The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

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." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

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.

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

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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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."


The Commentariat -- August 9, 2012

** Monopoly! Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "Banks are making unusually large gains on mortgages because they are taking profits far higher than the historical norm, analysts say. That 3.55 percent rate for a 30-year mortgage could be closer to 3.05 percent if banks were satisfied with the profit margins of just a few years ago. The lower rate would save a borrower about $30,000 in interest payments over the life of a $300,000 mortgage."

Joan Biskupic of Reuters: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, the eldest member of the bench and leader of its liberal wing, said she cracked two ribs in June but met all her work obligations and remains committed to staying on the court at least three more years." ...

Linda Greenhouse: thank the Supreme Courts of yore for the U.S. women's Olympics teams, but don't expect any more "rights-creating" laws to get such positive readings in today's Court.

Charles Pierce. "... I agree with Goodhair [Rick Perry] on this. If you want to have a death penalty, and if you believe in all the barbaric arguments on its behalf, then you simply cannot care whether or not you execute the odd retarded person or two. The most singularly clumsy moral contortions we have in this country take place over the issue of whether you can wedge a death penalty into the system of laws that this country claims to have. You simply cannot do that." Read the whole post.

E. J. Dionne goes on a nice little rant about the hypocrisy of Romney & the right, principally on ObamaCare, but on other stuff, too. It includes, "If you truly hate the Affordable Care Act, you must send back any of those rebate checks you receive from your insurance companies thanks to the new law.If you truly hate the Affordable Care Act, you must send back any of those rebate checks you receive from your insurance companies thanks to the new law."

** Jim Crow Now Officially Controls Ohio. Ari Berman of The Nation: "The real story from Ohio is how cutbacks to early voting will disproportionately disenfranchise African-American voters in Ohio's most populous counties.... Now, in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, early voting hours will be limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays beginning on October 1, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when it's most convenient for working people to vote. Yet in solidly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP election commissioners have approved expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends." CW: we have not seen voter suppression travesties like this since the 1960s. Too bad the Voting Rights Act -- which the Supremes would like to blow up at first opportunity -- didn't cover every state. ...

Presidential Race

Alex Pareene of Salon thinks the press is getting better at exposing candidates' lies & that's why Willard has had three "Marshall McLuhan moments" in recent days. CW: I hope Pareene is right, but -- as my latest NYTX column demonstrates -- they could do a helluva a better job.

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the Times story news about Mitt Romney's attack on Obama's welfare-to-work policy. I think my critique is of importance because it shows how the Times is skewing stories to favor Romney. The NYTX front page is here. ...

     ... Charles Blow smells desperation. ...

     ... So does the New York Times Editorial Board: "Mitt Romney's campaign has hit new depths of truth-twisting with its accusation that President Obama plans to 'gut welfare reform' by ending federal work requirements. The claim is blatantly false, but it says a great deal about Mr. Romney's increasingly desperate desire to define the president as something he is not." CW: to document their editorial, the editors link to seven sources, some of them secondary. None of them is a New York Times story. That would be because the Times reporting is fairly useless. ...

... Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Newt Gingrich said Wednesday there's 'no proof' of a claim made in a Mitt Romney campaign ad that President Barack Obama ended the welfare work requirement. 'We have no proof today,' the former House speaker said on CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360. But I would say to you, under Obama's ideology, it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing.'" CW: evidently there's "something about Obama" that makes him "look like" a guy who would send "a lot of people checks for doing nothing." ...

... AND, not surprisingly, the Kenyan anti-colonial theorist a/k/a Gingrich is the guy "who suggested to senior Romney advisers they take on the welfare issue." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Driftglass writes a terrific post on the welfare lie -- and the Romney campaign -- and the Republican party.

