The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending":

The Ledes

Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Washington Post: "Arab leaders vowed Saturday to back the embattled Yemeni president as a Saudi Arabia-led coalition intensified airstrikes on Shiite rebel targets across Yemen, escalating a conflict that many residents fear could lead to a land invasion.... The Saudis and their allies think that the Shiite rebels are backed by Iran and that Tehran is trying to exert control over a country that had been an ally of Riyadh and Washington."

Telegraph: "A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA). He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any 'sense' in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told."

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 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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.

Sunday
Apr152012

The Commentariat -- April 16, 2012

My column in today's New York Times examiner is titled "Bill Keller Meets the Imaginary Swing Voter." As we're going to be hearing a lot about swing voters for the next six months, my column may give you a head start in figuring out who they are. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

** "Battleground America." Jill Lepore in the New Yorker: "The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.)... Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey..., the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades." No, the conservatives on the Supreme Court really do not understand the Second Amendment, and here's a little-known factoid: Black nationalists started the modern movement promoting "the right to bear arms." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "What’s insidious about Stand Your Ground laws is that in every jurisdiction that has them, these statutes tilt the balance of power in any street encounter in favor of the person who has a gun. That’s what happened in the Martin case. The law provides a perverse incentive for everyone to be armed." On gun control, some of the nation's mayors, including Mike Bloomberg of New York City & Tom Menino of Boston have stood up to the gun lobby while "state legislatures, Congress and the White House by moderates, liberals and many conservatives who ought to know better but are too petrified by the NRA to confront it."

Mike McIntire & Michael Luo of the New York Times: "Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits."

Paul Krugman: "... if European leaders really wanted to save the euro they would be looking for an alternative course.... The Continent needs more expansionary monetary policies, in the form of a willingness — an announced willingness — on the part of the European Central Bank to accept somewhat higher inflation; it needs more expansionary fiscal policies.... Even with such policies, the peripheral nations would face years of hard times.... What we’re actually seeing, however, is complete inflexibility." ...

U.S. Economic Problems Solved. Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, in a Washington Post op-ed: "For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the 'carry trade,' has been enormously profitable for them. So why not let everyone participate? Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest." Ka-zing. CW: so how is it that Republicans and the Very Serious People, who are so-o-o-o worried about inflation, aren't a bit worried about the Fed's "printing" billions in free money & passing it out on Wall Street?

Tony Karon of Time on another round of talks, scheduled in May, between Iran and Western powers.

Jason Zengerle of New York magazine: nine pages of what Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is retiring from the House this year, thinks about everything.

With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good. -- Michael Fortney, campaign manager for Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.). CW: when the Americans are suffering economic hardship, Republicans are so happy they say so. Via Greg Sargent.

The Presidential Race

The Horse Race. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: "President Obama retains major advantages over ... Mitt Romney ... when it comes to winning the 270 votes he needs for a second term. Not only does Obama have more paths to 270 than Romney, but he has considerable leeway — judging from his 2008 performance — in many of the purest swing states." Cillizza identifies only nine true swing states, & Obama won all of them in 2008.

Game Over. Congress Busts the Etch-a-Sketch. Jonathan Weisman & Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Congressional Republicans put Mitt Romney on notice that they are driving the agenda, are not members of his cheerileading squad, & he had better toe their ultra-conservative line.

It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it. -- Ann Romney, on how deeply upset she was by Hilary Rosen's comments. Mr. Romney was apparently pleased with the Rosen's remarks, too.

Evidently Sunday was Chris Wallace day. Here the host of Fox "News"' Sunday show tears into Mitt Romney's claim that 92.3 percent of the people who lost jobs under Obama's watch were women "It is not true," Wallace told Romney surrogate Ed Gillespie; "all of the factcheckers have said it's misleading":

     ... And here is Wallace, according to the Washington Post's somewhat dimwitted conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, "TKO-ing & "shredding" Obama political operative David Axelrod. Um, actually, Axelrod skewered himself AND Obama:

Bretty Smiley of New York Magazine: At a Palm Beach fundraiser, Mitt Romney reveals his bright ideas for eliminating tax loopholes to make up for his proposed cuts in the income tax rates. No more deductions on your second-home mortgages, kids. ...

... Counting Chickens with an Egg Detector. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney is already offering top donors access to a special 'Presidential Inaugural retreat,' planned on the assumption that he will be elected president this November."

