The Ledes

Friday, April 18, 2014.

Washington Post: "An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest early Friday morning, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three others missing, officials said, in what is now said to be the single deadliest disaster to hit the world’s highest peak.”

The New York Times outlines some of the shocking errors made after the Korean ferry began to list. ...

     ... UPDATE: "Prosecutors in South Korea on Friday sought to arrest the captain, third mate and another crew member of a ferry on charges of deserting their vessel and passengers after it capsized and leaving more than 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a trip to a resort island. Prosecutors asked the court to issue arrest warrants for Captain Lee Jun-seok, 69, and the 26-year-old third mate, who they said was steering the ship at the time of accident.... The vice principal, Kang Min-kyu, 52, of Danwon High School, who survived the ferry accident on Wednesday, was found hanging from a tree on a hill near a gymnasium where families of the missing had gathered. The police suspected Mr. Kang had hanged himself."


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/10/3772409/fbi-rescues-kidnapped-wake-forest.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, April 17, 2014.

New York Times: "Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia emphasized on Thursday that the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and also stressed Russia’s historical claim to the territory, repeatedly referring to it as 'new Russia' and saying that only 'God knows' why it became part of Ukraine....Mr. Putin’s remarks on eastern Ukraine came as officials from Russia, the United States, Europe and the new government in Kiev were meeting in Geneva for four-way negotiations aimed at resolving the political crisis." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Russia may invade southeast Ukraine to protect the local population, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday." ...

... Washington Post: "President Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly denied Russian troops had entered Crimea before the March referendum there, changed his version of those events Thursday, telling the nation that they had indeed been there all along. But the green-uniformed men observed in eastern Ukraine right now, storming buildings and raising the Russian flag, are not Russian, he said. 'Those are local residents,' he said." ...

... AP: "Ukraine is hoping to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepares a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest. The carrot-stick strategy emerged as diplomats from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia prepared to meet Thursday for the first time over the burgeoning crisis that threatens to roil the new government in Kiev." ...

... Guardian: "Asked if he was expecting any progress, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, simply shrugged." ...

... Reuters is liveblogging of the Ukraine crisis.

... New York Times: "Ukrainian security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in a firefight overnight in the eastern city of Mariupol, the interim Ukrainian interior minister said on Thursday. The clash was the most lethal so far in the east of the country." ...

... AP: "NATO is strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border immediately in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the alliance's chief said Wednesday."

Washington Post: "A Canadian cyber crime unit has arrested and charged a 19-year-old Ontario man for allegedly hacking into the country's tax agency using the Heartbleed Internet security bug."

Washington Post: "About 24 hours after [a South Korean] passenger ferry with more than 450 aboard began to slowly sink off South Korea’s southwestern coast, at least nine are dead and 287 others, many of them teenagers, are unaccounted for. South Korean news media put the number rescued at between 164 and 179, most of whom were brought ashore to the island of Jindo, where they were wrapped in warm towels or treated for minor injuries." ...

... Guardian: "The parents of hundreds of children missing after Wednesday's ferry accident off the coast of South Korea have accused the captain of the vessel of abandoning passengers after it emerged that he and six other crew members were among the first to leave the ship after it started to sink." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Angry relatives of passengers aboard a sunken South Korean ferry criticized the government’s response Thursday as the ship’s captain made an emotional apology for fleeing the vessel before hundreds of others had a chance to get out." ...

White House Live Video
April 18

1:00 pm ET: Jay Carney 's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: President Obama presents the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy to the US Naval Academy football team

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

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

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

 

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

Washington Post: "Stephen Colbert and his writing staff were in fighting form Monday night, after a controversy stemming from an out-of-context tweet had hashtag activists calling for his head." ...

... This is kinda must-see TV:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Monday
Jul162012

The Commentariat -- July 17, 2012

I didn't have time to write a column today, but I did write a letter to Andy Rosenthal, the Times' editorial page editor & Greg Brock, the Times' corrections editor, about David Brooks' column today. You can read it here.

Donna Cassata of the AP: "Automatic cuts in federal spending will cost the economy more than 2 million jobs, from defense contracting to border security to education, if Congress fails to resolve the looming budget crisis, according to an analysis released Tuesday."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times on "pop-up SuperPACS" -- groups that put up a pretense of being non-profits, tax-exempt, issues-oriented organizations, spend millions to defeat a candidate, then disband -- or go bankrupt. CW: Seriously, we have no campaign finance regulations. Rich people just do what they want & say what they want.

Matt Isaacs, et al., of Frontline: "... some of the methods [Sheldon] Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators...." ...