Wow! Greg Sargent writes that as a response to the Priorities USA ad featuring Joe Soptic, whose wife died of cancer years after his Bain-controlled company laid him off (see the August 7 Commentariat & an update yesterday's Commentariat), "Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul suggested today that Soptic's wife would have had health insurance if she had lived in Massachusetts and had been covered by Romneycare. 'If people had been in Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney's health care plan, they would have had health care,' Saul said. Conservatives are apoplectic. They think this has given the Obama team a big opening to remake its case about Obamacare. And they're right. The Romney campaign now seems to be claiming that government-established universal health care is the answer to what to do about people like Ms. Soptic who lack insurance. That's Obama's argument for Obamacare." Read the whole post, with which I agree to the letter. CW: it seems foot-in-mouth disease is contageous. Everyone on Team Romney -- Romney himself, Eric Etch-a-Sketch Fehrnstrom, the Kiss-My-Ass-in-Front-of-a-Polish-Shrine guy & now Andrea Saul has a serious case of it. ...

... Jed Lewison: "... the logical conclusion is that everyone without healthcare should move to Boston, and that's insane. But it's also the bare essence of Mitt Romney's health care policy." ...

... Michael Crowley of Time: "Narrowly judged, the ad is scurrilous.... But the more accurate version of this heartbreaking story is still worth telling. Indeed it may be the best illustration this campaign has offered of how politics affects the lives of ordinary people. America's employer-based health insurance system -- in which a layoff plus an illness can equal financial ruin or death -- is a national embarrassment.... My advice for Priorities USA: take your ad back to the editing room and re-release it as an endorsement of Obamacare, and an argument for re-electing the President who will preserve it."

Scott Wilson & Bill Turque of the Washington Post: "President Obama campaigned in [Colorado] Wednesday with a special appeal to female voters, warning a raucous audience in a basketball gymnasium here that Republican challenger Mitt Romney wanted to take women's health rights 'back to the 1950s.' To shouts of support, Obama spoke proudly of Obamacare, the name Republicans once derisively labeled his health-care reform legislation. On Wednesday he acknowledged to many of its beneficiaries here that 'I kind of like the name.'"

Real Economists to Romney: That's Not What We Said. Ezra Klein contacts independent economists whom the Romney campaign claims -- in an ad -- have done research which supports his economic policy proposals. The economists all say Mitt's people have misinterpreted or misused their work. ...

... AND Jim Tankersley of the National Journal interviews Jim Diamond, an economist not associated with the Romney campaign but whose work the campaign has held up in support of their plan. Well, no, Diamond says he "can't argue" with conclusions of the Tax Policy Center that showed Romney's plan as benefiting the rich while raising taxes on the middle class.

Mitt Launches His Holy War:

On the Wrong Side of Every Issue. Franco Ordonez of McClatchy News: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans a campaign stop Sunday at the for-profit NASCAR Technical Institute outside Charlotte, N.C. -- a show of support for an industry that has been hammered by Democrats in recent months." CW: Maybe some of Mitt's NASCAR-owner buddies will join him. Nothing like friends getting together to exploit the little people (including taxpayers).

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Obama today joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation's largest and most well-known youth development groups." CW: surely it's time for Romney to flipflop.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times previews the GOP convention sideshow, featuring presidential also-rans, whose "speaking engagements" will be in places other than the convention dais. Me, I'm signing up for Newt University.

Congressional Races

Maybe Sen. Claire McCaskill (ConservaD-Missouri), believed to be toast, caught a break. Her opponent, Rep. Todd Akin (RTP-Missouri) is a nut case. Greg Sargent has details. Steve Benen has more. ...

... Gail Collins: in Missouri & Indiana, "The Tea Party is once again giving Democrats a new lease on life."

News Ledes

Denver Post: "President Barack Obama relayed a message to the middle-class Thursday afternoon on a grassy quad at Colorado College, often times interrupted by chants of 'Four more years! Four more years!' from the thousands in attendance."

NBC News: "At a court hearing Thursday in Centennial, Colo., lawyers representing movie theater mass shooting suspect James Holmes said their client is mentally ill...."

AP: "George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida's 'stand your ground' law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday. The hearing, which likely won't take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides."

ABC News: "The Federal Trade Commission has ordered Google to pay $22.5 million for violating user privacy on its Apple's Safari browser. It's the biggest FTC fine ever issued for a commission violation."

New York Times: "The Postal Service's financial problems worsened in the spring. The agency reported a $5.2 billion net loss on Thursday for the quarter that ended June 30."

