The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

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
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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

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.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

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Thursday
May032012

The Commentariat -- May 4, 2012

I'll be away for several days. I'll try to post from time to time, but I don't know what kind of Internet connection I'll have where I'm going, so at best posting will be sporadic. -- Marie

Gene Robinson: "Does anybody really understand the U.S. policy in Afghanistan? The president’s televised address from Bagram air base raised more questions than it answered."

** Sara Robinson of AlterNet, in Salon, on the myth of the self-made man.

In the Daily Beast, Stephen King advocates for raising the top income tax rate to 50 percent. BTW, King would pay at the 50-percent rate. "The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing 'Disco Inferno' than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar." Thanks to my very first boyfriend ever, David B. for the link. (He was the most adorable third-grader you ever saw.)

Paul Krugman on the correlation between income inequality & recession/ depression. "Many pundits assert that the U.S. economy has big structural problems that will prevent any quick recovery. All the evidence, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus. No, the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority's malign influence."

Floyd Norris of the New York Times on why the U.S. economy has fared better than European economies. His analysis includes this remark: "There is nothing more grating than an ungrateful welfare recipient riding around in a chauffeured Mercedes complaining that he is not being treated fairly."

** Sabotage! Andrew Leonard of Salon: "Machiavelli would applaud. Republicans may have lost the 2008 presidential election, but their insurgency-style guerrilla tactics ever since have ensured that the war is far from over. In 2012, the politics of sabotage rule Washington." Leonard looks at critical elements of Paul Ryan's latest effort to destroy the government.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The wages of austerity don’t stop with continental recession. They include, in some nations, the revival of the kind of political extremes not seen in Europe since World War II.... The United States has austerity demons of its own, of course. While the private sector has rebounded somewhat from the 2008-09 collapse, creating 4 million jobs since the turnaround began in 2010, state and local governments have shed 611,000 employees -- including 196,000 teachers -- since President Obama took office...."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker calls the upcoming presidential election in France the "austerity election." CW: It appears that's what the British municipal elections were, too.

Novelists Margaret Atwood, Edgar Doctorow & Martin Amis discuss the U.S.'s place in the world with New York Times film critic A. O. Scott:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The details of Bin Laden’s thoughts and frustrations while hiding in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, emerge from a sheaf of letters released on Thursday that provide a sort of anthropology of a terror network."

Jonathan Cohn & David Strauss in Bloomberg News: "A decision to uphold the health-insurance mandate would be a powerful defense of liberty in the modern age."

John Dunbar & Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity: "What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives. Of the top 10 donors to super PACs so far in the 2012 election cycle, seven are individuals -- not corporations -- and four of those individuals are billionaires. The top 10 contributors gave more than a third, or $68 million of the nearly $202 million reported by the outside spending groups this election...."

Presidential Race

William Saletan of Slate: "Elections can change history. But mostly, they decide which party will pretend that the president changed history for the better, and which party will pretend that he changed it for the worse."

Jonathan Bernstein, in the Washington Post, on right-wing -- and mainstreamish -- hyperventilation about David Maraniss's biography of Obama: "There's a Republican-driven idea out there, one Sarah Palin is big on repeating, that Barack Obama wasn't fully vetted by the press in 2008. It's preposterous. The truth is that Obama has been the mainstream Democrat he ran as, and I'd guess that it's very difficult to tie whatever idiosyncrasies he's had within that to anything in particular about his personal history, and certainly not anything we didn't know about in November 2008."

David Corn asks economists to analyze Romney's claim that when ObamaCare kicks in, the government will control 50 percent of GDP; e.g., "Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior economist in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations...: 'This analysis is so stupid it is hard to know where to begin.'"

Considering the Source.... Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Shown a new ad from the Obama campaign during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Thursday -- a clip reel of Gingrich's slams on Romney during the primary season -- [Newt] Gingrich laughed and said, 'You have a rough-and-tumble primary season and you'll get words like that.' He was asked if he still believes Romney is a liar. 'I still believe the Romney campaign said things that weren't true,' Gingrich said. 'I also believe that compared to Barack Obama, I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.'" Here's the ad:

MaddowBlog readers helped Newt write his concession speech.

Outsourcing. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Republican National Committee on Thursday stepped up its assault on President Barack Obama in advance of his campaign formal kick off Saturday in Ohio and Virginia -- hitting him on 'high unemployment' in the U.S. as the RNC used a firm located in the Philippines to set up the 'messaging' call."