... Here's the Rachel Maddow segment on Adelson, which contributor Victoria D. recommends:

Sam Dolnick of the New York Times: "A company [with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)] that plays a critical role in New Jersey's corrections system, running halfway houses as large as prisons, has had such severe financial difficulties over the last four years that it contemplated filing for bankruptcy in 2010, according to newly disclosed documents.... Mr. Christie has long championed the company. Not long before Mr. Christie took office in January 2010, Community Education defaulted on its debt...."

MOOCs! Tamar Lewin of the New York Times: "As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally.... And some of them will offer credit.

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: At an exhibition game at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., last night, President Obama predicted the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team would bring home the gold, but the Obamas' performance on the Center's "Kiss Cam" got more attention:

Presidential Race

Callum Borchers of the Boston Globe: "In recent days, Romney and his defenders have begun to say Romney left his 'day-to-day' duties at Bain Capital ... in February 1999, seemingly absolving him of responsibility for any bankruptcies, layoffs or offshore outsourcing after 1999.... But these statements address only the straw-man attack articulated by ... Karl Rove -- 'that [Romney] didn't take a leave of absence to go run the Olympic Committee and continued to run Bain.' However, Romney established a much stricter standard of separation when he asserted on his most recent financial disclosure form that he 'has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way' since he took over the Olympics...."

Drip, Drip. Oh. A "Transition Period." David Corn of Mother Jones has more from the 2002 hearing to determine whether Romney met the Massachusetts residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates: 'Did you remain more or less continuously in Salt Lake City from February '99 to the end of the year?' Romney answered: 'Actually, there was some transition away from my work in Boston for the first few months and then I pretty much stayed there after.' ... The lawyer, after referring to this 'transition,' asked, 'So from February through the end of the year you were pretty much full-time out in Utah, right?' Romney replied: 'Well again, the beginning of the year was a good deal of time back and forth, but towards the last half of the year it was pretty much exclusively in Utah.'" ...

... Sal Gentile of NBC News: Ed Conard..., a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007, said in an ... interview with Up w/ Chris Hayes ... that Romney was 'legally' the chief executive officer and sole owner of Bain Capital until 2002, not 1999 as Romney has previously stated, and said that Romney was engaged in a 'complicated set of negotiations' over his exit pay for at least two years after he says he left the firm.... Asked if the factory closures and lay-offs that occurred between 1999 and 2002 were characteristic of Bain Capital's record before 1999, Conard said, 'I believe that's true, yes. I think that Bain Capital does what Bain Capital does, which is try to make companies stronger and grow them faster." With video. ...

     ... Digby: "Romney stayed on at Bain from 99-2002 because he was holding up his partners for as much as he could get.... I guess they must figure that's a better way to explain it than having to answer why he would have been involved with a fetus disposal company."

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones says it appears Romney didn't do much for Bain during the 1999-2001 period, so all the brouhaha is moot: "The only problem is that back during the primaries [Romney] became so desperate to avoid being tainted by the unpopular aspects of running a ruthless private equity firm that he panicked.... He can't run from Bain, and he shouldn't have tried." ...

... Andrew Sullivan: "... the question of whether Romney committed a felony in his financial disclosure form is a very real one -- because Romney and Romney's lawyer provide the strongest evidence that it was perjury.... Republicans ... impeached a sitting president for [perjury]. But their current candidate is an obvious perjurer and thereby a felon."

Yay! A left-wing conspiracy theory! Brian Knowlton of the New York Times: Chicago Mayor Rahm "Emanuel suggested that [Romney's] undisclosed returns could hold only bad news about Mr. Romney's finances, and might even have played a role in Senator John McCain's decision to reject Mr. Romney as a running mate in 2008 and turn instead to Sarah Palin. Mr. Romney gave Mr. McCain's team 23 years of returns. 'The Romney campaign ... have decided that it's better to get attacked on a lack of transparency, lack of accountability to the American people, versus telling you what's in those taxes,' Emmanuel said.' ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "It's only fair to assume that Mitt is doing what he always does: acting on the basis of a careful cost-benefit analysis. [George] Will's comments on this were spot on: 'The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,' he said. 'Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.' But what information could the earlier tax returns contain...? Here are four possibilities: 1. Extremely high levels of income.... 2. More offshore accounts.... 3. Politically explosive investments.... 4. A very, very low tax rate." ...

... Kevin Drum: "... there are probably multiple years in which Romney paid no taxes at all." ...

