The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

AP: "In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, [Vice President] Biden told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms." The Guardian story is here.

CNN: "The first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line Monday, triumphant in a storied race that has become a national symbol of resiliency and determination. Meb Keflezighi, 38, won the men's division with an official time of 2:08:37, according to the Boston Marathon's Facebook page. With video.

AP: "Although [a] 15-year-old [airplane stowaway] apparently wanted nothing more than to run away, his success in slipping past layers of security early Sunday morning made it clear that a determined person can still get into a supposedly safe area and sneak onto a plane.... In San Jose, airport officials said they were reviewing how the boy slipped through security that includes video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 23

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

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Tuesday
Dec062011

The Commentariat -- December 7

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is something a little different: an open letter to a hedge fund billionaire (and all-around pompous ass).

Here's a straight report by David Nakamura of the Washington Post, on President Obama's speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. The transcript of the speech is here. Here are a few opinions about the speech:

... Steve Benen: "You want a populist president, putting the interests of working families and the middle class above all? You’ve got it. For 55 minutes, Barack Obama made the case for progressive governance while destroying the foundation for the right’s vision." ...

... David Dayen of Firedoglake, who has been appropriately aggressive in his criticism of President Obama, gives the President mostly high marks for his speech yesterday but notes that Obama is still pushing the "belt-tightening" bit, which is stupid. Dayen is no Obamabot. ...

... Charles Pierce has another good take, calling out the good, the bad & the meh. And Pierce gets the Tea Party to a tee. ...

... Greg Sargent: "Obama’s speech in Kansas, which just concluded, was the most direct condemnation of wealth and income inequality, and the most expansive moral defense of the need for government activism to combat it, that Obama has delivered in his career." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Tuesday’s speech, in fact, seemed expressly designed to counter Mitt Romney’s argument that business, unfettered, will easily restore American jobs and prosperity. Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama."

In a New York Times eXaminer essay, Prof. Rena Steinzor of the Center for Progressive Reform explains why Cass Sunstein's little in-house (the "house" being the White House) industry lobbying and bean-counting organization is undermining agency and Congressionally-imposed regulations -- at a cost to Americans Sunstein doesn't bother to calculate. And while she's at it she lampoons David Brooks for his man-crush on Sunstein.

Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "Rather than responding to the motivations and demands behind the antigovernment uprising, opponents and political analysts say, the government [of Syria] has stubbornly clung to the narrative that it is besieged by a foreign plot."

Curtis Cartier of Seattle Weekly: "A U.S. District Court judge in Portland has drawn a line in the sand between 'journalist' and 'blogger.' And for Crystal Cox, a woman on the latter end of that comparison, the distinction has cost her $2.5 million.... Cox argued in court that the reason her post was more factual was because she had an inside source that was leaking her information. And since Oregon is one of 40 U.S. states including Washington with media shield laws, Cox refused to divulge who her source was.... The judge in Cox's case, however, ruled that the woman did not qualify for shield-law protection not because of anything she wrote, but because she wasn't employed by an official media establishment." ...

... Cartier, again: "Bruce E. H. Johnson ... is a veteran litigator in the field of free speech and media law. In 2006 he drafted Washington state's media shield legislation, and in 2007 the state legislature passed it into law. He says that had Cox's case been heard in a Washington court, the outcome (at least in regards to the shield law) would have most likely been different."

Peter Wehrwein of Harvard Health Watch: "Dr. Michael Roizen, of RealAge.com fame, says presidents age twice as fast as normal when they’re in office. The main cause, he says, is 'unrequited stress — they don’t have enough friends to mitigate the stress.' ... The only problem with this notion of accelerated presidential aging is that it just ain’t so, according to S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a longevity expert. In an article in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Olshansky says his research into presidential life expectancy found ... most of them lived long lives and beat the longevity expectations for their time."

