** Monopoly! Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "Banks are making unusually large gains on mortgages because they are taking profits far higher than the historical norm, analysts say. That 3.55 percent rate for a 30-year mortgage could be closer to 3.05 percent if banks were satisfied with the profit margins of just a few years ago. The lower rate would save a borrower about $30,000 in interest payments over the life of a $300,000 mortgage."
Joan Biskupic of Reuters: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, the eldest member of the bench and leader of its liberal wing, said she cracked two ribs in June but met all her work obligations and remains committed to staying on the court at least three more years." ...
Linda Greenhouse: thank the Supreme Courts of yore for the U.S. women's Olympics teams, but don't expect any more "rights-creating" laws to get such positive readings in today's Court.
Charles Pierce. "... I agree with Goodhair [Rick Perry] on this. If you want to have a death penalty, and if you believe in all the barbaric arguments on its behalf, then you simply cannot care whether or not you execute the odd retarded person or two. The most singularly clumsy moral contortions we have in this country take place over the issue of whether you can wedge a death penalty into the system of laws that this country claims to have. You simply cannot do that." Read the whole post.
E. J. Dionne goes on a nice little rant about the hypocrisy of Romney & the right, principally on ObamaCare, but on other stuff, too. It includes, "If you truly hate the Affordable Care Act, you must send back any of those rebate checks you receive from your insurance companies thanks to the new law.If you truly hate the Affordable Care Act, you must send back any of those rebate checks you receive from your insurance companies thanks to the new law."
** Jim Crow Now Officially Controls Ohio. Ari Berman of The Nation: "The real story from Ohio is how cutbacks to early voting will disproportionately disenfranchise African-American voters in Ohio's most populous counties.... Now, in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, early voting hours will be limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays beginning on October 1, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when it's most convenient for working people to vote. Yet in solidly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP election commissioners have approved expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends." CW: we have not seen voter suppression travesties like this since the 1960s. Too bad the Voting Rights Act -- which the Supremes would like to blow up at first opportunity -- didn't cover every state. ...
Alex Pareene of Salon thinks the press is getting better at exposing candidates' lies & that's why Willard has had three "Marshall McLuhan moments" in recent days. CW: I hope Pareene is right, but -- as my latest NYTX column demonstrates -- they could do a helluva a better job.
My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the Times story news about Mitt Romney's attack on Obama's welfare-to-work policy. I think my critique is of importance because it shows how the Times is skewing stories to favor Romney. The NYTX front page is here. ...
... Charles Blow smells desperation. ...
... So does the New York Times Editorial Board: "Mitt Romney's campaign has hit new depths of truth-twisting with its accusation that President Obama plans to 'gut welfare reform' by ending federal work requirements. The claim is blatantly false, but it says a great deal about Mr. Romney's increasingly desperate desire to define the president as something he is not." CW: to document their editorial, the editors link to seven sources, some of them secondary. None of them is a New York Times story. That would be because the Times reporting is fairly useless. ...
... Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Newt Gingrich said Wednesday there's 'no proof' of a claim made in a Mitt Romney campaign ad that President Barack Obama ended the welfare work requirement. 'We have no proof today,' the former House speaker said on CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360. But I would say to you, under Obama's ideology, it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing.'" CW: evidently there's "something about Obama" that makes him "look like" a guy who would send "a lot of people checks for doing nothing." ...
... Driftglass writes a terrific post on the welfare lie -- and the Romney campaign -- and the Republican party.
Wow! Greg Sargent writes that as a response to the Priorities USA ad featuring Joe Soptic, whose wife died of cancer years after his Bain-controlled company laid him off (see the August 7 Commentariat & an update yesterday's Commentariat), "Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul suggested today that Soptic's wife would have had health insurance if she had lived in Massachusetts and had been covered by Romneycare. 'If people had been in Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney's health care plan, they would have had health care,' Saul said. Conservatives are apoplectic. They think this has given the Obama team a big opening to remake its case about Obamacare. And they're right. The Romney campaign now seems to be claiming that government-established universal health care is the answer to what to do about people like Ms. Soptic who lack insurance. That's Obama's argument for Obamacare." Read the whole post, with which I agree to the letter. CW: it seems foot-in-mouth disease is contageous. Everyone on Team Romney -- Romney himself, Eric Etch-a-Sketch Fehrnstrom, the Kiss-My-Ass-in-Front-of-a-Polish-Shrine guy & now Andrea Saul has a serious case of it. ...
... Jed Lewison: "... the logical conclusion is that everyone without healthcare should move to Boston, and that's insane. But it's also the bare essence of Mitt Romney's health care policy." ...
