The Ledes

Monday, November 24, 2014.

Washington Post: "A grand jury has reached a decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked days of turbulent protests, sources close to the process said. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and the county prosecutor’s office are expected to hold news conferences later Monday, and prosecutors have notified the family of Michael Brown — the teen who Wilson killed — that the grand jury’s decision will be announced Monday night, family attorney Benjamin Crump said."

The Wires

CW: Looks as if the Google News & stock market widgets are kaput & the Reuters widget is intermittent. We'll see what happens over the next few days with these.

The Ledes

Sunday, November 23, 2014.

Washington Post: "Marion Barry Jr., the Mississippi sharecropper’s son and civil rights activist who served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and then came back to win a fourth term as the city’s chief executive, died early on Nov. 23 at United Medical Center in Washington. He was 78." Barry's New York Times: obituary is here.

Washington Post: "Negotiators working to slow Iran’s nuclear program and ease sanctions pressed forward with talks Saturday amid indications that they are at an impasse with two days left before a deadline for an accord." ...

... Reuters: "Iran says it will not be possible by a 24 November deadline to reach a comprehensive deal with world powers aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported on Sunday." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "With a deadline for an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program just a day away, American officials finally acknowledged Sunday that the two sides would not reach a deal by Monday’s deadline but would probably extend the talks a second time to explore a series of possible solutions."

Guardian: "The Obama administration announced the release of another Guantánamo Bay detainee on Saturday, rebuking recent calls from congressional Republicans to stop the transfers entirely. A Saudi man who has spent 12 years at the wartime detention facility, Muhammed Murdi Issa al-Zahrani, will return to Saudi Arabia and enter the kingdom’s rehabilitation program. The transfer brings the detainee population of a prison Barack Obama has vowed for six years to close down to 142 men, 72 of whom the Pentagon considers pose little enough threat as to be eligible for transfer."

White House Live Video
November 25

11:10 am ET: President Obama makes a personnel announcement

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:15 pm ET (maybe): President Obama honors recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Wednesday
Sep052012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 6, 2012

Presidential Race

C-SPAN has gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic convention for those times you prefer to hear the speakers instead of talking heads. C-SPAN's convention coverage is also online. Day 2 (Wednesday) begins at 4:50 pm ET. The schedule of speakers & events -- it has times today! -- is here. ...

... Here's the New York Times' liveblog of the convention. Their report on speeches by Clinton, Warren & Fluke is here.

E. J. Dionne: The Democratic convention "should be seen as a three-day tutorial designed not only to defend President Obama's economic stewardship but also to advance a view of government for which, over the past 40 years, Democrats have often apologized ... with Republicans putting forward the most emphatically pro-business, anti-government agenda since the Gilded Age.... Building their convention around an out-of-context quotation from Obama, Republicans offered a counter-theme, 'We built it.' But the message of Tampa often came off more as: 'We own it.'"

Michael Crowley of Time: "Bill Clinton's blockbuster speech is the highlight of a week that so far feels like a home run derby. One after another, Democratic speakers have been making full contact with the ball -- and their audiences. Anyone who's been watching at home must sense how much more energy is roiling here than it was [at the Republican convention] in Tampa. Republicans have been the 'motivated' ones in recent years, but the past two weeks suggest something might be shifting."

Bill Clinton's speech is worth hearing in its entirety. It's a piece of Americana. The New York Times has the transcript:

... Tim Noah of The New Republic: "Clinton Is Better than Obama at Explaining Why Obama Is Better than Clinton." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: Clinton's "commanding presence, his let’s-just-chat manner, the familiar sound of his southern growl were the perfect counterpoint to the Republican Party's assault on President Obama at its convention in Tampa last week. He skewered the Republicans gently, biting his lower-lip in characteristic fashion. He spoke more in sorrow than in anger -- while also making it clear that the Republicans had almost destroyed the country and now want to finish the job." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "Bill Clinton tonight showed them all how it's done. He gave a master class in how to combine folksy and poetic language, stinging one-liners and policy nuance, empathy and rip-roaring partisanship. It was as good as it gets."

... Greg Sargent: "...it looks plausible that Clinton's unique role as 'referee,' and the authority he has among the undecided voters Obama needs, may have enabled him to go some way towards redefining this race." ...

... Joe Conason of the National Memo: Romney & Ryan must be sorry today they've been citing Bill Clinton as a model president. ...

... Ditto Joan Walsh of Salon: "Republicans will rue the day they dragged Bill Clinton into this fight with their welfare reform lies and their silly claims that Obama is a socialist defiling Clinton's centrist legacy. Clinton can say things Obama can't. He vividly laid out the depth of the economic challenge his successor faced, as well as the right-wing hatred."

Elizabeth Warren was the "warm-up act for President Bill Clinton":

... Sports! Steve Kornacki of Salon: Warren gave an excellent speech -- "the most direct attack on Wall Street yet heard at the convention" -- but she may have been upstaged by conflicting sports programming.

