The Ledes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

New York Times: "With anger swelling over corruption, inequality and a devastating Islamist insurgency in the nation’s north, Nigerians chose a former general who once ruled with an iron hand to be their next president, according to election results on Tuesday. The election was the most competitive presidential race ever in Nigeria, one of the largest democracies in the world. Now, if power is handed over peacefully, it will be a major shift for the nation — the first transfer of power between civilians of different parties in a country that has spent much of its post-colonial history roiled by military coups."

The Unfortunate Death of a Fool. Washington Post: "What had first appeared to be an attempt to breach security at the [NSA] ... now appears to be a wrong turn by two men who police believe had robbed their companion of his vehicle and perhaps didn’t stop because there were drugs inside. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore office of the FBI, Amy J. Thoreson, said early in the investigation that authorities 'do not believe [the incident] is related to terrorism.' A law enforcement official said: 'This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.'”

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired." ...

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 31

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Wednesday
Apr112012

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2012

Your Titanic song for today:

CW: The 2nd Rachel Maddow segment I linked below reminded me to link to the 2013 budget proposal of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (or, as Rep. Allen West [R-Fla.] calls them, card-carrying Communists). I haven't looked over this year's proposal yet, but their proposed 2012 budget was the only proposal that made sense.

Here's the Pew News Quiz that contributor James S. mentioned in the comments to yesterday's Commentariat. According to James, it's a breeze; I'm about to find out if I'm as uninformed as the average American. Update: the quiz was a snap. ...

... Here's another "quiz" that I haven't tried yet, but when I find out what our income is I think I'll give it a whirl. The Obama-Biden campaign has an interactive calculator that let's you "see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do." ...

... Ezra Klein explains how the Buffett Rule, or more accurately -- the "Paying a Fair Share Act" -- actually works. My eyes glazed over but if your family income is higher than a million a year, maybe you'll want to pay more attention than I did. ...

** ... Win-Win-Win. Prof. James Galbraith in a CNN opinion piece: "Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is pressing for the federal minimum to rise to $9.80 per hour by 2014.... Harkin's proposal would raise the incomes of 28 million American workers. It would make a big difference in the South, where wages are lower. It would especially help younger workers, minorities and women. It would not add to the deficit -- since federal workers all make more than that anyway -- and would likely spur the economy and increase tax revenues -- by a lot more than the Buffett Rule."

David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences."

Daily Kos: "The overt and immeasurable influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over U.S. policy has been well-documented on this site and others. For the most part, little has been done legislatively to change this unfortunate fact. But a Madison, Wisconsin Democrat, Mark Pocan, has been circulating a bill that aims to rein ALEC in:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the 'ALEC Accountability Act,' a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the 'scholarships' funding legislators’ travel.

       ... Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the link. 

... Dave S. also highlights this preamble to a statement by ALEC, issued in the wake of the organization's loss of yet another corporate underwriter:

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization.

      ... Yes, it's horrible that Common Cause, Color of Change & similar dastardly intimidators are picking on a right-wing group that spoon-feeds anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poor (voter ID), pro-gun, etc. legislation to state legislators too stupid to write their own regressive laws. Frankly, I don't get why any big corporation would view as beneficial most of the legislation ALEC writes. Here's a bit more from Andy Kroll of Mother Jones.

CW: Oh this is nice. Andrew Sprung of xpostfactoid: "... justices Alito, Roberts and Scalia seemed unaware of a fundamental feature of the Affordable Care Act (and were not disabused during oral argument on 3/27): the ACA has a catastrophic coverage option." Would knowing this have changed any of these justices minds? And who is responsible for their ignorance?

Right Wing World

The New York Times editors do a very nice job of comparing Mitt Romney to his "hero" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: "If Mr. Romney is elected and a Republican-led Congress presents him with a bill overturning the Ledbetter act, would he sign it, following the path of his hero, Mr. Walker?" Read the whole editorial. The Obama-Biden campaign should jump on this because the editors begin to show how "Romney's electability problem" would become the nation's problem if he were elected. ...

..."We'll Get Back to You on That." Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s campaign scrambled Wednesday afternoon to clarify his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act after top aides were caught flat-footed by the question.... Top policy aides to the former Massachusetts governor seemed uncertain how to respond when a reporter asked about Mr. Romney’s position on it during a campaign conference call." ...

