The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

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

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
December 18

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

... BUT ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is quite cool:

 

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

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

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

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

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Friday
Oct052012

The Commentariat -- October 6, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to the Presses" and examines the way the New York Times has handled Mitt's Mendacity, Debate Episode.

Christopher Rugaber & Scott Mayerowitz of the AP: "Sasquatch might as well have traipsed across the White House lawn Friday with a lost Warren Commission file on his way to the studio where NASA staged the moon landing. Conspiracy theorists came out in force after the government reported a sudden drop in the U.S. unemployment rate one month before Election Day. Their message: The Obama administration would do anything to ensure a November victory, including manipulating unemployment data." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic reports on three Right Wing World theories about who conspired to cook the books to make the September jobs report look so fabulous not great, but better than expected: (1) the "Chicago guys" running Obama's campaign, who ordered a group of Bureau of Labor Statistics civil service employees to alter the stats; (2) BLS employees who decided on their own to surreptitiously help Obama (as Graham observes, conservatives suddenly believe heretofore totally incompetent, superfluous bureaucrats can work together to pull off huge undercover ops); (3) ordinary out-of-work Democratic citizens, tens of thousands of them, who got together & decided to tell the BLS they got jobs last month even though they're still sitting at home, mooching off the government. CW: Probably used their free ObamaPhones to arrange the scam. Great move, all you lazy, unemployed, dependent Obamabots! Your "I Am the 47 Percent!" button is in the mail. ...

Lanhee Chen, Romney's policy director, politely declines to join the crazed Stuart Varney: in his book-cooking kitchen at Fox "News":

... Catherine Rampell of the New York Times explains to the wingnut conspiracy theorist that jobs "numbers are always tremendously volatile, but the reasons are statistical, not political." Don't expect anyone over there in fact-optional Right Wing World to hear her. ...

... "Crazy, Stupid, Scary." Paul Krugman: "The thing is, although such antics are funny in a way, they're also menacing. By attacking anyone who presents awkward facts, the right exerts an intimidating effect. It won't get the BLS to retract today's jobs report, but it might bully news organizations into avoiding objective economic analysis, and maybe even into blurring their reporting right now." ...

... Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "the idea that a handful of career bureaucrats, their jobs secure no matter who is in the White House, would manipulate the unemployment data to help President Obama, is ludicrous.... There is something truly absurd about having the presidential race hinge on the unemployment rate.... The harsh reality is that no president has much control over the economy. That is especially true of President Obama, whose every effort to boost the economy these past two years has been stymied by Republicans.... Whether the Republicans like it or not, the economy is slowing getting better. Awful, isn't it?" ...

... YEAH BUT. Hamilton Nolan of Gawker examines some really convincing evidence that comes to him by way of Right Wing World. It turns out economists at the BLS are completely immoral Obamabots who would do anything for Barry when they're not too busy looking up little girls' skirts.

CW: Jim Surowiecki of the New Yorker writes about the way Mitt Romney thinks about government, but if you want to know basic Republican political philosophy, Surowiecki articulates it: "Romney may say that he wants small government, but what he's pushing for is a government that's small when it comes to helping people and big when it comes to helping business."

Presidential Race

Jeff Mason of Reuters: "President Barack Obama's campaign and its Democratic allies raised a record $181 million in September for the president's re-election effort, adding to a fundraising haul that could prove crucial in the final stretch of the White House race."

David Leonhardt & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... with Friday morning's jobs report..., Mr. Obama -- and the economy -- received some unexpected good news." ...

... AND Shaila Dewan & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The jobless rate abruptly dropped in September to its lowest level since the month President Obama took office, indicating a steadier recovery than previously thought and delivering another jolt to the presidential campaign. The improvement lent ballast to Mr. Obama's case that the economy is on the mend and threatened the central argument of Mitt Romney's candidacy, that Mr. Obama's failed stewardship is reason enough to replace him." ...

... PLUS David Fahrenthold & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Since the very first speech of his campaign, [Mitt Romney] has used a simple figure to bolster his argument that President Obama couldn't fix the U.S. economy: 8 percent.... For Romney, any number above 8 percent proved he was right and Obama was wrong.... The 0.3 percent dip in unemployment in September, from 8.1 to 7.8 percent, deprived Romney of one of his central campaign themes.... It wasn't because the figures showed a healthy economy -- they didn't -- but because the economy had crossed a threshold that Romney had implied it would never cross without him." ...

... Steve Peoples of the AP: "Declaring that the nation is in a 'jobs crisis,' ... Mitt Romney is charging ahead with his economic arguments in spite of unemployment dropping to its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office. Romney all but ignored the positive jobs numbers while campaigning Friday night in Florida...."

... Rampell, Again. Romney Making Up Stuff, Again: "In Virginia on Friday, Mitt Romney said that 'if the same share of people were participating in the work force today as on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent.' ... [Romney] ignores the fact that the baby boomers are hitting retirement age.... Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, estimates that half of the decline in the labor force participation rate 'can be traced to an aging population.' [Romney's] calculation also ignores the fact that a higher share of young people are going to college, and are staying out of the work force temporarily." ...