Sandra Fluke speaks to the DNC:

Sister Simone Campbell addresses the Democratic convention:

Thanks to Akhilleus for reminding us that Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, did indeed kick ass:

Rich Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO, addresses the convention:

The Best Fucking News Team on Television develops a new Obama 2012 campaign slogan:

Obama will be in the convention hall Wednesday evening, according to MSNBC. (No link.)

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "In a rare display of just how quickly a tightly scripted national political convention can unwind, Democrats on Wednesday struggled to complete a voice vote amending their party platform to include language referring to Jerusalem and God. It took three attempts from Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa before the platform was amended, and a loud chorus of delegates yelling 'no' met each attempt to pass the changes by voice vote." ...

... Jessica Yellin of CNN: "Democrats voted to update their party's platform Wednesday evening at their convention to include a reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, as well as the insertion of the word 'God,' neither of which was included in their platform this year but was in previous platforms. President Barack Obama himself intervened regarding the Jerusalem language...." ...

... David Atkins of Hullabaloo explains how the change went down. ...

... David Dayen of Firedoglake: "The Republican noise machine, then, successfully changed the Democratic platform document, a day after the fact. For context, there were lots and lots of liberals who spoke out about deficiencies in the platform, on housing, on civil liberties, on all kinds of subjects. None of them merited a change. But when one Weekly Standard writer and a group of trolls carp, Democrats leap to attention."

Gail Collins writes this & that about the convention. Eventually she gets around to endorsing higher taxes.... Collins' column has been totally updated to incorporate her reflections on Bill Clinton's speech. CW: first time I've ever seen that happen with a column.

The Pew Research Center has released public reactions to the Republican convention. Biggest highlight: Mitt Romney's Clint Eastwood's speech.

Women, you need to wake up. Women have to ask themselves who is going to ... be there for you. I can promise you, I know that Mitt will be there for you, he will stand up for you, he will hear your voices, he knows how to fix an economy, he's a can do kind of guy, he's a turnaround guy. -- Ann Romney ...

... Steve Benen: "There are ... key flaws to the pitch.... Mitt Romney's jobs plan doesn't really exist beyond vague platitudes and promises of tax cuts for the wealthy.... Romney's platform is a disaster for women's health; Romney doesn't have the spine to endorse the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Romney won't endorse the pending Violence Against Women Act; Romney took the coward's way out when Limbaugh targeted Sandra Fluke; Romney has offered support for a 'Personhood' measure that's so extreme it would ban some forms of birth control; Romney intends to destroy the Affordable Care Act, which would be a huge setback millions of women; and Romney's running mate has one of the worst voting records on women's issues in Congress."

Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro cited a well-known study from the Tax Policy Center when he stated that Republican candidate Mitt Romney's tax plan would 'raise taxes on the middle class.' FactCheck.org, however, found that claim to be misleading because Romney 'has promised he won't' raise middle-class taxes.... It is absurd to base that conclusion on the candidate's promises. Romney has, indeed, promised not to raise taxes on the middle class. But he has also promised that his tax plan will maintain current revenue levels. Those promises, by any measure, are totally incompatible, something the Tax Policy Center study made abundantly clear.... FactCheck.org needs to check its own facts instead of relying on baseless promises from political candidates." ...

... CW: I think FactCheck.org is just taking its place in the media-wide effort to be "bipartisan." Republicans lied, so they have to find some Democratic "lies," even if the only "fact" the so-called fact-checkers have on their side is Mitt Romney's promise to do the impossible. If you'd like to know how normal people can vote Republican, blame the "bipartisan" media. ...

... NEW. The Worst "Fact-Check" in History???. Matt Apuzzo & Tom Raum of the AP:

CLINTON: "Their campaign pollster said, 'We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself -- I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."

THE FACTS: "Something, something, Monica Lewinsky, something."

We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers. -- Neil Newhouse, Romney pollster, way last week.

CW: I have no idea what the AP reporters are objecting to. I guess they're just being "bipartisan."

** Lee Fang of the Nation: while leading the charge against ObamaCare, Paul Ryan requested funds from the program. His plea: "The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare." CW: I expect that's true. Since Ryan has voted to repeal & defund the ACA, obviously that means he thinks it's okay to leave "patients of all ages ... without health care."

Chloe Albanesius of PC Magazine: "Hackers today said they gained access to the network file servers of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and stole tax documents for ... Mitt Romney. A spokeswoman for the firm, however, said there is currently no evidence of a hack.... A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed that the agency was investigating the report."

Nicholas Kristof grades President Obama's job performance.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: the percentage of Guantanamo ex-prisoners who return to terrorist activities is much lower among those released during the Obama administration than during the Bush administration.

