The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Sunday
Aug122012

The Commentariat -- August 13, 2012

Jim Crow Republic. Natasha Kahn & Corbin Carson of the Washington Post: "A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent. The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters."

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "A summer drought that has destroyed crops, killed livestock and sent feed prices soaring is now extracting a political price from members of Congress, who failed to agree on a comprehensive agriculture bill or even limited emergency relief before leaving Washington for five weeks. Farmers are complaining loudly to their representatives, editorial boards across the heartland are hammering Congress over its inaction, and incumbents from both parties are sparring with their challengers over agricultural policy."

New York Times Editors: "President Obama signed a new law last week that broadens federal limits on protests at military funerals for members or former members of the Armed Forces." It may be unconstitutional.

CW: This might be a first. The New York Times has an op-ed written in Portuguese. I think it's titled, "In the name of the future, Rio is destroying its past."

I, Nephi." Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews 4 books about the history of Mormonism & its meaning. Mark Twain's analysis of the Book of Mormon is worth the price of admission. ...

... Arnold Friberg's ... image of Nephi [left] is canonic among believers, and, it must be said, looks exactly like Mitt Romney. -- Adam Gopnik

 

 

 

Presidential Race

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "In his first public remarks about Paul Ryan's pick to be the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, President Barack Obama called the lawmaker 'a decent man' but painted him as a champion of 'top down' economic policies that favor the rich." CW: Sorry, BarryO, there's nothing "decent" about a person who would let children go hungry so Mitt Romney can pay taxes at a rate of less than one percent. In a January debate, Romney himself said of Ryan's budget, "Under that plan, I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years." (Gee, I wonder if we'll be seeing that line in Obama campaign ads.)

Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney appears to have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate over the objections of top political advisors, offering a glimpse at the leadership style of the Republican nominee in the most important decision of his campaign."

ABC News: "Rep. Paul Ryan says he will only release two years of his tax returns -- the same amount Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has agreed to release.... A Romney adviser says Ryan gave the campaign 'several' years of tax returns when he was being vetted, but wouldn't specify how many."

** Joan Walsh eviscerates Paul Ryan. It's a must-read. ...

... AND here's a tidbit Walsh includes of which I was unaware: there's a rumor Obama will appoint Erskine Bowles Treasury Secretary. If that's true, I may join those of you who are sitting out the election. I'll check it out. Update: looks as if the rumor started -- in print, anyway -- with Ezra Klein. Here's the offending Klein the post. ...

... James Surowiecki of the New Yorker: Ryan "says he wants a 'full-throated defense' of the Republican agenda, but he's adept at disguising the radicalness of his proposals, as when he describes his proposed cuts to things like Medicaid as 'strengthening the social safety net.'" In the long run, his plan would eliminate almost all government spending except defense: & return the government to "something like its nineteenth-century role -- and early nineteenth-century at that."

Bill Keller of the New York Times, who is fairly conservative himself, provides a scary rundown of what to expect from a Romney presidency.

New York Times Editors: "Less than 24 hours after Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate on Saturday, his campaign was already trying to distance itself from Mr. Ryan's politically toxic budget plan.... Mr. Romney made a clear statement in choosing the most extreme of the vice-presidential possibilities, both in Mr. Ryan's economic views and his positions on social issues, like his opposition to contraception coverage under the health care reform law for employees of religiously affiliated institutions, repeal of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy, and sensible gun control. More than any small differences that eventually develop between the men, it is their shared and troubling goals that bind them together." ...

... Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Though best known as an architect of conservative fiscal policy, Representative Paul D. Ryan has also been an ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights, has tried to cut off federal money for family planning, has opposed same-sex marriage and has championed the rights of gun owners."

Front page of Sunday's Miami Herald. Via Maggie Haberman of Politico.     ... The news story, by Marc Caputo, is here. Near the top: "Ryan... is the architect of the Ryan budget plan that makes big changes to Medicare and Medicaid and could allow for some privatization of Social Security.... Ryan ... once opposed the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a now-reversed stance that concerns some in Miami-Dade's exile community, which is overwhelmingly Republican and had hoped that one of its own, Sen. Marco Rubio, would have been picked as Romney's running mate. The county's elderly Cuban population also relies heavily on government assistance, particularly Medicare." And as luck would have it, the Herald has a Spanish-language edition, which features Caputo's story: "Ryan podría ser un problema para Romney en la Florida." AND the story is currently (11 pm ET Sunday) the most popular story in the Spanish-language paper. ...

... The Obama campaign talks to Florida voters about Medicare:

     ... P.S.: Don't kid yourself, people. Erskine Bowles would not protect Medicare.

Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "... Democratic strategists and the hard right are united: they fervidly support Mitt Romney’s decision to choose Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, as his vice-presidential running mate."

Michael Barbaro: "On his second day as a vice-presidential candidate, Representative Paul D. Ryan emerged Sunday as a tough-talking sidekick and flattering biographer for Mitt Romney, playing roles that Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has sometimes struggled to master."