What I Did on My Vacation. John Leland of the New York Times: Today, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is at work in his cubicle at the New York State Transportation Department in Buffalo. But for eight months, starting last November, he took a leave of absence, which he used to serve as "the prime minister of his native country, Somalia, one of the most chaotic nations on earth."

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "Donald Trump's Republican presidential debate took another hit Wednesday when White House hopeful Mitt Romney said he wouldn't participate in the event." With video.

Right Wing World

Civil Right, Tea Party-Style. Dana Milbank: ultra-conservatives Members of Congress has become the champions of minority fetuses. ...

... Civil rights for fetuses, yes; for gay actual people, not so much:

Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money. -- Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) ...

... The underlying news story is here; also linked in today's Ledes.

Local News

Los Angeles Times: "At a packed City Council meeting ... Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday called for more regulations on how much corporations can spend on political campaigns. The vote in support of state and federal legislation that would end so-called 'corporate personhood' is largely symbolic.... The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died on Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96."

New York Times: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s decision that emergency contraceptives be sold freely over the counter, including to teenagers 16 years old and younger."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Prosecutors on Wednesday filed new child sex-abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, bringing to 10 the number of boys they say the former football coach molested or raped over the past decade. State police arrested Sandusky at his State College home and led him, draped in a blue-and-white Penn State track suit, in handcuffs into court."

New York Times: "The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31."

Washington Post: "A Republican Party that has for decades benefited from a commitment to lower taxes is now finding itself on the defensive on the issue, as members face a deep split over a Democratic plan to extend a payroll tax reduction.... House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss what to do."

Guardian: "President Barack Obama has told US officials to consider how countries treat its gay and lesbian populations when making decisions about allocating foreign aid. In the first ever US government strategy to deal with human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens abroad, a presidential memo issued on Tuesday instructs agencies using foreign aid to promote such rights."

New York Times: "Politicians and officials criticized the New York Police Department on Tuesday and called for investigations after the release of comments on Facebook in which users claiming to be officers heaped scorn on revelers at the annual West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn. But, despite repeated requests, one person refused to comment: the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly."

AP: "With years of freedom hanging in the balance, disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday gets his final shot at trying to persuade a federal judge not to send him away for a lengthy prison term." ...

... Chicago Tribune: "Two things were clear Tuesday by the close of the first day of Rod Blagojevich's sentencing hearing: The former governor was likely going to be hit with a stiff sentence, and his legal team had abandoned its early hope of him avoiding prison altogether." ...

     ... Update: "Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined $20,000 for what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald famously referred to as a criminal corruption crime spree at the time of Blagojevich’s arrest three years ago."

New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked confirmation of Caitlin J. Halligan, a prominent New York lawyer, to be a federal appeals court judge, raising the question of whether a political deal to prevent the filibuster of most judicial nominations has broken down.... In a statement shortly after the Senate vote, Mr. Obama expressed disappointment and accused Republicans of undermining the judicial confirmation process for partisan purposes."

Washington Post: "A Virginia appeals court declared Thomas Haynesworth an innocent man Tuesday, clearing his name and acknowledging that he spent 27 years behind bars for rapes he did not commit. It is the first time the state has issued a 'writ of actual innocence' in a rape case without the certainty of DNA evidence. Haynesworth, 46, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984."

Monday
Dec052011

The Commentariat -- December 6

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on today's heaping pile of deceit shoveled up by David Brooks. My editor tells me he has already received an appreciative letter from a law professor who was one of the principal authors of a study Brooks slyly misrepresents (without actually lying about it) in his column. The New York Times eXaminer front page is here.

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is petitioning the UN over what it sees as a concerted efforted to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of next year's presidential election. The organisation will this week present evidence to the UN high commissioner on human rights of what it contends is a conscious attempt to "block the vote" on the part of state legislatures across the US. Next March the NAACP will send a delegation of legal experts to Geneva to enlist the support of the UN human rights council." (This story got little coverage in U.S. media, tho the AP did have a story.) ...

... The NAACP is holding a Stand for Freedom march on the U.N. building in New York City this Saturday on U.N. Human Rights Day. Info is here.