Ben Swann, a reporter at Fox 19 Cincinnati, shows the big boys how to analyze a politician's slick answers. Via Conor Friedersdorf (a libertarian) of the Atlantic. Swann really shows viewers how President Obama dissembles when Swann asks him about kill lists & drone strikes. Obama must think he can get away with it with a rube reporter; after all, network reporters let him get away with it all the time.

Other News & Opinion

Miranda Green of Newsweek reports on the "juiciest bits" from Bob Woodward's new book on the debt crisis. CW: Nothing very juicy. Woodward, top Very Serious Person, thinks we should care that President Obama hurt the feelings of those honorable fellas Eric Cantor & Paul Ryan. How did he hurt their wittle feewings? He said no to their nonsense. According to Green, "The president's arrogance is described many times in the book as having a negative effect." Why, oh why, am I reading "uppity black" into Woodward's white-bread interpretation. Arrogance, like every human trait, knows no color, but what Woodward -- perhaps vicariously -- describes as "arrogance" sounds to me like "standing his ground" against GOP intransigence, something most of us think the President did too little, not too much. ...

... Rick Klein of ABC News has a longer overview of Woodward's book. CW: doesn't sound to me as if there's a lot of news in the book; I've heard most of this before.

Turns out that even in Tennessee, you can't go around brandishing a loaded AK-47 in a public park.

News Ledes

New York Times: "A Roman Catholic bishop was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report suspected child abuse, becoming the first American bishop in the decades-long sexual abuse scandal to be convicted of shielding a pedophile priest. In a hastily announced bench trial that lasted a little over an hour, a judge found the bishop, Robert W. Finn, guilty on one misdemeanor charge and not guilty on a second charge.... Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation."

Washington Post: "Western spy agencies suspect Syria's government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, heightening anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say."

Washington Post: "Amazon sent a shot across Apple's bow Thursday with the introduction of a 4G tablet that's hundreds of dollars cheaper than the iPad. Actually, the company introduced four tablets and a new e-reader: the light-up Kindle Paperwhite e-ink reader, a new version of the Kindle Fire and three versions of an enhanced tablet called the Kindle Fire HD."

New York Times: "The European Central bank took its most ambitious step yet toward easing the euro zone crisis, assuming sweeping new powers to throw its unlimited financial clout behind an effort to protect Spain and Italy from financial collapse."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday approved a settlement with three major publishers in a civil antitrust case brought by the Department of Justice over collusion in e-book pricing, paving the way for a war over the cost of digital books in the coming months."

AP: "Human Rights Watch said it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding in American interrogations of detainees than has been acknowledged by the United States, in a report Thursday that details further brutal treatment at secret CIA-run prisons under the Bush administration-era U.S. program of detention and rendition of terror suspects."

Space.com: "NASA's Dawn probe has departed the huge asteroid Vesta, its orbital home for the past year, to begin a journey to its next destination: the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn's asteroid-mapping mission aims to shed light on the evolution of our solar system by studying huge space rocks, which scientists think are its leftover building blocks."

Tuesday
Sep042012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 5, 2012

Presidential Race

You can watch the Democratic convention without annoying commentary on C-SPAN (online here). The convention schedule -- according to C-SPAN -- is here.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "President Obama's plans to deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday evening at an outdoor stadium rally has been foiled by a forecast of rain and heavy thunderstorms, aides said Wednesday, forcing organizers to scramble and move the final night of the Democratic National Convention indoors."

... The New York Times' liveblog is here. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Democrats opened their convention here on Tuesday night with two simple messages for voters: Mitt Romney does not get it, and President Obama does." Here's Amy Gardner's story for the Washington Post. ...

Here's Michelle Obama's full speech:

... E. J. Dionne on the First Lady's speech: "A speech that was thoroughly apolitical on the surface carried multiple political messages, linking a very traditional message about parenting with a call for social justice." ...

Click on photo for larger image.

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "Michelle Obama thoroughly bested Ann Romney’s attempts to connect with voters.... The First Lady ... connected [personal] stories to Obama's policies. Alongside more dependable applause lines such as lowering taxes on the middle class, the first lady explicitly included more divisive issues such as the Affordable Care Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, gay marriage, contraception, and even a defense of the president's economic record. And she connected the personal tales to a succinct, eloquent summary of the Democratic Party's central idea in this election." ...

... Eric Wilson of the New York Times on The Dress: "While the dress Mrs. Obama wore has not yet been produced, very similar styles from [Tracy] Reese, [an African-American self-made businesswoman,] cost $395 to $450.... Mrs. Obama's pink pumps were from J. Crew. Mrs. Romney's dress [by Oscar de la Renta] cost $1,990." CW: oops, excuse me; I commented at the time of Mrs. Romney's speech that I thought her dress looked like a glitzy version of a '50s housedress. Turns out it was a designer housedress.

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post has some quick notes on San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. ...

