I didn't think I'd have time to address David Brooks Friday, but I did eventually manage to knock out a column for the New York Times eXaminer.
The President's Weekly Address:
... The transcript is here.
Juan Cole: President Obama played hardball with Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi. And it worked. CW: re: the same events Cole outlines, this was my impression, too. I'm glad to see that someone with Cole's expertise drew the same conclusion. And Tough Romney can just shut up.
Craig Timberg of the Washington Post: "... after the White House warned Tuesday that a crude anti-Muslim movie trailer had sparked lethal violence in the Middle East, Google acted..., keeping it from easy viewing in countries where more than a quarter of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims live. Legal experts and civil libertarians, meanwhile, said the controversy highlighted how Internet companies, most based in the United States, have become global arbiters of free speech, weighing complex issues that traditionally are the province of courts, judges, and occasionally, international treaty.... In temporarily blocking the video in some countries, legal experts say, Google implicitly invoked the concept of 'clear and present danger.' That's a key exception to the broad First Amendment protections...." ...
... BUT Gerry Shih of Reuters: "Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East. The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya...."
Adrian Chen of Gawker: "The anti-Islam film that's set off a firestorm in the Middle East was directed by a 65-year-old schlock director named Alan Roberts, we've confirmed. He's the creative vision behind softcore porn classics like The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood.... Roberts may have been duped by the film's producer in much the same way as the rest of the cast and crew. They believed they were participating in a period piece about ancient Egypt and had no idea the movie would be edited and dubbed into a piece of Islamophobic propaganda."
New York Times Editors: "There is still time before year's end for Congress to cancel this destructive sequester and negotiate a realistic plan to balance spending cuts with tax increases on the rich. One look at the details should persuade lawmakers that the task is urgent."
New York Times Editors: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is trying to browbeat President Obama into a pre-emptive strike [against Iran].... It is dangerous...."
Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Conservative critics of President Obama are accusing him of 'skipping' daily intelligence briefings throughout his first term and in the days leading up to this week's deadly attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya.... But the substance of the charge, aimed at undermining Obama's credibility as commander in chief, appears to be more a matter of semantics than hard fact.... Obama has never 'skipped' a Presidential Daily Briefing, aides say, even if an in-person briefing isn't listed on his schedule."
Mark Sherman of the AP: "More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections. But they might have to change the Constitution first."
Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "California -- home to seven million uninsured people, more than any other state -- is at the forefront of preparations for January 2014, when a controversial requirement that most Americans have medical coverage or pay a penalty takes effect.... The California Health Benefit Exchange has already hired 50 employees and is poised to hire 50 more. Construction of the Web portal through which some three million people are expected to buy insurance by 2019, and through which many others will likely enroll in Medicaid, is under way."
Gail Collins on the fine art of bamboozling teenagers into taking on huge, nearly life-long debt. ...
... The underlying story, by Andrew Martin of the New York Times (May 2012): "With more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in this country, crippling debt is no longer confined to dropouts from for-profit colleges or graduate students who owe on many years of education, some of the overextended debtors in years past. As prices soar, a college degree statistically remains a good lifetime investment, but it often comes with an unprecedented financial burden."
Jeff Zeleny & Megan Thee-Brenan of the New York Times: "President Obama has taken away Mitt Romney's longstanding advantage as the candidate voters say is most likely to restore the economy and create jobs, according to the latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News, which found a modest sense of optimism among Americans that White House policies are working."
A new Obama ad answering the question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" The ad will air in seven swing states:
Norm Ornstein in the Washington Post: Bob Woodward & other pundits want Obama to be more like Bill Clinton. "But ... Clinton's open and enveloping approach [did little] to improve his presidential performance.... All of the phone calls, flattery and schmoozing did not stop Republicans in both houses from voting in unison against the Clinton economic plan, and for almost eight months ... he did not have enough votes from his own Democrats." By contrast, "The accomplishments of the 111th Congress rivaled those of the Great Society Congress of Lyndon Johnson's era. And they were achieved without the midnight phone calls or warm interactions with allies and adversaries that characterized Clinton."
Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: in his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Mitt Romney confirmed that he's "not going to balance the budget by raising taxes or by cutting spending; we're going to have presto-chango-magico growth. Exactly the way that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush 'balanced' the budget by projecting magical growth rates." ...
... George Made Him Do It. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... Mitt Romney found himself at odds with his own foreign policy advisers. While two of his advisers in interviews said that Mr. Romney had a different 'red line' on Iran from President Obama, Mr. Romney told ABC News that his red line is the same as that of the president." The Romney campaign later blamed Stephanopoulos for mischaracterizing Romney's stance even though Romney agreed clearly -- twice -- that his 'red line' on Iran was the same as Obama's. CW: Parker pretty much calls Romney's people liars; this is breaking new ground for her. Maybe the worm has turned. ...
... During the Stephanopoulos interview, Romney also revealed he agrees with the embassy statement; which he twice characterized as evidence President Obama "sympathized" with violent protesters. In fact, Romney goes beyond the embassy statement to condemn the video that inspired the riots & murders. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "This whole thing would be crazy enough if Romney at least disagreed with the embassy's statement. But it's clear he agrees with it." Lewison thinks Romney might be insane.
Washington Post Editors: Mitt Romney should stop taking "cheap shots" at the President. He "needs to offer more substance and fewer slogans in foreign affairs."
Steve Benen reports that Mitt has the Mendacity train back up to speed. Week 34: 36 lies, most of which are doozies.
Jonathan Cohn the The New Republic on Romney's bad press: Romney can complain that the press is "biased," but "negative" doesn't mean "biased." Romney has earned most of those negative reports. (Cohn agrees that the horse-race stuff is over the top. It always is.) CW: Romney wasn't complaining when the horse-race reports showed him besting Obama.
