The Ledes

Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Jacksonville, Florida, Channel 4: "Marissa Alexander, a woman whose case helped bring national attention to Florida's stand your ground and minimum sentencing laws, was allowed to leave jail late Tuesday afternoon to spend the rest of her sentence on house arrest." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the lead.

Washington Post: "On Tuesday, two years after the attack, a jury in Nashville convicted two former Vanderbilt University football players of aggravated rape and related charges. They were among four players who allegedly participated in the assault. Two others, who have pleaded not guilty, will be tried later. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, both 21, now face 15 to 80 years in prison. They were convicted after a 12-day trial and about three hours of jury deliberation." The Tennessean story is here.

Weather Channel: "Winter Storm Juno pounded locations from Long Island to New England with heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding late Monday into Tuesday. The storm is now winding down. The National Weather Service has dropped all winter storm and blizzard warnings for Juno.... In Massachusetts, up to 36 inches of snow has been measured in Lunenburg, while Boston has seen 24.4 inches. Juno was a record snowstorm for Worcester, Massachusetts (34.5 inches). Incredibly, 31.9 inches fell in Worcester on Jan. 27, alone!... uno's most severe coastal flooding occurred in eastern Massachusetts, in areas most exposed to north to northeast winds gusting from 50-80 mph, at times."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Reuters: "The U.S. Army on Tuesday denied that a decision had been made to bring desertion charges against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was released last year in a controversial prisoner swap after disappearing from his base in Afghanistan in 2009.NBC News said earlier on Tuesday that Bergdahl would be charged with desertion, citing senior defense officials. Major General Ronald Lewis, the Army's head of public affairs, said that report, and another from Fox News, were 'patently false.'"

Guardian: "Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has lined up a formidable coterie of academics, human rights advocates, mavericks and visionaries to participate in Europe’s first anti-austerity government. Displaying few signs of backing down from pledges to dismantle punitive belt-tightening measures at the heart of the debt-choked country’s international rescue programme, the leftwing radical put together a 40-strong cabinet clearly aimed at challenging Athens’s creditors."

Guardian: "Moscow has condemned the arrest of a Russian man in New York on espionage charges as yet another instance of unfair persecution by the US. Yevgeny Buryakov, an employee of state-owned VEB bank, was arrested on Monday and charged with gathering 'economic intelligence' along with two other Russian men who had already left the United States."

New York Times: "The first major storm of the winter blasted across eastern New England on Tuesday, unleashing whiteout conditions driven by gale-force winds that left the island of Nantucket without power. The storm may not have lived up to its billing in New York City, but it more than delivered in New England. It cut off Nantucket, where almost all 12,000 year-round residents lost power and telephone service, and it flooded the Atlantic coastal town of Scituate, where a car floated downtown." ...

... Portland Press Herald: "Harsh winds and heavy snow marched into Maine overnight, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency early Tuesday morning. The slow-moving storm is dropping 2 to 4 inches of snow an hour, with north winds of 25 to 35 mph, gusting to 55." ...

... Boston Globe mid-morning report: "The persistent heavy band of snow continues over the Route 495 belt where the heaviest accumulations will likely end up once the storm is over. Snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour or more continue." ...

... Weather Channel: "Winter Storm Juno was pounding New England with moderate to heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding Tuesday morning. Parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts have seen more than a foot of snow. Snow amounts in the New York City metro area have ranged from a half foot in Central Park to more than 18 inches on central Long Island near Islip. Wind gusts have topped 70 mph in parts of eastern Massachusetts. Coastal flooding has also closed some roads in eastern Massachusetts. Thundersnow was reported in coastal portions of Rhode Island and Massachusetts late Monday night and early Tuesday." ...

... Yahoo! News has area-wide live updates here.

AP: "Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Libya's capital Tuesday, killing at least five foreigners and three guards, authorities said. The attack, which included a car bombing, struck the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea." ...

     ... Washington Post UPDATE: "Among the victims in the attack was an American contractor, said two U.S. officials...."

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 26

8:10 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi speak at a business summit in New Delhi, India

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Caribbean energy security summit in Washington, D.C.

5:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a sheriffs' association meeting

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

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

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Friday
Nov092012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 10, 2012

The President's Weekly Address (will remain a fixture here):

     ... The transcript is here.

Character means doing the right thing when nobody is watching. -- David Petraeus, frequently

Someone is always watching. -- David Petraeus, occasional addendum

Those of you who appreciate irony may want to read "General David Petraeus's Rules for Living," which appears in this week's Newsweek under the byline of Paula Broadwell. See Fred Kaplan piece below. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

... Here's Andrea Mitchell of NBC News breaking the news:

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy has the transcripts of Petraeus's full statement to the CIA staff & President Obama's remarks following Petraeus's resignation. ...

... Commenter "Wheels" on Crooks & Liars writes, "... expect Fox news to add a D next to his name when reporting on it." ...