... Here's a long profile of Castro by Zev Chafets for the New York Times. ...

Here's Castro's speech:

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Democrats honored one of their liberal lions, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and used him to tweak Mitt Romney, who challenged him unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994. In a video tribute, Mr. Kennedy was shown debating Mr. Romney over abortion rights during that campaign." Here's the Kennedy tribute, complete with Sen. Kennedy's excellent putdowns of Romney:

Haim Saban, an Israeli-American & CEO of Univision, in a New York Times op-ed: "Even though he could have done a better job highlighting his friendship for Israel, there's no denying that by every tangible measure, [President Obama's] support for Israel's security and well-being has been rock solid. Mitt Romney claims Mr. Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus,' but in fact the president has taken concrete steps to make Israel more secure -- a commitment he has described as 'not negotiable.'"

Dorian De Wind, a self-proclaimed moderate veteran, compares the conventions, so far. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Maureen Dowd does her usual schtick about Barry & Bill, President Now & Past.

She doesn't have to say anything. You can tell by the look in her eyes. -- A Friend or Relative of Charles Pierce, explaining how he knows Michelle Obama is a racist. Read Pierce's post of Obama's speech.

Charles Pierce on "What Democrats Should be Talking about at the DNC": "... the Republican Party has gone full Tenther. Now a lot of it is couched in arguments against the tyranny of EPA regulations and the jackboots of the individual health-care mandate, but there is no question that the driving force of this theory of government is resistance to full African-American citizenship just the way it was in 1860, in 1879, in 1957, and in 1965." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Actually, this is what we all should be talking about.

I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama's butt. -- Haley Barbour, former RNC Chair, former governor of Mississippi

So, it is okay to propose "legitimate" rape of a black president with a torture device. See Charles Pierce's remarks above. P.S. If only Barbour could keep his racist sentiments to the "look in his eyes," the way Michelle Obama does. -- Constant Weader

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Oh, God. I can already feel the viral emails hitting a million inboxes on this one: Christian Right journalist David Brody seems to have done a word-search of the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions and found that a reference to the Almighty was taken out of the former in the latter." The passage in the 2008 platform described "God-given potential. "Some secular-socialist crept in and removed God from the Democratic Platform! ... Brody does not note that the platform has a whole section on 'faith' ..." CW: and Brody calls his brilliant observation an "exclusive." What exactly is "exclusive" about reading a public document?

I guess the main observation I would make is that (Romney) was a lot more interested in having the job than in doing the job. We were forty-seventh in the nation in job-creation. Real wages were declining. Our roads and bridges were crumbling. We had a structural deficit that he left behind. Business taxes went up. He did one profoundly important thing -- really profoundly important, and I say that sincerely -- and that's health-care reform, and he makes no mention of that. I can't understand that as anything but some kind of political calculation. The presentation he's making right now is that he was Mr. Fix-it, and I'm telling you, he didn't fix much. People ask me all the time what is the real Mitt Romney? Is he a conservative? Is he a moderate? Is he a pragmatist? I think he's an opportunist. I think he does and says things he needs to do and say to win elections and to appeal to the people in front of him. -- Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), Mitt Romney's successor

** Shushannah Walshe of ABC News fact-checks Paul Ryan's latest: a "comparison" between Presidents Obama & Carter. You will be shocked, shocked, to read that the chairman of the House budget committee can't do simple arithmetic & he leaves out essential facts. Huh. Maybe he's just a liar.

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Paul Ryan's defense against charges of lying is that he's a weasel.... The big point is that in 2008, Mitt Romney, the number one to Ryan's number two, called for a plan that would have closed not just the Janesville plant but General Motors itself. That's the real thing that Ryan is desperately trying to get voters to forget even as the auto industry continues to rebound strongly." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: yo, media, Paul Ryan has been lying all along: "The bit where he sadly shakes his head and blames President Obama for the failure of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that Ryan killed himself has been a staple of the Ryan shtick for two years. Reporters usually bat their eyes and coo sympathetically. Now it has become evidence of his duplicity.... Ryan ... has always resided in a counter-factual universe.... Facts taken for granted by mainstream economists have never penetrated his brain."

I remember a convention speech -- I was a pretty young guy at the time but I remember a convention speech. Remember Ronald Reagan talking about Jimmy Carter, are you better off now than you were four years ago? -- Paul Ryan, speaking in Ohio Tuesday

Reagan didn't use the line until just before the election during his only presidential debate with Carter. -- Shawna Shepherd, CNN

AND. If you're a marathon runner & you'd like to be a World Class Marathon Runner, use this handy Paul Ryan Time Calculator. Wow! You're a Phenom!

