The Ledes

Thursday, February 11, 2016.

AP: "Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole Wednesday for fatally shooting Robert F. Kennedy after a confidante of the slain senator who was shot in the head forgave him and repeatedly apologized for not doing more to win his release. Paul Schrade's voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony on his efforts to untangle mysteries about the events of June 5, 1968. The 91-year-old former labor leader said he believed Sirhan shot him but that a second unidentified shooter felled Kennedy."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 11

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

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Tuesday
Aug282012

The Commentariat -- August 29, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' & Frank Bruni's attempts to find "The Real Romney." The NYTX front page is here.

... Also Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has a very good piece on Art Brisbane's parting shot as New York Times public editor. I couldn't agree more with Wemple.

Kimberly Dozier of the AP: "A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him. Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in 'No Easy Day.' The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint."

Presidential Race

Pardon My Boredom:

New York Times Editors: "Following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney's campaign, rarely have so many convention speeches been based on such shaky foundations."

Dana Milbank: When the Romney forces stifled Ron Paul & took away some of his delegates, Paul supporters disrupted the convention. Romney, a control freak, "is discovering that he cannot control Isaac, he can't control the press corps and he certainly can't control Paul supporters." ...

... Andrew Kirill of Mediaite: Ron Paul has no intention of endorsing the Romney/Ryan ticket.

Here's the New York Times' liveblog of the GOP convention.

Karen Tumulty & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "The Republican Party on Tuesday formally bestowed its presidential nomination on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, launching its convention [in Tampa].

Time magazine reporters on what you missed while not watching the first night of the Republican convention.

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Chris Christie, the sharp-tongued governor of New Jersey, on Tuesday extolled Mitt Romney as an exceptional leader willing to speak hard truths to a nation weary of President Obama's policies and ready to make a much-needed change." ...

     ... Forget Shear. Russell Goldman of ABC News has a better description of Christie's speech; e.g.: "Though it took him 17 minutes to mention the newly minted nominee by name, he said Mitt Romney would tell Americans 'the hard truths' about fixing the economy and creating jobs.... Christie, a popular Republican believed to have his eyes on a future White House run, talked about his own biography and touted his record of busting unions and balancing the budget in New Jersey. He used the word 'I' 32 times, but mentioned Mitt Romney by name only seven times."

     ... Brett Smiley of New York: "Mitt Romney appeared unusually distressed during Chris Christie's keynote address at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night." ...

     ... In a post titled "The Outlaw Jersey Whale," (excellent!) Tbogg of Firedoglake writes, "So Chris Christie went rogue Tuesday night, turning what was supposed to be the Keynote address into (as someone put it on twitter) a Me-Note address where he explained that he took the vast wasteland that is Jersey and turned into a fucking paradise on fucking earth. And, oh yeah, vote for Mitt Romney or something." Tbogg gets more colorful later in the post.

     ... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "... it's just striking how little Christie h.ad to say. Apparently, Republicans are for balanced budgets and against teachers unions … and then a whole bunch of clichés about the Greatest Generation and our grandchildren or something like that."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Ann Romney introduced her husband Tuesday night to the nation and to the Republican Party that had nominated him as president with a rousing speech that exhorted Americans, 'You can trust Mitt.'" CW: starting now, I guess, because so far he's been lying his ass off. ...

     ... CW: if I may make a sexist remark, for which you are all welcome to chastise me, the little missus chose to wear a gussied-up version of a 1950s-style housedress, the perfect visual for her message that, really, her big handsome hubby will take care of "you girls." Now, excuse me while I go vacuum the stair runners & fix Mitt his favorite cherry Jello mold just as I used to do back in the days Mitt & I were "struggling," barely getting by on his inherited stock options. ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post on Ann Romney's speech: "Mitt Romney's most impressive and consistently manifest attribute is his inhuman work ethic. That also points to one of Mitt Romney's greatest weaknesses -- it remains utterly mysterious to what end, beyond his own advancement, he wants to apply all that talent and drive."