... This segment of Rachel Maddow's show has the audio (the pause is real). Maddow & Sam Stein do a good job of illustrating Romney's "everything problem" (see also E. J. Dionne's & Greg Sargent's commentary, linked below):

... E. J. Dionne: "Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far and also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both." ...

... Greg Sargent shows that Romney's "woman problem" isn't going to evaporate. The campaign's hesitation on the Lilly Ledbetter law was no accident. And it makes Dionne's point: Romney is caught between a rock & a hard place.

Art by "DonkeyHotey" for Esquire.Charles Pierce: "How does Rick Santorum, man of principle, look those wonderful people ... in the eye and now tell them they have to vote for the Governor of the People's Republic Of Gay Marriage And Taxachusetts? The only way to do it is to scare the daylights out of them about what will happen during the second term of Barack Hussein Alinsky. In other words, the only way for Rick Santorum to maintain political viability is to become a towering fake for the next six months. Myself, I think he's up to the job."

CW: Yay! We Floridians Have Our Own Personal Baby Joe McCarthy. Jonathan Mattise of the Palm Beach Post: At a local townhall meeting Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) "got in shots at Democrats and President Obama, who spoke Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. West said Obama was 'scared' to have a discussion with him. He later said 'he's heard' up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names." Via Charles Pierce, who comments. ...

... As contributor P. D. Pepe notes in today's comments, West is not giving up even though the Communist Party says no Members of Congress belong to the party:

News Ledes

New York Times: 'North Korea defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday, launching a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead. But in what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea."

The Daily: "Rescue workers who raced to Thomas Kinkade’s California home on the morning the painter died were responding to a call of a unconscious, 54-year-old man who had been 'drinking all night' ..." With audio.

Raw video of George Zimmerman being taken into Seminole County jail (Sanford, the town where Zimmerman shot & killed Trayvon Martin, is in Seminole County):

Orlando Sentinel: "Late Wednesday night, [George] Zimmerman — his head covered — was ushered out of a black SUV and into the Seminole County Jail, just hours after special prosecutor Angela Corey announced a second-degree murder charge against him." ...

     ... Update: "George Zimmerman ... faced a judge for the first time this afternoon. Meanwhile, a probable cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence. The four-page affidavit did, however, does offer a few new pieces of information. It says that 'Zimmerman confronted Martin,' an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman's version of the events." AP story here.

New York Times: "After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases." Hartford Courant story here.

Washington Post: "An uneasy calm descended on Syria on Thursday indicating that both the government and rebels were keeping their promises to observe a U.N.-brokered cease-fire which went into effect at dawn." Al Jazeera story here. Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

Reader Comments (8)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/13/1064432/-Wisconsin-Dem-Introduces-the-ALEC-Accountability-Act-

Fighting Back! Got get em Rep. Pocan!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

http://www.alec.org/2012/04/alec-responds/

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization:

That's Rich...

How's that shoe fit Ron?

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

The Pew quiz, indeed, was a breeze, should have been for any who pay attention but I find at the end only 8% got them all correct as I did. A sorry state of affairs.

The topper to the West story is that the actual American Communist Party wrote a letter disclaiming Allen––"There are no communists in the Congress..." Even this did not derail our idiot legislator from responding that ACP didn't know what they were talking about.

Here's my response to Liz Peek, the financial guru of Wall Street about a year ago when she claimed EVERYONE was worried about the yuan and EVERYONE knew who John Boehner was:

INTERVIEW WITH ONE RANDOM AMERICAN (*man on the street)

I: Could you tell me, sir, are you incensed about China and its yuan?

M: Am I what?

I: Incensed about the yuan?

M: Some guy named yuan is selling incense in China?

I: So you are not incensed about the yuan?

M: The Yuan can do whatever he wants to do as far as I’m concerned as long
as he’s selling the incense legally.

I: Alrighty, then. Just off the cuff as long as I have you here. Do you know
who John Boehner is?

M: Is that supposed to be a joke? Some guy’s Johnson has a boner?

I: Never mind. One more thing: Do you happen to know who’s running for
governor in your state?