Massimo Calabresi of Time: "The latest weapon Obama is wielding against Republicans is the fate of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau."

The Pelosi-Gingrich set-to begins here with Brian Beutler of TPM:

One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich. I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff. -- Nancy Pelosi ...

... THEN it goes here, as reported by Justin Sink of The Hill: "Newt Gingrich said that a threat from ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to disclose information she learned while serving on an ethics committee investigating him during his time as Speaker of the House would 'totally abuse the ethics process' and violate rules of the House of Representatives." ...

... THEN it goes here, as reported by John Parkinson of ABC News: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi now says she is not sitting on a trove of opposition research on former House Speaker-turned-GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich."

Joe Nocera writes in praise of Dr. Don Berwick, whom Republican Senators refused to confirm as Director of Medicare. Why? Because they're real flames.

Right Wing World ...

Here's Ron Paul's anti-Gingrich 60-second spot:

... Rules. Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress: " Radio giant Clear Channel Communications is removing San Francisco’s only progressive AM talk radio station from the band, replacing it with mostly conservative content like Glenn Beck and Fox News Radio. As Brad Blog reports, Green960-KKGN will now move to the 'radio ghetto' of FM HD2, which requires listeners to have an HD radio. Clear Channel ... now happens to be owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital.... Clear Channel is the nation’s largest radio network and the vast majority of their talk radio content — 86 percent, according to liberal talk radio host Bill Press — is conservative." ...

This Time Romney Flips Left! Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "On Monday, Mitt Romney embraced one of President Obama’s signature proposals — another one-year extension of a cut in payroll taxes, after just weeks ago deriding the idea as 'little Band-Aids' that offered only a temporary fix.... Newt Gingrich ... said months ago that he favored an extension." ...

... Steve Benen: "So, let’s see. First, Romney sort of endorsed the payroll tax break. Then he dismissed it. Then his campaign no longer wanted to talk about. Then he announced his support for it. Romney must realize that there’s a perception — based on voluminous evidence — that he’s a cowardly, unprincipled hack with no core beliefs who’ll shift with the political winds. And yet, the Republican presidential hopeful keeps offering proof that the criticisms are accurate." ...

News Ledes

NBC News: "Randy Babbitt resigned as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday after being charged over the weekend with driving while intoxicated."

AP: "Hundreds of people took to the streets of Moscow for a second successive day on Tuesday to demand an end to Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule, defying a crackdown by tens of thousands of police reinforced by crack Interior Ministry troops. Police said they had detained about 250 people in central Moscow when they tried to stage an unapproved rally and held about 200 more in St Petersburg, where opposition forces have also been emboldened by the prime minister's worst election setback since he took power in 1999."

President Obama will speak about the economy in Kansas at 1:55 pm ET: McClatchy News: "Looking to inject his economic agenda with the grand sweep of history, he'll travel Tuesday to the small town of Osawatomie, Kan., the same place where Theodore Roosevelt a century ago summoned the nation to a new progressive era under what he called a 'New Nationalism.'"

New York Times: "In what officials say is the largest ever settlement in a government investigation of a mine disaster, Alpha Natural Resources agreed to pay $209 million in restitution and civil and criminal penalties for the role of its subsidiary, Massey Energy, in a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 men in West Virginia."

Guardian: "The grand bargain struck by Germany and France to save the euro and restore confidence in the single currency was facing its first challenge within hours of being negotiated, after 15 eurozone nations were warned that their credit ratings could be downgraded. Just after crunch talks in Paris seen as vital to preventing the collapse of the euro, France and Germany were among the countries warned that Standard & Poor's was considering whether to reduce their ratings."

New York Times: At least 58 people were killed and scores wounded after bombers struck Shiite religious observances on Tuesday in three cities, detonating explosives amid crowds of worshipers in the first such sectarian attacks in a decade of war in Afghanistan."

