Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "n this week’s address, the President wished Americans a Happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we’ve made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Washington Post: "Since Monday, more than 200 Ukrainian volunteer soldiers have been trapped in the southeastern town of Ilyovaisk, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll is mounting.... Russian President Vladimir Putin focused international attention on the trapped soldiers Friday by calling in a statement for a protected route to allow them to retreat, even as evidence mounted of a broad incursion into Ukraine by Russian troops and military vehicles." ...

... Guardian: "... Vladimir Putin, has hit back at accusations that he has effectively invaded Ukraine, accusing Kiev's forces of behaving like Nazis in the conflict in the east and ominously threatening to take his standoff with the west into the disputed Arctic."

Guardian: "America’s newest war in Iraq has cost over half a billion dollars so far, according to Pentagon estimates, all before President Barack Obama decides upon a strategy against Islamic State (Isis) militants. Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Friday that daily military operations in Iraq since 16 June, when the White House informed Congress it had ordered up to 275 US troops to bolster embassy security in Baghdad, have cost on average $7.5m."

New York Times: "An experimental drug has shown a striking efficacy in prolonging the lives of people with heart failure and could replace what has been the bedrock treatment for more than 20 years, researchers said Saturday. The drug, which is being developed by the Swiss company Novartis, reduced both the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and the risk of being hospitalized for worsening heart failure by about 20 percent in a large clinical trial."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, August 29, 2014.

New York Times: "Backed by Russian troops and weaponry, hundreds of Ukrainian rebel militiamen mobilized on Friday in [Novoazovsk, a] southeastern town, vacated by the Ukrainian military two days ago, and began to push toward the strategic seaport of Mariupol 27 miles away. The leader of the rebels called the advance a broad new effort to wrest control of a wide swath of coastal territory from the central government. ...

... Washington Post: "Russian President Vladimir Putin called on pro-Russian separatists to release trapped Ukrainian soldiers Friday, one day after Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into the southeastern part of the country in earnest, according to the Ukrainian government.... The Russian leader did not answer accusations from both the Ukrainian government and the West about Russia’s military presence in southeastern Ukraine. He praised the separatists instead....”

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 29

11:30 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

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Friday
Apr132012

The Commentariat -- April 14, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jia Lin Yang of the Washington Post: "Romney and Obama’s tax proposals for the \rich offer a window into how differently the two men understand the economy: what makes it tick, what the government can do to encourage wealth and how to rebuild the middle class.... If Republican front-runner Mitt Romney reaches the White House, he will push for the top 1 percent of American earners to save an average of $150,000 in taxes, according to an analysis of his tax plan by the Tax Policy Center. In a second Obama administration, these Americans would pay about $83,000 more than they do now." Bottom line: they both shill for the rich; Romney is just way worse. For the top 0.1 percent, the difference is even more stark. Romney’s plan would save them an average of $725,000. President Obama would raise their taxes by $450,000." ...

... Brian Beutler of TPM on pundi-critics of the Buffett Rule: "All Buffett Rule critics knock Obama for not pursuing more comprehensive tax reforms. If they’d paid even passing attention to the events of 2011, they'd know that the only tax reforms Republicans back either raise no revenue, or are conditioned on the idea of locking in the Bush tax cuts permanently." CW: I've also seen what are supposed to be straight news reports comparing the Buffett Rule with the Ryan budget as if they were analogous. They are not. The Buffett Rule is one itty-bitty part of a budget proposal; the Ryan budget is, well, a budget. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine. Even Democrats can't remember why they favor the Buffett Rule. But Chait knows: "The Buffett Rule is a symbolic fight to expose Republican extremism.... Republicans oppose it because they won’t accede to any higher taxes on the rich, no maer what." ...

... Jon Walker of Firedoglake: "In addition, every time Democrats talk about the Buffett Rule they can easily pivot to talking about how rich Mitt Romney is and how little he pays in taxes. Continuing to push down Romney’s already extremely low favorable numbers by depicting him as rich, privileged, and out of touch looks to be part of the Democrats overall 2012 strategy." ...

... Jake Tapper of ABC News: "President Obama’s secretary, Anita Decker Breckenridge, makes $95,000 a year. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage tells ABC News that Breckenridge 'pays a slightly higher rate [than did the Obamas] this year on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.' ... [The] president would not be impacted by the Buffett Rule, though he would see his taxes go up if the so-called Bush tax cuts on higher income wage-earners were allowed to expire, as the president says he wants."

