The Ledes

Friday, March 6, 2015.

New York Times: "The Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added 295,000 workers to their payrolls in February and that unemployment fell to 5.5 percent. The report was a big improvement from January’s...."

New York Times: "A 23-year-old British man has been arrested over a cyberattack in which data was stolen from the United States Department of Defense, the police said on Friday. The man was detained Wednesday morning by detectives from the National Crime Agency of Britain on suspicion of offenses linked to a hacking that took place in June...."

USA Today: Actor "Harrison Ford was injured Thursday afternoon when his vintage single-engine airplane crashed on a golf course shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport."

Detroit News: "A federal judge was shot outside his west side home Thursday night in what police believe was an attempted robbery or home invasion.U.S. District Judge Terrence G. Berg was shot in the leg about 9:10 p.m. outside his home on the west side of Detroit...."

New York Times: "Liberia’s last Ebola patient was discharged on Thursday after a ceremony in the capital, Monrovia, bringing to zero the number of known cases in the country and marking a milestone in West Africa’s battle against the disease.... The disease had flared up recently in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other countries hardest hit by it."

Guardian: " A court order from the US army court of criminal appeals instructs the military to refer to [Chelsea Manning] in all future official correspondence either using the gender neutral 'Private First Class Manning' or employing the feminine pronoun."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, March 5, 2015.

New York Times: "Cardinal Edward M. Egan, a stern defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who presided over the Archdiocese of New York for nine years in an era of troubled finances, changing demographics and a priesthood of dwindling, aging ranks shaken by sexual-abuse scandals, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 82."

NBC News: "The Supreme Court has set April 28 as the date for historic arguments on gay marriage."

AP: "On the first day of testimony Wednesday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose lawyer admitted he committed the crime, three women who suffered severe injuries described their memories of the blasts, their wounds and the terror they felt."

NBC News: "'We are very close [to reaching a nuclear agreement] if the political decision can be made to get to yes, as President Obama said,' [Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif] said. The minister spoke a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before the U.S. Congress, warning against a deal, which he said 'paves Iran's path to the bomb.'"

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 6

12:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks to the Human Rights Campaign convention (audio only)

1:30 pm ET: Swearing-in of Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy

2:15 pm ET: President Obama participates in a town hall event at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.

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

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

Way Cheaper Wi-Fi? Will Oremus of Slate: "Google isn’t talking details yet, but ...what it has in mind, according to industry rumors and sources, is something like what FreedomPop and Republic Wireless are already offering: a 'Wi-Fi first' service that could deliver adequate, if slightly spotty, coverage at a fraction of the prevailing cost. And that coverage is likely to get much better over time."

Woodwording Plagiarism?? Washington Post: "There’s no doubt that the first season finale of Ellen DeGeneres’s reality competition show was bizarre. But the questions it raises are even stranger, along with the weird and frustrating way the network chose to handle a controversial situation."

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."

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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.

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."

Tuesday
Oct092012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 10, 2012

I submitted a column to my editor at the New York Times eXaminer many hours ago, but I think he is traveling covering the protests in Athens, Greece, so I just slapped up the column myself. I do heartily recommend Dean Baker's rebuttal to David Brooks, which I've linked at NYTX. I've just added my two cents.

Presidential Race

Time for Scare Tactics:

P.S. I think the Big Bird ad has been disappeared. * No surprise: Sesame Street objected. Dave Weigel of Slate: Romney's "Big Bird remark ... wasn't a gaffe. It was a statement that Romney had made many times.... PBS's government check makes up less than one-thousandth of one-percent of discretionary spending. Voters don't know that.... At the debate, Romney repeatedly promised to start balancing the budget despite gigantic tax cuts and spending increases, but the only specific cuts he offered were Obamacare and PBS. I liked the way Matt Taibbi summed up Romney's answer: 'I'll cut PBS, which is about one millionth of the federal budget, and some other stuff.'" ...