Local News

John Frank of the Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observier: "The executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party resigned Sunday as calls for his ouster mounted amid questions regarding a secret agreement to pay a former staffer to keep quiet about sexual harassment allegations. Jay Parmley, who served a year at the helm of the party, denied harassing any employee and blamed right-wing blogs for 'spreading a false and misleading story' about the incident." CW: nice place to hold the party's national convention.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Senate rejected consideration Monday of the 'Buffett rule,' a key election-year Democratic initiative that would impose a minimum tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year... Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster..., with the Senate voting 51 to 45 to move ahead. The vote was largely along party lines, although Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats to allow the measure to proceed and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted to block it."

Orlando Sentinel: "George Zimmerman's attorney on Monday asked the judge in the case to step down because of a possible conflict of interest. Attorney Mark O'Mara filed a motion seeking Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler's removal because her husband is the law partner of Mark NeJame, who works for CNN as an analyst on the Zimmerman case."

New York Times: "The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, one for its reporting on Africa and another for an investigative series on obscure tax code provisions that allow wealthy corporations and citizens to avoid paying taxes. But the bigger surprise this year came from new media. Two online news outlets, The Huffington Post and Politico, both won their first Pulitzer Prizes, a sign of the changing media landscape." Includes lists of prize winners.

New York Times: "The World Bank on Monday named as its next president Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and the president of Dartmouth College, in a widely expected appointment that continues the longstanding tradition of an American leading the Washington-based development institution."

AP: "An advance team of U.N. observers was negotiating the ground rules with Syrian authorities Monday for monitoring the country's 5-day-old cease-fire, which appeared to be rapidly unraveling as regime forces pounded the opposition stronghold of Homs with artillery shells and mortars, activists said."

AP: "A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters."

Guardian: "Egypt's presidential election is suddenly a contest of moderates after a decision by the country's supreme election commission to bar 10 candidates from the race, including a controversial Mubarak-era spy chief and a popular Islamic fundamentalist."

AP: "A right-wing fanatic admitted Monday to unleashing a bomb-and-shooting massacre that killed 77 people in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying he was acting in self-defense."

National Journal: "The Obama campaign and other Democratic organizations raised a combined $53 million in March, according to a campaign video released on Monday."

Space: "NASA mounted space shuttle Discovery on a jumbo jet Sunday (April 15), in preparation for the retired orbiter's delivery to the Smithsonian. The paired air- and spacecraft are expected to depart Florida for Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning (April 17), weather permitting.

Reader Comments (3)

Now that George Zimmerman, who stalked and shot to death a young boy for being black and in, what in Zimmerman's opinion, was the wrong place, has been arrested, we can expect the droolers to be out in force defending the Shoot First and Flash Your NRA Membership Badge Law--oh, oh, sorry, I think that's supposed to be the Stand Your Ground law.

As E.J. Dionne suggests, SYG laws tip the scales (of law AND life) in favor of whoever has the biggest piece. I would extend that even further. Not only does it favor whoever is armed and dangerous (by definition, if you are armed, you are ostensibly ready, willing, and able to take a life; sounds pretty dangerous to me) in any incident, it also strongly encourages that person to shoot first. Do unto them before they do unto you.

Besides, if you kill the other guy, you can claim self defense. In many instances it will be your word against the dead guy. In this case there is a tape of Zimmerman confronting Martin with someone screaming. It's hard to believe that the one with the gun was screaming like that for his life. But in the absence of this tape, Zimmerman's story of being attacked by Martin and being forced to shoot him to death would very likely stand.

So the lesson here is carry heat and shoot first. If this were a logic quiz in game theory, it would be clear that in order to win the game (that is, survive the encounter) the best way to do that is to be well armed (preferably with as many weapons as you can carry since the other player may be equally well armed) and to shoot first since the SYG law allows you to simply claim self defense to escape punishment for what, in many instances, would be considered murder. Logic never lies.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus. What surprised me about the Lepore report was that the number of gun-owners has declined, tho the number of guns in circulation has increased because if you own one gun, you'll buy another. And another. Evidently what we're becoming with these SYG laws, liberalized carry laws & Second Amendment "rights" is a nation of shooters and targets.

April 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

"I believe very strongly that people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends, and political work is much tougher and harder. And I think it’s now clear that it is the disciplined political work that we’ve been able to do that’s won us victories. I am going to write about the history of the LGBT movement partly to make the point that, in America at least, this is the way you do progressive causes."

The above from Barney Frank––the interview in New York magazine is well worth the read.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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