Alex Pareene of Salon: "Americans Elect is a weird experiment in applying a lot of money and time and resources into proving a common elite myth: That Americans as a whole are crying out for 'bold,' nonpartisan political leadership, and that their strong desire for moderate, independent solutions is stifled by the two-party system. So far, the organization has managed to win presidential ballot access in 26 states, which is a remarkable achievement. The only problem is, it has no candidate. And the process it developed to select a candidate is turning out to be a big, hilarious mess." CW: But, hey, it has the support of Tom Friedman!

Right Wing World *

Tim Egan: "The House run by John Boehner is stuffed with zealots and intellectual dead-enders who think compromise is a synonym for treason."

Steve Benen: "As part of his ongoing fascination with the 'Fast and Furious' controversy, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft memo yesterday, making the case for holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.... The worst case scenario: the House holds Holder in contempt and instructs the House sergeant at arms to try to arrest the Attorney General, creating a bizarre constitutional crisis. That's an exceedingly unlikely scenario, though."

* Where sunrise is just a theory. -- Akhilleus

Local News

Charles Pierce: "Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, sat down with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to chat things over, and the talk was portentous on a couple of different levels." CW: sorry, can't find the original interview. ...

... Save the Caucasians! AND here, Charles Pierce keeps us abreast of developments in other laboratories of democracy.

News Ledes

Raleigh News & Observer: "A Raleigh lawyer who represented John Edwards before he was charged with violating campaign finance laws told an attorney for the Virginia philanthropist at the center of the case that Edwards had benefited from the payments funneled to his former political campaign aide."

Reuters: "Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill banning abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving money through the state, her office said in a statement."

ABC News: "President Obama highlighted the 'good news' in the latest jobs report today, but, speaking in the battleground state of Virginia, stressed 'we've got to do more to boost the economy, including freezing low interest rates for student loans."

Bloomberg News: "Employers in the U.S. added fewer workers than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined as people left the labor force, underscoring concern the world's largest economy may be losing speed. Payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months, after a revised 154,000 rise in March that was more than initially estimated...."

New York Times: "China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the dissident Chen Guangcheng can apply to study outside China in the same manner as more than 300,000 Chinese students already abroad, signaling a possible breakthrough in a diplomatic crisis that has deeply embarrassed the White House and threatens to sour relations with Beijing."

Washington Post: "Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday, more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. This time the defendants may put up a fight."

AP: "From tasteless photos to urinating on dead insurgents, bad behavior by U.S. troops in Afghanistan has hampered America's war effort over the past year, triggering a broad new campaign by defense leaders to improve discipline in the ranks. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in his first personal appeal to troops on the issue, is expected Friday to remind U.S. forces that they are representing the American people and they must behave up to military standards."

New York Times: "At a time of deepening austerity, social cutbacks and political fallout from the long-running phone hacking scandal, Britons seemed to have turned against their national leaders in bellwether mayoral and local council elections claimed as a resounding triumph by the opposition Labour party, according to partial results on Friday." Guardian story here with related links.

Washington Post: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday pulled a $5,000 solicitation for a magician to motivate employees at a leadership training event, weeks after a mindreader hired by the General Services Administration became an embarrassing symbol of a Las Vegas spending spree." CW: they just keep on keepin' on, don't they?

Winnipeg Free Press: "The last Canadian penny will be manufactured today."

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
May022012

The Commentariat -- May 3, 2012

Bill Clinton reviews Robert Caro's Passage of Power, part of his biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Julian Brooks of Rolling Stone interviews Paul Krugman on how to fix the economy.

Cloak & Dagger

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "The Chen case is an opportunity for the United States to reposition itself on the issue of human rights in a way that aligns American foreign policy with the Chinese people," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "'Chen is more than a dissident; he's a folk hero,' Malinowski said. 'This is someone who the Chinese people are rooting for. The fact that the only power in Beijing willing to protect him was the U.S. gives the U.S. government the moral high ground in this drama in the broader Chinese public.'"

Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times: "On Monday, the New York Police Department sent its warrant squads after an unusual set of suspects: people who had old warrants for the lowliest of violations.... But those who were questioned by the warrant squads said the officers had an ulterior motive: gathering intelligence on the Occupy Wall Street protests scheduled for May 1, or May Day. One person said he was interviewed about his plans for May Day. A second person said the police examined political fliers in his apartment, and then arrested him on a warrant for a 2007 open-container-of-alcohol violation."

Declan Walsh of the New York Times: "In the shadows of the American operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the fate of a small-town Pakistani doctor [Shakil Afridi] recruited by the C.I.A. to help track the Qaeda leader still looms between the two countries, a sore spot neither can leave untouched." CW: quite an interesting story, it involves Save the Children & other charitable groups operating inside Pakistan, some of whose personnel can't get out.

