The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, July 21, 2014.

Governor Grandstand. New York Times: "Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was expected to announce on Monday the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico to bolster security as the Border Patrol faces an influx of Central American immigrants."

Guardian: "As Dutch forensic experts arrived at the scene of the Malaysia Airlines crash on Monday and promised that the train being loaded with the victims' bodies would be moved before the end of the day, heavy fighting broke out between the Ukrainian army and rebels on the outskirts of Donetsk, the main regional city and the hub of the insurgency." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "After days of obstruction, Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine permitted Dutch forensics experts on Monday to search the wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines jetliner destroyed by a surface-to-air missile, allowed bodies of the victims to be evacuated by train and agreed to give the plane’s flight recorder boxes to the Malaysian government."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin issued a brief statement early on Monday saying that Russia would work to ensure that the conflict in eastern Ukraine moves from the battlefield to the negotiating table, and he again said that a robust international investigating team must have secure access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site. He also accused unspecified nations of exploiting the disaster in pursuit of 'mercenary political goals.' The statement posted on the Kremlin website came a day after mounting international criticism and anger against Russia and specifically Mr. Putin for the chaotic, unsecured condition of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site and what some nations said was the desecration of the victims’ bodies."

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
July 22

11:00 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

12:10 pm ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden deliver remarks & sign H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

3:30 pm ET: Drink Up! with First Lady Michelle Obama

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


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


New Yorker illustration.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole Food Business Model: We Cheat You, But Not so Much You'll Notice. Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times: "Whole Foods Market is paying $800,000 in penalties after an investigation found the supermarket chain overcharged customers throughout California. During a yearlong investigation, state and local inspectors found the Austin, Texas, grocer charged more than advertised for a wide range of food products, according to a statement from the Santa Monica city attorney's office. Problems included failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up fresh food, putting smaller amounts into packages than the weight stated on the label, and selling items by the piece instead of by the pound, as required by law, the statement said.... 'Based on a review of our own records and a sampling of inspection reports .... our pricing on weighed and measured items was accurate 98% of the time,' the company said in a Tuesday statement." ...

... CW: Besides, if you shop at Whole Foods -- at no charge to you -- you can learn that unions are like herpes, ObamaCare is a form of fascism & climate change is "perfectly natural."

Teenaged curiosity about sex is quite natural, but it can be a bummer.The Vagina Dialog. Turned out to Require a Large Cast of Supporting Characters. Jen Kirby of New York: "An American student studying abroad in Germany captured the world's attention yesterday by achieving the remarkable feat of getting himself stuck in a giant vagina sculpture and needing 22 firefighters to rescue him. But Fernando de la Jara, the artist behind the now-infamous work, took it all in stride.... 'It's participatory art,' de la Jara said. 'It should be entered.'"


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The Commentariat -- August 30, 2012

Mo Rocca in the New York Times: "... the United States is one of only a handful of nations whose constitution does not explicitly provide the right to vote. (Singapore is another, but it doesn't even allow you to chew gum on the street.) With an excellent video.

Jennifer Abbey of ABC News: "Jesse Shaffer, 25, and his father, also named Jesse Shaffer, 53, both of Braithwaite, La., stayed behind in their town to rescue their friends [when water burst over the levee in Plaquemines Parish]. While police and the fire department were unable to reach some stranded people using their vehicles, the Shaffers were able to save lives using boats.... Each Shaffer controlled a boat, in which the pair saved a combined 120 people in 12 hours, as well as animals."

Paul Krugman recommends this list of FAQs by Austin Frakt of the Incidental Economist, which details the "overwhelming evidence that public programs exert greater control over health care spending than private insurers." A handy reference.

Presidential Race

Quote of the Day. If you've just been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you honestly don't care if your neurosurgeon is a jerk. -- Mike Huckabee, explaining why Willard would be a great president

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday provided counterprogramming for a second day to the Republican National Convention, mocking its proceedings and contrasting his agenda with what he called the 'backward' positions of Mitt Romney.... The White House was quick to point out that in between his appearances, the president was receiving updates from federal officials on Hurricane Isaac...." ...

... Amy Gardner of the Washington Post: "President Obama used some of his toughest language yet against rival Mitt Romney today, accusing the Republican's campaign of bragging that 'we will not let the truth get in the way.'"

... Upon returning to the White House, President Obama enjoyed a leisurely dinner with his family. The Obamas were still talking about Malia's upcoming first year in high school when the Romney campaign issued a statement criticizing the President for failing to lead. "When Mitt Romney is president, he will always eat first,"* campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said in the statement, adding, "Mitt Romney has a proven history of mealtime leadership." Saul referred reporters to a video [also embedded near the end of this post] featuring Tagg Romney.)

