The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, March 2, 2015.

New York Times: "The Iraqi military, alongside thousands of Shiite militia fighters, began a large-scale offensive on Monday to retake the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State, a battle that could either become a pivotal fight in the campaign to reclaim north and west Iraq or deepen the country’s bloody sectarian divide."

Daily Beast: "In less than 12 hours, there were two separate attempts to penetrate the White House grounds."

Los Angeles Times: "The video-recorded fatal shooting by Los Angeles police of a homeless man on skid row Sunday night has investigators looking for additional footage that could shed light on the deadly confrontation."

Public Service Announcement

The Hill: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden on Sunday [Feb. 1] warned that the U.S. could see a 'large outbreak' of measles.... There are at least 102 reported cases in 14 states, according to the CDC. Frieden said that the U.S. is 'likely to see more cases.'... The said the best way to prevent the spread of measles was vaccination.Frieden said despite the U.S.'s 92 percent vaccination rate, there is growing evidence more parents are not vaccinating their children."

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."

White House Live Video
March 2

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

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

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

Adam Goodheart of the Atlantic reviews a book by historian Eric Foner that sheds new light on the Underground Railway that helped Southern black Americans escapes slavery, even though the participants were violating federal law -- openly, too: "It is a little-known historical irony that right up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were invoked as often by Northern abolitionists as by Southern slaveholders."

CW: How I'll Spend My Weekend. Season 3 of "House of Cards" is up on Netflix now:

Deadline: ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann for engaging in an "inappropriate" "Twitter War" with some Penn State students. ...

... CW: Hard to believe something like this hasn't happened sooner.

Buzz Aldrin during a spacewalk, November 1966. Last year Aldrin described the photo as the "BEST SELFIE EVER." CW: I'd say he's right.

New York Times: "Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space — from an altitude of 65 miles by a camera on a V-2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 24, 1946. (The boundary to outer space is generally placed at 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles.) The prints are vintage — dating from that era, not modern reproductions — and come from the collection of a single European collector, said Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloomsbury Auctions in London."

** Charles Pierce comments on wingers' Twitter reactions to the Oscars.

Actor Patricia Arquette accepts her Academy Award & calls for women's wage equality:

... Which sparked outrage on the right. And dismay on the left.

#OscarsSoWhite. Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Sunday was a study in contradictions; there was overwhelming emphasis on the visibility of black people in Hollywood, yet their peers hadn’t deemed their work fit for nomination in any of the major individual categories."

Common & John Legend accept the award for the song "Glory" from the film "Selma":

The Los Angeles Times' Academy Awards page is here. The main story is here. The list of winners is here.

Los Angeles Times: "A Palm Springs home built using Joseph Eichler’s original blueprints is under contract to sell for $1.29 million. The newly built Modernist design, considered the first true Eichler home developed in 40 years, came to market on Tuesday. According to real estate brokers and developers Troy Kudlac and Ross Stout of KUD Properties Inc., which handled the listing side, it sold that day for the asking price." With slideshow.

If you just can't get enough of the Academy Awards, the L. A. Times has a guide to Oscar-related TV shows. If you want to watch the Oscars online, here's where & how.

D. R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly: "... give [Jon] Stewart his props for the positive things he has done over the years. He has inspired a new generation of commentators who will continue to call out political perversity and media mendacity. However, the man was not without his flaws — and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a gigantic one. As Olbermann, Maher and Maddow have long argued, sanity has to defeat fear, not figure out some way to get along with it."

Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "In addition to canceling Joy Reid‘s daytime show The Reid Report, which MSNBC sources confirmed to Mediaite earlier today, the network is also canceling Ronan Farrow’s show and moving Way Too Early’s Thomas Roberts back to a dayside role, anchoring a straight news show from 1-3 p.m. ET daily. Neither Reid nor Farrow have been fired by the network."

USA Today: "Random House Children's Books said Wednesday it will publish a recently discovered manuscript with Dr. Seuss sketches, called What Pet Should I Get?, on July 28. The publisher plans at least two more books based on materials found in 2013 by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and his secretary...."

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Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Saturday
Oct132012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 14, 2012

Presidential Race

Nate Silver Today: "President Obama halted an 8-day winning streak for Mitt Romney in the FiveThirtyEight forecast on Saturday, with his chances of winning the Electoral College ticking up to 62.9 percent from 61.1 percent on Friday. One should be careful about making too much of this: Mr. Romney has made very strong gains in the forecast over the past week-and-a-half to draw the race nearly even. It is unlikely that there will be a major change in the landscape until Tuesday's debate in New York." ...

Nate Silver Yesterday: "Mitt Romney continues to surge in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, and Friday may have featured his best set of polls all year." ...

... Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks." ...

... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Ohio poll finds Barack Obama leading 51-46, a 5 point lead not too different from our last poll two weeks ago when he led 49-45. The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they've already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven't voted yet...." ...

... Sam Youngman of Reuters: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is recovering ground in the critical swing state of Ohio as he rises in the polls and crowd numbers swell after his strong debate performance last week against President Barack Obama. Despite pundits and pollsters dismissing Romney's chances in the state in late September, the Republican is now either tied or just barely trailing Obama in Ohio ahead of the next presidential debate on Tuesday night."