     ... CW: ha! That would change if Romney were president because he's already said he'd cut student Pell grants & give the few that remain back to the banksters. Plus all those boomers would have to get back in the work force when he voucherized their asses & whacked ObamaCare. They have savings & pensions, you say? Fact: the market -- which partially determines the value of pensions & some savings plans -- goes up more during Democratic administrations than in Republican ones.

Governor Bipartisan? Nope. Romney, Making Up Stuff, Again. Michael Wines of the New York Times: "Mr. Romney said in Wednesday's debate, 'I figured out from Day 1 I had to get along, and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done.' ... But on closer examination..., bipartisanship was in short supply; Statehouse Democrats complained he variously ignored, insulted or opposed them, with intermittent charm offensives. He vetoed scores of legislative initiatives and excised budget line items a remarkable 844 times, according to the nonpartisan research group Factcheck.org. Lawmakers reciprocated by quickly overriding the vast bulk of them." Unlike the Times' usual fare, this is a pretty good "Liar! Liar!" piece.

Willard's Whoppers, Ctd. In Week 37 of Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Steve Benen comes up with a whopping 50 whoppers Mitt told JUST THIS WEEK. ...

The Obama "Truth Team" puts out a series of Web videos countering Romney's debate lies & flipflops:

     ... Who thought Mrs. Greenspan would be helpful?

... Jed Lewison, the best political "Let's Go to the Videotape" guy: "The real Mitt Romney debates the fake Mitt Romney ... and they don't agree on anything." Lewison also posts the transcript of the Two Mitts (or however many there are):

Igor Volsky of Think Progress: far from the madding crowd, the Romney camp walks back his big lie that about half the green companies that got stimulus money have failed.

"Don't Mess with Big Bird!" Charles Blow: "I don't really expect Mitt Romney to understand the value of something like PBS to people, like me, who grew up in poor, rural areas and went to small schools. These are places with no museums or preschools or after-school educational programs. There wasn't money for travel or to pay tutors. I honestly don't know where I would be in the world without PBS."

Frank Rich on the debate -- always informative -- & entertaining: "... in the real world, what I think the less committed public saw, especially in the crucial first half-hour, was a mostly tedious exchange of dueling numbers.... When there was a sudden, unexplained boom behind the two debaters in the early going, I wondered if it was a stagehand fainting from boredom."

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "While we may be confused about the Real Romney, there is no confusion about the Republican Party. There's no reason to think they would tolerate Moderate Mitt in the Oval Office, or that Mr. Romney would even ask them to."

AND, despite evidence like this (I especially like the palm-off to the kid at the end of the debate) --

      ... Tommy Christopher of Mediaite isn't buying Hankygate. But his analysis is fun to read anyway.

Jim Lehrer defends his debate performance, says it was his goal to stay out of the picture.

Other Stuff

Pigs in Crates. Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: thanks to a Humane Society campaign, U.S. retailers are beginning to purchase pork only from hogs that have been raised in large group pens where they can move around. Farmers complain this will raise the price of pork. "Would they tell Microsoft how to make computers?" Dear Consumers: Eat less meat. Buy more expensive cuts. Guess what? Animals raised humanely taste better.

Donald McNeil of the New York Times: "The first rapid home-testing kit for H.I.V. has just gone on sale for $40, marketed as a way for people to find out privately if they have the virus that causes AIDS. But some experts and advocates say that another use, unadvertised, for the OraQuick test -- to screen potential sexual partners -- may become equally popular and even help slow an epidemic stuck at 50,000 new infections each year in the United States." CW: a mighty cheap form of preventive medicine. If you think it's expensive, maybe you should cut down on the number of new partners you're hooking up with.

Congressional Races

Gail Collins has a swell column running down how things are going in some of the Senate races, but she ends with a House race: Nancy Pelosi vs. Some Guy who is running an attack ad featuring zombies. This has to be the Worst Campaign Ad in History, at least for anyone running for high public office:

News Ledes

AP: "Turkey and Syria traded artillery fire for the fourth day in a row Saturday as rebels clashed with President Bashar Assad's forces near the border, heightening fears that the crisis could erupt into a regional conflict. Also Saturday, Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij vowed to crush the rebellion and bring the violence that has engulfed the country to an end."

Reuters: "The Israeli air force shot down a drone after it crossed into southern Israel on Saturday, the military said, but it remained unclear where the aircraft had come from."

Washington Post: "A federal appeals court on Friday sided with President Obama's reelection campaign and said that if Ohio allows military voters to cast ballots in the three days leading to Election Day, it must extend the same opportunity to all voters. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said the state had not shown why voting during the Saturday-Sunday-Monday period should be offered to only one group of voters."

AP: "As the tally from a deadly meningitis outbreak rose Friday, health officials identified the medical clinics across the country that received steroid shots for back pain now linked to the illnesses."