** Nicholas Kristof: To inaugurate their phony "We Built It" theme, "Republicans turned to a Delaware businesswoman, Sher Valenzuela, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor. Valenzuela and her husband built an upholstery business.... Oops. It turns out that Valenzuela relied not only on her entrepreneurial skills but also on -- yes, government help. Media Matters ... documented $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration for Valenzuela's company, plus $15 million in government contracts (mostly noncompetitive ones).... Earlier this year, Valenzuela described government assistance as an entrepreneur's 'biggest "secret weapon."' ... Employment data for the 64 years from the beginning of Harry Truman's presidency to the end of George W. Bush's [shows] ... that an average of two million jobs were created per year when a Democrat was president, compared with one million annually when a Republican was president. More pointedly, and unfortunately for Romney, business executives have only a mediocre record when transferring their skills to government...."

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "The new [GOP] platform — with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government — shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time."

Kyle Leighton of TPM: "An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said 'This is how we feed animals' before being removed from the convention, a network official confirmed to TPM." CW: I just can't help tearing up when I read of incidents like this.

** Steve Benen: "... there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen -- he's deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power. If you don't find that frightening, you're not paying close enough attention.... Romney believes the old norms are irrelevant.... If Romney wins, make no mistake, it will establish a new precedent, and campaigns will receive an unmistakable lesson -- go ahead and lie; you'll be rewarded for it." ...

... Elizabeth Flock of US News: at a forum in Tampa, Ron Fournier of the National Journal called out Republican pollsters & supporters for pushing the fake Romney welfare ads, which Fournier said were racist. CW: Fournier is no liberal; he's a former AP reporter (I think he headed the AP's Washington bureau), & he has been very critical of Democrats in the past. ...

... After laying out the truth about "You didn't build that," Juan Williams, conservative Fox "News" darling, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill: "... the Romney campaign continues to attack Obama's healthcare plan as the enemy of business. And it continues to twist the Virginia speech into an attack on small-business owners. This is politics so dirty it covers over the truth. How can any Republican complain about dirty politics when smears aimed at the president are so visible at this convention?" ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "... in light of the GOP's repeated misuse of this Obama quote [-- "You didn't build that --] in speech after speech, we feel compelled to increase the Pinocchio rating to Four." ...

... Bill Keller is very good on the same topic. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. CW: the question remains -- can a campaign built almost entirely on lies be a winner?

** Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited an Ohio coal mine this month to promote jobs in the coal industry, workers who appeared with him at the rally lost pay because their mine was shut down. The ... company ... told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday.... Murray Energy has contributed more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years." CW: what? No union? ...

     ... There's a follow-up story here; seems the Plain Dealer caught up with mine owner Bob Murray at the GOP convention in Tampa. He said it was a fun day for all. Uh-huh. Some of the reader comments are excellent. BTW, did you know that after the fact, you can pretend that "mandatory" means "voluntary"? This is worse than the "Chicago-style politics" Romney likes to pretend Obama practices. At least in the days of the Chicago machine, workers got paid to attend partisan political events. ...

     ... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "'You've got a great boss, he runs a great operation here,' Mitt Romney told a group of Ohio coal miners at a Murray Energy mine on Aug. 14, before launching into an attack on President Obama's supposed opposition to coal. That 'great boss,' it turns out, had made the miners' attendance at the Romney event mandatory and unpaid.... This contempt for his workers is of a piece with the past behavior of Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who..., has in the past lied about the company's actions just before a fatal mining accident, and who's lobbied against new safety regulations.... It's this kind of mine owner who Romney chooses to praise in front of a group of miners forced to stand there without pay. He's Romney's kind of people." With video. ...

     ... Ryan Cooper of Washington Monthly: "So the Romney campaign visited a coal mine ... for a speech with a bunch of suitably dirty miners standing behind him, with his podium bearing a placard that read 'Coal Country Stands with Mitt.' But apparently it should have said 'or else' at the end.... It is a great example of how far bosses are willing to push their workers in times of a slack labor market, and a reminder that for the owner/manager class, there's a lot to like about persistent mass unemployment."

AND, looking forward to tonight's GOP extravaganza:

... Philip Elliott of the AP: "Romney's aides ... are pushing Ryan toward more personal territory. The hope among Romney's team is that the nation gets to know Ryan's story, one they say working-class voters could relate to. Left unsaid is the fact that Ryan's policy positions, specifically his controversial budget proposals, have caused headaches for Romney and dominated the storyline of the campaign since he was named the running mate. On Wednesday, Ryan plans to talk not just about Romney's promises to repair the economy and Obama's failures to do it, but also about his own upbringing. A message of small-town values and self-reliance is set to play a prominent role in his speech."

This Sounded like a Good Idea. Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker: "James Carville says that in response to [Cardinal Timothy] Dolan's extraordinary eagerness to mount the Republican podium (he elbowed the local bishop aside to get there), the Democrats should invite Sister Simone Campbell to close out their ceremonies in Charlotte. Sister Simone is the leader of the 'Nuns on the Bus' campaign.... Carville attributes the suggestion to his daughter, a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

But Now. It appears that Cardinal Dolan has elbowed his way into the Democratic convention, too. Maybe he was worried the Democrats would invite Sister Simone. Sharon Otterman of the New York Times reports.

Congressional Races

Gary Nelson of the Arizona Republic: "Recalled Senate President Russell Pearce won't be returning to the state Legislature, at least not this year. Pearce lost Tuesday's Republican Senate primary race in Mesa's Legislative District 25 race to businessman Bob Worsley. The election defeat could spell the end of the political career of Pearce, a national lion in the fight against illegal immigration who was ousted from the Senate last year in a historic recall election. Worsley, the founder of SkyMall and several other companies, was recruited by moderate Republicans to block Pearce's attempted comeback."

Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic: "U.S. Rep. David Schweikert [defeated] Rep. Ben Quayle in the closely watched battle that pitted the freshmen Republicans against each other in Congressional District 6." CW: leaves the boy more time for midnight swims in the Sea of Galilee. ...

     ... New York Times story here.

Shaun McKinnon of the Arizona Republic: "U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake

News Ledes

New York Times: "Iran has already installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges it needs to complete a deep-underground site for the production of nuclear fuel, international nuclear inspectors reported on Thursday. The finding is likely to affirm the belief of Israeli officials that President Obama must make clear his intention to halt Iran's program or give tacit approval for Israel to act on its own."

New York Times: "A federal judge said on Wednesday that he planned to block provisions of a Florida measure that made it harder for organizations to register voters in the state."

Tecca: "It's been almost a year ago since we made our first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting two suns, prompting everyone to compare it to the planet Tattooine in the 'Star Wars' universe. A handful of other planets orbiting two stars have been found since then, but the Kepler-47 system is special: It's the first twin star system discovered that has not one but two planets in orbit. This unusual system was discovered using data from the Kepler telescope that's responsible for numerous exoplanet finds."

AP: "A three-judge panel in Florida has ruled that a former neighborhood watch leader charged in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin should be granted a new judge in his case. Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that Judge Kenneth Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara asked the court earlier this month to overturn a previous ruling by Lester not to leave the case."

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Isaac made its first U.S. landfall along the extreme southeastern Louisiana coast at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday evening, then continued to scrape along the immediate coast. Isaac will continue to move very slowly near the Louisiana coast Wednesday. Since Isaac is moving at a snail's pace, the hurricane will pound the northern Gulf Coast with storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and possible isolated tornadoes through Wednesday." ...

     ... Update: "Isaac weakened to a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon while spinning slowly to the west-northwest over southern Louisiana. Since Isaac is moving at a snail's pace, the storm will continue to produce significant impacts along the northern Gulf Coast including storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall, strong winds and possible isolated tornadoes through Thursday.

... New York Times: "The longer the storm lingers, the more pressure it is putting on the levees and other flood-protection systems along the coast. In Plaquemines Parish, about 95 miles from New Orleans and where the hurricane first made landfall, water 'overtopped' a levee, causing extensive flooding, according to the National Weather Service." ...

     ... Story has been updated. New lede: "Hurricane Isaac hovered over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, punishing southeast Louisiana with 75 mile per hour wind gusts, driving, horizontal rain and the threat of calamitous flooding. Forecasters said the rainfall may not let up for days." ...

     ... Update: "Louisiana officials on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of some 3,000 people in [Plaquemines] Parish outside New Orleans and are continuing to rescue dozens of others trapped in the same area by rapidly rising floodwaters caused by Hurricane Isaac."

Reader Comments (19)

Lovely column, Marie. Misters Brooks and Bruni have it right: Mitt Romney is not a likable guy, and his pursuit by any darn near legal means of the kind of wealth that produces nothing but profit for its investors, that does no social good and much social harm but serves as a mark of success in our capitalist paradise tells us all we need to know about him. His obvious discomfort with himself and with the kind of people he must successfully woo to win the presidency reflect an inner emptiness that so great that only immense power can fill it. One shudders.

As for the Brooks piece in particular, Akhilleus (what's new?) probably has it right: The piece is a genuine satire, though considering its source, the motivation is unclear.

Satire's problem always lies in the writer's contract with the reader: to be successful to what degree must the reader be taken in? Not so far that he or she doesn't get the joke, obviously, but far enough to appreciate it. Like most communication, it's based on trust.

Master satirist Jonathan Swift wrote a now obscure piece called "A Tale of A Tub," which when I read it in my more astute days had me completely bollixed before I finished it. The layers of irony were so many, the satires piled on satires so deeply, I was never sure I could find the fundament of what Swift was really thinking. Swift was so smart, I couldn't trust him.

I'll not give Mr. Brooks that much credit. I'm thinking Brooks' satire was straightforward enough, and that because to keep his job he has to keep finding nice things to say about the Repugnants, despite their obvious moral and intellectual shortcomings, he is so cognitively dissonant, he just had to let it out. I'm glad he did.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Re: The Real Romney

Micheal Kranish has a good piece in the Boston Globe this week:

http://articles.boston.com/2012-08-26/news-politics-president-candidates-romney/33383801_1_mitt-romney-george-romney-republican-convention

He was also interviewed along with Scott Helman today on Fresh Air:

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/28/160173451/real-romney-authors-dissect-his-latest-campaign

Historical Quote of the week:

"After Goldwater lost the general election in a landslide to Lyndon B. Johnson, he wrote an angry letter demanding that Romney explain why he never endorsed him. George responded in a 12-page letter that included a warning that perhaps is even more relevant today than when it was written:

“Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation, lead to governmental crises and deadlocks, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress,” George wrote."

Margaret Doris also has a good piece in Pierce's Blog abut Romney grandstanding in the aftermath of Katrina.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/mitt-romney-hurricane-katrina-12141816?src=rss

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Last night's Stanley Fish column did not stay up long enough for my late night comment to sneak in under the Times' nano-second-long planned obsolescence wire, but it occurs to me that the bedrock of his remarks about D'Souza's take on Obama's purported rage might be as hard to identify as Brooks' recent now-you-believe-it, now-you-don't satire. Can a Righty ever seriously criticize one of his own? Kinda like a Fundamentalist making fun of Jesus, ennit? Hard to believe a True Believer could express doubts...

Not serendipitously, I think, my thoughts about D'Souza echoed those many of us have had about Romney, Bush II, et. al. These are insecure people who need to be in charge if only to feel better about their own unworthiness, and they are doubly dangerous because they know they bring so little personal power to the table.

In my post I said, the doctrine of American Exceptionalism, so dear to Republicans, should be understood as an expression of inadequacy and guilt as much as a way to justify all that we as a nation have done and do, no matter how noxious it may be to our own citizens who are trampled by an unfettered profit motive and to the rest of the world whose resources we treat as our own: we can do it to you because we're better than you, we're the anointed, and because (the perennial excuse of the colonizers; read: bullies) our superiority alone should assure you it's for your own good.

I went on to say that Mr. D'Souza and his ilk don't want a debate or even a discussion. They simply want the opposition crushed or exiled. Could it be that D'Souza's own "foreign" origins make him especially desperate to prove he, not Obama, is the real American?

Currently the president of a fundamentalist Christian college (talk about Right Wing assimilation!) D'Souza is not even Mormon; he belongs to a larger cult. But in instance after instance the pattern of inadequacy the Repugnants exhibit persists.

And when I think about it, it's perhaps no accident that it's the inadequate, those who feel most threatened, who are a good part of their base. They are all kin.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

There is no 'real' Romney in the sense that you can evaluate his personality. All he is is a shell of a human. There is no empathy, no values, no feelings, no positions. Just a whole that he fills with the only word that fits at all, entitlement. To Mitt, all that exists is himself.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@Ken: Once upon a time Thomas More said: "This is a fair tale of a tub told of his election." As you pointed out a tale of a tub is a cock and bull story which Swift, in 1633, used as the title of a satire; Dr. Jonson also used it as the title of a comedy in 1633. So I think we might have come across a perfect phrase for this Republican convention because as far as I can discern, most of it was just that––a tale of a tub. As far as Brooks' attempt at satire, except for the bit that Marie quoted, I thought fell flat. Brooks is not a clever satirist––it read like Mitt Romney trying to be a stand-up comic.

Watching the convention last night I was struck by the adulation on the faces of many in the audience––especially when Ann Romney was speaking––there were several women that the camera caught looking like they were in thrall. This kind of thing is unsettling to say the least––and a little frightening.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Re: The Seventh day Liar; Steve Benen's article was interesting to me not because he points out Mitt as someone willing to lie to get what he wants but because he doesn't point out that a least some of the blame falls on those that believe Mitt's lies. The mis-informed constituency has replaced the informed, involved participant in our exceptional nation. Mitt knows this and that is why Ms. Mitt can say with all honesty, "You can trust Mitt." You can trust him alright.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

"Lies, Damned Lies, and G.O.P. Video," by Bill Keller lays out the shocking way the Repulicans are usng edited video of the President's "You didn't build that" speech to bear false witness.
http://keller.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/lies-damn-lies-and-gop-video/?ref=opinion
As he points out, in another year, this blatant manipulation of the President's words would be viewed as audacious. This year, not so much.
But we should all be shocked and embarrassed for this depraved party.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

We need a constitutional amendment to limit free speech. "The word 'falsehood' cannot be used when the actual words were a LIE".

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Republicans Built That!

What, the sign?

Surely not the convention itself nor the convention hall in which they are swaying to the silky beat of money and lies, tossing their well coiffed heads back in thrall (to swipe PD's description) to the woman of the night, Mrs. (we used to be poor too!) Romneybot.

But the convention itself (likewise the Democratic version) is paid for (and therefore built by) by you and me. The taxpayers. So, no, they didn't build that.

And that convention hall? According to The Daily Dolt, it was built mostly with government money. So they didn't build that either. In fact, few stadiums or arenas or large convention venues get built anymore without substantial government assistance, benefits from taxpayers and/or tax breaks for the owners who reap redwood tree sized stacks of lucre after slurping up all they can get from the public trough.

That famous West Texas bid'ness man (to quote the late, beloved and terribly missed Molly Ivins), George W. Bush, who floundered miserably at "building" anything on his own (he cashed in his chips on his failed oil company by stiffing investors with the bill while he ran out the door days before they discovered that his little project was going under--mighty Republican of him, wouldn't you say?), finally made some real money in business.

How?

Government funding and his invocation of imminent domain to clear out poor neighborhoods in Arlington, TX on which a group of investors (making excellent use of government help) built a stadium for the Texas Rangers. That group put Bongo-boy George in the "president's" office, and a small investment on his part turned turned into millions overnight. No doubt in Bongo-boy's tiny little parched brain, he had become a successful bid'ness man, at last, all on his own! Just like all those other Republicans who don't need government.

Anyway, more of the same at last night's Orgy of Hatred, Racists, Billionaires and a Billion Lies. The We Built This theme cascaded around the room like a wild shot bullet fired by some unhinged NRA kook unable to hit anything but the walls. We won't even get into the fact that the entire We Built This theme is a canard based yet another Willard lie. They can't even come up with an honest theme for their fucking convention!

Charlie Pierce noted with disgust the claims by Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin that her state was built solely without help from the government. Even more insultingly she described Oklahoma, before the invasion by oil companies and white Christian "we built it all ourselves" types, as "empty land". That might have been news to the Apache, Kiowa, and Osage tribes that had lived on that land for tens of thousands of years prior to having their property stolen. Racist or just stupid? You decide. I'm gonna have to say a lot of both.

But, as Charlie points out, the Homestead Act, Railroad Act and other government programs (such as the clearing of that "empty land" by the US Military), all helped pave the way for those who now claim to have done it all by their little selves.

You know, last night I was thinking about what the Founders would think about all this government hating. Do you think Madison and Hamilton, Jefferson, and even Washington would have been happy to hear Teabagging morons and the Haters, Racists, and Billionaires declare even the idea of government to be right up there with bubonic plague in terms of its poisonous features?

I'm thinking.....no.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

This was a reader response to Bill Keller's Campaign Stop blog:
*****************************
Here is something you may not know about Willard Mitt Romney:

Willard Mitt Romney is described by his son Tagg in a FOX News broadcast (so you KNOW it is FAIR and BALANCED). Please watch the video for yourself. I was particularly upset by the facial expression that Willard Mitt Romney pulls at the end. It says to me "Guilty as charged."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQd7ywLcmUU&feature=player_embedded

Tagg Romney describes Willard Mitt Romney as ALWAYS being the first in line to get food at family get-togethers, and that Willard Mitt Romney starts eating immediately and is often done eating before the rest of the family even gets to the table.

As a grandfather myself, this tells me a lot about Willard Mitt Romney.

As Tagg says, Willard Mitt Romney can't be bothered waiting for his grandkids to take food.

Willard Mitt Romney gives his grandkids a LOUSY example of eating together as a family (which is often a time when you teach your kids and grandkids values, manners, and discuss with them how you, they and the world are "getting along."

If this is a family man, he obviously has a problem with the meaning of the word "family."

No way I am voting for Willard Mitt Romney.
*****************

I believe that this is mistakenly discussed as a character issue. Mitters is beyond being severely OCD. Based on his robot-like appearance, lack of affect, inability to make eye contact or show empathy, and frequent inappropriate "small-talk" remarks, I am thinking he has Aspergers Syndrome.

Google it and see what you think.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

There are idiots and then there are idiots who really work at it.

Dinesh D'Souza is in the second camp.

I won't even bother to acknowledge his most egregious lies and astoundingly moronic fact-less assertions except to say that anyone who bases the entire premise for their signature screed about the president on the omnipresent influence of a father Obama met only once when he was a little boy has some serious mental issues.

Don't forget, this is the guy who blamed Abu Ghraib on liberals. Seriously! He declared that those prisoners were tortured by blue state guards (he probably never bothered to notice that Lynndie England came from KY) who had dreamed of doing this since they were little simply because that's what liberals do. Torture naked men by siccing dogs on their genitals. I mean, don't they?

No mention of the fact that the entire proceedings were put in place by Bush conservatives. Conservatives, in the seared and scarred brain pan of D'Souza have no culpability. Ever. Liberals are to blame for everything from bad hair days to.....9/11. Yup. That's right. According to D'Souza, 9/11 is all the fault of liberals. Don't even get me started on that one...

So, okay, that gives you an idea of what we're dealing with here. If the Easter Bunny, wearing its USA jammies, doesn't come out of its cave after being woken up by dancing trolls from the hall of the mountain kings and see its shadow two hours after moonrise on Flag Day, then Christmas will be canceled. Forever. And it's all the fault of Jesus-hating liberals.

But I think Ken is on to something when he suggests that one of D'Souza's problems is that he doesn't want to be "less" American than Obama and so must denounce him as "The Scary Other". That and the mental acuity of a rutabaga.

Oh, and that delirious Forbes cover story that got Newtie's flaccid organ all a-quiver with the possibility of a racist hit job, the one about Kenyan colonialism? That one? Here's what the Columbia Journalism Review (not at all a liberal journal) had to say about that beauty:

"...a gross piece of innuendo—a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia. This is the worst kind of smear journalism—a singularly disgusting work."

So much for little Dinesh.

Next?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oh damn. I just noticed that I wrote that Dubya had invoked "Imminent Domain" rather than eminent domain. Fingers type too fast sometimes. Either that or he was going to invoke it imminently...
Or something. You just can't be your own editor.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

GRR!!!! No, not anger but a summary of the Republican party (deliberate small p).
Greedy
Racist
Religious

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

For Akilleus: and here I actually MEANT imminent––written in 2003 hoping no war in Iraq:


IMMINENT DOMAIN

A big round fruit on fire hovers over the hills
Sending its peachy glow over the snow-capped terrain
And here I am again caught between
Here and There—

And There is a place of frenetic frenzy-
Destination: —Folly

And Here, in this warmth, is you and love
And what really matters.

And what in this world can we do?

From 2003

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I was so disappointed that comments had closed by the time I had the opportunity to read David Brooks' column. It's the first time he ever made me laugh (humorously). However, I suspect that Gail Collins helped him write it.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

PD,

A lovely thought. Too bad it turned out that Bush was still taking other people's property and killing them, through the offices of both kinds of domain.

And as bad as we thought things were then, the current version of that pig fucker's party is even more stupid, hateful, intolerant, and degraded.

For such high-minded religious types, there's not much room for love in the Republican Way. Except the narcissistic kind and the love of loot and, in The Rat's case, looting.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: write or wrong; Ain't that the truth, Ak? Everybody needs an editor. In a certain perverse way it our problem is Mitt's, he wants to publish(be elected) before, we the people, edit. Then; as Lady Mitt or the Duchess Mitt (which sounds better?) we the people can eat shit. Well, she didn't say that exactly; but my editor will fix it. How about "Her Royal Hyniest"?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

JJG,

She did in fact say exactly that, that we can all eat shit. "We've given YOU PEOPLE all you need. Now FUCK OFF."

What puzzles me is whether The Rat will knuckle us aside so that he can get to the shit before we do, him being a Me Firster, as Marie (accurately) describes him.

Mr. and Mrs. Rat are both charlatans of the first water. They don't need editors. They don't need anyone to tell them that they are off-base. As far as they are concerned, they are always right. Nothing that average Americans (300 million of us) would consider weird or disgusting affects them. We are hoi polloi. They are royals. They do not give a Willard the Rat's ass about what we think so they don't they don't care what we say.

It doesn't matter if their consultants tell them that their Royalist "We're Rich and You're Not" bullshit plays in Peoria. Their entire lives they've been told that they are superior and that's what they believe.

We are just ants at their Presidential Picnic.

They deign to lower themselves to talk to us only as it benefits their dreams of glory.

Queen Elizabeth II is Rosie the fucking Riveter compared to Ann Romney.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Check out www.globalpost.com/photo/5702981/sarahphillips.
Fired from her writing job at ESPN after being found out a
fraud. Shouldn't have taken long if she wrote the same way for
ESPN as on Realitychex. (could be a different sarahphillips?).

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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