The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

New York Times: "Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public. Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left. The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, 'currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.' The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.” Thanks to James S. for the link.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

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

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

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

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

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

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

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

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

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

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Sunday
Jun172012

The Commentariat -- June 18, 2012

The Most Transparent White House Ever:

Copy of an Office of Legal Counsel memo Charlie Savage of the New York Times received after making a Freedom of Information Request for it. The OLC memo is by Bush counsel Jack Goldsmith. WTF is the Obama Administration hiding? Other than everything.

Uninsured & Clueless. Alec MacGillis, writing for Kaiser Health News, visits a weekend free clinic in Tennessee. When he asked patients what they thought about the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on "the new national health care law," here's the kind of response he got: "What new law? I've not heard about that." Via Adam Sorensen. We get the government we deserve.

CW: I can't believe I'm linking to an op-ed by Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial director: Republicans used to swear they favored full disclosure of those responsible for every type of political ad. "Now Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have introduced legislation that would — without limiting a single act of political speech -- promote disclosure, sunlight and disinfectant. Not a single Republican has signed on."

Paul Krugman, Myth Buster: "... the origins of [the Greek economic] disaster lie ... in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, where officials created a deeply -- perhaps fatally -- flawed monetary system, then compounded the problems of that system by substituting moralizing for analysis. And the solution to the crisis, if there is one, will have to come from the same places.

Bill Keller urges Roman Catholics "of open minds and open hearts" to leave the Church.

Congress is Back from One of Its Many Vacations. Russell Berman of The Hill: "The focus for congressional leaders ... will be on the highway and education [student loans] bills. As campaign fever engulfs the Capitol, deals on those two issues could be among the last agreements before Congress takes its July 4 recess. But they are no sure thing."

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post on the Jerry Sandusky trial: "There's a shadow trial underway, because if the prosecution's case is correct, many people and important institutions failed to keep Sandusky from preying on boys despite direct eyewitness evidence that he was a pedophile."

Christine Haughney of the New York Times: "Three years after telling his shareholders that he would not buy a newspaper at any price, [Warren] Buffett has moved aggressively into the business, buying 63 papers and revealing a 3 percent stake in Lee Enterprises, a chain of mostly small dailies based in Iowa. In a letter Mr. Buffett sent to the publishers and editors of all Berkshire Hathaway daily newspapers, he described himself as a newspaper 'addict' who planned to buy more papers in the future."

Peter Boyer of Newsweek writes a long encomium on Chris Christie. He mentions New Jersey's great economy. (See Marvin Schwalb's comment in yesterday's Commentariat for a Reality Chek there.) CW: what impressed me was how Christie had mastered the "divide & conquer" strategy against public workers.

Dreams of My Father? More like Fables about Family & Friends, according to Ben Smith's reading of David Maraniss's new biography of the young Barack Obama. ...

... Jim Fallows reviews Barack Obama for the New York Times Book Review. ...

... AND you book-readers might want to read Dan Amira's review of Rielle Hunter's tell-all book about her affair with handsome John Edwards. As far as I can tell, Amira hasn't read the book, but that takes nothing away from his insightful take. ...

... Russell Goldman of ABC News has more. Also at the ABC link, a video so you book-readers who don't like to read words won't have to. And this tease: this Friday at 10 pm ET on ABC's "20-20," "Hunter will reveal the current status of her relationship with Edwards."

Julia Preston & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "In recent weeks, the White House faced intense pressure from some of its closest allies ... to provide some relief for immigrant communities. The urging came from Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois ... and the Hispanic caucus in the House of Representatives, as well as Latino and immigrant leaders across the country.... And last week, students without immigration papers started a campaign of sit-ins and hunger strikes at Obama campaign offices in more than a dozen cities...." ...

... In a Time magazine essay, "The President explains his decision to no longer deport undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children." ...

... Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: "Republicans were angered by Obama's [immigration] move, seeing the new policy as circumventing Congress but also deriding it as job-stealing amnesty (by that view, they must think [Sen. Marco] Rubio's [R-Fla.] proposal, which would create nonimmigrant visas, was amnesty as well.) But even as Rubio had yet to release his proposal, the dynamic has shifted. Republicans have dug in and Democrats may now feel that anything short of the full Dream Act is unacceptable." Via Greg Sargent.

Presidential Race

The only difference between negative and positive ads is that negative ads have facts in them. -- Mike Murphy, GOP campaign operative ...

... Frank Rich: "The serious questions raised by the early Obama ads [attacking Romney] are not whether they were too much but too little.... The president, any president, should go negative early, often, and without apology if the goal is victory. The notion that negative campaigning is some toxic modern aberration in American democracy is bogus." Top this, Barack:

In his public statements about Homeland Security's new deportation policy, including the Time magazine essay linked above, President Obama of course doesn't say a thing about screwing Romney. But the new policy does screw Romney. And Romney knows it. ...

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... Mitt Romney declined to say on Sunday whether he would reverse the president's decision if he takes up occupancy of the White House.Although Mr. Romney said during the Republican primary debates that he would veto the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, he was more equivocal about Mr. Obama’s order last week." ...

