuters: "The Pentagon revealed on Wednesday what was said when an over-cautious court security officer blocked the sound during Saturday's arraignment of five Guantanamo prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks."

Tuesday
May082012

The Commentariat -- May 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is an overview of today's New York Times op-ed page. The NYTX front page is here. There are a couple of excellent posts on Brooks. ...

... ALSO Chris Spannos on the New York Times management's stalemate with members of the Newspaper Guild. "The Guild’s contract expired March 31, 2011. They have been locked in negotiations with Times management since then." ...

... AND this from Ralph Nader: "It is the edge of absurdity for the U.S. to urge and modestly assist [developing countries] to build their educational systems and their knowledge industries -- for their own future -- and then aggressively pull the cream of their crop into our own orchard, while so many of our Americans are neglected." ...

... PLUS, Dean Baker helps you understand what the authors of this New York Times article omit.

President Obama spoke in Albany yesterday. (See also yesterday's News Ledes.) Capital Tonight has the full transcript:

Paul Krugman explains, again, why "austerity is so wrong!" in the Daily Beast. ...

... AND you can read Chapter 1 of Krugman's new book End This Depression Now!

Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal: "If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%."

Nate Silver: "... the Republican Senate is starting to grow as conservative as the Republican House." ...

,,, Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times profiles Richard Mourdock, "the man who deposed the Republican foreign policy conscience of the Senate," Dick Lugar (R-Indiana). "He is best known in political circles for trying -- unsuccessfully -- to block the auto bailout that saved thousands of jobs in Indiana, the state he seeks to represent in Congress." And his stated reason for his Senate run: "... to cease the efforts at bipartisanship that defined the six-term tenure of Mr. Lugar and push for a more conservative agenda among Republicans on Capitol Hill."

David Dayen of Firedoglake: Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison & Raul Grijalva introduce an amendment into an appropriations bill aimed at discouraging stand-your-ground laws. The 'Stop Shoot First Laws' amendment, which will in reality never get a floor vote, would cut some federal funding to states with stand-your-ground laws.

Wendy Gittleson of Addicting Information poses 10 questions to ask your favorite conservative. Thanks to reader Bonnie for the link.

Steven Myers & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Days of drama preceded the deal between the United States and China in the case of Chen Guangcheng, but the negotiations ultimately reflected a maturing relationship...."

Maureen Dowd reports from Paris on the complicated love lives of French presidents. ...

... AND in other superficial news involving NYT op-ed columnists --

     Bobo in Paradise. Driftglass: Our Mister Brooks has recently purchased a nearly-$4 million manse in Cleveland Park, D.C. "Should you ever have occasion to read Mr. Brooks' interview in Playboy wherein he describes his exhausting, joyless life as America's most prominent Conservative Public Intellectual, just remember that he his doing all of this -- all of the endless lying, all of the tireless hippie punching, all of the acting as the eager creature of power -- for money." ...

... AND this could help explain the move. It seems Cleveland Park is in Washington, D.C.'s Ward 3. From a 2009 column by Our Mister Brooks: "... people in this neighborhood are very nice and cerebral. On any given Saturday, half the people in Ward Three are arranging panel discussions for the other half to participate in."

Presidential Race

Dana Milbank: "... the anti-Obama hatred is flaring anew. But I worry that Obama’s current opponent doesn't have the strength of character to push back against the most dangerous voices on his side." Milbank cites the evidence. ...

... As Greg Sargent pointed out early this year, Romney doesn't have any trouble shouting down the left.

Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,' but the American people won't let him. His comments [Monday] that he will 'take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back' are a new low in dishonesty, even for him. Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue. -- Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's claim that his ideas contributed to the revival of the auto industry is preposterous and easy enough to knock down. It's exhausting, however, to refute each and every laughable distortion or outright untruth that he and his campaign issue virtually every day."

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney claims the economy should be adding 500,000 jobs a month, which is "normal" and "not an unreasonable expectation." But Kessler finds that in Romney's entire lifetime -- the last 65 years -- "only nine times out of the last 784 months — a rate of slightly more than 1 percent — has the U.S. economy created more than 500,000 jobs in a month. Even if we include months that came close to 500,000 jobs, we only end up with a total of 14. So 500,000 is anything but normal.

