Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country":

The Ledes

Saturday, May 23, 2015.

New York Times: "The United States and China on Friday escalated their dispute over contested territory in the South China Sea, after the Chinese repeatedly ordered an American military surveillance plane to abandon flights over areas where China has been building artificial islands.The continued American surveillance flights in areas where China is creating new islands in the South China Sea are intended to challenge the Chinese government’s claims of expanded territorial sovereignty. Further raising the challenge, Pentagon officials said they were discussing sending warships into waters that the United States asserts are international and open to passage, but that China says are within its zone of control."

Guardian: "An inflatable dam in drought-stricken California was damaged on Thursday, causing the loss of nearly 50,000,000 gallons (190m litres) of water. Police said vandals caused 'irreversible damage' to the inflatable dam in Fremont, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area. The vandalism caused water meant for local residents to instead flow into San Francisco bay."

Washington Post: "The man convicted in the 2001 killing of federal intern Chandra Levy is likely to get a new trial after prosecutors on Friday dropped their long-standing opposition to defense efforts to have a new jury hear the case. Since 2013, attorneys for Ingmar Guandique, 34, have argued that a key witness in the 2010 trial had lied when he testified that Guandique, his onetime cellmate, confessed to him that he killed Levy."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 22

10:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony (audio only)

11:00 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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Sunday
Apr292012

The Commentariat -- April 30, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Jonathan Weisman's New York Times puff piece on Paul Ryan. The NYT front page is here.

Thanks to everyone for your brilliant comments over the past week. I'm sorry I haven't had time to participate, but I have been reading & appreciating them. -- Constant Weader

Paul Krugman: "... there;s also a war on the young, which is just as real even if it's better disguised. And it's doing immense harm, not just to the young, but to the nation’s future.... What should we do to help America's young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want."

I'm going to go ahead & post the whole ABC News "This Week" roundtable (I posted a clip yesterday), because it was so bad. After taping it, Krugman wrote a post titled "We're Doomed." He's right:

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... Following up on a point Krugman made when appearing on "This Week" (and elsewhere), Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post writes a well-balanced report: "As the economic recovery has struggled to pick up speed, one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been job losses in state and local governments, which have been on the rise for much of President Obama's term. Early on, Obama fought for aid that saved hundreds of thousands of these jobs, economists say. Yet a year later, when his economic advisers said another large round of aid was critical for the health of the economy, Obama declined to make it a key part of his agenda.... Today..., the heavy job losses at the state and local level remain a significant economic concern. His response at different moments underscores how the president has sometimes fought hard against the political odds for policies he thinks crucial and at other times relented when the chances of success seemed low."

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times reviews Robert Caro's 4th book on President Lyndon Johnson, Passage to Power. A photo gallery depicting Caro's "painstaking process."

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Any shred of hope for a BSkyB takeover [by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.] in the near future appeared to have been dashed last week after e-mails surfaced suggesting that a News Corporation lobbyist and a British culture minister had conspired to get the deal approved.... The events in Britain and the resulting scrutiny have begun to take a toll on the broader empire...."

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Six months after President Obama ordered 100 elite troops to help capture the messianic warlord Joseph Kony, U.S. military commanders said Sunday that they have been unable to pick up his trail but believe he is hiding in this country's dense jungle, relying on Stone Age tactics to dodge his pursuers’ high-tech surveillance tools."

CW: I haven't yet read this takedown of Paul Ryan by Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, but I'm working on it.

Presidential Race

A Web video produced by the Obama campaign:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Field workers for President Obama's campaign fanned out across the country over the weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign's hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election."

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "Two well-funded Republican groups began running hard-hitting ads against President Obama last week, aiming to spend an estimated $8 million in key battleground states. The spots hit similar themes, attacking Obama on green-energy investments, and even cite similar sources.... Many of their claims -- regarding 'billions' of stimulus dollars going overseas -- had been debunked two years ago by our colleagues at PolitiFact and Factcheck.org. Yet here the erroneous assertions emerge yet again, without any shame, labeled as 'the truth' or 'fact.'"

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker on Obama's White House Correspondents Dinner performance: "I spoke to a Republican operative who is a veteran of Presidential campaigns. He worried out loud that 'Romney could never do a night like this.'"

News Ledes

NBC News: "A federal judge on Monday blocked a Texas rule that would have excluded Planned Parenthood from participating in the state's women's health program. In a win for Planned Parenthood, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Monday there was sufficient evidence the state rule barring Planned Parenthood is unconstitutional. He imposed a temporary injunction against enforcing it until he can hear full arguments."

Guardian: "James Murdoch will be criticised by MPs investigating phone hacking on Tuesday, but their assessment of his conduct is expected to fall just short of accusing the former chairman of News International of misleading parliament about the extent of his knowledge of the affair."

The Hill: "The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously tossed out a proposed 'personhood' amendment Monday.... The personhood movement supports amending state constitutions to say that life begins at the moment of fertilization -- a definition that would likely impede women's access to contraception and in vitro fertilization."

Washington Post: "The Obama administration formally acknowledged for the first time Monday its use of drone strikes against terrorism suspects, lifting but not removing the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the nation's expanding use of targeted killing operations overseas. Saying President Obama had instructed aides to be more open about the controversial issue, White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan offered the most extensive outline yet of a clandestine program that officials had for years refused to discuss -- even as evidence of its lethal toll mounted in such countries as Yemen and Pakistan."

Raleigh News & Observer: "The wife of John Edwards’ former aide Andrew Young testified Monday that Edwards knew of the checks coming from his wealthy supporters and gave assurances that it would not violate campaign funding laws for her to deposit the money in the personal account she shared with her husband."

New York Times: "President Obama on Monday gently prodded China to improve its human-rights record but pointedly declined to discuss the case of a prominent Chinese lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, now said to be under American protection in Beijing. His remarks highlighted the delicacy of an unfolding diplomatic dispute that analysts say may prove fiendishly difficult to resolve."

New York Times: "The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Monday night that the international talks on the Iranian nuclear program do 'not fill me with confidence,' reiterating his hard-line position about all options -- including an independent Israeli attack -- remaining on the table, despite mounting criticism from the security establishment here and a growing sense abroad that a diplomatic solution may be possible."

Guardian: "Documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago show a close working relationship between top al-Qaida leaders and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban, including frequent discussions of joint operations against Nato forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and targets in Pakistan."

New York Times: "Benzion Netanyahu, the father of the two-time Israeli prime minister Benjamin, who fought for the creation of the Jewish state by lobbying in the United States and went on to write an influential history gof the Spanish inquisition, died on Monday. He was 102."

Reader Comments (6)

Doctorow. Krugman, and the "this week" round table have convinced me that I am right,"You can't get there from here". I am afraid that we must pay the price and endure the pain of a Republican administraton to get a level fear and hopelessness that will drive the public attention away from the NFL draft to seeing what is happening to them and who is doing it to them.
Like alcoholics, the public will have to hit bottom before it can be reformed. Four to eight years of Republican rule will cause enough hurt for people to ask why America is behind the world in almost everything except the number of prisoners. Of course there will be a lot of protests from damaged citizens but those terrorists will be kept in line with the truncheon, a new political tool.
I expect hunger and despair will drive the public to action. If we are still having elections, a new administration will come to power under new leadership.
It may be harder than that and I hope we end up with at least a benevolent leader.
From here , there is no plan for any action by either party to solve our problem of low growth and under employment and with no radical changes we will diddle along for a decade.
"nor all thy tears wash out a word of it"

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Please Mr. Krugman don't say "we're doomed". I went to hear Elizabeth Warren speak today, and I left feeling there is hope to turn things around! One attendee said to EW that the only other time in her life that she went to a political event was to protest the Vietnam war, but that EW had lite her fire. I felt a roomful of hope and inspiration today. I wish Krugman had been in that room today!

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in MA

This weekend I watched the American Experience episode reviewing the Clinton presidency. It wasn't Clinton's personal failings that struck me as the most salient feature of his administration, but what Hillary Clinton described, to the unending amusement of the MSM, as the vast right-wing conspiracy. The rise of a reprehensible toad like Newt Gingrich could only have been successful with a acquiescent press. As the right-wing media horror machine in nearly complete control today was gearing up for national domination, the so-called respectable press wrote gushingly about the brilliant upstart Gingrich. Behind the scenes the Scaifes and Kochs were pouring millions into right-wing "think tanks" whose sole reason for existing was to provide some form of ephemeral legitimacy to the machinations designed to bring about Republican control.

The section on the Ken Starr investigations made clear (as it was at the time) that he had no problem with extensive overreaching in his mandate. He gave himself a blanket mandate, like a Grand Inquisitor, to look under every rock for evidence, real or not, with which to tie his victim to the stake. The press sat on their hands and dutifully reported every lie, every misdirection, every insinuation no matter how outrageous. No one denies the personal failings of Bill Clinton, but to accuse the Clintons of dark real estate conspiracies, back-room deals with the devil, and murder went so far over the line as to be laughable. But no one was. Laughing, that is. The press reported all of these incredible lies with a straight face.

In another world, perhaps, people as unsavory and evil as Gingrich and Ken Starr and the rest of the conspirators would long since have vanished from the halls of power, perhaps some of them languishing in jail cells. But not in this world. In this world, Gingrich is still running for president. He's a joke, but he also won a fair number of votes. He should be a laughing stock, considered the criminal, unstable, damaging force that he is in American public life, but still the press writes about him and he's got enough support to have made him a conservative darling once more.

And the loathsome Starr? He has simply covered himself in glory since diminishing life in America for the five--FIVE--years he was an out of control, power mad, independent counsel in charge of destroying a democratic president at the behest of right-wing billionaires. He worked mightily against campaign finance reform. Republicans cannot stomach not being able to take advantage of their billionaire donors. And he fought the good fight against same-sex marriage in California and across the country. For all these crimes against the nation and humanity, he has been awarded, first the position of Dean of Pepperdine law school (a school that benefits enormously from the generosity and control of Richard Scaife), and now is the esteemed president of Baylor University.

Those on the right have learned long ago that they can lie, cheat, and steal with complete impunity in this country. The dominant right-wing press will support them unequivocally and if any still living member of the formerly MSM dares to attempt to speak truth about them, they will be eviscerated, their reports made inconsequential.

We may hope for some revival of the press and/or outrage on the part of the general public being bilked by these charlatans and criminals, but remember, it took centuries for the corrupt Roman Empire to fall apart. For a few hundred years the citizens of Rome were ripped and used and demeaned by rulers who gave them bread and circus with one hand while they picked their pockets with the other. NFL draft, indeed.

And like Julie, I too long for a new hope with someone as tough and smart, ethical and courageous as Elizabeth Warren. I just wonder if today's press can even recognize these qualities as virtues anymore. 30 years of toadying to the right have pushed them through the looking glass. Up is down. Evil is good.

And Right is right. Even if it's not.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Marie has posted a link to Jonathan Chait's excellent New York Magazine piece on the Right's poster (that should be "poser") boy for intellectual support for their Draconian economic policies, Paul Ryan.

Ryan is perfect as the Right's idea of an intellectual. One who knows the terminology and can sling the bullshit with gusto and elan, and dare anyone to tell him he's wrong. (Krugman does, but no one listens to Krugman even thought he's right.)

He reminds me of the kids who took the cocktail party courses in college just to be able to impress others with their glib surface erudition. Courses like Fine Arts 13 and Music 1 enabled even the most aesthetically and intellectually challenged preppy to spout off about the luminous qualities of Rembrandt's later works and offer witty asides regarding Schoenberg's twelve tone theories. In reality most of them couldn't have recognized a twelve tone piece from a basic mixylodian mode progression. But it didn't matter. They just needed to get through the cocktail party with their reputation as intellectuals unassailed.

Paul Ryan is a cocktail party economist par excellence. And all he has to do is mystify slack-jawed TV reporters who couldn't tell you difference between micro and macro economics. The last little anecdote in the piece is exhibit number one in the case against both the press as our watchdog (lapdog is more like it) and Paul Ryan as an honest, aw shucks, Jimmy Stewart with a big heart and brain to match.

Just despicable.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

To address Akhilleus' fury first: Re: the Clinton/Right wing conspiracy business. When Jane Mayer was pummeled by David Brock for her Clarence Thomas exposé, Jane came back with a vengeance and some time after David recanted, confessing his lies. He then wrote a revealing book, "Blinded by the Right" which I recommend to anyone interested in how the right worked its magic from an insider's perspective.

Re: Ryan: I am waiting, patently, for the day Ryan gets his just desserts. You, Akhilleus have nailed him beautifully. So much surface erudition, yes, along with something about his delivery––too fast, without the long pauses that reflect deeper thought. I personally don't see him as an "aw shucks, Jimmy Stewart..." but as a brash "Young Gun[ner]" who strides into the saloon ready to take the table with those fake cards up his sleeve.

Bill Keller has a chilling piece today in the Times about North Korea's slave labor camps and he cites Blaine Harden's book "Escape from Camp 14." I happened to catch Harden on Brian Lamb's Q&A last night in which he described the horror. Keller mentioned Emma Donoghue's "The Room," a book I read some time ago but has stayed with me––so haunting, and Keller is right to connect it with the kind of life at the camps in terms of how one can survive in isolation, with the caveat that love was in that room unlike the camps although one could imagine there might be.

If you haven't read Marie's piece on Doughnut––sorry, my fingers just spelled it that way––please do. Remember the B52's song about happy, shiny people? That's what we and Japan would have if we all got religion––Christian, of course–––had more babies and had more scruples on the ball. It's that simple.

One last word about Carly F. When she opens her mouth I want to smack her––why is that do you suppose?

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

My take-away from Jonathan Chait's excellent exploration of Paul Ryan's various economic positions is that the idea that Ryan's main interest is in balancing the budget is a myth. During the Bush administration he repeatedly supported Bush's out -of- control spending and tax cuts, justifying it by saying tax cuts for the wealthy produce jobs. He even made fun of "green eyeshade" Republicans (code for deficit hawks). He was a member of the Simpson Bowles committee, which did come up with a plan to address the deficit (whether it was ideal or not is another question). Ryan did not vote for this plan, presumably because part of the deficit reduction came from raising taxes on the wealthy, something he will never do. Depressingly, many seemingly mainstream political and economic pundits seem to fall for Ryan's "charms" and fail to look deeper into his policies and pronouncements. James Stewart of the New York Times, for example, was startling in his lack of critical jusdgment of Ryan's budget.
Ryan seems to be nothing more than an old-fashioned supply -sider who is also in the tank for Grover Nordquist.
But he comes in a pretty package and speaks softly.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
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