... Seung Min Kim of Politico: "The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came less than a week before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. A spokesman for the committee said acting CIA Director Mike Morell would testify Thursday in place of Petraeus, who resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair." ...

     ... Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine: "... he was scheduled to testify in front of the Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives next Thursday. He won't now, and so the conspiracy theories have started already: 'This is only the latest in a string of groundshaking events demonstrating that the Obama administration hid information vital to the American people during the last days of the 2012 election cycle,' writes Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com. 'Timing, everything suspicious. There has to be more to this story," tweeted all-seeing eye Rupert Murdoch.'" ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "The woman with whom Gen. David Petraeus was having an affair is Paula Broadwell, the author of a recent hagiographic book about him, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. It had long been rumored that something was going on between Petraeus and Broadwell. Her book, co-written with Vernon Loeb, is widely regarded as a valentine to the general. When she was embedded with him in Afghanistan, they went on frequent five-mile runs together. But Petraeus went on five-mile runs with many reporters, and few people who knew him took the rumors seriously. In his personal life, he's always been seen as a straight shooter, a square." Here's Broadwell's Webpage. (Update: it's gone now.) The blurb for her book, unfortunately titled All In, says, "... Broadwell was afforded extensive access to General Petraeus...." CW: I guess. Here's Broadwell on "The Daily Show":

     ... Stewart says, by way of intro, "The last time I recall a journalist embedded with a person at this level was with McCrystal, and it was Rolling Stone, and he got fired." CW: seems to be something of a pattern here. ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times profiles Broadwell, who is married with children.

... CW: I am not too sure why someone has to quit his job because he's had/is having an affair with a reporter. Don't you just go the Appalachian Trail route (see Sanford, Mark) & say, "I had/am having an affair with a reporter. I've been a terrible disappointment to my wife, blah blah"? ...

     ... Update: ah, here's the rub. Richard Engel of NBC News: "The biographer for resigning CIA Director David Petraeus is under FBI investigation for improperly trying to access his email and possibly gaining access to classified information, law enforcement officials told NBC News on Friday." During that investigation, the FBI happened upon the affair. ...

     ... Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Wall Street Journal: "The computer-security investigation -- which raised questions about a potential compromise to national security -- points to one reason Mr. Petraeus and the White House decided he couldn't remain in the senior intelligence position."

***

Frank Rich writes a terrific -- and rather terrifying -- post mortem of the Romney campaign & the GOP's long turn in Fantasyland: "For all the hand-wringing about Washington's chronic dysfunction and lack of bipartisanship, it may be the wholesale denial of reality by the opposition and its fellow travelers that is the biggest obstacle to our country moving forward under a much-empowered Barack Obama in his second term. If truth can't command a mandate, no one can."

John Cassidy, Jane Mayer & Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker talk to Dorothy Wickenden about the election:

David Maraniss, in the Washington Post: "At various points during his first term, Obama convened evening round tables of historians at the White House. According to several in attendance, the discussions ranged widely, but the central question Obama pursued was what it would take to reach lasting greatness, beyond the color of his skin."

Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek: no, Barack Obama is not "just lucky." ...

... CW: one bit of luck: super-duper savvy business manager/efficiency expert Mitt Romney bought a costly "state of the art" GOTV computer system that had never been tested, that crashed multiple times on election day & that left some 30,000 Romney campaign volunteers with no idea of who had voted & who hadn't, or WTF they were supposed to do. I guess that explains why Romney volunteers were still calling me on election day, even though my husband & I are registered Democrats & we had both early-voted. ...

... By Contrast -- Ruby Kramer of BuzzFeed: "Obama for America made what [campaign manager Jim] Messina called an 'unparalleled' $100 million investment in technology.... Every night, Obama's analytics team would run the campaign 66,000 times on a computer simulation. 'And every morning we would come in and spend our money based on those simulations,' said Messina. Their models ultimately predicted Florida results within 0.2%, and 0.4% in Ohio. The only state they got wrong, noted Messina, was Colorado, 'where we got one more point than we thought we would.' The Obama campaign was able to do that, he said, because they turned away from mainstream polling from shops like Gallup, which he called 'wrong the entire election.' ..."

... CW: meanwhile, as Akhilleus noted in a comment .... Garrett Haake of NBC News: "From the moment Mitt Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself. Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked. 'Fiscally conservative,' sighed one aide the next day."

David Firestone of the New York Times: the Romney camp's belief that Romney would win the election, despite polls consistently showing Obama ahead, "shows just how far Republican isolationism has spread. No external source can be trusted, particularly if it comes from the government and the news media (excluding Fox and other conservative sources). Unemployment reports are suspect, the Congressional Budget Office has an agenda, and pollsters with long and sterling records are actually in the tank for the Democrats." CW: Firestone left out the Congressional Research Service!

Dan Amira of New York suggests "Nine Jobs that Mitt Romney Would Be Perfect for." With illustrations.

Dana Milbank: "Before arriving at acceptance, Republicans must go through another stage of grief unique to political loss: an extended period of finger-pointing known as the recriminations phase."