AP: "An ailing extremist Egyptian-born preacher and four other terrorism suspects arrived in the United States early Saturday under tight security to face trial after losing their lengthy extradition fight in England.... The preacher, Abu Hamza al-Masri, was taken to a lockup next to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan to face charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and that he helped abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998." ...

     ... Update: "A partially blind extremist Egyptian-born preacher charged in multiple terrorism plots entered a U.S. court for the first time Saturday without the use of his arms, complaining that prosthetic hooks he uses were taken away as he and four other terrorism defendants were flown to New York overnight from London."

AP: "The pope's butler was convicted Saturday of stealing the pontiff's private documents and leaking them to a journalist in the gravest Vatican security breach in recent memory. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the Vatican said a papal pardon was likely. Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre read the verdict aloud two hours after the three-judge Vatican panel began deliberating Paolo Gabriele's fate."

Thursday
Oct042012

The Commentariat -- October 5, 2012

Presidential Race

AND now, time for a little gallows humor:

David Horsey for the Los Angeles Times.David Horsey's column in the Los Angeles Times is well worth reading, too. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Oops! Akhilleus corrected me. Thanks to Janet for the link. ...

... Andy Borowitz in the New Yorker: "The White House today announced that it was offering a 'substantial cash reward' for information leading to 'the location and safe return of President Obama's mojo.'" Thanks to James S. for the link.

CW: we now know what's Mitt Romney's October Surprise is: he metamorphosed overnight from Severely Conservative Mitt to Massachusetts Mitt. ...

... Massachusetts Mitt, Day 2. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Mitt Romney for the first time characterized his comments during a fundraiser that were surreptitiously filmed and caught the candidate essentially writing off 47 percent of Americans as 'completely wrong." "Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you're gonna say something that doesn't come out right,' Romney said in an interview Wednesday night with Fox News' Sean Hannity. 'In this case I said something that's just completely wrong.'" CW Translation: "Really, I love you moochers. Vote for me so I can give you the freedom to get off the dole, you lazy bastards." ...

... BTW, in case you're wondering why Massachusetts Mitt said this yesterday to Hannity instead of during the debate with its reported 67.2 million viewers, it's because Obama -- and the useless Jim Lehrer -- didn't give him a chance (see the bottom of page 1 of the linked article). Which is, um, what I said yesterday.

... Severely Conservative Mitt, the Day the Tapes Surfaced: "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question, but it's a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry, which is that the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them. Therefore I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those in the middle." ...

... The Say-Anything, Do-Anything Wing. Dave Weigel of Slate: arch-conservatives now love Massachusetts Mitt, the guy they used to hate. Why? Because they smell a winner. They don't care WTF he says.

Steve Coll of the New Yorker is sort of upbeat & blames Jim Lehrer for the debacle. CW: either Lehrer was pretending to be totally uninformed or he is pretty damned ignorant. I'm guessing the latter. When he brought up "entitlements," I wanted to throw something at him. At least Obama gently corrected him on that. ...

... Democratic operative Bob Shrum in the Daily Beast: "Lehrer, who is already retired, was not only a pushover, but an interrogator from the pre-modern age -- and that too played to Romney's advantage. The debate was supposed to be about domestic issues. But in Lehrer's world, that didn't include women, African-Americans, Hispanic and the LGBT community -- or any of their concerns. The Republican, who had relentlessly pandered to extort his nomination from a skeptical extremist base, didn't have to repeat or defend his voter-alienating views on questions ranging from immigration to contraception. I blame Lehrer for that, but not for losing control of the debate. I felt sorry for him." Shrum writes that despite his poor performance, Obama did score certain points that matter to voters. BUT -- and this was the point in the debate where I went nuts -- Shrum concedes: "The president made the mistake of saying that he and Romney essentially agreed on Social Security -- where did that come from? -- even though Romney has supported privatization and his running mate has called Social Security a 'collectivist system.'"

... "Obama's Enthusiasm Gap." Matt Bai of the New York Times often has silly ideas, but his post in yesterday's Times is instructive: "Mr. Obama's goal, it seems, was to indicate his continued willingness to serve in a job he believes he can do better than the other guy, but that doesn't really seem to enervate or enliven him. That's a problem, and not only for the duration of the campaign." Worth a read. ...

... Dana Milbank: "Obama has set a modern record for refusal to be quizzed by the media, taking questions from reporters far less often than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush.... Obama has shied from mixing it up with members of Congress, too. And, especially since Rahm Emanuel's departure, Obama is surrounded by a large number of yes men who aren't likely to get in his face. This insularity led directly to the Denver debacle."

... Dizzy Prez. Al Gore dreams up a better excuse, one right up there with "the dog ate my homework": Obama was disoriented by Denver’s altitude after flying in from the Nevada lowlands." O-kay.

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker lists seven chances Obama missed to hit back at Romney. You may have additional ones of your own.

Governor Romney came to give a performance and he gave a good performance and we give him credit for that. The problem with it was that none of it was rooted in fact. -- David Axelrod ...