... David Caruso of the AP: "Last August, a retired Teamster from Boston stepped off an Amtrak train in New York City and collapsed on the platform at Pennsylvania Station. As medics tried to revive him, police searched his backpack for identification. Inside, they found the stuff that 'Law & Order' episodes are made of: $179,980 in cash, bundled with rubber bands and tucked inside two plastic bags..


Linda Greenhouse
: in oral arguments before the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Arizona, no one in the courtroom made any mention of the people who would be affected if the Court decides Arizona's S.B. 1070 is Constitutional, as likely it will. CW: I've got news for Greenhouse. That's the way the law is, & the higher in the court system you go, the more true that is. The Supremes don't give much consideration to the individuals whose lives they affect with their decisions; they care only about "principle."

Our Beautiful Third-World Country. Donald McNeil of the New York Times: According to a report by the World Health Organization, "... the United States is similar to developing countries in the percentage of mothers who give birth before their children are due.... It does worse than any Western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries. That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women older than 35 who are giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization.... Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies...."

Hillary Chabot of the Boston Herald: "Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots."

Presidential Race

Genevieve Cook, Barack Obama's girlfriend when he lived in New York City. Excerpts of her diary appear in Maraniss's biography of Obama.Here's an excerpt/adaptation from David Maraniss's biography of Barack Obama. The excerpt covers the period when Obama lived in New York City & is published in Vanity Fair. Steamy stuff! ...

... James Barron & Peter Baker of the New York Times on a Park Slope row house: "Barack Obama Slept Here."

Greg Sargent responds to the New York Times story (which I linked yesterday) that looks at Wall Street's disaffection with Obama & his populist message. Sargent zeroes in on the part where Wall Streeters wanted Obama "to make amends with a big speech -- like his oration on race -- designed to heal the wounds of class warfare in this country.... One wonders if there is anything Obama could say to make these people happy, short of declaring that rampant inequality is a good thing, in that it affirms the talent and industriousness of the deserving super rich. It certainly seems clear that they won't be satisfied until he stops mentioning it at all." ...

... Paul Krugman: "I guess being that rich means that you can surround yourself with people who never tell you how ridiculous you sound."

... Comes Now Adam Davidson of the New York Times to introduce you to Romney BFF and & BFB (Big Fat Benefactor) Edward Conard. Conard has spent the past 4 years writing a book, to be published next month, which "aggressively argues that the enormous and growing income inequality in the United States is ... a sign that our economy is working. And if we had a little more of it, then everyone, particularly the 99 percent, would be better off. This could be the most hated book of the year." And it gives you a damned good idea of the kind of nonsense coming from the minds of people who influence Romney. Wait till you read how Conard chose his wife! ...

... Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism does a fine job of critiquing Davidson's fairly credulous take on Conard's thesis. She begins, "Adam Davidson is moving up in the world. He has gone from fellating the 1% to the top 0.1%." And concludes, "Conard at first seems to yet another evangelist of a hopelessly flawed and dangerous orthodoxy, and the more he speaks, the more he seems to be deeply imbalanced, so intensely invested in his distorted personal mythology that he is driven to make the world at large reflect it back. It would be far better for Davidson and the New York Times to treat people like Conard as epitomes of deep-seated cultural pathologies, rather than promote them." ...

... David Atkins: "It's hard to overstate the degree to which the top 0.1% in this country is completely disconnected from the experience of the broader public, to the extent that it's difficult to tell the difference between cloistered cluelessness and rank sociopathy.... No, there's nothing the President can say to make them happy. There are only three choices here: 1) accept the system as is and give in to complete plutocratic rule; 2) try to win elections with the full measure of their spending against us and see what happens; or 3) Fight like hell to change the campaign finance system. The fact that these people can buy elections is one of the few things saving them from the pitchforks." ...

... Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect: "There is a disturbing corollary to Conard's worldview...: if the wealthy are supremely virtuous for their pursuit of wealth, then those who reject that choice ... are unworthy of our respect or admiration.... Judging from [Romney's] domestic policy plans -- huge income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, combined with tax cuts on investment income, and a dramatic reduction in social services..., Romney's thinking has more in common with his friend than it does with any of us." ...

... CW: I think these little windows into Tagg Romney's amazing business success and Conard's views give us a real sense of Romney's own worldview. If Romney is awkward with ordinary people it is because he has a big, dark secret that he's afraid will get out -- in fact, he often accidentally reveals little bits of it. The big, dark secret is The Real Romney -- a monster of arrogance with an incredible sense of entitlement. When Ann Romney said "It's our turn," she really meant it.

Nice Shirt! Erin Ryan of Jezebel: Ann Romney wore a $990 tee-shirt when she appeared on CBS's "This Morning" show to tell folks what a regular guy Willard is.