... Michael Crowley of Time: "Narrowly judged, the ad is scurrilous.... But the more accurate version of this heartbreaking story is still worth telling. Indeed it may be the best illustration this campaign has offered of how politics affects the lives of ordinary people. America's employer-based health insurance system -- in which a layoff plus an illness can equal financial ruin or death -- is a national embarrassment.... My advice for Priorities USA: take your ad back to the editing room and re-release it as an endorsement of Obamacare, and an argument for re-electing the President who will preserve it."
Scott Wilson & Bill Turque of the Washington Post: "President Obama campaigned in [Colorado] Wednesday with a special appeal to female voters, warning a raucous audience in a basketball gymnasium here that Republican challenger Mitt Romney wanted to take women's health rights 'back to the 1950s.' To shouts of support, Obama spoke proudly of Obamacare, the name Republicans once derisively labeled his health-care reform legislation. On Wednesday he acknowledged to many of its beneficiaries here that 'I kind of like the name.'"
Real Economists to Romney: That's Not What We Said. Ezra Klein contacts independent economists whom the Romney campaign claims -- in an ad -- have done research which supports his economic policy proposals. The economists all say Mitt's people have misinterpreted or misused their work. ...
... AND Jim Tankersley of the National Journal interviews Jim Diamond, an economist not associated with the Romney campaign but whose work the campaign has held up in support of their plan. Well, no, Diamond says he "can't argue" with conclusions of the Tax Policy Center that showed Romney's plan as benefiting the rich while raising taxes on the middle class.
Mitt Launches His Holy War:
On the Wrong Side of Every Issue. Franco Ordonez of McClatchy News: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans a campaign stop Sunday at the for-profit NASCAR Technical Institute outside Charlotte, N.C. -- a show of support for an industry that has been hammered by Democrats in recent months." CW: Maybe some of Mitt's NASCAR-owner buddies will join him. Nothing like friends getting together to exploit the little people (including taxpayers).
Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Obama today joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation's largest and most well-known youth development groups." CW: surely it's time for Romney to flipflop.
Jeremy Peters of the New York Times previews the GOP convention sideshow, featuring presidential also-rans, whose "speaking engagements" will be in places other than the convention dais. Me, I'm signing up for Newt University.
... Gail Collins: in Missouri & Indiana, "The Tea Party is once again giving Democrats a new lease on life."
Denver Post: "President Barack Obama relayed a message to the middle-class Thursday afternoon on a grassy quad at Colorado College, often times interrupted by chants of 'Four more years! Four more years!' from the thousands in attendance."
NBC News: "At a court hearing Thursday in Centennial, Colo., lawyers representing movie theater mass shooting suspect James Holmes said their client is mentally ill...."
AP: "George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida's 'stand your ground' law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday. The hearing, which likely won't take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides."
ABC News: "The Federal Trade Commission has ordered Google to pay $22.5 million for violating user privacy on its Apple's Safari browser. It's the biggest FTC fine ever issued for a commission violation."
New York Times: "The Postal Service's financial problems worsened in the spring. The agency reported a $5.2 billion net loss on Thursday for the quarter that ended June 30."
Guardian: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a new crime-fighting system developed with Microsoft – and revealed that the city will take a cut of the profits if it is sold to other administrations. The innovation, which bears a passing resemblance to the futuristic hologram data screens used by Tom Cruise in the science fiction film Minority Report, will allow police to quickly collate and visualise vast amounts of data from cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, police databases and other sources."
New York Times: "The murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of the deposed political leader Bo Xilai, began here on Thursday morning and came to an end seven hours later, with officials saying that the defendant and her accomplice had all but confessed to poisoning a British businessman who had threatened the safety of Ms. Gu's son."
AP: "The United States on Thursday began a landmark project to clean up a dangerous chemical left from the defoliant Agent Orange -- 50 years after it was first sprayed by American planes on Vietnam's jungles to destroy enemy cover. Dioxin, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, will be removed from the site of a former U.S. air base in Danang in central Vietnam."
Here's Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria.
Al Jazeera: "Libya's National Transitional Council has handed over power to a new assembly in a symbolic move marking the first peaceful transition after more than 40 years of rule by the late Muammar Gaddafi."
New York Times: "The United States and its Arab allies are knitting together a regional missile defense system across the Persian Gulf to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack, according to government officials and public documents."
AP: "The ancient Martian crater where the Curiosity rover landed looks strikingly similar to the Mojave Desert in California with its looming mountains and hanging haze, scientists say."
AP: "The president and the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are both stepping down from their roles, the nation's largest breast cancer foundation said in announcing a major leadership shake-up. The high-profile departures come in the wake of continuing fallout from Komen's decision earlier this year to briefly end funding for Planned Parenthood."
AP: "Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against the National Jewish Democratic Council and top officials, saying they made libelous statements regarding his political contributions." CW: Sorry, Sheldon. When you made yourself a public figure, you became, um, a public figure. You ain't gonna win this one. Hope that doesn't hurt your feelings, Mr. Sensitivity.