     * Right after his food-taster.

Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! News: "President Obama made a surprise appearance online on Wednesday, participating in a live chat on 'Hi, I'm Barack Obama, President of the United States,' Obama wrote in a message on the site. 'Ask me anything.'"

By Jim Morin of the Miami Herald.Here's the New York Times liveblog of the Republican convention. ...

... Paul Krugman: "The GOP campaign is based on five main themes," none of which is true. ...

... Rosalind Helderman & Jon Cohen of the Washington Post: "From the convention stage here, the Republican Party has tried to highlight its diversity, giving prime speaking slots to Latinos and blacks who have emphasized their party's economic appeal to all Americans. But they have delivered those speeches to a convention hall filled overwhelmingly with white faces, an awkward contrast that has been made more uncomfortable this week by a series of racial headaches that have intruded on the party's efforts to project a new level of inclusiveness."

Mitt Romney watches the convention on teevee with some of his grandchildren. Notice how he coaches the one child to "watch the television instead of the cameras." It's all just another photo-op totally natural family get-together:

... And get a load of those pizzas. Two are whole & one appears to have a slice out of it. But the one right in front of Gramps has only one slice left. I guess even for a photo-op, it's Me-First Mitt.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, whose budget plans have come to define conservative opposition to President Obama's governing philosophy, accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday...."

... CW: Just saw a clip of Ryan's speech. He reminded me of a guy selling nonexistent cemetery plots to poor people. I wonder if all those VSPs who buy his "seriousness" have bought any of those plots; would serve them right. I can't understand how anyone could take him seriously; what a complete phony. ...

** ... Charles Pierce: "It wasn't that Ryan was lying about his opponents. It was that he was able to level out with those big baby-blues, and drop his voice into that kindly voice straight out of the silent confessional, and tell you things that his entire record as a public figure have demonstrated that he does not believe for an instant." ...

(... Pierce is good on Aqua Buddha Man's weird speech, too.) ...

... Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe: "Ryan’s bill of particulars against Obama strained credibility enough to damage his own, not-quite-earned reputation as a straight shooter." Canellos documents a number of Ryan's whoppers.

... New York Times Editors: "'We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead,' said Representative Paul Ryan, in in his speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination. 'We will not spend four years blaming others; we will take responsibility.' Sounds great, except that the speech ducked the tough issues and blamed others for the problems. Mr. Ryan, who rose to prominence on the Republican barricades with a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system, never uttered the word 'voucher' to the convention. He said Medicare was there for his grandmother and mother, but neglected to say that he considers it too generous to be there in the same form for future grandmothers (while firmly opposing the higher taxes on the rich that could keep it strong). He never mentioned his plan to abandon Medicaid on the doorstep of the states, or that his budget wouldn't come close to a balance for 28 years." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "It was, by any reasonable standards, a staggering, staggering lie. Here's Paul Ryan about Barack Obama:

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

      ... Paul Ryan was on that commission.... The commission never made any recommendations for Barack Obama to support or oppose.... Why? Because Paul Ryan, a member of the commission, voted it down and successfully convinced the other House Republicans on the commission to vote it down." ...

... "Paul Ryan's Breathtakingly Dishonest Speech." James Downie of the Washington Post recounts some of Ryan's biggest whoppers. "With tonight's speech, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have doubled down on their twin bets of 2012 -- that journalists will sit back and name winners and losers without regard to who is telling the truth, and that voters are too ignorant to care about the truth. Do not let them be right." ...

... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar & Jack Gillum of the AP debunk several of the big lies various GOP speakers told, including 4 by Paul Ryan. Hope a lot of AP affiliates carry their piece. ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: Wolf Blitzer & Erin Burnett of CNN agree: Ryan's speech contained only 7 or 8 big fat lies "points I'm sure the fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute." But it was a great speech! ...

... Washington Post Editors: Ryan "offered a speech that was part introduction of himself and his small-town origins, part testimonial to his running mate and -- in largest part -- a slashing and, in many elements, misleading indictment of President Obama as both a spent force and a threat to American freedom. Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have starkly different visions about the role of government, but to caricature the president's vision as 'a government-planned life, where everything is free but us' insults voters who surely know better." ...

... Here's an Obama campaign response:

... AND sticks it to Lyin' Ryan. ...