AP: "Bruce Springsteen will be back campaigning for President Barack Obama. The musician will join former President Bill Clinton at a Thursday rally in Parma, Ohio, two days after the second presidential debate. Obama will not attend the rally. Springsteen also will appear at a campaign event Thursday in Ames, Iowa."

Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The fact that Mitt Romney's tax plan is mathematically impossible was reinforced again on Friday, when Mark Zandi, a former John McCain campaign adviser and Chief Economist at Moody's Economy, admitted as much. Speaking on CNN's 'Starting Point,' Zandi acknowledged a study by the Tax Policy Center that shows Romney's plan to lower taxes by 20 percent across the board, while making up those losses in government revenue by closing loopholes on the wealthy, doesn't add up. Zandi even went so far as to say that "the arithmetic doesn't work as it is right now." ...

... Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic runs down the "six independent studies" Rmoney & AynR. are always citing as absolute proof their magical numbers work. Hilariously, one of the "independent studies" was cooked up by the Romney campaign. ...

... John Amato of Crooks & Liars says "Obama should slam Romney on his 'six studies' falsehood." CW: yeah, Steve Benen comes up with about 30 things every week Obama should slam Romney for. Good luck with that.

Danny Hakim of the New York Times: "During Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts, he cumulatively spent more than a year -- part or all of 417 days -- out of the state.... More than 70 percent of that time was spent on personal or political trips unrelated to his job.... Mr. Romney ... took lengthy vacations and weekend getaways. But much of his travel was to lay the groundwork for the presidential ambitions he would pursue in the 2008 election, two years after leaving office. During his last year as governor, he was largely an absentee chief executive." CW: sorta the Sarah Palin of Massachusetts, though at least she flat-out quit.

Sam Baker of The Hill: "Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) did not appreciate Paul Ryan calling him a supporter of the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan during Thursday's vice presidential debate.... Wyden made clear on his Facebook page that he does not support the plan Romney and Ryan are advancing, despite his past partnership with Ryan."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "The Getty Images photo was taken at a Romney/Ryan campaign event in Lancaster, Ohio on Friday. A Romney spokesperson commented that the shirt was 'reprehensible and has no place in this election.'" ...

... David Neiwert of Crooks & Liars: "Now, candidates can't really be blamed for all the nutcases they attract. But what exactly did Republicans think was going to be the outcome when Romney and Co. began indulging in a campaign employing barely-disguised racial dog whistles anyway?" ...

OR, if you own a retail business, you can showcase a racist smear right in your big ole storefront window, as this guy in Spring Lake, New Jersey, is doing. CW: don't you love the way people cite the First Amendment as an excuse for the most indefensible expressions? "The Constitution made me do it."

Maureen Dowd knocks Obama, Biden, Ryan, lets Romney off the hook.

Other Stuff

** "The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent. Chrystia Freeland in a New York Times op-ed: "The irony of the political rise of the plutocrats is that ... they threaten the system that created them."

Prof. Nicholas Carnes in the New York Times: White-collar millionaires "have a super-majority in the Senate, a majority in the House, a majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.... With so few leaders with experience in working-class jobs..., economic policy routinely tilts toward outcomes that help white-collar professionals at the expense of the working class. Social safety net programs are stingier, business regulations are flimsier, tax policies are more regressive, and protections for workers are weaker than they would be if our lawmakers came from the same mix of classes as the people they represent."

Gretchen Morgensen of the New York Times reads the new book by Sheila Bair, who was FDIC chair during the 2008 financial crisis. News flash: Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke & Tim Geithner were not out to help you.

Steven Yaccino of the New York Times: "Dozens of colleges have begun their own voting registration drives in orientation programs, class registration, intranet Web sites and other interactions crucial to campus life, institutionalizing services that had often been left to outside efforts. As a result, thousands of students registered to vote, updated their addresses or requested absentee ballots from their home states within days of arriving to campus this fall, officials at several universities said."

"Bachmann Family Values." Frank Bruni interviews Michele Bachmann's gay relative, who is hoping the Minnesota referendum on the November ballot banning gay marriage doesn't pass, as she wants to marry her long-time partner. Her relationship with Bachmann is, well, strained.

Profs. Graham Allison & Shea Feldman in a New York Times op-ed: "Mr. Netanyahu's about-face [on an early military strike against Iran] resulted from a long-building revolt by Israel's professional security establishment against the very idea of an early military attack, particularly one without the approval of the United States."

Local News

CBS Tampa: "The Florida State Board of Outrageous Racism Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race. On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level." See, kids, reading is not all that important a skill for field hands. ...

... The lyrics to our Florida state song are here. The state officially revised them way back in 2008 to make them, um, less offensive. I learned the original version when I was in grade school. I expect the Florida Department of Outrageous Racism is fixin' to change the lyrics back.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Arlen Specter, the irascible senator from Pennsylvania who was at the center of many of the Senate's most divisive legal battles -- from the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Clarence Thomas to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton -- only to lose his seat in 2010 after quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82." The Washington Post obituary is here.

