The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

Hill: "The Defense Department accidentally sent live anthrax to labs in nine states and is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to contain it, the Pentagon said Wednesday. 'The Department of Defense is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their investigation of the inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis, also known as anthrax, from a DoD lab in Dugway, Utah, to labs in nine states,' said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman."

AP: "A second submariner has pleaded guilty to sharing videos of female officers undressing for a shower, continuing a case that a prosecutor calls a 'black eye' for the Navy's integration of women into the nation's sub fleet.... Electronics technician Joseph Bradley entered pleas Wednesday in a court-martial trial. He was sentenced to 30 days' confinement and a reduction in rank.... On Tuesday, missile technician Charles Greaves received two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for making the videos. Five more male sailors face charges in the case."

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
May 28

11:05 am ET: President Obama receives the annual hurricane season outlook & preparedness briefing in Miami, Florida (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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