The Ledes

Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

NBC News: "A holiday storm system played havoc Wednesday with the Thanksgiving travel plans of tens of millions of people — wiping out hundreds of flights in the Northeast, dumping rain on busy roads and threatening more than a foot of snow in some places.

Washington Post: "Police cleared the remaining barricades from one of Hong Kong’s largest protest sites Wednesday and arrested two pro-democracy leaders as authorities stepped up their efforts to end the two-month-long civil disobedience campaign. Hundreds of protesters chanted for 'full democracy' as workers in red caps and 'I love Hong Kong' T-shirts began clearing the metal and wooden barricades in the shopping streets of Mong Kok, a crowded working-class neighborhood that has become a flash point between protesters and opponents during the occupation."

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

Washington Post: "This week’s winter storm is shaping up to be a travel nightmare for Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and the busiest travel day of the year. A coating to several inches of snow could accumulate along the I-95 corridor on Wednesday. While temperatures have been unseasonably warm early this week, snow is still likely to accumulate along coastal interstates, especially during periods of heavy snowfall."

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."

White House Live Video
November 26

2:15 pm ET: President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey (Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, not so much)

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

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

CW: For those of you who don't like hassling with DVDs, I accidentally found a cheap alternative to Netflix. Although I will continue to subscribe to Netflix's streaming videos, Netflix doesn't stream most decent movies. Instead, you have to maintain a (second) monthly subscription, then order & return the DVDs. However, YouTube now allows you to stream movies (you can watch them -- more than once -- during a 48-hour period.) There's no monthly fee, & you can play the movies on your TV via various devices. I have a Google dongle on one TV & a Blu-Ray box on another. The YouTube streaming videos work on both (you have to download on the Chrome browser). Setting up an account was very easy. Since I watch few movies, this works perfectly for me. When Ben Bradlee died, I watched "All the President's Men" for the umpteenth time, & today I watched "Good Night & Good Luck." Big advantage: instant gratification! I'm not sure if YouTube is good for more recent movies.

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.

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Wednesday
Aug292012

The Commentariat -- August 30, 2012

Mo Rocca in the New York Times: "... the United States is one of only a handful of nations whose constitution does not explicitly provide the right to vote. (Singapore is another, but it doesn't even allow you to chew gum on the street.) With an excellent video.

Jennifer Abbey of ABC News: "Jesse Shaffer, 25, and his father, also named Jesse Shaffer, 53, both of Braithwaite, La., stayed behind in their town to rescue their friends [when water burst over the levee in Plaquemines Parish]. While police and the fire department were unable to reach some stranded people using their vehicles, the Shaffers were able to save lives using boats.... Each Shaffer controlled a boat, in which the pair saved a combined 120 people in 12 hours, as well as animals."

Paul Krugman recommends this list of FAQs by Austin Frakt of the Incidental Economist, which details the "overwhelming evidence that public programs exert greater control over health care spending than private insurers." A handy reference.

Presidential Race

Quote of the Day. If you've just been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you honestly don't care if your neurosurgeon is a jerk. -- Mike Huckabee, explaining why Willard would be a great president

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday provided counterprogramming for a second day to the Republican National Convention, mocking its proceedings and contrasting his agenda with what he called the 'backward' positions of Mitt Romney.... The White House was quick to point out that in between his appearances, the president was receiving updates from federal officials on Hurricane Isaac...." ...

... Amy Gardner of the Washington Post: "President Obama used some of his toughest language yet against rival Mitt Romney today, accusing the Republican's campaign of bragging that 'we will not let the truth get in the way.'"

... Upon returning to the White House, President Obama enjoyed a leisurely dinner with his family. The Obamas were still talking about Malia's upcoming first year in high school when the Romney campaign issued a statement criticizing the President for failing to lead. "When Mitt Romney is president, he will always eat first,"* campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said in the statement, adding, "Mitt Romney has a proven history of mealtime leadership." Saul referred reporters to a video [also embedded near the end of this post] featuring Tagg Romney.)

     * Right after his food-taster.

Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! News: "President Obama made a surprise appearance online on Wednesday, participating in a live chat on Reddit.com. 'Hi, I'm Barack Obama, President of the United States,' Obama wrote in a message on the site. 'Ask me anything.'"

By Jim Morin of the Miami Herald.Here's the New York Times liveblog of the Republican convention. ...

... Paul Krugman: "The GOP campaign is based on five main themes," none of which is true. ...

... Rosalind Helderman & Jon Cohen of the Washington Post: "From the convention stage here, the Republican Party has tried to highlight its diversity, giving prime speaking slots to Latinos and blacks who have emphasized their party's economic appeal to all Americans. But they have delivered those speeches to a convention hall filled overwhelmingly with white faces, an awkward contrast that has been made more uncomfortable this week by a series of racial headaches that have intruded on the party's efforts to project a new level of inclusiveness."

Mitt Romney watches the convention on teevee with some of his grandchildren. Notice how he coaches the one child to "watch the television instead of the cameras." It's all just another photo-op totally natural family get-together:

... And get a load of those pizzas. Two are whole & one appears to have a slice out of it. But the one right in front of Gramps has only one slice left. I guess even for a photo-op, it's Me-First Mitt.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, whose budget plans have come to define conservative opposition to President Obama's governing philosophy, accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday...."

... CW: Just saw a clip of Ryan's speech. He reminded me of a guy selling nonexistent cemetery plots to poor people. I wonder if all those VSPs who buy his "seriousness" have bought any of those plots; would serve them right. I can't understand how anyone could take him seriously; what a complete phony. ...

** ... Charles Pierce: "It wasn't that Ryan was lying about his opponents. It was that he was able to level out with those big baby-blues, and drop his voice into that kindly voice straight out of the silent confessional, and tell you things that his entire record as a public figure have demonstrated that he does not believe for an instant." ...

(... Pierce is good on Aqua Buddha Man's weird speech, too.) ...

... Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe: "Ryan’s bill of particulars against Obama strained credibility enough to damage his own, not-quite-earned reputation as a straight shooter." Canellos documents a number of Ryan's whoppers.