Steve Benen: apparently Mitt Romney wants to be president so he can ruin the economy again. ...

... The Obama campaign has a new interactive tool that shows how Obama policies would help a woman throughout her life & how Romney policies would reverse that assitance. Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Jessica Yellin & Paul Steinhauser of CNN: "The Obama campaign renewed its focus on women voters Thursday with a stepped up attack on Mitt Romney. A data-filled memo alleges the budget cuts, tax reform and social policy Romney supports will disproportionately hurt middle- and low-income women. The campaign is releasing the tool [linked above] and memo on the same day Romney plans to appear with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is widely believed to be among the top contenders for the GOP vice presidential slot. McDonnell has become something of a lightening rod among left-leaning women's groups after he supported -- then modified -- legislation that would have required women seeking abortion to submit to an invasive ultrasound before the procedure."

Michael Barbaro, et al., of the New York Times on the shortlived career of Ric Grenell, Romney foreign policy advisor. ...

... Jon Stewart on the shortlived career of Ric Grenell, Romney foreign policy advisor:

Quinnipiac University: "Riding the voter perception that he is as good as or better than President Barack Obama at fixing the economy, Republican challenger Mitt Romney catches up with the president in Florida and Ohio, two critical swing states, while the president opens an 8-point lead in Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today."

Politics is weird and creepy -- and now I know lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality. -- Shep Smith:

Local News

Rudi Keller of the Columbia (Missouri) Tribune: "A Kirksville Republican lawmaker announced publicly he is gay [Wednesday] at a news conference opposing a bill that has gained national attention for its proposed restrictions on in-school discussions of sexuality. Rep. Zach Wyatt, who is leaving the House after a single term to study marine biology, said during the news conference that he could no longer keep his sexual orientation to himself in the face of what he considers an example of bigoted legislation."

News Ledes

USA Today: "Another former close aide to John Edwards testified Thursday about bungled efforts to keep the former presidential candidate's affair hidden from staff members, including an awkward encounter when she showed up at a hotel weeks after her work filming Edwards had ended."

Washington Post: "The number of people applying for jobless benefits declined sharply last week, the government reported Thursday, providing a surprisingly upbeat signal leading into Friday’s jobs report. The drop in applications for unemployment assistance fell by 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, the largest weekly drop in nearly a year...."

Politico: "Opponents of the GOP [version of the Violence Against Women] bill say that the legislation needs special protection for gay, immigrant and Native American victims. Republicans say VAWA should deal squarely with the issue of violence against women regardless of their ethnicity or sexuality, noting that their legislation doesn't weaken protection for any segment of the population."

New York Times: "On Thursday, Facebook set the estimated price for its initial public offering at $28 to $35 a share, according to a revised prospectus. At the midpoint of the range, the social networking company is on track to raise $10.6 billion, in an debut that could value the company at $86 billion."

Guardian: "Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist at the centre of a growing international storm, has said he wants to leave the country on Hillary Clinton's plane when she flies out of Beijing at the end of this week. There has been mounting concern over his future amid confusing accounts, including from Chen himself, on his decision to leave US diplomatic protection and remain in China, and his subsequent desire to leave." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Chen Guangcheng, the blind dissident lawyer at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between China and the United States, telephoned in to a Congressional hearing on Thursday to plead for help in leaving his country."

Guardian: "Dozens of documents taken by US special forces from Osama bin Laden's compound during the raid in which the al-Qaida leader was killed are to be released by American authorities. Though tens of thousands of documents, videos and computer discs were seized, only a handful are to be made public on Thursday, in the original Arabic and in English translation along with a commentary from experts at the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point." ...

     ... Voice of America Update: "A selected set of documents seized from the compound of Osama bin Laden last year sheds new light on the terrorist leader. The documents highlight what was, at times, an apparently difficult relationship between al-Qaida's core group, headed by bin Laden, and its affiliates." ...

     ... You can view a pdf of the documents, with English translations, here.

Tuesday
May012012

The Commentariat -- May 2, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is here, and for once I mostly agree with Ross Douthat. The NYTX front page is here.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: Wall Streets hates Obama, loves Romney, and they're saying so with their big fat checkbooks -- closed for Obama, open for Willard.

Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans goes populist & breaks with the Fed orthodoxy. Looks as if somebody listens to Krugman.

Paul Waldman in the American Prospect, commenting on Tagg Romney's extraordinary good fortune -- see yesterday's Commentariat for the link to the NYT story: "... conservatives have become particularly vehement in defending inequality since the meltdown of 2008, insisting that in America, there is no such thing as privilege, money comes only from merit, wealth is a sign of virtue, and if we raise taxes a smidge on those at the top of the income ladder, we're only 'punishing success.' ... When [Tagg] decided this private equity thing looked interesting, there was an escalator waiting, and all he had to do was hop on. That's opportunity."