... Gee, the Obama campaign thought of that, too. This ad, per Greg Sargent, goes up in Pennsylvania today:

     ... The ad builds on this independently-produced video, via Jim Fallows of The Atlantic:

Here's a DNC Web video, using winger pundits to hit Romney for not releasing his tax returns:

Glenn Kessler, the WashPo's so-called fact-checker, gets one right: "In trying to fend off demands ... that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney release more than two years of tax returns, his campaign has sought to claim that releasing two years of tax returns is normal.... [John] McCain did release two years of tax returns [in 2008], but the Romney campaign is being misleading with its suggestions that releasing two years of tax returns is some sort of standard for presidential contenders. Two years is actually the exception -- only one challenger out of the last seven presidential nominees has released just two years of returns."

Mitt Romney, Time Traveler. Dana Milbank: "Retroactive retirement! It was a brilliant formulation..., and it raised tantalizing possibilities: If Romney can do it, perhaps others can go back in time to rearrange events.... The Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's outsourcing, his foreign tax havens and his work at Bain are often unfair, not entirely accurate and sometimes downright mean -- just as they should be. ...

... Gene Robinson: "If Romney really does have the power to bend time and space, he might want to retroactively clean up the mess he’s made."

** David Firestone of the New York Times: "... to deflect attention from its troubles with Bain Capital, the Romney campaign is hyperventilating over the coziness [of President Obama and his campaign bundlers], as if it is unprecedented.... A new ad claims that Mr. Obama loves his 'donor class' more than the middle class.... But how did the Romney campaign ... know who the Obama bundlers were? Because the Obama campaign disclosed them, though it is not required to do so. And that's something the Romney campaign has refused to do.... Favoritism is a bad business, a stain on every administration.... But an ad like Mr. Romney's, encompassing hypocrisy, deceit and secrecy, may be even worse."

Charlie Cook of the National Journal: "The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally -- not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks -- seems a perverse one. Given his campaign's ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments.... Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney's behalf."

Mobutu Sese Seko of Gawker really likes the new Obama ad featuring Romney singing "America the Beautiful" while "the quotes about him highlight the shallowness of his patriotism and national benefit of his business expertise." Seko makes a good argument for why Romney's whiney response to questions about when he left Bain really isn't working.

Nia-Malika Henderson & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama used an hour-long town hall event [in Cincinnati, Ohio] Monday to mock Republican Mitt Romney's economic plan as one that would create jobs only overseas":

AND, the word from ...

Right Wing World

Robert Mackey of the New York Times: "The news that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes by Egyptian protesters ... as she left the U.S. consulate in Alexandria on Sunday, delighted conservative bloggers in the United States.... The extent to which the Egyptians who vented their rage ... appear to have been inspired by fears that the Obama administration harbors a secret, pro-Islamist agenda which originated with American conservatives." CW: Michele Bachmann is laughable, but she can do real harm to U.S. international relations, and that ain't so funny.

News Ledes

Fed Chair Ben Bernanke urges Congress to get off the "fiscal cliff":

The Do-Nothing Fed Urges the Do-Nothing Congress to Do Something. New York Times: "The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Tuesday that the Fed was seeking greater clarity about the health of the recovery, suggesting that officials were not ready to approve another round of stimulus." ...

... New York Times: "Senate Democrats -- holding firm against extending tax cuts for the rich -- are proposing a novel way to circumvent the Republican pledge not to vote for any tax increase: Allow all the tax cuts to expire Jan. 1, then vote on a tax cut for the middle class shortly thereafter."

Washington Post: "William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post whose fiercely independent views illuminated conflicts concerning education, poverty, crime and race, and who was one of the first black journalists to gain a wide following in the mainstream press, died July 17 at his home in Washington. He was 76."

Daily Beast: "The DISCLOSE Act was summarily executed via filibuster in the Senate last night. But this is one symbolic vote that mattered, because it offered at least an attempt to address the flow of hidden money into our elections."

Washington Post: "A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years, the government reported Monday, jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food. Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. Last week, the Agriculture Department declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas."

NBC News: "A 'pervasively polluted' culture at HSBC allowed the bank to act as financier to clients moving shadowy funds from the world's most dangerous and secretive corners, including Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, according to a scathing U.S. Senate report issued on Monday. The report [link to PDF here] which comes ahead of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, said large amounts of Mexican drug money was likely to have passed through the bank."

Washington Post: "Congressional investigators said Monday that the chief counsel's office at the Food and Drug Administration authorized wide-ranging surveillance of a group of the agency's scientists, the first indication that the effort was sanctioned at the highest levels. In a letter to the FDA, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that his staff had learned that the spying was 'explicitly authorized, in writing' by the agency's top legal office."