... Ezra Klein reminds us what is really in Paul Ryan's Magic Budget ('cause you sure didn't hear it from Paul Ryan). "He's just slashing things to make his numbers add up. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ran the numbers and said two-thirds of Ryan's cuts will end up falling on programs for the poor. The reason he's got to do that is that Ryan doesn't raise taxes.... Ryan extends all the Bush tax cuts, and then he adds a bunch of new tax cuts costing more than $4.5 trillion. So how does he pay for them? He doesn't."

Corey Boles of the Wall Street Journal: "In a clear highlight of the evening, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a moving address to delegates at the Republican convention, broadly criticizing President Barack Obama's record without ever mentioning him by name." ...

... John Richardson of Esquire on John McCain's & Rice's speeches: "... Republicans seem to be more interested in psychodramas of identity than in actual policy -- the boring, complicated, endlessly humbling process of diplomacy. Which is why, when they're in office, we so often end up in a war."

... Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy: at the top of her speech, Rice reminded everyone that "two of the three greatest negative foreign policy shocks of the last decade happened while Rice and the GOP ran the executive branch. Oh, and the third is Iraq, which also happened on their watch."

Gail Collins: attempts to renovate Mitt have been unsuccessful. "They built this Romney! 'We built it' is one of the themes here, at the government-underwritten convention in a government-subsidized convention center in a city that rose on the sturdy foundation of government-subsidized flood insurance. But no taxpayer dollars were expended in the attempt to put together a New Mitt. None. Really, it was just private corporations and rich people." Quite a funny column.

Maureen Dowd: "This synthetic convention aches with the enormity of the effort involved in trying, and failing, to make Mitt alluring and compelling, the fruitless, endless hunt for the enigma code that will decipher the cipher. The most intense feeling Mitt inspires is guilt that our posture isn't better." CW: when Mitt waved to the crowd Tuesday night after his wife's convention speech, his posture & wave were a replication of Richard Nixon's.

** It's Not about You, Willard. Dana Milbank: "Romney has a particular problem commanding loyalty, and the Republicans playing Brutus at this week's convention have been just brutal. Exploiting the tepid enthusiasm for Romney, up-and-comers in the party are using the convention to put down markers for their own presidential bids in 2016."

E. J. Graff of American Prospect: "If anything offended me ... [about Ann Romney's speech] it was the way her speech reduced women to our family roles as wives, mothers, and daughters." CW: I sure hope we find out by the end of this campaign that Ann's riding coach or somebody is boinking her. And why not? After all, Mitt is often out making male heirs with his other wives. (See Bill Maher below.)

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Weeks after it was announced that [former Half-Gov. Sarah] Palin wouldn't be making an appearance at the convention, on Wednesday night she took to Facebook to complain that she's also been cut from Fox News' coverage of the event."

Thanks to a friend for forwarding this video, which scratches the surface of Mitt's Mendacity:

** Mitt Romney -- Way Worse than Gilded Age Robber Barons. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden.... His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- like himself, [is] a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left.... Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time.... A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself.... His personal fortune would not have been possible without the direct assistance of the U.S. government." CW: a long, excellent piece, which a number of readers have recommended. ...

... We're Billionaires, We Don't Pay U.S. Taxes, & We're Proud of It, You Schmucks. Matthew Mosk, et al., of ABC News: "Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands." ...

... Jason Horowitz & Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "Thousands of donors have flown to Tampa for special access to Mitt Romney and other GOP leaders, from billionaire oilman David Koch ... to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.... The donors are part of Romney's elite 'Victory Council,' above and beyond the 'Stripes' bundlers who have raised $500,000 and 'Stars' who have brought in $250,000. Many are ensconced at the Vinoy Renaissance resort in St. Petersburg, amounting to a shadow convention of sorts, where access depends on how much you bring in. The most senior bundlers -- none of whom have been officially identified by the Romney campaign -- will get a two-hour private luncheon on Thursday with Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)...."

William Saletan of Slate, a deficit hawk, admits Paul Krugman was right about Paul Ryan -- the Congressman is a charlatan.

CW: In yesterday's Commentariat I mentioned Ron Fournier's questioning of Romney operatives about the racism that is evident in the anti-welfare ads, but I didn't link to Fournier's story on how racial prejudice informs white voters (and how good they are at picking up on & using racially-coded language), which the National Journal subsequently published. As Digby reminds us, Fournier "is no friend to liberals." ...

... CW: this election is really a test to see just how stupid white people are. We already know millions of them will vote against their own interests because they're afraid somebody in Dee-troit will get a nickel from them; the question is, will it be enough millions to give Romney the election. ...