Guardian: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a new crime-fighting system developed with Microsoft – and revealed that the city will take a cut of the profits if it is sold to other administrations. The innovation, which bears a passing resemblance to the futuristic hologram data screens used by Tom Cruise in the science fiction film Minority Report, will allow police to quickly collate and visualise vast amounts of data from cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, police databases and other sources."

New York Times: "The murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of the deposed political leader Bo Xilai, began here on Thursday morning and came to an end seven hours later, with officials saying that the defendant and her accomplice had all but confessed to poisoning a British businessman who had threatened the safety of Ms. Gu's son."

AP: "The United States on Thursday began a landmark project to clean up a dangerous chemical left from the defoliant Agent Orange -- 50 years after it was first sprayed by American planes on Vietnam's jungles to destroy enemy cover. Dioxin, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, will be removed from the site of a former U.S. air base in Danang in central Vietnam."

Here's Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria.

Al Jazeera: "Libya's National Transitional Council has handed over power to a new assembly in a symbolic move marking the first peaceful transition after more than 40 years of rule by the late Muammar Gaddafi."

New York Times: "The United States and its Arab allies are knitting together a regional missile defense system across the Persian Gulf to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack, according to government officials and public documents."

AP: "The ancient Martian crater where the Curiosity rover landed looks strikingly similar to the Mojave Desert in California with its looming mountains and hanging haze, scientists say."

AP: "The president and the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are both stepping down from their roles, the nation's largest breast cancer foundation said in announcing a major leadership shake-up. The high-profile departures come in the wake of continuing fallout from Komen's decision earlier this year to briefly end funding for Planned Parenthood."

AP: "Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against the National Jewish Democratic Council and top officials, saying they made libelous statements regarding his political contributions." CW: Sorry, Sheldon. When you made yourself a public figure, you became, um, a public figure. You ain't gonna win this one. Hope that doesn't hurt your feelings, Mr. Sensitivity.


The Commentariat -- August 8, 2012

Yesterday, President Obama outlined steps the federal government is taking to help farmers in drought-devasted areas:

Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "As many as 1.76 million young illegal immigrants could qualify for temporary legal status under President Obama's deferred action program, says a new report from the Migration Policy Institute. That's more than double the Obama administration's initial estimate of 800,000 people who would benefit from the program. The new number reflects the Obama administration's updated guidelines released last Friday.... Initially, only young illegal immigrants under 30 who entered the country as children, graduated from high school and had no criminal record would make the cut. Now, young people who didn't graduate or receive their G.E.D. can still apply for the legal status as long as they re-enroll in high school by the time they apply."

Danielle Douglas & Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "Regulators are catching flak for not acting sooner to stop banks that helped Iran flout U.S. sanctions. This week, the state of New York said London-based Standard Chartered Bank concealed $250 billion in Iranian transactions, violations that persisted for nearly a decade. A number of international banks, including Lloyds, Barclays and Credit Suisse engaged in similar behaviors, but it took years before regulators put their foot down. State and federal agencies routinely audit banks to ensure compliance with anti-money-laundering rules, but institutions continue to skirt the law. Critics say enforcement actions have fallen short of serving as a deterrent, especially since the punishments resulted in fines but no jail time." CW warning: this article is written in Classic Post He Said/He Said Script, but you might learn something anyway. ...

... Jessica Silver-Greenberg & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Top executives at Standard Chartered said they were surprised when New York's banking regulator accused them on Monday of scheming with the Iranian government to launder billions of dollars to potentially support terrorist activities.... The regulatory order also stunned other authorities investigating the bank, namely officials at the Federal Reserve and the Justice Department...."

David Dayen of Firedoglake: "The Supreme Court justices have jurisdiction over various regions of the country when it comes to injunctions, particularly when it comes to stays of execution. In the case of Marvin Wilson, the mentally retarded man with an IQ of 61 and an intelligence level of a 6 year-old, set to die today* in Texas in conjunction with a murder conviction, that appeal had to go through none other than Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia wrote a dissent in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, which established the ban on executing the mentally retarded (Texas, like other states, got to set their own standards for what constitutes 'retarded,' and as such plowed ahead with the execution of Wilson today).... And so it should come as no surprise that [Scalia]" summarily denied the application for a stay of execution. CW: See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... Digby: "Why in the hell did they [the Supremes] leave it up to a bunch of blood thirsty yahoos to decide what "retarded" is? This is yet another triumph of our corrupt and immoral 'states' rights' doctrine for which the suppression of human rights and basic decency has been it's most lasting legacy."

