My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "David Brooks v. the 99 Percent." I think it's a pretty good one (except -- arithmetically challenged as always -- I got my math wrong; I've asked to have the piece corrected). The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...
... Driftglass takes a similar, but funnier, whack at Brooks in "Blithering Heights."
... Comments, BTW, are open on today's Commentariat.
Can't Dance. Can't Act. Slightly Gray. Can Sing A Little (ref. Fred Astaire):
Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "An array of liberal-leaning activist groups are marking the [second] anniversary [of the Citizens United ruling] by launching new efforts to overturn the decision, including calls for a potential constitutional amendment."
"Likudnik Paranoia." Joe Klein of Time: "Uh-oh, there’s another wave of attacks – both here and in Israel – on those of us who support Israel, but not in the mindless, aggressive way that neoconservatives do and not at the expense of America’s national interests. Over there, Bibi Netanyahu has proclaimed the New York Times and Haaretz the 'biggest' enemies of Israel.
Reid Wilson of the National Journal: "A lot of very qualified, potentially strong Senate candidates raised less than $1 million over the last three months. Massachusetts Senate contender Elizabeth Warren has raised that much in the last 24 hours. Warren's campaign said it had broken the seven-figure mark on its first money bomb around 9 p.m. [Thursday] evening. Just 20 minutes later, they're close to $1.1 million, according to a running tally on her website.... Almost exactly two years ago, when Republicans started to think they had a real shot at winning the seat, Sen. Scott Brown raised more than $1 million a day, three days in a row."
A fine rant from JurassicPork of Brilliant at Breakfast on how our democracy works -- partial answer: not too well because we're all selfish bastards.
Paul Krugman: Mitt "Romney’s tax dance is doing us all a service by highlighting the unwise, unjust and expensive favors being showered on the upper-upper class. At a time when all the self-proclaimed serious people are telling us that the poor and the middle class must suffer in the name of fiscal probity, such low taxes on the very rich are indefensible."
Right Wing World *
Quote of the Day. I’m tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans. -- Newt Gingrich, assailing CNN's John King for asking him about Marianne Gingrich's assertions about the breakup of their marriage (see video below). Alert to Media: It is totally unfair and unprofessional to ask Republican candidates embarrassing questions. Questions like "How much do you love your country?" and "How deep is your faith in Jesus Christ, your personal savior?" would be okay. Still, reporters should allow GOP candidates to prescreen all questions. Or let them submit their own questions for you to ask.
Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post fact-checks 15 "dubious or interesting" claims made by the candidates in last night's GOP presidential debate. ...
... New York Times reporters fact-check a few of the statements made by candidates in the debate. ...
... Amy Walker of ABC News picks winner and losers in last night's GOP debate. I didn't see the debate, natch, but her analysis sounds plausible. ...
... NEW. But for a much more entertaining take, I recommend Charles Pierce's put-down of Newt & Willard... and John King.
Public Policy Polling: "Newt Gingrich led Mitt Romney 34-28 in PPP's South Carolina polling [Wednesday] night, the first of what will be three nights of tracking. Ron Paul at 15%, Rick Santorum at 14%, Rick Perry at 5%, and Buddy Roemer at 3% round out the field.... Just for fun on this poll we tested the alternative universe in which Stephen Colbert had been allowed on the South Carolina ballot and he gets 8%, putting him in 5th place and ahead of Perry's 6%. Perry joins Jon Huntsman as GOP candidates who have trailed Colbert in our South Carolina polling and then exited the race." ...
... PPP Update: "Thursday may have been one of the most eventful days of the Republican campaign so far, but the state of the race in South Carolina didn't change much. Newt Gingrich continues to lead Mitt Romney by 6 points, 35-29, with Ron Paul and Rick Santorum each tied for third at 15%."
** Elite Rich Guy Romney v. Elite Intellectual Obama. Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The white working class may be a shrinking segment of the American electorate, but it’s still massive. Over time, as this group has become deunionized and downwardly mobile, and as GOP standard-bearers have learned to channel [segregationist Alabama Gov. George] Wallace’s appeal in less explicit ways, these voters have moved steadily into the Republican column.... In the faux populism of the right, [President Obama's] lack of affinity for certain blue-collar pleasures (He can’t bowl! He doesn’t hunt!), his concern for climate change and other supposed abstractions, are all depicted as signs of contempt for blue-collar lives. Add Rick Santorum’s attack on Obama’s remark that it would be a good thing if every American went to college — a comment, Santorum said, that reeked of hubris and elitism by denigrating workers — to Gingrich’s labeling of Obama as the food-stamp president, and it’s abundantly apparent how the right will go after Obama this fall." ...
... Gene Robinson: "... there’s a nasty edge to the discourse here [in South Carolina]. It’s striking that, in a state where unemployment is at 9.9 percent, the last message Romney decides to send voters before the primary is not 'jobs' or 'growth' — but rather, 'We’ve got to get rid of this guy [President Obama].' ... Romney and Gingrich, especially, have taken pains to create the impression that there is something alien and illegitimate about the Obama presidency. At Monday’s debate in Myrtle Beach, Gingrich doubled down on his language characterizing poor people as lazy and ignorant, then practically dared anyone to accuse him of race-baiting. He should consider himself accused."
Mark Maremont of the Wall Street Journal: "Mitt Romney’s campaign has attacked an ABC News report on the candidate’s offshore investments, saying his holdings in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere have no effect on the amount he pays in U.S. taxes. But the campaign’s assertions may be wrong or misleading. Tax experts said some of the offshore holdings are likely intended to help Mr. Romney avoid paying an obscure but hefty tax of as much as 35% on some of those investments, held in a tax-deferred retirement account. As The Wall Street Journal reported in Thursday’s paper, many of Mr. Romney’s offshore investments are held through his individual retirement account, which has grown to between $20.7 million and $101.6 million. IRAs are tax-deferred accounts, in which earnings accrue tax-free until the money is withdrawn during retirement." ...
