The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Sunday
Jul152012

The Commentariat -- July 16, 2012

CW: Sorry for the slow morning. I had major connection problems overnight, & among the sites I couldn't access was my own. I'll try to get up to speed shortly, though I expect interruptions, access-wise & otherwise.

Banksters! Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "Some of the nation’s biggest brokerage firms appear to be giving a handful of top hedge funds an early peek at ... changes in [their] analysts' views ... of a company's prospects ... allowing them to trade on the information before other investors get the word." CW: these are not "savvy businessmen"; they're cheats, liars & crooks. ...

... Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has so far escaped responsibility for the spreading Libor fixing scandal by releasing documents showing that when he became aware of the problem in 2008, as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he made recommendations to address it.... [But] the recommendations Geithner sent to London did not come from staff, but rather were proposed by major banks and more or less forwarded on verbatim." Thanks for the link go to Kate M., who shares my opinion of Wall Street's Man in Washington.

Bill Keller debunks five myths about the Affordable Care Act. Little of this will be news to Reality Chex readers, but Keller's piece provides good responses for you to toss at your Foxbot friends when they start explaining why ObamaCare is the canary in the coalmine of civilization.

Sen. Dr. No Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) writes an op-ed in the New York Times claiming Republicans are only to happy to raise taxes and they just pay no attention at all to Grover Norquist. To be fair, Coburn -- who is retiring, so he doesn't have to face Norquist/Tea Party wrath -- has been more willing than most in his party to discuss raising taxes in exchange for cuts in the social safety net. ...

... AND, in another op-ed from a Very Serious Jerk, Larry Summers writes in the Washington Post that the wealth inequality he helped create is maybe not such a good thing. One of his revolutionary suggestions for reducing inequality: "... the custom could be established [at top private universities] that for each 'legacy slot' room would be made for one 'opportunity slot.'" Summers was president of Harvard till nobody there could stand him, either. ...

... E. J. Dionne takes a whack at conservatives' "solutions" to wealth inequality, & notes that David Brooks' ruminations are "wrong."

NEW. Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation's wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise."

Presidential Race

NEW: Anthony Gardner in Bloomberg News: "What's clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm's partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses. What's less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public...." Gardner works at a private equity fund and was director of European affairs in the U.S. National Security Council in 1994-95."

NEW: Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Mitt Romney on Monday accused President Barack Obama of running a 'campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty,' while brushing aside suggestions from anxious conservatives to release more than two years of tax returns." ...

... NEW. Mackenzie Weinger of Politico: "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz offered Mitt Romney and his campaign team some stark advice on Monday: They 'need to put their big boy and big girl pants on and defend his record.... They don't want to show us his record. They're running the most secretive campaign for president of a major party in history.'"

** New York Times Editors: "After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it's clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn't want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin." ...

... After three days of the New York Times not covering the story, today Nicholas Confessore & Michael Shear have a long piece looking at the evidence for and against Romney's claim that he "left Bain" in February 1999.

... The Personal Is Political." Paul Krugman: "The point is that talking about Mr. Romney's personal history isn't a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters." ...

... T. J. Walker, writing in Forbes, lists 35 questions Romney must answer before the controversy surrounding his "retirement" from Bain is resolved." ...

... Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign's national press secretary, put out a memo (pdf) to the media highlighting some of Walker's questions. Via Greg Sargent. ...

... No Apologies. President Obama on WAVY-TV (Richmond, Virginia). The transcript is here. Via Taagen Goddard:

Drip, Drip. Ryan Grim & Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post: "Add another document to the pile of evidence contradicting Mitt Romney's continued insistence that he ended his active role with Bain Capital in early 1999.... A corporate document filed with the state of Massachusetts in December 2002 -- a month after Romney was elected governor -- lists him as one of two managing members of Bain Capital Investors, LLC...." ...

