The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador’s embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 3

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today (as of 9:45 am ET).

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

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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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