... New York Times Editors: "'We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead,' said Representative Paul Ryan, in in his speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination. 'We will not spend four years blaming others; we will take responsibility.' Sounds great, except that the speech ducked the tough issues and blamed others for the problems. Mr. Ryan, who rose to prominence on the Republican barricades with a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system, never uttered the word 'voucher' to the convention. He said Medicare was there for his grandmother and mother, but neglected to say that he considers it too generous to be there in the same form for future grandmothers (while firmly opposing the higher taxes on the rich that could keep it strong). He never mentioned his plan to abandon Medicaid on the doorstep of the states, or that his budget wouldn't come close to a balance for 28 years." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "It was, by any reasonable standards, a staggering, staggering lie. Here's Paul Ryan about Barack Obama:

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

      ... Paul Ryan was on that commission.... The commission never made any recommendations for Barack Obama to support or oppose.... Why? Because Paul Ryan, a member of the commission, voted it down and successfully convinced the other House Republicans on the commission to vote it down." ...

... "Paul Ryan's Breathtakingly Dishonest Speech." James Downie of the Washington Post recounts some of Ryan's biggest whoppers. "With tonight's speech, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have doubled down on their twin bets of 2012 -- that journalists will sit back and name winners and losers without regard to who is telling the truth, and that voters are too ignorant to care about the truth. Do not let them be right." ...

... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar & Jack Gillum of the AP debunk several of the big lies various GOP speakers told, including 4 by Paul Ryan. Hope a lot of AP affiliates carry their piece. ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: Wolf Blitzer & Erin Burnett of CNN agree: Ryan's speech contained only 7 or 8 big fat lies "points I'm sure the fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute." But it was a great speech! ...

... Washington Post Editors: Ryan "offered a speech that was part introduction of himself and his small-town origins, part testimonial to his running mate and -- in largest part -- a slashing and, in many elements, misleading indictment of President Obama as both a spent force and a threat to American freedom. Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have starkly different visions about the role of government, but to caricature the president's vision as 'a government-planned life, where everything is free but us' insults voters who surely know better." ...

... Here's an Obama campaign response:

... AND FactCheck.org sticks it to Lyin' Ryan. ...

... Ezra Klein reminds us what is really in Paul Ryan's Magic Budget ('cause you sure didn't hear it from Paul Ryan). "He's just slashing things to make his numbers add up. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ran the numbers and said two-thirds of Ryan's cuts will end up falling on programs for the poor. The reason he's got to do that is that Ryan doesn't raise taxes.... Ryan extends all the Bush tax cuts, and then he adds a bunch of new tax cuts costing more than $4.5 trillion. So how does he pay for them? He doesn't."

Corey Boles of the Wall Street Journal: "In a clear highlight of the evening, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a moving address to delegates at the Republican convention, broadly criticizing President Barack Obama's record without ever mentioning him by name." ...

... John Richardson of Esquire on John McCain's & Rice's speeches: "... Republicans seem to be more interested in psychodramas of identity than in actual policy -- the boring, complicated, endlessly humbling process of diplomacy. Which is why, when they're in office, we so often end up in a war."

... Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy: at the top of her speech, Rice reminded everyone that "two of the three greatest negative foreign policy shocks of the last decade happened while Rice and the GOP ran the executive branch. Oh, and the third is Iraq, which also happened on their watch."

Gail Collins: attempts to renovate Mitt have been unsuccessful. "They built this Romney! 'We built it' is one of the themes here, at the government-underwritten convention in a government-subsidized convention center in a city that rose on the sturdy foundation of government-subsidized flood insurance. But no taxpayer dollars were expended in the attempt to put together a New Mitt. None. Really, it was just private corporations and rich people." Quite a funny column.

Maureen Dowd: "This synthetic convention aches with the enormity of the effort involved in trying, and failing, to make Mitt alluring and compelling, the fruitless, endless hunt for the enigma code that will decipher the cipher. The most intense feeling Mitt inspires is guilt that our posture isn't better." CW: when Mitt waved to the crowd Tuesday night after his wife's convention speech, his posture & wave were a replication of Richard Nixon's.

** It's Not about You, Willard. Dana Milbank: "Romney has a particular problem commanding loyalty, and the Republicans playing Brutus at this week's convention have been just brutal. Exploiting the tepid enthusiasm for Romney, up-and-comers in the party are using the convention to put down markers for their own presidential bids in 2016."

E. J. Graff of American Prospect: "If anything offended me ... [about Ann Romney's speech] it was the way her speech reduced women to our family roles as wives, mothers, and daughters." CW: I sure hope we find out by the end of this campaign that Ann's riding coach or somebody is boinking her. And why not? After all, Mitt is often out making male heirs with his other wives. (See Bill Maher below.)

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Weeks after it was announced that [former Half-Gov. Sarah] Palin wouldn't be making an appearance at the convention, on Wednesday night she took to Facebook to complain that she's also been cut from Fox News' coverage of the event."

Thanks to a friend for forwarding this video, which scratches the surface of Mitt's Mendacity:

** Mitt Romney -- Way Worse than Gilded Age Robber Barons. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden.... His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- like himself, [is] a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left.... Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time.... A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself.... His personal fortune would not have been possible without the direct assistance of the U.S. government." CW: a long, excellent piece, which a number of readers have recommended. ...

... We're Billionaires, We Don't Pay U.S. Taxes, & We're Proud of It, You Schmucks. Matthew Mosk, et al., of ABC News: "Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands." ...

... Jason Horowitz & Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "Thousands of donors have flown to Tampa for special access to Mitt Romney and other GOP leaders, from billionaire oilman David Koch ... to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.... The donors are part of Romney's elite 'Victory Council,' above and beyond the 'Stripes' bundlers who have raised $500,000 and 'Stars' who have brought in $250,000. Many are ensconced at the Vinoy Renaissance resort in St. Petersburg, amounting to a shadow convention of sorts, where access depends on how much you bring in. The most senior bundlers -- none of whom have been officially identified by the Romney campaign -- will get a two-hour private luncheon on Thursday with Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)...."

William Saletan of Slate, a deficit hawk, admits Paul Krugman was right about Paul Ryan -- the Congressman is a charlatan.

CW: In yesterday's Commentariat I mentioned Ron Fournier's questioning of Romney operatives about the racism that is evident in the anti-welfare ads, but I didn't link to Fournier's story on how racial prejudice informs white voters (and how good they are at picking up on & using racially-coded language), which the National Journal subsequently published. As Digby reminds us, Fournier "is no friend to liberals." ...

... CW: this election is really a test to see just how stupid white people are. We already know millions of them will vote against their own interests because they're afraid somebody in Dee-troit will get a nickel from them; the question is, will it be enough millions to give Romney the election. ...

... Gov. Sam Brownback (RTP-Kansas), a reliable ultra-conservative, ignores the Lie-thru-Your-Teeth memo. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "When asked Wednesday morning whether the welfare claim is a lie..., Brownback replied, 'as far as I have seen.' CW: I guess he'll be asking for one of those work-gutting waivers.