The New Yorker's Steve Coll, Jon Lee Anderson & Ryan Lizza discuss the turmoil in the Middle East with Dorothy Wickenden:
Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid on "the Romney Doctrine": "Romney is not only denying the imperative that the U.S. be 'selective' in projecting its power -- his whole foreign policy is premised on a fantasy of unchallenged hegemony (albeit steered by Israel in one quarter) that never was.... Romney has surrounded himself with Bush administration hardliners and publicly positioned himself in pawn to Netanyahu, not to mention in the pay of Sheldon Adelson."
John Eligon of the New York Times: "Citing a wave of angry backlash, a Kansas man on Friday withdrew a petition in which he argued that President Obama should be removed from the state's election ballot because he did not meet citizenship requirements.... The state will continue to try to obtain the birth certificate, and officials will meet on Monday as scheduled to close the case officially. But without the petition, Mr. Obama will remain on the ballot, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach told The Associated Press." CW: where is Mitt Romney in all this? Why isn't he telling Kobach, a Romney campaign advisor, associate, surrogate, friend or something, to STFU? Oh, I know; Romney "sympathizes" with birthers.
"I didn't know you had families." Scott Kearnan, writing for Boston Spirit & republished in the Boston Globe, recounts Gov. Mitt Romney's interactions with gay activists & high-level state employees. Via Jurassicpork of Brilliant at Breakfast. Even taking into consideration that the recollections are years old & they are accounts by people who opposed Romney's policies, Romney's remarks & actions were far beyond "insensitive." That is, you can bend over backwards to give Romney the benefit of the doubt, & he still comes across as a world-class jerk.
CW: I just read Paul Ryan's speech to the Values Voters Summit, a project of the Family Research Council. I hope you'll read it, too. The linked Politico site also has video of the full speech -- way too much for me to watch, but I'm sure it gives a good idea of the audience's reactions. The reason I'm suggesting you read Ryan's speech is that it is a masterpiece of propaganda that exposes the truly dark side of right-wing think. If Nazi comparisons weren't verboten, I'd make one. You will not recognize the Barack Obama depicted in the speech, because he is the Anti-Christ, the enemy of god, "peace, freedom and civilized values." When we attribute Obama hatred to racism -- as I have been inclined to do -- we are fooling ourselves. People who hate President Obama don't hate him because he's black -- they hate him because people like Paul Ryan have instilled in them true existential fear that his re-election would "set in motion things that can never be called back. It would be a choice to give up so many other choices.... If we renew the contract, we will get the same deal -- with only one difference: In a second term, he will never answer to you again." Re-electing Barack Obama is tantamount to the end of democracy, to the end of freedom, to the end of civilization. You don't have to be a birther to believe that Obama is the leader of an open conspiracy to attack the United States from within. Values Voters aren't specifically crazy; they are, to borrow a word from George Romney, "brainwashed."
CW: while searching for something else, I came across this terrific piece by Marcy Wheeler on Mitt Romney's convention speech. It's more than two weeks old, but it is still worth reading. Wheeler is an expert at bringing together little pieces of the puzzle to expose the whole. That's what she does here. Her bottom line is "to a large and increasing number of American people, Mitt's actually arguing that he should be President so he can solve the problem he got phenomenally rich by causing in the first place." It's the getting to the bottom line that's astounding.
Ed Treleven of the Wisconsin State Journal: "A Dane County [Madison] judge late Friday struck down Wisconsin's controversial 2011 collective bargaining law because he said it violates the state and U.S. constitutional guarantees of free speech and freedom of association." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.
Tom Brown & David Adams of Reuters: "An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on Friday blocking the state's plans to verify the citizenship status of voters before the November 6 election in the Midwestern swing state. The injunction was a setback for Iowa's Republican Governor Terry Branstad."
Laura Vozella of the Washington Post: "Virginia's Board of Health did an about-face on abortion regulations Friday, voting to impose strict, hospital-style building standards even on existing clinics and reversing its June decision. The reversal came two days after the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) sent a letter to board members advising them against grandfathering clinics -- and warning that they could be personally liable for legal fees if they were sued after ignoring his legal advice."
Reuters: "A California man convicted of bank fraud was taken in for questioning on Saturday by officers investigating possible probation violations stemming from the making of an anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests in the Muslim world. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, voluntarily left his home in the early hours of Saturday morning for the meeting in a sheriff's station in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos...." ...
... Reuters: "Afghanistan's Taliban claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on a base which U.S. officials said killed two American Marines, saying it was in response to a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad. Camp Bastion, in southern Helmand province, came under mortar, rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire late on Friday in an attack in which several servicemen were wounded." ...
... Reuters: "The Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda urged Muslims to step up protests and kill more U.S. diplomats in Muslim countries after a U.S.-made film mocking the Prophet Mohammad which it said was another chapter in the 'crusader wars' against Islam." ...
... AP: "The U.S. is sending more spies, Marines and drones to Libya, trying to speed the search for those who killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but the investigation is complicated by a chaotic security picture in the post-revolutionary country, and limited American and Libyan intelligence resources."
Reuters: "Thousands of striking Chicago teachers will march again on Saturday to keep the pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to wrap up an agreement with their union so they can end a strike that has closed the nation's third largest school district for a week. The 'Standing Strong with Chicago Teachers Rally' could be the largest demonstration against Emanuel's education reforms since the strike began in Chicago on September 10."
New York Times: "Federal and state authorities ... are beginning one of the most aggressive crackdowns on money-laundering in decades, intended to send a signal to the nation's biggest banks that weak compliance is unacceptable. Regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, are close to taking action against JPMorgan Chase for insufficient safeguards...."