New York Times: "Enmeshed in a bruising political battle over new mining rules seen as vital to Afghanistan's economic future, the country's mining minister on Sunday disclosed about 200 previous mining contracts for the first time, portraying the move as an attempt to bring transparency to a process vulnerable to corruption."

 

Space: "An Austrian daredevil plummeted into the record books today (Oct. 14), breaking the mark for highest-ever skydive after leaping from a balloon more than 24 miles above Earth's surface. Add one more feat: Going supersonic. Felix Baumgartner's ... harrowing plunge shattered the skydiving altitude record, which had stood for more than 50 years, and it notched a few other firsts as well. During his freefall, for example, Baumgartner became the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier...." Video above.

New York Times: "Suddenly, the Portuguese ... have joined the swelling ranks of Europe's discontented, following Greece and Spain, after the government tried to take another step up the austerity path last month. For many here, it was one step too far, driving tens of thousands into the streets in the largest protest of Portugal's crisis."

AP: "Syrian government forces appear to have recently made use of cluster bombs, weapons banned by most countries because of the danger they pose to civilians, a New York-based rights watchdog said Sunday.Human Rights Watch said in a report that Syrian activists posted at least 18 videos on Oct. 9-12 showing remnants of the bombs in or near several towns...."

AP: "The space shuttle Endeavour is finally on the home stretch of its journey through Los Angeles streets to its retirement at a museum. Officials are estimating that the space craft will reach the California Science Museum around 6 a.m. PDT Sunday. It was originally expected to arrive early Saturday evening, but it hit repeated delays throughout the day."

Friday
Oct122012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 13, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. AP: "President Barack Obama is hailing the rebound of the U.S. auto industry, pointing to progress since his administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address that auto sales are the highest they've been in more than four years and the industry has created nearly a quarter of a million new jobs."

My column for the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' assessment of the Biden-Ryan debate. Comments are open at NYTX.

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "Although Mr. Obama got a distinctly poor poll in Florida, which showed him seven points behind there, the rest of Thursday's state-level data, like a series of polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College, were reasonably good for him."

** David Maraniss in the Washington Post: "The Denver debate was the second ineffective performance in a row for Obama, following his convention speech in Charlotte. That moment, protected by Clinton's incandescent oration the night before, had no discernible negative effect but, taken in tandem with the debate, intensifies the question of whether the president can talk his way out of his latest trap. His history shows that, after flailing around, he tends to respond when the pressure is greatest -- and that he appreciates the role of rhetoric." CW: Maraniss, who has studied Obama a lot more closely than I have, nevertheless arrived at about the same conclusion I did regarding the pathology that drives politicians like Bill Clinton & Obama. However, it is reasonable to presume -- based on the evidence -- that Romney performs superbly under pressure, too. (Don't get me into the pathology that drives that SOB!) So if both men are on game, we're in for a battle of two ruthless titans Tuesday. They'll make affable laughing Joe look like a real sweetie-pie.

** David Roberts of Grist tears into Martha Raddatz & the inside-the-Beltway closed loop of mind-numbing Very Serious Person gobbledygook. Good for him. This is a must-read. ...

... CW: This isn't. I am linking this story only because I find it hilarious. Daniel Halper's big news at the Weekly Standard is that MARTHA RADDATZ VISITED BIDEN AT HIS RESIDENCE IN MARCH. Holy Cow! Were they having an affair or what? Well, yes, Raddatz was attending a Women's History Month affair, probably with 200 other women. Jill & Joe Biden hosted the reception. Were Martha & Joe caught on tape in flagrante? Unhappily, no: THERE WAS NO POOL REPORT THAT MIGHT HAVE RECORDED THE DETAILS. So, okay, a cover-up! And a mainstream media conspiracy! I hardly ever get to use my exclamation key. I think I'll get a job in Right Wing World "journalism." There are so many sensational scoops in those parts.

... When Mr. Ryan said last night that Gov. Romney was a car guy, I thought, well, if having an elevator to stack them counts, I guess he was. -- Bill Clinton ...

... Matt Taibbi: Joe Biden was right to laugh derisively at Paul Ryan. The junior league budget flim-flam Romney & Ryan are pushing cannot be taken seriously. ...

... Rick Hertzberg: Romney won the first debate because Obama let him win. Obama lost "Joe Biden won, but not because Paul Ryan let him. Ryan came in second, you might say, but he didn't lose." Hertzberg parses Biden's response to Ryan's remark on the stimulus. It was a masterful turn. ...

... Hertzberg & John Cassidy talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the debate:

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable. Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night's debate, 'We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.'"

... Nielsen: "An estimated 51.4 million people tuned in to watch the sole debate between sitting Democratic V.P Joe Biden and ... Paul Ryan on Thursday, October 11." ...

... BUT Gail Collins thinks now that the veep debate is over, it's over. She was more taken with the Sherman-Berman dust-up, that almost ended in fisticuffs. (See yesterday's Commentariat.) ...