     ... Politico Update: Obama advisor Robert Gibbs "said Wednesday the campaign had no plans to stop using Big Bird in its advertising."

... The pundits hate the Big Bird ad -- except for Dan Amira of New York magazine, who says it reminds voters that Romney is that guy who doesn't care about them & their kids. ...

... And Romney is still attacking Big Bird. ...

... "Forget Big Bird." Dana Milbank: "At the Denver debate, Romney said he would eliminate Obamacare (doing so would actually increase the budget deficit, because of related tax hikes) and the public-broadcasting subsidy, which is ... little more than one one-hundredth of 1 percent of federal spending. But Romney proposes to cut federal spending by trillions of dollars -- more than $5 trillion over the next decade, assuming he follows the sort of blueprint laid out by his running mate, Paul Ryan. That threatens much more than Muppets and monsters. Human lives are at stake." ...

... CW: Victoria D. & I like "The Daily Show" take on Mitt Romney's policies. If President Obama had said what Jon Stewart said in these segments, he would have won the debate:

(... You can download or watch the Stewart-Bill O'Reilly "Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorum" here. It's $4.95.

Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times write a doom-&-gloom story about the Obama campaign, but I think it's larded with a tasty dose of crap. Also, Andrew Sullivan is an idiot. I know some of you are fond of him, but there's a reason I don't read or link his stuff: he's an idiot. ...

... On the other hand, there's this reality check from Nate Silver: "Following another day of strong polling on Tuesday, Mitt Romney advanced into the best position in the FiveThirtyEight forecast since the party conventions. His chances of winning the Electoral College are now 28.8 percent in the forecast, his highest since Aug. 29. For the first time since Aug. 28, President Obama is projected to win fewer than 300 electoral votes. And Mr. Obama's projected margin of victory in the national popular vote -- 2.0 percentage points -- represents the closest the race has been since June 27." ...

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Mitt Romney holds a slight edge over Barack Obama -- 49% to 47% -- in Gallup's initial 'likely voter' estimate, encompassing interviews from Oct. 2-8. Preferences tilt the opposite way among registered voters, 49% vs. 46% in Obama's favor." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg ... told me ... that his new research persuaded him that Mitt Romney beat Obama in the debate for a simple reason. Unmarried women -- a critical piece of Obama's coalition -- did not hear Obama telling him how they would make their lives better. By contrast, they did hear Romney telling them he'd improve their lives." ...

... One word -- women. -- Nancy Pelosi:

Michael Scherer of Time: "Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have new television spots up today (Tuesday) designed to appeal to Spanish-speaking voters. But only one candidate endeavors to speak to those voters in their native language.... Now, which one do you think will be more effective?":

A Nice Hit Job on Gov. Ima Hippocrite. Sharon LaFraniere & Mike McIntire of the New York Times: "As a candidate, Mr. Romney uses China as a punching bag.... But his private equity dealings, both while he headed Bain and since, complicate that message." Bain companies have been moving jobs to China & touting the low wages there.... Bain's interest in China dates to when Mr. Romney ran the firm. During a panel discussion at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston in February 1998, he told of touring an appliance factory in China where 5,000 employees 'were working, working, working, as hard as they could, at rates of roughly 50 cents an hour.'" Romney has millions in Bain companies that have outsourced U.S. jobs to China.

The Two Faces of Mitt. Elise Foley of the Huffington Post: "Mitt Romney said Tuesday he has no plans to push for legislation limiting abortion, a softer stance from a candidate who has said he would 'get rid of' funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. 'There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda,' the Republican presidential nominee told The Des Moines Register in an interview. The Romney campaign walked back the remark within two hours of the Register posting its story. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the National Review Online's Katrina Trinko that Romney 'would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.'" CW: yeah, he also told Mike Huckabee he would "absolutely" support "personhood" legislation, which would make even some kinds of contraception illegal. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

     ... Jennifer Jacobs' Des Moines Register story is here.