... Matt DeLong of the Washington Post: "Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie defended his candidate from attacks over the timing of his departure from Bain Capital during an appearance on CNN's 'State of the Union' Sunday, saying Romney retired 'retroactively' from the firm." With video. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Over the last few days, Mitt Romney has seen his business experience, which began the campaign as his primary qualification, turn into something perilously close to a scandal. It's now time for a recurrent phase in the campaign called Republicans Give Advice to Mitt Romney. Attack! Defend! Show us your taxes! (The last category, I would note, consists entirely of people who have never seen Romney's taxes.)"

Tom Edsall in the New York Times: there's not much merit to Mitt Romney's "merit-based" society. CW: no kidding. See, for example, Gretchen Morgenson's story, linked above.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations." CW: Who said there were no do-overs in life? These spokespeople who can't speak & think at the same time will soon insist on a 4-minute delay on the teevee, too: Eric Fehrnstrom's Etch-a-Sketch remark surely would have been Etch-a-Sketched, bleeped or cut. But seriously, the major media could put a stop to this gaffe-pass practice if the big guys all just said no. ...

... Jonathan Chait agrees with me: "Reporters, then, should just try saying no."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Trying to shift the presidential campaign narrative away from his personal finances and tenure at Bain Capital, Republican Mitt Romney will launch a fresh assault this week accusing President Obama of political cronyism at the expense of middle-class workers." This Web video is a piece of the assault:

... AND there's this one:

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The [Romney] commercial illustrates how Obama abandoned the rhetoric of 'hope and change' and went negative by playing quotes from CBS's Bob Schieffer, the New York Times' David Brooks, and Time's Mark Halperin.... Now two of the three journalists have responded, and surprisingly, they weren't flattered by being dragged into an attack ad without their permission." CW: You'll have to read Hartmann's post to find out which of the three "journalists" (actually, only one is a journalist; the others are hacks) hasn't complained about appearing in the Romney ad; if you try to guess, your first two guesses don't count.

News Ledes

Guardian: "New York and Connecticut attorneys general have joined forces to investigate alleged manipulation of the Libor interest rates. The scandal is already being investigated by the US justice department and financial regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. But the involvement of New York state is likely to ramp up the investigation."

Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for global growth to the lowest level since 2009, when the world was first emerging from the great recession. The IMF said Monday it expects the world economy to grow 3.5% this year, 0.1 percentage points lower than its forecast three months ago, and warned that a sharper downturn was possible if policymakers in Europe and the US fail to act."

AP: "The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS. The agency approved Gilead Sciences' pill Truvada as a preventive measure for people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners."

New York Times: "Gunners on a United States Navy supply ship in the Persian Gulf near the coast of the United Arab Emirates opened fire on a small motorized vessel on Monday after the small vessel disregarded warnings and rapidly approached, the United States Fifth Fleet command reported."

The Guardian is liveblogging the civil war in Syria, describing "fierce fighting" in Damascus. The New York Times story is here.

Reuters: "The U.S. Marshals Service has captured Vincent Legrend Walters, one of the law enforcement agency's 15 most wanted fugitives, in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Walters, 45, wanted on kidnapping, murder and drug charges stemming from a 1988 San Diego case, was apprehended Friday morning, then transported to Mexico City where he will await extradition to the United States...."

Reader Comments (9)

Robert Parry at Consortium.com, reprinted in Reader Supported News, has written today about Mitt Romney's "fact checking" by Glenn Kessler at WaPo and by the Annenberg Foundation. Their main purpose appears to be cutting off any conversation about MittWitt's true activities at Bain after 1999:
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/12433-the- romney-fact-checking-scandal

Parry asserts that:
..."If these supposed "fact-checkers" really cared about facts, perhaps they would use their new status as Romney's favorite defenders to ask the Republican presidential candidate to release Bain Capital's internal records that would show whether he did or did not have any contacts with his subordinates after February 1999."

I agree. And I am glad Obama continues to go after Mitters on this Bain(al) matter. Even if the MSM wants to let MittWitt off the hook, I hope the Obama campaign and the alternative press, especially Marie Burns, keep on sifting and winnowing the facts!