Kate M. pointed us to this video of Tagg Romney describing Me-First Mitt, who always goes first in line at family buffets so he doesn't have to wait for the grandkids & finishes eating before the rest of the family is seated. This Me-Firstism is precisely what I noticed in the video about Ann's illness & mentioned in my NYTX column on "The Real Romney" -- that Mitt saw his wife's illness only in terms of the impact on himself. I appreciate but disagree with Marvin Schwalb's comment of yesterday to the extent that I think greed, selfishness, a sense of entitlement, etc., are character traits -- just not traits associated with a desirable character. It's interesting how families learn to adapt to bullies like Mitt, to the point that the kids think Dad-First is "normal" rather than shameful:

... AND there's this. Matt Viser of the Boston Globe: Ann Romney told CBS News that after she had a miscarriage when she was in her 40s, her youngest son Craig "fell on the floor and just burst into tears." "Mitt Romney, sitting beside his wife for the interview, said he had been unaware of the story about his youngest son's reaction upon hearing news of the miscarriage." CW: Mitt, when you can't even take time to join your family for dinner, you're bound to be unaware of a lot that is going on in their lives.

Re: Inquirer's inquiry in today's Comments: I believe Bill Maher, who is not a "wifer" himself, still has provided all the proof you need that Mitt Romney is indeed a polygamist:

This New York Times story by Michael Barbaro, which I barely scanned, has a supra-headline "Willard Mitt Romney/Man in the News." Maybe Barbaro has seen the birth certificate, if not the numerous marriage certificates.

Via Reality Chex contributor Mushiba:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A."

New York Times: "Tropical Storm Isaac's once fierce winds slowed to 45 miles per hour on Thursday morning as it finally moved out of southern Louisiana and headed north while continuing to bring heavy rains and flooding along its path. Early Thursday, the storm continued at its now familiar exceedingly slow pace -- 8 m.p.h. -- as it moved on toward Arkansas, which it will not reach until some time Friday, forecasters said." ...

... Live Science: "As Tropical Storm Isaac roars over Louisiana and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, it threatens to disrupt a fragile environment that's still recovering from BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the summer of 2010. By disturbing the sediments in which the spilled oil is buried, near the beach and deeper in the water, the hurricane could release large quantities of oil, several researchers warn."

Bloomberg News: "Consumer spending in the U.S. climbed in July for the first time in three months as the biggest part of the economy struggled to overcome a jobless rate hovering over 8 percent." ...

... Bloomberg News: "More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that progress in the labor market is faltering amid a slowing economy. Jobless claims were little changed at 374,000 in the week ended Aug. 25, matching the upwardly revised figure from the prior week...."

Guardian: "Five Australian soldiers have died in southern Afghanistan over the last 24 hours, a toll Australia's prime minister described as the country's worst combat losses in nearly half a century."

ABC News: "Reports of West Nile virus infection in the country now total 1,590, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday -- an increase of more than 40 percent in one week alone. CDC officials also reported during a Wednesday afternoon teleconference that 66 people have died from the disease so far. Of all of the cases reported thus far, 889 - or 56 percent - are classified as neuroinvasive, meaning patients develop meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis."

Space.com: "An unmanned rocket turned night into day early Thursday (Aug. 30) as two heavily armored spacecraft finally launched into orbit study Earth's harsh radiation belts after a week of delays."

New York Times: "World leaders convening at Iran's largest international conference since its 1979 revolution heard on Thursday two speeches that illustrate the deep divide between Iran and Egypt for finding a solution to the conflict in Syria. In one of his first major addresses outside his country, Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, likened the uprising in Syria to the revolutions that swept away longtime leaders in North Africa.... In contrast to Mr. Morsi's remarks, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is a staunch ally of Mr. Assad, avoided the topic entirely."

Tuesday
Aug282012

The Commentariat -- August 29, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' & Frank Bruni's attempts to find "The Real Romney." The NYTX front page is here.

... Also Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has a very good piece on Art Brisbane's parting shot as New York Times public editor. I couldn't agree more with Wemple.

Kimberly Dozier of the AP: "A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him. Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in 'No Easy Day.' The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint."

Presidential Race

Pardon My Boredom:

New York Times Editors: "Following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney's campaign, rarely have so many convention speeches been based on such shaky foundations."

Dana Milbank: When the Romney forces stifled Ron Paul & took away some of his delegates, Paul supporters disrupted the convention. Romney, a control freak, "is discovering that he cannot control Isaac, he can't control the press corps and he certainly can't control Paul supporters." ...

... Andrew Kirill of Mediaite: Ron Paul has no intention of endorsing the Romney/Ryan ticket.

Here's the New York Times' liveblog of the GOP convention.

Karen Tumulty & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "The Republican Party on Tuesday formally bestowed its presidential nomination on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, launching its convention [in Tampa].

Time magazine reporters on what you missed while not watching the first night of the Republican convention.

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Chris Christie, the sharp-tongued governor of New Jersey, on Tuesday extolled Mitt Romney as an exceptional leader willing to speak hard truths to a nation weary of President Obama's policies and ready to make a much-needed change." ...

     ... Forget Shear. Russell Goldman of ABC News has a better description of Christie's speech; e.g.: "Though it took him 17 minutes to mention the newly minted nominee by name, he said Mitt Romney would tell Americans 'the hard truths' about fixing the economy and creating jobs.... Christie, a popular Republican believed to have his eyes on a future White House run, talked about his own biography and touted his record of busting unions and balancing the budget in New Jersey. He used the word 'I' 32 times, but mentioned Mitt Romney by name only seven times."

     ... Brett Smiley of New York: "Mitt Romney appeared unusually distressed during Chris Christie's keynote address at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night." ...

     ... In a post titled "The Outlaw Jersey Whale," (excellent!) Tbogg of Firedoglake writes, "So Chris Christie went rogue Tuesday night, turning what was supposed to be the Keynote address into (as someone put it on twitter) a Me-Note address where he explained that he took the vast wasteland that is Jersey and turned into a fucking paradise on fucking earth. And, oh yeah, vote for Mitt Romney or something." Tbogg gets more colorful later in the post.

     ... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "... it's just striking how little Christie h.ad to say. Apparently, Republicans are for balanced budgets and against teachers unions … and then a whole bunch of clichés about the Greatest Generation and our grandchildren or something like that."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Ann Romney introduced her husband Tuesday night to the nation and to the Republican Party that had nominated him as president with a rousing speech that exhorted Americans, 'You can trust Mitt.'" CW: starting now, I guess, because so far he's been lying his ass off. ...

