The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, January 31, 2015.

New York Times: "The Islamic State claimed to have beheaded a Japanese journalist in a video released Saturday night, the culmination of a two-week-long drama that appears to have cost the lives of two Japanese men. The video of the killing of the journalist, Kenji Goto, came two days after a deadline set by the extremist group expired, and the Jordanian government did not give in to its demand that a convicted would-be suicide bomber be exchanged for Mr. Goto’s life."

New York Times: "Carl Djerassi, an eminent chemist who 63 years ago synthesized a hormone that changed the world by creating the key ingredient for the oral contraceptive known as 'the pill,' died at his home in San Francisco on Friday. He was 91."

New York Times: "... as officials in 14 states grapple to contain a spreading measles outbreak that began near here at Disneyland, the parents at the heart of America’s anti-vaccine movement are being blamed for incubating an otherwise preventable public-health crisis."

Guardian: "Angela Merkel has ruled out the prospect of Greece securing further debt cuts from its creditor nations, potentially putting the country’s new leftist government on a collision course with Brussels."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 21-year-old daughter of the late Whitney Houston, was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub Saturday morning and was rushed to the hospital, Roswell authorities said. TMZ is reporting that sources close to the family say she’s been place in a medically induced coma to address swelling. An AJC reporter was told to leave hospital property Saturday and no hospital representatives were available for official comment."

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics":

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 29

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

This is a real bill. Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott verified it. Check out the customer name on the account:

Is "Asshole" the customer's real given name? Well, no. Comcast got mad at the family for wishing to cancel the cable part of their Comcast service. Comcast not only refused to cut the cable, as it were, they changed the primary customer's name from "Ricardo" (his parents' idea) to "Asshole." When Ricardo's wife tried to get Comcast to change the account back to her husband's real name, both Comcast's local & regional "customer service" (Comcast's idea) offices refused. After Elliott took up the Browns' case, Comcast relented on both. ...

... Video via Karoli of Crooks & Liars. CW: I assure you, former Arkansas Gov. Fuckabee will be very upset by the vid.

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Friday
Sep142012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 15, 2012

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."

Presidential Race

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.

Local News

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."

News Ledes

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...."

Thursday
Sep132012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 14, 2012

CW: This would be a good day to journey to the bottom of the post.

NEW. Dean Baker has a good piece on David Brooks' column. Headline: "Did Public Schools Fail David Brooks?"

Ben Bernanke holds a press conference to explain the Fed's action:

Felix Salmon of Reuters: "The main news isn't the fact that the Fed is back in the market, buying bonds. Indeed, as Binyamin Appelbaum [of the New York Times] points out, QE3 in volume terms, at $40 billion per month, is significantly smaller than QE1 and QE2.... [The big deal is that] QE3, unlike QE1 and QE2, has no set expiry date. The Fed's ... promising a steady extra flow of monetary fuel for the foreseeable future -- or at least until the labor market improves 'substantially.' ... But the Fed went even further ... where they all but promised zero interest rates until mid-2015." ...

QE3 -- Good for Everybody! Josh Barro of Bloomberg: "While overly tight monetary policy has hit the unemployed the hardest, it has been bad for almost everybody, including rich people. It's true that disinflation has been good for certain securities, particularly low-risk bonds. But wealthy bondholders also tend to be wealthy stockholders, and Fed policies that hold economic growth down are bad for equities...." ...

... Paul Krugman makes some remarks on the Fed's move. ...

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Republicans are piling on in the expected ways. Romney calls it another 'bailout.' I'd watch that word if I were he; that word is no friend of his (oh, by the way -- Obama is up 10 in Michigan).... If Republicans want to be in the position of opposing an effort by the Federal Reserve Bank to lower the jobless rate, that's their problem.

Krugman: You might be a Keynesian if ... you believe reports that sales of the new iPhone 5 is likely to stimulate the economy.

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "President Barack Obama didn't intend to signal any change in the U.S.-Egypt relationship last night when he said Egypt is not an 'ally,'" the White House [said Thursday]. Here's the full transcript of the Telemundo interview. In response to the question, "Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United States?" Obama responded, in part,

I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don;t consider them an enemy. They're a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident. How they respond to, for example, maintaining the peace treaty ... with Israel.... Certainly in this situation what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected, and if they take actions that indicate they're not taking responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that's going to be a real big problem.