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Six in 10 Americans favor Congress' passing the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would mandate a minimum 30% tax rate for Americans with a household income of $1 million or more per year. Majorities of both Democrats and independents favor the policy, while a majority of brainwashed people Republicans oppose it." CW: the only logical reason to oppose passage of the law is "I'm rich & selfish."

Chris McGreal of the Guardian: "Barack Obama's policy of engagement with North Korea lies 'in tatters' after it was effectively shot down by Pynongyang's defiant but failed attempt to launch a long-range rocket."

T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "An anonymous donor gave $10 million late last year to run ads attacking President Obama and Democratic policies.... In the new, free-wheeling environment of independent political giving, the identity of this donor, like many others, is likely to remain a permanent mystery. The donation went to Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded with the support of political strategist Karl Rove. Another donor gave $10 million in the 2010 midterm elections...."

These [Stand Your Ground] laws are vigilantism masquerading as self-defense, and getting 25 states to pass them is one of the best con jobs the NRA’s leaders have ever pulled off. They don’t give a damn whether innocent people are shot and killed. And they don’t give a damn about the integrity of the American justice system. They want to create a nation where disputes are settled by guns instead of gavels, and where suspects are shot by civilians instead of arrested by police. These laws destabilize our justice system, they degrade our society, and they destroy innocent lives. We can’t be silent — and we can’t let them stand. -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City ...

... Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News calls George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, "not just the face of the NRA in this country, he is the face of gun laws built on the fears and paranoia of the gun lovers in the NRA, the ones who have made a mockery of the Second Amendment."

... Beth Reinhard of the National Journal: "Which 'anti-gun president' is the NRA talking about?" Obama passed on golden opportunities to address gun control. ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... a question for Obama: If the NRA is going to pretend that you’re aggressively pursuing gun control anyway, then why not actually do it? ... The case for national Democrats sticking with a hands-off approach to gun control is that it makes it possible to score victories in state-level races in pro-gun states." CW: Kornacki thinks this is a lame excuse. I don't. Sure, the NRA leadership & many of its members are delusional. But there are probably many more gunowners who are (a) skittish about Obama, but (b) realize that Obams is not the most anti-gun president ever. If, before the election, Obama proposes sensible gun-control laws, then he will have "proved" the NRA's point, & those more inclined to believe the facts as opposed to NRA fiction might decide the NRA is right when it claims "Obama will take away your guns."

John Schoen of NBC News: "Thanks to easing demand from a slowing global economy and increased production from Saudi Arabia, the oil market is coming off a two-year cycle of tightening supply, according to the International Energy Agency. That's helped snap a 13 percent surge in oil prices since the start of the year." This could mean lower gas prices this summer.

Steve Benen: Repetition matters -- because not everyone is listening, apparently including Politico pundits. (No surprise there.)

Right Wing World

** Andrew Rosenthal has an excellent post on the Republican "war on women." He urges Democrats to talk about it. ...

... Romney Is Not the "Mommy" Candidate. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Among parents, really, the only clear beneficiaries of Romney's fiscal plans would seem to be the wealthiest ones. They depend least on the government programs Romney would cut and they'd benefit the most from the tax cuts he wants to pass." ...

... Steve Benen: "... the Republican National Committee created a stand-alone blog to appeal specifically to women voters, and then decided to ignore the blog, posting two items in the last 12 months.... Why would a major party create a blog for women and then forget about it? Doesn't this suggest the exact opposite of the intended point?"

... Allison Yarrow of the Daily Beast: "... critics derided the Women’s Health and Safety Act that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law today as cruel, dangerous, and hostile to women — likely to deter many Arizona women from seeking an abortion, and to distress those who nonetheless go through with one.... While it becomes the seventh state to pass such legislation in the past two years, many Arizonans believe theirs is the most restrictive and sinister because of the degree to which it will legislate health care, thwart evidence-based medicine, and shame women."

Michelle Goldberg in the Daily Beast: "... a look at Romney’s political career suggests that his problems with female voters long predate the current political season, and it will take more than a few spasms of manufactured umbrage on behalf of stay-at-home-moms to make them go away.... Last week, he said that his wife 'reports to me regularly' on what women care about, suggesting a disinclination to listen to women directly. [Hilary] Rosen was certainly wrong to minimize the work Ann Romney has done in bringing up five sons. She was absolutely right, though, to point out that Ann has 'never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing,' and is thus hardly equipped to be her husband’s primary source of intelligence on the challenges confronting American women." Even womanizing Ted Kennedy beat Romney with women. ...