We are obviously going to have to adjust for the fact of Mitt Romney's dishonesty. -- David Plouffe of the Obama campaign, acknowledging the campaign would change debate tactics

... Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone: "Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate -- and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president under a heaping pile of horseshit." Dickinson lists five big lies. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: "Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies." ...

... David Gergen???

... Romney Lies about Green Jobs Failures. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: when does 1/2 = 4% or 9% ? When Mitt Romney speaks. ...

... "Sick Joke." Paul Krugman: "'No. 1,' declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday's debate, 'pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.' No, they aren't -- as Mr. Romney's own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.... What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job.... As it happens, this is already the law of the land.... It applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job).... The number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Romney has made this claim on national TV before, only to have his campaign clarify that he only would guarantee protection for those with preexisting conditions who have had continuous coverage.... After Romney's claim last night, the Romney camp again clarified this difference. This is now a pattern: While millions are watching, Romney claims he favors the ban on those with preexisting conditions. Then his campaign issues a clarification watering it down that almost no one will see. The reason for this is obvious: Polls show strong public support for keeping that ban."

Deficit Hawks Pounce. Washington Post Editors: "President Obama has no adequate plan to cope with the frightening level of debt the U.S. government is accumulating. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has a plan to make it worse. To understand that harsh assessment, you have to spend a few minutes with some facts that Mr. Romney did his best to obscure Wednesday." ...

... Tales from a Debate. The Obama campaign begins to hit Mendacious Mitt. This ad is going up in swing states:

Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "The question for the press over the next few days is increasingly clear: Will the big story be about Mitt Romney's debate victory? ... Or will it be about Romney's repeated failures to stick to the facts? ... Paul Ryan's convention speech wound up being covered mainly for its mendacity, and that became the story. It seems that there are at least as many factually challenged comments from Romney's debate performance as there were in Ryan's speech, although it may have lacked any screaming-headline lies." ...

... Seth Michaels of Working America: "As a person playing the role of a political candidate in a debate, Romney did just fine.... However, Romney let loose time and time again with jaw-dropping dishonestly. It was reminiscent of Paul Ryan's convention speech in its open contempt for truth.... Going in front of nearly 60 million people and dancing around the facts like this ... is disdainful of voters. You don't lie like this to people whose intelligence you respect -- and as his now-famous fundraiser comments show, respect for voters is not really his strong suit.... Will the press cover this debate like theater critics, looking to see who sang and danced better? Or will they look at the substance?" Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Apparently, the public doesn't mind being disrespected. The bottom line on a longish piece by Lori Montgomery & Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post: "Romney's newly aggressive stance appears to be helping his cause, at least initially. A CBS News instant survey of uncommitted voters found that they favored Obama by a significant margin on the tax issue going into Wednesday's debate. Immediately afterward, the numbers flipped." ...

... Jim Rutenberg & Peter Baker of the New York Times are not interested in tackling substance. Of Romney's lies, here's all they wrote: "Mr. Obama's aides said if there was one silver lining in the night it was that they could seize on what they called inconsistencies between Mr. Romney's stances during the primaries and those of this late campaign period." ...

... The man on stage last night doesn't want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney. He knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year. If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. -- Barack Obama, at a campaign rally yesterday ...

... In the same report, Rutenberg & Baker write that at a campaign rally in Denver Thursday, President Obama "went straight at [Mitt Romney] with a forceful argument that Mr. Romney's words of moderation masked extreme conservative policies.... In general, advisers suggested that Mr. Obama had prepared for a different Mitt Romney, one who had promoted a conservative message to the Republican base this year.... Instead, he was confronted by a candidate using a softer tone.... Some of the weaknesses in the president's performance, advisers said, were the result of a strategy of not turning off the narrow slice of swing voters, who are often repelled by personal confrontations. And, they said, he had been expecting the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, to ask more pointed questions...."

Michael Cooper, et al., of the New York Times do write about This Week's Mitt and demonstrate how he is different from Last Week's Mitt, but in terms of analysis, they write that he "used striking new language" and "may be sowing confusion about how [he] would govern." This is the most oblique & obscure translation of "Liar, Liar!" I've ever read. ...

... Oddly enough, Cooper & the same do a much better job of yelling "Liar, Liar!" in a blogpost that covers much of the same material. The post, of course, does not go out to readers of the print edition. It's almost as if, um, the Times has a totally different readership in mind for its online & print editions.

Scott Wilson & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama sought to put a sluggish debate performance behind him Thursday with a pair of combative speeches in swing states, as his campaign advisers acknowledged that he would have to change his approach before meeting Republican nominee Mitt Romney again on a national stage."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Criticizing Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate, his voice now indignant, now deeply sarcastic, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered the kind of impassioned response to the Republican nominee on Thursday that many Democrats said they wished they had heard from President Obama."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama's campaign raised more money in September than any candidate has raised in a previous month this year.... Several sources said the president's haul last month exceeded the $114 million he raised in August, in part on the strength of donations that flowed in after the Democratic National Convention and former president Bill Clinton's well-received speech."