Congressional Races

Monica Potts of American Prospect on the flailing senatorial candidacy of Elizabeth Warren: "Massachusetts Democrats had assumed that a strong candidate like Warren would snatch the seat from Brown with ease -- that he was a fluke.... Maybe their expectations were so high because it hadn't occurred to them that someone as smart and accomplished as Warren still had something to learn." CW: part of Warren's problem is her staff. I had some interaction with her campaign manager shortly after Warren announced her candidacy. I was not favorably impressed. At all.

Other Opinion Topics

Prof. Paul Campos in Salon: "In America today, crime pays, at least if you're high up enough in the social hierarchy to take advantage of the fact that we're increasingly willing to accept that laws are for little people."

Haley Barbour talks about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program, ca. 2010:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Bob Denver, whose television roles as Gilligan, the wacky first mate in 'Gilligan's Island,' and Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik with a bongo in 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,' were first hits, then cult classics, died on Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 70."

New York Times: "... scientists have discovered ... the human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as 'junk' but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches."

AP: "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Arizona authorities can enforce the most contentious section of the state's immigration law, which critics have dubbed the 'show me your papers' provision."

New York Times: "The United States and China clashed openly on Wednesday over two of the most contentious issues riling their relationship, the violence in Syria and growing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea." ...

... Washington Post: "Japan's central government has agreed to buy a group of uninhabited islands that are also claimed by China and Taiwan, Japanese media reported Wednesday, potentially increasing regional tension over the simmering territorial dispute."

Washington Post: "Afghanistan's military said Wednesday that it has arrested or expelled from its ranks hundreds of soldiers, part of a major effort to stop the growing number of fatal attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by their Afghan partners. This year, the strikes -- known as 'insider attacks' -- have killed at least 45 troops, the vast majority of them Americans."

New York Times: "Iran has resumed shipping military equipment to Syria over Iraqi airspace in a new effort to bolster the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to senior American officials."

Washington Post: "The Chinese government has charged Wang Lijun, a former provincial police chief who became embroiled in China's biggest political scandal in decades, with taking bribes, defecting and abusing his power, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Wang set in motion a perplexing political saga in February when he fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu and reportedly told U.S. officials that the wife of his powerful boss, Bo Xilai, had murdered a British businessman."

Monday
Sep032012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 4, 2012

Presidential Race

You can watch the Democratic convention without annoying commentary on C-SPAN (online here). The convention schedule -- according to C-SPAN -- is here; it appears coverage begins at 5:00 pm ET & times for everything else (as listed at 2:00 pm ET) are TBA.

Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "On Tuesday, a group of more than 100 protesters shouting 'Obama is a traitor' temporarily shut down official bus service that ferries around delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The protesters, some of whom were lying down in the street, were surrounded by Charlotte police, who used their bicycles to build a barrier around the group."

NEW. Ben Pershing of the Washington Post: "Former congressman Virgil Goode Jr. has qualified for the presidential ballot in Virginia, the State Board of Elections ruled Tuesday, adding a potential obstacle to Republican Mitt Romney's hopes of winning the pivotal state. The state Republican party has already challenged the eligibility of Goode, who is the Constitution Party's nominee, and could still get him knocked off the ballot."

NEW. USA Today: "Reporter Dianne Derby [of KKTV-Colorado Springs] asked Obama, 'your party says you inherited a bad situation -- you've had three and a half years to fix it -- what grade would you give yourself so far for doing that?' Replied Obama: 'You know I would say incomplete … but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.'"

NEW. Michael Tomasky of Newsweek on the 5 GOP myths the Real Obama must shatter.

Looks as if Time is going to have a cover a day this week. Today's celebrates Michelle Obama, who will speak at the convention tonight. The accompanying story, by Michael Scherer is okay, too.

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: The First Lady will speak at the convention tonight. "Michelle Obama comes to the 2012 Democratic National Convention with a delicate task: helping her husband's campaign reach out to women, who are a vital part of his coalition, without veering too far into an increasingly polarized battle over women's issues." CW: if Mrs. Obama listened to Thompson & her "experts," she couldn't say anything more than "Good evening," "I love being a traditional stay-at-home Mom & the only reason I'm out tonight is to be with my husband Whatzizname," & "Good night & God bless America." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The revelation that as of Monday afternoon, [Bill] Clinton still hasn't finished writing his speech or submitted it for vetting by the campaign raised a new question: Could Clinton be the DNC's Clint Eastwood?" ...

... NEW. BUT David Maraniss, who has written biographies of both Bill Clinton & Barack Obama, sees Clinton as a "key asset" for Obama: "There is nothing formulaic about Clinton's presence at the Democratic National Convention this year. He is not just another old presidential war horse being trotted out for nostalgia or a staged show of unity. When Obama called in late July to say he would be grateful if his Democratic predecessor would give the speech placing his name in nomination, something that no former commander in chief has done before, it was an acknowledgment of how much the sitting president needs the former president. And Clinton, who loves to be needed as much as he needs to be loved, responded with an enthusiasm and diligence that served as yet another signal to people close to both men that an old wound has for the most part been healed."