Greg Sargent: "Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconisn..., is recovering economically in no small part because of money from the stimulus and other federal grants.... Romney and Ryan ... suggest Obama's argument -- that the success of business is enabled partly by government investment ... means he thinks only government is responsible for people's success.... This distortion is the only way Romney and Ryan can paint Obama's vision as radical. But it isn't radical at all -- as the recovery of Ryan's own hometown demonstrates."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "Ryan accepted nearly $60,000 in contributions from businessman Dennis Troha and his family, records show. Troha was later indicted on campaign finance charges over an Indian casino he sought to open. During the casino application process, Troha said, Ryan (R-Wis.) called federal regulators at his request. Ryan also supported a bill in Congress that benefited Troha and his trucking company, legislation that drew the interest of federal prosecutors.... Ryan was not found to have violated any laws.... Troha was convicted of funneling illegal donations to other politicians, not Ryan, and Ryan donated Troha's contributions to youth programs when the businessman was indicted."

CW: I watched a couple of minutes of Bob Schieffer's "60 Minutes" interview of RmoneyRyan, & it was disgraceful. Schieffer let those two repeat one lie after another, without challenging them. I hope somewhere in the rest of the interview, Schieffer called them out, but I doubt it.

CW: if I haven't previously linked to articles that counter the false charge that Obama "robbed Medicare" -- a charge the Double Rs made on Schieffer's Gift to the GOP -- I'm doing it now. Igor Volsky of Think Progress explains the particulars.

Susan Thistlewaite in the Washington Post: "We are falling prey, in the United States, to the temptation to equate 'freedom' with selfishness.... The selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's pick for vice president throws this problem into stark relief.... The extreme of the "freedom agenda" is actually a counsel of despair.... This national election has now become a referendum on whether we will choose the value of selfishness or of compassion."

Adam Goodheart, et al., in the New York Times: where Paul Ryan & Mitt Romney see eye-to-eye with deceased Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver.

AND Rick Herzberg: "Just as 'Romney' is an anagram of 'R-Money,' 'Ryan' is an anagram of 'Ayn R.' Spooky. Besides nailing down any wavering Objectivists, that should wrap up the cryptic crossword vote."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Helen Gurley Brown, who as the author of 'Sex and the Single Girl' shocked early-1960s America with the news that unmarried women not only had sex but also thoroughly enjoyed it -- and who as the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine spent the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more -- died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger."

Washington Post: "Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is undergoing treatment for bipolar II depression, according to a statement issued this afternoon from the Mayo Clinic."

New York Times: "An independent inquest into the mass killings in Norway last summer by a fanatical anti-Muslim extremist sharply rebuked the country's police and intelligence services Monday, saying they could have averted or at least disrupted his plot to bomb downtown Oslo and shoot unarmed people unimpeded at a summer youth camp."

AP: "The founder of a bankrupt Iowa-based brokerage was indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on 31 counts of making false statements to regulators in connection with a $200 million fraud scheme. Peregrine Financial Group Inc. CEO Russ Wasendorf Sr. could face up to 155 years in prison if convicted on all counts...."

Washington Post: "Google’s aggressive push into the travel business continued Monday as the company snapped up the Frommer's brand of guidebooks."

New York Times: "Syrian jets fired on areas in and around Aleppo again on Sunday, continuing an escalation of force that has led activists and rebels to demand that foreign forces establish a no-fly zone to counter the government's air superiority.

AP: "Laws strictly curbing school sales of junk food and sweetened drinks may play a role in slowing childhood obesity, according to a study that seems to offer the first evidence such efforts could pay off."

ABC News: "A man whose jet ski failed him in New York's Jamaica Bay swam to John F. Kennedy airport, where he was easily able to penetrate the airport $100 million, state-of-the art security system. Daniel Casillo, 31, was able to swim up to and enter the airport grounds on Friday night, past an intricate system of motion sensors and closed-circuit cameras designed to to safeguard against terrorists, authorities said.... Casillo was arrested after the incredible adventure that has stunned security officials." CW: this guy should be arrested? Really?

Saturday
Aug112012

The Commentariat -- August 12, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's Sunday sermon. The NYTX front page is here.

Michael Schmidt & Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "More than 30 federal officers in an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists say the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities."

Presidential Race

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate provides President Obama with something he has been eagerly looking for -- a bigger target.... Instead of a referendum on his own performance, the president has an opening to turn the election into a referendum on the vision that Mr. Ryan has advanced and Mitt Romney has adopted.... Stanley B. Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that surveys showed attacks on the Ryan plan moved voters dramatically.... 'There are a lot of white, working-class voters, particularly older ones, who will walk away now, even if tempted earlier by the slow economy.'"

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "For the past 10 days, the Romney campaign took extraordinary measures to keep Mr. Ryan's whereabouts and movements a mystery.... It required painstakingly planned skulduggery, which the campaign outlined in detail, late on Saturday afternoon."