Allen McDuffee of the Washington Post: "A new ad out of Mitt Romney's campaign claiming that President Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 solely relies on an article from the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).... The ad also says AEI is a nonpartisan, independent organization. By law, this is true.... However, ideologically, one would be hard-pressed to find somebody at AEI who didn't identify themselves as conservative. But how many in the public will know that?" McDuffee also points to Romney's reliance on an AEI opinion piece during the debate. Though McDuffee doesn't make this clear, Romney merged one conservative's opinion piece into "six other studies"; it was actually one opinion, repeated or mentioned in 5 other venues, including the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, if I recall.)

As P. D. Pepe points out in today's Comments, Robert Scheer of TruthDig viewed the "debate" between Obama & Romney as one between Tweedledee & Tweedledum. Their differences -- especially as to controlling Wall Street excesses -- are miniscule. CW: And it ain't gonna change without a Constitutional amendment to curb campaign finance "free speech."

Other Stuff

Quotes of the Day. The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state. -- Justice Antonin Scalia, explaining why some cases are easy

Remember the Supremes! -- Kate Madison, explaining why you should hold your nose & vote for Obama

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: when the jobs numbers look good, Fox "News," et al., have the jobs-report conspiracy theorists at the ready.

Denise Grady, et al., of the New York Times: "The nation's growing outbreak of meningitis, linked to spinal injections for back pain, was a calamity waiting to happen -- the result of a lightly regulated type of drug production that had a troubled past.... The outbreak, with 5 people dead and 30 ill in six states, is thought to have been caused by a steroid drug contaminated by a fungus. The steroid solution was ... concocted by a pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., called the New England Compounding Center. Compounding pharmacies make their own drug products, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration."

News Ledes

ABC News: "The D.C. transit system must allow a pro-Israel ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages, a federal judge ruled Friday. A spokesman for the Metro system said it would comply with the judge's decision and that the advertisements would go up over the weekend."

New York Times: "American officials confirmed Turkish news reports on Friday that two Tunisian men had been detained in Turkey in connection with the killing of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the attack on a United States diplomatic post in Libya on Sept. 11.... It remained unclear whether the two were considered to be suspects or witnesses in the violent attack in Benghazi...."

** Bloomberg News: "The unemployment rate in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, as employers took on more part-time workers."

AP: "The potential scope of the meningitis outbreak that has killed at least five people widened dramatically Thursday as health officials warned that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients who got steroid back injections in 23 states could be at risk. Clinics and medical centers rushed to contact patients who may have received the apparently fungus-contaminated shots. And the Food and Drug Administration urged doctors not to use any products at all from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the suspect steroid solution." See also today's Commentariat.

ABC News: "Authorities are looking closely at the possibility that a friendly fire accidental shooting is at the heart of the incident that killed Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie and wounded a second agent, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News. A third agent was unharmed in the incident."

Washington Post: "The Secret Service has formally adopted new policies on the use of alcohol and social media, banning excessive drinking and the sharing of work-related information on sites including Facebook five months after more than a dozen employees were accused of drunken partying with prostitutes in Colombia."

Wednesday
Oct032012

The Commentariat -- October 4, 2012

Presidential Race

Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz & Chris Hayes tore the President apart for his debate performance. Matthews said Obama needs to start watching MSNBC so he'd know how to respond to Romney. I don't disagree with any of their points -- EXCEPT -- Obama & Romney spewed so many statistics so fast that I don't think most people could begin to grasp what they said. Therefore, the content of what they said may be less important than their demeanor. I thought after the first pleasant exchange, Romney was rude & nasty -- you might say a bully -- both to the President & Jim Lehrer, while the President was our friend & leader. We'll see if the needle moves, but I'm not sure ordinary Americans want a bully at the bully pulpit. ...

... The New York Times fact-check of the debate is quite extensive. Basically, it seems to say, Romney lied about this, that & the other thing. And another thing. And another. ...

... Calvin Woodward 's fact-check for the AP makes both candidates look like serial liars. Since this is what they'll read in the hinterlands, this is hardly helpful to the President.

... For those who missed all the fun thanks to other pressing engagements (Marvin Schwalb), the New York Times has a good interactive feature that includes full video & a full transcript of "Mr. Narcissist Gets His Way."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney took the offensive in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, forcing President Obama to defend his record in a series of sharp exchanges in which Romney charged that the President's economic policies have 'crushed' the middle class." ...

... Michael Shear & Jeff Zeleny write the New York Times report. ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The candidates spent much of the 90 minutes ... defining it in narrow policy details that may have bled some of the passion out of their arguments and made them sound smaller than they were. But at its core, the debate brought home a divide over domestic policy greater than any since President Ronald Reagan and Walter F. Mondale faced off in 1984." ...