Finally, Juan Cole raises the question that likely occurred to all of us: "Why in the world [Ambassador Chris Stevens] was in an insecure minor consulate in a provincial city on September 11 is a mystery to me." Read Cole's whole post; he is an expert on Middle East politics, & he gives a more nuanced sense of what happened in Libya & Egypt.

Presidential Race

And You Thought Voter ID Laws Were Abominable. Evan McMorris Santoro & Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an informal advisor to ... Mitt Romney, said on Thursday he and his fellow members of a state board were considering removing President Barack Obama from the Kansas ballot this November." CW: the Kansas board won't get away with this of course, but it is important to realize to what lengths Banana Republicans will go to blow up the democratic process & exactly what their commitment is to "American values." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "President Obama spent the second day of what was to be an upbeat swing through the politically vital Mountain West on Thursday balancing the somber tone that a foreign policy crisis demands and the hyper-partisan rhetoric that eight thousand Coloradoans came to hear."

The Obama campaign released this Web video yesterday, hitting Romney on his secret tax returns again. Donovan Slack of Politico has a related story:

This Didn't Take Long. McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: the Romney camp is blaming the "liberal" press for its problems. One "Republican said, 'Experienced political operatives say they've never seen the press be so unhinged and determined to write 'Republican in disarray' stories.'"

... Tim Egan on the burdens of free speech by hatemongers -- and Romney, whose popping off was the "most revealing moment of the campaign." ...

... Roger Cohen of the New York Times: "This September surprise has given the world cause to appreciate the cool head in the White House and worry about the hothead who aspires to replace him. Romney, in Jacques Chirac's immortal phrase, 'lost a good opportunity to keep quiet.'" ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post in a column titled "Romney Owes an Apology": "... no one should be surprised by Mitt Romney's decision to ... exploit the attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya as ammunition in the presidential campaign. After all, [he] ... wrote a book in 2010 premised on, and titled with, the false notion that Barack Obama has been going around the world apologizing for America.... To Romney, apologizing means never actually having to say you're sorry." ...

... Glenn Kessler: "Earlier in the week, we hesitated about handing out Pinocchios because not all of the facts had been established. But now it is pretty evident that the Romney campaign misstated the facts on Tuesday, on Wednesday -- and then again on Thursday, even after the peculiar circumstances of this embassy statement had been made abundantly clear." ...

... Gene Robinson: "The most charitable explanation is that he's in a panic over polls that show Obama opening a lead. If this is not the case, then Romney's ignorance of foreign policy is more profound -- and potentially dangerous -- than anyone could have suspected.... You have to wonder whether he knows there are moments when the guiding principle has to be 'America first.' Not 'me first.'" ...

... Jonathan Alter in Bloomberg News: "It's hard to avoid the conclusion that [Romney] is trying to pander to the Republican base, almost one-third of which still believes -- against all evidence -- that Obama is a Muslim.... Americans recognize that judgment, prudence, instinct and a sense of what the moment demands are all job requirements for the presidency. Romney met none of them this week." ...

... Frank Rich talks with New York magazine's Eric Benson about the new soap "All My Cheap Shots," starring Mitt Romney (or something like that).

I think the challenge that I'll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren't true. -- Mitt Romney, to George Stephanopoulos:

... CW: I've taken down the video of part of George Stepheanopoulos' interview of Mitt Romney because it may be the cause of some readers' computers freezing up. You can see video of the whole interview & read the transcript here.

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Speaking to a modest-sized crowd in Northern Virginia on Thursday, Mitt Romney sought to move beyond his criticism of President Obama's response to the turmoil in Libya and Egypt and instead broadly paint the president as weak on foreign policy.... At the mere mention of Libya, however, a man in the crowd began shouting: 'Why are you politicizing Libya?' As the crowd shouted down the protester, Mr. Romney tried to continue, before concluding, 'I would offer a moment of silence, but one gentleman doesn't want to be silent so we're going to keep on going..., strong military..., American leadership,' blah-blah.'" CW: So he's going to stand up to the world, but he caves to a lone protester? ...