... Gov. Sam Brownback (RTP-Kansas), a reliable ultra-conservative, ignores the Lie-thru-Your-Teeth memo. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "When asked Wednesday morning whether the welfare claim is a lie..., Brownback replied, 'as far as I have seen.' CW: I guess he'll be asking for one of those work-gutting waivers.

Kate M. pointed us to this video of Tagg Romney describing Me-First Mitt, who always goes first in line at family buffets so he doesn't have to wait for the grandkids & finishes eating before the rest of the family is seated. This Me-Firstism is precisely what I noticed in the video about Ann's illness & mentioned in my NYTX column on "The Real Romney" -- that Mitt saw his wife's illness only in terms of the impact on himself. I appreciate but disagree with Marvin Schwalb's comment of yesterday to the extent that I think greed, selfishness, a sense of entitlement, etc., are character traits -- just not traits associated with a desirable character. It's interesting how families learn to adapt to bullies like Mitt, to the point that the kids think Dad-First is "normal" rather than shameful:

... AND there's this. Matt Viser of the Boston Globe: Ann Romney told CBS News that after she had a miscarriage when she was in her 40s, her youngest son Craig "fell on the floor and just burst into tears." "Mitt Romney, sitting beside his wife for the interview, said he had been unaware of the story about his youngest son's reaction upon hearing news of the miscarriage." CW: Mitt, when you can't even take time to join your family for dinner, you're bound to be unaware of a lot that is going on in their lives.

Re: Inquirer's inquiry in today's Comments: I believe Bill Maher, who is not a "wifer" himself, still has provided all the proof you need that Mitt Romney is indeed a polygamist:

This New York Times story by Michael Barbaro, which I barely scanned, has a supra-headline "Willard Mitt Romney/Man in the News." Maybe Barbaro has seen the birth certificate, if not the numerous marriage certificates.

Via Reality Chex contributor Mushiba:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A."

New York Times: "Tropical Storm Isaac's once fierce winds slowed to 45 miles per hour on Thursday morning as it finally moved out of southern Louisiana and headed north while continuing to bring heavy rains and flooding along its path. Early Thursday, the storm continued at its now familiar exceedingly slow pace -- 8 m.p.h. -- as it moved on toward Arkansas, which it will not reach until some time Friday, forecasters said." ...

... Live Science: "As Tropical Storm Isaac roars over Louisiana and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, it threatens to disrupt a fragile environment that's still recovering from BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the summer of 2010. By disturbing the sediments in which the spilled oil is buried, near the beach and deeper in the water, the hurricane could release large quantities of oil, several researchers warn."

Bloomberg News: "Consumer spending in the U.S. climbed in July for the first time in three months as the biggest part of the economy struggled to overcome a jobless rate hovering over 8 percent." ...

... Bloomberg News: "More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that progress in the labor market is faltering amid a slowing economy. Jobless claims were little changed at 374,000 in the week ended Aug. 25, matching the upwardly revised figure from the prior week...."

Guardian: "Five Australian soldiers have died in southern Afghanistan over the last 24 hours, a toll Australia's prime minister described as the country's worst combat losses in nearly half a century."

ABC News: "Reports of West Nile virus infection in the country now total 1,590, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday -- an increase of more than 40 percent in one week alone. CDC officials also reported during a Wednesday afternoon teleconference that 66 people have died from the disease so far. Of all of the cases reported thus far, 889 - or 56 percent - are classified as neuroinvasive, meaning patients develop meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis." "An unmanned rocket turned night into day early Thursday (Aug. 30) as two heavily armored spacecraft finally launched into orbit study Earth's harsh radiation belts after a week of delays."

New York Times: "World leaders convening at Iran's largest international conference since its 1979 revolution heard on Thursday two speeches that illustrate the deep divide between Iran and Egypt for finding a solution to the conflict in Syria. In one of his first major addresses outside his country, Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, likened the uprising in Syria to the revolutions that swept away longtime leaders in North Africa.... In contrast to Mr. Morsi's remarks, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is a staunch ally of Mr. Assad, avoided the topic entirely."

Reader Comments (30)

What is so utterly scary about this clip of Tag Romney is the fact that the Romney family sees nothing wrong with that type of family leader. I am just speechless but not surprised. I would say that this description by the eldest son does in fact give us the true picture of who the Mitt is. The only reason all the prognosticators are having trouble writing about who is the real Mitt is because of their own denial that he can really be like that and be close to winning the Presidency. I agree with Kate M. He is not a healthy person, at least with respect to how most right minded people define healthy.