     ... CW: if I may make a sexist remark, for which you are all welcome to chastise me, the little missus chose to wear a gussied-up version of a 1950s-style housedress, the perfect visual for her message that, really, her big handsome hubby will take care of "you girls." Now, excuse me while I go vacuum the stair runners & fix Mitt his favorite cherry Jello mold just as I used to do back in the days Mitt & I were "struggling," barely getting by on his inherited stock options. ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post on Ann Romney's speech: "Mitt Romney's most impressive and consistently manifest attribute is his inhuman work ethic. That also points to one of Mitt Romney's greatest weaknesses -- it remains utterly mysterious to what end, beyond his own advancement, he wants to apply all that talent and drive."

** Nicholas Kristof: To inaugurate their phony "We Built It" theme, "Republicans turned to a Delaware businesswoman, Sher Valenzuela, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor. Valenzuela and her husband built an upholstery business.... Oops. It turns out that Valenzuela relied not only on her entrepreneurial skills but also on -- yes, government help. Media Matters ... documented $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration for Valenzuela's company, plus $15 million in government contracts (mostly noncompetitive ones).... Earlier this year, Valenzuela described government assistance as an entrepreneur's 'biggest "secret weapon."' ... Employment data for the 64 years from the beginning of Harry Truman's presidency to the end of George W. Bush's [shows] ... that an average of two million jobs were created per year when a Democrat was president, compared with one million annually when a Republican was president. More pointedly, and unfortunately for Romney, business executives have only a mediocre record when transferring their skills to government...."

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "The new [GOP] platform — with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government — shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time."

Kyle Leighton of TPM: "An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said 'This is how we feed animals' before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM." CW: I just can't help tearing up when I read of incidents like this.

** Steve Benen: "... there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen -- he's deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power. If you don't find that frightening, you're not paying close enough attention.... Romney believes the old norms are irrelevant.... If Romney wins, make no mistake, it will establish a new precedent, and campaigns will receive an unmistakable lesson -- go ahead and lie; you'll be rewarded for it." ...

... Elizabeth Flock of US News: at a forum in Tampa, Ron Fournier of the National Journal called out Republican pollsters & supporters for pushing the fake Romney welfare ads, which Fournier said were racist. CW: Fournier is no liberal; he's a former AP reporter (I think he headed the AP's Washington bureau), & he has been very critical of Democrats in the past. ...

... After laying out the truth about "You didn't build that," Juan Williams, conservative Fox "News" darling, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill: "... the Romney campaign continues to attack Obama's healthcare plan as the enemy of business. And it continues to twist the Virginia speech into an attack on small-business owners. This is politics so dirty it covers over the truth. How can any Republican complain about dirty politics when smears aimed at the president are so visible at this convention?" ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "... in light of the GOP's repeated misuse of this Obama quote [-- "You didn't build that --] in speech after speech, we feel compelled to increase the Pinocchio rating to Four." ...

... Bill Keller is very good on the same topic. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. CW: the question remains -- can a campaign built almost entirely on lies be a winner?

** Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down. The ... company ... told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday.... Murray Energy has contributed more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years." CW: what? No union? ...

     ... There's a follow-up story here; seems the Plain Dealer caught up with mine owner Bob Murray at the GOP convention in Tampa. He said it was a fun day for all. Uh-huh. Some of the reader comments are excellent. BTW, did you know that after the fact, you can pretend that "mandatory" means "voluntary"? This is worse than the "Chicago-style politics" Romney likes to pretend Obama practices. At least in the days of the Chicago machine, workers got paid to attend partisan political events. ...

     ... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "'You've got a great boss, he runs a great operation here,' Mitt Romney told a group of Ohio coal miners at a Murray Energy mine on Aug. 14, before launching into an attack on President Obama's supposed opposition to coal. That 'great boss,' it turns out, had made the miners' attendance at the Romney event mandatory and unpaid.... This contempt for his workers is of a piece with the past behavior of Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who..., has in the past lied about the company's actions just before a fatal mining accident, and who's lobbied against new safety regulations.... It's this kind of mine owner who Romney chooses to praise in front of a group of miners forced to stand there without pay. He's Romney's kind of people." With video. ...

     ... Ryan Cooper of Washington Monthly: "So the Romney campaign visited a coal mine ... for a speech with a bunch of suitably dirty miners standing behind him, with his podium bearing a placard that read 'Coal Country Stands with Mitt.' But apparently it should have said 'or else' at the end.... It is a great example of how far bosses are willing to push their workers in times of a slack labor market, and a reminder that for the owner/manager class, there's a lot to like about persistent mass unemployment."

AND, looking forward to tonight's GOP extravaganza:

... Philip Elliott of the AP: "Romney's aides ... are pushing Ryan toward more personal territory. The hope among Romney's team is that the nation gets to know Ryan's story, one they say working-class voters could relate to. Left unsaid is the fact that Ryan's policy positions, specifically his controversial budget proposals, have caused headaches for Romney and dominated the storyline of the campaign since he was named the running mate. On Wednesday, Ryan plans to talk not just about Romney's promises to repair the economy and Obama's failures to do it, but also about his own upbringing. A message of small-town values and self-reliance is set to play a prominent role in his speech."

This Sounded like a Good Idea. Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker: "James Carville says that in response to [Cardinal Timothy] Dolan's extraordinary eagerness to mount the Republican podium (he elbowed the local bishop aside to get there), the Democrats should invite Sister Simone Campbell to close out their ceremonies in Charlotte. Sister Simone is the leader of the 'Nuns on the Bus' campaign.... Carville attributes the suggestion to his daughter, a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

But Now. It appears that Cardinal Dolan has elbowed his way into the Democratic convention, too. Maybe he was worried the Democrats would invite Sister Simone. Sharon Otterman of the New York Times reports.

Congressional Races

Gary Nelson of the Arizona Republic: "Recalled Senate President Russell Pearce won't be returning to the state Legislature, at least not this year. Pearce lost Tuesday's Republican Senate primary race in Mesa's Legislative District 25 race to businessman Bob Worsley. The election defeat could spell the end of the political career of Pearce, a national lion in the fight against illegal immigration who was ousted from the Senate last year in a historic recall election. Worsley, the founder of SkyMall and several other companies, was recruited by moderate Republicans to block Pearce's attempted comeback."

Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic: "U.S. Rep. David Schweikert [defeated] Rep. Ben Quayle in the closely watched battle that pitted the freshmen Republicans against each other in Congressional District 6." CW: leaves the boy more time for midnight swims in the Sea of Galilee. ...

     ... New York Times story here.