Matt Miller of the Washington Post: "With no serious ideas to renew upward mobility, and a budget plan that perversely undermines it by slashing preschool and college aid for poor youths, the entire [Republican convention] pitch, on closer examination, seemed a hollow exercise in nostalgia. Unfortunately, the Democrats ... will do only marginally better.... Given President Obama's proposals, the outer limits of Democratic ambition are unequal to today's challenges."

Donna Cassata of the AP: "Democrats unveiled a party platform at their national convention Monday that echoes President Barack Obama's call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans while backing same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Delegates will vote Tuesday to adopt the platform that reflects the president's argument that his work is unfinished and he deserves another four years to complete the job." You can read the proposed platform here. CW: I read the parts that particularly interested me -- mush peppered with warmed-over platitudes. ...

... NEW. Matt Cooper of the New York Times: "The platform that the Democratic Party plans to approve Tuesday at its convention in Charlotte, N.C., offers a stark contrast to the platform that Republicans approved last week at their convention in Tampa, Fla., especially on social issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the future of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, and labor policy and taxes." Cooper looks "at some of the crucial differences."

[Republicans] have spent a lot of time creating a fictional Barack Obama who is supposedly taking the work out of welfare reform, or doesn't think small businesses built their own businesses. -- Barack Obama, in an interview with Susan Page of USA Today

NEW. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has a personal stake in the election: no matter how crazy Congressional Republicans get, if Obama is re-elected, ObamaCare will be implemented & Drum can get health insurance, something he wouldn't be eligible for otherwise because of pre-existing conditions.

Mark Felsenthal of Reuters: "President Barack Obama toured hurricane-stricken Louisiana on Monday and promised federal recovery help as he sought to show his administration was on top of the disaster response on the eve of his Democrats' national convention in North Carolina." ...

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "Mr. Obama's timing was decided in consultation with local officials, White House aides said, to avoid the presidential entourage getting in the way of the cleanup." ...

... Ben Feller & Kasie Hunt of the AP: "Prior to his visit to Louisiana, Obama's remarks about the storm have focused on what money and resources the federal government can marshal to help. Romney used his trip Friday to emphasize the need for charitable donations to help people recover. On the flight from Ohio, White House press secretary Jay Carney said natural disasters are 'apolitical,' but ... 'It is worth noting that last year there was an effort to underfund the money that's used to provide relief to Americans when they've been hit by disasters.... That effort was led by congressman Paul Ryan, who is now running to be vice president.'"

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama pointed to his bailout of the auto industry, which Mitt Romney opposed, as a major argument for his re-election over the Republican rival as he spent a fourth Labor Day with union workers in a swing state."

NEW. Sour Grapes. CNN: Florida Republicans are taking to the airwaves to hammer their state's former GOP governor for his speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, the Republican Party of Florida announced Tuesday. The group's ad features old news clips of former Gov. Charlie Crist proclaiming his conservative credentials, including praising President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, saying he was 'about as conservative as you can get.'" CW: no, he wasn't. Crist governed as a pretty moderate Republican. ...

... NEW. A little background on Crist from Tim Padgett of Time. I didn't know about "Chain Gang Charlie."

Republicans to Obama, "We can criticize you, but you can't answer." Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "At the same time that they've been pushing the 'are you better off?' question, Republicans have also opened up a personal, character-based attack on Obama: claiming he ducks responsibility for his own time in office by constantly blaming George W. Bush for everything. Got that? Obama is being asked to compare the economy now to what it was like before he took office -- but if he says anything bad about how things were four years ago, it's evidence of a character deficit."

Joe Biden has an answer for "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?":

... NEW. BUT Sheldon Alberts of The Hill: "Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in 'worse condition' now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance," according to a new Hill poll. CW: in a related AMA study, researchers found that 52 percent of likely voters suffer from severe memory loss and/or are ignorant as dirt (which I didn't realize was a medical term). ...

... NEW. Paul Krugman, Dean Baker & "The Fire Last Time" -- a better metaphor for "are you better off?" Here's Baker's post. ...

... NEW. Zack Beauchamp & Judd Legum of Think Progress post 10 headlines from September 2008 that answer the question. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week -- are Americans better off than they were four years ago -- the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: 'Absolutely.'" ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time has a longer answer. CW P.S. How come Plouffe, Axelrod & O'Malley are so flatfooted? It wasn't a hard question to answer. ...

... Ed Schultz has a history lesson, too:

After working for 4 years to keep the economy in the tank, Republicans plan to upstage the Democratic convention with Friday's economic reports, which they hope will be bad. These are real patriots, aren't they? In addition, as Greg Sargent reports, they will make Obama's jobs numbers look bad by saddling him with numbers attributable to Bush. (Of course Obama can't complain; he's not allowed to mention Bush -- see Jonathan Bernstein above.)