... "Ann Romney Should Aplogize!" Joan Walsh of Salon: "An aggrieved Ann Romney even told Fox News ... that as the mother of five grown boys, 'I know what it’s like to struggle.' Well, I’d like to demand that Ann Romney apologize to all women for equating the 'struggle' of a wealthy mother who had full-time household help to that of a poor or working-class job-holding mother, who must choose between her job and her children when a child gets sick.... I’d like to demand that Mitt Romney apologize for his wife’s remarks, too. I’d like to hear every prominent Republican denounce Ann Romney for her heinous insensitivity to non-wealthy mothers who must work outside the home. Wait. Ann Romney’s not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican, so that’s not how the world works. Sorry about that. I apologize." ...

... Steve Benen reports on Mendacity Mitt's lies of the week. ...

... "The Draperizing of Mitt Romney." This is a fairly astouding video as it comes from Politico, which is a pro-Republican Website:

It's Unfair for Obama to Criticize Republicans. -- GOP. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... it’s increasingly ridiculous to hear Republicans complain that Obama needs to just take his medicine and not try to confuse voters with information about the opposition."

Shit Allen West Says:

News Ledes

New York Times: Talks between Iran and six world powers about the aims of its nuclear-enrichment program began on Saturday morning with a plenary session of all parties. European and American officials suggested that a serious commitment from Iran to negotiate may be enough to continue the talks at another round in late May, possibly in Baghdad, as Iran has suggested." ...

    ... Guardian Update: "The first international negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme for 15 months are under way in Istanbul amid increasing signs that Tehran is prepared to trade limits on its enrichment of uranium for relief from economic sanctions."

Reuters: "China took a milestone step in turning the yuan into a global currency on Saturday by doubling the size of its trading band against the dollar, pushing through a crucial reform that further liberalizes its nascent financial markets. The People's Bank of China said it would allow the yuan to rise or fall 1 percent from a mid-point every day, effective Monday, compared with its previous 0.5 percent limit."

New York Times: "Activists said on Saturday that two neighborhoods in the Syrian city of Homs were shelled overnight, as the United Nations struggled to iron out the details about the rapid deployment of international observers."

Los Angeles Times: "Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney asked for an extension Friday to file his 2011 tax return. The former Massachusetts governor and his wife, Ann, expect not to owe any further taxes, having estimated $3.2 million in liability and made $3.4 million in payments, according to the documents filed. Romney will file his return prior to the November election, according to a spokeswoman."

The Washington Post story on the Secret Service agents recalled from Colombia is here. The Post broke the story. See also yesterday's Ledes.

Reuters: "Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein's compensation increased 14.5 percent to $16.2 million in 2011 despite a sharp decline in profits and share price during the year, leaving the bank open to more attacks on its pay policies. Blankfein's pay boost includes stock awards from previous years that vested in 2011, and therefore does not reflect the amount that Goldman's board awarded him strictly for the company's performance last year."

Thursday
Apr122012

The Commentariat -- April 13, 2012

I just updated my half-finished column in today's New York Times eXaminer. The subject is David Brooks. And Raymond Chandler. And Dashiell Hammett. So now it's finished. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

CW: Oh, good. Now we can have a frank discussion about polygamy. As David Maraniss outlines in a column for the Washington Post, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney would be here but for the grace of their polygamist forebears.

CW: We've been here before, but it's nice to see the MSM taking an interest. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "In recent days, advocacy groups have targeted more than a dozen corporations over their financial support for the conservative organization that encouraged states to pass the 'Stand Your Ground' legislation cited as a defense for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting. The advocates are celebrating decisions by several major food and beverage companies to sever financial ties with the organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Kraft Foods and Wendy’s have cut their support for the group, although all played down any connection to the Florida shooting."

Paul Krugman: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "poses as a man willing to make hard choices for the future, but what he actually did was sacrifice the future for the sake of personal political advantage. He catered to national Republican prejudices that are completely at odds with New Jersey’s needs; he cared more about avoiding embarrassment over a misguided campaign pledge than about serving an urgent public need.... America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars."

Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Oregon) raps President Obama for refusing to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. ...

     ... The AP story: "The White House says President Barack Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors sought by gay rights groups. The decision disappoints a constituency that has been an important source of support for him." ...

     ... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "White House spokesperson Jay Carney sought to explain the administration’s decision to punt on issuing an executive order that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting." ...

     ... The New York Times editors call the President's decision "inexcusable."

Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner writes a post saying the Supreme Court's "reasoning" in the Citizens United case was flawed: "It ... is difficult to see what practical difference there is between super PAC donations and direct campaign donations, from a corruption standpoint. A super PAC is a valuable weapon for a campaign, as the heavy expenditures of Restore Our Future, the large super PAC that supports Romney and has attacked his opponents, proves...; it is unclear why they should expect less quid pro quo from their favored candidate if he’s successful than a direct donor to the candidate’s campaign would be." ...

     ...Via Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times, whose post on the subject is also worth reading: "Instead of accepting the status quo, Congress could use this premise (obvious to everyone but the justices) to enact new limits on contributions to “independent” groups; it could invoke the constitutional rationale that such contributions have the ability to corrupt federal officeholders and government decisions. By Congress I mean a hypothetical legislative body that’s not dysfunctional, not the one we currently have, which won’t do a thing."

Tim Egan pays his income taxes. At a rate double the rate Mitt Romney pays, even though Romney doesn't actually work. ...

... Another Swell Tax Loophole for the Super-Rich. Travis Waldron of Think Progress. When corporate honchos travel in style on corporate jets, the tax code requires that they pay income tax for personal travel -- unless they claim they're taking private transportation for "security" reasons. I feel so much better knowing I'm paying taxes so multimillionaires can travel in luxury safety.

Devin Dwyer of ABC OTUS News: "Vice President Joe Biden said [Thursday] night that what he called a Republican-led effort to rollback the rights of women is 'real' and will 'intensify.'" Here's the segment of "The Ed Show" in which Ed Schultz interviews the Vice President:

 

Chalres McGrath profiles biographer Robert Caro for the New York Times Magazine. Caro's latest installment of his biography of Lyndon Johnson is soon to be published. ...

... Chris Jones does the same for Esquire.

Right Wing World

Jesus Told Me to Stiff the Poor. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, was driven by his Catholic faith. 'A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,' Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming “dependent on government.' ... The founder of the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations, slammed Ryan’s claim of adherence to Catholic teaching as 'the height of hypocrisy.' ..." ...

... Besides cutting billions in programs for the poor, the I'm-Not-Jesus budget also raises taxes on the poor:

     ... CW: looks to me like Jesus & the Devil, played by Ayn Rand, battled for Paul Ryan's soul, & Rand creamed Jesus.

"The Mendacity Is the Message." Paul Krugman is cautiously optimistic that the media may be coming around to reporting Mitt Romney's lies. "The core of Romney’s campaign strategy seems to be contempt for the news media (and the voters), the belief that he can say anything and pay no price — which was the way things worked for Bush. But maybe, just maybe, his calculation was wrong, and serial dishonesty will become, justifiably, part of the narrative."

CW: I have totally avoided posting anything about this one-day "controversy" because I think it's a big nothing. James Downie of the Washington Post: "Republicans clearly feel that the 'war on women' issue is a problem: For evidence, look no further than their furious response to liberal pundit Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney doesn’t understand working women’s problems because she 'has never worked a day in her life.' ... With respect to the presidential campaign, [Hilary Rosen] is nothing but a person with an opinion. That’s it.... If the Obama camp is responsible for Rosen, is Romney responsible for GOP Rep. Allen West’s outrageous accusation that 80 Democrats are communists? Is he responsible for Sherriff Joe Arapaio (Romney’s ’08 Arizona campaign chairman) and his birther conspiracy theories?" ...

... NEW. If you just can't help but read everything everybody said about Rosengate, Adam Sorensen of Time links it all (or at least plenty of it). The links that follow are his: "Just to review yesterday’s umbrageathon: Ann Romney went on TV to respond to something a CNN employee said about her and stay-at-home moms; the rest of Team Romney took to the lowest medium known to man, the campaign reporter conference call; some people made good points about women, others just yelled like Steve Carrell in Anchorman; Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush were called in; merchandise was manufactured; there was even outrage about the outrage and, lord help us, Twitter statistics." ...