** The New York Times Editorial Board does a fine job of summing up how bleak life would be in the U.S. under a Romney-Ryan administration: "Mr. Romney had already praised the Ryan budget as "excellent work" but until Saturday the deliberate ambiguity of his own plans gave him a little room for distance, an opportunity to sketch out a more humane vision of government's role. By putting Mr. Ryan's callousness on his ticket, he may have lost that chance." ...

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress fleshes out the Times editors' assertions. ...

... Here's the Obama camp's first shot at Romney-Rand (Freudian slip; I meant Romney-Ryan):

     ... The link at the end of the video takes you to an Obama-Biden campaign page that elaborates on the points made in the video.

Nate Silver analyzes the risk Romney took in choosing Ryan. His choice may not have the payoff Rmoney hopes for. Interesting factoid:

Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann, the controversial congresswoman of Minnesota.

James Downie of the Washington Post: "... the idea that Ryan or Romney's nomination of him as his vice president is courageous is simply wrong." Downie explains why.

Steve Benen: "For months, Mitt Romney repeated a common complaint about President Obama's professional background: he's spent his life in the political world, not the real world.... Oddly enough, Romney hasn't repeated that line of criticism in a while.... In May, Romney went so far as to say working in the private sector for 'at least three years' should be a prerequisite to national office. Now, Romney wants to put Ryan one heartbeat from the presidency, despite the fact that Ryan" has spent his entire career in politics. "Romney was almost certainly pushed into this announcement by a conservative establishment that doesn't trust him or feel excited to rally behind him, and Romney didn't have the standing or intestinal fortitude to push back. It's a Quayle/Palin kind of decision...." ...

     ... When it's "our turn," Steve, and the little people aren't sufficiently compliant, sometimes I have to compromise my high standards for the greater good. Love, Mitt.

** Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: "Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that.... Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010..., Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did.... The vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.... It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense...."

"Thanks, Willard. Love, Barack." David Corn of Mother Jones: "Paul Ryan is exactly whom President Barack Obama wanted on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. By selecting the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, whose name is synonymous with the GOP's cut-taxes-for-the-rich and slash-programs-for-the-middle-class-and-the-poor, Romney has helped Obama in his No. 1 mission: shape the election not as a referendum on the sluggish economy but as a sharp clash between opposing sets of values and programs for the future."

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "The craziest thing so far about today are the reports that now that Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan, he is going to abandon his support for Paul Ryan's budget."

It isn't just the Ryan budget Willard will have to defend:

     Ezra Klein: "Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it's Romney's bill to defend. In Florida." Read Klein's whole post. ...

    Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Ryan's claims that his economic and social philosophy reflect Catholic teachings seem to have rubbed the bishops (and even more adamantly, Catholic liberals) the wrong way, and could become a problem for the ticket at a time when the so-called 'war on religion' had created a fine opportunity for Republicans to consolidate support among 'traditionalist' white Catholics."

Jonathan Chait: "Ryan's nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power."

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Thelma and Louise were 'daring' too, but they ended up at the bottom of a canyon. If the Democrats handle this situation properly, that's where this ticket will end up too, and then the rest of us -- the people who don't want federal policy to be based on Atlas Shrugged -- can finally and fully press the case to the right that America is not behind you, and please grow up." ...

... Noam Scheiber of The New Republic thinks Romney knows that: "Ryan is the way Romney and his aides escape blame for their now-likely defeat -- blame which would have vicious and unrelenting—and pin it in on conservatives instead."

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: there is a woman on the GOP ticket: Ayn Rand.

Galt/Gekko 2012. Paul Krugman: "Romney obviously felt he needed a VP who will get people to stop talking about him."

Among Charles Pierce's thoughts on "the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, an authentically dangerous zealot": "Paul Ryan lives in a house overseen by the National Park Service, which means that he qualifies for a 20-percent investment tax credit." CW: I think this is the place:

CW: Since he was a teenager living on Social Security survivor benefits, throughout his education at public schools & a public university and all through his professional career, the taxpayers have supported Paul Ryan. He has lived on the public dole most of his life. Clearly, Ryan comes from the school of sociopaths who think they are "entitled" to close to 100% public support, but everybody else is a freeloader. BTW, I don't think that guy working on the front stoop in the Google Earth photo is Ryan.

Meanwhile, Back in Janesville.... Alison Bauter of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Ryan will remain on the ballot for re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives, said Susan Jacobson, finance director/campaign manager for his House campaign."

Maureen Dowd essentially ignores Ryan and writes instead about the likability quotients of Obama and Romney. Her column includes some good quotes, like this one:

Mitt, I think, spent his life balanced between fear and greed. He knew that he had to make a lot of money to launch his political career. It's very hard to make a lot of money without taking some kind of reputational risk along the way. -- Marc Wolpow, "a former Romney employee at Bain Capital," on "Mitt's 1988 deal with Michael Milken while the junk bond king was under federal investigation"

Still Can't Keep His Foot out of His Mouth: Peter Hamby of CNN: "Speaking at a rally in Ashland, [Virginia...,] Romney described Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who was in attendance, as 'a great friend, and I hope the next governor of Virginia.' Bolling is running for the 2013 gubernatorial nomination against state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a darling of conservative activists who is trouncing Bolling in early polling.... Romney and his aides tried to walk back the comments after the event."