... Greg Sargent: Romney refused to answer Schieffer's repeated question as to how he would pay for the massive tax cuts on the wealthy he has proposed. ...

... Philip Rucker & Dan Balz of the Washington Post, in a straight reporting piece, repeatedly write that Romney's campaign speeches are all about criticizing Obama policies without specifying any of his own.

Emily Friedman of ABC News: "President Obama's senior campaign strategist David Axelrod condemned the protesters who showed up at two of Mitt Romney's campaign events in Ohio today while taking a dig at the GOP candidate.... Axelrod wrote on Twitter, 'I strongly condemn heckling along Mitt's route. Shouting folks down is their tactic, not ours. Let voters hear BOTH candidates & decide.'" ...

... Gwen Florio of the Missoulian: at the Montana state GOP convention, "an outhouse labeled 'Obama Presidential Library' [was] parked outside Missoula's Hilton Garden Inn, where the convention took place.... The outhouse was painted to look as though it had been riddled by bullets. Inside, a fake birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama made reference to the disproven controversy over the president's origins. It was stamped 'Bull--;.' A graffito advised 'For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)'"

News Ledes

New York Times: baseballer "Roger Clemens ... was acquitted Monday of all charges that he lied to Congress in 2008 when he insisted he never used steroids or human growth hormone during his long career."

New York Times: "Saudi Arabia's Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who was governor of Riyadh for nearly 50 years until his recent promotion to Saudi Arabia's defense minister, was officially named crown prince on Monday, making him the heir apparent to the 88-year-old King Abdullah."

AFP: "The leaders of the world's major powers will seek to buy the global economy some breathing space at the G20 summit Monday with new support for an IMF financial firewall and for Greece."

Here's Al Jazeera's liveblog for Egypt. What a mess! ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Faced with the popular election of the first Islamist head of state in the Arab world, Egypt's ruling generals sought on Monday to soften the appearance of their supreme authority as they entered a period of negotiations with the prospective president over the balance of executive, legislative and military power."

Friday
Jun152012

The Commentariat -- June 16 & 17, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Maureen Dowd's column and is titled "Some Kind of Heroes." The NYTX front page is here.

Dolphus Shields, left, was the great-great-grandfather of Michelle Obama. His mother, Melvinia, was a slave. Research and DNA testing indicate that his father was a white man named Charles Marion Shields. Melvinia and Dolphus were owned by Henry Wells Shields, who was Charles’s father. Dolphus is pictured here with his son Willie. Courtesy of Jewell Barclay, via the New York Times.Rachel Swarns of the New York Times: "All four of Mrs. Obama’s grandparents had multiracial forebears." CW: Your History Lesson for Today is pretty compelling; read to the end. On Father's Day, it doesn't hurt to remember that there are fathers & there are fathers. Some of us have the kinds of fathers we buy ties & weed-eaters for; some of us don't.

Annie Gearan of the AP: "President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will use their meeting Monday, the first since Putin returned to Russia's top job, to claim leverage in a mutually dependent but volatile relationship."

Washington Post: "Leaders of the University of Virginia's governing board ousted President Teresa Sullivan last week largely because of her unwillingness to consider dramatic program cuts in the face of dwindling resources and for her perceived reluctance to approach the school with the bottom-line mentality of a corporate chief executive. Sullivan's resignation after less than two years has prompted an unprecedented backlash...: a flurry of no-confidence votes and protest letters from groups of faculty, administrators and students; a 2,000-signature petition; and a Facebook protest page with more than 3,000 members." CW: strange there's no byline on this story.

Frances Kissling & Peter Singer in a Washington Post op-ed: "Global climate leaders will have a lot of pressing challenges on the table at the Rio+20 conference. It's time to take the meat off their plates."

David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial 'drones' used to kill terrorists overseas. This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.... The EPA isn't using drone aircraft -- in the Midwest or anywhere else. The hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in American politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood." CW: Yeah, and like all these false stories, this one is a zombie that lives on -- especially thanks to Fox "News" & a few Republican MOC's like Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska.

GOP Croupier Extraordinaire. Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy casino owner, is committing to give at least an additional $10 million to conservative groups expected to play a major role in this year's presidential and Congressional elections, cementing his growing role as one of the country's leading political financiers."

Presidential Race

He Can Still Pander Now. Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Appearing via video at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual meeting Saturday morning, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) delivered a speech that hinged on social issues but also focused in on what remains the top issue in the presidential election -- the economy.... At times, he struck a note that bore similarities to the message former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) delivered on the campaign trail."

La-Di-Da! Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Jan Ebeling, Mrs. Romney's longtime riding tutor, and his horse Rafalca, co-owned by Mrs. Romney, earned a berth on the United States Olympic dressage team on Saturday.... While Mr. Romney was barnstorming on a bus tour of swing states, Mrs. Romney watched from a V.I.P. tent as Mr. Ebeling executed a smooth 'test' of flying changes, in which Rafalca seemed to skip down the arena, and piaffes, an in-place trot." CW: bit of a contrast between the Ann Romney & Michelle Obama stories in today's NYT. ...