... People Who Make Me Want to Blow up the Teevee, Tom Brokaw Edition:

** Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Wiping out itemized deductions and raising taxes on investment income would generate only enough cash to pay for a minuscule reduction in federal tax rates, according to an official analysis, raising new questions about the workability of Republican-style tax reform. In a report released Friday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for tax policy, concluded that such changes would pay for a 4 percent reduction in tax rates next year -- far short of the 20 percent reduction sought by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney." CW: if Obama doesn't use this in Tuesday's debate, he'll be fired. ...

... Always good to see an AP story like this one from Andrew Taylor: "Romney's plan offers the dessert of sweeping tax cuts but not the vegetables of how he would pay for it.... Friday ... the nonpartisan tax analyst for Congress released a study that says eliminating all itemized deductions would pay for just a 4 percent cut in tax rates -- far below Romney's 20 percent target." ...

... Contributor Roger Henry points to this column by conservative David Frum of Newsweek: of the Romney budget plan, Frum writes "... even if the plan works exactly as advertised, Romney would transfer the tax burden from the plutocrats to the orthodontists."

New York Times Editors: "A campaign should demonstrate seriousness of purpose and a set of core beliefs, and it should signal to voters whether a candidate shows trustworthiness and judgment. Those things don’t seem to matter to Mitt Romney. From the beginning of his run for the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney has offered to transfigure himself into any shape desired by an audience in order to achieve power. There isn't really a Moderate Mitt; what is on display now is better described as Convenient Mitt."

A new Obama campaign ad running in seven swing states:

Jed Lewison provides another great video on Romney v. Romney. In at least half of those remarks, Romney has to be lying, since he's contradicting himself. But he sure looks sincere in every clip.

It's Week 38 of Steve Benen's Chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity. Congratulations, Mitt Romney, on telling 39 big lies in one little week. (Last week, as I recall, Mitt told a mere 38 lies. He's getting better.)

Igor Volsky of Think Progress finds another instance in which Romney-Ryan, after complaining bitterly about government spending being a big waste that doesn't create jobs, run an ad in Ohio complaining that Obama is cutting military spending which will cost Ohio -- jobs. CW: what is it about Republicans that makes them think the only government spending that creates jobs in spending on destructive stuff? Oh, yeah, their military contractor backers.

Thursday
Oct112012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 12, 2012

Presidential Race/Whew!

Helene Cooper & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: President Obama "will hole up in Williamsburg, Va., starting on Saturday to get ready for debate No 2 on Long Island next Tuesday, and then will do the same thing next weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in rural Maryland." ...

... Based on their focus group research, conducted during the first presidential debate, James Carville & Stan Greenberg tell the President what points he must/didn't make to reach swing voters: "To come back strong, the president must address future policy choices in a much bolder way -- and he must make this election about choosing a country that stands up for and elevates the 47 percent versus a country that tells its seniors, veterans, the working poor, the disabled, and, yes, the struggling middle class: 'You are on your own.'"

Here's a full transcript of the vice-presidential debate, via the New York Times.

David Fahrenthold & Felicia Sonmez write the Washington Post's report on the vice-presidential debate.

Jonathan Weisman analyzes the debate for the New York Times.

Karen Tumulty analyzes the debate for the Washington Post.

Daniel Politi of Slate has a good rundown of the punditocracy's reactions to the debate, with links.

Given all that, Charles Pierce says it best in one post. A truly impressive recap/analysis.

New York Times Editors: "Thursday night's vice-presidential debate was one of the best and meatiest political conversations in many years, showing that real differences on public policy can be discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance. In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Paul Ryan's nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign."

The Obama campaign put out this Web video this morning:

Dana Milbank: "The emphasis on congressional Republicans was key to Biden's strong performance in Kentucky, because it provided a more favorable way for Democrats to frame the campaign: not as a choice between President Obama and some abstract alternative but a choice between Obama and the dimly regarded Republican-led House, which would be in a dominant position under a President Romney."

E. J. Dionne: "It will now be Obama's task to pick up where Biden left off, but the vice president clearly brought his president back to a much better place."

     ... Ryan's comeback: Romney just misspoke & didn't mean it. "I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way." ...

     ... Biden's retort: "But I always say what I mean. And so does Romney."

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "Let me say a few words about the really astonishing person who appeared at the vice presidential debate on Thursday – the moderator. Martha Raddatz of ABC News didn’t ask puffy questions like Jim Lehrer did at the presidential debate. Or let the candidates get away with vague non-answers, as Jim Lehrer did. Ms. Raddatz acted like a working journalist instead of a television personality...." ...

... Adam Martin of New York magazine: "ABC News's Martha Raddatz distinguished herself in just about every way from Jim Lehrer. She asked pointed questions, kept the candidates roughly within the time constraints, and switched topics smoothly, such as when she asked Paul Ryan and Joe Biden to talk about Iran." ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate: not everybody loved Raddatz. Righty-right wingers thought she was picking on Paulie & Bloomberg's John Barro thought she asked too many questions about the Middle East while ignoring the rest of the world.

Rachel Maddow reports that a CBS flash poll of undecided voters found that 50 percent said Biden won, 31 percent said Ryan won, & 19 percent called it a draw. Update: according a CNN snap poll of voters, 48 percent said Ryan won, 44 percent said Biden did.