Not So Supreme. M. J. Lee of Politico: "The Supreme Court's favorability rating has plummeted to a 25-year low, with Americans on both sides of the aisle demonstrating historically negative views of the high court, according to a new poll released Tuesday. Barely more than half of those polled, 52 percent, have a favorable opinion of SCOTUS, a Pew Research Center survey found — the lowest figure in the history of the poll, which began in 1987, and a steep drop from a high of 80 percent in 1994.

Spencer Ackerman in Wired: there's no end in sight of the "war on terrorism"; the U.S. has no idea what the future of Al Qaeda is or even what/who Al Qaeda is. ...

... CW: I don't know if Jonathan Chait is right about this, but I think he might be: "The neoconservatives who dominated the [Bush] administration’s foreign policy believed before the attacks that states, not non-state actors like a band of terrorists, were the thing to focus on.... Democrats believed the Republican focus on state sponsorship was mistaken.... When figures like Romney and McCain were scoffing at Obama promises to capture bin Laden even if it meant violating the sovereignty of our nominal ally Pakistan, they were signaling partisan and ideological fidelity with the Bush administration."

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: Meet Richard Carmona, former Bush surgeon general, actual hero & the Democrat's hope to become U.S. Senator from Arizona, & he might help Obama pull off an upset victory in the state, too. CW: Seriously, you're gonna love this guy.

Nate Silver of the New York Times: Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) "has probably become a modest underdog to retain his seat." His primary opponent is a Sarah Palin-backed Tea Partier. "If Mr. Lugar loses, it should increase Democrats’ odds of picking up the Senate seat in November."

Some of the cast of "The West Wing" reunite for a PSA:

Every Emerging Detail Is a Story. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "U.S. Secret Service personnel tied to last month’s night of heavy drinking, partying and sexual encounters in Cartagena, Colombia paid 10 of the 12 women they became involved with, officials said. None of the women were found to be connected to terrorist organizations or drug cartels."

Recess! Dana Milbank: "To call this 112th Congress a do-nothing Congress would be an insult — to the real Do-Nothing Congress of 1947-48. That Congress passed 908 laws. To date, this one has passed 106 public laws. Even if they triple that output in the rest of 2012 — not a terribly likely proposition — they will still be in last place going back at least 40 years."

Farhad Manjoo of Slate on the FCC Report on Google's stunning snooping program. Google says "We're sorry; we had no idea." Manjoo says, "Oh yeah?" "When a Street View car encountered an open Wi-Fi network -- that is, a router that was not protected by a password -- it recorded all the digital traffic traveling across that router. As long as the car was within the vicinity, it sucked up a flood of personal data: login names, passwords, the full text of emails, Web histories, details of people's medical conditions, online dating searches, and streaming music and movies."

Matt DeLuca of the Daily Beast on yesterday's May Day demonstratins.

Presidential Race

The Obama campaign will run this add in three swing states:

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post on Willard Romney's day as Not-President. Check out Romney's "explanation" of his 2007 remark that it was wrong for the U.S. to go after bin Laden. Hey, it was Joe Biden's fault. ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon says Obama's dramatic drop into Afghanistan was a lesson in "how to make Mitt look small." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "The Republicans have glommed on to a neat rhetorical trick: When Barack Obama does something indisputably admirable or effective, simply pretend that he had nothing to do with it.... Now Mitt Romney, this year's presumptive GOP nominee, is waving off Obama's role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden -- the president’s signal national-security achievement -- by chortling that 'any thinking American would have ordered the exact same thing,' even Jimmy Carter. Two new investigative reports ... thoroughly rebut that notion."

David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix: "A couple of weeks ago, when the Mitt Romney campaign hired Richard Grenell as foreign-policy spokesperson, I had two immediate thoughts: 1) man, Romney just keeps digging in deeper with the nutty John Bolton foreign-policy crowd; and 2) man, Romney really had to wait until the nomination was completely wrapped up before hiring an openly gay staffer, huh? Well, turns out that even with the Republican nomination sewn up, Romney still couldn't hire a gay staffer. According to Jennifer Rubin, Grenell has quit the campaign because of the controversy stirred up by his gayness....For anyone wondering how Governor Etch-a-Sketch would actually behave in office, on issues that you suspect he campaigns on but doesn't personally believe, this may be instructive. When he gets a little pressure from the conservative base, Romney quickly kowtows to them." ...

... Nia-Malika Henderson & Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Richard Grenell ...stepped down from his post Tuesday, suggesting that the conservative backlash over his sexuality prevented him from being effective in his role." CW: to refresh your memory on what a swell guy Grenell is, read the story. Grenell lost his job for the wrong reasons.

