The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 18

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

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

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

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?"

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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Thursday
Apr122012

The Commentariat -- April 13, 2012

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.'"

News Ledes

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 Cory A. Booker of Newark carried a woman out of a burning house and was treated for smoke inhalation on Thursday night."

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."

Reader Comments (6)

A comment about Hilary Rosen should not have been avoided. Obama and others issued strong disclaimer of her silly remarks but she was and still is a 'prominent Democrat'. I believe it is our duty, no matter what flavor of 'liberals' (OK, let's just say 'progressives) we are. Reading many comments denouncing her and blaming not only Obama but the entire Democratic Party in the New York Times for her has been very educational to me. Obama - deservedly so - enjoys a good support from American women but some of them who chose (like Mrs. Romney) to stay home and take care of the kids are quite outraged by Rosen.

We just have to identify irresponsibility and stupidity wherever it comes from.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLadislav Nemec

Before yesterday, I had no idea that a person named Hillary Rosen existed (although not being a Rosen denier I would not discount the possibility). I follow politics pretty closely, but to me a Prominent Democrat would be Hillary Clinton! I wonder if this fatuous comment would have made much of a splash had the woman's name been something else. "Matt Damon is a putz," said prominent Hollywood person Leonardo di Pietro. Ohmygod, call the press.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

The Rosen moment was a big nothing and might not have received the coverage it did if the North Koreans had launched their Roman candle a bit earlier. Nonetheless, that such a nothing gets so much coverage is in itself something. I take three lessons from it: the media's desire--make that economic necessity--to stage every happening, regardless of its intrinsic importance or lack thereof, as some kind of WWF performance. The radicalized Republicans' desperation to find an issue that could possibly appeal to the middle, a search so desperate they regularly lie to create one. And in this case the lie was abetted by the general publics' (and the administration's) inability or unwillingness to respond to what Ms. Rosen meant. The context of her remark clearly indicated she meant "work" to be that thing you do, usually in some place other than your home, for a paycheck. She was commenting, clumsily perhaps but appropriately, on Mrs. Romney's lack of experience with that kind of work, and of course the R's made it into something else.

I just wish the O. administration had not also abetted that effort by being so eager to defend motherhood that they missed a chance to point out how the R's invariably obscure and mislead. But then, they likely figured they'll have many, many more such between now and November.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Like Jack I’m a bit baffled by the sudden elevation of Hilary Rosen, who previously had never shown up on my radar, as a prominent spokesperson for the Democratic Party, and perhaps even a virtual stand-in for President Obama himself, at least to listen to the wink, wink, snide insinuations of right-wing opinion makers. But the usual suspects on the right are not the only ones in the pig pile. The MSM has happily jumped aboard with its "Democratic War on Women?" questions, which nicely defuse the actual war on women being waged by Republicans, and to once again muddy the waters and provide hucksters and red striped con men with everything they need to erect a prophylactic wall of false equivalency around Willard and the GOP. “See? It’s okay to hate women. Democrats hate them too. It’s not just us!”

This isn’t to say that those on the left don’t gleefully point fingers at obscure Republicans who trip over their own moral relativism (it’s okay for me, but not for anyone else!). How many people could name the governor of South Carolina before he disappeared into the (wink, wink—again) Appalachian Trail? Or had any idea of the existence of Rep. Allen West before he started seeing commies in his cereal bowl? The difference there is that these sorts of events are such a regular thing with Republicans that it becomes a constant exercise in proof of their profligate proclivities--synecdoche incarnate--if you will. An unending stream of bad acts that washes over the entire party. Liberals and progressives don’t offer anywhere near the rich smorgasbord of stupidity that spills off the right-wing groaning board on a near daily basis, thus, whenever a Democrat stubs their toe, or misspeaks or says anything that can be remotely twisted into something resembling a decent talking point, the right leaps in with tar barrels and feathers at the ready.