Andrew Rosenthal writes an excellent post comparing the "paranoid ranting" of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre --

... LaPierre, said in his four-page plea for cash that President Obama's re-election would result in the 'confiscation' of weapons and a possible ban on semi-automatic weapons. 'The future of your Second Amendment rights will be at stake,' the letter said. 'And nothing less than the future of our country and our freedom will be at stake.' --

       -- to what Obama has actually done about gun control -- "nothing" is a generous reading.

Presidential Race

Evan McMorris-Santoro: "As Republicans continue trying to cash in on the out-of-context 'you didn't build that' attack on President Obama, the Obama campaign is assembling an army of small business owners who say that they did engineer their own success -- thanks to the opportunities afforded them by generations of American taxpayers."

Maureen Dowd: Barack Obama doesn't send thank-you notes.

Economist Brad DeLong provides a detailed takedown of the attempt by Romney's economic advisors to spin his economic plan.

The Priorities USA ad featuring steelworker Joe Soptic -- which I embedded in yesterday's Commentariat -- is somewhat fact-challenged. Although Soptic leaves the impression that his wife died "a short time" after he lost his job & health insurance because of a Bain takeover, that's not the case. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has the timeline & other details. Kessler doesn't assign any Pinocchios. But Soptic's Shakespearean compression is nothing like this --

Under Obama's plan (for welfare), you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. -- Mitt Romney on Monday, August 6th, 2012 in a campaign ad

PolitiFact: "That's a drastic distortion of the planned [Obama administration] changes.... By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them.... In fact..., the new policy is 'designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.' The ad's claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "The White House denounced Mitt Romney's 'blatantly dishonest' charge that President Barack Obama is looking to 'gut welfare reform' enacted under Bill Clinton by erasing a requirement that recipients actively seek work. 'This advertisement is categorically false, and it is blatantly dishonest,' press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing."

AP: "Former President Bill Clinton is taking exception to a campaign ad by Mitt Romney that asserts that the Obama administration is weakening the work requirements for welfare. In a statement Tuesday night, Clinton called the Republican's assertion 'not true' and the ad misleading."

Greg Sargent: "... Mitt Romney has again put GOP governors in a delicate position, in which they are caught between the need to defend their own policies and the need to avoid saying anything that detracts from Romney's campaign message." The Repubican governors of Utah & Nevada -- who led the group of governors asking the Obama administration for flexibiity -- refused to tell reporters whether or not they agreed with Romney's ad. ...

... Greg Sargent: "... this ad is tantamount to claiming that Republican governors want to gut welfare reform and ensure that the government just sends people a 'welfare check.' ... For an election that's supposed to be all about the economy, the Romney campaign is suddenly leaning very hard on a more traditional politics of resentment right out of an older GOP playbook."

This was a lie too far for Steve Benen, who has been chronicling "Mitt's Mendacity" for 28 weeks: "... this is as dishonest an ad as you'll ever see -- in 2012 or in any other campaign cycle.... Romney's lying. He's not spinning the truth to his advantage; he's not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he's just lying. The law hasn't been 'gutted'; the work requirement hasn't been 'dropped.' ... All Obama did is agree to Republican governors' request for flexibility.... What does it say about Romney's strength as a candidate that he has to make up garbage and hope voters don't know the difference? ... The language in the ad harkens back to the kind of ugly and racially divisive rhetoric we heard from GOP candidates for far too long." ...

... Steve Benen: "The president is giving states the option of experimenting with new welfare-to-work programs -- an option Romney used to support -- but work requirements remain intact.... Republican governors were the ones who asked for the flexibility to experiment, and Obama agreed. But if Romney and the GOP have decided to go nuclear on this..., the president can simply reverse course -- Republicans are against state flexibility and experimentation? Fine, no more state flexibility and experimentation."

"A Very Nasty Piece of Work." Ed Kilgore: "It's the old welfare-queen meme, which Republicans have already been regularly reviving in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act, on Medicaid, on food stamps, and in their much broader and horrifyingly invidious claims that poor and minority people deliberately taking out mortgages they knew they couldn't afford caused the whole housing market collapse and the financial crisis that followed."