The New York Times liveblog/fact-check for the vice-presidential debate is here.

CW: Biggest question for me is the post-debate discussion. Can the talking head of Chris Matthews refrain from exploding & blowing any Biden gaffes, etc. out of all proportion? ...

     ... Update: Matthews managed to hold his head together & said that overall Biden won the debate.

 

Dumbbell!

Courtesy of Time magazine. You can see every hilarious photo here. ...

... Kevin Robillard of Politico: "In a photo series taken in December 2011, Ryan is shown lifting dumbbells while wearing a red baseball cap backward and elaborate ear buds. The photos appear in this week's issue alongside a profile of the GOP vice presidential nominee.... The photos were posted online Thursday morning, and it didn't take long for the snark to start." ...

... Jim Acosta of CNN: "An aide to Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan accused Time Magazine of 'poor judgment' in its decision to publish photographs of the Wisconsin congressman working out on the day of his debate with Joe Biden." ...

... Dan Amira of New York magazine: "In December of last year, a time when Paul Ryan must have known that he would be on any candidate's V.P. short list, Time approached the Wisconsin congressman about posing for a series of intimate weightlifting photos, and he was like, 'Yeah, sure, I can't see why not.' ... Is this any less silly than Dukakis in the tank or Kerry in the Woody Allen sperm suit? It's like the mimbo from Seinfeld is running for vice-president." ...

     ... CW: I find the mimbo way more appealing than Paulie.

... Hamilton Nolan of Gawker: "Hey Paul Ryan, nice little red hat, did you bring that little red hat to the photo shoot yourself? Yeah, I bet you did. Does your little red hat help you with your concentration curls? Yeah. I bet it does. Fuck this guy."

James Ball of the Washington Post: "President Obama used a rally to activists in Miami on Thursday to reiterate his campaign's post-debate efforts to portray former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as a hardline conservative posing as a moderate."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney delivered his most pointed criticism to date of President Obama's handling of the lethal attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, a possible foreshadowing of how Rep. Paul D. Ryan will address the issue in the vice-presidential debate."

Paul Krugman: "... the Obama administration has been wrong about some things, mainly because it was too optimistic about the prospects for a quick recovery. But Republicans have been wrong about everything.... Republicans ... are committed to an economic doctrine that has proved false, indeed disastrous, in other countries."

Joe Vardon, et al., of the Columbia,Ohio. Dispatch: "A Mitt Romney administration overhaul of President Barack Obama's health-care law would provide those without insurance who have a pre-existing condition the opportunity to gain coverage, the Republican presidential nominee told The Dispatch yesterday." CW: Great! In that case, people, Romney's overhaul would have to provide for the individual mandate or something like it (in Massachusetts Romney wanted the uninsured to post bonds). So, um, Romney's "overhaul" would be -- in essence -- just like ObamaCare. You might call it RomneyCare. Except this is another Big Lie. ...

... Kate Pickert of Time tries to decipher/extrapolate/guess what Romney's plan is for covering healthcare costs for people with pre-existing conditions. CW: it is ridiculous for reporters to have to play Guess the Policy with nearly every aspect of the Romney Plan to Screw America outside of ditching Big Bird & Planned Parenthood.

Since we've done some great photos of the GOP's vice-presidential candidate, it seems only fair to include one of the top dog. Here's an AP photo published October 8:

     ... The original caption was "Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney poses for photographs with students of Fairfield Elementary School, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in Fairfield, Va." As Dylan Byers of Politico reports, "after drawing fire from FoxNews.com and other conservative websites for what some dubbed a 'cheap shot' against the candidate." the AP changed its caption to read, "Republican presidential candidate..., blah blah. A student, right, reacts as she realizes Romney will crouch down directly in front of her and her classmates for the group photo." Still, I thought one Akhilleus suggested was far superior to the AP revision: "Too bad impressionable students have to find out so early in life what a real asshole looks like."

Josh Marshall of TPM: "A lot of reporters seem to have gotten it into their heads that you can't accuse Mitt Romney of both being hard-right and also a flip-flopper.... This is silly.... On simply logical terms, someone can be hard-right and would govern hard-right but is consistently shape-shifting and running away from their positions to suit the politics of the moment and gain power. In other words, he's not leveling with you. He's trying to fool you. That works since that's basically what Romney is doing."

Congressional Races

When Democrats Debate Each Other -- Make Sure A Peace Officer Is Nearby. Under California's new law, candidates in the general election are the top two vote-getters in the primary, no matter what their party. So what with redistricting, one Congressional district has two Democratic Congressmen running against each other: Brad Sherman & Howard Berman. Gene Maddaus of L.A. Weekly reports: During a debate at Pierce College, "Berman took a step toward Sherman. Sherman warned him not to 'get in my face,' and then moved even closer, grabbing Berman around the shoulder and saying, 'You want to get into this?' As the crowd of college students cheered and hooted, a deputy stepped up to the stage to make sure the confrontation didn't go any further":

Other Stuff

Ian Austen of the New York Times has more on Lance Armstrong's doping; his story concentrates on how Armstrong & other U.S. team members got away with it. What a dispiriting tale. ...