August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrom-the-Heartland

Cornell Woolrich was a great writer. And a very eccentric guy. Strangeness, weirdness, creepiness were his stock in trade. He cultivated a special appreciation for the bizarre. But even Woolrich would have cocked his head at the weirdness of the Romneys.

After watching the video Marie posted with son Tagg (what kind of name is that, anyway?) yukking it up about daddy Mitt’s predilection for shoving his way in at the head of the line even cutting off the grandkids, in order to feed his face, one is struck by how truly odd this is. Is this guy alright? I mean, what kind of parent does this sort of thing?

Very likely, as Marie notes, the sociopathic bullying kind. But this sort of thing seems completely normal to Tagg, and of course to Mrs. Rat. The only one not laughing is one of the grandkids. She seems to be the only one who doesn’t think this is all that fucking funny, having been cut off and dispatched to the end of the line many times in her young life, one would suspect, by Grand Pere Rat. She also looks like she has a few thoughts of her own on the subject.

Even perennial Republican rectal cavity cleaner, Chris Wallace (does anyone believe that Mike was really proud of this smirking, supine suppository?) gives out with an obsequious chortle. But he does do one thing right. He refrains from eating on camera, while someone else is talking.

Not Mittens. He scarfs those pancakes down while the cameras roll, paying little attention it seems to anyone else. Mitt’s hungry? Get out of the fucking way. Either that or he thinks that rudely shoveling food into his face while no one else is eating shows what a regular guy he is. Another socially inept decision by the Romneybot. "Regular" people with good manners don’t shove their way in front of the grand kids and don’t fill their face while other people are talking.

Oh, and what’s with the four washing machines in the laundry room behind Wallace? Four? That’s regular guy stuff right there, it is.

And don’t miss that uber creepy laugh at the end. Shit on a stick, these people are weird.

At one point during Rear Window, a Hitchcock film based on the Woolrich short story “It Had to be Murder”, a detective, played by the agreeably wooden Wendell Corey, provides some perspective to his voyeuristic friends Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. He has a short speech in which he opines that what they see through other people’s windows is very private and that one can’t always make snap judgments about how strange people are by catching small glimpses of their lives.

He’d have to rethink that opinion after espying the Romney clan.

Is this really the best that Republicans could come up with? An asshole who pushes to the head of the line to eat before his own grandchildren? Who blithely destroys companies and sends American jobs overseas (to China, no less!!), a guy who….well, fill in the blanks. There are plenty more odd and revolting bits surrounding Clan Romney.

But Woolrich would have loved them. Rich, weird, and creepy as scary dolls with eyes that follow you around the room. Just imagine a bobble head President Mitt doll that said “Corporations are people” when you pulled on his string. Now imagine how much more scary the real thing will be.

Vote early, vote often.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

After the sweet little snippets of their everyday life the Romney kids and/or wife divulge in an effort to make Willard the Rat (sorry Akhilleus, but that name is just too good to not co-opt!) seem more human begin to draw unwanted criticism, how long will it take for the personal, unsupervised appearances to dry up?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

I would hate to see what would happen on a sinking ship without enough life boats. Women and children last, Mittens is coming through.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjk


And unlike the coward Bruce Ismay who dressed himself up as a woman, Willard the Rat Bastard would not even have the decency to pretend that he did not belong on that lifeboat. He would push aside babies and grandmothers to save his own rat hide. He would have no problem with that in the same way that he has no problem lying through his teeth about Obama. His god has, in Willard's opiniion, decided that the Rat Bastard should live (or be elected president) so others must die.


He comes first. Undeserving mortals die.

But isn't this the Republican motto in a nutshell???\

And who are the undeserving? Non-whites for one. This is the basis on which fatso Chris Christie, Savonarola Santorum, and many others have been whipping the Haters, Racists, and Billionaires, into an orgasmic frenzy this week.

And this horrific, anti-American platform is fine and dandy with the Rat because he KNOWS he's superior to everyone of those brown-skinned pretenders.

These people are the worst of the worst.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

That first pig at the trough video is, um, insightful. The candidate even takes time off from shoveling in his groats to giggle. As my Alabammy mammy would have said: white trash.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Is there any truth to the rumor that the real reason Romney won't release his tax returns is that he took exemptions for the hidden children he has from his hidden polygamous marriages?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInquirer

@inquirer. Unlikely. But it's a rumor worth spreading. Let him deny it. (Where is Dick Tuck when we need him?)

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Akhilleus: how dare you diss Wendell Corey ? :-)
Rear Window was one terrific movie and does provide an apt analogy for our gradual acquaintance with the habits and foibles of the Romney clan. The more we learn of them, the stranger they seem....and Mitt has the nerve to suggest Obama is "other."