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Advisers to Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his sharp criticism of President Obama and said that the deadly protests sweeping the Middle East would not have happened if the Republican nominee were president.... Mitchell Reiss, a top Romney policy adviser, said in an interview, 'There are things that we can do in terms of what we say, the constancy of what our vision is -- pluralism, respect for law, human dignity -- these are things that you don't hear from the administration, and the people in the region want to hear that.'" CW: I guess Mitt Romney was expressing his "vision" of "human dignity" when he said Israelis were more successful than Palestinians because of "cultural differences." And I suppose he was expressing respect for "pluralism" when he said Muslims should not be able to build a mosque within the vicinity of Ground Zero. Yessiree, those are great ways to win Muslim friends. ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM points out that Richard Williamson, the Romney advisor who claimed the attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East would never have happened if Romney were president, was an official in the George W. Bush administration, & "Numerous deadly attacks on diplomatic compounds in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Syria took place during the Bush administration."

If we [conservatives] want to win the battle of ideas in the long term, we should be willing to face the fact that Mitt Romney is likely to lose -- and should, given that he's neither a true conservative nor a courageous moderate. He's just an ambitious man. Nothing wrong with that, except when you want to be president. Great leaders combine ambition and ideas and conviction. -- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" & a former Florida Republican Congressman who was one of the managers of the Clinton impeachment trial

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: where were Romney & RNC Chair Reince Priebus when President George W. Bush was actually apologizing for anti-Muslim actions & remarks by Americans?

A Diplomat Goes Rogue. Max Fisher of the Atlantic: "A senior public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, [Larry] Schwartz on Tuesday wrote a much-discussed memo stating that the embassy 'condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,' as well as several defensive tweets, some of which he later deleted.... State Department officials back in Washington, it turns out, had reviewed the memo and explicitly told Schwartz not to publish it, which he did anyway."

In yesterday's Ledes, there's a New York Times report on how President Obama told Israeli PM Netanyahu the U.S. would not accommodate his latest appeal. By contrast, Mitt Romney has said he would cede U.S. policy on Iran to Netanyahu. 

Dana Milbank: "Paul Ryan ... is scheduled to address the [Family Research] Council's 'Values Voter Summit' in Washington Friday morning.... He is making a mistake."

Daily Kos: "For the first time in 98 years, the 330,000-member Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) will not endorse a candidate for president this year. The FOP supported the Republican candidate for President in 2008, 2004, and 2000, and its non-endorsement is seen as a refutation of Mitt Romney. Why the change? One big reason was Mitt Romney's support of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio, which stripped collective bargaining rights from police officers."

AND Bruce Dickenson wants more cowbell:

     ... "Christopher Walken Endorses Obama." ...

     ... Thanks to contributor Lisa for her extensive research & virtual authorship of the "More Cowbell" feature.

FINALLY, Greg Sargent chooses this Fox Nation headline the Headline of the Day:

News Ledes

NBC News: "The bodies of four Americans killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, earlier in the week were returned to the United States and honored in a somber ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Friday." Secretary Clinton & President Obama speak:

... New York Times: "The violently anti-American rallies that have roiled the Islamic world over a video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad expanded on Friday to nearly 20 countries, with demonstrators storming the American Embassy in Tunisia in a deadly clash and protesters in Sudan's capital broadening the targets to include Germany and Britain." ...

... Washington Post: "The team of FBI agents assigned to investigate the deaths of four Americans in Libya has not been able to get into the country because of the volatile situation there, according to law enforcement officials." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Protesters in Egypt, angry at a video they say insults Prophet Mohammad, have hurled stones on a police force that prevented them from marching towards the US embassy in Cairo. On Friday, police in riot gear fired tear gas and threw stones back at the demonstrators. A burnt-out car was overturned in the middle of the street that leads to the fortified embassy from Tahrir Square." Al Jazeera has a liveblog of news about this & other protest incidents related to the anti-Islam film. ...

... AP: The "Egyptian ... president went on state TV and appealed to Muslims to protect embassies, trying to patch up strained relations with the United States.... Islamist President Mohammed Morsi spoke for more than seven minutes on state TV, his most direct public move to contain protests...."

... Washington Post: "As the anti-U.S. demonstrations spread, the [Obama] administration acted on a variety of fronts to convey two messages: that it had nothing to do with the offending video and that violence was not an acceptable response to the material." CW: a comprehensive story with info on a number of developments. ...

... ABC News: Glen Doherty, "one of the Americans killed alongside Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya Tuesday, told ABC News before his death that he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up dangerous weapons in the war-torn nation."

... The Washington Post also reports on the "mystery" surrounding the video's producer(s).

