... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "For Douthat’s argument to work, though, you have to assume that Romney won because ... he is intelligent and well-accomplished.... I see little evidence that this is the case."
** Adam Liptak's analysis in the New York Times of the Roberts Court, and the critical decision the Court will make on the Affordable Care Act, is something of a must-read.
Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "Instead of serving as a springboard to social mobility as it did for the first decades after World War II, college education today is reinforcing class stratification, with a huge majority of the 24 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 currently holding a bachelor’s degree coming from families with earnings above the median income." CW: read Edsall's post, with its shocking statistics that make his point; then remind yourself that Mitt Romney does not want to help poor & lower-middle class students get college degrees. He really is one mean prick.
** Ezra Klein in the New Yorker: the bully pulpit doesn't bully anybody; in fact, it's pretty ineffectual.
Colin Moynihan of the New York Times: In New York City, "For the last few months, [Occupy] protest organizers say, police officers or detectives have been posted outside buildings where private meetings were taking place, have visited the homes of organizers and have questioned protesters arrested on minor charges. 'The N.Y.P.D. surveillance does not appear to be limited to unlawful activity,' said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.... A police spokesman did not respond to a request for comment."
Gary Langer of ABC News: "More than half of Americans for the first time expect Barack Obama to be re-elected -- but that won't make it easy: Even as expectations have moved his way, rising gas prices have dented the president's rating on handling the economy, his overall job approval has slipped back under 50 percent and he's reverted to a dead heat in public preferences against Mitt Romney."
Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker: "All the signs are that the United States military and its NATO allies have not only outlived their welcome in Afghanistan but also passed the point at which their presence is anything other than toxic." ...
... Michael Hirsh of the National Journal: "Recent events in Afghanistan, including Sunday’s horrific shooting of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, are not just going to alter U.S. strategy there. They are very likely to upend it. Even before the latest tragedy, President Obama was trying to expedite his way out of that quagmire, which is already the longest war in American history, as he faced a tough fight at home for re-election. Now Obama is likely to only speed things up further." ...
... Gary Langer: "Sixty percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been not worth fighting and just 30 percent believe the Afghan public supports the U.S. mission there.... A majority in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent, say the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan without completing its current effort to train Afghan forces to become self-sufficient."
What Global Warming? MSNBC: "Great Lakes ice coverage declined an average of 71 percent over the past 40 years, according to a report from the American Meteorological Society." CW: No doubt part of God's plan to hold down home-heating bills in the Midwest.
Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker on the many ways attacking contraception coverage is a political loser.
E. J. Dionne: "The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church’s legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama?"
David Dunlap of the New York Times: more than 100 years after expelling her, the Park Avenue Christian Church restores the membership of feminist reformer Elizabeth Bartlett Grannis.
Right Wing World
Quote of the Day. I told them they have ocular rectitis. That's when your eyes get confused with your butt, and it develops into a shitty outlook on life. -- John Boehner (R-Ohio), Speaker of the House, to the Republican caucus (CW: Peggy Noonan bleeped the word I have translated as shitty; the bowdlerization she used was "unnecessarily fecal"? Am I missing an adverb? Please advise.)
Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "With two key Southern primaries on the horizon this week, Rick Santorum and sharpened their attacks against Mitt Romney on Sunday, as Mr. Santorum bluntly declared that his leading rival 'can’t close the deal,' and Newt Gingrich called Mr. Romney the party’s weakest front-runner since 1920."
Molly Ball of The Atlantic: actually, Mitt Romney is pretty funny. People misunderstand his dry, self-deprecating humor. Here's Mitt in 2007, explaining his hunting prowess to a group of Texans:
... Ned Martel of the Washington Post: "Dressage demands agility and finesse — and money. Ann Romney’s involvement in the sport has allowed her access to the heady world of high-level competition, but it has also exposed her to horse dealing. Two years ago, it resulted in a lawsuit against her alleging fraud in the sale of one of her horses. And that lawsuit provided testimony in which she spoke in unusual detail about the benefits — and the costs — of riding." CW: there's an exponential factor of people who can't afford to field a stable of warmbloods but can afford to go windsurfing. See John Kerry, 2004.
Digby comments on the Ken Griffin interview, which is here. (Griffin is that billionaire Chicago hedge-fund operator & Romney supporter who thinks the mega-rich don't have enough influence over politics.) "He sounds as if his political views were shaped by reading a couple of chapters of Atlas Shrugged in high school and multiple viewings of Red Dawn. In that respect I suppose he does personify the idea that absolutely anyone can become a billionaire no matter how little they know."
CW: especially if you live in Florida, you will want to read Tim Padgett's excellent summary in Time of the state government's pivot toward culture wars and away from superfluous stuff like higher education. I am ashamed to live here on Knuckledragger Drive at Neanderthal Palms Villas.
Jackie Borchardt of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News: "Before getting a prescription for Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs, men would have to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency, if state Sen. Nina Turner has her way. The Cleveland Democrat introduced Senate Bill 307 this week.... Turner said if state policymakers want to legislate women’s health choices through measures such as House Bill 125, known as the 'Heartbeat bill,' they should also be able to legislate men’s reproductive health." Via Jud Legum of Think Progress.
New York Times: "The outrage from the back-to-back episodes of the Koran burning and the killing on Sunday of at least 16 Afghan civilians imperils what the Obama administration once saw as an orderly plan for 2012: to speed the training of Afghan forces so that they can take the lead in combat missions, all while drawing the Taliban into negotiations to end more than a decade of constant war." ...
... Washington Post: "The Taliban vowed Monday to take revenge for the killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians by a rogue American soldier, and the nation’s parliament said people 'have run out of patience' with foreign forces. In protesting the killings, some Afghan lawmakers demanded that the U.S. soldier in custody be tried in an Afghan court, the latest sign that the incident could mark an adverse turning point in the deteriorating relationship between Kabul and Washington."
New York Times: "In another milestone in the banking industry’s recovery from the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve this week will release the results of its latest stress tests, which are expected to show broadly improved balance sheets at most institutions."
Washington Post: "A Gaithersburg, [Maryland,] Catholic priest who triggered national debate late last month when he denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral Mass has been placed on administrative leave from ministry in the Washington archdiocese."