Steve Kornacki of Salon on why the GOP convention was a dud.

Reality Chex' First International Contest. Watching the few snippets of Paul Ryan's convention speech I could stomach, I was struck that Ryan reminded me of some high school kid I knew; I just couldn't remember who. This morning I realized it wasn't someone I knew, or even -- technically -- someone. Ryan reminded me of a 1950s-early '60s sitcom character. Be the first to guess who & win a year's free subscription to Reality Chex. ...

We've Got a Winner! Mushiba wins the grand prize in Reality Chex' First International Contest -- an incredibly prestigious award. For the answer, see Mushiba's response among today's excellent Comments. Update: Akhilleus made me tart up this prestigious award. All in all, when the subject is Paul Ryan, I guess tacky is appropriate.

NEW. Stephen Webster of the Raw Story: "A video released this weekend by action movie hero Chuck Norris claims that America faces '1,000 years of darkness' if President Barack Obama is reelected." Via Adam Sorensen of Time, who writes that Norris is "determined not to cede the role of action movie star saying crazy things about Obama."

Right Wing World

I'll admit I won't be reading these posts, but the headlines made me LOL:

     ... David Hill of the Washington Times: "Bedbugs an increasing concern at DNC hotels."

     ... John Fund of the National Review: "The crack hotels of the DNC." ...

         ... Jim Newell of Wonkette has a funny response to Fund's post. Frankly, I can't stop laughing at the thought of the prissy Fund getting stuck in a sleazy motel.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Major automakers reported Tuesday that sales grew 19.9 percent in August despite higher gas prices during the month. Analysts said the wide range of fuel-efficient models on the market, particularly new small cars from the Detroit automakers, had helped spur demand and accelerate the industry's recovery."

New York Times: "More than 100,000 Syrians fled their country last month, a sudden acceleration of the exodus prompted by 18 months of conflict, the United Nations said Tuesday."

AP: "A former Navy SEAL's insider account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden contains classified information, the Pentagon said Tuesday, and the admiral who heads the Naval Special Warfare Command said details in the book may provide enemies with dangerous insight into secretive U.S. operations.... At the Pentagon, press secretary George Little ... told reporters during a briefing that the Pentagon is still reviewing what legal options should be taken against the author."

Y!-Tech: "Just months after a half-million Yahoo! passwords, 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords, and 55,000 Twitter passwords were leaked, the hacktivists at AntiSec have found their next data goldmine: a stash of 12.4 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDID). According to the Anonymous-allied hackers, a list of 12.4 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDID) was found on an FBI agent's Dell notebook. Each UDID was associated with user names, device info, and in some cases, phone numbers, names, and addresses.... AntiSec leaked 1,000,001 of those UDIDs to bring light to the government's data collecting effort." ...

     ... Update: Gizmodo has some analysis.

Washington Post: "The United States is nearing an agreement with Egypt's new government to eliminate a significant portion of the $3.2 billion owed by the economically struggling nation, U.S. officials said Monday. The discussions are the first major negotiation between the Obama administration and Egypt's new democratically elected leaders."

Sunday
Sep022012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 3, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is a follow-up to Akhilleus' post in yesterday's Comments on Ross Douthat's attempt to show that Mitt Romney is an F.D.R. clone. The NYTX front page is here. BTW, commenting on NYTX is open to everyone.

Some of the panels of a 36-foot-long mural depicting icons of the U.S. labor movement, painted by Judy Taylor for Maine's Department of Labor. Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage had the panels removed.Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The primary plight of U.S. workers isn’t their lack of skills. It's their lack of power. With the collapse of unions, which represented a third of the private-sector workforce in the mid-20th century but just 7 percent today, workers simply have no capacity to bargain for their share of the revenue they produce.... If the war that business and Republicans are waging on labor isn't defeated, good jobs will continue to dwindle and work in America will grow steadily less rewarding. And a happy Labor Day to you." ...

... At Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration (3 years ago), on Woody Guthrie's 100th birth year, "Union Maid," by Guthrie, performed by Billy Bragg, Mike & Ruthy Merenda, Dar Williams & the New York City Labor Chorus. (Think I've embedded this before; the exuberance of the artists & the audience is infectious):

David Sanger & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated." CW:somebody should put a muzzle on Mitt Friend-of-Bibi Romney.

Presidential Race

Ben Feller & Calvin Woodward of the AP: President "Obama addresses a United Auto Workers Labor Day rally in Toledo on Monday before getting his first look at the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in a stricken parish outside New Orleans."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "As President Obama heads into his convention this week, he is seizing on the just-concluded Republican presidential convention to ramp up his re-election argument that Mitt Romney and his party are stuck in policies of the past and afraid to spell out the details of their plans." ...