... Stephen Colbert makes dressage his official sport of the summer:

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Mary Bruce of ABC News: "President Obama today blamed Republicans in Congress for the flailing economic recovery, saying 'every problem we face is within our power to solve. What's lacking is our politics.'"

Kyle Cheney of Politico: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks about the Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act -- and no, she does not reveal what it was. "Ginsburg noted that one ACA-related question the court must decide is whether the whole law must fall if the individual mandate is unconstitutional -- 'or may the mandate be chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of it?'"

Adam Sorensen of Time: "The president's circumvention of Congress on the issue of deporting young undocumented immigrants is sure to rile Republicans, but as a short-term political tactic it's a masterstroke." CW: since the President is acting by executive order, any president can rescind it by executive order -- which is one more reason not to vote for "self-deportin'" Romney. ...

... Glenn Greenwald: "Like LGBT activists, Latinos continuously pressured Obama, and now they have an important victory to show for it." ...

... What He Said. I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution because an executive order is, of course, a short-term matter and can be reversed by subsequent presidents. -- Mitt Romney ...

... What He Means. I'll send the kids back to Mexico on Day One of my presidency. -- Mitt Romney, in his DREAMS

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Just hours after word leaked out that the Obama administration would stop deporting young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents, the issue is already causing headaches for the Republican Party.... The company line from Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and prominent senators like Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Friday was a process argument, in which they decry the decision to make the move without Congress’s consent." ...

... Entre la Espada y la Pared. Helene Cooper & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... the president's announcement put Mr. Romney, whose party is already split on the issue, in a tough spot, pressuring him to choose between further alienating Latino voters who chafed at the anti-illegal immigration stances he took in the primary season and alienating conservatives who reject policies resembling amnesty." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "After repeatedly vowing to veto the DREAM Act, [Mitt Romney] suggests he has no problem with Obama's new policy." CW: what Romney finagled was endorsement by proxy. Since President Obama's executive order is very similar to the watered-down DREAM Act Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he was drafting (but never did), Rubio had to give Obama a limp thumbs-up (results good/process bad), so Romney sez "What Marco said." ...

... Romney Runs Aground. Steve Kornacki of Salon: Obama's move takes the wind out of Romney's likely course, which would be to tack to the middle & endorse Rubio's DREAM-y plan (which he had not yet done).

P. J. Crowley, a former assistant secretary of state under President Obama who quit under pressure after criticizing the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, writes a Washington Post op-ed about the utility of leaks. "The intelligence committees are suggesting that we should say less. But there is a strong argument that we must communicate more."

Gail Collins has her de Tocqueville moment: "Our biggest political division is the war between the empty places and the crowded places.... People who live in crowded places tend to appreciate government. It's the thing that sets boundaries on public behavior, protects them from burglars and cleans the streets.... The people who live in empty places don't see the point. If a burglar decides to break in, that's what they've got guns for. Other folks don't get in their way because their way is really, really remote. Who needs government?"

Grumpy McCain Goes Way Off-Message: "Corporations Are Not People." Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Though he has been one of Mitt Romney's most visible supporters, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took aim yesterday at both Romney's Super PAC and one of Romney's most controversial talking points.... McCain told Judy Woodruff that because casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson makes a huge portion of his profits from a casino in Macau, his massive spending in support of Mitt Romney and other right-wing candidates is a form of foreign money influencing American elections":

Steve Benen: "Rob Gray, a senior adviser on Romney's gubernatorial campaign who has no position in Romney's presidential campaign, says Republicans are "rooting against the economy" in hopes it will help their electoral prospects. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link:

     (... Yo, Frank Bruni. Now, that is candor.)

Here's video of "reporter" Neil Munro of the conservative Daily Caller interrupting President Obama during his remarks yesterday. 99.9 percent of journalists know better. Video of the President's full remarks is in yesterday's News Ledes:

... Elizabeth Flock of US News: "In what may be a first for the White House Rose Garden, President Obama was heckled by a reporter during his speech on immigration Friday." Includes tweet from Tucker Carlson, who runs the Daily Caller: "We are very proud of Neil for doing his job." ...

... Brian Stelter of the New York Times has a comprehensive report, including reactions & background, including this: "Among Mr. Carlson's investors is Foster Friess, the financier who has donated millions to Republican candidates this year." ...

... "Frat-Boy Conservatism." Joan Walsh: "The right pretends to respect authority -- except when it's held by a Democrat.... It's unbelievable how wingnuts treat this man with such unprecedented and bullying disrespect: from Rep. Joe Wilson screaming 'You lie' ... to Speaker John Boehner denying him his choice of dates for another congressional address (for the first time in history) last fall, to Donald Trump's persistent, humiliating demands for the president to show him his papers (with no rebuke from ally Mitt Romney).... The Romney campaign has been glorying in this new form of frat-boy conservatism, first sending campaign supporters to heckle Obama adviser David Axelrod during a press conference, and yesterday sending its bus to circle and disrupt an Obama event, honking its horn."