As a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam with twenty-two years of service as a Republican member of the U.S. House and Senate, I endorse President Barack Obama for a second term as our Commander-in-Chief. Candidates publicly praise our service members, veterans and their families, but President Obama supports them in word and deed, anywhere and every time.... One of the reasons I support President Obama is because he has consistently shown he understands that our commitment to our servicemen and women may begin when they put on their uniform, but that it must never end. -- Former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler (R-S.D.)

Ari Berman of The Nation: "Ohio's GOP secretary of state in 2012, Jon Husted..., has banned early voting hours on nights and weekends in Ohio, when it is most convenient for most Ohioans to vote, has fired Democratic election commissioners who challenge his voting restrictions, and is now appealing a court decision reinstating early voting on the three days prior to the election -- which the GOP eliminated except for members of the military -- to the US Supreme Court. Early voting has already begun in Ohio, but four weeks out until the election, Husted is doing his damndest to confuse the hell out of Ohio voters and undermine their voting rights." Read the whole post. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "Ohio asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn a federal appeals court's ruling that the state must allow all voters to cast ballots on the weekend before the election, not just those in the military." ...

... President Obama urges Ohioans to vote early:

When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you. When you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves. -- Unidentified Nonpartisan Pollster ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "... the polling I saw suggests that viewers polled during the debate thought it was about even; viewers polled right after the debate though Romney had won; and viewers polled a little later still thought it was a rout. I can't think of any good explanation for this aside from the effect of the talking heads right after the debate and the firestorm of liberal criticism that quickly turned into a feeding frenzy of outrage." ...

... Maureen Dowd: "At a fund-raising concert in San Francisco Monday night, the president mocked Romney's star turn, saying 'what was being presented wasn't leadership; that's salesmanship.' It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. His latest fund-raising plea is marked 'URGENT.' But in refusing to muster his will and energy, and urgently sell his vision, he underscores his own lapses in leadership and undermines arguments for four more years." CW: Dowd argues that like Bill Clinton, albeit for different reasons & with less drama, Obama slacks off when he's ahead. I think that's a common pathology among politicians & probably a necessary one: you have to get good at performing under pressure & against long odds -- something most of us do only occasionally -- & there must be a real rush in beating those long odds -- such a rush that some people will set themselves up for it.

... In a longish post, Markos Moulitsas makes two points: (1) "Every time you think he has learned that Republicans want to utterly destroy him, he comes back with his rhetorical embrace of the enemy, telling everyone that we should all come together because we're not really all that different!" and (2) the polls aren't that bad for Obama, assuming "Biden and Obama won't screw up the remaining three debates."

CW: when you're less informed than Tom Friedman, you're pretty ignorant. Here's Friedman today: "If [Romney's foreign policy] speech is any indication of the quality of Romney's thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not." Friedman goes on to recommend Secretary of Education Arne Duncan be put in charge of the U.S.'s Arab states policy. And Romney is dumber than that.

I don't know if you guys saw the debate last week. I take a lot of pride in that, because -- I don't know if you noticed, but I was -- me and my brothers were responsible for my dad doing so well. We were the ones, as kids, that kept saying the same thing over and over. And we'd say the same lie over and over. And my dad learned then, not to believe it. While we didn't go to any of the formal debate preparation, we did the real hard stuff. So as a father, he learned how to debate an obstinate child. We had a lot of fun, we had a lot of fun watching the debate. -- Josh Romney, introducing his father at a rally

Evidently lying through your teeth is a well-entrenched Romney family tradition. Good grammar, not so much. -- Constant Weader