... The Republican National Committee press guy was for gay adoption rights a few minutes before he was against them. ...

... AND this from Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "The Ledbetter Act was only necessary because of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which overruled decades of precedent protecting equal pay for equal work; and Romney promised to appoint more justices like the ones who voted against Lilly Ledbetter."

Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: "During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy." ...

... Follow-up. Justin Sink of The Hill: "Fox News fired back at Newt Gingrich on Thursday after the Republican presidential candidate accused the network of being biased and aiding rival candidate Mitt Romney. 'This is nothing other than Newt auditioning for a windfall of a gig at CNN — that's the kind of man he is,' a spokeswoman for Fox News told Yahoo News. 'Not to mention, he's still bitter about the fact that we terminated his contributor contract.'"

News Ledes

AP: "A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute a tip received by The Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, the site of the Summit of the Americas."

New York Times: "Reversing a decades-old rule, a federal appeals court said on Thursday that public television and radio stations could not be prohibited from broadcasting paid political advertisements."

Tulsa World: "The two men accused of shooting three people to death and injuring two last week were formally charged Friday with the deaths and with violating Oklahoma’s hate crime statute. Jacob Carl England, 19, and Alvin Lee Watts, 33, were charged with three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment."

Think Progress: "Mars, Inc., the maker of M&M’s and Snickers, announced that they have 'decided not to renew the ALEC membership in 2012.' Arizona’s largest energy company, Arizona Public Service, has severed ties with ALEC as well."

The Hill: "U.S.-Pakistan relations took a leap forward on Friday, when Islamabad agreed to a plan to reopen vital supply routes to American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The plan bars any private security contractors from working inside Pakistan and bans the United States from carrying out 'overt or covert operations' within the country's borders...."

Washington Post: "President and Michelle Obama reported earning an adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011 and paid $162,074 in federal income tax, according to the family’s tax returns released by the White House on Friday." A pdf of the Obamas' tax returns is here. A pdf of the Bidens' tax returns is here.

Washington Post: "In the aftermath of North Korea’s failed attempt to fire a rocket into orbit, leaders in Washington and Asian capitals moved Friday to condemn the authoritarian nation while also containing its next move — a balance that has proven elusive during previous confrontations." ...

... NBC News: "The United States has canceled a proposed food aid deal with North Korea following over its attempt to launch a long-range rocket taking a satellite into orbit."

New York Times: "Thousands of Syrians were reported to have taken to the streets after the noon prayer in countless mosques on Friday, offering the biggest test of the country’s fragile cease-fire since it was declared at dawn on Thursday and reviving the public protests that ignited Syria's 13-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad." Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

New York Times: "Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark carried a woman out of a burning house and was treated for smoke inhalation on Thursday night."

AP: Google "reported a 61 percent increase in its net income for the first three months of the year and announced plans to issue a new class of stock to shareholders. The new shares won't have any voting power and will help Google's senior leaders keep control years from now."

Reuters: "Police in Serbia have recovered a painting by Paul Cezanne that was stolen at gunpoint from a Swiss museum four years ago, officials said Thursday. Cezanne’s 'Boy in a Red Waistcoat,' which reportedly is worth more than $100 million, was one of four paintings stolen in 2008 from the E. G. Buehrle Collection in Zurich by a trio of masked robbers."

ABC OTUS News: "Mitt Romney gets a chance to lock and load Friday and show conservatives that he really is conservative when he speaks at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in St. Louis."

Wednesday
Apr112012

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2012

Your Titanic song for today:

CW: The 2nd Rachel Maddow segment I linked below reminded me to link to the 2013 budget proposal of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (or, as Rep. Allen West [R-Fla.] calls them, card-carrying Communists). I haven't looked over this year's proposal yet, but their proposed 2012 budget was the only proposal that made sense.

Here's the Pew News Quiz that contributor James S. mentioned in the comments to yesterday's Commentariat. According to James, it's a breeze; I'm about to find out if I'm as uninformed as the average American. Update: the quiz was a snap. ...

... Here's another "quiz" that I haven't tried yet, but when I find out what our income is I think I'll give it a whirl. The Obama-Biden campaign has an interactive calculator that let's you "see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do." ...