Congressional Races

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate has the power to reshape the race for control of Congress.... Democrats say putting Ryan on the ticket will make his budget even more of a focal point in 2012 and force Republicans who haven't already taken a position on it to do so."

News Ledes

New York Times: Sheldon Adelson's frontman in China, Yang Saixin, "along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau.... On Tuesday..., Paul D. Ryan is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands's Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend...."

New York Times: Tammy Smith, "an Army officer being promoted to brigadier general, openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military."

New York Times: "With a gaudy three-hour farewell that mashed up theater, acrobatics, fashion and a few generations of musical idols, London extinguished the Olympic torch Sunday night, capping two weeks of athletic achievements with a jukebox collection of songs and a marathon display of endearingly wacky stagecraft." Guardian story here. ...

... CBS Sports: "Most medals. Most gold medals. The U.S. left no doubt at the Olympics. When the U.S. men's basketball team took the Olympic title Sunday, it won the 46th gold medal for Americans in London, their highest total at a 'road' Olympics."

** New York Times: "President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt forced the retirement on Sunday of his powerful defense minister, the army chief of staff and several senior generals, in a stunning purge that seemed for the moment to reclaim for civilian leaders much of the political power the Egyptian military had seized since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year. Mr. Morsi also nullified a constitutional declaration, issued by the military before he was elected, that eviscerated the powers of the presidency and arrogated to the military the right to enact laws."

AP: "Twin earthquakes in Iran have killed at least 250 people and injured over 2,000, Iranian state television said on Sunday, after thousands spent the night outdoors after their villages were leveled and homes damaged in the country's northwest."

Friday
Aug102012

The Commentariat -- August 11, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. AP story here.

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "Debunking the Douthat Doctrine." The NYTX front page is here. ...

... Speaking of nuns, as I do in my column, apparently our nuclear facilities are not safe from at least one of them -- a fascinating New York Times story by William Broad on Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year old nun who, with two accomplices, aged 57 & 63, & a couple of pairs of bolt cutters, easily breached the so-called security at the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee.

Perseid meteor over Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah. Space.com photo.Tom Skillern of Yahoo! News: "NASA says the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks Saturday and Sunday nights, will be the best show of the year. Hundreds of shooting stars -- along with Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon -- will be visible to viewers across North America. 'We expect to see meteor rates as high as a hundred per hour,' NASA's Bill Cooke says. Cooke advises space enthusiasts to look for meteors just before dawn in the eastern sky and avoid city lights. A trip to the dark skies in the countryside will yield three times as many visible meteors." ...

... A friend & Reality Chex reader writes, "Tonight is the Perseid Shower. It's cloudy. But I know something beautiful and wonderful is happening without any help from any human being, and can't ever be sullied."

CW: Here's one I missed from earlier this week -- Amy Chozick of the New York Times: President Obama is an avid news consumer -- and critic. He hates he-said/she-said journalism.

Gail Collins writes an amusing column about oppo trackers, who follow political candidates & record their every word. The candidate whom Collins remarks got caught saying "he prays the media will stop covering 'sob stories' about how someone 'couldn't get, you know, their food stamps or this or that'" is Eric Hovde, who is running in the Wisconsin GOP (natch!) U.S. Senate primary.

Matt Miller of the Washington Post calls out his weasly colleague Charles Krauthammer for this remark: "Obama loves to cite great federal projects such as the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system. Fine. Name one thing of any note created by Obama's Niagara of borrowed money." Wells, sez Miller, "... the stimulus created the equivalent of a dozen Hoover Dams." Miller cites a Center for American Progress study: "The increase in U.S. wind-power output under the Obama administration so far has been ... 12 times as much as produced by the [Hoover D]am.... As Michael Grunwald points out in a Time column today, it was 'the Obama stimulus bill that revived the wind industry and the rest of the clean-tech sector from a near-death experience.'"

Presidential Race

CW: If Romney's VP pick is indeed Paul Ryan, that supports what I said yesterday: Romney knows he hasn't closed with conservatives. It also reinforces the fact -- and at this point it is a fact -- that Romney is a pushover for conservatives & as president would roll over for all but the most insane GOP Congressional demands. People who vote for Romney will, in effect, be voting for President Ryan, making Ryan the Dick Cheney of domestic fiscal terrorism. If this is where the voters are, we're looking at 16 years of Ayn Rand economics. ...

     ... Update: Hate to say I told you so, but Mitt Romney just said, in introducing Paul Ryan, "Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States." He has already turned over the reins to Ryan. ...

... "The Smell of Panic." Steve Kornacki of Salon: "The most important thing to know about Mitt Romney’s running-mate choice is this: It's not the move he would have made if the campaign was going the way he hoped it would." ...