The DNC puts up this Web ad:
"America's Right and You're Wrong." Romney loses it when a person on the rope line asks him what he'll do for the other 99 Percent:
... Steve Benen: "There are real issues that reflect real-world challenges facing Americans: rising income inequality, poverty, an unjust tax system, and wealth that’s increasingly concentrated at the top. For Mitt Romney, those who even consider this a legitimate area of debate prefer, in his mind, communism. This is nothing short of twisted. That the reflexive 'go back to Russia' attitudes are coming from a far-right politician who amassed a vast fortune after laying off thousands of American workers, wants to give himself another tax cut, owns multiple luxury homes, and stashes cash in the Caymans — all while pursuing an agenda that would make things tougher on American’s working class — makes me feel as if I’m trapped in a Dickensian nightmare." ...
... NEW. A stellar takedown by John Cole of Balloon Juice: "... even though Mitt is raking in millions at a tax rate lower than you, me, and virtually everyone in the country, he fails to realize that America he wants and has been working for more closely resembles the current Russian oligarchy, with a fantabulous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few people and corporations."
Walter Shapiro for The New Republic: Newt Gingrich, "the oft-derided and consistently under-estimated House speaker, has now bested Jesus in his sheer number of resurrections — an association that can only help as the South Carolina primary vote looms Indeed, with the South Carolina demolition derby moving too fast for pollsters to keep up, there is only one certainty before Saturday’s primary—virtually every GOP voter will have seen Gingrich’s confrontation with CNN moderator John King live or in TV clips." ...
... Dave Firestone of the New York Times: "The reason for [Newt Gingrich's] rising popularity is ... that no other candidate in the race expresses the kind of visceral, full-bodied disgust with President Obama that Mr. Gingrich does. The idea is ... to fully discredit him as a person, and play into the article of faith among many Republicans that he has no legitimate claim to the White House.... It also explains why Mr. Gingrich has played into racial animus more eagerly than any other candidate." ...
... The New York Times Editorial Board writes a good one on Newt Gingrich's -- and the party's -- hypocritical sermonizing. They can't run their own lives, but they tell other people how they must live theirs -- and write laws to force their own values on others.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "... a look at the arc of [Rick] Santorum’s political career, from his days as a fresh-faced College Republican to his bruising defeat for a third term in 2006, reveals a side of Mr. Santorum beyond that of reformer and abortion foe. He emerges as a savvy operator and sharp tactician, a climber who became a member of the Washington establishment that he had once railed against. ...
... ABC News's Brian Ross interviews Marianne Gingrich, Newt's second wife (this is the best-quality vid of the interview out there right now, but it may be "disappeared" soon, so if you ever want to watch it, now might be your only chance):
... Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast on the interview: "It was ... a thoroughly damning presentation that is likely to repel some Republican voters (who also might be conflicted and feel sorry for Gingrich because the attack comes from 'the elite media'). Still, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million—and Nightline’s exposé is apt to depress Gingrich’s vote total during Saturday’s balloting."
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: A new Public Policy Poll shows that "Republicans ... don't trust anyone except Fox News, who[m] they adore.... Liberals don't immediately dismiss as a conspiracy everything they hear from the news media that doesn't fit their preconceived notions.... Increasingly, conservatives ... want to believe the world is a certain way, and they're just flatly not willing to countenance anything that might challenge those beliefs. This is not a healthy development for a modern democracy." ...
... Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "If you are a consumer of conservative media, you get constant reminders -- every day, multiple times a day -- that you absolutely must not believe anything you hear or read in any news outlet that is not explicitly conservative.... Americans are not 'polarized' when it comes to the media, because that implies that both sides have drifted apart to similar degrees.... It's the conservatives who refuse to believe anything that anyone but Fox or conservative talk-radio tells them."
* Where only wingnut orthodoxy is tolerated.
Los Angeles Times: Etta James, the earthy blues and R&B singer whose anguished vocals convinced generations of listeners that she would rather go blind than see her love leave, then communicated her joy upon finding that love at last, died Friday. She was 73." New York Times obituary here. AND here is the Guardian page that includes 10 videos of James' classics, recommended by contributor Victoria.
New York Times: "Newt Gingrich angrily turned aside questions about his marital history at the outset of the final Republican presidential debate before the South Carolina primary, and then aggressively took on Mitt Romney and the other remaining candidates in a raucous confrontation on Thursday night about immigration, abortion, conservative credentials and electability." Washington Post story here. Real Clear Politics has a good summary, too.
AP: "In its budget submission next month, the Obama administration will urge lawmakers to revisit the failed attempt by a congressional supercommittee to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, the White House says.... The White House plan, likely to reprise new taxes and fee proposals that are nonstarters with Capitol Hill Republicans, would turn off the entire nine-year, $1.2 trillion across-the-board spending cuts, referred to as a 'sequester.'"
Washington Post: French "President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that France was suspending training operations in Afghanistan after four French soldiers were killed and more than a dozen wounded by a renegade Afghan soldier who opened fire on his trainers. In a separate incident in southern Afghanistan, six NATO troops were killed in a helicopter crash, and a senior U.S. defense official said all the victims were U.S. Marines, the Associated Press reported."
New York Times: "Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services, a new analysis suggests. The definition is now being reassessed by an expert panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is completing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the first major revision in 17 years."
New York Times: "Greece and its private-sector creditors inched closer to a completed deal late Thursday over how much of a loss investors should take on just over 200 billion euros in Greek government bonds."