The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Tuesday
Jun192012

The Commentariat -- June 20, 2012

... Colbert Krugman Edition

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the unresponsiveness of the Democratic party to American workers. The NYTX front page is here.

** "Follow the Dark Money." Andy Kroll of Mother Jones on "the down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters." CW: haven't read it yet, but it looks like a winner.

CPAN has the video of President Obama's remarks at his press conference yesterday; the transcript is here.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said. The bureau's highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI's representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA."

Isn't That Special? Chris Frates of the National Journal: "The Cato Institute and prominent Republican donors Charles and David Koch are set to settle their legal fight over control of the libertarian think tank, ending a high-profile dispute that split the conservative movement. 'Looks like we've come to an accommodation with the Koch brothers,' Cato founder and President Ed Crane said in a Tuesday e-mail to employees."

... I can't embed the BBC interview of Paul Krugman which contributor Dave S. recommended, so as a second-best -- and on a different topic -- here's Krugman on Rachel Maddow's show:

... AND. It's Krugman Week on PBS. Here's the first of five installments:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Meeting in the desert scrub of Mexico's Baja region..., the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 eschewed specific commitments, instead limiting themselves to more generalized promises to invest in public works, overhaul labor markets and use innovation, education and infrastructure investment to fuel economic growth. A more detailed plan to address Europe's crisis is expected to emerge next week after a European summit meeting in Brussels." ...

... Shaila Dewan & Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 657,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas. With the economy expanding, albeit slowly, state tax revenues have started to recover and are estimated to exceed prerecession levels next year. Yet governors and legislatures are keeping a tight rein on spending, whether to refill depleted rainy-day funds or because of political inclination."

Maureen Dowd recounts the testimony of Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife. If Cairo is in Illinois, De Nile must be in Pennsylvania. One thing that comes out from the testimony: the "constant wife" resented -- and still resents -- the kids Jerry "allegedly" abused.

Charles Pierce interviews Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) about the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United & Montana's anti-corruption campaign finance law. Entertaining.

Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown today rejected a debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, after the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy refused his precondition that she not endorse a candidate in his reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren." ...

     ... Markos Moulitsas: "... telling the widow to shut the hell up? That's ... unforgivable."

Presidential Race

** Dana Milbank seldom gets serious. Today is an exception: "Under the Obama presidency..., conservative leaders are encouraging the vulgarity -- if not joining in by heckling the president from the House floor. The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, recently shared a stage with Donald Trump only hours after the buffoon tycoon had again floated the disproved allegation that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among many such episodes before that, Romney failed to challenge a supporter who suggested to him that Obama 'should be tried for treason.' ... When conservatives sanction the debasement of Obama, they are debasing the presidency itself." Plus, Tucker Carlson should fire Neil Munro for heckling the President.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. The report, prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts, marks the first attempt to quantify the trade-offs inherent in the GOP tax package, which would replace the current tax structure with two brackets -- 25 percent and 10 percent -- and cut the top rate from 35 percent."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post manages to write a positive story about Romney & Bain Capital, riffing off the photo above.

Peter Baker & Michael Cooper of the New York Times sort of fact-check the presidential candidates. Both sides do it, blah-blah.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama's campaign will begin airing two TV ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor.... Independent fact checkers have examined Romney's record on the outsourcing issue and taxes/fee hikes and found neither to be as black and white as the Obama campaign ads suggest." Here's one of the ads:

Tales of the WaWa. In that MSNBC creative editing story I linked yesterday, I mentioned that what Romney said was "amazing" was actually an anecdote he'd told earlier, not the bit about how you get your sandwiches at WaWa. Well, it turns out the backstory is "amazing" because it's 100 percent untrue -- just crap Romney heard or made up to fit his point. In the anecdote that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, Romney said,

I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other. Same zip code. Same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursement for the services he provides for the poor and seniors. The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long.

     ... Apparently Romney was talking about a Medicaid form that's two pages long. TWO. If it turns out Romney's implausible story is right, Greg Sargent will get back to us. Don't hold your breaths.

Gene Robinson: "... if taking action on the immigration issue is good politics for Obama and the Democrats, then Republicans have only themselves to blame. The GOP has made a conscious decision to offer nativists and xenophobes a comfortable home where their extremist views go unchallenged.... It's tiresome having to spend so much time trying to figure out what Romney really believes. If anything, I mean." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Even as [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is signaling that the party will wait for Romney's direction on the [immigration] issue, however, a handful of House Republicans are moving forward by introducing bills that would block enforcement of Obama's new policy.... Can Republicans leaders possibly want any bills to be on the table that would reverse Obama's order?"

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney told reporters here Tuesday that his vice presidential search team is vetting Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), revealing that one of the Republican Party's biggest young stars is under consideration to be his running mate.... Romney's comments came after ABC News reported that his search team had not asked Rubio to complete a questionnaire or submit any personal financial documents.... Romney strongly denied the ABC report, which was attributed to two anonymous sources."

