The Ledes

Monday, July 28, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in a letter on Monday."

New York Times: "The United States and Europe put aside their differences and agreed on Monday to sharply escalate economic sanctions against Russia in a set of coordinated actions driven by the conclusion that Moscow has taken a more direct role in the war in Ukraine. After months in which European leaders were hesitant to go as far as the Americans, the two sides settled on a package of measures that would target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. In some cases, the Europeans may actually leapfrog beyond what the United States has done, forcing Washington to try to catch up."

Guardian: "Dutch and Australian police have failed to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for a second day as clashes rage in a town on the road to the area." ...

... Washington Post: "The Ukrainian military on Monday captured a strategically important swath of territory close to the debris field of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a spokesman said, dealing a blow to pro-Russian rebels but raising new questions about whether an investigation at the site will ever yield conclusive evidence about the attack on the airliner."

NEW. Washington Post: "Israel will press its air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, preparing his country for a longer and bloodier campaign and dashing hopes that the three-week-old conflict would end soon." ...

... Washington Post: "International efforts to end the devastating three-week-old Gaza war intensified Monday with the U.N. Security Council calling for an 'immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' in the conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. The ravaged coastal enclave was relatively quiet Monday as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Israel mostly held its fire overnight, shelling only a site in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from there." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Explosions rocked a major hospital and a neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead, witnesses reported." ...

... New York Times: "On Sunday, however, [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry was having difficulty accomplishing even ... a succession of temporary cease-fires..., despite a phone call in which President Obama, in a sign of mounting impatience, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to embrace an 'immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' while the two sides pursued a more lasting agreement. ...

... A White House readout of the conversation between Obama & Netanyahu is here.

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 28

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

3:05 pm ET: President Obama awards the 2013 National Medal of Arts & the National Medal of Humanities Medal

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Saturday
Aug112012

The Commentariat -- August 12, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's Sunday sermon. The NYTX front page is here.

Michael Schmidt & Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "More than 30 federal officers in an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists say the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities."

Presidential Race

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate provides President Obama with something he has been eagerly looking for -- a bigger target.... Instead of a referendum on his own performance, the president has an opening to turn the election into a referendum on the vision that Mr. Ryan has advanced and Mitt Romney has adopted.... Stanley B. Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that surveys showed attacks on the Ryan plan moved voters dramatically.... 'There are a lot of white, working-class voters, particularly older ones, who will walk away now, even if tempted earlier by the slow economy.'"

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "For the past 10 days, the Romney campaign took extraordinary measures to keep Mr. Ryan's whereabouts and movements a mystery.... It required painstakingly planned skulduggery, which the campaign outlined in detail, late on Saturday afternoon."

** The New York Times Editorial Board does a fine job of summing up how bleak life would be in the U.S. under a Romney-Ryan administration: "Mr. Romney had already praised the Ryan budget as "excellent work" but until Saturday the deliberate ambiguity of his own plans gave him a little room for distance, an opportunity to sketch out a more humane vision of government's role. By putting Mr. Ryan's callousness on his ticket, he may have lost that chance." ...

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress fleshes out the Times editors' assertions. ...

... Here's the Obama camp's first shot at Romney-Rand (Freudian slip; I meant Romney-Ryan):

     ... The link at the end of the video takes you to an Obama-Biden campaign page that elaborates on the points made in the video.

Nate Silver analyzes the risk Romney took in choosing Ryan. His choice may not have the payoff Rmoney hopes for. Interesting factoid:

Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann, the controversial congresswoman of Minnesota.

James Downie of the Washington Post: "... the idea that Ryan or Romney's nomination of him as his vice president is courageous is simply wrong." Downie explains why.