Dana Milbank on the Italian Job: "Romney's larger problem with Bain and his personal income taxes: The question is not whether he did well, or whether he did it legally, but whether he did it with any sense of ethics.... Of ... concern is that, as president, Romney would further expand the advantages of fellow rich people. Romney encouraged that worry on Tuesday, when he announced at a campaign stop that he would be tough on welfare -- 'we will end the culture of dependency and restore a culture of good hard work' -- and then went to a pair of fundraisers where high-rolling donors paid as much as $75,000 for access to him.

Romney Really Hates to Pay Taxes. Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times: "After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, [the Romneys] asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief [making] ... a months-long effort to reduce their annual property tax bill.... Initially, the Romneys asked that their 2009 assessment, $12.24 million, be reduced to $6.8 million, maintaining that their home had lost about 45% of its value in the first seven months they owned it. Thirteen months later, after hiring an attorney..., the Romneys filed an amended appeal, contending the home had suffered a less-dramatic fall of 27.3%, to $8.9 million. They also filed an appeal for the 2010 tax year, claiming the house had dropped further, to $7.5 million, 38.7% less than the home's assessed value. As a result, the Romneys have saved about $109,000 in property taxes over four years."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "... the Mittster is also going to have to ingratiate himself with the regular folk, something he's never been particularly adept at.... Romney is in grave danger of joining the list of money-rich candidates who ended up as roadkill."

Congressional Races

The Neophyte Candidate. Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "Elizabeth Warren demanded Monday that Senator Scott Brown release more of his tax returns. The only problem was that Brown, her Republican rival, had already released six years of tax returns while Warren has refused to release more than four years of her filings. Asked to reconcile that apparent conflict, Warren backed off her demand, saying today that six years was enough. She did not, however, offer to release any more of her IRS filings." CW: I hope some of you of the "Warren for President" persuasion are beginning to understand why that was a bad idea.

God Is a Conservative Republican (And She Loves Todd Akin the Most). Tim O'Neil of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Wildwood, [Missouri,] won the battle of conservatives for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate with a strong lead that held through the evening in statewide returns.... 'The first thing I would like to do is give thanks to God, our creator,' Akin said. 'Your prayers were answered with victory.'"

Right Wing World *

"America --' Watering Down' Voting Rights since 1776." Alec McGillis of The New Republic: RNC Chair "Reince Priebus sent out this tweet: 'We need to call out Obama for trying to water down the voting privileges of our military men and women in Ohio.' So, expanding voting rights generally -- which, let's face it, tends to favor Democrats -- 'waters down' the votes of a Republican-leaning constituency like the military? ... This seems like a case of accidental and illuminating candor, right up there with the Pennsylvania House majority leader who declared recently that his state's new Voter ID law would win the state for Mitt Romney.... Sort of like expanding the franchise to women 'watered down' the voting rights of men...."

* Where only Republicans have the franchise.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "In 118 years of U.S. records, July 2012 stands as king, hotter than any month previously observed. NOAA reports today that the average temperature across the continental U.S. was 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average, 0.2 degrees hotter than the previous record set in July, 1936."

New York Times: "Wade M. Page, the man who the police say shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this week, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said on Wednesday. The authorities had reported earlier that he was fatally shot by a police officer. Mr. Page, 40, shot himself in the head after being struck by a bullet fired by an officer from the Oak Creek Police Department, said Teresa L. Carlson, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bullet fired by the officer hit Mr. Page in the stomach, Ms. Carlson said."

Al Jazeera: "The Syrian army has launched a ground assault on the northern city of Aleppo, sparking fierce clashes with opposition fighters in the frontline district of Salaheddine."

AP: "The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.... The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.... In a statement issued immediately after the settlement was made public, however, Academi officials denied they admitted any guilt.... A clause in Academi's settlement with prosecutors bars the company from making any public statements 'contradicting any aspect' of the agreement. Any such statement could allow the government to nullify the settlement...." CW: and nobody goes to jail.