Other Stuff

Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor: Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) & Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have both made political hay of the lax security in Benghazi, Libya, claiming "the administration ignored pleas for more security from Libya embassy officials.... Mr. Chaffetz has been among those leading the Republican effort to pin the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on the Obama administration." BUT "Since retaking control in 2010, House Republicans have aggressively cut spending at the State Department in general and embassy security in particular. Chaffetz and Issa and their colleagues voted to pay for far less security than the State Department requested in 2011 and again this year.... It's a bit rich to complain about a lack of US security personnel at diplomatic missions on the one hand, while actively working to cut the budget to pay for US security personnel at diplomatic missions on the other." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Lori Montgomery & Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "An issue that has taken center stage in the presidential campaign -- how to rewrite the U.S. tax code -- is rapidly moving back onto the front burner in Washington as policymakers brace for another epic battle over the budget days after the Nov. 6 election. On Tuesday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, rejected the goal of cutting the top tax rate, an objective embraced by both parties. [Really?] Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators gathered at Mount Vernon ... for a three-day retreat aimed at producing an alternative debt-reduction strategy to replace the 'fiscal cliff,' including a tax overhaul that reduces rates but raises more money."

Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "Frank Schubert, a former corporate public relations executive, ran the $40 million, come-from-behind push for Proposition 8 in California in 2008. He went on to mount successful campaigns to defeat same-sex marriage in Maine and North Carolina. Now, with marriage initiatives on the ballot in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington State and Maine, Mr. Schubert is the chief strategist in all four at once.... Every time the issue has been on the ballot, in 32 states in a row, voters have come out against same-sex marriage." CW: Schubert says he's committed to his "cause," but it sounds to me as if he's just in it to make a buck. Oh, and God has a plan for his life. Just for the record, I can understand how people believe that some kind of supernatural entity created the heavens & the earth, but I cannot for the life of me understand how otherwise intelligent people think that same supernatural being is taking time out of her busy universe-creating schedule to plan the lives of millions of insignificant earthlings, right down to making sure they do their damnedest to oppose gay marriage.

How Thin Is Thy Skin? Welch Can Dish It out, but He Can't Take It. Stephen Gandel of Fortune: Jack Welch has said he won't write for Fortune any more after Fortune writers criticized his conspiracy theory that the Obama campaign faked the September jobs report & "Fortune.com ran a story detailing Welch's record as a job destroyer. GE lost nearly 100,000 jobs during the 20 years in which Welch ran the company." ...

... Here's the Fortune.com story. It happens to be by Gandel: "... when it comes to job creation, Obama's record appears to far better than [Welch's], who spent two decades on top of the one of the world's largest companies. GE lost nearly 100,000 jobs while Welch was at the helm of the company -- a tenure that spanned two of the most robust periods of economic growth in American business history." ...

... Update: oh, look. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has given Welch a platform to spew his crazy conspiracy theory. So he does, in an op-ed titled "I Was Right about That Strange Jobs Report." Uh-huh.

AND Tilda Swinton Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard tears up "the Leader of the Opposition" after he accused her party of sexism & misogyny. Oh, if only we had a Parliament. Via Adam Sorensen of Time:

     ... Monica Attard of CNN has the backstory. ...

     ... Amelia Lester in the New Yorker: "... supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia."

News Ledes

AP: "A panel of three federal judges upheld a South Carolina law requiring voters to show photo identification, but delayed enforcement until next year, in a decision announced Wednesday, less than a month before this year's presidential election. In a unanimous ruling, the judges said there was no discriminatory intent behind the law, ruling that it would not diminish African-Americans' voting rights because people who face a 'reasonable impediment' to getting an acceptable photo ID can still vote if they sign an affidavit."

New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday nominated Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and a combat veteran who led a regiment in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan."

New York Times: "The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict." ...

... New York Times: "With Syria's civil strife coursing through major cities and convulsing neighboring countries, the Turkish military sounded a somber warning on Wednesday that it may respond more forcefully after days of shelling from Syria."

AP: "Americans Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka won the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals. Such studies are key for developing better drugs. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the two researchers had made groundbreaking discoveries on an important family of receptors, known as G-protein-coupled receptors."