Reuters: "Retail sales fell in June for the third straight month, the longest run of consecutive drops since 2008 when the country was mired in recession."

Reader Comments (16)

With all of the shit about Bain Capital now spewing forth, Obama definitely has "home court advantage." And Romney is so clearly a Lightweight Richey Rich. Even so--I fear October, when Karl Rove, The Koch Assassins and Sheldon Adelson and their assorted SuperPacs will come out with one or many false, lying, fakey, stupid, incredible, audacious "Swift Boat" ads, which will send Barry and the Democrats reeling.

It is then, and only then, that we will know for sure whether money can buy an election. I hate to be pessimistic. But I tend towards melancholy, so I do believe that RawMoney could "buy" or "steal" this election--especially if the Voter ID laws go into place. And I admit that I am afraid--very, very afraid! ):

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

It is startling to realize that Sheldon Adelson just contributed $5 million to an action fund that primarily benefits Eric Cantor, whose seat is apparently shaky. But how could any Democrat have a chance against that kind of money?
Tellingly, not ONE Republican in the Senate voted to support the Disclose Act.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Sheldon! Can't you hear his mother calling him in for dinner? This squat little man, always with the sly smile as if he harbors deep secrets along with his deep pockets is in trouble. Seems his dealings in Macau weren't on the up and up. "Now, some of the methods Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators, according to people familiar with both inquiries.

Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands." Information can be found on the Maddow blog.

Question: If Romney revealed his past tax information to McCain, wouldn't that be available to everyone? Or someone? Who has that information now?

Victoria's mention of the Cantor situation poses another question: Are we, as a country, determined to make money the sole reason someone gets elected? Is this actually the message here?

Michelle Bachmann and her ilk need to keep their mouths shut and their fingers from outrageous tweeting. I'm thinking here of the old phrase--"Loose lips sink ships"–––very dangerous territory.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Rachel Maddow did an excellent, long piece on Sheldon Adelson and how he made some of his billions through possible corruption on her show last night (Monday). Just the video of people pouring through the doors on the opening of his first casino on Macau is worth watching (Chinese desperate to gamble).
. Maddow's report fully explored Adelson's possible corruption in solidifying his position in Macau, which ultimately netted him billions and allowed him to ride out the down- turn of his gambling interests in Nevada when the economy tanked. He certainly has let the money he made go to his head, as he now thinks he should use it to buy a President, and some members of Congress.
PD Pepe, Michele Bachmann and her ilk certainly do need to keep their mouths shut but will they? I doubt it. The New York Times piece on the effect of these bufoons on encouraging unrest in Egypt, including violence toward our Secretary of State, is chilling. Bachmann is a nit-wit, but a dangerous one. ....and she is not alone. Polls show, by the way, that Bachmann is vulnerable to defeat, but her campaign has raised lots of money. It's hard to escape the conclusion that the money of a few misguided billionaires may shift the results of the 2012 election remarkably.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I'm waiting for someone to say to Mitt: "I knew George Romney and you're no George Romney!"

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

Random thoughts while idly watching the Rat try to escape the trap.

Two things have become clear as technicians stand by, twiddling their thumbs but ready at the drop of a tax return to to drain Swamp Romney.

What we have here, as Strother Martin’s chain gang boss once opined, is a failure to communicate, or rather, connect, a failure noteworthy for its signaling of the near complete victory, by imbeciles, over what used to be the Republican Party.

Here’s the conundrum for any Republican voters with half a brain. Obama must go, correct? They just despise the guy. They hate everything he stands for but also for things he doesn’t stand for, things he is not, hasn’t said, and won’t do. The whole thing is an unholy mess. All they know is they want him gone. Because, well…..BECAUSE. Mind you, these are the people (all six of them) who never bought into the birther thing, don’t believe he’s a Muslim, and mostly hate that they have, against their better judgment, become associated with buffoons like Comb Over Boy, 999 Man, Glassy Eyed Cuckoo Woman, Racist Libertarian Loon, Savonarola, and the Texas Gun Toting Twit.

In fact, their kind of candidate is much more like Willard the Rat: rich, ideologically pliable, pro-business to a fault, a lover of tax loopholes, and agnostic enough on social issues to be pushed around when necessary and not squawk about it.

Unfortunately, the GOP has tied itself in knots trying to be acceptable to the wealthy, who mostly don’t give a Willard the Rat’s ass about civil unions or proper marriages as long as the government leaves them alone to make their billions and doesn’t tax them beyond levels enjoyed by 19th century robber barons (that being ZERO), the drooling, pathologically ideological, non-educated, febrile fanatics, and the equally intransigent, obdurate, fundamentalist harpies, groups that, until relatively recently, had very little use for one another. Somewhere along the way smart guys in the GOP had the idea of bringing these groups together for the sole purpose of Winning the Culture War on one hand and reaping the financial benefits of destroyed unions, deregulation, insider trading, and permanently neutered government watchdogs on the other.