Shaun McKinnon of the Arizona Republic: "U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake

News Ledes

New York Times: "Iran has already installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges it needs to complete a deep-underground site for the production of nuclear fuel, international nuclear inspectors reported on Thursday. The finding is likely to affirm the belief of Israeli officials that President Obama must make clear his intention to halt Iran's program or give tacit approval for Israel to act on its own."

New York Times: "A federal judge said on Wednesday that he planned to block provisions of a Florida measure that made it harder for organizations to register voters in the state."

Tecca: "It's been almost a year ago since we made our first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting two suns, prompting everyone to compare it to the planet Tattooine in the 'Star Wars' universe. A handful of other planets orbiting two stars have been found since then, but the Kepler-47 system is special: It's the first twin star system discovered that has not one but two planets in orbit. This unusual system was discovered using data from the Kepler telescope that's responsible for numerous exoplanet finds."

AP: "A three-judge panel in Florida has ruled that a former neighborhood watch leader charged in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin should be granted a new judge in his case. Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that Judge Kenneth Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara asked the court earlier this month to overturn a previous ruling by Lester not to leave the case."

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Isaac made its first U.S. landfall along the extreme southeastern Louisiana coast at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday evening, then continued to scrape along the immediate coast. Isaac will continue to move very slowly near the Louisiana coast Wednesday. Since Isaac is moving at a snail's pace, the hurricane will pound the northern Gulf Coast with storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and possible isolated tornadoes through Wednesday." ...

     ... Update: "Isaac weakened to a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon while spinning slowly to the west-northwest over southern Louisiana. Since Isaac is moving at a snail's pace, the storm will continue to produce significant impacts along the northern Gulf Coast including storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and possible isolated tornadoes through Thursday.

... New York Times: "The longer the storm lingers, the more pressure it is putting on the levees and other flood-protection systems along the coast. In Plaquemines Parish, about 95 miles from New Orleans and where the hurricane first made landfall, water 'overtopped' a levee, causing extensive flooding, according to the National Weather Service." ...

     ... Story has been updated. New lede: "Hurricane Isaac hovered over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, punishing southeast Louisiana with 75 mile per hour wind gusts, driving, horizontal rain and the threat of calamitous flooding. Forecasters said the rainfall may not let up for days." ...

     ... Update: "Louisiana officials on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people in [Plaquemines] Parish outside New Orleans and are continuing to rescue dozens of others trapped in the same area by rapidly rising floodwaters caused by Hurricane Isaac."

Monday
Aug272012

The Commentariat -- August 28, 2012

Presidential Race

Milt Shook (I think) writes, "What has Obama Done? Here Are 194 Accomplishments! With Citations! If you're one of those who thinks President Obama is a "disappointment," my condolences for not getting your unicorn." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Michael Cohen of the Guardian on why Obama should run on the success of the stimulus. Um, it worked, as "Michael Grunwald's exceptional new book, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era" demonstrates. "Republicans," Cohen writes, "not surprisingly, like to blame President Obama for the poor state of the US economy, but in reality, the US is living today under a Republican economy -- one that comprises low taxes and curbed spending. The results speak for themselves."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Difficult questions loom for Mr. Obama and his political advisers as they plot their attacks. If the storm wreaks havoc on the Gulf Coast, should Democrats ease up? Does Mr. Obama cut short his campaign swing, or continue to rally his supporters against Mr. Romney amid images of mass evacuations and property damage?"

Jim Fallows of the Atlantic says Romney will do a good job in the debates with Obama. A big help: as so many of us said in yesterday's Commentariat, the moderator won't call Romney on his lies. Too bad Chris Matthews isn't a moderator!

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Republican ... party leaders want to drive home a message to voters: The federal debt is hurtling toward $16 trillion, and it is President Obama's fault. That's the gist of what the party chairman, Reince Priebus, said as he banged a gavel to open the convention Monday afternoon. The banging activated a 'debt clock' in the convention hall that tallies the amount the debt accumulating during the four-day event. A second ticker that started running earlier displays the total national debt.... Republicans are of course not mentioning their own role in its growth during the Bush administration." ...

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's hopes for a highly disciplined and scripted nominating convention continued to fray Monday morning as a tropical storm barreled toward New Orleans and was expected to strengthen into a hurricane. Mr. Romney's convention organizers were also warily keeping an eye on some restive delegates, including supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who were poised to challenge parts of the convention's rules and platform when it begins Tuesday afternoon. Broadcast and cable networks on Monday began shifting some of their resources toward the hurricane-threatened Gulf Coast...." ...

Oops! So much for "highly disciplined & scripted"; Romney sends the wrong script. Elise Viebeck of The Hill: "Copies of Mitt Romney's book, distributed at the GOP convention, retain a sentiment anathema to the GOP base -- that the Massachusetts healthcare reform law could be a model for the nation. The sentence that makes this case was changed for No Apology's paperback version, but reporters in Tampa received copies with the original wording along with other swag."

This fellow may look like a normal meterologist. But he's an Obama stooge! Maybe the communist-red shirt is the telltale clue.... Rushbo Will Not Be Satirized. Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh ... suggested Monday that the National Hurricane Center's forecast models for Tropical Storm Isaac were altered to help President Barack Obama and 'cast a pall' over the Republican National Convention. 'I'm not alleging conspiracies here. The Hurricane Center is the regime; the Hurricane Center is the Commerce Department,' Limbaugh said on his talk show. 'It's the government. It's Obama.' The conservative talker suggested early forecasts, which showed the storm hitting Tampa, the convention's host city, were intended to cause Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention. Newer models showing the storm striking New Orleans, he said, are intended to link the convention to memories of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall seven years ago this week." ...

... Is it any wonder then that conservatives want to defund the weather service? ...

... BUT Rush's hurricane theory isn't the only one out there. While Mother Nature was melting Arctic ice (see yesterday's Ledes, God was steering the hurricane away from Tampa & toward New Orleans. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch. "Today on the 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent Paul Strand spoke to Jesten Peters of Keys of Authority Ministries who said that her organization's prayer efforts helped steer Tropical Storm Isaac away from Tampa in order to protect the Republican National Convention." ...

... Neetzan Zimmerman of Gawker: "But what about the fact that Isaac is now expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall in Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of Katrina? Oh, that. Something something gay marriage." ...

... Carl Hulse of the New York Times: Louisiana Gov. Bobby "Jindal (R), who at one point had been considered a strong potential candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket, announced Monday that he would not attend events in Tampa while the storm threatened his state, let alone speak as scheduled at 8 p.m. Wednesday."