Friday Afternoon News Dump. New York Times: The White House delivered a report to Congress Friday "detailing line by line what will happen next year if Washington fails to act to head off about $100 billion automatic defense and domestic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The Obama administration had been reluctant to show its hand on the true impact of so-called sequestration, but once forced to do so by Congress, the White House budget office did not scrimp on the details. 'As the administration has made clear, no amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts. Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument. It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction,' the report concludes." You can read the report here.

Chicago Tribune: "Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract and classes could resume for 350,000 students on Monday, according to school and union officials."

Washington Post: "The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a six-month stopgap government funding bill on a 329 to 91 vote, putting aside the partisan warfare of the past 18 months in bipartisan resolve to avoid a budget showdown ahead of the November election. The Senate is expected to pass the same measure late next week, providing funding for agencies for the first six months of the fiscal year and avoiding any threat of a government shutdown when the year ends Sept. 30."

New York Times: "Two Republican state senators who provided pivotal votes to legalize same-sex marriage last year fought opponents to a standstill on Thursday in primary races so close that they will be decided only after absentee ballots are counted."

Wednesday
Sep122012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 13, 2012

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian: "All the rage and denunciations of these murders in Benghazi are fully justified, but one wishes that even a fraction of that rage would be expressed when the US kills innocent men, women and children in the Muslim world, as it frequently does. Typically, though, those deaths are ignored, or at best justified with amoral bureaucratic phrases ('collateral damage') or self-justifying cliches ('war is hell'), which Americans have been trained to recite.... It's as though there are two types of crimes: killing, and then the killing of Americans."

Steve Benen: The Census Bureau annual report, published yesterday, shows that "for the first time in three years, the percentage of the public with [health insurance] coverage went up, not down, going from 83.7% to 84.3%.... The Affordable Care Act is making a positive difference, before it's even fully implemented.... 'Obamacare' is working."

Bill Maher on how Tom Brokaw & his band of "balanced, both-sides-do-it" newscasters contribute to birthism and racism. Thanks to Kate M. for pointing me to Maher's blogpost. CW: Brokaw is also a pompous know-nothing -- sort of the Rand Paul of broadcast journalism. I don't expect old farts like Brokaw to be policy wonks; he made a spectacular living reading the news, not analyzing it. But he should stay off the pundit circuit if he wants to pontificate about the deficit & hasn't read Krugman or about health insurance & hasn't read Ezra Klein. He's an embarrassing reminder of what happened to broadcast "journalism" in the U.S. when the first generation of actual journalists -- who came up from radio or print media -- died or retired.

Nicholas Kristof cites impressive statistics on how the quality of teachers affects students' futures. CW: I find the results surprising because I came up thru a school district (Dade County, Florida) where the vast majority of the teachers were pretty awful but many of the students -- who were almost all from lower middle-class families -- ended up being tremendously successful. Anyway, Kristof's piece is quite convincing. Maybe what it means is that if students don't get encouragement at home, then effective teachers make up the deficit.

Presidential Race

Michael Lewis has a well-writ feature in Vanity Fair on how President Obama made the decision to aid the Libyan rebels. Contributor Dave S., who recommended the piece wondered at its coincidental timing.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "President Obama began what was supposed to be a boisterous campaign rally [in Las Vegas, Nevada] Wednesday before his most ardent group of supporters with a somber remembrance of the four Americans who were killed at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday." ...

Peter Baker & Ashley Parker's New York Times article on L'Affaire Libya is an attempt at "fair-and-balanced" reporting that manages to make Romney look pretty bad. It will appear in today's print edition. However, the story mentions Romney's running fake complaint that "Obama goes around the world apologizing for the U.S." but omits the "fake" part, thus leaving the reader to guess if this is true or not. ...

... Philip Rucker's story in the Washington Post is much tougher on Romney, & so is the front-page headline: "Romney faces flak for assailing Obama on Libya." (The internal headline & URL are not so flashy.)

Brian Montopoli of CBS News: "In response to Mitt Romney's criticism of the Obama administration for its handling of recent violence in Egypt and Libya, President Obama ... told '60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft at the White House. 'And I -- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That, you know, it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em.' Asked if Romney's attacks were irresponsible, the president replied, 'I'll let the American people judge that.'"

Matt Vasilogambros of the National Journal has a timeline of events leading up to & during the Libyan attacks. As Greg Sargent says, the timeline "demolishes Romney's version of events." ...