Joel Siegel of ABC News: "Newt Gingrich ends his White House dream today with his political committee facing a mountain of debts -- owing about $4 million to scores of businesses and campaign workers around the country who fear they will never get paid. Campaign watchdogs said the size of Gingrich's debt is extraordinary -- and could have been avoided if the candidate and his team had been more disciplined."

Right Wing World

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown, who won office vowing to be the 41st vote to block President Obama's health care law and who has since voted three times to repeal it, acknowledged Monday that he takes advantage of it to keep his elder daughter on his congressional health insurance plan. 'Of course I do,' the Massachusetts Republican told the Globe. Brown is insuring his daughter Ayla, a professional singer who is 23 years old, under a widely popular provision of the law requiring that family plans cover children up to age 26."

CW: I missed Driftglass's hilarious take on Paul Ryan's (RTP-Wisc.) shocked discovery that Ayn Rand was an atheist. But it's not too late to read it.

News Ledes

Raleigh News & Observer: today's testimony in the John Edwards case focused on Elizabeth Edwards' reactions to his affair with Rielle Hunter.

Guardian: "News Corporation has released a unanimous statement of support for Rupert Murdoch, after its board met to consider the findings of the parliamentary report that concluded the media mogul was "not a fit person" to lead a major global corporation." ...

... BUT. Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch's global media empire is facing a challenge on a new front in the billowing phone-hacking scandal after a powerful US Senate committee opened direct contact with British investigators in an attempt to find out whether News Corporation has broken American laws."

Boston Globe: "Ending a yearlong campaign and a weeklong farewell, former House speaker Newt Gingrich formally ended his presidential candidacy Wednesday in Arlington, Va."

Guardian: "Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has pleaded for help to let him leave the country with his family, with a US-brokered deal for his future unravelling within hours of his leaving the Beijing embassy where he had taken shelter." ...

... New York Times: "Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident who fled house arrest last month in a dramatic escape from security forces, left the American Embassy compound for treatment at a medical facility in Beijing, American officials said on Wednesday in the first public acknowledgment by the United States that it knew of his whereabouts.... Under the arrangement agreed to by the United States, China and Mr. Chen, the lawyer would be relocated to a different part of China from his hometown in Shandong province, where has been under house arrest and where he says his family has been physically attacked, the officials said." ...

     ... Story has been updated; new lede: "In a series of dramatically conflicting developments on Wednesday, the Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng left American custody under disputed circumstances, and what briefly looked like a deft diplomatic achievement for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turned into a potential debacle." ...

     ... More on the Chen story here from the New York Times.

Washington Post: "At least 11 people were killed in clashes that broke out early Wednesday at demonstrations outside the Egyptian Defense Ministry, the Health Ministry said. The demonstrations evolved from a sit-in convened to decry the way the Egypt’s generals have been ruling the country."

Washington Post: "The Labor Department on Tuesday ordered Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in back wages and damages to thousands of employees who were denied overtime charges, the latest in a string of embarrassments for the company over its business practices."

New York Times: "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi took her place in Myanmar's Parliament on Wednesday, reciting the oath of office in a brief ceremony that marked a watershed in national reconciliation after decades of military rule."

New York Times: "Less than two hours after President Obama left Afghanistan airspace on Wednesday, explosions shook the capital and the Interior Ministry said a suicide attacker had exploded a large bomb at the gates of a compound used by foreigners in the east of Kabul, killing seven Afghans."

Monday
Apr302012

The Commentariat -- May 1, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer answers the question "What Would Willard Do?" vis-a-vis ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. The NYTX front page is here.

Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: "Making public colleges free would cost, it is estimated, somewhere around $30 billion a year. We could afford it. Mitt Romney’s proposal to eliminate the estate tax would cost about four times that sum and benefit only the heirs of the very wealthy. A financial transaction tax that would slow destabilizing speculation on Wall Street would raise many times that also."

Fuck the First Amendment. Adam Liptak of the New York Times writes a fairly hilarious dissertation on the Supreme Court's ban of the use of the word "fuck" even when its use is the subject of the case before the Court. Read his effort for the fun of it. And bear in mind that these high-placed persons possessed of such delicate dispositions do not mind ruthlessly disposing of actual human beings.

Thomas Edsall in the New York Times on conservatives' & liberals' differing views of "fairness." or why Eric Cantor opposes an7 & all tax hikes -- except a tax hike for the poor.

If you need a short course on Republican-sponsored state voter suppression laws, Gene Robinson has obliged.