Dogwhistling' Dixie

For those of you unconvinced that Rmoney's welfare ads are racist, Ezra Klein has the 1-2 punch: (1) Romney's "campaign is running more ads about welfare than just about any other issue." Citing the results of an academic study, Klein writes, (2) "The evidence suggests that the [ads] work particularly well if the viewer is racist, or at least racially resentful. And these are the ads that are working so unexpectedly well that welfare is now the spine of Romney's 2012 on-air message in the battleground states." CW: no doubt Rmoney would run the same types of lies if Obama were white. Republicans have repeatedly run similar racist ads against white Democrats ("Willie Horton" -- Dukakis); the ads this year happen to work particularly well because Obama is black. Never mind that they're lies from beginning to end. ...

... Susan Page of USA Today: "Romney defends the welfare ads as accurate, accusing Obama of offering state waivers as a political calculation designed to 'shore up his base' for the election." ...

... Tim Noah Translation: "President Obama doesn't represent you; he represents a lot of people on welfare. And you know what they look like." Noah writes, "Of course, Romney isn't interested in the facts; he's interested in associating Obama with black and Hispanic undesirables bent on collecting welfare benefits and robbing white elderly people of their health insurance.... Like Poppy Bush, Romney is not a racist himself. He is, arguably, something worse: A man who, because he has no particularly pronounced views himself, is willing to say just about anything to get himself elected president." ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "If Mr. Obama intended his welfare waiver as a political trumpet blast to his base, he had a very strange way of showing it. The actual waivers ... were never publicly announced by the administration." CW: apparently the lazy welfare bastards spend all that free time poring through federal regulations to see what-all is in it for them. Just like Romney & his tax attorneys, they know how to game the system.

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... conservative activists have for decades argued that the 'liberal base' of the Democratic Party is an alliance between a government-dependent 'underclass' and 'elites' determined to socialize the country who use po' folk as their pawns.... That's a big part of their inveterate Obama Hatred: the president is the incarnation of both the snooty secular-socialist 'elites' and the minority underclass."

      ... Jim Vandehei & Mike Allen of Politico: "Mitt Romney conceded President Barack Obama has succeeded in making him a less likable person, but he offered a defiant retort to those hoping he will open up this week: 'I am who I am.' Romney quoted that Popeye line three times in a 30-minute interview with Politico about his leadership style and philosophy, swatting away advice from Republicans to focus on connecting with voters in a more emotional, human way at this convention. Instead, he vowed to keep his emphasis -- in the campaign and any administration to follow -- on a relentlessly goal-driven, business-minded approach that has shaped his life so far."

It's Official! Paul Krugman: "... the draft Republican platform says of Medicare and Medicaid,

The first step is to move the two programs away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model.

      ... That means that instead of Medicare as we know it, which pays your medical bills, you'd get a lump sum which you can apply to private insurance -- they'll yell when we call it a voucher, but that's what it is.... It's basically a way to deny health care to people while denying that you're doing so. You don't say, 'we won't pay for this care', you just hand people a voucher and let them discover that it won't buy adequate insurance. It's health-care rationing...."

Priorities USA, a pro-Obama superPAC, hits Governor Romney:

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The House speaker, John A. Boehner [R-Ohio], on Monday cautiously predicted victory for Republicans up and down the ticket in November, but he avoided saying that a Republican victory would mean a mandate for the sweeping changes to Medicare that Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan have proposed."

Conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has an excellent essay in the Daily Beast titled "What the *#@% Is Wrong With Republicans?! It's not just Akin. By pushing some of the most invasive state policies in modern history, the men of the GOP are driving their party off a cliff.... The GOP, through its platform, its purity tests, pledges, and its emphasis on social issues that divide rather than unite, has shot itself in the foot, eaten said foot, and still managed to stampede to the edge of the precipice."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama received a briefing on Monday afternoon about Tropical Storm Isaac as it approached hurricane force, but aides say no decision has been made to cancel his campaign trip on Tuesday to two swing states, Iowa and Colorado."

Sarah Wheaton of the New York Times: "Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who ran for the Senate as an independent, will speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, taking yet another step away from his erstwhile party. Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, confirmed Mr. Crist's role just a day after he endorsed the president for re-election."

Congressional Races

Women are "one Supreme Court Justice away" from overturning Roe v. Wade:

     ... Jess Bidgood of the New York Times: "While Ms. Warren does not mention her opponent in the ad, she alludes to legislation that she brought up on the campaign trail last week -- including [Sen. Scott] Brown's vote last year against the Paycheck Fairness Act, an unsuccessful bill intended to ease the way for litigation over gender discrimination in pay, and his support for the Blunt amendment, a failed measure that would have allowed employers to deny coverage for treatments like birth control based on philosophical or religious exceptions."

Rape Is a Lot Like Consensual Sex Between Unmarried Adults. Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "Tom Smith, the Republican challenging Sen. Bob Casey's (D-PA) seat, suggested that having a child out of wedlock was analogous to rape during an interview with a reporter at a press club this afternoon, claiming that it would have a 'similar' effect on a father."

Our Exceptional Judiciary

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: Texas County Judge Tom Head, "a Republican who serves as the county's emergency management director..., made international headlines [when] ... he said he was expecting civil unrest if President Obama is re-elected, and that the president would send United Nations forces into Lubbock ... to stop any uprising.... He has not apologized, though he said that his statements were taken out of context.... Kenny Ketner, the chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party, has called for Mr. Head to resign, as did the local newspaper, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, which wrote in an editorial that Mr. Head 'threw civility out the window and went in a bizarre direction that not only embarrassed himself but all county and West Texas residents.' Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, publicly questioned Mr. Head's 'mental competency to hold elected office.'" ...

... Here the Avalanche-Journal's editors urge Head to resign.

James Barr of the New York Times: Vincent Sgueglia, an upstate New York judge, after signing his own carry permit in 2005, took his Smith & Wesson to the courthouse in Owego, New York, where he tried to repair a faulty firing mechanism -- um, with bullets in the chamber. So the gun went off. Fortunately, the bullet lodged in the wall instead of in somebody's head. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct censured him.

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "Isaac's peak impacts are bearing down on the Gulf Coast beginning today. Hurricane warnings continue for portions of the northern Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulf Shores as Tropical Storm Isaac continues its northwestward march. Hurricane watches are posted as far west as Morgan City, La. In addition, a number of tropical storm warnings are in effect. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida Panhandle." With video. ...

... Update: "Isaac has strengthened into a hurricane just as its peak impacts are bearing down on the northern Gulf Coast. Hurricane Isaac will pound the region with storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and an isolated tornado threat Tuesday into Thursday." With video. ...