Here's a clip from President Obama's remarks in Colorado Sunday. In the clip, he addresses his differences with Romney on Afghanistan.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker writes a long piece on the rapprochement between Barack Obama & Bill Clinton: "Obama, who rose to the Oval Office in part by pitching himself as the antidote to Clintonism, is now presenting himself as its heir apparent. It's a shrewd, even Clintonian, tactical maneuver."

Matt Williams of the Guardian: "Democrats opened a fresh offensive on Mitt Romney's foreign policy Sunday, painting the Republican White House hopeful as a war-monger looking to take the US into further Middle East conflicts. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, vice president Joe Biden attacked Mr Romney's international agenda as laid out in last week's convention address, suggesting that it put him out of step with the US's priorities overseas."

New York magazine's cover story, by John Heilemann, is a long feature on Vice President Joe Biden.

... President Obama speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday:

Susan Page of USA Today: "President Obama wants to make it clear that..., 'I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan. He is a great actor, and an even better director," the president said in an interview with USA TODAY aboard Air Force One, on his way to campaign rallies in Iowa Saturday.... However, Obama seemed less eager to review Eastwood's latest performance.... 'One thing about being president or running for president -- if you're easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.' Obama said with a smile. He said there would be no effort to counter with a similar stunt at the Democratic National Convention, which opens in Charlotte Tuesday." ...

... Maybe Obama should say, "Thanks, Clint." Sahil Kapur of TPM: "President Obama's response to Clint Eastwood's speech to an empty chair was the most re-tweeted tweet of the Republican convention, according to a Twitter spokesperson":

... Juan Cole of Informed Comment on the top ten things Clint Eastwood got wrong in his empty-chair routine. (Link fixed.)

AP: "President Barack Obama's campaign is running a new television ad claiming Republican Mitt Romney's policies would 'hit the middle class harder.' The ad is running in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, key battleground states":

Thomas Catan of the Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama's campaign said Sunday that this week's Democratic National Convention would feature plans to revive the economy, promising a contrast to what it described as a policy-free Republican gathering last week. 'What you're going to hear this week in Charlotte is a president who's going to present a clear agenda for the future, that talks about how we build a sound economy that lifts the middle class in this country,' Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said on 'Fox News Sunday.'"

NBC News: "About 800 people chanting and carrying signs (among them, 'Banks got bailed out. We got sold out') marched Sunday through the central business district in Charlotte, N.C., ahead of the Democratic National Convention to protest what they said was seedy corporate influence on politics."

Steve Holland of Reuters: "President Barack Obama enters an important campaign week tied with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Sunday, leaving the incumbent an opportunity to edge ahead of his opponent at the Democratic National Convention." ...

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Last week's Republican National Convention had a minimal impact on Americans' self-reported voting intentions, with just about as many saying the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him."

"Unbecoming of a President." Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney "was able to take advantage of tax benefits in innovative ways open only to a narrow slice of extremely affluent people -- mostly those who work in private-equity firms and other investment partnerships.... Some tax experts worry that the arrangements Romney benefits from set a bad precedent for a president. 'He looks for every tax angle to a degree that is unbecoming in someone who would be the executive in command of the administrative apparatus that enforces the tax law,' said Lee Sheppard, a tax lawyer and contributing editor for Tax Analysts, a publication for accounting and legal professionals." CW: not really news, but it's good to see the press is still hammering this nail.

Gerry Mullany of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan has taken back his claim that he had run a marathon in under three hours, an assertion that had drawn great skepticism in the running community and one that came after his convention speech faced scrutiny for some questionable and misleading statements." CW: I was glad to see this story made whatever national newscast my husband watched Sunday night. This is the kind of lie that any dope can understand. ...

... AND Paul Krugman riffs off Lyin' Ryan's marathon whopper to argue, persuasively, that what's on the line in this election is the truth. (It was in 2010, too, IMHO.) CW: Sometimes, my blue-eyed Altar Boy, it's the venial sins that getcha.

"Hendrik Hertzberg and Philip Gourevitch join Dorothy Wickenden [of the New Yorker] to discuss the role of culture wars in Republican politics":

News Ledes

New York Times: "Michael Clarke Duncan, who rose from working as a ditch digger to employ his booming bass voice and immense physical presence in many movie roles, most notably a tragic prisoner with a healing touch in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 54."

Guardian: "Hillary Clinton is calling on south-east Asian states to present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The US secretary of state will be in Indonesia's capital on Monday to offer support for a regionally endorsed code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands. Jakarta is the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Clinton will press the group to insist that China agree to a formal mechanism to reduce short-term risks of conflict and ultimately come to final settlements over sovereignty."

AP: "Britain's Prince Andrew has rappelled 785 feet (239 meters) down the side of Europe's tallest building to raise money for charity. The 52-year-old's stunt began on London skyscraper The Shard's 87th floor and finished on the 20th, and took him 30 minutes. Following the descent Monday morning, the prince said: 'I will never do it again.'"