The Secret Life of Gov. Willard. Reuters: "Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret, Reuters has learned.The move during the final weeks of Romney's administration was legal but unusual for a departing governor, Massachusetts officials say."

The Chicago Tribune has sort of a livebloggy thing on former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who faces a sentencing hearing today in Chicago. A New York Times story is here.

Cookie Crumbles, Takes Detestable Government Handouts. Wall Street Journal: Mary Brown of Panama City, Florida, "The woman chosen to represent the legal challenge to the Obama administration's health-care overhaul filed for bankruptcy in September after her business failed, a move that could pose problems for the high-profile lawsuit.... Without owning a business, it could be harder for Ms. Brown to argue she is harmed by the legislation. Meanwhile, her recent financial woes suggest the possibility she would be exempt from penalties for noncompliance with the individual mandate. That raises questions about whether the suit can be based on her experience.... Ms. Brown ... who is receiving unemployment benefits." CW: really, I don't bear this woman any ill will, but sometimes shit happens to selfish people, and it's hard to get all torn up about it.

Sunday
Dec042011

The Commentariat -- December 5

Randeep Ramesh of the Guardian: "Income inequality among working-age people has risen faster in Britain than in any other rich nation since the mid-1970s owing to the rise of a financial services elite who through education and marriage have concentrated wealth into the hands of a tiny minority, according to a new report by the OECD. Economists from the thinktank, which is funded by developed world taxpayers, say the annual average income in the UK of the top 10% in 2008 was just under £55,000, about 12 times higher than that of the bottom 10%, who had an average income of £4,700.... However, the report makes clear that even in countries viewed as 'fairer' – such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden – this pay gap between rich and poor is expanding: from five to one in the 1980s to six to one today. In the rising powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China the ratio is an alarming 50 to one." ...

... A One Percenter Speaks. Nick Hanauer in Bloomberg News: "I’m a very rich person. As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I’ve started or helped get off the ground dozens of companies in industries including manufacturing, retail, medical services, the Internet and software.... Even so, I’ve never been a 'job creator.' I can start a business based on a great idea, and initially hire dozens or hundreds of people. But if no one can afford to buy what I have to sell, my business will soon fail and all those jobs will evaporate.... So let’s give a break to the true job creators. Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth by putting purchasing power back in the hands of the middle class. And let’s remember that capitalists without customers are out of business." ...

     ... Rick Hertzberg comments: "Is it too 'partisan' to point out that the Obama Administration and most congressional Democrats want to do all these things? That they want infrastructure spending; aid to the states; and a slightly higher marginal-income tax rate on millionaires to finance the above plus extended unemployment relief and a cut in the payroll tax, which is a direct tax on jobs — and, therefore, on job creation? And does it show insufficient fealty to the 'sensible center' to note that congressional Republicans and the Republican Presidential candidates are essentially unanimous in their opposition to all these things?"

Paul Krugman: "And all indications are that [in their 2012 election coverage] the press will ... act as stenographers and refuse to tell readers and listeners when candidates lie. Because to do otherwise when the parties aren’t equally at fault — and they won’t be — would be 'biased'." CW: Krugman points out a PolitiFact error, about which I've written to PolitiFact -- no word yet.

CW: Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns & Money elaborates on a point I made on Off Times Square the other day (although I wasn't aware this was a purposeful, oft-repeated practice): "... the Senate ... decided to punt on the question of whether the executive can arbitrarily and indefinitely detain American citizens simply by declaring them terrorists. While dismaying, this is part of an ongoing pattern many political scientists (including yours truly) have identified: legislators deliberately putting contested issues into the courts. Issues like the constitutionality of arbitrary detention end up in the courts not because the judiciary is 'usurping' legislative power but because that’s how legislative majorities want it." ...

... Here's Charlie Savage's underlying story, which is as helpful as it can be under the circumstance that Senators don't agree on WTF they voted for. As Lemieux writes, let the Supremes decide. ...