Steve Benen: "For months, Mitt Romney repeated a common complaint about President Obama's professional background: he's spent his life in the political world, not the real world.... Oddly enough, Romney hasn't repeated that line of criticism in a while.... In May, Romney went so far as to say working in the private sector for 'at least three years' should be a prerequisite to national office. Now, Romney wants to put Ryan one heartbeat from the presidency, despite the fact that Ryan" has spent his entire career in politics. "Romney was almost certainly pushed into this announcement by a conservative establishment that doesn't trust him or feel excited to rally behind him, and Romney didn't have the standing or intestinal fortitude to push back. It's a Quayle/Palin kind of decision...." ...

     ... When it's "our turn," Steve, and the little people aren't sufficiently compliant, sometimes I have to compromise my high standards for the greater good. Love, Mitt.

** Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: "Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that.... Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010..., Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did.... The vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.... It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense...."

"Thanks, Willard. Love, Barack." David Corn of Mother Jones: "Paul Ryan is exactly whom President Barack Obama wanted on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. By selecting the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, whose name is synonymous with the GOP's cut-taxes-for-the-rich and slash-programs-for-the-middle-class-and-the-poor, Romney has helped Obama in his No. 1 mission: shape the election not as a referendum on the sluggish economy but as a sharp clash between opposing sets of values and programs for the future."

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "The craziest thing so far about today are the reports that now that Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan, he is going to abandon his support for Paul Ryan's budget."

It isn't just the Ryan budget Willard will have to defend:

     Ezra Klein: "Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it's Romney's bill to defend. In Florida." Read Klein's whole post. ...

    Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Ryan's claims that his economic and social philosophy reflect Catholic teachings seem to have rubbed the bishops (and even more adamantly, Catholic liberals) the wrong way, and could become a problem for the ticket at a time when the so-called 'war on religion' had created a fine opportunity for Republicans to consolidate support among 'traditionalist' white Catholics."

Jonathan Chait: "Ryan's nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power."

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Thelma and Louise were 'daring' too, but they ended up at the bottom of a canyon. If the Democrats handle this situation properly, that's where this ticket will end up too, and then the rest of us -- the people who don't want federal policy to be based on Atlas Shrugged -- can finally and fully press the case to the right that America is not behind you, and please grow up." ...

... Noam Scheiber of The New Republic thinks Romney knows that: "Ryan is the way Romney and his aides escape blame for their now-likely defeat -- blame which would have vicious and unrelenting—and pin it in on conservatives instead."

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: there is a woman on the GOP ticket: Ayn Rand.

Galt/Gekko 2012. Paul Krugman: "Romney obviously felt he needed a VP who will get people to stop talking about him."

Among Charles Pierce's thoughts on "the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, an authentically dangerous zealot": "Paul Ryan lives in a house overseen by the National Park Service, which means that he qualifies for a 20-percent investment tax credit." CW: I think this is the place:

CW: Since he was a teenager living on Social Security survivor benefits, throughout his education at public schools & a public university and all through his professional career, the taxpayers have supported Paul Ryan. He has lived on the public dole most of his life. Clearly, Ryan comes from the school of sociopaths who think they are "entitled" to close to 100% public support, but everybody else is a freeloader. BTW, I don't think that guy working on the front stoop in the Google Earth photo is Ryan.

Meanwhile, Back in Janesville.... Alison Bauter of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Ryan will remain on the ballot for re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives, said Susan Jacobson, finance director/campaign manager for his House campaign."

Maureen Dowd essentially ignores Ryan and writes instead about the likability quotients of Obama and Romney. Her column includes some good quotes, like this one:

Mitt, I think, spent his life balanced between fear and greed. He knew that he had to make a lot of money to launch his political career. It's very hard to make a lot of money without taking some kind of reputational risk along the way. -- Marc Wolpow, "a former Romney employee at Bain Capital," on "Mitt's 1988 deal with Michael Milken while the junk bond king was under federal investigation"

Still Can't Keep His Foot out of His Mouth: Peter Hamby of CNN: "Speaking at a rally in Ashland, [Virginia...,] Romney described Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who was in attendance, as 'a great friend, and I hope the next governor of Virginia.' Bolling is running for the 2013 gubernatorial nomination against state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a darling of conservative activists who is trouncing Bolling in early polling.... Romney and his aides tried to walk back the comments after the event."

Congressional Races

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate has the power to reshape the race for control of Congress.... Democrats say putting Ryan on the ticket will make his budget even more of a focal point in 2012 and force Republicans who haven't already taken a position on it to do so."

News Ledes

New York Times: Sheldon Adelson's frontman in China, Yang Saixin, "along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau.... On Tuesday..., Paul D. Ryan is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands's Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend...."

New York Times: Tammy Smith, "an Army officer being promoted to brigadier general, openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military."

New York Times: "With a gaudy three-hour farewell that mashed up theater, acrobatics, fashion and a few generations of musical idols, London extinguished the Olympic torch Sunday night, capping two weeks of athletic achievements with a jukebox collection of songs and a marathon display of endearingly wacky stagecraft." Guardian story here. ...

... CBS Sports: "Most medals. Most gold medals. The U.S. left no doubt at the Olympics. When the U.S. men's basketball team took the Olympic title Sunday, it won the 46th gold medal for Americans in London, their highest total at a 'road' Olympics."

** New York Times: "President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt forced the retirement on Sunday of his powerful defense minister, the army chief of staff and several senior generals, in a stunning purge that seemed for the moment to reclaim for civilian leaders much of the political power the Egyptian military had seized since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year. Mr. Morsi also nullified a constitutional declaration, issued by the military before he was elected, that eviscerated the powers of the presidency and arrogated to the military the right to enact laws."

AP: "Twin earthquakes in Iran have killed at least 250 people and injured over 2,000, Iranian state television said on Sunday, after thousands spent the night outdoors after their villages were leveled and homes damaged in the country's northwest."

Reader Comments (8)

Re: Romney and Ryan - I saw a comment elsewhere asking why two guys who never served a day in the military were doing their big announcement on an aircraft carrier. Hmmm.... Trying to use big guns to make themselves seem more manly? Trying to seem more hawkish? Whatever the reason, it is just dumb.

(Thanks, Marie, for your dedication to checking reality for me. Love ya!)

August 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulemry

Since I have already weighed in "so to speak" about RomRy, and since you mentioned Ken Cuccinelli (the soon to be Tea Party governator of VA) in your last paragraph, Marie, I simply MUST tell you and my fellow commenters about my "relationship" with Kenny.

His family lived in my neighborhood in McLean, VA when my son was a child. They were in the same grade at the local public school. He and Kenny belonged to the same soccer team, and many mothers took turns carpooling to soccer practices and weekend games--except Mrs. Cuccinelli. She was "stuck" at home with small children for the entirety of Kenny's soccer career, and never could find time to carpool--although most of the rest of us worked full time and had to make arrangements when it was our turn. Kenny, therefore, got a free ride to each and every soccer practice and game.

I remember when I drove. Kenny would sit in the back seat and pontificate about what "moral lessons" he had learned in school that day. The other boys spent most of the time hassling him and telling him to shut his trap. During one particularly harrowing ride, the ADHD child next door hit Kenny in the nose and gave him a nosebleed--telling him nobody wanted to hear what he was learning in school, and besides he was a creep and a terrible soccer player. Plus--his mother never drove. Kenny asked that I take him home immediately. After dropping off the other boys, I did. He told me on the ride home, the other boys obviously did not go to church or pray to Jesus. (He was right.) And he never went to another soccer practice or game.

Soon after, I learned that his parents had enrolled him in a private Catholic school, because he was not getting the rigorous religious training he needed, and public school students were just too rough. And look at him now? Eeeek! The next Tea Party governor, and possibly a Republican candidate for Prezident in 2016.

THE END--for now.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Contributor Lisa wrote this comment yesterday, and I just noticed it got jammed in my spam, so I'm reposting it here. I agree with her that both of the linked stories are worthy reads:

"I think these two oldie but goodies are appropriate to read again:

http://www.alternet.org/story/154700/the_horrors_of_an_ayn_rand_world:_why_we_must_fight_for_america%27s_soul

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/23-9

August 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Re: A punch in the nose; Kate, en futbol it's known as "el Mano de Dios". Poor Kenny, at least at his new school there was a priest to console him. It's funny until someone gets poked in the eye, then it's hysterical. There goes the soccer programs in Ol' Virginny. Oh well, it's a boring, stupid game played by 99 percent of the world except in exceptional USA where it's a girl's game. Go girls!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

May I suggest you all take a break–-take a few minutes to read something lovely and refreshing: "Old Love" by Louis Begley in the Time's Sunday Review. While I was reading this I heard from outside a fat, lone robin loudly warbling his love plea while sitting on a branch in the Tamarack tree. It made the moments perfect.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Julemry,

One can make what one will of The Rat and the Fraud making the announcement of their betrothal on a de-commissioned battleship, but I think it nicely conveys the faux manliness and toughness of nearly all of the many, many, many Republican chicken hawks, starting with that roughest and toughest of them all, Saint Ronald of Reagan who at one point recalled that he had been with American troops in the ETO when they liberated deaths camps like Buchenwald. He saw it but he wasn't there. He watched films taken of the liberation but had no problem claiming to have been there. He worked for the military but in the safe confines of Hollywood backlots. Very manly, Ron. Verrryy manly.

Of course Dubya was in the military too. For a few months. The rest of his service days were spent AWOL boogeying down in Houston nightclubs stuffing cocaine up his nose. TEN-HUT! Officer doing a line!

But the rest of Bush's War Team were nearly all chicken hawks who liked to strut their manliness from behind the safety of a desk where they could send real men and women off to die in support of their crackpot ideologies and political ambitions. Cheney, who sneered that he had "other things to do" during Viet Nam, got multiple deferments. Neither Scooter Libby nor Paul Wolfowitz, both screaming war criminals, ever wore a uniform. Nor did slimy war monger Karl Rove. He got himself at least three deferments.

So Willard the Rat is in good company. He was certainly a supporter of Viet Nam "Go, go, kill, kill. I'll support our brave troops from a hidey hole back in the states" . Willard got many deferments to save his ass from going to fight and die. That shit is for the proles, not for rich boys destined to rule the world, like Mitty-mitt. Later, when it looked like the Army had had enough with his pansy deferments, he ran away to hide in France. You know, that country conservatives love to hate.

Many years later he lied that he never did anything to avoid the draft, that he had taken his chances like everyone else. A complete lie. Years after that, he embellished that lie by claiming that he LONGED to go to Viet Nam and serve alongside our "brave boys." Yeah. Right.

Paul Ryan, another supporter of sending other men women into harms' way, going off to die for him and his right-wing ambitions, had a chance to join up during the first Gulf War but he was too busy living off the public dole, enjoying being on the taxpayers' payroll. He's lived for decades off the support of the public.

So neither the Rat nor the Fraud have ever had the mettle to test themselves against their own ideologies and love of war by actually picking up a weapon. That's not for "leaders" like them. They give the orders. They don't do the dirty work.

Maybe it's best that they, like their many other chickenhawk allies, stay away from, you know, actual battleships where they might store real ammo. Better to announce their newly formed union on a decommissioned vessel as empty as their hearts and souls and as ball-less as both of them.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

So we've got the guy with the magical underwear who picked the guy who can't tell a poorly written novel from an econ 101 text, and together they generate a lot of hoopla by very serious people... until the honeymoon is over and magical underwear starts backing away from the bride (http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/11/4717433/its-paul-ryan-romney-picks-wis.html). Did Terry Southern script this campaign or what?

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Re: If God is talking to you, one of the two of you is nuttier than an almond tree at harvest. Read "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG
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