The unfortunate thing in this whole affair is that Ms. Rosen, avatar or not for the Democratic Party, was absolutely right about Ann Romney’s negligible knowledge of the difficulty of managing a household budget when you don’t have millions at your fingertips. Her sin was one of expression rather than essence. I’m sure Mrs. Willard had plenty of hard days wondering whether to dress the kids in their custom hand tailored monogrammed outfits complete with hand-made kangaroo leather shoes and silk pocket squares or whether to just go native and let them wear their prêt a porter designer clothes. It must have been hard work making out the weekly menus for the maids and the cooks as well. Just look at all the problems those nice aristocrats on Downton Abbey have every week! My goodness. Commoners just can’t appreciate the toil and trouble of it all. But don't worry. Unlike John McCain, I'm sure the Romneys know pretty much how many houses they own. Close, anyway.

All kidding aside, even if you do have the bucks, raising kids is hard work. But it’s a whole lot less stressful if you DO have plenty of money and lots of help doing it. Also, something that has been completely lost in this tempest tossed teapot is the fact that none of that prepares Mrs. Romney as an expert in understanding the household economics of millions of working and stay at home moms in this country. None of it. So, Rosen’s point is exactly correct.

Unfortunately, she handed the GOP one of its few can’t miss 100% baloney soundbites with which to denounce the Democrats and Obama.

Sucks for her. And for us too.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As a Master student studying abroad in France, I'm continually amazed (but losing hope) at the decline of our national media. I certainly do the rounds on the "important media networks" on each side, even dabbling into right wing world (quelle horreur!) just to see the brain-washing final product.
For those of you that have some French abilities, I recommend rereading "Les Nouveaux chiens de garde" by Serge Halimi written in 1997. It's an account of the national media defending big corporation interests while simultaneously defending their staunch position as independants in the media realm. It has been recreated into a documentary in 2011 by Gilles Balbastre et Yannick Kergoat. I bring this up because it should be put into perspective: France has its share of corporate corruption but not nearly on the colossal size we're seeing in the U.S. today. Fast forward 15 years and major U.S. journalists are either too afraid, incapable, or strongly discouraged from digging up the mountains of grit layered throughout our "safeguarding" institutions.
From Obama's hollow appeasements, the N.R.A push for concealed guns in every facet of society, the South's addiction to federal money while denouncing it, the Koch bros. doing deals with Iran while simultaneously denouncing the country as the next anti-christ, the disappearance of Libya from the media world as the country falls into anarchy, Romney's constant bullshit spewing from his mouth, the list goes on but you know the routine. Originally, the Press corps. first mission was to have an informed public to contribute to our democratic evolution. Without an informed debate via the press, the Federalists papers would have never had their public debate and reconciliation would have been impossible. Our nation depended on an informed debate and still largely does. From paper form, the press moved to television and it quickly turned from an informative mechanism to a capitalistic money maker. Powerful corporations starting with ATT convinced the government they'd hold their public duty into account, and quickly sold out as should have been expected. Now the only public channels with significant, informative programming are in the sight of Republicans looking for the final axe. PBS is breaking the American budget.
Without informed citizens, our country implodes. We're obviously regressing. The question should be asked to which point we can regress until institutions start to crumble. With the amount of loaded, concealed weapons protecting our citizens from them scary times when the 'other' armed crazies come out, I've already started considering standing my own ground outside the borders.
I've got to agree with Norman Mailer on this one, quel dommage.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterinternationalobserver

Another fine Examiner column. Read the Cain's "Double Indemnity" years ago but didn't see the movie versions. Problem is, I'm getting delicate in my old age and prefer to avoid the dark and the violent; they depress me. I get enough of both these days from the news. In my former life--the young one--I could tolerate imminent nuclear Armageddon, watch cowboys murder Indians in droves, take in "Dr. Strangelove," cheer and laugh in the right places and still sleep undisturbed. Doesn't work that way any more, so I eschew much contemporary cinematic and novelistic art.

That's just me. As for Brooks, maybe he was suggesting the idealistic youth of today join the NRA, arm themselves and simply shoot the parasites and exploiters, preferably in a state where they could claim the bastards made them feel threatened. That's what the Continental Op or Sam Spade would have done and they didn't even have a "Shoot first" law to hide behind. But then, they were portrayed as real men, something I suspect Mr. Brooks has always wished he could be.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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