The South Is Still the South. Barbara Liston of Reuters: "A federal lawsuit against a Florida school district alleges two black women who scored well on an adult skills test in 2010 were accused of cheating because, they were told, 'you people don't score that high.'" Read the whole story; it's worse than the lede.

Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "A record unearthed Monday shows that Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has a great-great-great grandmother listed in an 1894 document as a Cherokee, said a genealogist at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society.... Intense focus in Warren's heritage comes as the Democratic candidate has faced several days of scrutiny about whether she has represented herself as a minority in her academic career.... The lack of clarity on issue prompted US Senator Scott Brown's campaign to question Warren's credibility and call for her to 'come clean.' Warren's campaign shot back Monday, accusing Brown of 'nasty insinuations.'”

Presidential Race

We've always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it. Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, two days ago

... AND/OR collect millions & millions from friends of your parents. See Michael & Julie Creswell's report in the New York Times about how Tagg Romney & his business partner Spencer Zwick (the 2008 Romney campaign's top fundraiser), both of whom had zero private equity experience, managed to collect $244 million, much of it from Willard's campaign donors & $10 million of it from Willard & Ann Romney. (Tagg & Zwick later added Eric Scheuermann to the partnership; Scheuermann has private equity experience.) CW: Now I really despise those people.

Michael Barbaro & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Asked by reporters ... whether he would have given the same military order as President Obama, Mr. Romney replied, 'Of course, of course.' ... 'Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,' Mr. Romney said.... In a news conference Monday with the Japanese prime minister, Mr. Obama accused Mr. Romney of flip-flopping on the question of whether he would have pursued Osama bin Laden." ...

     ... Jim Fallows' response is excellent. ...

     ... NEW. Even conservative Joe Scarborough says "... considering that Carter did the unthinkable by 2012 standards last week and praised Mitt Romney, I found his cheap shot at President Carter to be a bit jarring." Here's video of Carter praising Romney.

     ... An Obama supporter tells Greg Sargent: "Romney is undermining his own point. He's invoking a decision that cost Carter his presidency. Obama bet his presidency on this operation. It's troubling if Romney thinks it was an easy decision." Here are Romney & Obama:

     ... "A Noun, a Verb and 9/11." Michael Hirsh of the National Journal: "... when it comes to politicizing 9/11 it's hard to beat Rudy Giuliani, who will be at Romney's side on the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death. ...

     ... Piling On. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Republicans milked the horror of 9/11 for everything it was worth, not just to win at the ballot box, but also to justify an entirely unrelated war.... The best response to the howls of outrage from Republicans about 'politicizing 9/11' comes from Mitt Romney himself: 'Rudy Giuliani will appear at an event with Mitt Romney on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the assault on Osama bin Laden, a campaign aide confirmed to CNN.' Yeah, Mitt Romney is so desperately against politicizing 9/11 ... that he's going to mark the anniversary of bin Laden's death by campaigning alongside Rudy 911iani." ...

     ... Lewison wrote a good account a couple of days ago about just how opposed Romney was to Obama's pledge to go after Bin Laden. ...

     ... CW: In case you think the decision was a slam-dunk, as Romney characterizes it, here's an excerpt from David Corn's book Showdown on how Obama got Bin Laden. ...

     ... AND here's Vice President Biden speaking in January: "When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said. 'Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51.'" ...

     ... BUT. Michael Hastings, writing for BuzzFeed, raises the possibility of Obama's being "swiftboated" by disgruntled, right-wing Navy Seals, who feel their success has been used and misrepresented for political purposes. ...

     ... CW Update: I just can't keep up with Romney. He no longer says any president would have made the call Obama made to take out bin Laden. Now he says "Any thinking American would have ordered exactly the same thing." Read my column in today's NYTX if you think there's any vague possibility this is true.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Romney on Auto Bailout 3.0": Obama owes his only economic success to me, Mitt Romney, who told Obama exactly how to save the auto industry.

Stay Greedy, Newt! Philip Elliott of the AP: "Rick Santorum wants to ensure the GOP's policy platform represents conservatives' interests. Newt Gingrich wants help retiring his campaign debt and repairing his reputation. Both Republicans are expected to endorse their former rival Mitt Romney ... but each wants assurances that Romney will deliver for them. Neither is rushing toward the task. Meanwhile, it doesn't appear that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is going to go that way." CW: You know how Newt could retire his campaign debt? He could write a check. He's a multimillionaire. You know how Newt could repair his reputation? ... I didn't think so. ...

... AND Alex Altman of Time ponders what's next for Newt.

Right Wing World *

Heidi Przybyla & Tim Mattingly of Bloomberg News: "Tea party favorites such as Stephen Fincher of Tennessee were swept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks. Now those incumbents are collecting thousands of dollars for re-election campaigns from the same Wall Street firms whose excesses they criticized. They have taken no significant steps to curb them or prevent future taxpayer-financed rescues.