Greg Sargent "asked Larry Norden, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice, which closely monitors voting problems and voter suppression, how some of the voting problems could be solved. Norden had quite a few concrete suggestions, none of which Republicans would like.

... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: don't forget -- lots of white guys voted for Obama, too. The Democratic party would be making a mistake to forget that. CW: particularly true in the Rust Belt.

Jake Heller of Newsweek details "Six Absurd Republican Excuses for Mitt Romney's Defeat." Heller counters, "In reality, the Republican Party ... lost because 71 percent of Latinos, 93 percent of black people, 73 percent of Asian Americans, and 55 percent of women voted against it. The party did not embrace policies that appeal to these demographic groups -- and lost. And that's the GOP's fault."

James Galbraith in Salon: "That the looming debt and deficit crisis is fake is something that, by now, even the most dim member of Congress must know. The combination of hysterical rhetoric, small armies of lobbyists and pundits, and the proliferation of billionaire-backed front groups with names like the 'Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget' is not a novelty in Washington.... Big Money has been gunning for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for decades -- since the beginning of Social Security in 1935." Galbraith, an economist, writes an excellent little essay explaining why the government should keep its hands off these programs.

New York Times Editors: "President Obama sounds as if he's ready to fight. Speaker John Boehner sounds like Mitt Romney."

Andy Borowitz: "House Speaker John Boehner today called for an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, thus ending a streak of pretending to work with President Obama that lasted forty-eight hours.... Speaking to reporters, Mr. Boehner downplayed the significance of his record-setting performance, saying merely, 'It just feels good being a dick again.'"

Ed Kilgore: despite what Very Serious People may tell you, Republican governors are not "pragmatic problem-solvers who know how to work across party lines to get things done." They're just as ideological & batty as Congressional Republicans.

Giant Lump of Coal. Axel Tonconogy of National Memo: "The day after the election, [Robert Murray,] the chairman and chief executive of the Ohio-based coal company fired 54 employees at American Coal and 102 at Utah American Energy, but not before reading a prayer and telling workers that 'the takers outvoted the producers.' Murray faulted Obama's 'war on coal,'" The Washington Post reported.... Given that no major changes took place in the days since Obama's re-election, there is little reason to believe Murray had any other cause for the layoffs besides partisan politics." The Washington Post story is here. CW: and CEOs can't understand why they're usually portrayed as evil, greedy sociopaths.

Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "Acting three days after the nation's minority voters showed that they have increased and still growing power in U.S. elections, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on a challenge to Congress's power to protect those groups' rights at the polls." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Adam Serwer of Mother Jones has more. "A cursory review of recent Republican shenanigans with voting rules should put the notion that the [Voting Rights Act] is obsolete entirely to bed. ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times has a good piece on the Court's decision to hear a case against the Voting Rights Act.

Local News

Norimitsu Onishi of the New York Times: "California's Democrats were poised on Friday to gain a two-thirds supermajority in the State Legislature, an achievement that would give them the power to raise taxes unilaterally and could potentially ease the gridlock in a state known for its fiscal chaos."

George Bennett & Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post: "A Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge today denied U.S. Rep. Allen West's motion to impound ballots and voting machines from his apparent narrow loss to Democrat Patrick Murphy in the District 18 congressional race.... Judge David Crow said the West campaign's motion was 'premature' because official results have not yet been posted. Crow also said it is not the court's role to set elections procedures." CW: sticking with a tradition begun in 2000, they're still counting ballots in Palm Beach County. In Florida, we like to have hyphenated elections, as in "the 2012-2013 election."

News Ledes

CBS Chicago: "A former U.S. attorney representing embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is negotiating a plea deal with the federal government, CBS 2 has learned.... The plea deal would end Jackson's 17-year career as a congressman...."

Guardian: "The BBC has been plunged into the deepest crisis in its history with the dramatic resignation of its director general, George Entwistle, after just 54 days in the job. Entwistle fell on his sword after being engulfed by a crisis that escalated following confirmation on Friday that the BBC had wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine, a former senior Tory politician, in a story about paedophilia. It was the second scandal to hit Newsnight in recent weeks."

New York Times: "The Army's preliminary hearing in the case against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province this year, unfolded last week.... The attacks, which occurred on March 11 in a deeply poor rural region while most of the victims were asleep, were the deadliest war crime attributed to a single American soldier in the decade of war that has followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001...."

Reuters: "Pentagon leaders knew of the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an hour after it began, but were unable to mobilize reinforcements based in Europe in time to prevent the death of the U.S. ambassador, according to a timeline released on Friday."

Washington Post: "Federal agents arrested dozens of members of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood of Texas on Friday and charged them with murder, kidnapping, racketeering and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. A 43-page federal indictment unsealed by the Justice Department names 34 members of the violent organized crime group who have been charged, including four of its senior leaders."

