The Ledes

Sunday, February 14, 2016.

Weather Channel: "A blast of bitter cold arctic air has brought the coldest temperatures in decades to some Northeast cities Valentine's Day morning."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President spoke from the place where his political career first began in the Illinois State Senate ... [about] the state of American politics":

White House Live Video
February 11

1:00 pm ET: NOBEL Women presents Girls, Gigabytes & Gadgets

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

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

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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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