... Ezra Klein explains how the Buffett Rule, or more accurately -- the "Paying a Fair Share Act" -- actually works. My eyes glazed over but if your family income is higher than a million a year, maybe you'll want to pay more attention than I did. ...

** ... Win-Win-Win. Prof. James Galbraith in a CNN opinion piece: "Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is pressing for the federal minimum to rise to $9.80 per hour by 2014.... Harkin's proposal would raise the incomes of 28 million American workers. It would make a big difference in the South, where wages are lower. It would especially help younger workers, minorities and women. It would not add to the deficit -- since federal workers all make more than that anyway -- and would likely spur the economy and increase tax revenues -- by a lot more than the Buffett Rule."

David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences."

Daily Kos: "The overt and immeasurable influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over U.S. policy has been well-documented on this site and others. For the most part, little has been done legislatively to change this unfortunate fact. But a Madison, Wisconsin Democrat, Mark Pocan, has been circulating a bill that aims to rein ALEC in:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the 'ALEC Accountability Act,' a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the 'scholarships' funding legislators’ travel.

       ... Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the link. 

... Dave S. also highlights this preamble to a statement by ALEC, issued in the wake of the organization's loss of yet another corporate underwriter:

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization.

      ... Yes, it's horrible that Common Cause, Color of Change & similar dastardly intimidators are picking on a right-wing group that spoon-feeds anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poor (voter ID), pro-gun, etc. legislation to state legislators too stupid to write their own regressive laws. Frankly, I don't get why any big corporation would view as beneficial most of the legislation ALEC writes. Here's a bit more from Andy Kroll of Mother Jones.

CW: Oh this is nice. Andrew Sprung of xpostfactoid: "... justices Alito, Roberts and Scalia seemed unaware of a fundamental feature of the Affordable Care Act (and were not disabused during oral argument on 3/27): the ACA has a catastrophic coverage option." Would knowing this have changed any of these justices minds? And who is responsible for their ignorance?

Right Wing World

The New York Times editors do a very nice job of comparing Mitt Romney to his "hero" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: "If Mr. Romney is elected and a Republican-led Congress presents him with a bill overturning the Ledbetter act, would he sign it, following the path of his hero, Mr. Walker?" Read the whole editorial. The Obama-Biden campaign should jump on this because the editors begin to show how "Romney's electability problem" would become the nation's problem if he were elected. ...

..."We'll Get Back to You on That." Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s campaign scrambled Wednesday afternoon to clarify his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act after top aides were caught flat-footed by the question.... Top policy aides to the former Massachusetts governor seemed uncertain how to respond when a reporter asked about Mr. Romney’s position on it during a campaign conference call." ...

... This segment of Rachel Maddow's show has the audio (the pause is real). Maddow & Sam Stein do a good job of illustrating Romney's "everything problem" (see also E. J. Dionne's & Greg Sargent's commentary, linked below):

... E. J. Dionne: "Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far and also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both." ...

... Greg Sargent shows that Romney's "woman problem" isn't going to evaporate. The campaign's hesitation on the Lilly Ledbetter law was no accident. And it makes Dionne's point: Romney is caught between a rock & a hard place.

Art by "DonkeyHotey" for Esquire.Charles Pierce: "How does Rick Santorum, man of principle, look those wonderful people ... in the eye and now tell them they have to vote for the Governor of the People's Republic Of Gay Marriage And Taxachusetts? The only way to do it is to scare the daylights out of them about what will happen during the second term of Barack Hussein Alinsky. In other words, the only way for Rick Santorum to maintain political viability is to become a towering fake for the next six months. Myself, I think he's up to the job."

CW: Yay! We Floridians Have Our Own Personal Baby Joe McCarthy. Jonathan Mattise of the Palm Beach Post: At a local townhall meeting Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) "got in shots at Democrats and President Obama, who spoke Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. West said Obama was 'scared' to have a discussion with him. He later said 'he's heard' up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names." Via Charles Pierce, who comments. ...

... As contributor P. D. Pepe notes in today's comments, West is not giving up even though the Communist Party says no Members of Congress belong to the party:

News Ledes

New York Times: 'North Korea defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday, launching a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead. But in what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea."

The Daily: "Rescue workers who raced to Thomas Kinkade’s California home on the morning the painter died were responding to a call of a unconscious, 54-year-old man who had been 'drinking all night' ..." With audio.