Reuters: "An Afghan villager and two of his sons, who survived a night-time shooting rampage in March, testified on Saturday that they saw only one U.S. soldier attacking their compound, backing the U.S. government's account. Military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accusing him of killing 16 villagers, mostly women and children, when he ventured out of his remote camp on two revenge-fueled forays over a five-hour period in March."

New York Times: "The board of Citigroup has awarded $6.65 million to Vikram S. Pandit after unexpectedly ousting the chief executive last month. Mr. Pandit will receive the money as part of an 'incentive' package for his work during 2012. He will also continue to collect his deferred cash and stock awards from the previous year, compensation that the bank currently valued at more than $8.8 million."

Reuters: "A Vatican court on Saturday found Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert, guilty of obstruction of justice in the investigation of leaks of sensitive papal documents to the media by Pope Benedict's former butler. The same court which last month convicted Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former butler, gave Sciarpelletti a two-month suspended sentence."

Friday
Nov092012

The State of Reality Chex

First, thank you all for your encouragement and kind words.

I started Reality Chex in 2008 because I couldn't find a single site where I could get all or most all of what I wanted to know about the state of the presidential race and other contests. I figured that since I had to look all over the place to get a good handle on the big picture, I might as well share what I was finding. It was never my intention to carry the site past the 2008 election. However, the transition was pretty interesting so I carried on a bit longer. I figured I'd shut down after the inauguration. But the first months of the Obama administration were intense, so I kept up. Finally, I shut down Reality Chex in April 2009. Big protest. So I did a few things to make my job easier and started back up again.

 

I didn't allow comments until some time in 2011 (as I recall). That went fairly well, except I had problems with a few commenters attacking others and with some commenters who thought they could just make up “facts” to bolster their views. Others took me to be their personal research assistant or Answer Lady and would ask me to find stuff widely available through a simple Google search, or worse, to compile data in formats that were not widely available and report back. I got sick of all that & shut down for about a week, but I had enough letters asking me to resume that I did so, with some caveat that commenters had better shape up.

 

I understand that we were all on pins and needles going into the election, and we're all pumped now that it turned out more-or-less for the best. But this excitement has been followed by a return of the fact-free zone (along with few of requests of the Answer Lady). That gets me down, mostly because I don't think I should have to babysit adults. And I sure as hell don't enjoy it. I feel like Sister Mary Elephant.

 

 

So if you want to keep this site going, please show us all the courtesy of writing comments that contribute to, rather than detract from, the conversation. This is what most of you do almost all of the time. Alternately, if you want to write crap, I'll either have to shut down the comments facility – which I don't want to do – or find a crap moderator and let her or him manage the comments. Any volunteers for this thankless post should write to me personally at constantweader@gmail.com I don't expect a long line of applicants.

 

As Sister Mary Elephant would say, “Thank you.”

 

Marie

Thursday
Nov082012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 9, 2012

** Paul Krugman: "Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.... Mr. Obama should hang tough.... This is definitely no time to negotiate a 'grand bargain' on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.... No deal is better than a bad deal." ...

... MEANWHILE, Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times writes, "Senior lawmakers said Thursday that they were moving quickly to take advantage of the postelection political atmosphere to try to strike an agreement that would avert a fiscal crisis early next year when trillions of dollars in tax increases and automatic spending cuts begin to go into force." Not. A. Good. Sign.

... AND, Annie Lowrey of the New York Times writes, "Congressional leaders have made clear that the debt ceiling will be part of the intense negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff, with many members unwilling to raise the ceiling without a broader deal. That has raised financial analysts' worries of a financial market panic over the ceiling in addition to the slow bleed of the tax increases and spending cuts."

Tom Toles of the Washington Post.

As a consequence of this election & to reflect the will of the country, I suggest what we do now is enact Mitt Romney's tax plan. -- John Boehner, Rachel Maddow translation

... Rachelle Younglai of Reuters: "Top Republican lawmaker John Boehner said on Thursday he would not make it his mission to repeal the Obama administration's healthcare reform law following the re-election of President Barack Obama. 'The election changes that,' Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer when asked if repealing the law was 'still your mission.' 'It's pretty clear that the president was re-elected,' Boehner added. 'Obamacare is the law of the land.' ... A spokesman for Boehner said later the speaker and House Republicans 'remain committed to repealing the law, and he said in the interview it would be on the table.'" CW: Boehner obviously got a copy of Romney's playbook -- imply one thing to a large audience; deny it via a spokesperson or statement. So now we have this straight: it is not Boehner's "mission" to repeal ObamaCare, but he is "committed to" repealing it. Huge difference.

Tim Egan: "The challenge now, at a time when 40 percent of all wealth goes to 1 percent of the population, is to see if national policy can really do something to revert middle-class losses."

Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald: "Though votes are still being tallied, President Obama is all but assured a victory in Florida because the lion's share of the outstanding ballots come from Democratic-heavy counties. Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 55,832 votes -- or 49.9 percent to 49.24.... Miami-Dade finished tallying a backlog of 54,000 absentee ballots Thursday and it marginally increased Obama's lead.... Romney's Florida campaign has acknowledged their candidate lost in Florida as well.... With Florida's 29 Electoral College votes, Obama will have 332 votes to Romney's 206." ...