* Fundamentalist nutjobs & corporate shills, sole proprietors. -- Akhilleus

Local News

Todd Richmond of the AP: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's [financial backer] list reads like a who's who of some of the richest people in America — financial gurus, a Las Vegas casino president, even an NBA team owner. Walker set the record for a state office with $12.1 million raised last year. Campaign finance records filed Monday show he has already easily surpassed that this year, raising $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and last week."

News Ledes

NBC News: "Marches turned violent in Oakland, where protesters pounded on bank windows and went face-to-face with a police line, and in Seattle, where protesters dressed in black smashed windows and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowds."

Orlando Sentinel: "Richard W. Myers will bring nearly three decades of law-enforcement leadership to Sanford's troubled police department when he starts work as interim chief on Friday. City Manager Norton Bonaparte announced Tuesday that he had hired Myers, former police chief of Colorado Springs, Colo., to run the department for at least three months."

New York Times: "... [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton arrives again in Beijing for talks that are certain to receive far less attention than the uncertain fate of a Chinese lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, who escaped a brutalizing, illegal house arrest and has sought protection from American diplomats in the Chinese capital."

New York Times: "President Obama landed here Tuesday, on a surprise visit, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade. Mr. Obama ... flew by helicopter to the presidential palace, where he was to meet President Hamid Karzai before both leaders signed the pact. It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014." CW: the White House livefeed shows no scheduled speech as of 4 pm ET. Update: President Obama speaks at 5:30 pm ET & 7:30 pm ET....

     ... NYT Update: 'Speaking from a military base near Kabul after a brief, surprise night visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, President Obama said that 'we have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan.'”

Raleigh News & Observer: "Jurors for the John Edwards trial saw video on Tuesday afternoon of the house outside Chapel Hill where Edward’s pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, lived for several months while hiding from National Enquirer reporters.... Cheri Young, during her third day on the witness stand in a trial projected to last through May, stated that she videotaped the home and some of Hunter’s belongings to document that Hunter had lived in the home."

New York Daily News: "Would-be subway bomber Adis Medunjanin was convicted Tuesday of plotting to wage jihad in the city with two other homegrown terrorists. The Queens man was also found guilty of conspiring to join the Taliban and training with Al Qaeda."

The New York Times "City Room" blog is liveblogging May Day events in NYC: "The police arrested protesters on the Williamsburg Bridge, a park on the Lower East Side and near Washington Square Park Tuesday afternoon as the May Day protests organized by Occupy Wall Street gathered steam. The morning's protests in Midtown, outside banks and other businesses, had been well attended but more subdued." ...

     ... The Daily News has better live coverage here.

Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch is 'not a fit person' to exercise stewardship of a major international company, a committee of MPs has concluded, in a report highly critical of the mogul and his son James's role in the News of the World phone-hacking affair. The Commons culture, media and sport select committee also concluded that James Murdoch showed 'wilful ignorance' of the extent of phone hacking during 2009 and 2010 – in a highly charged document that saw MPs split on party lines as regards the two Murdochs." ...

     ... Update: the report is here. ...

     ... New York Times Update 1: "... the furor that accompanied the release of the report on Tuesday appeared to open a whole new arena of hazard for the prime minister and his Conservative Party. Mr. Cameron's Conservative members of Parliament voted against the report because of the insistence by the Labour and Liberal Democrat majority on including a condemnation of Mr. Murdoch as 'not a fit person' to run a major international company. That carries the risk of Mr. Cameron being cast as a de facto champion of Mr. Murdoch, and the possibility of being tarred by association with the wrongdoing at the Murdoch-owned tabloids.

     ... New York Times Update 2: "Rupert Murdoch said that News Corporation's 50,000 employees could expect 'a more robust global compliance structure' in response to the continued fallout over news gathering at the company's British newspaper unit."

Guardian: "The May 1 'general strike', the result of months of planning and coordination between groups across the US, is Occupy's big chance to regain the momentum lost when a combination of police crackdowns and the harsh winter weather shut down the protest at the end of last year."

Atlantic: "A day that is expected to be filled with anti-establishment protests all around the globe began early last night with a roving band of 'anarchists' smashing car windows and store fronts in San Francisco's Mission District. The mini-riot ... may have started as a 'ruckus street party' organized by Occupy Oakland protesters.... Many in the Occupy movement are blaming outsiders and "Black Bloc" anarchists who have a habit of hijacking peaceful protests for the own purposes."

Some headlines are irresistible. San Francisco Chronicle: "Man Sues BMW over Two-Year Erection."