... When You Need an Etiquette Lesson from Gawker..., You Don't Belong on the White House Lawn. Emma Carmichael of Gawker: "Press conferences have a very simple etiquette that is only heightened when the speaker in question is the leader of the free world. You listen to someone speak.... Munro, who was reportedly wearing 'temporary'" press badges today, now maintains that Obama was the rude party."

News Ledes, June 17

AP: "The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt's presidential election, even as the military handed themselves the lion's share of power over the new president.... With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals made themselves the country's lawmakers, gave themselves control over the budget and will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country's future." Washington Post story here.

AP: "Drawing on memories of her childhood and early career, Michelle Obama told Oregon State University graduates Sunday to live life for themselves, not for anyone else. The first lady spoke at the invitation of her older brother, Craig Robinson, the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State."

New York Times: "In a slow, somber procession, several thousand demonstrators conducted a silent march on Sunday down Fifth Avenue to protest the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policies, which the organizers say single out minority groups and create an atmosphere of martial law for the city’s black and Latino residents." The Daily News story puts the number at "tens of thousands."

New York Times: "Rodney G. King, whose 1991 videotaped beating by the Los Angeles police became a symbol of the nation's continuing racial tensions and subsequently led to a week of deadly race riots after the officers were acquitted, was found dead Sunday in a swimming pool at the home he shared with his fiancée in Rialto, Calif. He was 47." Los Angeles Times story here.

New York: "Just days after seven Republican senators on the Foreign Relations Committee urged President Obama to pick a new nominee for the ambassadorship to Iraq, the White House is doubling down on Brett McGurk."

New York Times: "The Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination born in 1845 in defense of slavery and a spiritual home to white supremacists for much of the 20th century, is poised to elect its first African-American president. The Rev. Fred Luter Jr., 55, a New Orleans pastor who got his start preaching on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward, is expected to be the only candidate for office on Tuesday when Southern Baptists gather [in New Orleans] for their annual meeting."

New York Times: "President François Hollande's Socialists and their allies won an absolute majority in runoff parliamentary elections on Sunday, strengthening the hand of Mr. Hollande both at home and in Europe, where he is pressing for less austerity and more growth in the face of a deepening recession."

New York Times: "Greeks turned out on Sunday to vote in elections that once again are being seen as a referendum on the country's membership in the euro." ...

     ... Update: "Greek voters on Sunday gave a narrow victory in parliamentary elections to a party that had supported a bailout for the country's failed economy. The vote was widely seen as a last chance for Greece to remain in the euro zone, and the results had an early rallying effect on world markets."

New York Times: "Egyptians turned out at the polls in lower-than-expected numbers again Sunday for the second day of the runoff to choose their first president since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a sign of a low morale and lack of enthusiasm as military rulers tightened their grip on the government." ...

... Haaretz: "Israeli security officials say that the rockets that landed on Friday in the area near Ovda and Mitzpeh Ramon, were launched after a request by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt."

New York Times: "The United Nations said Saturday that it was suspending its observer mission in Syria because of the escalating violence, the most severe blow yet to months of international efforts to negotiate a peace plan and prevent Syria's descent into civil war."

Washington Post: "A June 1 attack on a U.S. outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was much worse than originally disclosed by the military as insurgents pounded the base with a truck bomb, killing two Americans and seriously wounding about three dozen troops, officials acknowledged Saturday. The blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, a frequent target of insurgents in the past. Five Afghan civilians were killed and more than 100 other U.S. troops were treated for minor injuries. U.S. officials estimated that the truck was carrying 1,500 pounds of explosives."

News Ledes, June 16

New York Times: "Polls opened on Saturday as Egyptians began two days of voting in the country's presidential runoff election, choosing between ousted former President Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister and an Islamist candidate."

AP: "China launched its most ambitious space mission yet on Saturday, carrying its first female astronaut and two male colleagues in an attempt to dock with an orbiting module and work on board for more than a week."

AP: "Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Saturday ordered the restart of two nuclear reactors, a move that returns Japan to atomic power but also counters public concern about its dangers."

Washington Post: "A Secret Service employee implicated in the agency's prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, this year was a supervisor with security information about President Obama's visit there. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan ... delayed two weeks before disclosing that information to congressional oversight committees in the wake of the public revelations about the scandal...."

AP: "Sharpening an election-year confrontation over religious freedom and government health insurance rules, the nation's Catholic hospitals on Friday rejected President Barack Obama's compromise for providing birth control coverage to their women employees."

AP: "Crown Prince Nayef, the hardline interior minister who spearheaded Saudi Arabia's fierce crackdown crushing al-Qaida's branch in the country after the 9/11 attacks in the United States and then rose to become next in line to the throne, has died. He was in his late 70s."

AP: "There was 'wind coming from every which way,' mist so powerful it clouded his vision and an unfamiliar wire beneath him, but daredevil Nik Wallenda didn't let that stop him from becoming the first person to walk on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls."

Thursday
Jun142012

The Commentariat -- June 15, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' little dissertation explaining Republicans to shut-ins. The NYTX front page is here.