     ... Update. Jay Weaver, et al., of the Herald: Miami-Dade County officials finished their vote tally Thursday, following an around-the-clock tabulation of tens of thousands of absentee ballots and a few thousand provisional ballots. Mayor Carlos Gimenez also pledged to uncover what went wrong Tuesday, by asking four Miami-Dade commissioners to join a task force that will examine the long lines and frustrating delays that plagued polling places in different parts of the county.... Broward County finally finished counting ballots at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.... Palm Beach and Duval were still tabulating their absentees as of Thursday afternoon." ...

... AND an interesting factoid from CBS Miami: "Exit polls of the Cuban-American community in Florida showed a split between Cuba-Americans who were born in Cuba and those born in the United States. Historically, Cuban-American voters have heavily favored the Republican Party since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cuban-born voters broke for Mitt Romney by a 55-45 percent margin. However, among Cuban-Americans born in the United States, President Obama carried the group by a 60-40 percent margin. The Pew Hispanic Center reported Cuban-Americans favored Obama by a 49-47 percent margin."

The Signal & the Noise:

Wherein Karl Rove Explains What "Voter Suppression" Really Means. Dylan Byers of Politico: In a Fox "News" interview, Karl "Rove argued Obama 'suppressed the vote' by demonizing former Gov. Mitt Romney and encouraging people notto vote":

... Or, Maybe, Karl, You Can Blame Your GOP Friends. BACKFIRE! Craig Timberg & Lonnae Parker of the Washington Post: "For many African Americans, this election was not just about holding on to history, but also confronting what they perceived as a shadowy campaign to suppress the black vote. Black voters responded with a historic turnout here in Ohio and strong showings across a range of battleground states.... Buoyed by the Obama campaign's sophisticated ground operation, African Americans helped provide the edge in Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and perhaps Florida.... Analysts, voters and politicians said that a series of episodes here in Ohio -- where exit polls showed black voters accounting for 15 percent of Tuesday's electorate, up from 11 percent in 2008 -- were seen by African Americans as efforts to keep them from voting, stirring a profound backlash on Election Day." ...

... CW: Timberg & Parker don't say so, but I wouldn't be surprised if here in Florida, with our high percentage of older voters, efforts to suppress the vote worked -- on Republican voters. For a week, the local news was about long voting lines with waits of several hours. I suspect many older voters -- who tend to vote Republican -- just decided they didn't have the stamina to stand in line for hours. So they didn't. Anyway, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those extraordinary citizens who stood up (for hours) to GOP tyrants.

Jan Crawford of CBS News: Romney really was confident he would win up through Tuesday evening. ...

... Steven Shepard of National Journal: turns out the polls were skewed, just as Republicans kept insisting. However, they were skewed against Obama & Democrats, not against Romney & Republican candidates. Democrats & Obama won in many states by more than the averages of polls projected. "It is worth noting that PPP's final preelection polls were among the most accurate of all the outfits polling the campaign." (Public Policy Polling [PPP] is a partisan Democratic pollster.)

Sorry, forgot to run this yesterday. Yo, cynics, he just might be the real deal:

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "In races around the country, an unusually large number of lawmakers facing charges of wrongdoing were unceremoniously ousted from their jobs on Tuesday -- which is quite rare, because more than 90 percent of the incumbents seeking re-election to Congress typically return for another term."

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: no, GOP House members, the election was not about you, and you do not have a mandate.

Helen tells Margaret: "Like a zoo, Fox News isn't so scary once you realize the animals can't get out of their cages." A funny post. Thanks to Bonnie for the link.

Local News

NEW. NBC News Orlando: David Siegel, "the central Florida timeshare mogul who made headlines by telling employees a vote for President Barack Obama could jeopardize their jobs, is making more news.... Siegel told Forbes.com ... he will give [his employees] a 5 percent raise. That means he will not be laying off employees as he suggested was a possibility if Obama were re-elected." ...

America's Most Embarrassing Governor. Nick Wing of the Huffington Post: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) maintained that he would continue to reject implementation of key aspects of President Barack Obama's health care reform law this week, despite the certainty that Obamacare will now remain intact due to the president's reelection."

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: "Hoping to set a precedent for other states, Michigan's labor unions spent months pushing a referendum to amend the state's Constitution to prohibit the legislature from ever enacting a law that would curb the powers of public employee unions. But this push to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Constitution was roundly defeated in Tuesday's election, 58 to 42 percent -- an embarrassing loss for labor in a state known as a cradle of American unionism."

Rachel LaCorte of the AP: "Washington state has approved gay marriage, joining Maine and Maryland as the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. Voter returns released since election night show Referendum 74 has maintained its lead of 52 percent. Opponents conceded the race Thursday, while supporters declared victory a day earlier."