M: Sorry, I don’t pay much attention to politics.

I: But you vote?

M: You betcha!

*one of Steve Allen's guys

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

A reader writes re: the Obama-Biden tax interactive feature,

"I put in a salary of $260,000 just to see what the result would be and it is obvious the quiz is meant to impress those who make less than that and make those who might pay more pay attention to the effect on lower wage earners. A very brief message comes up that you can barely read that says the taxes at that income are significantly based on the nature of investments and other factors. Then it quickly switches to info on how the Buffett rule would affect lower income earners. No problem with that since the majority of people make less than $250,000."

Marie

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Two questions from a Left Coast ignoramus:

Who elected West? Will they do so again?

Anyone who knows, please enlighten...I'd be grateful.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I took the Pew quiz as a lark and was horrified that only 8% of the public got all 13 questions right! My apologies to any readers here who did not, but, seriously, this was a quiz? I considered it a "gimme".

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

@Ken Winkes. There's quite a bit about West here & here. Although West will run in a different Congressional district (the 18th) because of redistricting, apparently he has a good chance of winning in the new district, which is centered in Port St. Lucie & is overall Republican-leaning. Amazingly, I cannot find a map of the new Florida congressional districts. The 18th did include much of Miami & all of Miami Beach & the Keys. The district has been represented by popular Cuban-American Republican Ileana Ros since Claude Pepper died in 1989, & has generally voted Republican, tho it went for Obama by 2 points in 2008. Ros is running in the newly-created 27th district. Without seeing a map, I have no idea what's where.

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

That Pew test IS a bit of a joke. Unless you're a moron. Or watch too much Fox. But I repeat myself.

Seriously. These results may partly explain why there are people who think the Titanic disaster was made up by someone in Hollywood. Twenty five percent--a quarter of those taking the Pew test--only got 5 or fewer out of the 13 questions right. Thirteen percent could only get 3 or fewer correct. That is astonishing given the ease of these questions. The thing that scares me even more is the knowledge that a fair number of those at the lower end were just guessing and happened to accidentally get a couple right. That means that perhaps 3 to 5% of those at that bottom are even more dense than the test might indicate. Now consider this: these are figures for people who actually took the time to take this test!!! We're not even talking about a whole raft of potential voters who don't even dare--or care--to take a test like this. At least those taking it thought they knew enough to do so.

But if you're too stupid to realize that the Titanic was the subject of an actual event, you're stupid enough to buy Romney's lies about Obama putting women out of work. And Romney is bad enough. He lies like he breathes. It's automatic. But at least he's smart (read: cynical, manipulative, calculating; see: hypocritical) enough to know he's lying.

Well, he needs to. And even though he's bad at it, like the cheating husband trying to explain away those lipstick marks on his collar, millions still go along with him (CBS morning news dutifully relayed Romney's assertion about women as if it were unassailable fact. At least NPR yesterday put it into context and reported that he was being cute with his math and in fact women have lower unemployment numbers than men since Obama became president).

What truly worries me are the lies propagated by such as Rick Santorum (to quote Charlie Pierce: "...have I mentioned what a dick this guy is?"). Because Santorum, the Savonarola of his day, hands down his cultural, economic, historical, and social solecisms as if they were gospel and millions eat it up. So when he makes his rulings on how little right women have over their own bodies (he being so knowledgeable about such things) and when he makes similarly uneducated assertions about women being in combat situations (because Santorum, yet another of the many, many, many Republican chicken hawks who have never spent a millisecond in uniform but claim to know all about combat and war) and when he declares, without the tiniest iota of proof or support that the Affordable Care Act will cost trillions and TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS, there are millions--MILLIONS--of people out there nodding their heads hard enough to cast the drool in all directions.

And those people vote.

These are the truly scary ones. Because even if they don't have the numbers themselves they cause soulless weaklings like Romney to drift ever farther to edge of the known world, out where 'blah' people are a constant danger and where scores of Democrats in congress are dirty commies and where there is no separation of church and state, plenty of guns and bibles, and no stops on ignorance, racism, fanaticism, or nationalism.

And as George Carlin reminded us, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. If you do, I have a couple of deck chairs on the Titanic you might want to try out.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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