... "Lawmen against the Law." Speaking of dope of a different nature, Tim Egan on ballot measures in Washington, Colorado & Oregon to legalize marijuana: "... those on the front lines of the endless drug war, the police and prosecutors, are now citing futility and common sense on behalf of legalization -- at least in [Washington] state. And many of those who now profit from the unregulated medical marijuana industry, and the larger, organized crime gangs that control the illegal wholesale scene, are against legalization."

News Ledes

Reuters: "The deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis expanded to 12 states with the first case confirmed in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, bringing the total of cases to 184. The number of deaths from the outbreak linked to injections of steroid remained at 14 on Friday, the CDC said."

AP: "In the latest embarrassing spectacle for the Secret Service, one of its officers was found passed out and apparently drunk on a Miami street corner less than 12 hours after President Barack left the city following a day trip to campaign, police in Florida said."

New York Times: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize on Friday to the 27-nation European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe's bloodiest wars, even as the Continent wrestles with economic strife that threatens its cohesion and future."

Washington Post: "A computer virus that wiped crucial business data from tens of thousands of computers at Middle Eastern energy companies over the summer marked the most destructive cyberattack on the private sector to date, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday night in a major speech intended to warn of the growing perils in cyberspace."

AP: "A spokesman for the Taliban's Swat Valley chapter says its leadership decided already two months ago to kill a 14-year-old activist, who was shot and seriously wounded this week -- and then sent out a hit squad to carry out the job." ...

... The Atlantic: "Pakistan has arrested three suspects in the remote Swat Valley for the shooting of 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai. Police say the three men, aged 17 to 22, were involved in the attack, but that they all said the mastermind was a man Attaullah, who is still at large. Yousafzai was shot in the head on Tuesday on her way to school, in retaliation for her criticism of the Taliban."

AP: "China's newly named Nobel laureate for literature expressed hope Friday that an imprisoned Chinese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be freed, putting a dent in the ruling Communist Party's attempts to burnish its credentials with the latest prize. Mo Yan, the first Chinese writer to win the literature Nobel, made the comments about dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Peace Prize while serving a prison sentence for opposing single-party rule, in response to a question at a news conference."

Reuters: "When scientists selected a rock to test the Mars rover Curiosity's laser, they expected it to contain the same minerals as rocks found elsewhere on the Red Planet, but learned instead it was more similar to a rock found on Earth. The rock was chemically more akin to an unusual type of rock found on oceanic islands like Hawaii and St. Helena, as well as in continental rift zones like the Rio Grande, which extends from Colorado to Chihuahua, Mexico."

Wednesday
Oct102012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 11, 2012

Presidential Race

Here's the latest on the polls from Nate Silver. Bad news/good news.

Matt Miller, writing in the Washington Post, has some pretty good advice for Vice President Biden on the approach Biden should take in the debate tonight.

     ... Paul Ryan, Authentic Goober. If Ryan looks smug & happy & Bambi looks sad to you, it's because the right-to-lifer is overjoyed he just shot Bambi dead with his little bow-and-arrow.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: somebody press Romney & Ryan on their Medicaid policy, please. "They ... want to reduce the money [Medicaid] gets from the federal government.... They would expose the elderly and disabled, as well their loved ones, to the kind of suffering this country spent decades trying to eradicate. Sometime tonight, or perhaps in the two remaining presidential debates, I hope the Republican nominees get a chance to explain why they think that's such a great idea." Read the whole post.

Robb Mandelbaum of the New York Times debunks Romney's debate claim that raising taxes on higher earners will cost the nation 700,000 jobs.

Meenal Vamburkar of Mediate: "In an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show on Wednesday, President Obama reflected on the first presidential debate, and pinpointed the reason for his almost-universally agreed upon lackluster performance. He was simply too polite." You can hear the full interview & read the transcript here. It's worth a listen. ...

      ... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice has a follow-up to the interview in a post titled "President Obama Is Aware of All Internet Traditions." ...

Here's the Jim Fallows post which Akhilleus makes reference to in a post in today's Comments. However, it's harder to accept Fallows' analyses now that we know he's a bona fide Neanderthal (tho despite his boasting about it, apparently not all genetic scientists are convinced by "Neanderthal DNA."

CW: how can we take PolitiFact seriously when they give a Pants-on-Fire rating to President Obama for the Big Bird ad which claims Romney wants to fire Big Bird -- after Romney said he would defund PBS? PolitiFact's argument: Sesame Street has significant other sources of revenue. Oh, please.

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Ignoring a request from the mother of one of the Navy SEALs killed last month in Libya, Mitt Romney today once again told a campaign audience of meeting with her son at a Christmas party two years ago. After Romney told his story of meeting Glen Doherty during a campaign rally yesterday, Barbara Doherty -- mother of Glen Doherty, one of the Navy SEALs killed in the Benghazi attack -- had asked Romney to stop using her son's memory to advance his political agenda." In an update, Lewison writes, "Romneyland is now trying to beat a hasty retreat.... Funny how the campaign didn't care about her wishes until the national media started asking questions." ...