... Ray McGovern, in a TruthOut essay: "Conflicting legal interpretations of the bill are now more about whether military detentions would be mandatory or would the president still retain some discretion. In sum, the wording appears to create a parallel military justice system that, theoretically, we are all subject to. All that would be needed is an allegation by someone that we assisted someone who in some way assisted someone else in some way. An actual terrorist act would not be needed – and neither would a trial by one’s peers as guaranteed by the Constitution to determine actual 'guilt.'” Should you be worried? Sounds like it. Thanks to Valerie L.T. for the link.

Karen Garcia writes an excellent summary post on the issue of policing the Occupy movement. We've linked most of the articles Garcia pulls together in her post, but if you've missed them, do link through. The apparently coordinated police brutality targeting Occupy protesters, many of them young people, and the militaristic tactics U.S. police departments are employing today, are eating the republic alive.

Right Wing World

Dylan Byers of Politico: "Mitt Romney's vulnerabilities as a candidate are well known, yet a seemingly new one surfaced last week: his unusual brittleness in the face of media questions. With one prickly interview with Fox’s Bret Baier on Tuesday — in which the candidate appeared uncomfortable and even angry fielding basic questions about his record — the former Massachusetts governor set off a round of speculation about his ability to operate outside hermetically sealed campaign events, reminding both his rivals and the media of the extreme lengths to which he has gone to evade the national press."

One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich. I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff. -- Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader

E. J. Dionne: "A party that lived by the tea crowd in 2010 is being severely hobbled by it now." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won’t be an accident...; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process." ...

... This GOP Candidate Will Say Anything. Remember, this is the best food stamp president in history. So more Americans today get food stamps than before. And we now give it away as cash -- you don't get food stamps. You get a credit card, and the credit card can be used for anything. We have people who take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii. They give food stamps now to millionaires because, after all, don't you want to be compassionate? -- Newt Gingrich ...

... Each of Gingrich’s claims about food stamps is so ridiculous -- especially for a self-styled policy wonk -- that we wondered whether he was really intending to be serious.... But the transcript makes it sound like he wasn’t joking, so we’ll assume he wasn’t. For being so ridiculously wrong in so many ways, we rate his statement Pants on Fire. -- PolitiFact

The Congressional Budget Office is a reactionary socialist institution which does not believe in economic growth, does not believe in innovation and does not believe in data that it has not internally generated. -- Newt Gingrich ...

... ** Mr. Gingrich's charge is completely nonsense. -- Bruce Bartlett, New York Times

Al Hunt in the New York Times: Newt Gingrich's "personal past is messier than most. He is on his third marriage, and he left his first two wives when they were in poor health and while he was having affairs. Also, his version of events is replete with gaps and changing and contradictory stories; both of his two former wives have questioned his moral character." Will values voters give him a pass? ...

... Adam Hochschild in a New York Times op-ed: Newt Gingrich's doctoral dissertation wasn't racist; but it was a pile of crap.

Dafna Linzer of ProPublica: GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann & former Minnesota Sen. Norm Colman (R) both pressed for a pardon for a "reformed" ex-con who had become a "good Christian" and made lots of charitable donations -- like to Bachmann's & Coleman's campaigns -- even as said good Christian was allegedly running a big ole Ponzi scheme. Bachmann & Coleman have withdrawn their support for the guy.

Andy Borowitz publishes Herman Cain's farewell letter. Last words:

And that leads me to my final point: you disgust me, America. Right now if I had my way, I’d up and move to another country. I really, truly would. Only I don’t know where any of them are, and my wife won’t let me leave the house.

News Ledes

President Obama on extending the middle-class tax cut. Happily, he whacks Republican obstructionists:

New York Times: J. Randolph Babbitt, "the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, has been placed on leave after he was arrested over the weekend in Virginia on a drunken driving charge."

Politico: "President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are on a collision course with Republicans over extending a payroll tax break that expires at year’s end, with both sides pushing new proposals that diverge dramatically over how to pay for the tax cut."