Dan Frosch of the New York Times: "Thursday..., Democratic lawmakers [in Colorado] elected the state's first openly gay speaker of the House. The new speaker, State Representative Mark Ferrandino, a Democrat from Denver, was a co-sponsor of [a] civil unions bill [which Republicans blocked from consideration last year] and has vowed to bring it back when the session resumes in January."

Other Stuff

Ellen Barry of the New York Times: a new Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, just opened in Moscow, Russia, is a "state-of-the-art complex underwritten by oligarchs close to President Vladimir V. Putin.... The project is meant to convey a powerful message to Jews whose ancestors fled or emigrated: Russia wants you back."

Paul Sullivan of the New York Times: a major gift-tax deduction is about to expire with the Bush tax cuts, & your average millionaire is scurrying to take advantage of it.

News Ledes

Stoner State. CNN: "The prosecutor's offices for two Washington counties -- including the one that contains Seattle -- announced today they will dismiss 175 misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, days after the state's voters legalized the drug. The dropped cases all involve arrests of individuals age 21 and older for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana."

New York Times: "With many states lagging far behind schedule, the Obama administration said Friday that it would extend the deadline for them to submit plans for health insurance exchanges, the online markets where millions of Americans are expected to obtain private coverage subsidized by the federal government."

New York Daily News: "Federal prosecutors in upstate New York have dropped their year-long sex-abuse investigation into Bernie Fine, saying there is not enough evidence to support allegations that the former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach molested a boy in 2002."

** Washington Post: "CIA Director David H. Petraeus has resigned, bringing a surprisingly abrupt end to his brief tenure at the agency as well as his decorated career in national security. Petraeus sent a letter to President Obama on Friday indicating that he was stepping down, citing an extramarital affair." New York Times story here AND has been greatly expanded. CW: I thought Jay Carney was giving awfully cagey answers re: Petraeus in his briefing, just concluded. I see I was right.

NBC News: "... President Barack Obama on Friday invited congressional leaders of both parties to the White House next week for talks on how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, but reiterated his insistence that higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans be part of a deficit reduction plan."

ABC News: "President Obama will today call upon Congress to work with him on preserving the lower tax rates first pushed by President Bush for those Americans who earn under $200,000 a year, but he will state his belief that voters were clear in re-electing him that they support a 'balanced approach' to deficit reduction -- meaning that the lower tax rates for higher wage earners should expire." ...

     ... Politico Update: "President Barack Obama said Friday he's ready to get to work on a deal to avert going over the fiscal cliff at the end of the year. But, he stressed, he believes he has the authority after winning reelection to a second term in the White House":

Reuters: "A former oil executive was named leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans on Friday, ending months of closed-door intrigue as the church struggles with bitter rifts over women bishops and gay marriage. Justin Welby, 56, has been bishop of the northern English city of Durham for barely a year and will replace the liberal incumbent Rowan Williams as archbishop of Canterbury in December. Welby is against gay marriage but favors the ordination of women as bishops."

ABC News: "Seven current members of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six, including one involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have received non-judicial punishments for having served as paid consultants for the video game 'Medal of Honor: Warfighter.' Four other SEALs who previously belonged to the unit remain under investigation."

Wednesday
Nov072012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 8, 2012

Jonathan Weisman & Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, striking a conciliatory tone..., said on Wednesday that he was ready to accept a budget deal that raises federal revenue as long as it is linked to an overhaul of entitlements and a reform of the tax code that closes loopholes, curtails or eliminates deductions and lowers income tax rates. Mr. Boehner's gesture was the most explicit offer he has made to avert the 'fiscal cliff' in January, when billions of dollars in tax increases and automatic spending cuts go into force. And it came hours after Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, offered his own olive branch, saying 'it's better to dance than to fight.'" ...

     ... CW: oh, for Pete's sake. Boehner isn't making a "conciliatory" move; they're positioning ploys. Boehner knows perfectly well the impending automatic expiration of the Bush tax cuts & the so-called "sequester" have him at a great disadvantage. This report by Wyatt Andrews of CBS News is more realistic:

... Gail Collins gets it right, and hilariously so: "by the end, it sounded as if the only cliff-avoidance Boehner was really interested in was one that raised new revenue through 'fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all.' We have already seen that plan. It was proposed by a man who, on Tuesday, lost the state in which he was born, the state in which he was governor, and the three states in which he owns houses.... The only candidate for president who lost his home state by a larger margin than Mitt Romney was John Frémont in 1856. And Frémont was coming out of a campaign in which the opposition accused him of being a cannibal." ...

... David Dayen: Democrats should sit tight & do nothing about the "fiscal cliff" this year but wait instead for the new, more liberal Congress to be seated. ...

... Bill Keller isn't as smart as Dayen, and he doesn't favor progressive fiscal policy, but he does see reason to hope the status quo -- which is what Americans voted for -- can still lead to change, especially if Obama has learned to schmooze and play hardball. ...