... "Five Things to Know about Ryan -- and Romney." Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven't since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn't have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut. This is the America that Paul Ryan envisions. And now we know that it is the America Mitt Romney envisions." Thanks to contributor P. D. Pepe. ...

... Greg Sargent: "In picking Ryan, Romney is confirming his commitment to full-flown economic radicalism - something that he had kept well disguised until the Tax Policy Center study unmasked it." ...

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "Romney, who has been extremely vague about what he would do if elected, will now own Paul Ryan's ideas, which include privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher program, bloc-granting and drastically cutting Medicaid, and reducing discretionary spending to levels that would affect every popular government program.... Even before this (apparent) announcement, Democrats were planning on tying Romney to Ryan's policy platform. Now Romney has done it for them." ...

... Mark Murray & Domenico Montanaro of NBC News have their own list of Ryan's strengths & weaknesses, which largely coincides with Lizza's. ...

... Here's Krugman's "Flim Flam Fever" post re: Ryan. ...

... Andy Borowitz: "The race to become the Republican vice-presidential candidate seemed hopelessly deadlocked today as Mitt Romney announced he would choose between former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan 'as soon as I can tell them apart.' ... The campaign has even resorted to creating flashcards with the likenesses of Messrs. Pawlenty, Ryan, and Portman on one side and their names on the back, but to no avail. 'It's gotten so frustrating, last night Mitt suggested that maybe we should choose someone who wasn't white or male,' the aide said. 'He was kidding, of course....'" CW: guess Willard had a breakthrough.

Harry Reid's Accusation Is Not Preposterous. James Stewart of the New York Times: "... this summer the Internal Revenue Service released data from the 400 individual income tax returns reporting the highest adjusted gross income. This elite ultrarich group earned on average $202 million in 2009, the latest year available. And buried in the data is the startling disclosure that six of the 400 paid no federal income tax. The I.R.S. has never before disclosed that last fact. Not even Mr. Romney, with reported 2010 income of $21.7 million, qualifies for membership in this select group of 400. But the data provides a window into the financial lives and tax rates of the superrich.... Besides the six who paid no federal income tax, the I.R.S. reported that 27 paid from zero to 10 percent of their adjusted gross incomes and another 89 paid between 10 and 15 percent.... What's abundantly clear, both from Mr. Romney's 2010 returns and from the returns of the top 400, is that at the very pinnacle of taxpayers, the United States has a regressive tax system."

Greg Sargent: Jon Huntsman, Sr., who says that speculation that he is Harry Reid's source is inaccurate also "forcefully called on Romney to release his tax returns. This matters, because Huntsman is a longtime backer of Romney -- he has long been close to Romney; he supported his early campaigns; he was the national finance chairman of Romney's 2008 presidential campaign; and he has raised a lot of money for him over the years. (He backed his own son in the latest GOP primary.)"

Paul Krugman: "The big story of the week among the dismal science set is the Romney campaign's white paper on economic policy, which represents a concerted effort by three economists -- Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw, and John Taylor -- to destroy their own reputations. (Yes, there was a fourth author, Kevin Hassett. But the co-author of 'Dow 36,000' doesn't exactly have a reputation to destroy). And when I talk about destroying reputations, I don't just mean saying things I disagree with. I mean flat-out, undeniable professional malpractice." Krugman thinks the economists have fallen prey to the "Culture of Fraud" that pervades the Romney campaign: "... this is a campaign that's all about faking it -- fake claims about Obama, fake claims about policy, fake claims about Romney's personal history."

Charles Pierce: while Willard was being the governor who never raised taxes, he was being the governor who "raised fees on practically everything. Including being blind."

Charles Blow answers the question "What's the matter with Romney?"

No Fair Picking on Me. Sabrina Siddiqui of the Huffington Post: "Mitt Romney appears to be seeking an agreement with the Obama campaign to remove his business record from the conversation, a sign that the repeated attacks on his tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital may be getting under the presumptive Republican presidential candidate's skin." CW: in The Sociopath's Guide to Election Etiquette, that's in the chapter that explains Romney can tout his business acumen as his major qualification for the presidency, but Obama can't criticize Romney's business record.

CW: Jerry Markon of the Washington Post has a long piece on Romney's management of the Big Dig. Turns out he was very, very good at it -- for about 5 minutes, after which he lost interest. Sounds as if he has a short attention span.

Dana Milbank: "What makes Romney's welfare gambit dispiriting is that, as a member of one of the most persecuted groups in American history, he knows more than most the dangers of fanning bigotry. Yet now he has injected into the campaign what has for decades been a standard device for race-baiting.... Romney made the racial component official when his Republican National Committee hosted a conference call the next day with Gingrich, who, sure enough, reprised his food-stamp assault.... Thursday, the RNC hosted a call with Santorum, who did everything but revive the 'welfare queen' attack of the 1980s."

