The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

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

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

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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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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