We have an Open Thread on today's Off Times Square.
My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Charles Blow's really stupid piece in today's Times: "The Times employs a brilliant statistician – Nate Silver – but Silver does not have a regular column that appears in the print edition of the paper. Blow does. This week, he didn’t have time to write it. Maybe he was busy buying holiday gifts for the kids. What we readers got was a pre-winter snow job that misinterprets poll results in a way that helps Republican politicians and attempts to make Americans look stupider than we are." If you were taken in by Blow's column, as almost all of the early commenters were, read my column. The NYTX front page is here.
President Obama's weekly address. The transcript is here:
Chris Spannos of the New York Times eXaminer has a fascinating article on the New York Times' scant coverage of Bradley Manning's court proceedings. As Spannos points out, "If found guilty Manning could prove to be one of the Times’ most important sources since Daniel Ellsberg." So why is the Times' giving so little coverage to Manning? -- apparently none in the dead-tree edition; a short post in the online edition. Here Spannos talks with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange about Manning and the Times:
... Links to more segments of the interview here. ...
... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Adrian Lamo, the hacker who betrayed the alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning to the US authorities, has said it would be to his 'lasting regret' were the soldier to be given a lengthy custodial sentence." And, boo-hoo, his fellow-hackers don't like him anymore. See also Spannos above on Lamo.
... Also of interest to people who live in the New York City area is a public discussion about mainstream media’s representation of OWS and lessons for the new year, to be held Tuesday, December 20, from 7:30 pm ET to 9:30 pm at the Brecht Forum at 451 West Street in Lower Manhattan. Spannos will be one of the panelists. More information and map here.
Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "... in the weeks since Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, relations between the demonstrators and Trinity Wall Street, a church barely one block from the New York Stock Exchange, have reached a crossroads. The displaced occupiers had asked the church, one of the city’s largest landholders, to hand over a gravel lot, near Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, for use as an alternate campsite and organizing hub. The church declined, calling the proposed encampment 'wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious.'” ...
... Karen McVeigh of the Guardian: "Archbishop Desmond Tutu has waded into an ecclesiastical row over a New York church's refusal to allow protesters from Occupy Wall Street to camp on a vacant lot it owns. The South African activist and retired church leader urged Trinity Church to heed the pleas of demonstrators to allow the camp and, failing that, at least to stop any violence or arrests at the site during a day of action this Saturday to mark its three month anniversary."
** Adam Serwer of Mother Jones has a reality check on the National Defense Authorization Act about which I've been pretty upset, based on reports from the usually fairly reliable sources: the Guardian, the New York Times editors, Glenn Greenwald (on the facts, anyway). Serwer writes, "It does not, contrary to what many media outlets have reported, authorize the president to indefinitely detain without trial an American citizen suspected of terrorism who is captured in the US. A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power.... Still..., it is the first concrete gesture Congress has made towards turning the homeland into the battlefield, even if the impact in the near term is more symbolic and political than concrete." Read his whole post. ...
... Steve Benen: "President Obama has been facing quite a bit of criticism from the left over the NDAA’s provisions, and that’s understandable.... That said, if I’m making a list of those responsible for the NDAA’s most odious measures, the White House wouldn’t be on top. I’d start, obviously, with congressional Republicans whose misguided worldview intended to make the NDAA even more offensive, but it was a whole lot of congressional Democrats who went along with them." ...
... Sen. Al Franken, on why he voted against the bill. ...
... CW: other than Serwer, I can't find anyone who will write dispassionately about this bill, so I can't offer anything I think is definitive. That's partly on purpose, & it brings up a point that has broad application, an application that makes Constitutional "originalists" look as silly as they are: you can't decide the "intent" of the framers of the Constitution -- 200 years ago -- or a single bill -- yesterday -- because the "framers" do not agree. They have different intents and different aims -- they hope a bill will be interpreted in a certain way, but even they often know they've written something ambiguous to get it past the opposition.
Gail Collins: No matter what the occasion, it's always a great opportunity to restrict women's reproductive rights. And everybody does it! ...
... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "Seems the Obama administration will be disappointed, if they were hoping for an end to the backlash against HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius making the unprecedented move of overruling the FDA's decision to make Plan B emergency contraception available over the counter without age restrictions. For one thing, the legal manuevering is far from over, with a federal judge specifically recommending to the Center for Reproductive Rights that they reopen a 2005 lawsuit against the FDA, and add Kathleen Sebelius as a defendant."