But they’ve been blind to the fallout of such an unholy alliance. The golden years of Dubya’s administration were great for most of them. They made headway on many fronts but there was that little thing about two wars which made many of their victories somewhat artificial. In fact, in the same way that Churchill would likely never have made Prime Minister without the war, Bush would likely never have made up so much ground for the Crazy Right if it wasn’t for 9/11. War provided just the cover they needed to burke many of the gains made by Western Civilization and direct us to a theocratic plutocracy.

Now we have the spectacle of right-wing zealots unhappy with Willard and slapping him around for being—a rich man?—because he’s not apparently as zealous as they or suitably cuckoo enough about the culture wars to satisfy their most bug-eyed thugs.

So the Party of No is whining and carping and bemoaning their fate. Like most bullies, they don’t take well to being pushed back.

They’ve also painted themselves into a barely inhabitable place on the electoral landscape. But they do have two things going for them: Obama Hatred (which they’ll continue to work on) and MONEY (ditto). But in the long run, I’m not sure the center can hold. Because there IS no center in the GOP. It’s a ship listing badly to the right. They don’t want a captain who can steer them straight, only one who will continue to turn the wheel hard to the right and, as anyone who has ever driven a car or been on a bicycle realizes, your passage is now circular. The fact that their only viable candidates for high office have been a collection of clowns, buffoons, and dolts is enormously revealing. And the guy left standing, who, if he hadn’t been such a robot, might have allowed them to pull in independents and apostate Democrats scared off by shrieking weirdos like Bachmann and Santorum, is being pummeled by the Kristols and Murdochs.

This doesn’t mean the Obama people can, like Romney, start issuing invitations to the Inaugural Ball. It does, I think, signal some kind of watershed moment for the GOP.

It’s a Potemkin Party. But a rich one. And even a dying monster can do a lot of damage.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I share Kate Madison's concern. As Akhilleus has pointed out " a dying monster can do a lot of damage." I would add, a cornered animal is the most vicious. We do not yet know the depths of depravity and the volume of lies that can be wielded by huge sums of campaign money in the month of October.
If the Walker recall election is any indicator, MSM in its many forms will end 2012 wallowing in revenue.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

Akhilleus, your recent posts have been my thoughts better expressed. However, I have a question about "burke," which I believe you used as a verb in today's comment. Will you please tell me what it means? (I looked it up, fruitlessly, so don't pull that one on me.)

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

@ Jack: Try "suppress", (in case Akhilleus is busy).

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Jack,

The word means to smother, suffocate, kill. I believe it derives from someone named Burke who was once hanged for murdering his victims without leaving a trace (through suffocation, I assume). I picked it up from word maven David Foster Wallace. Don't feel badly, I didn't know what it meant either, but it's a great word, no?

I've been looking for a good time to use "absquatulate" and, what with hardline conservatives looking to flee from Willard the Impure, that time might be now.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Darn it, Akhilleus, you are using my bugaboo word, "badly"–-of which you and I bandied about last week. Now unless Jack has hurt his fingers doing various and sundry, he does not feel badly--he may, although I think peeved might be a better word, for not knowing what "Burke" meant, feel BAD. You can now call me a smart ass if you wish, I promise I shan't take offense.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

Sorry...I should have been more obvious about it. I had another conversation with someone about this recently. I was the one being a smartass here. Just amusing myself. We did have this conversation recently and I absolutely agree with you. My smartassness comes out in weird ways sometimes.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

AK: Weird ways or not, I think we all have fallen crazy nuts in awe (I dare not say love, but I'd like to) with your gems. And I'll tell you, mister, you can feel as "badly" as you want as long as your fingers can still touch those keys!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Re: Marie; Go with some nice sconces on dimmer switch for room lighting and some well placed cans for area and spot lighting. Call it good and get back to the keyboard. Your letter to the editors was not up to snuff when compared to your normal column retort to Mr. Brooks. Selfish me feels bad and so does Lee when I don't get the full Ms. Burns torch of Mr. Brooks BS.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Great letter, Marie. Doubt they'll do anything though. Too afraid to. It's not coincidence that newspapers, unlike books, don't have spines.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Absquatulate: To cower from reality; to abruptly disappear, as in:
why do so many of my own party want me to implode and disappear?
(These are words I would put in Rmoneys' mouth.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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