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@inquirer, that is an interesting possibility. After all, what would we call it? I know, BIRTHER

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb


I'm glad you returned to Rear Window because it gives me a chance to implant into the Romneybot myth a line I consider one of the top five in all Hollywood films.

Thelma Ritter, who plays Jimmy Stewart's nurse, housemaid, handler and consultant in the murder investigation, assists Stewart and Grace Kelly as they attempt to uncover the culpability of Lars Thorwald, the guy they have pegged as a heartless killer (Romney). After slipping a "we know what you did" note under his door, Kelly races back to the apartment to see what Thorwald/Romney's reaction was to being discovered as a murderous fraud.

"What happened?" asked Kelly. "How did he react to the note?"

To which Ritter replies "Well, it wasn't the kind of look that would get you a quick loan at the bank..."

Which would be a great analogy to the Romneybot except that he probably has the bank manager in his back pocket so he can dispatch people at his leisure and not pay any penalty.

So it's up to us, the voters, to show him the door to his cell, because not winning a job he believes he is entitled to and having to spend the rest of his life living down that kind of defeat would be as good as a locked cell for Richie Rich.

The rat fuck.

P.S. And Wendell Corey is still a bit wooden. Can you figure Katherine Hepburn choosing him over Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker??? Cripes! "Gimme back my hundred bucks!"

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus: Wasn't Thelma Ritter great in Rear Window? And no way West should have been picked over Lancaster for the Rainmaker, although my memory of that movie is fuzzy. I remember Lancaster was absolutely terrific in The Swimmer, a powerful performance.
Unrelated subject: Condi Rice is addressing the convention....why does anyone listen to her, given all her wonderful actions and decisions under the Bush regime?

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Good grief, this is hilarious. Who wants to sit around waiting while children have their meat cut up?? We can all identify, surely!

My mother used to tell us stories from the family dinner table in the 1920s, when she was one of 6 children at the table. Grandfather always served everyone first from the meat dish, but he did get the last piece of pie.

What flashed into my mind was the lines at church potlucks--the children line up first, with the parents helping them and the grandparents usually last--this is all just the natural course of things. Our here among "you people."

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

Sorry guys, the sarahphillips character is actually just me jacked up on silly juice while these Freedom-loving Repugs take our country back from the liberal heathens. Under Repuglican influence I lose all ability to make sense and hold a normal conversation with my fellow human beings.

The drinking game is going strong into day three.

God bless our exceptional freedom guns and prepare the portal of apocalypse readied by Bishop Willard. whers the botle opener...

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@Marvin Schwalb. "Wifer." See Bill Maher above.


August 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader


Ya got me, bro. I responded to sarahphilips in a (rather) humane and parental manner. You are BAD! Givin' Akhilleus a run for his $$$.

Atualie, I kant imagin succh a stupd prson comentng on RealtyCheks. Even wit stuk typeriter kys.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Why are you watching this drivel? my husband asked last night as he went into another room to watch NFL football. Smart man: he got a good night's sleep and is now out mowing the lawn. I, on the other hand, feel as though I have a hangover––something I haven't had since my salad days. The speeches were, besides full of lies, delivered badly––I had to leave fifteen minutes into Condi's speech–-her cadence was driving me crazy––and after McCain's let's-intervene-in-all-war-torn -countries because it's our duty and because we are top dog in defense, I buried my head in the pillows. I found it a terrifying speech. It was easy to watch Ryan because he was like a first year debate student pausing dramatically, looking straight into the cameras, cocking his head for just the right emphasis and coming off as a complete phony. The highlight for me was when Rachel Maddow had a confrontation with Scott Walker over that GM plant closing in Janesville. That was real––unlike the rest of the whole production. "Such rubbish," I muttered as I ambled up to bed. Will I watch again tonight? You can count on it.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Re: Safari and drinking alone, As a medical man I recommend you stop now. Your actions could lead to brain damage or worse; you are turning your organs to stone and if you continue it could result blindness and impaired motor skills. So get away from the TeeVee and the Reptilian convention. Keep drinking though, it's the only thing that has saved you thus far. Dr. Quackendabush

