I just updated my half-finished column in today's New York Times eXaminer. The subject is David Brooks. And Raymond Chandler. And Dashiell Hammett. So now it's finished. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.
CW: Oh, good. Now we can have a frank discussion about polygamy. As David Maraniss outlines in a column for the Washington Post, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney would be here but for the grace of their polygamist forebears.
CW: We've been here before, but it's nice to see the MSM taking an interest. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "In recent days, advocacy groups have targeted more than a dozen corporations over their financial support for the conservative organization that encouraged states to pass the 'Stand Your Ground' legislation cited as a defense for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting. The advocates are celebrating decisions by several major food and beverage companies to sever financial ties with the organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Kraft Foods and Wendy’s have cut their support for the group, although all played down any connection to the Florida shooting."
Paul Krugman: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "poses as a man willing to make hard choices for the future, but what he actually did was sacrifice the future for the sake of personal political advantage. He catered to national Republican prejudices that are completely at odds with New Jersey’s needs; he cared more about avoiding embarrassment over a misguided campaign pledge than about serving an urgent public need.... America used to be a country that thought big about the future. Major public projects, from the Erie Canal to the interstate highway system, used to be a well-understood component of our national greatness. Nowadays, however, the only big projects politicians are willing to undertake — with expense no object — seem to be wars."
Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Oregon) raps President Obama for refusing to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. ...
... The AP story: "The White House says President Barack Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors sought by gay rights groups. The decision disappoints a constituency that has been an important source of support for him." ...
... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "White House spokesperson Jay Carney sought to explain the administration’s decision to punt on issuing an executive order that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting." ...
... The New York Times editors call the President's decision "inexcusable."
Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner writes a post saying the Supreme Court's "reasoning" in the Citizens United case was flawed: "It ... is difficult to see what practical difference there is between super PAC donations and direct campaign donations, from a corruption standpoint. A super PAC is a valuable weapon for a campaign, as the heavy expenditures of Restore Our Future, the large super PAC that supports Romney and has attacked his opponents, proves...; it is unclear why they should expect less quid pro quo from their favored candidate if he’s successful than a direct donor to the candidate’s campaign would be." ...
...Via Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times, whose post on the subject is also worth reading: "Instead of accepting the status quo, Congress could use this premise (obvious to everyone but the justices) to enact new limits on contributions to “independent” groups; it could invoke the constitutional rationale that such contributions have the ability to corrupt federal officeholders and government decisions. By Congress I mean a hypothetical legislative body that’s not dysfunctional, not the one we currently have, which won’t do a thing."
Tim Egan pays his income taxes. At a rate double the rate Mitt Romney pays, even though Romney doesn't actually work. ...
... Another Swell Tax Loophole for the Super-Rich. Travis Waldron of Think Progress. When corporate honchos travel in style on corporate jets, the tax code requires that they pay income tax for personal travel -- unless they claim they're taking private transportation for "security" reasons. I feel so much better knowing I'm paying taxes so multimillionaires can travel in luxury safety.
Devin Dwyer of ABC OTUS News: "Vice President Joe Biden said [Thursday] night that what he called a Republican-led effort to rollback the rights of women is 'real' and will 'intensify.'" Here's the segment of "The Ed Show" in which Ed Schultz interviews the Vice President:
Chalres McGrath profiles biographer Robert Caro for the New York Times Magazine. Caro's latest installment of his biography of Lyndon Johnson is soon to be published. ...
... Chris Jones does the same for Esquire.
Right Wing World
Jesus Told Me to Stiff the Poor. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, was driven by his Catholic faith. 'A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,' Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming “dependent on government.' ... The founder of the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations, slammed Ryan’s claim of adherence to Catholic teaching as 'the height of hypocrisy.' ..." ...
... Besides cutting billions in programs for the poor, the I'm-Not-Jesus budget also raises taxes on the poor:
... CW: looks to me like Jesus & the Devil, played by Ayn Rand, battled for Paul Ryan's soul, & Rand creamed Jesus.
"The Mendacity Is the Message." Paul Krugman is cautiously optimistic that the media may be coming around to reporting Mitt Romney's lies. "The core of Romney’s campaign strategy seems to be contempt for the news media (and the voters), the belief that he can say anything and pay no price — which was the way things worked for Bush. But maybe, just maybe, his calculation was wrong, and serial dishonesty will become, justifiably, part of the narrative."
CW: I have totally avoided posting anything about this one-day "controversy" because I think it's a big nothing. James Downie of the Washington Post: "Republicans clearly feel that the 'war on women' issue is a problem: For evidence, look no further than their furious response to liberal pundit Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney doesn’t understand working women’s problems because she 'has never worked a day in her life.' ... With respect to the presidential campaign, [Hilary Rosen] is nothing but a person with an opinion. That’s it.... If the Obama camp is responsible for Rosen, is Romney responsible for GOP Rep. Allen West’s outrageous accusation that 80 Democrats are communists? Is he responsible for Sherriff Joe Arapaio (Romney’s ’08 Arizona campaign chairman) and his birther conspiracy theories?" ...
... NEW. If you just can't help but read everything everybody said about Rosengate, Adam Sorensen of Time links it all (or at least plenty of it). The links that follow are his: "Just to review yesterday’s umbrageathon: Ann Romney went on TV to respond to something a CNN employee said about her and stay-at-home moms; the rest of Team Romney took to the lowest medium known to man, the campaign reporter conference call; some people made good points about women, others just yelled like Steve Carrell in Anchorman; Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush were called in; merchandise was manufactured; there was even outrage about the outrage and, lord help us, Twitter statistics." ...
... The Republican National Committee press guy was for gay adoption rights a few minutes before he was against them. ...
... AND this from Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "The Ledbetter Act was only necessary because of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which overruled decades of precedent protecting equal pay for equal work; and Romney promised to appoint more justices like the ones who voted against Lilly Ledbetter."
Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: "During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy." ...
... Follow-up. Justin Sink of The Hill: "Fox News fired back at Newt Gingrich on Thursday after the Republican presidential candidate accused the network of being biased and aiding rival candidate Mitt Romney. 'This is nothing other than Newt auditioning for a windfall of a gig at CNN — that's the kind of man he is,' a spokeswoman for Fox News told Yahoo News. 'Not to mention, he's still bitter about the fact that we terminated his contributor contract.'"
AP: "A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute a tip received by The Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, the site of the Summit of the Americas."
New York Times: "Reversing a decades-old rule, a federal appeals court said on Thursday that public television and radio stations could not be prohibited from broadcasting paid political advertisements."
Tulsa World: "The two men accused of shooting three people to death and injuring two last week were formally charged Friday with the deaths and with violating Oklahoma’s hate crime statute. Jacob Carl England, 19, and Alvin Lee Watts, 33, were charged with three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment."
Think Progress: "Mars, Inc., the maker of M&M’s and Snickers, announced that they have 'decided not to renew the ALEC membership in 2012.' Arizona’s largest energy company, Arizona Public Service, has severed ties with ALEC as well."
The Hill: "U.S.-Pakistan relations took a leap forward on Friday, when Islamabad agreed to a plan to reopen vital supply routes to American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The plan bars any private security contractors from working inside Pakistan and bans the United States from carrying out 'overt or covert operations' within the country's borders...."
Washington Post: "President and Michelle Obama reported earning an adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011 and paid $162,074 in federal income tax, according to the family’s tax returns released by the White House on Friday." A pdf of the Obamas' tax returns is here. A pdf of the Bidens' tax returns is here.
Washington Post: "In the aftermath of North Korea’s failed attempt to fire a rocket into orbit, leaders in Washington and Asian capitals moved Friday to condemn the authoritarian nation while also containing its next move — a balance that has proven elusive during previous confrontations." ...
... NBC News: "The United States has canceled a proposed food aid deal with North Korea following over its attempt to launch a long-range rocket taking a satellite into orbit."
New York Times: "Thousands of Syrians were reported to have taken to the streets after the noon prayer in countless mosques on Friday, offering the biggest test of the country’s fragile cease-fire since it was declared at dawn on Thursday and reviving the public protests that ignited Syria's 13-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad." Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.
New York Times: "Mayor carried a woman out of a burning house and was treated for smoke inhalation on Thursday night."of Newark
AP: Google "reported a 61 percent increase in its net income for the first three months of the year and announced plans to issue a new class of stock to shareholders. The new shares won't have any voting power and will help Google's senior leaders keep control years from now."
Reuters: "Police in Serbia have recovered a painting by Paul Cezanne that was stolen at gunpoint from a Swiss museum four years ago, officials said Thursday. Cezanne’s 'Boy in a Red Waistcoat,' which reportedly is worth more than $100 million, was one of four paintings stolen in 2008 from the E. G. Buehrle Collection in Zurich by a trio of masked robbers."
ABC OTUS News: "Mitt Romney gets a chance to lock and load Friday and show conservatives that he really is conservative when he speaks at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in St. Louis."