... New York Times Editors: "A newly energized Obama administration and Senate could have the effect of isolating the supply-side dead-enders in the House. John Boehner ... announced Wednesday that nothing had changed; he and his caucus still oppose higher tax rates for the rich and still want to pursue Mr. Romney's defeated goal of raising revenue by lowering rates and cutting unspecified loopholes.... The president's victory was decisive.... He now needs to use the power that voters have given to him to enhance and broaden his agenda."

Jon Chait of New York: "The [Republican] gamble was that by denying Obama any support, they would render his presidency wholly partisan at best, and a dysfunctional failure at worst. They would increase their own chances of denying him a second term, and that their return to power would allow them to claim a full and absolute break with the past. They shoved all their chips onto tonight's election. When the networks called it at 11:15 p.m., the totality of the right's failure was clear."

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "To the extent that we are looking at a new Democratic governing majority, Obama didn't build that -- not by himself. He had a great deal of help from Republicans whose refusal to acknowledge a changing American electorate narrowed their political coalition. Because Republican intolerance played such a decisive role in the electorate that emerged Tuesday, it's hard to draw a broad conclusion about a long-term ideological shift in the United States, or to see Obama's coalition as a lasting one."

Jon Chait: "... the moderate wing [of the Republican party] won the nomination without winning an argument. Romney won essentially by default, and to the extent his pitiful opposition mounted any challenge, Romney positioned himself to their right. The moderates' best chance would have been to give the right wing the full run of the place for the cycle."

"The Defeat of the One Percent." Dana Milbank: "On election night in 2000, George W. Bush hosted an outdoor rally for thousands in Austin. In 2008, Barack Obama addressed a mass of humanity in Chicago's Grant Park. Then there was Romney's [election-night] fete -- for which reporters were charged $1,000 a seat. The very location set the candidate and his well-heeled supporters apart from the masses: The gleaming [Boston] convention center, built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, is on a peninsula in the Boston harbor that was turned into an election-night fortress, with helicopters overhead, metal barricades and authorities searching vehicles." ...

... Nicholas Confessore & Jess Bidgood catch some of these same fatcats at the private air terminal of Boston's Logan Airport. "... on Wednesday, at least, the nation's megadonors returned home with lighter wallets and few victories." ...

... This report by Philip Rucker of the Washington Post on Willard's Wednesday was informative. Not surprisingly, those rich guys were pissed. Also, Romney told them he felt he would win. ...

... In fact, here are screenshots of his transition Website, now defunct. ...

... Julie Bykowicz & Alison Fitsgerald of Bloomberg News: "Rove, through his two political groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, backed ... Mitt Romney with $127 million on more than 82,000 television spots.... Ten of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates they supported also lost their races.... The Election Day results showed Rove's strategy of bringing in huge donations from a few wealthy benefactors and spending that money almost completely on television advertising failed."

... CW: for anyone feeling really, really sorry for Sheldon Adelson & the Koch boys, et al., let me assure you that the Republican leadership in Washington & in the states will do their very best to give the biggest losers some very nice consolation prizes. ...

... John Judis of The New Republic: Democrats may have the majority of the electorate on their side, but Republicans have by far the better influence-peddling constituency.

This Pew Research report on the demographic makeup of the electorate is fascinating. For instance, "Fully 89% of Romney's [voters] were white non-Hispanics, compared with just 56% of Obama's supporters. Romney managed to better McCain's showing among whites by four percentage points -- and still lost the election."

** Adam Nagourney, et al., of the New York Times report on some of the deliberations & concerns that went on inside each presidential campaign.

Peter Beinart of Newsweek: "Four years ago, it looked possible that Barack Obama's election heralded a new era of Democratic dominance. Now it looks almost certain. In the early 20th century, the face of America changed, and only one party changed with it. In the early 21st century, that story has played itself out again. From the beginning, Obama has said he wants to be a transformational figure, a president who reshapes American politics for decades, another Reagan or FDR. He may just have achieved that Tuesday night." ...

... CW: one thing that is glaringly obvious -- Democrats need to get their "occasional voters" to come out for midterm elections. As long as Romney's 89-percenters are deciding midterm elections, Republicans will win. If you remember, Obama did almost no campaigning for Congressional candidates in 2010. Let's see if he does a better job in 2014.

How "the Rape Thing" Might Reform the Filibuster. Steve Benen: "It may seem hyperbolic, but the truth is, we'll have a more Democratic Senate because the GOP's far-right base elected unhinged and unelectable conservatives who said ridiculous things about rape." Sen. Claire McCaskill, "The year's most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, ended up winning by 16 points." With a more liberal Senate, "the likelihood of filibuster reform is real, and with Democrats expanding their majority, the party has a new motivation to help repair the dysfunctional chamber."

David Firestone of the New York Times fantasizes about how a more liberal Senate might actually lead to more liberal legislation that could be forced down the throats of the GOP House. CW: the only way to do this is to sell every single "big idea" to the public first. Teabagging Reps have to fear for their jobs before they'll reluctantly do the people's will.