** Former Sen. (I presume) Gary Hart in a New York Times "Campaign Stop": "The Democratic response of triangulation and centrism, essentially splitting the difference between reactionary liberalism and increasingly virulent conservatism, cost the party its identity.... By failing to innovate some 30 years ago, [the Democratic party] has permitted itself to lapse into the defensive, if not also reactionary, posture that now plagues it. A well-motivated Democratic president now struggles to move the nation forward against a conservative tide that emerged in the policy vacuum created by Democratic failure to adapt and in a political climate...."

Tim Egan: almost everybody knows about the clown & the mindreader, etc., on whom the GSA wasted nearly $1MM. But the media hardly covered the fact that the House just passed a defense bill "authorizing $642 billion in spending next year -- almost $8 billion more than the Defense Department asked for. And this vote broke a promise by the Tea Party-backed Congress, when they agreed last year to cut defense spending over 10 years.... Which is more important, a bunch of clowns spending on a clown, for less than a million dollars, or a Congress that threw more than a thousand times that amount at things that are considered unnecessary -- outdated bases, pie-in-the-sky contractor schemes -- by the very people who are supposed to spend it?"

Steve Benen reminds us that the same senators who upbraided regulators three weeks ago for not preventing the $2BB+ JPMorgan loss, yesterday fell all over themselves praising JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon & seeking his advice when he testified before their committee. CW: Dimon might as well have handed out checks right there during the hearing; these lapdogs don't even try to hide their treachery.

As Paul Krugman writes, "We Don't Need No Teachers." Sacramento Channel 10: "Michelle Apperson just found out she was named "Teacher of the Year" for the Sacramento City Unified School District. Despite that and the fact that she has taught at Sutterville Elementary School for the past nine years, she's still losing her job due to budget cuts. She received her final notice in May."

Ned Martel of the Washington Post: "In the spring of last year, Timothy F. Geithner wanted to leave his job. The Treasury secretary's family was moving to New York for his son's senior year in high school, and the commute to see them each weekend was sure to be arduous. Who could do his job? Geithner's answer was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The Washington Post has published another excerpt of David Maraniss's biography of Barack Obama; this one concerns his youthful journey toward establishing a racial identity.

The Washington Post is running a series by Craig Whitlock on the U.S.'s expanding military and intelligence presence in Africa. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. "The previously unreported practice of hiring private companies to spy on huge expanses of African territory -- in this region and in North Africa, where a similar surveillance program is aimed at an al-Qaeda affiliate -- has been a cornerstone of the U.S. military's secret activities on the continent."

Following is Jonathan Chait's punchline; you'll have to read his post to get it. "Once Washington was a happy place where a girl and her mother could be groped simultaneously in good fun by a white supremacist. Sadly, it has all been ruined by Kim Kardashian and Ezra Klein." CW P.S. I read the essay in question this weekend. I did not link it.

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Obama still has not made his case. Mr. Romney's entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites. The stimulus failed. (Three million employed people beg to differ.) The auto bailout was a mistake. (Another million jobs.) Spending is out of control. (Spending growth is actually lower than under all modern Republican presidents.) He says these kinds of things so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth. It is hard to challenge these lies with a well-reasoned-but-overlong speech." ...

... Contra the NYT, Michael Scherer of Time: "The words [Obama] spoke -- somber, substantial and filled with policy proposals -- may be remembered as more consequential than even his campaign announcement in May.... This was a big Obama speech. He was here to recast the debate.... For Obama and his aides, any day spent comparing plans with Romney is a day won."

Mike Tomasky of the Daily Beast: Romney is out there campaigning every day while Obama is going on picnics & Democratic handwringers are handwringing. "There's only one way to make [Romney] talk about [his vague proposals & flim-flam].... Obama has to raise them and ask the pointed questions. The press won't ask unless and until Obama asks. That's how this works. Two weeks of sharp, specific questions and accusations would change the dynamic in a hurry.

Jamelle Bouie, now with The Nation: "While [Romney] sells himself as a competent fix-it man, the fact of the matter is that there's nothing in his agenda that shows an awareness of our key problems." ...

... Paul Krugman pulls together his arguments against Romney's austerity policies in his column today. And I'm glad to see him including this: "Last week R. Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University, a top Romney adviser, published an article in a German newspaper urging the Germans to ignore advice from Mr. Obama and continue pushing their hard-line policies. In so doing, Mr. Hubbard was deliberately undercutting a sitting president's foreign policy. More important, however, he was throwing his support behind a policy that is collapsing as you read this." CW: Hubbard, an actual economist, knows better, so in my view, he is purposely trying to keep Europe down in order to further drag down our economy. ...

... "Romney's Vision Is Really That Scary." Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "The difference between Romney's vision and Obama's is tens of millions of people losing health insurance; less money for a variety of federal programs that help young people pay for college and enable poor people to get food; fewer dollars for repairing broken down bridges and infrastructure; and much, much bigger tax cuts for wealthy Americans. (The effects on the economy would be dramatically different, as well, although those effects are more difficult to state as fact....)" ...

