The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, February 11, 2016.

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

White House Live Video
February 11

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

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

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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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