... Update. Libby Denkmann of MyNorthwest.com: a close friend of Glen Doherty's says Doherty recounted his meeting(s) with Romney much differently from the story Romney has been telling on the campaign trail: according to the friend, "Mitt Romney approached [Doherty] ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale." The friend said "Doherty remembered Romney as robotic."

Calling the Race. Jonathan Easley of The Hill: "Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos, whose polls are aggregated into mainstream averages to show where the presidential race stands in the swing states, said he's finished polling in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia because President Obama has no shot of winning those states."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly argues -- effectively, I think -- that what moved the polls to Romney was the public perception he engendered in the debate that he was a reasonable man who wanted to fix things. What Obama & Biden must do is demonstrate -- through exposing Romney's & Ryan's records of statements & votes -- that these two guys are dangerous, far-out extremists. "... if Democrats can't mine the vast record of extremism compiled by the GOP and its ticket over the last two years, and show that it's a more shocking and uncompromising version of what the party stood for prior to 2008, then they really can't expect to win."

Just watch:

Michael Barbaro & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... the appearance at this late stage of a modulating Mitt Romney risks reopening a long-running debate about his authenticity, given that he has described himself as 'severely conservative,' dismissed 47 percent of voters as government dependent, and picked a bold conservative as his running mate."

Travis Waldron of Think Progress writes "The Definitive Timeline of Romney's Ever-Evolving Tax Plan." Pretty helpful. Bottom line: "At this point, it is no longer clear what tax plan Romney actually supports." ...

... Suzy Khimm: AND Romney just made his tax math fuzzier. CW: that's the idea, isn't it? ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "Hey, reporters! Next time you interview Mitt Romney and he repeats this formula about lower taxes for some and the same taxes for everyone else, ask him how that goes with his pledge that he won't increase the deficit with his tax plan. And while you're at it, push him on the real key question: if it turned out that his fantasy math falls short and the experts are correct, what would he give up: the big cut in rates? Tax levels for the middle class? Or revenue neutrality? It has to be one of them. Because not even Dumbledore could make Romney's basic 'principles' work."

... Thanks to Jeanne B. for sending along this rundown of Romney's positions on a woman's right to choose:

... Charles Pierce: "All Romney's doing is making the same argument theoretically that DeJarlais [see linked story by Michael McAuliff below] tried to run by his girlfriend. It's all about expediency. There are very few people who actually are pro-life.... Push most of these people to the wall, especially the Penis-Americans in the congregation, and they're dialing the clinic faster than almost anyone else. In our politics, anyway, the fight against reproductive freedom always has been a fight over women's control of their own bodies and their right to make their own health-care decisions without the meddling of Bible-banging secular hypocrites and the Clan of the Red Beanie.... Congressman DeJarlais was all right with his girlfriend's getting an abortion as long as he got to make the decision and as long as the procedure made his life a little more convenient. Romney, I assure you, would be perfectly fine if one of his boys came to him with a similar problem. He's running for office, for Pete's sake." ...

... Let's not forget Forcible-Rape Ryan:

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico has a moderately informative story on Whiplash Willard, the Kama Sutra Man who can change, contort & invent new positions in a day two hours. What's important to remember is that a President Willard would sign any piece of crap a conservative Congress put in front of him. And it will, sadly, be a conservative Congress. The only brief sightings of Moderate Mitt were when he was lying running for office in Massachusetts & when he was governor in that state, where a veto-proof majority of Democrats controlled the legislature. Underpinning it all is this: Willard hates your middle-class guts.

** Adele Stan of AlterNet, writing in Salon, has a terrific post titled "Nine Ways Mitt Is Morally Bankrupt." CW: I didn't know about the first one.

Gail Collins: "Maybe Democrats should try to be more like the Republicans, and reduce stress by blaming all bad news on incorrect information, cooked up by cabals of political partisans."

AND Awk-ward! John Cook of Gawker: "After we published nearly 1,000 pages of Bain Capital's confidential financial records -- including audits revealing for the first time that Bain employed a potentially illegal tax dodge currently under investigation by the New York attorney general -- we thought we might hear from the good folks at Mitt Romney's former private equity firm, perhaps asking us to take down the documents. Well, Bain finally got in touch yesterday. And they want to explore investing in Gawker Media." Um, that is, until Cook told the Bain guy about the docu-dump.

Hamilton Nolan of Gawker: David Siegel, CEO of a Florida company that builds & manages timeshares, & who is building himself a 90,000-sq.ft. house patterned after the Palace of Versailles, sent an e-mail to his employees threatening layoffs if Obama is re-elected & he has to keep paying taxes & all. Hilariously, Siegel cribbed his warning letter from a 2008 fake chain letter. Nolan writes, "Huge mansion. Huge fortune. Profitable company. What could David Siegal have to complain about? Well, the demonization of the 1% by Barack Obama, for one thing." CW: do yourself a favor & read the e-mail. Just another opportunity to remind yourself, "Hey, I'm better than a billionaire." Yes, you are. ...

... For one thing, you have way better taste, not that the chair & the dead thing on the piano aren't totally elegant:

Photo via Think Progress.