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Re: Huckster's comment. As soon as I read the brain tumor quote I thought maybe, just maybe Obama will get a second term. If the very best your friends can come up with is that you're an asshole but you are the only asshole available, you've got image problems. BTW anybody remember "The Man with Two Brains" with Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner? There was a brain surgeon.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Ryan's speech last night was full of bald- faced lies. Yet many lead stories in the mainstream press , including even the New York Times, have focussed on the tone and delivery rather than the laughably distorted content. Is this the best they can do?
As many have pointed out, many reporters appear to be leaving any fact checking to independent sources such as Politifact, or to the opinion pages, which many don't read. This does a great disservice to readers and the American public who deserve much better. Reporters to a great degree have become mere stenographers. I would have hoped that an outrageous collection of lies and half-truths such as Ryan presented last night would have finally turned the tide, but maybe not.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Here is an advertisement from the Stevenson campaign: <object width="434" height="370"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param></object>

Not sure this will embed ~ it can be found on the website,, which has copies of campaign ads since they first began in 1952. The only thing that has changed is the visual quality and, of course, the technology.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Sorry, I do not know how to embed the advertisement I just posted. Would anyone let me know?

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

@Mushiba. I don't think you can embed in the Comments section. I'll run the video in the Commentariat. The difference between then & now is that then, two different Republicans held opposing views; now the same Republican says one thing one day & another the next.


August 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I couldn’t watch the Condi Rice speech. My delicate constitution couldn’t take it (like PD, I'm allergic to kooky cadences) and I hadn’t safari’s forethought to stock up on potent potables prior to the proceedings. There being no other strong drugs available, I substituted watching for a later reading and only then discovered that the state altering, hallucinogenic effects I desired were right there for the inhaling. Altered States are us (Republican Motto).

To hear her tell it, Obama has overseen the greatest foreign policy blunders in a hundred years. America is held in low esteem by other countries and China, who does not fear Obama, is preparing to invade.

Somehow she seems to have forgotten that foreign esteem of this country was at its lowest, since about 1814, while she was Secretary of State for President Chimp-in-Charge. At least we’re not invading foreign countries purely for the shock and awe of it. War prosecuted by limp dicks who hadn’t the sand to stand up like men when it was their turn. Today however, sovereign states no longer have the experience of driving behind a red, white and blue clown car sporting a bumper sticker that says “Warning. We Brake for Hallucinations”, the equivalent of “Warning. We May Invade You For No Apparent Reason."

Oh yeah, and leave us not forget the fact that 9/11 occurred because Chimp Boy and his entire staff of incurious monkeys neglected dire, direct, and highly specific warnings about the attack. And what did Condi, Cheetah, Darth, and Rummy do after that? Planned an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with it. How’s that for a completely fucked up, nonsensical and hallucinogenic foreign policy?
So when Obama has started a couple of wars that he has no intention of paying for…wars with no direction and no plan other than as background props for PR photo-ops aboard aircraft carriers, and as red herrings designed to hide ideological and economic skullduggery domestically, AND after countries around the world go back to believing that insane people who can’t be trusted and can’t be reasoned with run the country, THEN, maybe her claims will hold water.

Otherwise, they’re just more Republican lies.

Hmmmm…. Wait a minute. I just had a brain storm. Maybe this isn’t an Orgy of Haters, Racists, and Billionaires after all. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a convention of fantasy fiction writers. They’re all taking turns reading their latest attempt at fantasy writing for the rest of the class:

Condi Rice—whooo! The current guy…he’s a bad one. Chunky Christie—we tell the truth to the public!! Mrs. Rat—poor us. We had to survive by eating cat food. Fraud Ryan---everything in ObamaLand is free, except for poor Republicans!!

Well, the fantasy fiction idea might be plausible except for the fact that most of the writing sucks untreated sewage through a long straw to make it last longer. I’d rather read Philip K. Dick’s letters to his tailor.

At least there’d be some truth along with the fantasy.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Matt Taibbi article is as good as advertised. And frightening.

Read it if you haven’t already. It offers an excellent explanation of the workings of a vulture capital private equity pirate operation like Bain and provides examples of their handiwork. Essentially, they run down other ships at sea and with the help of much larger vessels, force the captain and the officers to go along with their takeover plans, giving them all their twenty pieces of silver. After offloading all the cargo and reselling it to other ships passing by, at an extreme profit, they strip the ship of everything of value right down to the mastheads, sails, rudder, and wheelhouse. After that, for fun, they force the entire crew to walk the plank. When everyone has been dispatched, they jump back onto their own heavily laden pirate ship and burn what’s left.

Now here’s the best part. Bain began that particular operation under the direct control of Romney who came up with this plan (with liberal borrowing of ideas from such stellar role models as Mike Milken).