The Tennessean: "After two years of struggle, Murfreesboro Muslims will finally be able to hold Friday prayers in their new mosque.... County officials granted the mosque a temporary conditional occupancy permit on Tuesday after the building passed a state fire marshal's inspection. Getting the permit brought an end to two years of controversy over the mosque, which included street protests, a fire, a bomb threat and three lawsuits. Reporters from around the world covered the story...."

ABC News: "Police say they have arrested [Misty Cook,] the former girlfriend of the gunman who allegedly shot and killed six people in a Sikh temple, after authorities found a gun in the home they once shared.... A federal law enforcement official told ABC News that Cook was taken into custody on the grounds that she is prohibited from having a gun as a convicted felon. Cook was charged in 2002 for fleeing and eluding a traffic officer. There's no indication she was involved with the attack."


I Know Mitt Cheated on His Taxes

My Two Cents.

The general assumption is that Mitt did nothing illegal in his tax filings, but used every legal trick in the IRS code to limit his liability. One basis for that assumption is that Mitt has been running for president since 1994 so he wouldn't be so stupid as to illegally evade taxes. Another basis is that John McCain claims his staff reviewed 23 years of Mitt's returns and found "There's nothing in Romney's tax returns that would disqualify him as a candidate, and McCain will 'personally vouch' for that."

(1) Ask Tim TurboTax Geithner & a couple of Bill Clinton's attorney general nominees about that. It is not that hard to cheat on your taxes & get it past the IRS. Thousands -- probably tens of thousands -- of ordinary people do it every year without the IRS even noticing. Mitt admitted a few days ago that he'd "been audited a few times." But remember, even when the IRS did audit Mitt's returns, it would have been Mitt's $400/hour tax attorneys countering a couple of G-9s who don't get overtime. Not a fair fight. Besides, when the object is to exploit every loophole & tax haven ($100 million IRA???), there are bound to be dicey calls.

(2) John McCain considered Mitt as a running mate for about 15 minutes, the obligatory period required to garner a photo op & an endorsement from a former opponent. My own annual tax returns on a miniscule income -- compared to Mitt's -- are as thick as The Great Gatsby. Mitt's have to be of War & Peace proportions. Do you think McCain's staff really combed through War & Peace x 23 in 15 minutes? Remember, this was the same gang who vetted Sarah Palin.

Not only that, McCain's wording was pretty cagey. He said there was nothing in the returns that was "disqualifying." That isn't the same thing as saying there was nothing that was illegal. If you get audited & the IRS fines you -- assuming the IRS is right -- you've done something "illegal." Unless it was egregious, you'll just have to pay back taxes, interest & (maybe) a fine. That isn't disqualifying. Plenty of decent people have lost audits & been hit with penalties. I wouldn't vote against somebody just because she made a mistake on her taxes.

But now. Instead of McCain's feeble vetters, nominee Romney faces a couple of hundred expert green eye shades anxious to dig in for the sheer fun of it. They are bound to come up with something, from "innocent" mistakes (See TurboTax Tim) to possible prosecutable evasions (perhaps past the statute of limitations). With such complex returns, & with the paramount goal of reducing liability (rather than giving the government its due), it is a virtual certainty that "mistakes were made."

Here's something else. Mitt himself doesn't know WTF is in those returns. Yeah, he's a Harvard MBA, but there's a reason he didn't do his own returns (see TurboTax Tim). He doesn't know how. He doesn't have time to learn. He's running for president, for Pete's sake. Inevitably, interviewers would ask him about some of those "mistakes that were made." A man running for office almost wholly on the basis of his business acumen can't afford to admit, "I have no idea," much less, "I can't add & subtract. I pay somebody to do that." Voter interpretation (fair or not): "You think you can run the whole country & you can't even read your own tax returns?"

Mitt should have been satisfied to live out his days in luxury, basking in the friendship of NASCAR & pro football team owners, the horsey set & whoever, maybe riding his car elevator up & down for fun (it might rotate!). Instead, he thought because it was his turn to be president, he could bluff his way into the job without having to show his cards. Don't tell me Mormons don't gamble. Mitt has gambled and won plenty of times. It's how he became a multi-millionaire. But Harry Reid -- another Mormon gambler -- just called Mitt's Big Bluff. Whether or not Mitt folds or shows his cards, he's lost the game.