... Update: "Hurricane Isaac made its first U.S. landfall along the extreme southeastern Louisiana coast at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday evening, but quickly veered west back over water. Isaac will continue to move very slowly near the Louisiana coast into Wednesday. Since Isaac is moving at a snail's pace, the hurricane will pound the northern Gulf Coast with storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and possible isolated tornadoes through Wednesday." With video.

Washington Post: "A federal court on Tuesday threw out Texas's redistricting plans, saying the maps drawn by the Republican-led legislature undermined the political clout of minorities who are responsible for the state's population growth. The three-judge special panel in Washington said Texas could not prove that plans for the state's congressional districts and both houses of the legislature were not drawn without intentional discrimination against the state's burgeoning Latino population. In addition, it said new district lines removed the 'economic guts' from congressional districts now held by African-Americans."

Washington Post: "The Obama administration announced strict new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards Tuesday, requiring that the U.S. auto fleet average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, an uncontroversial move that, unlike other administration energy policies, was endorsed by industry and environmentalists alike."

Washington Post: "French President Francois Hollande became the first Western leader to call on Syria's rebel movement to form a provisional government, putting additional pressure on President Obama to back the diplomatic gambit or authorize U.S. military action to protect civilians."

New York Times: "An Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was run over by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested housing demolitions in the Gaza Strip."

National Journal: "Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator who lost his bid for reelection in 2010 after three decades in Washington, has been hospitalized with a 'serious illness,' according to a Philadelphia media outlet." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Former senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is being treated again for cancer, his office confirmed Tuesday."

Sunday
Aug262012

The Commentariat -- August 27, 2012

CW: still in business. Spent the day hanging hurricane shutters -- turned out to be pretty easy -- and picking up lawn decorations -- urns, etc., I could lift 5 or 6 years ago, not so much now! Mostly working in a driving rain didn't make these chores much more fun. Update: looks like I did my "preparations" during the worst of the storm for this area.

"The Comeback Skid." Paul Krugman: "Both [Paul Ryan & Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey] have carefully cultivated public images as tough, fiscally responsible guys willing to make hard choices. And both public images are completely false."

Susan Saulny of the New York Times: "After five hours of anticipation, Representative Ron Paul of Texas took the stage [in Tampa] at his 'We Are the Future' rally and proclaimed his 'liberty movement' alive and well, despite efforts to declare it dead or shut it out of the Republican National Convention." (See also Presidential Race.)

Presidential Race

As contributor From-the-Heartland writes, Matthews is terrific in this segment:

     ... What's pathetic is that none of the rest of those geniuses on "Morning Joe" get it. Tom Brokaw is the biggest phony of them all.

Dan Balz & Jon Cohen of the Washington Post: "The Republican National Convention opens this week with President Obama and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney running evenly, with voters more focused on Obama's handling of the nation's flagging economy than on some issues dominating the political debate in recent weeks. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Romney at 47 percent among registered voters and Obama at 46 percent -- barely changed from the deadlocked contest in early July." CW: this is consistent with a Fox "News" poll published Friday.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Florida) endorses President Obama in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed: "As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around. But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims. The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve." Read Crist's whole essay. It's pretty powerful.

"The Do-Over." A funny-but-true Web video by the Obama campaign. It runs 1:43; too bad they can't make a few swing state TV buys:

Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times: "Mitt Romney said Sunday that he gained no tax benefits by investing part of his fortune in funds based in the Cayman Islands and other overseas jurisdictions, or using a Swiss bank account, saying President Obama's campaign was unfairly accusing him of 'some kind of unsavory action. There was no reduction -- not one dollar reduction in taxes -- by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment,' [Romney]... told Chris Wallace in a recorded interview broadcast on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'The dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all'":

... Really? Joe Conason of the National Memo: "On the same day that Mitt Romney cracked his birther 'joke,' new evidence indicated that he and his partners at Bain Capital have used questionable methods to avoid federal taxes -- including a scheme that transforms corporate stock into untaxed offshore 'derivatives,' and a practice that converts management fees into capital gains, which are taxed at a far lower rate. While nobody has asked to see the Republican candidate's birth certificate, as he said at a Michigan rally on Friday, everybody has a renewed interest in examining the tax returns he continues to withhold." ...

... ** PLUS, Zack Carter, et al., of the Huffington Post: despite claiming he left Bain Capital in 1999, "according to his 2010 tax return..., Romney ... reaps lucrative tax breaks for 'active' participation in the private equity firm he founded, as well as a host of other investments.... Even if Romney could persuade the IRS his involvement was legitimately active, that still leaves him in a rhetorical jam: For tax purposes, he claims an active status; for political purposes, he claims to have zero to do with the investments.... By describing many of his investments as active, Romney saves himself millions of dollars in taxes. With those active investments, he is also securing a tax break few Americans enjoy: When he wins, he's paying a 15 percent rate on the gain. When he loses, he's writing it off at 35 percent, meaning that tax policy is subsidizing Romney's risk.... In other words, Romney didn't build that, at least not without taxpayer backing."

... Look, Ma. I Can Speak out of Both Sides of My Mouth. Zack Ford of Think Progress: "Just two weeks after a Romney spokesperson faced a barrage of conservative criticism for highlighting the success of the governor's Massachusetts health care law, Romney himself bragged that the measure has expanded access to women's health care services, including contraception.... He has pledged to repeal Obamacare, characterized the law's provision to expand coverage for contraception as an attack against religion, and has suggested that women should 'vote for the other guy' if they expect improved access to birth control.... In the Fox interview, Romney also reiterated his desire to defund Planned Parenthood, arguing that taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion. Abortion constitutes only 3 percent of the organization's services and it's covered by private funds." With video. ...

... AND I can keep on whining, "Obama's picking on me."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "At the height of the Republican National Convention this week, a potential Category 2 hurricane bearing winds greater than 100 miles per hour appears likely to slam into the Gulf Coast, perhaps close to the already battered city of New Orleans.... Russ Schriefer, a top adviser to Mr. Romney who is helping to produce the convention, told reporters that organizers were keeping a close eye on the storm and may yet adjust the schedule if necessary." ...

     ... Update: Shear & Jim Rutenberg have a more detailed story: "The prospect of a major storm blowing through the Gulf of Mexico toward New Orleans upset the tight choreography of the Republican convention on Sunday, straining the party's highly scripted plans for showcasing Mitt Romney and raising the possibility that news media attention could shift elsewhere." ...