After reading this piece it’s even clearer that Romney only looks at the presidency as an opportunity to enrich himself and his friends. He has made himself obscenely wealthy using two things he routinely rips in his campaign speeches: Debt, and government hand outs. Taibbi explains in great detail how Romney borrows enormous sums to take over companies, using loopholes in government tax laws, loads up those companies with debt, strips them of value then burns them to the ground as he and his pirates sail out looking for fresh victims.

This guy doesn’t create jobs. He doesn’t build anything. He tears down, he destroys jobs, he fills his pockets and moves on.

One other interesting point that Taibbi makes through his research is that Bain routinely took over companies that had been in business for decades, companies operating in very specific areas requiring specialized knowledge to run them successfully. No one in Bain had any experience in these areas nor were they (especially Romney) interested in learning about these businesses. They didn’t need to. Their sole purpose was to take them over, extract huge profits for Romney and Bain execs, and hand the bill to what was left of the company and whatever employees who had not already been fired or laid off. If they could survive, fine. If not, chapter 11 and everyone gets it right in the ass. Either way the Rat wins.

Is THIS what Willard the Rat has in mind for the United States? He’s already demonstrated that he has little care for how government and governing really work, his brief experience as MA governor notwithstanding. He is in it for Romney.

He could care less about any of the rest of us.

And he has an even chance of fulfilling his evil plans.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus. Good summation of the Taibbi piece. But, as you say, it's still worth reading the whole thing. An excellent amplification of Romney's "character."

BTW, from various accounts I've read Romney doesn't actually have any more governing experience than Half-Gov. Palin. Apparently, he got bored with the job early on, & pretty much ignore it after the first 18 months except for taking an interest in 2006 when 26 tons of concrete fell from the roof of a Big Dig tunnel collapsed, killing a woman riding in a car crushed by the concrete. Here's a May 2012 AP overview of Romney's handling of the 2006 crisis.

August 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Coffee break time.

Just read the Taibbi piece. The real ass kicker of a story which just stuns me is in the link at the bottom with respect to the documents Taibbi received in a FOIA request. They establish that when the parent company, Bain and Company was in trouble in the early 90's it was W. Mit Romney (he alone signed the letter of representation)who was in charge of the bullshit negotiations with the FDIC (yes, a government money bailout or at least a banking fee and government supervised bailout) and other creditors after the first part of their recovery and recapitalization plan did not work, and the Rat had the balls to say, well if we pay our executives the bonuses we will go broke, so we need another write-off of loans so we can operate and GIVE THE ASS-HOLE EXECUTIVES the bonuses anyway.

Just Fking unbelievable. And the Rat has the gall to say he built it. He is just a "legal" crook. . . . and that may just be debatable. He is certainly the most unethical Presidential candidate I can recall and that includes a few.

As Akhilleus (at least I think so) has said before, "Vote (for Obama) and vote often!!!"

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrom-the-Heartland

@Marie, thank you for embedding the advertisement ~ it occurred to me that the Comments section would not accept it. If I have other items that Comments cannot accept, how do I get that you?

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba


This Republican hatred of government which has led to a complete disavowal of facts ( ie, that no one builds anything on their own, or in case after case, that few businesses survive or prosper, or, as in the Rat's case, escape decimation without government assistance) is all of a piece with their rude dismissal of inconvenient facts and butts up nicely with their suspicion of a liberal education. They've created a burgeoning cottage industry of attacking learning that doesn't unequivocally and obediently support wingnut ideology which includes fundamentalist whackjobbery as well as vicious attacks on an adult understanding of the country's founding documents.

The modern GOP disparages education as "liberal indoctrination" because it impinges on their ability to declare from their thrones on high what is true (intelligent design, Romney's truthfulness) and what they consider demonstrably false (evolution, Romney's lies).

Last night I had occasion to spend time with my old friend Montaigne. In his essay "On the Art of Discussion", he declares his love for honestly debating important issues with serious people, even if they challenge his positions: "We flee from correction; we should face it and go to meet it, especially when it comes in the form of discussion, not Ex Cathedra."

Republicans seek only the Ex Cathedra form of communication: "We're right. You're wrong because we say so."

So Willard wishes to be able to go along with the rest of those fearful of any opinion that forces them to consider a different point of view.

As my friend Montaigne averred, in a rather more kindly way than I might put it: "Stupidity is a bad quality."

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So, we don't know what's in Paul the pernicious peacock's Magic
Budget (if anything) and we don't know what's in Willard the waffling weasel's Magic Underwear (if anything), but in any case, we're
screwed and with no love for us 99%. How can anyone fall for
their BS and claim to be intelligent or claim to be an Independent
(a Republican who won't admit it). I need another drink!

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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