Monday
Oct082012

The Commentariat -- October 9, 2012

Brendan Nyhan in the Columbia Journalism Review on some major media outlets' irresponsible handling of the right-wing jobs report conspiracy theory. ABC News & Bloomberg News were among the worst, & other media picked up the Bloomberg story. Via Jonathan Bernstein.

** Based on a book by Yale law professor Akhil Amar, Stanley Fish writes a terrific primer on interpreting the Constitution.

Jon Stewart addresses the conspiracy to artificially lower the unemployment rate:

Presidential Race

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "Registered voters' preferences for president are evenly split in the first three days of Gallup tracking since last Wednesday's presidential debate. In the three days prior to the debate, Barack Obama had a five-percentage-point edge among registered voters." ...

... Nate Silver analyzes the latest presidential polling data.

Fact-Check. Bradley Klapper & Calvin Woodward of the AP: "Mitt Romney solely blamed President Barack Obama on Monday for potential defense cuts that Republicans in Congress worked out with the White House and Democrats and left the misimpression that Obama has ignored free trade initiatives." Read the whole article. Here's a surprise: Romney told one lie after another. ...

... President Obama has shown time and again that he is a tough, responsible and steady commander-in-chief. Mitt Romney has shown throughout this campaign that he would be the exact opposite. Behind the tough talk, he has been erratic, unsteady and irresponsible in his audition on the world stage. -- Ben LaBolt of the Obama campaign ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "What [Romney's] campaign billed as a major foreign policy address didn't have much new in it and left some analysts unimpressed. The speech, they said, was much like Romney's previous swings at laying out a foreign policy: couched in broad ideology and big ambitions and lacking the specifics for how he'd bring any of them about." ...

... Spencer Ackerman of Wired: "Mitt Romney thinks Barack Obama is a terrible president. When Romney looks at Obama's foreign policies, he sees a president who projects 'passivity' in a dangerous world, as he argues in a big speech on Monday, leaving allies and enemies confused about where America stands. Which makes it curious that the policies Romney outlines in his speech differ, at most, superficially from Obama's." ...

... Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "Romney's speech ... seems to have focused less on introducing new policies as introducing a new Mitt." ...

** ... Dana Milbank: "Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom famously predicted that the candidate would use an Etch-a-Sketch approach in the general election to erase his previous positions. But nobody predicted that the entire exercise would occur in the space of one week -- and just a month before the election. Stranger yet, Romney hasn't been shifting all his views to the center in recent days. While his domestic policies are moderating, his foreign policy is moving to more of a neocon hard line. The only consistency is inconsistency: Whatever Romney's positions were, they are no longer."

... Steve Benen: what Romney says about Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in public is notably different from what he says in private.

Ezra Klein: Mitt isn't moderate, & he would govern as a conservative. Klein explains why.

CW: what this all boils down to is that Mitt's policies don't matter because he has no principles. He is completely unpredictable. He would be the Schizoid President.

Mike Allen & Jim VandeHei of Politico write what I think is a hilarious story: This Week's Willard is all the doing of -- wait for it -- Ann & Tagg Romney. "This story is based on campaign sources with direct knowledge of the events. The sources insisted on anonymity in order to discuss internal disputes and operations." Yeah, right. This story is what is technically known as a sack-o'-shit leak, designed to burnish the reps of Ann & Tagg & "explain" how This Week's Willard is the Real Romney.

AND, speaking of hilarious, contributor Julie L. links this Obama campaign ad:

     ... John McCain is not amused. ...

... Sorry for all the "Daily Show" stuff, but this is an instant classic -- "This Week with George Snuffleupagus":

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP does a nice job of politely debunking Romney's claims that he plans to provide health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. Headline: "Big Gaps in Romney Plan on Pre-Existing Conditions."

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic runs down a few of Romney's more severely conservative positions: "Romney had more than a year of campaigning to position himself as a moderate. He chose not to do so. That tells us a lot -- more, surely, than anything he says now."