If this guy wants to be POTUS, he needs to have a credible and mostly truthful resume. HA! Plus an economic and health plan IN WRITING--for the voters to see and judge. Creep!

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Another way to look at Willard the Rat's Bain problem is to compare it to the out of control screeching demands for Obama's birth certificate. The MSM never let up on this issue. Nearly all of them demanded that Obama turn over every scrap of information to prove that he was, in fact, an American citizen. In fact, a fair number of people are STILL demanding this information years after the state of Hawaii blew the birther case out of the water.

Those demands were, and still are, irrational attempts by haters and scheming right-wing con men, like Comb Over Boy, to continue to roll stones onto Obama's road and cause unnecessary distractions, even if it meant that the national business (and by extension citizens) had to suffer.

Now those same schemers and their running dog, boot licking lackeys in the MSM are decrying an entirely legitimate and necessary attempt at prying information out of Willard's campaign to determine once and for all the extent of his truth telling (or not) regarding official federal filings and, further, what he has repeatedly averred to the voters.

If a search for something that was already known was deemed important enough by the media to last over three years, certainly a valid and justifiable probe into the background of a presidential candidate should be considered strong enough not to be belittled and laughed at by that same media.

And we're not talking here about whether or not The Rat chased down and committed felony assault on a fellow student in high school as part of a hate crime he organized (although there is no doubt he did that too). We're talking here about a major component of Willard's rationale for demanding the keys to the White House.

That important enough for ya?

Apparently not.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

akhilleus,

Your analysis is, I believe spot on. But as soon as the media starts to pursue an honest-to-goodness, verifiable retirement date from Bain, the hue and cry from the wingers will begin that we must be shown President Obama's transcripts from Columbia and Harvard as well as his birth certificate. Deflection, deflection, deflection.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

As Krugman writes, the coming election should be a no brainer for voters no matter their economic status.

First, if you’re in the 1% or even close to it (anywhere inside the 5% line should do), Willard is your man. His policies will continue to enrich you and continue the absolution, begun by St. Ronald of Reagan, of your responsibilities as an American citizen. That stuff is for the plebes, and Romney will make sure that either they (the 95-99%) pick up your tab or get less of everything. A lot less. Either way, you win.

Now if you are a member of that 95-99% group, you should vote for Obama for exactly the same reasons. Although no enemy to Wall Street and 1% Masters of the Universe, he at least has some connection with the 99. His tax policies, unlike The Rat’s, won’t saddle the rest of us with quite as much of a burden. AND he offers minor things like healthcare for (almost) everyone, something Willard the Rat has declared unconstitutional, further promising to take it away the first chance he gets.

But like the contours of distant mountain ranges half hidden in clouds and fog, the shape of the world we now inhabit occasionally comes into stark relief when the clouds part and we get a passing glimpse of the ragged and dangerous peaks that block our passage to a more equitable society.

Click on any of the links Marie provides this morning and those crags come into focus. Let’s simply consider the Gretchen Morgenson story about big investment banks elbowing their way into what is basically insider trading information to make money at the expense of average investors.

If you require a starker example for what kind of advantage such information offers, I cite the example of an economics experiment I recently encountered. I cannot, for the life of me, recall the Ec professor who initiated this little test, but several of you may have read about it as well.

Take two players. Sit them down with a Monopoly board game. Now adjust the rules to roughly mirror what’s taking place in MittRomneyWorld.

Player one (a One Percenter) starts off with five times as much money as player two (the NinetyNine Percenter). Each time player one passes go he receives $500. Player two receives nothing. Player two, if he wishes to purchase real estate is charged double the rate of those for player one (reflecting the advantages of inside information and cushy financial quid pro quos). Also, player one gets to use two dice on every spin; player two, only one die. Very rapidly, the headstart given to the Romney player far outdistances the AverageAmericanTaxPayer player who within a few spins around the board is bankrupt, all their money absorbed by the One Percenter.