Raw video of George Zimmerman being taken into Seminole County jail (Sanford, the town where Zimmerman shot & killed Trayvon Martin, is in Seminole County):

Orlando Sentinel: "Late Wednesday night, [George] Zimmerman — his head covered — was ushered out of a black SUV and into the Seminole County Jail, just hours after special prosecutor Angela Corey announced a second-degree murder charge against him." ...

     ... Update: "George Zimmerman ... faced a judge for the first time this afternoon. Meanwhile, a probable cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence. The four-page affidavit did, however, does offer a few new pieces of information. It says that 'Zimmerman confronted Martin,' an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman's version of the events." AP story here.

New York Times: "After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases." Hartford Courant story here.

Washington Post: "An uneasy calm descended on Syria on Thursday indicating that both the government and rebels were keeping their promises to observe a U.N.-brokered cease-fire which went into effect at dawn." Al Jazeera story here. Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

Tuesday
Apr102012

The Commentariat -- April 11, 2012

The Titanic's second-class promenade. Photo by passenger Francis Browne.Above: rare photo of the Titanic by passenger Francis Browne. A few more photos here. Note deck chairs on left. To be moved to starboard by Paul Ryan, John Boehner.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's post whining about President Obama's being a meanie. (The accompanying artwork is fabulous!) The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Andy Rosenthal off the New York Times on the Buffett Rule: "Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Buffett has ever said the millionaires’ rate is about deficit reduction. It is about making the tax code truly progressive. When Mr. Buffett pays a smaller share of his income to the government than his secretary, we are not just rewarding Mr. Buffett, we are punishing the secretary."

Maureen Dowd has a good column psyching out Hillary Clinton & her Tumblr encounter of the hilarious kind. I wrote to a friend earlier today that I thought the Tumblr thing might mean Clinton's political career wasn't over after all. it seems others had the same thought. See also Infotainment.

New York Times Editors: "House Republicans combined two ill-conceived health care measures into a single bill and passed it on a largely party-line vote last month. One measure repealed an independent board that is one of the major cost-control measures in the health care reform law. The other imposed restrictions on medical malpractice awards that would limit the ability of patients who have been grievously harmed to receive fair compensation.... The Senate needs to reject or bury this legislation."

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "The overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Tuesday opened the door to forgiving some mortgage debt of homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth, as the Obama administration has recently urged." But don't get your hopes up.

Another Way to Look at the Blahous "Study." Ezra Klein: "So, about that new study arguing that the Affordable Care Act actually increases the deficit: It’s really not saying anything in particular about the Affordable Care Act. It’s saying that the baseline we use to assess all legislation — from Obamacare to Paul Ryan’s budget — is wrong. And it’s saying that we actually don’t have a deficit problem at all.... Lots of the Affordable Care Act’s skeptics are trumpeting the Blahous study. But none of them actually use that baseline. Nor do they plan to switch over to it. And that means they don’t really believe the study." Klein explains the "logic" of the Koch-funded study & why it's nonsense. See also yesterday's Commentariat & comments.

Right Wing World

The Obama campaign releases a Romney's Greatest HIts video:

Conservatives Double Down on Willard: Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal: "We mentioned earlier that conservatives are warning Mitt Romney not to take them for granted.... Gary Bauer, an adviser to Rick Santorum‘s campaign..., said Mr. Romney must now take concrete steps to ensure that conservative voters don’t stay home in November or support a third party candidate."

Mitt Romney Teams up with President Obama to Explain Individual Mandate":

... CW: With Santorum out of the race, Romney can concentrate on lying about Obama. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s turn toward the general election addressed one of his biggest vulnerabilities according to polls: a gender gap that shows women currently prefer President Obama by large margins. Mr. Romney fought back on his preferred turf, jobs and the economy, making the case that women had faced heavy job losses since President Obama took office.... He repeatedly cited the figure of 92.3 percent, which he said was women’s share of all the jobs lost since the president’s inauguration in January 2009.... The statistic, which appears to be a talking point Mr. Romney intends to use regularly, was rated 'mostly false' by PolitiFact." After reading the PolitiFact explanation, I'd rate it "Mostly Bullshit."

... Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post culls a surprising stat from the latest Obama v. Romney poll: "On health care, people pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 'to do a better job' on health care by a ten point spread. Yup, health care. That’s more than Obama’s seven-point edge in the horse race."

Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may not appear on the ballot for the June 26 Utah primary, after a $500 check - the required filing fee - bounced, an official said." ...

... The Onion (fake news): "Following Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he would end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, candidate Newt Gingrich called upon frontrunner Mitt Romney to drop out of the race so the former House speaker could concentrate on the general election. ...

... AP (real news): "Santorum's departure Tuesday has pushed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney closer to the nomination. But Gingrich and Paul say there is still time left for voters to pick a more suitable alternative to face President Barack Obama in November." CW: Newt Gingrich & Ron Paul: keeping America safe from satire.

Santorum Post Mortems


Good Riddance. New York Times Editors: "... the biggest reason for the improbable rise of Mr. Santorum was his appeal to the most extreme social conservatives and evangelical Christians. His problem, in the end, was that there just weren’t enough of them.... [Romney's] embrace of the Paul Ryan budget, with its unconscionable cuts to the social safety net, represents an economic extremism not that different from Mr. Santorum’s."

Dana Milbank: "In Gettysburg, Rick Santorum surrenders."

Jonathan Bernstein: "Santorum and the nomination process only functioned, from Florida on, as a mechanism for forcing Romney to hew to Republican orthodoxy. That mechanism will be replaced, now, by more direct action and pressure on him by conservative party actors. Those actors will certainly ensure that Romney picks a trusted conservative as a running mate, and will police everything he says on every issue."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "I’ll miss him for the blogging material he so richly supplied, and do wish he had stuck around long enough to provoke a few more Romney gaffes and perhaps Romney defeats. But I’m glad I can go back to wearing sweater vests without fear of misunderstanding. Now we get to see if Newt Gingrich tries to pretend he’s the last True Conservative Standing, or will just let us all have a break from the Great Republican Race to the Right of 2012."

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: 'With Rick Santorum, you never had to wonder if he believed what he said. You never had to wonder why he was running for president. And it’s that lack of Santorum’s authenticity that’s making Romney a hard sell for just about anyone."

CW: a couple of days ago I linked to an article about Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeting that President Obama was "stupid" for complaining about activist judges. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress has such a terrific post on this it's worth revisiting. The headline is "Grassley Calls Obama 'Stupid' for Agreeing for Grassley about Activist Judges."

News Ledes

AP: "A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom. Manson, now a gray-bearded, 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years."

AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department will take appropriate action in the killing of Trayvon Martin if it finds evidence that a federal criminal civil rights crime has been committed." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging ... George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation. It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face." Story has been updated to reflect charges brought. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The news conference is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, [Florida,] at 6 p.m. [ET]." Story has been updated to reflect charges. ...

     ... UPDATE: Zimmerman turned himself in & was arrested for murder in the 2nd degree, per NBC News highest possible charge under the circumstances. No link. NBC News story here.

New York Times: "The Justice Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple and major book publishers on Wednesday, charging that the companies colluded to raise the price of e-books in 2010. Three publishers that were investigated — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins — have agreed to a settlement, threatening to overturn a pricing model that allows publishers to set their own e-book prices, and dangling the possibility of lower e-books for consumers in the near future."

ABC News: "This morning the president will continue to push the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would require that millionaires are taxed at a rate of at least 30 percent. In making that argument, he will be joined by millionaires and their secretaries who support this tax increase." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Wednesday’s installment of President Obama’s running campaign to raise the taxes of millionaires featured a group of wealthy people who agree with him, standing at his side as he professed that the idea is popular among the gilded elite from Warren Buffett on down.

New York Times: "With the deadline for a cease-fire in Syria less than a day away, Kofi Annan, the high-profile special envoy who devised the timetable for a truce, on Wednesday urged Iran, Syria’s main regional ally, to support the peace effort and cautioned against arming rebel forces, saying that further militarization of the conflict would be 'disastrous.'”

AP: "Two massive earthquakes triggered back-to-back tsunami warnings for Indonesia on Wednesday, sending panicked residents fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles. There were no signs of deadly waves, however, or serious damage, and a watch for much of the Indian Ocean was lifted after a few hours."

Reuters: "Impoverished North Korea rejected international protests over its planned long-range rocket launch and said on Wednesday that it was injecting fuel 'as we speak', meaning it could blast off as early as Thursday."

Washington Post: Karl Rove's American Crossroads launched a six-state ad campaign against President Obama yesterday.