Lynn Parramore of AlterNet, writing in Salon, has a brief overview of six billionaires obsessed with their marginal tax rates & unseating President Obama. Siegel is at the top of the list.

Congressional Races

CW: This Story Makes Me Crazy! Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post: "A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post. The congressman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, was trying to save his marriage at the time, according to his remarks on the call, made in September of 2000. And, according to three independent sources familiar with the call and the recording, he made the tape himself.... DesJarlais is currently leading Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart in the polls."

Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is out with a handful of new ads today featuring direct-to-camera appeals from female sexual assault victims in the state." Here's one:

Contributor Diane reports in today's Comments on the Warren-Brown Senate debate in Massachusetts. You can watch it here on C-SPAN. You have to click on the "Video Playlist." Martin Finucane reports for the Boston Globe on the debate. Here's a high point:

Other Stuff

Keystone Kops Go to Congress. Dana Milbank: "When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA's cover.... The lawmakers reminded us why 'congressional intelligence' is an oxymoron." The blabbers? Jason Chaffetz & Darrell Issa, of course. CW: By chance I saw Kelly O'Donnell's coverage of the hearing -- twice -- on NBC News, & there was nary a hint of this or of Republicans' cutting embassy security funds. People watching only TV news -- that is, most people -- don't know WTF is going on.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "With the future of affirmative action in higher education hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court on Wednesday grappled with two basic questions, repeated by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in various forms at least a dozen times. He wanted to know how much diversity was enough. And he wanted to know hen colleges would be able to achieve an acceptable level of diversity without using racial preferences." ...

... Emily Bazelon of Slate takes a deeper dive into the Justices' questioning. The Supremes should release the audio tomorrow. ...

... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "Regardless of how the case turns out, though, it is clear that there is a political problem with contemporary affirmative action."

Juliet Macur of the New York Times reports on a just-released report that reveals Lance Armstrong was the ringleader of the U.S.P.S. cycling team's sophisticated doping ring. "At the same time the drug use was nonchalant, it also was carefully orchestrated by Armstrong, team management and team staff, the antidoping agency said. 'Mr. Armstrong did not act alone,' the [U.S. Anti-Doping] agency said in its report. 'He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team.'" The full report is here.

Nicholas Kristof: in Pakistan & Indonesia -- and around the world -- educating girls is still controversial. ...

... Former First Lady Laura Bush, in a Washington Post op-ed, on the same subject.

Right Wing World

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Prominent conservative commentators on Wednesday largely dismissed a story that suggested ABC News' Martha Raddatz will be a biased moderator of Thursday's vice presidential debate because President Barack Obama attended her wedding two decades ago. Conservative outlet The Daily Caller accused the network of trying to 'downplay' that Obama attended Raddatz's 1991 wedding to Julius Genachowski, whom the president later named to head the Federal Communications Commission (and to whom Raddatz is no longer married). The story, which led Drudge Report on Wednesday afternoon, noted that Obama and Genachowski worked together on the Harvard Law Review." ...

... CW: Questions Raddatz plans to ask: (1) "Mr. Vice President, what is the best thing about working for my old friend President Obama --(a) that he's brilliant, (2) that he's kind-hearted or (3) that he never stops thinking of ways to improve the lives of the American people? You can choose more than one answer." (2) "Yo, Paulie, when you tell one of your habitual lies, would you prefer that I (a) turn off your mike, (2) press my "Liar! Liar" buzzer, or (3) go the dunk-tank route? You can choose more than one answer." Seems impartial to me.

News Ledes

Reuters: "The cost of sending a letter in the United States will go up by a penny next year.... 'Forever' stamps will cost 46 cents starting on January 27.... Consumers can use those stamps to mail 1-ounce letters anywhere in the country. As the name implies, they are always valid, even after stamp prices rise."

Bloomberg News: "Applications for jobless benefits dropped 30,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today." CW: notice how Bloomberg hedges on the validity of the data, which I'm thinking is the Jack Welch Effect: suddenly numbers which have been reported with anodyne commentary are somehow suspicious or can be explained away by data collection methods & seasonal changes.

New York Times: "The Swedish Academy announced on Thursday that it had awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to Chinese author Mo Yan, the cultural high point of a week of accolades to scientists, writers and peacemakers."

New York Times: "Adding to strains with Turkey over the conflict in Syria, Russia demanded an explanation on Thursday after Turkish warplanes forced a Syrian passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on suspicion of carrying military cargo." CW: I have been thinking for a week that the Turkey-Syria border skirmishes were reminiscent of the seemingly localized beginnings of World War I. Well, welcome to the conflict, Russia.

AP: "Yemeni security officials say a gunman has assassinated the Yemeni chief of security at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. The officials say Qassem Aqlani, who was in his fifties, was shot dead while on his way to work early on Thursday. They say a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at him and fled the scene. Aqlani had been working for the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital for nearly 20 years."

Washington Post: "The proposed merger of Europe's biggest defense and aerospace contractors collapsed Wednesday after European political leaders failed to agree on terms. The combination of London-based BAE Systems and Paris-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space would have created a colossus to rival U.S. giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as well as concerns at the Pentagon about such a huge foreign-owned contractor."