This is the real world for Romney and his pals. They expect, and they receive, special breaks all their lives, insider information not available to the other players, every economic and social advantage they need to break the backs of their opponents and cart off their money, their homes, their futures. These they stockpile in one of their warehouses. They expect additional breaks such as relief from paying their fair share in taxes, and they don’t much like anyone telling them anything about responsibility or law or morals or any other damn thing that gets in the way of their ability to cash in on all their advantages. They expect never to be called on anything, including and especially information relating to how exactly they got so rich.

What they do expect, and this they receive as well, is an acknowledgement that they had no advantages at all. That everything they have, they EARNED the hard way through no special help from anyone. Because THAT is the most durable of right-wing myths, one Romney will perpetuate and continue to advance through subterfuge, schemes, stonewalling, and outright lies.

Krugman is right. The personal IS political.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Jacquelyn,

Yes. And the subtext of those requests for transcripts will be accompanied by an ugly whisper campaign that will, believe me, find plenty of traction on the right: that no black man could have gotten such high marks from Ivy League schools without "special" help (eg, cheating). Right along with that will be screaming outrage by such as Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh that ANYone dare to call them racists.

They already do this sort of thing. They do it to a T.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: "I just signed the thing, oh, and dated it, som of a bitch." It's like finding Rocco the raccoon sitting on my front porch dipping Squeeky the Kitty's kibble in the water bowl. I say,"Rocko, dude; you've got to stop eating Squeek's food. Rocco just gives me the look and says, "Go back inside and turn off the lights, there's nothing unusual going on here.
Sign SEC documents with no regard to the truth, not unusual.
Say anything to gain advantage, not unusual.
Throw the blame on your detractors, not unusual.
Excuse any action by saying, " That's business.", not unusual.
Stashing millions overseas to avoid taxes, not unusual.
Catering to scum to buy votes, not unusual.
Demanding retractions to cover lies, not unusual.
1999 to 2002, same as ever.
Mitt doesn't think he is responsible for his past because his past is not unusual. Same,same. He'd outsource America if he could.
Tonight I will give Rocco a can of tuna for comparing him to Mitt.
Rocco will slam the can of tuna and tell me to go back inside and turn off the light, not unusual.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

@Akhilleus: Hadn't heard of the Monopoly parable but have long tried to teach this simple but apparently elusive math lesson: a distribution system as "fair" as repeatedly giving each player/participant/laborer/manager/owner the same reward/bonus/wage/salary increase--let's say 3%--necessarily widens the gap between those who start out at the top and those at the bottom. Over time that gap becomes a chasm and we end up where we are today.

Seems obvious but it is apparently not for all those whose interests are harmed by regressive taxes and yet support flat incomes taxes and the elimination of estate taxes. Turns out, in the world of arithmetic, treating everyone the same is not fair at all. In short, the One Percenters don't need a lot of rule changes; they don't even need to cheat; all they need is a little patience, and the arithmetic will take care of them just fine.

As it has.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

As a prime example of how egregious is the lack of media responsibility, Jake Tapper of ABC news released a news package this morning describing the Obama campaign's demand for clarity from Romney on his Bain history as nothing but "changing the subject" from the economic misery inflicted on the country by the president. He goes on to repeat, without the tiniest effort at fact-checking, a Romney charge that Obama regularly engages in "insider trading."

And this guy isn't a Fox drooler.

But that doesn't mean he's reliable either. This is the way it works. When rich people are attacked, the media comes to their aid and besmirches those asking the questions.

Plus, don't forget. ABC is owned by Walt Disney, the largest media company in the world, in terms of revenue. You don't think they're going to come down on the side of the 99, do you? We exist to purchase vacation homes and supply gigantic bonuses for Disney executives. They are not in the business of providing information that might hurt one of their own.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Here's my question for Willard: how many American jobs have been created by your stash in the Caymans and Switzerland?

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon
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