Paul Ryan gets pissed off, walks out of interview by Flint, Michigan reporter. Via Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed:

... John Aravosis of AmericaBlog: "It was clear that Team Romney won't permit Ryan to do an interview, or continue an interview, with anyone who seems prepared to question the Romney campaign's lies."

Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution, writing in Salon, on the gay vote. Why would gays vote Republican? Ever? Um, jobs or something. So far, Log Cabin Republicans have chosen not to endorse Throwback Mitt.

Congressional Races

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "A potent combination of Congressional redistricting, retirements of fed-up lawmakers and campaign spending by special interests is pushing out moderate members of both parties, leaving a shrinking corps of consensus builders."

Alison Cowan of the New York Times: through an associate, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) (Staten Island & parts of Brooklyn) has ties to the Gambino crime family.

Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: Rep. Todd Akin (jRTP-Mo.) is gathering support for his candidacy & has closed the 10-point gap that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) enjoyed after Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks. And evangelicals love him!

Right Wing World

Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times has more on former state legislator Charlie Fuqua, who is running to take back his old seat. In his book God's Law: The Only Political Solution, Fuqua writes that "the guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children ... in Deut 21:18-21 ... would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, [but] would give parents authority." Even more frightening: Fuqua is a former lawyer for the state department of human services. Fuqua's campaign gets financial support from the state Republican party. CW: shouldn't a lawyer who advocates the occasional murder of brats be disbarred?

News Ledes

New York Times: "As tens of thousands took to the streets in protest, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens on Tuesday in her clearest gesture of European solidarity since the debt crisis began."

New York Times: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called for elections early next year instead of as scheduled in October 2013, saying that conversations with his coalition partners had proved it would be impossible to pass 'a responsible budget' with deep cuts."

AP: "Senior State Department officials on Tuesday revealed for the first time certain details of last month's tragedy in the former Libyan rebel stronghold, such as the efforts of a quick reaction force that rushed onto the scene and led the evacuation in a fierce gun battle that continued into the streets. The briefing was provided a day before department officials were to testify to a House committee...."

AP: "A French-American duo shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for inventing methods to observe the bizarre properties of the quantum world, research that has led to the construction of extremely precise clocks and helped scientists take the first steps toward building superfast computers. Serge Haroche of France and American David Wineland opened the door to new experiments in quantum physics by showing how to observe individual quantum particles without destroying them, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said."

Reuters: "The unprecedented price spike that added more than 50 cents a gallon to California pump prices last week ended as quickly as it began, market analysts said, and consumers should see prices fall dramatically in the coming week. Political outrage, however, was still heating up as Senator Barbara Boxer joined calls for a federal investigation into possible market manipulation."

ABC News: "Jerry Sandusky didn't take the stand during his child sex-abuse trial this summer, but Tuesday at his sentencing he will declare that he is innocent despite the 45 verdicts finding him guilty, his lawyer said Monday, as Sandusky made the same claim in a new audio recording." ...

     ... Philadelphia Inquirer Update: "An emotional Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison today for molesting 10 young boys he encountered through his charity for disadvantaged youth."

Guardian: "Julian Assange's supporters have been ordered to forfeit £93,500 in bail money after the WikiLeaks founder sought political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London."

Sunday
Oct072012

The Commentariat -- October 8, 2012

Paul Krugman explains to the lame-brained -- like former GE CEO Jack Welch -- how unemployment data are calculated. He adds, "If the American Jobs Act, proposed by the Obama administration last year, had been passed, the unemployment rate would probably be below 7 percent.... The furor over Friday's report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Mr. Obama that good news for the nation's long-suffering workers drives its members into a blind rage."

Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the most interesting people in the world, reviews a book by Sanford Levinson on the U.S. federal & state constitutions. Stevens is particularly interesting on the preamble v. the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but maybe I think so because I independently drew the same conclusion some while back.