Dan Friedman of the National Journal: "Maine Senate electee, Angus King, an independent former governor, looks likely to announce within weeks that he will caucus will Senate Democrats.... At a news conference Wednesday in Maine, King said he may make a decision on caucusing by the end of next week.... Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in his own news conference Wednesday, said he had 'several conversations in the last 24 hours' with King. Reid said he expected King would reach a decision soon."

Jay Weaver & David Ovalle of the Miami Herald: "... Miami-Dade County's ... beleaguered elections supervisor told reporters Wednesday night that her employees, still processing thousands of absentee ballots, won't finish until Thursday.... With the presidential race settled -- but Florida still too close to call -- Miami-Dade's lack of final results have left a much-mocked blank spot on the long-decided electoral map.... Obama won't lose the lead in Miami-Dade, where his campaign had a massive grass-roots operation. But how the final batch of ballots affects the overall number in Florida remains to be seen -- Obama leads by just over 46,000, according to the state election department's most recent numbers. The race could still be close enough to trigger a recount in Florida, unless it is waived by Romney...." ...

... Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times: "... in the end Obama probably will again win Florida, though his slim 237,000-vote margin in 2008 will be even slimmer, around 50,000 votes."

... Jon Stewart comments on, among other things, Florida's voter suppression campaign:

Separate but Equal, Still Legal. Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "A Hart Research study sponsored by the AFL-CIO found wait times were disproportionately longer for Democrats and Democratic-leaning demographics by huge margins in 2012. For example, 16 percent of Obama voters reporter lines longer than 30 minutes, versus just 9 percent of Romney voters.... An MIT survey of 10,000 voters in 2008 found that waits for African Americans were more than twice as long as those for white voters for both early and election day voting." CW: "Same difference," as we say in the South for Hispanics:

Paul Krugman: the attacks on pollsters by the outraged right only makes some kind of psychological sense if you consider that "the modern right-wing psyche ... is obsessed -- more than anything else -- with power.... They can't separate the two: they perceive anyone suggesting that maybe they aren't going to smash their opponents as a threat." ...

... ** Jon Stewart comments:

A Bad Day for Benjy. Jodi Rudoran of the New York Times: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "facing his own re-election fight on Jan. 22, did not directly acknowledge any missteps, but he rushed to repair the relationship [with President Obama]. He called the American ambassador to his office for a ceremonial hug. He issued a damage-control statement declaring the bond between the two nations 'rock solid.' He put out word to leaders of his Likud Party whose congratulatory messages had included criticism of Mr. Obama that they should stop."

@P. D. Pepe: because I can't see the difference between Charlie Rose & this:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Iranian warplanes fired at an unmanned American military surveillance drone in international airspace over the Persian Gulf last week, Pentagon officials disclosed Thursday, saying that while the aircraft was not hit, Washington made a strong protest to Tehran. The shooting, which the Pentagon said occurred Nov. 1 ... was the first known instance of Iranian warplanes firing on an American surveillance drone. George Little, the top Pentagon spokesman, attributed the weeklong silence on the incident to restrictions on discussing classified surveillance missions. But it doubtless will raise questions about whether that silence had been meant to forestall an international controversy before the election."

New York Times: "With gas lines in New York City still stubbornly long and no relief for gas shortages in sight, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg imposed an odd-even gas rationing rule Thursday that goes into effect at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Identical rules are going into effect in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island at 5 a.m. tomorrow."

ABC News: "Bradley Manning, the Army soldier accused of leaking more than a half million confidential U.S. documents to whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has offered to plead guilty to some charges during his ongoing pre-trial hearing. Pfc. Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, presented the plea in the preliminary hearing on Wednesday in Fort Meade, Md. No public copy of the plea offer is available yet."

AP: "The nor'easter that interrupted recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy pulled away from New York and New Jersey Thursday morning, leaving a blanket of thick, wet snow that snapped storm-weakened trees and downed power lines. Households from Brooklyn to storm-battered sections of the Jersey shore and Connecticut that had waited for days without power because of Sandy were plunged back into darkness in temperatures near freezing."

AP: Jared Lee Loughner, "the man who pleaded guilty in the Arizona shooting rampage, will be sentenced Thursday for the attack that left six people dead and wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others." ...

     ... Arizona Republic Update: "U.S. District Judge Larry Burns on Thursday sentenced Tucson shooter Jared Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years, calling the sentence 'astronomical' and 'justified' because Loughner 'knew what he was doing' when he killed six and wounded 13 at a congressional event sponsored by then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. 'The facts show he traveled there with the purpose of shooting Ms. Giffords,' Burns said. Burns imposed the sentence after a long and dramatic hearing that included testimony from Loughner's victims." New York Times story here.

New York Times: "A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the man behind 'Innocence of Muslims,' the anti-Islam YouTube video that ignited bloody protests in the Muslim world, to one year in prison for violating parole."

New York Times: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo< has dismissed [Steven Kuhr,] his chief of emergency management, after learning that he deployed government workers to clear a tree at his Long Island home during Hurricane Sandy."