Prof. William Gould, in a New York Times op-ed: "UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases."
Victor Gilinsky, a former NRC member, writing in a New York Times op-ed on the application for renewal of the Westchester County, New York, Indian Point nuclear reactor license: "... we now know that radioactive material in the melted fuel can escape to contaminate a very large area for decades or more. It doesn’t make sense to allow such a threat to persist a half-hour’s drive from our nation’s largest city."
David Dayen of Firedoglake writes a provocative post titled "Republicans demand to kill the Keystone XL pipeline." CW: He has a point. And with a different president he'd be right. But giving a choice to President Pretzel A. Rollover, along with his Interior Secretary Ken Dig-In Salazar, practically guarantees the pipeline deal will go through if Democrats cave to this particular Republican demand.
Mitt Romney likes the Ryan-Wyden Kill Medicare Plan (which quickly became "Ryden") because he says he invented it. But Jed Lewison of Daily Kos, with backing from Center for Budget & Policy Priorities analysis, reminds us that "Because Medicare would [no] longer be a single payer system, it would become less efficient and would be in a worse position to keep costs down. Meanwhile, the fact that beneficiaries would be getting a subsidy rather than insurance means that either (a) their share of medical costs would grow or (b) public health care spending would grow even faster than before. Either way, the idea is a stinker."
A lovely tribute to Christopher Hitchens, and to any well-lived life, from Christopher's brother Peter Hitchens. Thanks to a reader for the link. ...
... ** NEW. AND for a well-wrought view from the loyal opposition, I highly recommend Glenn Greenwald's column on the hagiographic nature of the coverage of Hitchens' death & of Ronald Reagan's.
Right Wing World
Mitt Romney's New Look, via Media Matters:
... Romney sure looks presidential, doesn't he? Fox "News" later corrected the graphic.
... A transcript of the President's remarks is here.
New York Times: Hundreds of protesters and an untold number of NYPD officers converged on Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan after the church declined to allow Occupy Wall Street to set up an encampment in its vacant lot.
New York Times: "Flash floods in the southern Philippines on Saturday sent water gushing into homes, killing more than 400 people and surprising families who fled to rooftops clutching children, officials said."
Reuters: "Deeply divided U.S. lawmakers on Friday eked out an agreement to extend payroll tax cuts for just two months, and only after Democrats bowed to Republican demands on a controversial oil pipeline. The deal, which still needs approval of the full Senate and House of Representatives, fell far short of President Barack Obama's push for a one-year extension of the tax relief and long-term unemployed benefits to boost the country's fragile economic recovery." ...
... Washington Post Update: "The Senate agreed Saturday to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, in a deal that would avert a New Year’s tax increase for millions of workers. The agreement, approved in an 89-to-10 vote, also would require the administration to decide quickly whether to allow construction of a controversial transcontinental oil pipeline. President Obama had demanded that Congress extend the tax holiday, but Republicans had refused to go along unless the White House agreed to an accelerated decision on the pipeline."
New York Times: "In a major surprise on the politically charged new it will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories.", the Obama administration said Friday that it would not define a single uniform set of 'essential health benefits' that must be provided by insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead,
Reuters: Bradley Manning, "an American Army intelligence analyst suspected of being behind the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, made his first court appearance on Friday, sitting stone-faced as military prosecutors launched their case against him." The New York Times story is here. ...
... AP Update (via the NYT): "An Army appeals court has rejected the defense’s effort to remove the presiding officer in the military hearing for [Bradley Manning] the soldier accused of the largest leak of classified material in American history."
Al Jazeera: "Egyptian soldiers with batons have charged into Tahrir Square, the focal point of anti-military demonstrations in the capital, on the second day of violent clashes with protesters. The renewed fighting on Saturday came as Egypt's health ministry reported nine people were killed and more than 350 others injured since Friday when soldiers stormed an anti-military protest camp outside the parliament building, a short distance from Tahrir." With video. Al Jazeera's liveblog on Egypt is here.
Reuters: "Syrian forces killed 13 people on Friday during widespread protests against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, a day after Syria's big power ally Russia sharpened its criticism of Damascus in a draft United Nations resolution." Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.