... Karen Tumulty & Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post on the same subject. ...

... Alex Roarty of the National Journal has a great piece on which party luminaries won't be speaking at the GOP convention.

New York Times Editors: "A long history of social extremism makes Paul Ryan an emblem of the Republican tack to the far right."

Ron Paul Delegates Get the "Nosebleed Seats." Steve Freiss of Politico: "The Republican National Convention seating chart, obtained by Politico Sunday, shows the delegations from Nevada, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota and Oklahoma all located on the outer fringe of the convention floor. Each are states with significant Paul followings." ...

... AND speaking of endorsements (see Charlie Crist above), John Harwood of the New York Times: Rep. Ron "Paul, in an interview, said convention planners had offered him an opportunity to speak under two conditions: that he deliver remarks vetted by the Romney campaign, and that he give a full-fledged endorsement of Mr. Romney. He declined. It wouldn't be my speech,' Mr. Paul said. 'That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president.'"

Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Sarasota, Fla., Donald Trump said Mitt Romney's birth certificate quip in Michigan last week may have been a lighthearted joke, but that the issue of President Obama's birth certificate is far from settled. 'What I think doesn’t matter -- he has his views and many other people disagree with him as you know,' Trump said. '...But he did make a joke, and some people thought it might not be a joke. It happens to be an issue that a lot of people believe in … many, many people believe in it so maybe I would have handled it differently, but he's running for president and I'm with him 100 percent.'" ...

     ... Update: Isaac Holds the Trump Card. Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post: "As recently as Saturday afternoon, [Donald] Trump was scheduled to collect the Sarasota Republican Party’s Statesman of the Year award and then swoop down to Tampa for a day of wall-to-wall media interviews, meetings with top donors to Mitt Romney's campaign and then, apparently per the presidential candidate's request, a 'surprise' publicity stunt on the convention floor. But these plans went by the wayside after convention officials canceled Monday's events because of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane."

New Definitions of Rape: "Detail"; "Method of Conception." Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress: "Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) today claimed the issue of a rape exception to abortion was a 'detail' to be left up to states and Congress. On ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos confronted the Governor and Party Platform Chair with the absolutist anti-abortion language in the platform he led the development of.... The practical effect of the [Constitutional] amendment [advocated in the GOP platform] would be to render any law that allowed for any abortion in any case unconstitutional.... McDonnell's view of the plight of pregnant rape victims appears to be par for the course in the contemporary GOP. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently referred to rape as simply one 'method of conception.'" With video.

Josh Margolin & Beth DeFalco of the New York Post: "Gov. Chris Christie wasn't willing to give up the New Jersey statehouse to be Mitt Romney's running mate because he doubted they'd win, The Post has learned. Romney's top aides had demanded Christie step down as the state's chief executive because if he didn't, strict pay-to-play laws would have restricted the nation's largest banks from donating to the campaign — since those banks do business with New Jersey." CW: you want to take everything coming out of the Post with a grain of salt, but the theory sounds plausible.

Jonathan Chait of New York on what Romney/Ryan are up to: "Blowing up the welfare state and affecting the largest upward redistribution of wealth in American history is a politically tricky project." to do that, the GOP is making its last stand as the whites-only party, assembling its base of crackpots to give themselves one last chance to destroy the social safety net & secure income inequality. CW: how stupid is this? Even if they succeed, & their plan is not totally implausible, won't the next Congresses undo the fruits of their diabolical plot? If Chait is right -- and he may be -- Republicans are counting 100 percent on the stupidity of the electorate. Not a bad bet. ...

... Thomas Edsall in the New York Times on how Romney has subtly introduced racism into the campaign. And, hey, why shouldn't he? Eighty-nine percent of people who identify as Republicans are white-white-whitey-white. Edsall asks at the end of his column whether or not R&R will keep it subtle. He doesn't even mention Friday's birther "joke," which should answer his question. ...

... Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker: "If [Romney] lets the Party's culture war define him, and goes down as its casualty, he will have nobody to blame but himself. He always says that he would rather be talking about how he would fix the beleaguered economy, but so far he has scarcely been more forthcoming on that subject than he has on his income taxes. If he knows what to do, he should tell us. Or is he waiting, betting that things will get worse? Bad news for America remains Romney's best hope."

Paul Harris of the Guardian: "Romneyville" protesters set up tent encampment in Tampa just inside the "restricted" zone for the GOP convention.

News Ledes

Washington Post: six troops who tried to burn 500 copies of the Koran in Afghanistan received unspecified administrative punishments. P.S. The Army made them stupid: "The investigation ... cited evidence of a jarring lack of religious awareness and cultural training among the U.S. troops."

AP: "Four Army soldiers based at Fort Stewart, [Georgia] killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect a militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.... In Washington state..., the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state's apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia's goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president."

The Hill: "President Obama on Monday declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, which is expected to be in the path of Tropical Storm Isaac. The action by Obama makes federal funding to the state available immediately, as the tropical storm gained strength Monday, barreling towards the Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to hit the region late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to forecasters." ...

... The Weather Channel's hurricane tracker for Tropical Storm Isaac is here. "Hurricane warnings have been issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Isaac continues its west-northwestward march into the Gulf of Mexico.Isaac poses a potential serious threat to portions of the northern Gulf Coast Tuesday into Wednesday."

Mother Nature Thumbs Her Nose at the U. S. National Climate Deniers' Convention in Tampa. Washington Post: "The extent of Arctic sea ice reached a record low Monday, according to the University of Colorado National Snow and Ice Data Center, and is on track to decline further in the next two weeks."

Case Closed. Sort of. BuzzFeed: "The trial court judge in California who has taken over hearing the federal court case challenging Proposition 8, the state's amendment limiting marriages to one man and one woman, ordered the case closed today -- which would allow same-sex couples to marry in California. The couples, however, will have to wait on the Supreme Court to be able to marry. A stay of the case by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals pending the Supreme Court's determination of whether it takes the case means that a 'mandate' will not issue allowing Ware's order today to go into effect."

Guardian: "Fifteen men and two women have been found beheaded in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. Officials said the victims were killed by Taliban insurgents as punishment for attending a mixed-sex party with music and dancing."

AP: "More than a dozen Greenpeace activists have intercepted a ship carrying Russian oil workers to a floating oil platform< in Russia<'s Arctic. Greenpeace said in a statement on Monday that 14 activists chained themselves to the anchor chain of the vessel which was carrying Gazprom's workers to the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea. Gazprom is pioneering Russia's oil drilling in the Arctic. The state-owned company installed the platform there last year and is preparing to drill the first well."