New York Times: "European leaders are working overtime on a tentative deal to try to save the euro, which they hope to complete at a crucial summit meeting in Brussels this week. But rather than one transformative leap, the deal will have several moving parts, together meant to show resolve to protect Italy and Spain, revise the economic governance of the euro zone and prevent further debt crises, officials involved in the talks say."

Guardian: "The high court has paved the way for the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to pursue his case against extradition to Sweden in the supreme court. Two judges ruled that his case raised a question 'of general public importance' that should be decided by the highest court in the land 'as quickly as possible'."

New York Times: "A day after parliamentary elections delivered steep losses to United Russia, the party led by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, Western monitors said the vote was marred by limited political competition, ballot box stuffing, and use of government resources for the party’s benefit."

We Are Amused. ABC News: "Queen Elizabeth II will see six consecutive years of frozen pay, as new austerity measures in the U.K. have cut funding for the royal household. Taxpayer funding for royal travel and royal palaces has also been put on the chopping block, so British taxpayers will no longer foot the bill for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s travels and security. The tab for the duke and duchess of Cambridge’s expenses will now be picked up by Prince Charles. The new measures also will lead to fewer royal parties and events, and no repairs for the royal palaces.... The move is the latest by Parliament to cut the U.K.’s major deficit problem."

Sunday
Dec042011

The Commentariat -- December 4

Maureen Dowd writes a pretty good column on the history of Newt Gingrich's writings & remarks on matters racial. My column on Dowd's is up now at the New York Times eXaminer. The eXaminer front page is here. ...

... Also in NYTX, see Alex Kane's interview of Adbusters Editor Kalle Lasn; he talks about New York Times writers smearing Occupy & Adbusters as anti-Semitic (and one of those NYT writers was Our Mister Brooks, a tidbit I noted in an earlier NYTX column), then refusing to print Lasn's rebuttal.

** Max Blumenthal in the Exiled Online: "Israeli occupation forces ... trained U.S. police for a coordinated crackdown on 'Occupy' protests.... The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed.... The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration.... Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level.... Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).... PERF gained notoriety when [its director Chuck] Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against 'Occupy' protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the 'Occupy' movement.... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus." Read the whole article, which Kate M. called to my attention. ...

... See also this Democracy Now! "discussion on policing and the Occupy Wall Street movement with Chuck Wexler, director of [PERF] ... and with Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle." Video & transcript...." ...

... Norm Stamper in The Nation: "US police forces have become increasingly militarized, and it’s showing in cities everywhere.... The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders — a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood — is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country." ...

... To your left: what the well-dressed, militarized riot policeman will be wearing when s/he confronts you.

For you masquerade fans, the New York Times depicts more Riot Cop Fashion Design through the Years here. Or what not to wear when attempting to impersonate an officer. It's so outre.

A brief overview by Chi Birmingham & Alex Vitale is here. Even the writers' names sound like those of fashion designers.

 

 

 

Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times (Dec. 1): "Citing extensive abuses of troubled borrowers across Massachusetts, the state’s attorney general sued the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders on Thursday, seeking relief for consumers hurt by what she called unfair and deceptive business practices. In addition to creating a new and significant legal headache for the banks named in the suit — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage — the Massachusetts action diminishes the likelihood of a comprehensive settlement between the banks and federal and state officials to resolve foreclosure improprieties." ...

... Justin Elliott of Salon: "Coakley’s suit comes just as Occupy Wall Street organizers are planning a campaign focusing on the foreclosure crisis that will likely feature eviction defenses, protests at banks and the like. The Occupy Our Homes project is launching on Tuesday."

Neela Banerjee of the Los Angeles Times: "Environmentalists and other nations say U.S. policy changes raise questions about whether it is committed to substantially cutting emissions and aiding developing nations in their efforts to do so."

Nick Miroff & William Booth of the Washington Post: "Arrests of illegal migrants trying to cross the southern U.S. border have plummeted to levels not seen since the early 1970s, according to tallies released by the Department of Homeland Security last week, a historic shift that could reshape the debate over immigration reform.... Experts say ... it appears that the historic flood of Mexican migration north has slowed dramatically."