Alex Becker of the Huffington Post: "The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), a Catholic faith-based advocacy and civic engagement organization, is strongly criticizing Mitt Romney's recent ads and rhetoric regarding welfare programs and welfare recipients, urging him to spend some time in low-income communities." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Romney -- Worse than Bob Dole. Marcos Moulitsas cites some variables that suggest Romney won't get much of a convention bump.

AND in Steve Benen's 29th week of chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, he comes up with -- 29 lies. Let's shoot for 30 lies next week, Mitt. We know you can do it.

Congressional Races

Scott Brown Takes a Stand for Voter Suppression. Peter Schworm of the Boston Globe: "US Senator Scott Brown today criticized the state's welfare department for sending voting registration forms to 478,000 people on public assistance, saying the mass mailing was a ploy to boost the ranks of Democratic voters and benefit rival Elizabeth Warren's campaign. The state ... last month sent registration forms, along with prepaid return envelopes, as part of a settlement over a lawsuit accusing the Patrick administration of violating the federal 'motor voter' law. It requires states to provide voter registration at motor vehicle and public assistance offices." Brown also is pissed because Warren's daughter chairs one of the organizations that brought suits against a number of states, including Massachusetts. ...

... Globe Update: "U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is calling on Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to reimburse Massachusetts for the cost of mailing voter registration letters to welfare recipients.In a statement released Friday, Brown alleged the letters were sent to nearly half a million welfare recipients, as part of a court settlement, in an effort to 'aid' Warren's Senate campaign." CW: As usual, the Warren campaign's response was, in my opinion, flat-footed & totally inadequate. They've let slip yet another opportunity to make a laughingstock of Brown.

... Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: "Yes, it is now apparently considered politically acceptable -- in Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy! -- for a candidate to object publicly to the registration of low-income voters. Used to be one had to say such a thing in veiled terms...."

News Ledes

** New York Times: "Mitt Romney is scheduled to announce his vice-presidential candidate on Saturday in Norfolk, Va., with several signs pointing toward Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin emerging as the leading candidate for the position. Mr. Romney is set to disclose the selection as he tours the battleship U.S.S. Wisconsin at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, the campaign announced Friday evening." ...

... Washington Post story here. ...

... NBC News Update: "Mitt Romney's campaign has announced that the presumptive GOP nominee has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate." ...

... Update: You can also watch the hoohah here or here. ...

... Here's an updated New York Times story.

National Catholic Reporter: "At the end of its annual assembly Friday in St. Louis, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said it will proceed with discussion with the Vatican 'for as long as possible' but will reconsider if the sisters are 'forced to compromise the integrity of [their] mission.'"

AP: "A federal jury in San Diego on Friday convicted two former Border Patrol agents of human smuggling in one of the highest-profile corruption cases in the last decade. After a five-week trial, Raul and Fidel Villarreal were found guilty of conspiracy to bring in illegal immigrants for financial gain and other counts. Raul Villarreal was long a public face of the Border Patrol who frequently appeared on television as an agency spokesman."

Meridian, Mississippi Is Still Meridian, Mississippi. ABC News: "The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has released investigative findings determining that children in predominantly black Meridian, Miss. have had their constitutional rights violated by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services in what civil rights investigators allege is a school to prison pipeline with even dress code violations resulting in incarceration."

Thursday
Aug092012

The Commentariat -- August 10, 2012

Rural Acreage for Sale. Mountain, valley views. Private setting; distance to nearest neighbor averages 225 million km. Commute time to nearest town: about 8-1/2 months. A portion of Curiosity's first color photo of Mars.

Q&A with Frank Rich: why Harry Reid is no Joe McCarthy. And other stuff.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Jon Grinspan compares 19th-century political "discourse" & voting practices to today's campaigns. Things have been worse.

Dana Milbank on the newest McCarthy: "Andrew McCarthy's work is providing the intellectual underpinnings -- such as they are -- for Rep. Michele Bachmann's outrageous suggestion that Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood." Milbank so thoroughly tears McCarthy's attack of Abedin to shreds that McCarthy ends up saying, "I'm a whack job, I guess."

Mark Bittman of the New York Times forgets about food & pleads for gun contro'. Good for him.

Jim Salter of the AP: "At a pivotal national meeting, members of the largest group for American nuns have been weighing whether they should accept or challenge a Vatican order to reform.... The president of the nuns group, Sister Pat Farrell, is expected to make an announcement Friday as the meeting ends. She has indicated in her public remarks this week that the sisters may not formulate a definitive response."

Jennifer Preston of the New York Times: "Leadership changes at the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure six months after an online uproar over a decision to cut funds for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood was greeted with skepticism on Thursday among breast cancer advocates and longtime former supporters."

An Employee of the New York Times & Damien Cave: on top of everything else, a crime wave in Syria.

Presidential Race

Jonathan Easley of The Hill: "Obama’s lead in the [new] CNN-ORC poll is buoyed by men and independents -- two groups that until recently had favored Romney. Obama leads 53 percent to 42 among independents, and has a 6 percentage point advantage among men. Romney's unfavorability rating climbed considerably in the poll."