Bill Keller's column -- "How to Die" -- is very good.

We should have an electoral process as good as the Venezuelan system, as described here. Thanks to contributor Safari for the link. You can read the transcript of the video here:

Susan Reimer of the Baltimore Sun on school paddling in Texas. CW: What got me the most was the mother of one victim going all Stockholm Syndrome & apologizing for complaining that a male school administrator paddled her teenaged daughter to the point of raising welts. Thanks to reader Doug C. for the link. And why doesn't the New York Times hire Susan Reimer? She's a consistently good columnist. I should look for her columns.

Presidential Race

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "After weeks of refraining from dipping back into the sensitive topic of the attack that killed the American ambassador in Libya, Mitt Romney on Monday offered harsh criticism of the administration for being slow to label the assault terrorism and faulted its overall handling of the attack."

Nate Silver: "Mitt Romney remains in a considerably stronger polling position than he was before last Wednesday's debate in Denver. But the polls released on Sunday did not tell quite as optimistic a story for him as those in the debate's immediate aftermath."

Josh Lederman & Steve Peoples of the AP: "Fresh off his strongest fundraising month this year, President Barack Obama is looking to raise millions of dollars from celebrities and wealthy donors in California with just one month left in a tightening race. The two-day swing through the solidly Democratic state highlights the critical role that fundraising will play in the campaign's final weeks as Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, escalate their barrage of television ads in competitive states like Ohio. The president is to return there Tuesday."

Peter Baker & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times write a pretty interesting "what went wrong" story about Obama's debate performance -- based on sanitized accounts by Obama staffers. One thing that struck me: the staffers who were responsible for debate prep made it seem as if they were hapless passengers in a wreck in which Obama was driving the vehicle. But was there no point at which -- as they witnessed Obama's listless debate practice sessions someone had the guts to say, "Yo, Barack, wake up. You're running off the road"? ...

... John Heileman of New York magazine has a good take on Obama's debate performance, too, though one made without a lot of the reporting Baker & Gabriel did. CW: one thing I find heartening -- nonpartisans like Heilemann are now routinely calling out Romney's lies & distortions.

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Beyond his critique of Mr. Obama as failing to project American strength abroad, Mr. Romney has yet to fill in many of the details of how he would conduct policy toward the rest of the world, or to resolve deep ideological rifts within the Republican Party and his own foreign policy team. It is a disparate and politely fractious team of advisers that includes warring tribes of neoconservatives, traditional strong-defense conservatives and a band of self-described 'realists' who believe there are limits to the degree the United States can impose its will."

Peter Schroeder of The Hill: "Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday accused Mitt Romney of delivering a 'fundamentally dishonest' performance during last week's first presidential debate. Gibbs said President Obama ended up debating against 'a clone that looked a lot like Mitt Romney, that had walked away from fundamentally every position he has taken.'" ...

... Mackenzie Weinger of Politico: "Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday said Republican Mitt Romney delivered a 'very good performance' at the first presidential debate that was 'completely un-rooted in fact' and the president was 'taken aback at the brazenness' of the Republican nominee's answers.... 'He spent 90 minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning on that stage, but he did it very well.' Schieffer ... ask[ed] if he was saying Romney 'lied or was dishonest?' 'Well, yeah, I think he was dishonest,' Axelrod said." ...

     ... CW: of course Axelrod is just making excuses here & using his Sunday morning face-time to let viewers know Romney is a lying sack of shit as someone eloquently put it. But if by any chance Obama was "taken aback" by Romney's lies, then he has been living, not in a bubble, but on another planet.

Judd Legum of Think Progress: on "Press the Meat" Sunday, Newt Gingrich acknowledged that Mitt Romney's remarks about his tax plan were inconsistent; Gingrich claimed Romney had changed his plan, but he hasn't; he's just changed what he says about it. Gingrich called it "good politics." Yes, indeed, in Right Wing World, "lying" is another word for "good politics."