Dafna Linzer & Jennifer LaFleur in the Washington Post: "White criminals seeking presidential pardons over the past decade have been nearly four times as likely to succeed as minorities, a ProPublica examination has found."

Perpectual War, Con'd. Glenn Greenwald: "Given the theories used to justify Bush/Cheney powers — ones that were just repeated almost verbatim by Obama lawyers when asked about the Awlaki assassination — how can anyone coherently have objected to the Bush/Cheney Guantanamo detention system but support Obama’s assassination powers now?"

     ... The underlying AP story by Matt Apuzzo: "U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday. The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen. The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States."

The Little King & His Enforcer. Alex Pareene of Salon: "The mayor of New York and his police commissioner reveal just how comfortable they are with autocracy."

Glenn Thrush of Politico: Newt Gingrich joins Team Obama in attacking Mitt Romney.

Right Wing World

Justin Elliott takes a look back at Newt's "impressive record not only of flip-flops, but also of policy positions that are profoundly unorthodox, some would say outlandish."

Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: Mitt Romney "says he learned about expanding employment during his time heading a private equity firm. But under his leadership, Bain Capital often maximized profits in part by firing workers."

Steve Benen takes a fond look back at his favorite Herman Cain moments. CW: They're pretty funny, until you remember a whole buncha people said they were going to vote for this guy for president.

News Ledes

ashington Post: "The Occupy D.C. campaign, largely peaceful since its launch two months ago, turned confrontational Sunday when police detained about two dozen protesters during a tense day-long standoff in McPherson Square. It marked the first-ever arrests at the group’s base camp in Washington, and it resembled clashes between police and Occupy protesters in other cities across the country."

New York Times: "Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery."

New York Times: "Telling Italians that the fate of their country and the euro was at stake, Prime Minister Mario Monti unveiled a radical and ambitious package of spending cuts and tax increases on Sunday, including deeply unpopular moves like raising the country’s retirement age."

New York Times: "The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, is expected to offer a new plan on Monday for extending the payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits that otherwise would expire this month, a fellow Democratic senator said on Sunday."

Reuters: "Russian voters dealt Vladimir Putin's ruling party a heavy blow on Sunday by cutting its parliamentary majority in an election that showed growing unease with his domination of the country as he prepares to reclaim the presidency. Incomplete results showed Putin's United Russia was struggling even to win 50 percent of the votes, compared with more than 64 percent four years ago. Opposition parties said even that outcome had been inflated by fraud." New York Times story here.

AP: "Europe's government-debt crisis, which has dragged on for more than two years, is entering a pivotal week, as leaders across the continent converge to prevent a collapse of the euro and a global financial panic that could result.Expectations are rising that Friday's summit of leaders of the 27 countries in the European Union will yield a breakthrough."

AP: "Iran's armed forces have shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that violated Iranian airspace along the country's eastern border, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday. An unidentified military official quoted in the report warned of a strong and crushing response to any violations of the country's airspace by American drone aircraft."

AP: "President Barack Obama has told Pakistan's president [Asif Ali Zardari] that the NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers were not deliberate attacks and that the U.S. is committed to a full investigation." New York Times story here. ...

... Reuters: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday, again offering U.S. condolences over the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in NATO air strikes last week, the State Department said in a statement."

AP: "Facing bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing ahead with unprecedented cuts to first-class mail next spring that will slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day. The estimated $3 billion in reductions, to be announced in broader detail on Monday, are part of a wide-ranging effort by the cash-strapped Postal Service to quickly trim costs, seeing no immediate help from Congress."

New York Times: "The Republican presidential candidates were competing on Sunday, openly or more subtly, for the backing of former supporters of Herman Cain, a day after he suspended his presidential campaign with the defiant vow that, accusations of sexual misconduct aside, he 'would not go away.'”