... Ezra Klein: "... the Obama campaign's line of attack does point to a difficulty for the Romney campaign in the coming months: Where can they show a sharp break with the policies of the Bush administration? Spending cuts, perhaps, but the more specific they get on what they'll cut, the most voter opposition they face."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... it's not just a matter of Romney denying the wisdom of his own health care plan in Massachusetts (which depended, BTW, on the kind of generous federal Medicaid subsidies his and Ryan's budget proposals would make a thing of the distant past) and offering dishonest and threadbare 'solutions' to the problem of pre-existing conditions and other shortcomings of the status quo ante. By supporting interstate insurance sales and major reductions in federal Medicaid funding and ... the herding of people now covered by employer-based policies into the individual market, Romney would make the coverage and affordability problems far worse than they were in 2010.... The GOP's agenda for health care is not 'repeal and replace,' or even 'repeal and do nothing' -- it's 'repeal and reverse.' ..." ...

... Kevin Drum: "Mitt Romney has no intention of preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. His party wouldn't allow it, he doesn't really care about it, and it's basically impossible as a standalone policy anyway. He knows this. Everyone covering his campaign knows it. But the rules of engagement prevent anyone from plainly saying so."

Speaking of someone who will say anything, do anything, this is rich, even for Karl Rove. Steve Benen: "Karl Rove told Sean Hannity this week that President Obama and his allies have a dastardly election-year plan: they'll win by 'trying to take their wallet and buying it.'" CW: I'm pretty sure Sean Hannity fact-checked Rove on that one. Fair & balanced, you know.

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Republican nominee Mitt Romney's guerrilla tactics continued Thursday, as the campaign bus circled the venue where President Barack Obama will be speaking [Thursday] afternoon. As it passed the assembled throngs of supporters awaiting entry to the event at Cuyahoga Community College, the bus honked its horn dozens of times, before circling around to do it again. Obama supporters jeered and booed each time the bus passed the line outside of the security screening area." ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: this is "something you'd expect a rival wrestling team to do to disrupt the other team's pep talk. On its face it seems somewhere between juvenile and just weird. But this is actually a core part of the Romney camp's election strategy."

Right Wing World

"Those People" All Look Alike. Elizabeth Flock of US News: "RNCLatinos.com features as its main image a stock photo from Shutterstock, which tags the photo with keywords that clearly suggest the kids are Asian, including: 'asia,' 'asian,' 'interracial,' 'japanese,' and 'thailand.' We're guessing the RNC may have taken inspiration from Sharron Angle, who in 2010 told Hispanic children they looked Asian.... Update: The photo of Asian children has been taken down and replaced with a banner that reads 'Hispanic Latino Strategic Partnerships.'" CW: an indignant commenter wrote in to point out that the kids could be from "Peru or any Latin American country with a significant Asian population." Yes, indeed; those GOP pros are probably targeting the vast bloc of American voters of Japanese-Peruvian heritage. Sure hope Florida Gov. Rick Scott doesn't purge them from the voting rolls.

Local News

Amanda Beadle of Think Progress: "A male Republican House leader in Michigan silenced two female Democratic state legislators on Thursday after the pair tried to advance a measure that would have reduced access to vasectomies." With video.

News Ledes

NBC News: "President Obama introduced his administration's new policy granting qualified legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children in a Rose Garden statement interrupted by the heckling of a conservative reporter. As the president, standing at a podium outside the White House, explained why he was implementing the policy, Daily Caller writer Neil Munro began to shout questions, asking why Obama would want foreigners in the country instead of giving jobs to Americans":

... New York Times: "Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to obtain work permits and be safe from deportation under a new policy announced on Friday by the Obama administration. The policy, effective immediately, will apply to people who are currently under 30 years old, who arrived in the country before they turned 16 and have lived in the United States for five years.... The administration's action on Friday, which stops deportations but does not offer citizenship or even permanent legal status, is being undertaken by executive order and does not require legislation." ...

... The New York Times' "The Lede" posts some responses to the policy.

New York Times: "Rajat K. Gupta, the retired head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and a former Goldman Sachs board member, was found guilty on Friday of conspiracy and securities fraud. He is the most prominent business executive convicted in a wave of prosecutions that followed the government's sweeping investigation into insider trading on Wall Street."

AP: "The U.S. government has revealed details of serious allegations against Secret Service agents and officers since 2004, including claims of involvement with prostitutes, leaking sensitive information, publishing pornography, sexual assault, illegal wiretaps, improper use of weapons and drunken behavior. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the accusations were confirmed to be true. The heavily censored list, which runs 229 pages, was quietly released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to The Associated Press and other news organizations...."

New York Times: "Egypt's military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice."

Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce a proposal Friday to tighten the nation's soot standards, a move that could help deliver major health benefits by the end of the decade but force some oil refiners, manufacturers and other operations to invest in pollution-abatement upgrades."

New York Times: "Russia offered its most direct rebuttal and response so far on Friday to an accusation by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Moscow is providing attack helicopters to Syria in the midst of a struggle depicted by the authorities in Damascus as 'cleansing' of rebel-held strongholds. A statement posted on the Foreign Ministry Web site confirmed that Moscow had refurbished helicopters for the Syrian military but denied shipping new models." ...