Mike Allen of Politico: "Advisers to President Barack Obama are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who 'would devastate the American middle class' ...."

You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad. They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they're wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them. -- Mitt Romney, Thursday, apparently with a straight face

... Paul Waldman of American Prospect writes on Romney's welfare attack ad & echoes my view of Newt's "rationale" for it: "In my former career as an academic I did a lot of research on political ads.... I cannot recall a single presidential campaign ad in the history of American politics that lied more blatantly than this one.... Newt's argument is ... that although the Romney ad makes false claims, that's OK because Barack Obama and those who work for him are, in Newt's opinion, the kind of people who would gut work requirements if they could, so therefore it's OK to say that they are actually doing it, even though they aren't." ...

The Obama camp hits back on the welfare claim:

... Michael Cohen of the New York Daily News: "So Mitt Romney has two new ads out this week, and they offer a pretty clear indication of his larger political problem: He hasn't closed the deal with conservatives. First there was an ad on Monday that that accused Obama of gutting welfare reform.... Then there is an ad [Thursday] that accuses President Obama of declaring a war on religion because of his decision to force employers to offer contraceptive services to women.... Both of these ads are deeply dishonest.... Accusing Obama of a 'war on religion' is the height of political slander.... And once again it's completely hypocritical: when Romney was governor he went along (without comment) with a similar contraceptive policy in Massachusetts." ...

... CW: following Cohen's logic, I'd say Romney would have to choose Paul Ryan as his running mate, though Ed Rendell's suggestion that Romney choose Michele Bachmann would be great, too. Michael Shear & Trip Gabriel write in today's New York Times: "That Mr. Romney has not yet named his vice-presidential nominee has created an opening for social and economic conservatives to pressure him publicly, and they have taken the opportunity to make an aggressive case for Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin."

CW: I wouldn't link to an Erskine Bowles op-ed if that pompous deficit hawk bashed Mitt Romney. Oh, wait, here's Bowles in the Washington Post complaining that Romney's budget wouldn't cut the deficit: "This month, Romney said that his tax reform proposal is 'very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.' How I wish it were. I will be the first to cheer if Romney decides to embrace our plan. Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise: His reform plan leaves too many tax breaks in place and, as a result, does nothing to reduce the debt." Sometimes one has to compromise one's principles for the greater good.

The Obama campaign's latest. CW: I'm going to have to look up that "Son of Boss" story. It's news to me:

Okay, here ya go.... Grace Wyler of Business Insider: "The ad, "Son of Boss," pivots off of a new CNN op-ed from tax lawyer Peter C. Canellos and tax expert Edward D. Kleinbard":

Peter C. Canellos, a tax attorney & former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section, & tax expert Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, in a CNN opinion piece: for years, Mitt Romney was on the board of directors of Marriott International, & "from 1993 to 1998, Romney was the head of the audit committee of the Marriott board. During that period, Marriott engaged in a series of complex and high-profile maneuvers, including 'Son of Boss,' a notoriously abusive prepackaged tax shelter.... In this respect, Marriott was in the vanguard of a then-emerging corporate tax shelter bubble that substantially undermined the entire corporate tax system..., perhaps the largest tax avoidance scheme in history.... The Son of Boss transaction was listed by the [IRS] as an abusive transaction, requiring specific disclosure and subject to heavy penalties.... The government brought successful criminal prosecutions against a number of individuals involved in Son of Boss.... Romney approved the firm's reporting of fictional tax losses exceeding $70 million generated by its Son of Boss transaction." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "In February, Bloomberg News reported on Romney's role as head of Marriott's audit board, including his approval of the 'Son of Boss" transactions.' Lewison quotes the Bloomberg piece. ...

... Ashley Killough of CNN: "Team Obama said the ad will run in the same states that Romney's bus tour will cross in the coming week, including Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio -- all battleground states."

Antics. CNN: "The Democratic National Committee is rolling out another bus tour to trail Mitt Romney's own over the weekend through key battle ground states, harping on the Republican candidate's economic policies as throwing 'the middle class under the bus.'" And speaking of buses ...

... Network: "NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, is inviting Governor Mitt Romney to spend a day with Catholic Sisters who work every day to meet the needs of struggling families in their communities..., people who will be further harmed by his proposed budget cuts and by the terribly divisive and demeaning political advertisements about welfare. The Sisters' invitation comes after recent false attacks from Mr. Romney that demonstrate his lack of understanding of the struggles families and children face as they work to get out of poverty.... As NETWORK demonstrated in their recent 'Nuns on the Bus' tour, budget cuts proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney will hurt struggling families throughout the nation. The Romney-Ryan budget would devastate services such as nutrition assistance, childhood education and job training that provide pathways out of poverty for millions of families." Via Steve Benen. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Bill Burton, the main face of Priorities USA Action, refused to back away from an ad that the pro-President Obama super PAC unveiled yesterday, despite blowback from Republicans and fact-checks that have questioned the account the spot relays. 'What fact in that ad is wrong?' Burton said as he pushed back on a fairly feisty Wolf Blitzer during an interview on the CNN set."

Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "The Romney campaign ... has seized on a new soundbite to distort. The campaign sent an email blast Thursday afternoon featuring a video of an Obama rally in Colorado from earlier that day and falsely claimed that he wants the government to bail out every industry."

Turns out the Romney Liars & Hypocrites Club is bilingual. Lawrence Downes explains in the New York Times.

AND Donald Trump turned down a chance to speak at the GOP convention. CW: uh-huh. A spokesperson for Trump said the former millionaire had given his fortune to the obscure Order of Oopsus Daisi, & has entered a monastery where he has taken a vow of silence. (Well, that's as believable as the "turned down a chance to speak" story.) ...

... CW: guess I was wrong. Jennifer Wlach of ABC News: "Donald Trump will have a 'major role' at the Republican National Convention, an aide to the real estate mogul tells ABC News."

Congressional Races

** Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "In the battle for control of the Senate, no race has received as much financial attention as the reelection bid of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, with outside conservative groups working together to pour tens of millions of dollars into Ohio's airwaves to try to unseat him.... The Brown-Mandel campaign is a case study of the aggressive fundraising and spending this election season by interest groups outside the candidates' campaign operations. And because many of the groups behind the spending are not required to disclose their donors, the effort has created a virtual shadow campaign that will probably far exceed what Mandel spends on his campaign."

AP: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS "says it will stop airing a television ad that is critical of North Dakota Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp's record as attorney general. The ad claims when Heitkamp was attorney general during the 1990s, she spent taxpayer money on private airplanes. Heitkamp on Thursday called the statement 'completely false' and asked TV stations to quit running it.... Heitkamp says ... her office got two surplus planes for free from the Department of Defense. One was flown on anti-drug missions. The second was used for spare parts." Via Greg Sargent.

Cameron Joseph of The Hill: Missouri's GOP Senate nominee "Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry and against reauthorizing a program that assists runaway and homeless children. Both bills passed by wide margins with strong bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled House.... Democrats believe votes like these can be used to paint Akin as too conservative for the state."

Joe Swickard & Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press: "Four staffers of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia, [Michigan,] were charged today in connection with the false nominating petitions that led to McCotter's departure from Congress. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette described the four as 'not simply Keystone Kops running amok ... criminal acts were committed.'"

Local News

CW: this New York Post story was way too entertaining to ignore: "They must have rubbed Mayor Bloomberg the wrong way. City officials pulled the plug on a vibrator giveaway by the Trojan condom company yesterday, disappointing potentially thousands of pleasure-seeking women.... Trojan sent tingles of excitement across the city when it announced the giveaway of some 10,000 vibrating sex toys from hot-dog-style pushcarts.... But instead of climaxing in a successful giveaway, the promotion was prematurely interrupted by City Hall, which sent a dark-suited representative to put the squeeze on Trojan's 'Pleasure Carts.'" ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Breaking! For $3,100, Trojan was granted the permit they need to please the masses, and will try again on 14th Street between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. tonight. Patience, people."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Now that the murder trial of Gu Kailai has ended, far more detailed accounts have emerged from inside the courtroom of the case that prosecutors built against Ms. Gu, the wife of one of China's most ambitious leaders. The accounts show her plotting with allies, including the local police chief, to protect her son from what she saw as the blackmail demands of the British business associate she is believed to have killed."

Bloomberg News: "The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today proposed new regulations that would revamp how American homeowners interact with mortgage servicers. One set of rules aims to provide homeowners with clearer, timelier information about changes to interest rates and options for avoiding foreclosure. A second set of rules requires servicers to credit payments promptly, correct errors, stay accessible and limit foreclosures if homeowners are working on loan modifications."

Washington Post: "The long-moribund housing market has bustled to life, with prices and new-home construction rising in recent weeks. Hiring, so weak earlier this year, picked up last month. And on Thursday, the government reported an acceleration of a downward trend in the number of people seeking unemployment insurance, as well as a sharp improvement in U.S. exports. Together, the signs point to an improving economy, a potentially important shift for President Obama's re-election campaign." ...

... BUT. CNN: "A new national survey indicates that the number of Americans who say things are going badly in the country is on the rise, as a growing number of people believe that economic conditions are getting worse."

New York Times: "Federal authorities ended two investigations into the actions of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis, handing a quiet victory to the bank after years of public scrutiny. In a statement late Thursday, the Justice Department said there was 'not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution' against Goldman or its employees after a Congressional committee asked prosecutors to examine if the bank had been involved with any illegal acts related to several mortgage deals."

AP: "Thousands of mourners are expected to pay their final respects to the half-dozen Sikh worshippers gunned down by a white supremacist at their Wisconsin temple over the weekend.... Dignitaries scheduled to attend include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan."