The Ledes

Sunday, August 2, 2015.

Los Angeles Times: "The Rocky Fire exploded overnight, burning 47,000 acres as of Sunday morning and threatening 6,000 structures in [California's] Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties. The U.S. Forest Service said "fire activity dramatically progressed"  late Saturday, forcing the closure of several state highways in the area. The fire is just 5% contained; about 12,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Nearly 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze and more are coming into the area."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President celebrated the fiftieth birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 1, 2015.

USA Today: "Staggered by a $72 billion debt load, Puerto Rico was likely to miss a debt payment due Saturday, setting the stage for what could be one of the largest U.S. municipal debt restructurings. Puerto Rico's government said Friday it would not make a $58 million bond payment due over the weekend."

CNN: "Three members of Osama bin Laden's family were among four people killed in a small plane crash in southern England, British police said."

White House Live Video
July 31

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing with Energy Secretary Ernest Munoz

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes. ...

     ... UPDATE: Turns out the university's president is biased against the bias-free language guide & he was unaware of its existence until this week. Also, a Republican state legislator is "outraged" & finds the guide a good excuse to cut funding for the state university. Naturally. Thanks to MAG for the lead.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

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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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