... Kasie Hunt of the AP: "The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of 'disgraceful' handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo." Headline: "Romney Misstates Facts on Attacks." ...

... Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's fact-checker: "We have looked in vain for an 'apology' in the Cairo [embassy] statement, as well as significant differences between that statement and earlier ones [going back to the Bush administration]. One could criticize the Cairo statement for lacking a meticulous defense of freedom of speech. But that is not the same thing as an apology -- especially since the embassy clearly issued the statement long before the protests began. This all started because some people got the timeline wrong. In the fog of war and protest, it often helps to get the facts straight before you act -- or speak."

"Romney Camp Tries to Manage Fallout from Libya Response." Peter Hamby of CNN: "Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode." Hamby publishes the list of talking points. ...

... Because even the neocons who constitute the Washington Post Editorial board have this to say: the "tragedy" in Libya "should prompt bipartisan support for renewed U.S. aid to Libyans who are struggling to stabilize the country. That it instead provoked a series of crude political attacks on President Obama by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a discredit to his campaign.... Mr. Obama struck the right tone on Wednesday...." ...

... Paul Krugman thinks that the real damage Romney did to himself was to his relationship with the media: "Romney has really ensured that everyone in the news media, the GOP propaganda organs aside, is going to view him with distaste and alarm -- as well they should. Romney could still win, but he has just made it even harder for anyone to consider him suitable for the job."

Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid: "In response to everything Obama does or says -- or, for that matter, anything his primary opponents did or said -- Romney's reaction is so knee-jerk condemnatory, so extravagantly worded, so predictably self-serving that the instinctive response for most listeners or readers not themselves besotted with hatred for the target has got to be, 'this guy is faking it.' ... A majority even of Republicans think that Romney typically 'says what he thinks people want to hear' rather than that he 'says what he believes.'" Via Kevin Drum of Mother Jones.

... It Was a Set-Up! Noam Scheiber of The New Republic talked to a former Romney advisor who said "Romney may have been feeling defensive over the hazing he took in Charlotte last week -- 'my opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy,' the president tweaked him -- and was primed to hit back. 'They set him up Thursday night at the convention with the smack down on foreign policy,' says the former adviser. 'They called him naïve, Palin-esque. Then he got his back up about it and was waiting for opportunity to show, "I'm strong, too." CW: nothing more reassuring than having a president who can be easily punked. ...

... Gail Collins: "Two months to go and we're rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option." ...

... Michael Cohen of the New York Daily News: Romney's "reaction to the violence in Egypt and Libya over a film mocking the religious beliefs of Muslims is truly one of the most brain-dead political acts that I've ever witnessed -- and it speaks volumes about his personal character and fitness for the nation's highest office.... "Put [it] all together and you have a political assault that is craven, dishonest and shameless all at once."

... Jon Chait of New York: "Romney had grown accustomed to spinning fantasies cobbled together from months-old Obama speeches and nurtured into legend by extensive repetition and exaggeration in the conservative subculture. What he failed to realize from the outset was that the embassy attack was an immediate, high-profile event that he could not hope to rewrite so brazenly. Forced to confront the yawning chasm between reality and the fantasy he had wallowed in so long, Romney was exposed and, justifiably, discredited." CW: this may be the price a person pays when he feels he is "entitled" to lie. Romney has been lying for years & no one but a few lonely voices on the left called him out. Since substantively there's no difference between lying about something that supposedly happened years ago & lying about something that happened yesterday, Romney couldn't see the difference. The difference, as Chait writes, was that everybody but the Tom Brokaw contingent can remember way back to yesterday. ...

... BUT the REAL leader of the Republican party -- that would be Rush Limbaugh -- said that "Romney is the only guy that looked presidential in all of this." CW: evidently Rushbo was aware that while Willard was looking presidential, he was also moving his lips, which made him sound like a lying lunatic.

Greg Sargent rounds up for recent polls that show Obama tied or slightly ahead of Romney on who would do a better job on managing the economy &/or creating jobs: "For much of the presidential race, polls have shown that Mitt Romney has led Barack Obama on the question of who would do a better job handling the economy.... Well, we now have four national polls that show Obama and Romney tied on the question -- perhaps suggesting a potentially significant shift in the race's dynamics." Sargent also notes that the Fox "News" poll finds that Obama is favored 51-40 on "who is more trusted to protect Medicare and ensure that it's there for future generations." ...

... Nate Cohn of The New Republic looks at the Fox "News" poll: "Collectively, these figures are terrible news for the Romney campaign. They have always claimed that their path to victory depended on voters resolving to dismiss the president on the grounds that his economic performance is a resounding failure, but voters appear to be drawing a different conclusion." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... CW: these poll results are not news to the Romney campaign. They do their own polling. These post-conventions results explain why Romney is attacking Obama on every front, even when the attacks make no sense and are counterfactual. The Romney camp's central belief -- that they could win on "Me-Businessman/He-Socialist" and nothing else -- has been eroding for a couple of months. Those Bain Capital attack ads -- that so annoyed Cory Booker -- worked.

Two theories of presidential election dynamics, which are not mutually exclusive: David Atkins of Hullabaloo: the electorate's relationship with President Obama is "complicated" & personal; Paul Krugman: Americans know the economy is still bad, especially for middle-class job-seekers, but they perceive it as moving in the right direction. ...

... CW theory: the Republican base prefers crazy candidates, & the GOP honchos think their candidates should be the ones who have "paid their dues"; i.e., run for POTUS previously -- Saint Ronnie, Pappy Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Rmoney; Dubya was a legacy pick. "Normal" voters are turned off by the flame-throwers (as Rmoney has become) & don't give a rat's ass (including Willard's) if a president is a former also-ran. ("I used to be a loser," is not that great a campaign pitch; "I used to be a loser, & now I'm crazy" is worse.) Notice that the successful Democratic candidates have been relative unknowns who never previously ran for president -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton & Barack Obama.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: the Obama "campaign's big-dollar fund-raising has become more dependent than it was four years ago on a smaller number of large-dollar donors and fund-raisers. All told, Mr. Obama's top 'bundlers' -- people who gather checks from friends and business associates -- raised or gave at least $200 million for Mr. Obama's re-election bid and the Democratic National Committee through the end of May...."

Congressional Races

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe: "Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren -- amid growing unrest from party activists and leaders -- is facing pressure to make a major shift in her television advertising with a new series of commercials that seek to soften her image, while focusing more directly on her GOP rival, Senator Scott Brown."

Edith Zimmerman profiles Joseph Kennedy III for the New York Times Magazine. Kennedy is running as a Democrat for U.S. Congress in the redrawn district of Barney Frank (D), who is retiring.

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to spell out a specific 'red line' that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, a senior administration official said, deepening the divide between the allies.... In an hourlong telephone conversation..., Mr. Obama deflected Mr. Netanyahu's proposal to make the size of Iran's stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium the threshold for a military strike by the United States against its nuclear facilities."

Reuters: "The United States on Thursday identified two additional victims of this week's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as former Navy SEALS who died trying to protect their colleagues. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in Tuesday's assault on the Benghazi consulate, which also killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, a State Department information management officer."

New York Times: "Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country's alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the United States Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence."

New York Times: "The Federal Reserve opened a new chapter on Thursday in its efforts to stimulate the economy, announcing simply that it plans to buy mortgage bonds, and potentially other assets, until unemployment declines substantially."

AP: "Chanting 'death to America,' hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East. The protesters breached the usually tight security around the embassy and reached the compound grounds but did not enter the main building housing the offices." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Deadly outrage in the Arab world over an American-made video insulting Islam's founder spread to at least half a dozen places across the Middle East on Thursday and threatened to draw in Afghanistan, two days after assailants in Libya killed four American diplomatic personnel, including the ambassador, and caused a foreign policy political clash in the United States. The worst of the violence was in Yemen, where at least five Yemenis were killed as hundreds of protesters stormed the American Embassy and were repulsed by Yemeni security forces."

... Al Jazeera: "Protesters angered by an anti-Islam film have stormed the US embassy compound in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, as similar demonstrations have spread to several countries across the Middle East." ...

... New York Times: "Hours before the attacks in Benghazi on Tuesday, the American Embassy in Cairo came under siege from protesters. While the violence there did not result in any American deaths, the tepid response from the Egyptian government to the assault gave officials in Washington -- already troubled by the direction of President Mohamed Morsi's new Islamist government -- further cause for concern." ...

... Al Jazeera: "US officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that a special unit of roughly 50 members of the Marine Corps had been dispatched to Libya to reinforce the troops guarding diplomats there, as two warships headed to the Libyan coast." ...