... Charles Pierce has an excellent takedown of both candidates' performances, one that essentially agrees with the MSNBC panel's conclusions. Pierce's final point is his most important one: the President's failure to articulate or even hew to a progressive view "may have buried progressive government forever by demonstrating how tight the boundaries really are around what is considered acceptable economic solutions to a battered national economy. That will remain the case, clearly, even if this president gets re-elected." ...

     ... CW: following Pierce, Obama's biggest mistake, & this was a doozy, was letting Romney get off scott-free for repeatedly calling the deficit "immoral." If you read Krugman, you'll understand that this is not remotely true -- that the deficit is, by a large, a transfer of wealth from some of our children to some of our other children. Obama owed it to the American people to explain that. He didn't, and I think the reason is that he doesn't fucking understand it. Yeah, he needs Krugman, all right -- see "Other Stuff" below. I am not, BTW, persuaded that the conventional wisdom -- shared by Pierce -- that the President made a big mistake by not mentioning the 47 percent. Obviously, Romney was prepped with a "100 percent" reply. There's an answer to that, too, but it might not be as effective as whatever lie Romney responded. People in swing states who have teevees already get the 47-percent message with their breakfast, lunch & dinner. ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post, who plays fair, lists six reasons Romney won the debate. ...

... Gail Collins: "Romney had that funny look on his face whenever President Obama was talking. Somewhere between a person who is trying to overlook an unpleasant smell and a guy who is trying to restrain himself from pointing out that his car is much nicer than your car." ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "In the days to come, Romney may suffer from the perception of his condescension, his lying and his cruel assault on Big Bird. But for now, it seems the president missed the opportunity to put his opponent away for good." ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time: "Obviously, 2012 isn't 2008, and [Obama's] campaign can't be all about change. But change happened.... If even Obama won't defend the last four years, then what's the point of four more years?"

... Good analysis from Henry Decker of National Memo. Winner: TBD. Loser: Lehrer. Do go to the 2nd page (sorry, I can't figure out how to single-page it) where Decker slams Obama for his response on Social Security. ...

Daniel Polito of Slate: pundits agree -- Romney won big. ....

... BUT as contributor Mae Finch notes, old (& I say that with affection & accuracy) Margaret & Helen get it right. Here's a bit from Helen: "Well Margaret, once again I am going to say what the media won't. Mitt Romney is a lying sack of shit and he wouldn't know a middle class tax cut if it bit him in the middle of his gold plated ass. Evidently the media seems to think that the person who slings the bullshit the farthest wins the debate." ...

... Paul Krugman: "OK, so Obama did a terrible job in the debate, and Romney did well. But in the end, this isn't or shouldn't be about theater criticism, it should be about substance. And the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie." Read the whole post for a glaring fer-instance. ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon assesses the upsides for Romney.

Coal Miners' Slaughter:

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "... Mitt Romney has scaled back his acceptance of a program by President Obama to grant reprieves from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants. On Monday, after months of pressure to clarify whether he would end the program if elected, Mr. Romney said in an interview with The Denver Post that he would not cancel two-year deportation deferrals already granted by the Obama administration.... But on Wednesday morning, campaign aides clarified that Mr. Romney intended to halt the program after he took office and would not issue any new deferrals." CW: big surprise. As usual, Romney thinks talking to local reporters means no one outside their newspaper delivery or broadcast area can find out what he says. Since Colorado has a big Hispanic population, Romney thought it would be a good idea to pretend he was for the Dream Act for a few minutes.

Former President Clinton, speaking at the University of New Hampshire Wednesday, on the 47 percent:

CW: Assuming Penn Schoen Berland -- a pro-Democratic group -- has conducted an unbiased, accurate study of presidential messaging, it seems to me the real takeaway is, "Americans may say they're conservative, but they really prefer Democratic -- i.e., librul -- policies." Mackenzie Weinger of Politico reports on the study's results.

Congressional Races

Rebecca Berg of BuzzFeed: "In a speech on the House floor in 2008, Rep. Todd Akin said doctors give 'abortions to women who are not actually pregnant.'" CW: maybe some of you doctor people can explain this one to us.

     ... Update: "Rep. Todd Akin's campaign is standing by the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri's 2008 claim that doctors commonly perform abortions on women who 'are not actually pregnant.'"

Other Stuff

** Nicholas Kristof: "Our wealth has become so skewed that the top 1 percent possesses a greater collective worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. This inequality is a central challenge for the United States today and should be getting far more attention in this presidential campaign."

Linda Greenhouse writes a compelling history lesson to go along with the Supreme Court's pending affirmative action case. If you -- as I was for a long time -- are of the impression that Brown v. Board of Education was "unprecedented," Greenhouse highlights one of a number of cases that actually set the precedent for Brown.

New York Times Editors: "Judge Carol Jackson of Federal District Court, a George H.W. Bush appointee, dismissed the lawsuit filed against the administration brought by a mining company and its owner, who said that providing contraceptive coverage in the company health plan violated his personal religious views." You can read her decision here (pdf). The editors' synopsis of Judge Jackson's reasoning is instructive.