President Obama wasn't forceful in his debate, but Paul Krugman was on "This Week with George." A reader is having script problems again, which I'm guessing the ABC embeds caused, so I've eliminated the videos. You can find the first part here, then cursor through to the second part. ...

     ... AND Mary Matalin is one of the most obnoxious women on the face of the planet. Or, as Digby says (read her whole post), "All in all, this show made me miss Ann Coulter. I don't think I need to explain just how bad that makes this particular show." ...

     ... Update: Krugman follows up with a history lesson for self-made economic historian Mary Matalin.

Oh, look, Massachusetts Mitt the Moderate was introduced at a rally by none other than Tea Party Crazy Man Allen Congress-Is-Full-of-Commies West. Funny thing, Mitt's father George refused to appear with Barry Goldwater, because he thought Goldwater's beliefs were too extreme.

CW: I thought this was a pretty interesting PolitiFact analysis of Romney's claim that the U.S. "is spending 42 percent of our economy on government." PolitiFact gives Romney a "Mostly True" rating; I'd have given him a "Misleading Again" rating. Anyway, I learned something.

Hmm, I wonder if Gov. Gaysqueamish Q. Romney knows that it was a gay U.S. Senator -- David Walsh of Massachusetts -- who gave George Romney his big break. John Bohrer, writing in New York magazine, has the story.

Right Wing World

Nanette Byrnes of Reuters: "By publicly backing candidates for political office from the pulpit..., nearly 1,500 ... preachers at services across the United States were flouting a law they see as an incursion on freedom of religion and speech. 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' has been staged annually since 2008 by a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Its aim is to provoke a challenge from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in order to file a lawsuit and have its argument out in court. The event has grown steadily in size, but the IRS has yet to respond -- even though the pastors tape their sermons and mail them to the agency."

Congressional Races

David Catanese of Politico: North Dakota's Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp is "proving to be perhaps the best pure Senate campaigner of this election cycle." In a race she was expected to lose, Heitkamp has "made it a barnburner."

Raymond Hernandez of the New York Times: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) & her challenger, Republican Wendy Long, both attended Dartmouth College & have maintained their ties to friends at the school. Among Long's close Dartmouth friends: wingers Laura Ingraham & Dinesh D'Souza.

News Ledes

President Obama speaks at the dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument:

Huffington Post: "Staffers at the New York Times briefly walked out Monday afternoon in protest of the management's position on contract negotiations. It is the latest development in the escalating war over contract talks. Union members have been working without a contract for the last eighteen months. Now, it appears they are mobilizing in response to the latest stalemate in negotiations."

Reuters: "Some 13,000 people in 23 U.S. states may have received steroid injections linked to a rare fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed eight people, but far fewer are likely to contract the disease, the Centers for Disease Control said on Monday."

AP: "British researcher John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan won this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday for discovering that mature, specialized cells of the body can be reprogrammed into stem cells -- a discovery that scientists hope to turn into new treatments. Scientists want to harness that reprogramming to create replacement tissues for treating diseases like Parkinson's, diabetes and for studying the roots of diseases in the laboratory."

Space: "A privately built rocket lit up the night sky over Florida Sunday (Oct. 7) to kick off the first-ever cargo delivery trip to the International Space Station by a robotic, American-made spacecraft. The unmanned Dragon space capsule, built by the commercial spaceflight firm SpaceX, roared into space atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from a launch pad here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, beginning a three-day flight to the space station."

Washington Post: "Iran is ratcheting up pressure on the U.N. agency responsible for overseeing the country's nuclear program, accusing its inspectors of engaging in spying and sabotage and threatening to restrict U.N. access to Iranian nuclear facilities. So strident has been Iran's criticism of the International Atomic Energy Agency in recent weeks that some Western officials fear that the country is preparing to officially downgrade its cooperation with the nuclear watchdog."