... Reuters: "Security forces fired teargas to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators near the U.S. embassy in Cairo late on Wednesday, some 24 hours after protesters scaled the walls and tore down the flag over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad." ...

... AP: "The anti-Muslim film implicated in mob protests against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Mideast received logistical help from a man once convicted of financial crimes and featured actors who complained that their inflammatory dialogue was dubbed in after filming. The self-proclaimed director of 'Innocence of Muslims' initially claimed a Jewish and Israeli background. But others involved in the film said his statements were contrived as evidence mounted that the film's key player was a southern Californian Coptic Christian with a checkered past."

ABC News: "Al Qaeda has released a new video of American hostage Warren Weinstein delivering a personal message to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. In the video, Weinstein, 71, believed to be held in the tribal regions along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, appears healthy and calm, speaking in a soft, controlled manner."

Reuters: "The union for Chicago teachers and the third largest U.S. school district said they will try on Thursday to make a final push to settle a strike that has drawn national attention to the sweeping education reforms sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As the strike of 29,000 public school teachers and support staff prepared to enter a fourth day, negotiators for the first time expressed optimism that the nasty fight could end soon." Chicago Tribune item here.

AP: "One of New York City's most ambitious efforts to prod residents to live healthier appears poised to pass as a health panel takes up a plan to cut down sales of big sodas and other sugary soft drinks. The Board of Health was set to vote Thursday on the proposal, which would bar sales of sugar-heavy drinks in more than 16-ounce cups or bottles in restaurants, movie theaters and some other settings." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "... The New York City Board of Health approved on Thursday a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters, enacting the first restriction of its kind in the country."

Tuesday
Sep112012

Lady Romney at the School of Hard Knocks

They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income. It was tiny. And I didn’t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting. We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. -- Lady Romney, 1994

We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days. -- Lady Romney, GOP convention, August 2012

Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives. -- Lady Romney, "Meet the Press," September 10, 2012

Oops. Guess that phony poor-mouthing wasn't polling too well. Nonetheless, I think maybe we should let Lady Romney know that she & Little Lord Willard weren't the only students who struggled to make ends meet on a paltry inheritance. Here's my contribution. Please feel free to add your own. It can be real or more like this:

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times. I'll just skip right over my undergraduate days, where I worked my way through school on summer jobs, research assistantships & tuition scholarships. Let's get on to the days when my first husband was finishing his last years of grad school. Although Lord & Lady Romney didn't have to work, we did because neither of us had a family inheritance. My husband had teaching jobs -- where he was paid by the course; he didn't have a full-time salary or standing -- & I worked at one of the universities where he taught. After a while I got pregnant -- to keep my husband out of Viet Nam -- & had to quit work. But I still worked researching my husband's dissertation, & after my son was born, I went back to school, too. We first lived in a third-floor walk-up on the Near North side of Chicago, then we moved to -- a basement apartment in Rogers Park -- just south of Evanston. It had linoleum floors -- no fancy mismatched carpet. To keep to our schedule of classes, my husband & I used to meet on the El platform & trade off our infant son. Our desk was a door propped up on oak filing cabinets I found in the alley. We didn't have a bed! (My husband & I slept on an avocado-green sofabed in the living/dining room.) We didn't have a car. The summer after my son was born, to save the cost of a round trip on the El, I used to ride my bike 18 miles through Lincoln Park on Saturdays to the Chicago Historical Society to read microfilm for my husband while he stayed home with our son & worked on compiling the research I'd done.

Not counting baby food, I never spent more than $20/week on groceries; it was usually closer to $10. We had a black-&-white TV. During the 1968 Chicago convention, burglars stole it & our typewriter.

When my husband finished his dissertation, which I edited & typed (on a new electric portable), he got a full-time job teaching at the University of Southern California. After we moved to SoCal, I got a job as a claims adjuster for an insurance company so we could save for a down payment on a house. Shortly after we bought the house, I got pregnant again -- my husband's bright idea -- and he promptly left me for one of his beautiful USC students. While I was packing up to go live with my parents (my mother was less than thrilled) for my "confinement," my husband's sheepskin came in the mail. When he came around to collect his mail, I gave him his half of the diploma.

"Very special days"? You bet. I learned a lot. Like -- diplomas are made of high-quality rag bond. If you tear them carefully, you get a beautiful deckled edge.