Charley James of Daily Kos: "Reports surfaced today that Nobel Prize Winning economist Dr. Paul Krugman will be offered the job of chairman for the White House Council of Economic Advisors." Contributor Dave S. writes, "Be still my beating heart." My response: Dave S., my heart beats fast with thine; Alas, t'is Krugman who we both do pine. However, we should remember that presidents pay little attention to their Council of Economic Advisors. (Sorry, hadda quit with the beyoutiful poetry--there's no to can scrunch "Council of Economic Advisors" into iambic pentameter.) Joe Stiglitz is bald only because he tore out his hair when Clinton, Rubin, et al., killed Glass-Steagall. And Christie Romer, who headed Obama's CEA, quit early to help her teenaged son with his homework or something.

Matthew Lee of the AP: "Past investigations into attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions have blamed both the administration and Congress for failing to spend enough money to ensure that the overseas facilities were safe despite a clear rise in terror threats to American interests abroad."

AND Blue Plate Kentucky Roadkill Special. Mike Krumboltz of Yahoo! News: "Customers at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., alerted authorities after they spotted something they probably wish they hadn't: restaurant employees wheeling roadkill back to the kitchen.... The roadkill was apparently a deer stuffed into a trash can. 'There was actually a blood trail they were mopping up behind the garbage can,' customer Katie Hopkins said." Thanks to a friend for the link.

News Lede

AP: "Iran deployed riot police at key Tehran intersections on Thursday, after tensions flared over the nation's plunging currency in the most widespread display of anger linked to the country's sanctions-hit economy.The show of force reflects the authorities' concerns in the wake of sporadic protests Wednesday over the plummeting currency, which has sharply driven up prices."

Tuesday
Oct022012

The Commentariat -- October 3, 2012

Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: "An initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators. The nationwide network of offices known as 'fusion centers' was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not sharing information effectively about potential terrorist threats. But after nine years ... the 77 fusion centers have become pools of ineptitude, waste and civil liberties intrusions, according to a scathing 141-page report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations.... In a response Tuesday, the department condemned the report and defended the fusion centers, saying the Senate investigators relied on out-of-date data." ...

... James Risen's report for the New York Times is here. According to Risen, The DHS "cannot account for as much as $1.4 billion."

New York Times Editors: "If New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, cannot bring banks and bankers to justice for the mortgage debacle, it won't be for lack of trying. It will be for lack of resources and political will that only federal partners can provide, including the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and, most important, President Obama.... Unless and until federal prosecutors and regulators are willing to follow up Mr. Schneiderman's actions with broad suits based on violation of federal laws, the full range of potential wrongdoing by banks will go unaddressed. And the rule of law, as well as the opportunity for redress, will suffer irreparable harm."

Ari Berman of The Nation: "By my count, Pennsylvania is one of eleven voter suppression laws passed by Republicans since the 2010 election that have been invalidated by state or federal courts in the past year, including in crucial swing states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.... It's important to note, however, that voter suppression laws passed since 2010 have not been blocked unanimously.... That said, the pushback against these laws in court has been rather extraordinary, sending a strong signal that restrictions on the right to vote are unconstitutional, discriminatory and unnecessary." With maps. ...

... NEW. Michael Van Sickler of the Miami Herald: "On Tuesday, new details emerged that Strategic Allied Consulting knew of problems in Florida earlier than reported in what is now a case of possible voter registration fraud in a dozen counties." ...

... People, Suppressing Their Own Votes. Amanda Michel, et al., of the Guardian: "A Guardian survey of six of the most crucial swing states upon which the outcome of the presidential ballot is likely to depend has found that new voter registrations recorded between January and August this year are markedly down compared with the same period in 2008. The drop is particularly pronounced in several states for the Democrats -- a likely indication that Barack Obama's re-election team has been unable to match the exceptional levels of voter excitement generated by his candidacy four years ago."

Eli Lake of Newsweek: "In the five months leading up to this year’s 9/11 anniversary, there were two bombings on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and increasing threats to and attacks on the Libyan nationals hired to provide security at the U.S. missions in Tripoli and Benghazi. Details on these alleged incidents stem in part from the testimony of a handful of whistleblowers who approached the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the days and weeks following the attack on the Benghazi consulate. ...

... Maureen Dowd: "Susan Rice's tumble is part of a disturbing pattern of rushing to pump up the president on national security, which seems particularly stupid because it's so unnecessary."

Presidential Race

The legendary Newton Minow, in a New York Times op-ed: "The [presidential] debates are an institution now, and among the most watched television events in America. They are one place in the modern campaign -- perhaps the only place -- where the voter is treated with respect.... Once derided as a creature of the parties, the [presidential debate] commission has gradually become independent of them."

Uri Friedman of Foreign Policy has an excellent "Top Ten Debate Moments on Foreign Policy." This is more substantive than the usual blooper reels of the "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" genre. With video.