     ... Guardian Update: "The US state department has acknowledged that Russian helicopters it claimed had been sent recently to the Syrian regime were, in fact, refurbished ones already owned by Damascus."

AP: "Police on Friday arrested the last fugitive suspected in a doomsday cult's deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways 17 years ago, ending one of Japan's longest manhunts and closing a chapter on the worst terrorist attack in the country's history. Katsuya Takahashi, the former bodyguard for the Aum Shinrikyo cult leader, was tracked down at a comic-book cafe in downtown Tokyo. He admitted who he was when approached by police."

Washington Post: "Egypt's highest court ruled Thursday that the Islamist-dominated parliament should be dissolved because one-third of its members were elected unlawfully, blunting the astonishing political ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood and imperiling the country's transition to democratic rule."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Prosecutors closed their case Thursday in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse trial with testimony from a man who said his cries for help went unanswered as he was repeatedly sodomized in the former coach's basement."

ABC News: "President Obama [last] night got a boost from some of his loyal allies in the film and fashion industries with an exclusive multimillion dollar campaign fundraiser at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, actor Matthew Broderick."

Think Progress: Senate Republicans say that they will block votes on all of President Obama's judicial nominees between now & the election.

Wednesday
Jun132012

The Commentariat -- June 14, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "'Candor' Is Not a Synonym for "Self-Serving." The NYTX front page is here.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The back-and-forth this week over Russian support for Syria's government as it tries to crush an uprising underscored the limits of Mr. Obama's ability to 'reset' ties with Moscow."

Kevin Drum has more on Daniel Klaidman's book, To Kill or Capture, on the evolution of President Obama's policy in regard to terrorist suspects.

Bishops Form Pro-Child Abuse Lobby, Get Results. Laurie Goodstein & Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "Victims [of child sex abuse] and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the [statutes of limitations] or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary 'windows' during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred. The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims." CW: I hope the last three people who thought the RC Church had any moral authority whatsoever are now ready to change their minds.

"The Wall Street Senate." Dana Milbank has a lively take on JPMorgan Chase CEO & Know-It-All Jamie Dimon's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. The only person in the room you might come away liking is Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), but he barely gets a walk-on. Happily, Dimon did do a number on Republicans. ...

... David Dayen of Firedoglake gets more into the nitty-gritty, and he does highlight an exchange between Dimon & Merkley. Dayen's analysis is easy to understand. ...

... Dorsey Shaw of BuzzFeed on "Jamie Dimon's 5 Least Apologetic Moves At The Senate Banking Hearing." The first four are accompanied by illustrative videos, the last in the countdown to No. 1 is this: "Makes JPMorgan shareholders $2 billion richer while testifying":

Sam Baker of The Hill: "The Supreme Court's landmark healthcare ruling will pose a big test for Republicans, even if the court strikes down all or part of President Obama's healthcare law.So far, the party has not come together around a set of policies to replace the healthcare law.... Republicans also haven't said how they would handle policies that are already in place, including discounts on prescription drugs for many seniors." ...

... Jake Sherman & Jonathan Allen of Politico: well, House leadership is working on healthcare strategy. But in the meantime, "... many rank-and-file Republicans are grumbling that they don't have much to show for the last year and a half in Washington." ...

... If you're into tea-leaf reading on the Affordable Care Act, Linda Greenhouse has a fun post, stuffed with speculation, that, if nothing else, shows what a close reader of the Supremes she is.

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: "It's one of the most hyped bills on Capitol Hill, and it doesn't even exist. Three months after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] revealed he's working on an alternative to the Dream Act, triggering a gusher of positive news coverage, he's yet to produce a written proposal." CW: I'm shocked, shocked, to find out my senator is a do-nothing phony.

"Obama Snubbed Me." Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this week that President Obama never made a sincere effort to reach out to him after the 2008 election." CW: it appears Obama made quite a few efforts, what with a candlelight dinner in honor of McCain & all, but apparently they weren't "sincere" enough. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Presidential Race

Steve Kornacki of Salon: In his economic speech today, President Obama "needs to find a way to frame the modest recovery as a delicate work in progress, something that has been painfully slow because of the epic nature of the catastrophe he inherited and the obstructionism and ideological rigidity with which congressional Republicans greeted his presidency. And he needs to make the case that a Romney presidency would upend the progress that's been made and return the country to the exact same policies that preceded the collapse of the economy." It can be done, if not easily. CW: I have no idea why, at least so far, the White House live site is indicating it will not carry the speech. If they change their minds, I'll run it here. ...

... Erin McPike of Real Clear Politics: Both Obama & Romney will speak in Ohio today, where "the economic conditions ... have been steadily improving, with the unemployment rate almost a point lower than the national average at 7.4 percent. What's more, two major actions taken by the Obama administration are viewed as a boon to Ohioans. For starters, both sides agree that the auto bailout has helped Obama's prospects in the northern part of the state. And on Wednesday morning -- after nearly four years of wrangling -- the Energy Department agreed to a $350 million investment in the United States Enrichment Corporation's 'shovel-ready' nuclear facility in Piketon, a small rural town in southern Ohio." Via Greg Sargent.