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "A Republican National Committee roundtable on Tuesday aimed at highlighting the GOP’s Hispanic get-out-the-vote effort ended up backfiring as the RNC’s director of Hispanic outreach struggled to explain to reporters Republicans' message to Hispanics when it comes to immigration. Part of the reason for the RNC's difficulty: ... Mitt Romney (R) is 'still deciding what his position on immigration is,' as RNC Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclán termed it." CW: the big dilemma: if he panders to Hispanics, will he lose votes among the white racists he pandered to to get the nomination? This would be a problem similar to Obama's "evolutionary" problem on gay marriage.

"Big Lie #1." Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly: "Mitt Romney gave another much-ballyhooed 'big speech' today in Michigan, aimed at clarifying the differences between his approach to the economy and the president's.... The claim here is that Obama turned his back on the Clintonian 'New Democrat' heritage and went back to the bad old liberal ways of the distant past.... It's particularly outrageous for Romney to claim that the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010 was some sort of betrayal of the New Democrat legacy." ...

... "Big Lie #2, Same Speech. Ed Kilgore: the crux of Romney's big speech was this line: "This is a time for new ideas, new answers and a new direction." So just what part of Romney's policies is new? The only one Kilgore can think of -- the only one that Romney proposes which is different from Dubya policies -- is Romney's stance on immigration -- even if he's "evolving" on that.

Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "The top two Senate Democratic leaders called on Romney to enter the Senate debate after Republicans voted along party lines to block student loan legislation." CW: I have little doubt that Cap'n. Williard M. Courageous will save the day for the kids.

Alex Altman of Time on the strong showing by Keith Judd, a.k.a. Inmate #11593-051 and "an ostensible crazy person" in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary. (See also today's News Ledes.) "Despite being a federal inmate from another state, Judd’s protest candidacy racked up some 70,000 votes, crushing President Obama in the heart of West Virginia's coal country. The rebuke to Obama by conservative Democrats (West Virginia's is a closed primary) isn't entirely surprising -- the President was trounced in 2008 by Hillary Clinton -- but it is an embarrassment for the President that underscores his weakness in rural Appalachia."

CW: I don't often recommend a Ross Douthat post, but his comments on Obama's gay marriage evolution-on-hold is worth reading. Bearing in mind that Douthat's take is self-serving, one can still find some truth to the points he makes. I might have more to say on this later. I hope you do, too.

News Ledes

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New York Times: "President Obamaon Wednesday ended nearly two years of 'evolving' on the issue of same-sex marriage by publicly endorsing it in a television interview, taking a definitive stand on one of the most contentious and politically charged social issues of the day."

ABC News: "Up until John Edwards officially claimed paternity of his mistress's daughter, his dying wife Elizabeth clung to his lies that he was not the father and on her death bed lamented that she would die alone because of his indiscretions, a friend testified today."

New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward.... 'Mitt Romney says he supports what we're trying to do. I'd suggest he pick up the phone and call Senator McConnell,' said Senator Harry Reid...."

New York Times: "As the Police Department's stop-and-fris practice draws increasing criticism from black and Latino New Yorkers, the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, said he would call on the mayor to force a reduction of the controversial practice."

New York Times: "In a rare step, doctors on a panel revising psychiatry's influential diagnostic manual have backed away from two controversial proposals that would have expanded the number of people identified as having psychotic or depressive disorders."

West Virginia Is for Losers. ABC News: "Barack Obama was not the only Democrat on the ballot on Tuesday in West Virginia's Democratic Presidential Primary. Keith Judd -- also known as Inmate No. 11593-051 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas -- was running against him. Judd, who is serving out a 17.5 year sentence for extortion, currently has received 40 percent of the vote, with 83 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Obama currently has received 60 percent of the vote."

CNN: Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is now a Swiss citizen. She "was granted dual citizenship with the European country, her spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night." CW: could a bank account be far behind?