Jake Tapper & Mary Bruce of ABC News: "On the eve of the first presidential debate, the conservative website The Daily Caller Tuesday circulated previously unreported clips of a five-year-old speech in which then-Senator Barack Obama praised his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and suggested the federal government discriminated against the victims of Hurricane Katrina." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed has video & audio. ...

... David Graham of The Atlantic has the transcript. ...

... Howard Kurtz of Newsweek: "Under a banner headline, Drudge said that 'Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society.' But nothing on the tape supports that."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "After [Vice President] Biden described the middle class as having 'been buried the last four years,'" Republicans pounced, treating it as an unwitting admission of President Obama's failures. The vice president was criticizing the Republican ticket for pursuing a tax overhaul that would raise taxes on the middle class, he said. 'How can they justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years?' Mr. Biden said at a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C."

"My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney's trash." A great spot by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees:

A new Obama Web video, based on the New York Times story on Romney's taxes, linked in yesterday's Commentariat:

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: when Paul Ryan said, "… it would take me too long to go through all of the math" explaining the Romney-Ryan tax plan, "There's a reason why it would take too long -- infinitely long, you could say -- to go through the math that holds this policy proposal together: because math will never hold this particular policy proposal together.... There's an $86 billion shortfall -- the difference between $251 billion in tax cuts and $165 billion in potential tax increases on this high-income group." ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "In other words: -$251 + $165 + 0 = 0 In my 7th-grade pre-algebra class, this bit of arithmetic wouldn't have passed muster. Maybe they taught math differently at Cranbrook." ...

... Steve Benen: "If you think Paul Ryan is telling you the truth, you need a better calculator." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: "Today Bloomberg News spoke to Ryan and promised he could have all the time he wanted to get into the math. Guess what? He still didn't." Video here.

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "Under pressure to provide more details about his tax reform proposal, Mitt Romney floated an idea Tuesday to help fill a revenue hole in his plan. As an option you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others -- your healthcare deduction....' ... In other words, cap the total amount individuals can benefit from tax loopholes."

Congressional Races

Rep. Todd Akin (RTP-Mo.) is only one point down in his challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Dave Weigel of Slate goes to Southwest Missouri to find out why.

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "Campaign advisers for Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who has been undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder, say he is on the ballot to stay and is awaiting permission from his doctors to return to public life. A tour of his district on a recent day turned up no evidence of billboards, new yard signs or surrogates on the stump, and a campaign office that was locked during business hours."

Local News

New York Times Editors: "Gov. Jerry Brown of California dropped the ball on Sunday when he vetoed the Trust Act, a bill aimed at keeping harmless immigrants out of the deportation dragnet -- not out of misguided compassion, but to bolster public safety. The police in immigrant communities depend on the cooperation of witnesses and victims; when local officers become federal immigration deputies, fear overrides trust, and crime festers.

A City of San Diego sanitation truck. See Comments for context.

News Ledes

New York Times reporters are liveblogging/fact-checking the presidential debate.

Reuters: "Turkish artillery hit targets inside Syria on Wednesday after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians, while NATO called for an immediate end to Syria's 'aggressive acts'. In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back at what it called 'the last straw' when a mortar hit a residential neighborhood of the southern border town of Akcakale."

Guardian: "Republicans in Congress have written to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, claiming to have evidence of a previously undisclosed attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and threats to American ambassador in Libya in the months before he was killed. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee, and Jason Chaffetz, chairman of a subcommittee on national security, are demanding Clinton hand over information about previous attacks and threats as Republicans step up pressure on the White House with accusations of incompetence and a cover-up over the assault that killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other American officials last month." ...

... Foreign Policy: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) Tuesday afternoon to pledge the State Department's full cooperation with Congress in getting to the bottom of the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans."

Al Jazeera: "A Chinese-owned company has filed a lawsuit against US President Barack Obama for blocking its purchase of wind farms near a US military base on national security grounds, court documents showed. Obama signed the decree on Friday banning the sale of four wind farms in Oregon to the Ralls Corp and its Chinese affiliate, Sany Group. In the decree, Obama said companies linked to Chinese nationals 'might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States'."

AP: "Investigators were scouring a rugged area near the U.S.-Mexico line looking for evidence in the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent. Nicholas Ivie and a colleague were on patrol in the desert near Naco, about 100 miles from Tucson, when gunfire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Border Patrol. Ivie, 30, was killed. The other agent, whose name hasn't been released, was hospitalized after being shot in the ankle and buttocks." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "Mexican troops arrested two men on Wednesday suspected of involvement in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot dead in Arizona while responding to a tripped ground sensor, Mexican security officials said."

Al Jazeera: "Four blasts ripped through a government-controlled district close to a military officers' club in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, killing at least 40 people and wounding more than 90, opposition activists said."

Reuters: "Russia told NATO and world powers on Tuesday they should not seek ways to intervene in Syria's civil war or set up buffer zones between rebels and government forces. Moscow further called for restraint between NATO-member Turkey and Syria, where violence along their shared border has strained relations between the former allies."