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Americans continue to place more blame for the nation's economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September."

I guess we should all watch this, though if you live in a swing state, it will be coming to a teevee near you anyway in this and -- as the campaign season wears on -- many other forms, I'm sure:

Charles Babington of the AP does an excellent job of debunking Willard's claims that cutting public-sector jobs will help the economy & that the federal government doesn't pay for them. This is important because these AP stories often make it into papers throughout the nation. (The one I picked up appeared in the Boston Globe.)

Andrew Rosenthal: "Republicans love to kvetch about 'uncertainty' -- employers' uncertainty about the economy, for instance.... About the only 'uncertainty' they don't talk about is the status of health care reform. That's because this particular uncertainty was entirely manufactured by Republicans -- who began plotting to undo the Affordable Care Act by re-legislating it in the courts before the ink was dry on Mr. Obama's signature." CW: Plus, Rosenthal debunks another Romney lie. Willard just won't stop. ...

... Greg Sargent has the backstory, which is worth reading. ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has more. He gives President Obama kudos for his response to a local TV news questioner whose premise was counterfactual, & dings everybody else, including Romney, for their piling on misstatements.

What Could Possibly Be Wrong with This? Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "In recent days, [Sheldon] Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a 'super PAC' backing the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney..., leaving the Adelsons by far the most prolific campaign donors in the country. All told, the Adelsons have now given at least $35 million to super PACs during the 2012 campaign, not including several hundred thousand dollars worth of $2,500 contributions directly to federal candidates." ...

... E. J. Dionne: in this election cycle, "Americans won't even fully know what's happening to them because so much can be donated in secrecy to opaque organizations. It's always helpful for voters to know who is trying to buy an election, and for whom. This time, much of the auction will be held in private. You can be sure that the candidates will find out who helped elect them, but the voters will remain in the dark."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News highlights Romney's opposition to requring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats are hitting him on this, but let's hope they hit harder later in the campaign.

Stupid Romney Tricks. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "Over the weekend, an op-ed authored by one of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s economic advisers appeared in a German newspaper. In the piece, Glenn Hubbard criticized the Obama administration's approach to Europe's ongoing economic woes, instead calling for the adoption of more austerity.... Aside from the fact that Hubbard ... explicitly [took] politics beyond 'the water's edge,' he is advocating for a doubling down on austerity that has simply made Europe’s economic situation worse." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Politics Is for Twits. Alex Altman of Time on the Twitter war between backers of Obama & Romney. CW: Just trying to keep you informed.

Right Wing World

Ali Gharib of Think Progress: "In a rare 'scoop' for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders' costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense. The insurance -- technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members -- is available as a rider to the 'excess personal liability' plan":

CW: Congratulations to San Diego County! Looks as if they have elected themselves a birther as superior court judge. It was a tight race. I just checked, & with 100 percent of the votes counted, Kreep (yes, that's his name, which is way better than that of his opponents, which is Peed -- not making this up) won by 122 votes. I suspect there will be recount.

Local News

This is really stunning. Laura Conaway of the Rachel Maddow Show reports on the GOP state house in Michigan both faking a voting total & violating the state constitution, all in an effort to make it harder for people to register to vote. With video of the farce. Back in the day, the parties didn't admit to stealing votes. Now Republicans do it right out in the open. They have no shame.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "President Obama will travel to Cleveland on Thursday to deliver what aides describe as a speech that will sharply cast November's election as a choice between his economic stewardship and an alternative that would return the country to the policies that caused the downturn." ...

... New York Times: "On the eve of a major economic speech by President Obama, Mitt Romney told a group of business leaders in Washington on Wednesday that the Obama administration had pursued the 'most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history' and was responsible for the tepid pace of the recovery."

Reuters: "The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, government data on Thursday showed, suggesting persistent weakness in the labor market after stumbling badly in recent months." ...

... BUT. Bloomberg News: "Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed for the fourth straight week as more Americans said their personal finances were improving." ...

... AND. Bloomberg: "Americans are digging themselves out of mortgage debt. Home equity in the first quarter rose to the highest level since 2008 as homeowners taking advantage of record-low borrowing costs to refinance their loans brought cash to the table to pay down principal. The gain in percentage terms was the biggest jump in more than 60 years...."

New York Times: "Rejecting suggestions that he struck deals with Rupert Murdoch's newspapers to win electoral support, Prime Minister David Cameron began a day of testimony on Thursday at Britain's inquiry into media standards about the nature of his relationship with Mr. Murdoch, his family and his aides." The Guardian is liveblogging here, & includes live video. ...

     ... NYT story has been updated.

New York Times: "Nokia said Thursday it would slash 10,000 jobs, or 19 percent of its work force, by the end of 2013 as part of an emergency overhaul that includes closing research centers and a factory in Germany, Canada and Finland, and the departures of three senior executives."

New York Times: "The United States Anti-Doping Agency is set to bring doping charges against Lance Armstrong that could lead to his being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles."