The Ledes

Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Jacksonville Times-Union: A Jacksonville jury today found Michael Dunn guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. "Under Florida law Dunn must be sentenced to prison for life with no possibility of parole for the murder of Davis. He also faces a minimum of 60 years for the attempted murders of Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson, friends of Davis who were in the Dodge Durango with Davis when he died.... A previous jury deadlocked on his guilt in Davis’ death in February while convicting him of the second-degree attempted murders of Brunson, Stornes and Thompson."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

Guardian: "Medical officials in the United States announced on Tuesday the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed outside Africa during the latest outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 people this year. The patient, who has not yet been identified, is being treated in Dallas, Texas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the patient left Liberia in west Africa on 19 September, but did not develop symptoms until a few days after arriving in the US. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas on Sunday."

Los Angeles Times: "The Securities and Exchange Commission accused two men of insider trading for acting on advance word that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman planned to bet against nutritional products company Herbalife Ltd. It's the latest dramatic turn for the Los Angeles company, which is under federation investigation and has been fighting allegations for nearly two years that it operates an illegal pyramid scheme."

Los Angeles Times: "Bell Gardens[, California,] Mayor Daniel Crespo died Tuesday after he was shot by his wife, Levette, during a domestic situation, Sheriff's Department officials told The Times."

New York Times: "An Oklahoma man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the beheading of a co-worker, but federal officials said they had found no links that tie the man to terrorist organizations, including Islamic extremist groups that have beheaded several Western hostages in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. Alton Nolen, 30, who worked on the production line of a food processing plant in Moore, Okla., remains in the hospital after being shot by the company’s chief operating officer, who is also a reserve deputy sheriff, the authorities said."

New York Times: "Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader on Tuesday called for the pro-democracy demonstrators who have blocked major roads in the city to return home 'immediately,' and he gave no sign that he was prepared to compromise on their demands for more open elections to choose his successor." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the protests.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 1

12:15 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Think Progress: "Facebook officially apologized Wednesday for enforcing its 'real name' policy for users against drag queens and other members of the LGBT community. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, acknowledged that the policy has been a 'painful' experience for the many individuals whose profiles were suspended and promised to do better."

CW: Glad to see I'm not the only person who hates Windows 8. I thought it was just my old-lady-ness setting in.

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker: "The first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice dropped today and, as expected, it's a madcap psychedelic Southern California love song that may or may not feature an appearance by elusive author Thomas Pynchon.... Anderson declined to answer directly in a recent interview with the New York Times, but [actor Josh] Brolin confirmed the notoriously reclusive author will appear in the film, telling the reporter, 'I don't think anybody knew... He came on as the kind of mercurial iconoclast he is. He stayed in the corner.'"

Here's a voiceover Pynchon did in 2009 promoting the novel Inherent Vice:


Whatever Happened to Piers Morgan? Guardian: "Piers Morgan, the former CNN talkshow host, has been appointed editor-at-large of Mail Online’s US operation. The outspoken New York-based British journalist, who parted company with CNN in early September, six months after his primetime talkshow was axed, will write for the Daily Mail’s US website several times a week, according to a Mail Online story published on Tuesday."

CW: You won't likely be hearing from Piers here. I've never found a reason to cite a Daily Mail story.

Los Angeles Times: "George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are married, having said their vows Saturday evening in Venice, Italy." ...

... OR, as the Business Women Media lede reads, "Amal Alamuddin, a 36 year old London-based dual-qualified English barrister and New York litigation attorney who has long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law has gone against the trend for professional women in her field and married… an actor."

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

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Thursday
May102012

The Commentariat -- May 11, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "The Essential Mitt Romney." The NYTX front page is here.

Today Paul Krugman directly attacks David Brooks' most recent column. Krugman doesn't mention Brooks by name, so see if you can spot the direct refutation. "... claims that our problems are deep and structural offer an excuse for not acting, for doing nothing to alleviate the plight of the unemployed.... Inventing reasons not to do anything about current unemployment isn’t just cruel and wasteful, it's bad long-run policy, too." The last word: "David Brooks is off today."

Savvy Businessmen. Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion trading loss, which was disclosed on Thursday, [see today's News Ledes] could give supporters of tighter industry regulation a huge new piece of ammunition as they fight a last-ditch battle with the banks over new federal rules that may redefine how banks do business. 'The enormous loss JPMorgan announced today is just the latest evidence that what banks call "hedges" are often risky bets that so-called "too big to fail" banks have no business making,'; said Senator Carl Levin...." ...

... Kevin Roose of the New York Times: "The news of JPMorgan Chase's estimated $2 billion loss stemming from a misguided hedging strategy in the bank's chief investment office has set off a spring-loaded schadenfreude cannon among the industry’s critics.... Since the shocking disclosure, [CEO Jamie] Dimon was flayed by industry analysts as well as media onlookers for having been a vocal opponent of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul while at the same time overseeing risky trades that could hurt his bank's earnings."

Tim Egan remembers his mother. Perhaps he will cause you to remember yours. If she's still around, tell her something fulsome.

Ray Rivera & Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "... in recent years, as allegations of child sexual abuse have shaken the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, victims' rights groups have expressed concern that [Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes] is not vigorously pursuing these cases because of his deep ties to the rabbis. Many of the rabbis consider sexual abuse accusations to be community matters best handled by rabbinical authorities, who often do not report their conclusions to the police." Guardian story here.

Peter Wallsten & Scott Wilson of the Washington Post: "Some inconsistencies remain in Obama's stance [on gay marriage]. Though he thinks gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, he still says he views it as a states' rights issue at a time when many states are moving to tighten prohibitions on same-sex unions."

Presidential Race

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "At the very least, this makes Biden a major figure in what will go down as one of the Obama administration's signature moments, guaranteeing that his vice presidency will be remembered in history -- something that can't be said for many of his predecessors. But this also has the potential to generate newfound respect and appreciation for Biden among the younger, more culturally liberal party base, voters who until now have been conditioned to regard Biden as an almost comic figure -- the tone-deaf, gaffe-prone great-uncle of American politics."

NEW. Reader Bonnie has been catching up on some serious epistolary prose. ...

     ... Andy Borowitz reports on Mitt Romney's letter to the American people about his days as a merry prankster. The letter ends, "I hope when you vote in November, you won't judge me as the teenager who bullied one gay boy, but rather as the adult who fired thousands of people. Vote for me." ...

     ... Octogenarians Helen & Margaret correspond about Mitt's youthful hijinks. Helen doesn't think Mitt should be the one in three million people who becomes president. CW: Poor Helen! She seems unaware that it's Mitt's turn.

Felony bullying = Gang physically attacks a gay person.
Boyish hijinks = Romney-led gang physically attacks a gay person.

... See the Jason Horowitz WashPo story linked in yesterday's Commentariat. ...

... Emily Friedman, et al., of ABC News: Stu White, "one of Mitt Romney's closest friends and a high school classmate, has been asked by the Romney campaign to come out and offer 'supporting remarks' in defense of the candidate.... According to White, he knows of several other classmates that have also been approached by the campaign to counter the article.... One former classmate and old friend of Romney's -- who refused to be identified by name -- said there are 'a lot of guys' who went to Cranbrook who have 'really negative memories' of Romney's behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as 'like Lord of the Flies.' The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember it." ...

We were like a pack of dogs. This was bullying supreme. -- Phillip Maxwell, Friend of Mitt's ...

... David Muir of ABC News: "A high school classmate of presidential candidate Mitt Romney told ABC News today that he considers a particular prank the two pulled at Michigan's Cranbrook School to be 'assault and battery' and that he witnessed Romney hold the scissors to cut the hair of a student who was being physically pinned to the ground by several others." ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "Mitt Romney clashed with a state commission tasked with helping LGBT youth at risk for bullying and suicide throughout his term as Massachusetts governor over funding and its participation in a pride parade. He eventually abolished the group altogether."

... Kaia Mursi of Wonkette: "Mitt Romney is sorry if he hurt you when he went too far." ...

... ** Jamison Foser of Media Matters: "A clear, forceful statement of regret and denunciation of bullying could have been incredibly powerful -- a welcome and valuable contribution to ongoing efforts to reduce the kind of anti-gay bullying Romney once led.... Instead, Romney offers a perfunctory apology -- while laughing -- for 'hijinks and pranks' that 'might have gone too far.' ... Just yesterday, Romney indicated he still favors bullying of gays -- only now he prefers to use the law rather than a pair of scissors."

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "... there’s something especially troubling about this; it seems to reveal a privileged young man with no empathy at all for those who were different.... Perhaps even more disturbing: in this incident we see the special treatment granted to people like Romney. He suffered no consequences at all for his sadistic prank." CW: Romney was the governor's son. His victim later was permanently expelled when a student prefect caught him smoking a cigarette. ...

... Paul Waldman of the American Prospect: "Is there a correlation between the kind of cruel streak that makes you hold down a screaming, crying boy and cut off his hair, and the kind of cruel streak that makes you want to take away people's health insurance?" Waldman doesn't think so. Suppose Romney instead had stood up for the gay kid against other bullies. "Would that make it less abhorrent that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or that he wants to cut social programs, or that he wants to cut protections for clean air and clean water, or that he thinks gay people should be second-class citizens? No. Whether he wants to do those things because deep down in his soul he's a cruel person and always has been, or because ... he believes in an ideology that is fundamentally cruel, doesn't matter a bit." ...

... Alec MacGillis of The New Republic thinks "the prep-school Mitt was an insecure figure, even a sort of misfit," & that explains "his oddly sensitive temperament." ...

... "The Content of His Character." Jonathan Chait of New York magazine revives a story of George W. Bush in 1965 -- the same year Romney & his gang attacked the gay student -- telling friends who made fun of a "queer" to "Shut up." "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?" Bush said to his friends.

... AND Chait digs up exculpatory evidence: "... he also forcibly cut a dude's hair in college: 'At Stanford, he lured rival University of California students into a trap in which his buddies "shaved their heads and painted them red," according to a 1970 speech at Brigham Young University by his father, George Romney.' ... Maybe Romney didn't hate gays -- maybe he just hated hair. Or, other peoples' hair, anyway. Perhaps that is the deeper fixation: It is not enough for Romney to have perfect hair. Others must have terrible hair." ...

Right Wing World

Steve Benen: (For backstory, see yesterday's News Ledes.) "To offset the Pentagon cuts Republicans proposed but no longer support, the House GOP voted to find all of the savings by taking from programs that benefit struggling workers and families. Today's measure is nothing short of brutal, slashing food stamps, nearly eliminating job-training programs, eliminating health care subsidies, slashing the child tax credit, and taking school meals from 200,000 low-income children. And all of this would come on top of the spending cuts Democrats already agreed to as part of the same debt-ceiling deal. It's almost as if House Republicans want to collectively personify C. Montgomery Burns." ...

"GOP Leaves Debt Accord in the Dust." David Rogers of Politico has a good straight report on the bill.

Swiss Miss

May 9. Devin Henry of the Minn Post: "Michele Bachmann (R-Switzerland). Rep. Michele Bachmann lives in Stillwater, hails from Iowa and works in Washington, D.C. -- and as of March is a citizen of the country of Switzerland. Bachmann's spokeswoman confirmed that the third-term Republican and some of her family had became citizens of Switzerland." ...

... May 10. Devin Henry: "U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann intends to withdraw her dual citizenship in Switzerland, she said in a statement. Bachmann says she sent a letter to the Swiss consulate in Chicago asking for her citizenship to be withdrawn. She said she did so to make clear her loyalty to the United States." CW: Bachmann denies she is the model for the little Swiss girl who appears on the hour & bangs herself on the head on a brand of Swiss cuckoo clocks. Bachmann also has renounced Nestle's in favor of Hershey's chocolate, & she denies the voice on this recording is hers:

News Ledes

New York Times: "A judge in Virginia has cleared [J. Randolph Babbitt,] the former chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, of the drunken driving charges that cost him his job at the agency.

President Obama, in Nevada, spoke today on helping responsible homeowners:

Washington Post: "President Obama rolled into a modest hilltop neighborhood [in Reno, Nevada,] Friday to champion his administration's efforts to help underwater homeowners get back on their feet -- and to urge Congress to do more.... Obama announced a dramatic spike in the number of Americans who are taking advantage of federal programs that let them refinance their loans."

New York Times: In Greece, "Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza..., rejected calls to join a unity government, pushing Greece closer to new elections in a climate in which it is becoming increasingly difficult for any party to enforce Greece's debt deal with foreign creditors."

New York Times: "Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary, testified in the so-called Leveson inquiry into press ethics on Friday, facing close scrutiny about her ties to Prime Minister David Cameron before and after he took office." The Guardian is liveblogging the hearing, including livestreaming video here. ...

     ... An updated Guardian story is here.

Reuters: "JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, said it suffered a trading loss of at least $2 billion from a failed hedging strategy, a shock disclosure that hit financial stocks and the reputation of the bank and its CEO, Jamie Dimon. For a bank viewed as a strong risk manager that went through the financial crisis without reporting a loss, the errors are embarrassing, especially given Dimon's public criticism of the so-called Volcker rule to ban proprietary trading by big banks." Guardian story here. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Regulators are investigating potential civil violations surrounding the $2 billion loss that JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Thursday, raising further questions about the trading activities at the nation's biggest bank."

Wednesday
May092012

The Commentariat -- May 10, 2012

Who(m) Are You Going to Believe?

** James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a New York Times op-ed: "Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening.... Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history.... [If Canada exploits its tar sands oil,] over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California's Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.... President Obama speaks of a 'planet in peril,' but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world's course." ...

Greg Sargent: "A bipartisan group of Senators is going public today with a call for Senate hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would expand the ban against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all but the smallest private-sector employers...."

I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. -- Barack Obama ...

... See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... Rick Klein of ABC News: also from the interview of President Obama, in a segment not yet aired, Obama said,

This is something that, you know, we've talked about over the years and she [Michelle Obama], you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I'll be as president. ...

      ... Update: here's the full transcript of the interview. AND, finally, the full interview:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

... CW: Update: Obama must be happy with his decision to go public with this; what with our being such close personal friends, he just e-mailed me the video of his remarks.

... David Corn of Mother Jones: "Asked about the timing of Obama's announcement, a White House official tells me that 'this was something the president has been thinking of doing for several months. He spoke a lot with Mrs. Obama. He gave a lot of thought to this. He saw his daughters being friends with children with same-sex parents. He saw what was happening at the state level in New York and elsewhere. This has all been informing his thinking for months, and he had planned to do something prior to the convention.' Did Biden's remarks speed up the process? 'That made it happen sooner than later,' this source says." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed with the chronology of an evolution. He was for it before he was against it before he was for it. ...

... Frank Bruni: "... history was made today, and millions of Americans right now feel that their country has shown them a new, heightened degree of the respect they richly deserve. Our highest elected official, our president,said that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, something that none of his predecessors had done, something that he had refused to do since becoming a national political figure. There's a powerful message in that." ...

... NEW. BUT. John Cook of Gawker: "He now believes that gay couples should be able to marry. He doesn't believe they have a right to do so. This is like saying that black children and white children ought to attend the same schools, but if the people of Alabama reject that notion -- what are you gonna do? ... Equality is not a state-by-state issue.... Anyone who supports the legitimacy[of state gay marriage bans] -- as Obama just did, in no uncertain terms -- even if they oppose the policy, is adopting the retrograde position in the contemporary gay marriage debate. Obama is moving backward, not forward." ...

... BUT BUT. Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly: Obama's "comments tend to be read outside of the context of other actions being taken by the administration.... If the administration were still defending DOMA and had taken no position on the level of scrutiny to be applied to sexual orientation classifications, then Obama's statement might mean that his view is that states have unfettered rights to legislate as they they wish on marriage. But, that is not the circumstances in which he makes these comments. Instead, Obama's position now is three-fold: (1) he personally supports same-sex marriage; (2) he believes as a policy matter that state, and not federal, law should define marriages, as it always has been in this country; and (3) he believes that there are federal constitutional limitations on those state decisions." CW: I agree with Geidner. My reading is that Obama did much more for gay marriage before yesterday than he did yesterday. He walked the walk before he talked the talk -- which is unusual for a politician. ...

... NEW. AND. Josh Barro of Forbes sees other federal matters related to gay marriage which the Obama administration will have to address. CW: I happen to think the courts in their ponderous ways, will address many of these issues. The amendment to North Carolina's state constitution passed this week simply cannot pass U.S. Constitutional muster. Obama might try to executive-order some of these laws & amendments out of existence, but the issues will still wind up in federal court, as they should.

... NEW. From Stinky Cheese to "General Hospital." Dana Milbank: Obama metamorphosis makes great daytime teevee.

... AND from Right Wing World. Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit: "He just threw MILLIONS of Christian Americans under the bus.  Personally, I don't have a problem with gay relationships. I don't have a problem with gay unions. I do have a problem with a president pushing a law on the people with the specific intent of punishing the Church and Christian Americans." CW: Yeah, Jesus is weeping, yada yada yada. ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine: "... the always reasonable Fox Nation essentially put out a call to arms, declaring in an all-caps headline, 'OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE.' But so much for brand unity, because Fox News anchor Shep Smith was not shy on-air about his agreement with the president's stated belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry":

 

Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not. -- Mitt Romney, today ...

... Steve Benen: "Romney is now positioned to the right of Bush/Cheney on legal recognition of same-sex partnerships -- Dick Cheney endorsed marriage equality, and George W. Bush backed civil unions. Yes, Bush was more progressive in 2004 than Romney is in 2012." ...

... NEW. Noam Scheiber of The New Republic on the downside for Romney: "... while swing voters may be ambivalent about gay marriage itself, they're much less comfortable with displays of intolerance. Many of the same voters who profess squeamishness over the idea would punish a politician for crusading against it.... Unfortunately for Romney, the one thing Obama's announcement deprives him of is opportunities to duck the issue."

Why does gay marriage always fail at the ballot box? Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Turnout is ... a factor. Older voters tend to vote in higher numbers, and there's a stark age divide on gay marriage. As Columbia Political Science professor Jeffrey Lax wrote in 2009: 'If policy were set by state-by-state majorities of those 65 or older, none would allow same-sex marriage. If policy were set by those under 30, only 12 states would not allow-same-sex marriage.' Primaries, like the one in North Carolina..., are particularly low turnout affairs -- giving opponents to gay marriage the edge."


CW: I meant to link this post by Michael Shear of Time Wednesday morning but got sidetracked. Sen. Dick Lugar's concession statement is indeed worth reading. ...

... Abby Rapoport of the American Prospect: "Lugar's hardly been a profile in courage these past few years and releasing an honest statement about the state of the party would likely have been significantly more impressive if he had done it when he was active and wielded influence, rather than after his party gave him the boot. But nonetheless, this may be one of the most forceful and direct criticisms of the GOP from someone in office."

... Ezra Klein: In Richard Mourdock, who bested Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary largely on the argument that Lugar voted to confirm Justices Sotomayor & Kagan, Jonathan "Chait [of New York magazine] sees 'the frightening outlines of a future systemic crisis' here. But I might rephrase that a bit: I see the the outlines of a necessary systemic crisis leading to an overdue set of procedural reforms in the Senate." ...

... Doug J. of Balloon Juice: "Our system isn't set up to deal with what the national Republican party already has become, let alone what it is becoming. There are lots of levers a minority party can pull to stop the wheels of government, and there's not much reason for Republicans not to pull them. It doesn't hurt the party much politically to do so—the media will just tell us that both sides do it, that it all started with Robert Bork -- whereas it does hurt individual Republicans when they won't take part in the destruction." ...

... NEW. Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Tuesday’s landslide victory in the GOP primary by Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a staunch conservative who beat longtime Sen. Richard G. Lugar, gave Democrats hope for claiming a seat they have not seriously contested in three decades." ...

... Josh Israel of Think Progress: former Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri), who is also an Episcopalian priest, is aghast that Dick Lugar was defeated & predicts the demise of the Republican party or something. CW: I was aghast that Danforth handpicked Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. As ye sow, so shall ye reap, Brother John.

Presidential Race

** NEW. Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney, boy homophobe and serious, serial bully. All those anti-bullying PSAs are aimed to protect teens from guys like Romney, who led a violent physical attack on a (then-suspected) gay student at his tony prep school. The school did nothing. Romney can't recall a thing about it. Horowitz found five independent witnesses to the physically bullying incident.

David Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama on Wednesday roundly dismissed GOP rival Mitt Romney's claim to credit for the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry as 'one of his Etch-A-Sketch moments,' in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts." The full ABC News video, which includes Obama's "Etch-a-Sketch" comment, is above.

Jamelle Bouie: "... if there's anything that truly stands out about Romney’s speech in Michigan, it's the extent to which its stuffed with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and outright lies. Romney claims that Obama has brought 'big government' 'back with a vengeance' -- the truth is that government spending has fallen sharply after a decade increase under President Bush.... Romney attacks Obama’s plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the rich as a 'throwback to discredited policies', but doesn't tell his audience that those are Clinton-era rates. He attacks the Affordable Care Act as a takeover of American health care (false), blames Obama for the accumulation of debt (false), and warns -- apocalyptically -- that Obama will 'substitute government for individuality, for choice, for freedom.' ...Constant mendacity is the norm for Romney and his campaign, and odds are good that he won't suffer for it. Campaign reporters don't have a strong incentive to challenge him on his misrepresentations, and interested parties have a hard time dealing with the deluge."

News Ledes

The Hill: "The House voted Thursday to override steep cuts to the Pentagon's budget mandated by last summer's debt deal and replace them with spending reductions to food stamps and other mandatory social programs.... Members approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act in a party-line 218-199 vote. As expected, the bill was supported by nearly all Republicans -- only 16 opposed it, and no Democrats supported it."

News & Observer: "Prosecutors rested their case against former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards Thursday afternoon by showing jurors a 2008 TV interview in which Edwards acknowledged having an affair with Rielle Hunter, but denied he was the father of her newborn child."

Six Degrees of Stupid. Politico: "Just hours after President Barack Obama publicly backed gay marriage, the House struck back and passed a measure aimed at reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. With a 245-171 vote, the House voted to stop the Justice Department from using taxpayer funds to actively oppose DOMA -- the Clinton-era law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that the Obama administration stopped enforcing in February 2011."

AP: "Federal authorities said Wednesday that they plan to sue Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office over allegations of civil rights violations, including the racial profiling of Latinos."

Washington Post: "The parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American captured by the Taliban nearly three years ago, have made an emotional appeal for the Obama administration to make a deal with the insurgents to release him in exchange for Afghan prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

New York Times: "More than 40 people were killed and at least 170 injured by two powerful explosions outside a key intelligence headquarters in Damascus early on Thursday, Syrian state television reported. The blasts peeled open a new, more treacherous front in the struggle for the country."

Guardian: "Pakistan's prime minister [Yousaf Raza Gilani] has insisted his country had not been 'complicit' in sheltering Osama bin Laden and said the fact the late al-Qaida leader was able to live undetected for so long in Pakistan was down to a universal 'intelligence failure'."

Guardian: "The Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says police have detained his sister-in-law and nephew in a campaign of revenge against his family as he prepares to move to the US."

Guardian: "Vidal Sassoon, who has died aged 84 after suffering from leukaemia, became the most famous hairdresser of the 1960s, creating styles that caught and then boosted women's new feelings of personal freedom. In doing so, he changed the craft of hairstyling for ever."

New York Times: "After months of testimony in the phone hacking scandal, focused mostly on the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's businesses here, a judicial inquiry resumed hearings on Thursday into the extent and closeness of personal ties between the tycoon's British newspaper executives and Prime Minister David Cameron. The so-called Leveson inquiry ... summoned Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World Sunday tabloid who later became Mr. Cameron's communications director both in opposition and in office."

"Big-Boy Pants." Reuters: "The Pentagon revealed on Wednesday what was said when an over-cautious court security officer blocked the sound during Saturday's arraignment of five Guantanamo prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks."

Tuesday
May082012

The Commentariat -- May 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is an overview of today's New York Times op-ed page. The NYTX front page is here. There are a couple of excellent posts on Brooks. ...

... ALSO Chris Spannos on the New York Times management's stalemate with members of the Newspaper Guild. "The Guild’s contract expired March 31, 2011. They have been locked in negotiations with Times management since then." ...

... AND this from Ralph Nader: "It is the edge of absurdity for the U.S. to urge and modestly assist [developing countries] to build their educational systems and their knowledge industries -- for their own future -- and then aggressively pull the cream of their crop into our own orchard, while so many of our Americans are neglected." ...

... PLUS, Dean Baker helps you understand what the authors of this New York Times article omit.

President Obama spoke in Albany yesterday. (See also yesterday's News Ledes.) Capital Tonight has the full transcript:

Paul Krugman explains, again, why "austerity is so wrong!" in the Daily Beast. ...

... AND you can read Chapter 1 of Krugman's new book End This Depression Now!

Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal: "If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%."

Nate Silver: "... the Republican Senate is starting to grow as conservative as the Republican House." ...

,,, Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times profiles Richard Mourdock, "the man who deposed the Republican foreign policy conscience of the Senate," Dick Lugar (R-Indiana). "He is best known in political circles for trying -- unsuccessfully -- to block the auto bailout that saved thousands of jobs in Indiana, the state he seeks to represent in Congress." And his stated reason for his Senate run: "... to cease the efforts at bipartisanship that defined the six-term tenure of Mr. Lugar and push for a more conservative agenda among Republicans on Capitol Hill."

David Dayen of Firedoglake: Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison & Raul Grijalva introduce an amendment into an appropriations bill aimed at discouraging stand-your-ground laws. The 'Stop Shoot First Laws' amendment, which will in reality never get a floor vote, would cut some federal funding to states with stand-your-ground laws.

Wendy Gittleson of Addicting Information poses 10 questions to ask your favorite conservative. Thanks to reader Bonnie for the link.

Steven Myers & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Days of drama preceded the deal between the United States and China in the case of Chen Guangcheng, but the negotiations ultimately reflected a maturing relationship...."

Maureen Dowd reports from Paris on the complicated love lives of French presidents. ...

... AND in other superficial news involving NYT op-ed columnists --

     Bobo in Paradise. Driftglass: Our Mister Brooks has recently purchased a nearly-$4 million manse in Cleveland Park, D.C. "Should you ever have occasion to read Mr. Brooks' interview in Playboy wherein he describes his exhausting, joyless life as America's most prominent Conservative Public Intellectual, just remember that he his doing all of this -- all of the endless lying, all of the tireless hippie punching, all of the acting as the eager creature of power -- for money." ...

... AND this could help explain the move. It seems Cleveland Park is in Washington, D.C.'s Ward 3. From a 2009 column by Our Mister Brooks: "... people in this neighborhood are very nice and cerebral. On any given Saturday, half the people in Ward Three are arranging panel discussions for the other half to participate in."

Presidential Race

Dana Milbank: "... the anti-Obama hatred is flaring anew. But I worry that Obama’s current opponent doesn't have the strength of character to push back against the most dangerous voices on his side." Milbank cites the evidence. ...

... As Greg Sargent pointed out early this year, Romney doesn't have any trouble shouting down the left.

Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,' but the American people won't let him. His comments [Monday] that he will 'take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back' are a new low in dishonesty, even for him. Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue. -- Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's claim that his ideas contributed to the revival of the auto industry is preposterous and easy enough to knock down. It's exhausting, however, to refute each and every laughable distortion or outright untruth that he and his campaign issue virtually every day."

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney claims the economy should be adding 500,000 jobs a month, which is "normal" and "not an unreasonable expectation." But Kessler finds that in Romney's entire lifetime -- the last 65 years -- "only nine times out of the last 784 months — a rate of slightly more than 1 percent — has the U.S. economy created more than 500,000 jobs in a month. Even if we include months that came close to 500,000 jobs, we only end up with a total of 14. So 500,000 is anything but normal.

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "A Republican National Committee roundtable on Tuesday aimed at highlighting the GOP’s Hispanic get-out-the-vote effort ended up backfiring as the RNC’s director of Hispanic outreach struggled to explain to reporters Republicans' message to Hispanics when it comes to immigration. Part of the reason for the RNC's difficulty: ... Mitt Romney (R) is 'still deciding what his position on immigration is,' as RNC Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclán termed it." CW: the big dilemma: if he panders to Hispanics, will he lose votes among the white racists he pandered to to get the nomination? This would be a problem similar to Obama's "evolutionary" problem on gay marriage.

"Big Lie #1." Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly: "Mitt Romney gave another much-ballyhooed 'big speech' today in Michigan, aimed at clarifying the differences between his approach to the economy and the president's.... The claim here is that Obama turned his back on the Clintonian 'New Democrat' heritage and went back to the bad old liberal ways of the distant past.... It's particularly outrageous for Romney to claim that the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010 was some sort of betrayal of the New Democrat legacy." ...

... "Big Lie #2, Same Speech. Ed Kilgore: the crux of Romney's big speech was this line: "This is a time for new ideas, new answers and a new direction." So just what part of Romney's policies is new? The only one Kilgore can think of -- the only one that Romney proposes which is different from Dubya policies -- is Romney's stance on immigration -- even if he's "evolving" on that.

Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "The top two Senate Democratic leaders called on Romney to enter the Senate debate after Republicans voted along party lines to block student loan legislation." CW: I have little doubt that Cap'n. Williard M. Courageous will save the day for the kids.

Alex Altman of Time on the strong showing by Keith Judd, a.k.a. Inmate #11593-051 and "an ostensible crazy person" in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary. (See also today's News Ledes.) "Despite being a federal inmate from another state, Judd’s protest candidacy racked up some 70,000 votes, crushing President Obama in the heart of West Virginia's coal country. The rebuke to Obama by conservative Democrats (West Virginia's is a closed primary) isn't entirely surprising -- the President was trounced in 2008 by Hillary Clinton -- but it is an embarrassment for the President that underscores his weakness in rural Appalachia."

CW: I don't often recommend a Ross Douthat post, but his comments on Obama's gay marriage evolution-on-hold is worth reading. Bearing in mind that Douthat's take is self-serving, one can still find some truth to the points he makes. I might have more to say on this later. I hope you do, too.

News Ledes

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New York Times: "President Obamaon Wednesday ended nearly two years of 'evolving' on the issue of same-sex marriage by publicly endorsing it in a television interview, taking a definitive stand on one of the most contentious and politically charged social issues of the day."

ABC News: "Up until John Edwards officially claimed paternity of his mistress's daughter, his dying wife Elizabeth clung to his lies that he was not the father and on her death bed lamented that she would die alone because of his indiscretions, a friend testified today."

New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward.... 'Mitt Romney says he supports what we're trying to do. I'd suggest he pick up the phone and call Senator McConnell,' said Senator Harry Reid...."

New York Times: "As the Police Department's stop-and-fris practice draws increasing criticism from black and Latino New Yorkers, the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, said he would call on the mayor to force a reduction of the controversial practice."

New York Times: "In a rare step, doctors on a panel revising psychiatry's influential diagnostic manual have backed away from two controversial proposals that would have expanded the number of people identified as having psychotic or depressive disorders."

West Virginia Is for Losers. ABC News: "Barack Obama was not the only Democrat on the ballot on Tuesday in West Virginia's Democratic Presidential Primary. Keith Judd -- also known as Inmate No. 11593-051 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas -- was running against him. Judd, who is serving out a 17.5 year sentence for extortion, currently has received 40 percent of the vote, with 83 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Obama currently has received 60 percent of the vote."

CNN: Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is now a Swiss citizen. She "was granted dual citizenship with the European country, her spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night." CW: could a bank account be far behind?

Monday
May072012

The Commentariat -- May 8, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Brooks' nonsense of the day. The NYTX front page is here.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic writes a fabulous post on "Robert Caro and Our 'Great Man" Fetish."

Paul Krugman speaks to Chrystia Freeland about stimulus spending & jobs growth:

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "After months on the sidelines, major liberal donors including the financier George Soros are preparing to inject up to $100 million into independent groups to aid Democrats' chances this fall. But instead of going head to head with the conservative 'super PACs' and outside groups that have flooded the presidential and Congressional campaigns with negative advertising, the donors are focusing on grass-roots organizing, voter registration and Democratic turnout."

Presidential Race

Steve Peoples of the AP: "Campaigning in the backyard of America's auto industry, Mitt Romney re-ignited the bailout debate by suggesting he deserves 'a lot of credit' for the recent successes of the nation's largest car companies. That claims comes in spite of his stance that Detroit should have been allowed to go bankrupt." CW: That's the lede. Later in the piece, Peoples writes, "Romney has repeatedly argued that Obama ultimately took his advice on the auto industry's woes of 2008 and 2009. But he went further on Monday by saying he deserves credit for its ultimate turnaround. The course Romney advocated differed greatly from the one that was ultimately taken. GM and Chrysler went into bankruptcy on the strength of a massive bailout that Romney opposed.... Romney opposed taxpayer help." It is worth emphasizing that this is an AP story -- one that may appear in many papers throughout the U.S. The MSM -- even in straight news stories -- is beginning to point to Romney's implausible stories. ...

... ** In a comment on this story, Akhilleus offers hope that Willard will be abducted by aliens. (CW Update: to clarify, I guess I should say that by "aliens" I mean extraterrestrials, not those nice young men who used to mow & trim the Romneys' lawns before Willard was running for President, for Pete's sake.)

Beth Reinhard of National Journal: "... it’s hard to see [President Obama's] unwillingness to declare his support for gay marriage as anything other than political expedience. For evidence, look no further than  North Carolina, poised on Tuesday to join the majority of states with constitutional bans on gay marriage." ...

... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: No, Obama's positions on gay rights are not just like Romney's. ...

... BUT Greg Sargent: "Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama's refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser's office tells me. In some cases, I'm told, big donations are being withheld." ...

... NEW. Walter Shapiro, writing for Yahoo! News: "In 2013, either as a second-term president or as a private citizen beyond political ambition, Obama almost certainly will reinvent himself as a supporter of gay marriage." ...

... NEWER. Dana Milbank: Jay Carney didn't have a big enough mop to clean up this mess. A funny, if frustrating, reprise of yesterday's press briefing wherein Carney's briefs were tied in knots.

... NEWEST. Peter Wallsten & Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "Several people close to the White House said the [Biden] episode has exposed internal tensions within Obama’s team between those who want the president to say he favors same-sex marriage before the November election and others who worry about a political backlash if he does -- not just among conservatives and working-class voters but among African Americans.... About one in six of Obama's top campaign 'bundlers' are gay..., making it difficult for the president to defer the matter. Activists are planning a campaign for the adoption of a pro-gay-marriage plank in this year's Democratic Party platform. And a series of referendums this year on same-sex marriage -- including one in the swing state of North Carolina on Tuesday -- are putting the issue at the forefront." ...

... AND New York Times Editors: "By failing to go the next step and actually say that he supports the freedom to marry as Mr. Biden does and as polls show nearly a majority of Americans do, Mr. Obama risks dampening the enthusiasm of allies without gaining the support of equality's opponents. It's not an unfamiliar place for this president to be, unfortunately."

Dave Weigel of Slate: "New Frontiers in Neo-Swiftboating: Obama Was Ready to Blame the Troops!" The right wing, including former Bush AG Mike Mukasey, goes insane trying -- without success -- to find ways to undermine Obama's success in the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Reid Epstein of Politico: "Faced with a questioner who declared that President Barack Obama should be 'tried for treason,' Mitt Romney calmly answered the woman’s question about constitutional principles and then allowed her a follow-up question.... As the event ended, Romney told reporters on the ropeline [who asked] if he agreed that Obama should be tried for treason. 'No, no, no,' he said, shaking his head. 'No, of course not.'” ...

... Andy Rosenthal: "Why do politicians have this cowardly habit of standing by while their supporters say ridiculous things, without making the slightest attempt to set them straight? Afterward, they say they have no control over their supporters. But presumably they have some control over themselves." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein: "If everything that Mitt Romney, Republican Members of Congress, and the other Republican presidential candidates say about Barack Obama was true, then Obama should be tried for treason. It's that kind of rhetoric that's the problem, not Romney's immediate response to what someone says at a rally."

Brian Bakst & Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "Don't tell Ron Paul the Republican primary is over. He's too busy mucking up Mitt Romney's efforts to accumulate enough convention delegates to officially claim the GOP nomination for president. Paul's supporters won control of state GOP conventions in Maine and Nevada last weekend, stripping Romney of delegates in Maine but graciously letting him keep the ones he won in Nevada's February caucuses. Next up: Republican state conventions in Minnesota, Missouri, Louisiana and Iowa."

AND "The Dog Ate My Birth Certificate." In another interesting presidential election aside, Prof. Janet Davis, in a New York Times op-ed: "Our fears of consuming canines ... have had more to do with moralistic xenophobia and exclusion than with animal welfare, public health or ethical taboo. The flap over Mr. Obama's youthful consumption of dog meat is a resurrection of the birther-conspiracy wolf dressed in dog's clothing."

News Ledes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Shrugging off millions of dollars spent by labor groups to defeat him, Tom Barrett walked to victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary and set up a more taxing sprint toward June 5 -- a historic recall that will be a rematch of his unsuccessful 2010 race against Gov. Scott Walker."

New York Times: "Richard G. Lugar, one of the Senate's longest-serving members, a collegial moderate who personified a gentler political era, was turned out of office on Tuesday, ending a career that had spanned the terms of half a dozen presidents and had seen broad shifts in the culture of Washington."

AP: "North Carolina voters have approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th state to adopt such a ban. With 35 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against."

Raleigh News & Observer: "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added to his big lead in the race for convention delegates Tuesday by winning Republican presidential primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, inching closer to the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination."

Yahoo! News: "After learning of the alleged sex tape featuring John Edwards and his mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 presidential campaign, a former Edwards adviser said he tried to warn the Obama campaign not to consider Edwards for a spot in the administration."

New York Times: "Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn."

ABC News: "In a stunning intelligence coup, a dangerous al Qaeda bomb cell in Yemen was successfully infiltrated by an inside source who secretly worked for the CIA and several other intelligence agencies, authorities revealed to ABC News." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The suicide bomber dispatched by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner was actually an intelligence agent for Saudi Arabia who infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the mission, American and foreign officials said Tuesday. The suicide bomber dispatched by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner was actually an intelligence agent for Saudi Arabia who infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the mission..."

New York Times: "With a polarized Congress already on the defensive, President Obamaon Tuesday will outline a five-point 'to do' list for lawmakers that packages job creation and mortgage relief ideas he has proposed before, administration officials say." ...

     ... Yahoo! News Update: "President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Tuesday to act on a modest five-item 'to-do list' to fight unemployment, showcasing the tasks on a virtual Post-It note he mockingly said would not 'overload' lawmakers."

There are elections today in Indiana, Wisconsin & North Carolina:

     ... Indianapolis Star: "Polls opened at 6 a.m. today as Hoosiers make their final picks for Republican and Democratic nominees for the November election. Headlining today's election is the Republican race for U.S. Senate between Sen. Richard Lugar and Treasurer Richard Mourdock." ...

     ... Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The four Democratic candidates Monday rolled into their final day of campaigning before the primary election in Wisconsin's historic gubernatorial recall."

     ... Raleigh News & Observer: "A final poll of likely North Carolina voters conducted over the weekend continues to give a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions an easy margin of victory in Tuesday’s election while the Democratic contest for governor is tightening." The News & Observer election page is here.

AP: "The Senate is steaming toward a showdown on a Democratic proposal to keep student loan interest rates from doubling for 7.4 million students. In a measure of how the upcoming election is driving work in Congress these days, it's a vote Democrats won't terribly mind losing -- which is probably what will happen."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the chairman of the opposition Kadima Party struck a deal early Tuesday morning to form a unity government, a surprise move that staves off early elections and creates a new coalition with a huge legislative majority."

New York Times: "Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist whose escape last month from house arrest and subsequent flight to the American Embassy here triggered a diplomatic crisis, said Tuesday that Chinese authorities have begun to assist him in applying for permission to travel to the United States."

New York Times: "Late last year, fishermen began finding dead dolphins, hundreds of them, washed up on Peru’s northern coast. Now, seabirds have begun dying, too, and the government has yet to conclusively pinpoint a cause."

Washington Post: "U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter announced to his staff Monday morning that he was stepping down this summer after serving less than two years on the job."

Washington Post: "Rick Santorum, who bowed out of the Republican nominating contest after capturing 11 states and some 3 million votes, endorsed Mitt Romney late Monday. In a letter to his supporters, the former Pennsylvania senator said that he was impressed with Romney's 'commitment to economic policies that preserve and strengthen families.'”