Colbert discovers an election conspiracy. Thanks to Kate M. for the link:

AND. The presidential candidates try out campaign slogans:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation 'Fast and Furious,' hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents."

Washington Post: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed a program designed to provide a push to economic growth amid a warning that hiring is slowing. The Fed said it would extend 'Operation Twist,' a program that seeks to reduce long-term interest rates, through the end of the year. The decision was a sign that the Fed is not pulling back from its years-long campaign to support the U.S. economy." New York Times story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Defense attorneys in the Jerry Sandusky trial rested their case today without calling their client to the stand -- forgoing his chance to counter a mountain of devastating testimony from men who said he molested them as boys. The judge said the court would be in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, after which closing arguments would begin. Once deliberations start, the jury will be sequestered."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "After 11 days of deliberations, jurors at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial of two Philadelphia priests said Wednesday they were deadlocked on all but one count. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina immediately pressed them to keep trying."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Tuesday that the fate of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should be left to the hands of the Syrians, saying that no one country has the right to tell another people whom [sic.] their leader should be."

AP: "The three parties that back Greece's commitments to bailout creditors have agreed in principle to form a coalition government and are negotiating the final details, officials said Wednesday."

AP: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is beyond the grasp of British authorities as long as he is holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, the government said Wednesday. But he faces arrest if he steps outside. Police said Assange had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and 'is now subject to arrest.' Police officers were stationed Wednesday outside the Edwardian apartment block that houses the small South American country's London embassy."

AP: "Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds."

Reader Comments (7)

Good eXaminer essay Marie. But I continue to believe that no matter how much pressure you put on Obama, including randomly hitting him with a stick, you're only going to get that wussy centrist claptrap out of him.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Glad to see Paul K getting so much exposure. Many will turn a deaf ear but not all. What will be will be, but maybe, just maybe enough people will listen this time to ward off the extremists. One only needs to look to Hungary to see the future if we continue down this path. That said: I thought the Colbert interview was a farce. But of course that's what he does and he plugged the book to a large audience. I was somewhat disappointed in the PBS interview because it looked like an attack and less an honest examination (link at his blog). Maybe I need to watch it again, I missed the very beginning. His BBC appearance was a good interview and I think the best of this spate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18500853

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Marie: Great eXaminer column today, also frightening. Brings back the feeling that we Democrats are in a lose, lose. The public and conventional wisdom are nowhere near ready for the huge steps needed to restore the middle class, the workers of America, and judicial and education equality.
More Obama is not going to cut it, He must lose.
With the tea party in control of the Suit Romney and the Congress, the country will soon be an economic disaster, the public will be frightened, helpless and like alcoholics be at a bottom ready for a new leader and ready to finally reject the tea party and the pain of austerity.
A plan to expand expenditures five percent while raising revenue ten percent would probably let us do the things needed to restore the economy. There are a hundred things that can be done once the foolishness of self inflicted damage is over.
First a lot of pain in the "dear school" of experience, then with luck, thirty years of good government.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@DaveS. Thanks for the link. That is a good, no bullshit interview of Krugman. And while rummaging around the BBC site, I watched some interesting takes with the Watergate women and a David Frost interview of Margaret Mitchell. Only wish Rosemary Woods had been included among the women.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

For fun: Read Hilary Mantel's " Bring up the Bodies." It is 1536 and Parliament rejects a new poor law.
Quoting Thomas Cromwell or perhaps Hilary Mantel: " It was too much for the commons to digest, that rich men might have some duty to the poor; that if you get fat as gentlemen of England do on the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off the land, the labourers without labour, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges. Men need work. It is a shame to see them begging their bread, when honest labour could keep the realm secure, Can we not put them together, the hands and the task?"
Parliament responds; "God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising, to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the workshy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality: well are there not hangmen enough?"
Cromwell again: "The commons. God rot them. They never think higher that their pockets"
!536 mind you. We have made little progress.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

In other news, as a complement in outrageousness to their well documented rapacity as outlined in previous comments, Republicans rip current Democratic attorney general for minor case while ignoring horrifying laundry list of felonies and treasonous acts by previous Republican attorney general.

Fast and Furious, a stupid sounding idea begun by the Bush “Justice” department (almost everything to do with the Bush years needs quotes or some kind of parenthetical aside), has been picked up and hung to dry around Eric Holder’s neck. Holder himself is not exactly the poster boy for an exceptional attorney general, but the previous occupant of that position, Alberto Gonzales was easily the most corrupt, treacherous, mendacious, sleazy, scumbag of an attorney general in US history.

But where was the highly moralistic Mr. Darrell Issa when Gonzales was conducting a Republican ordered putsch of the Justice Department? Where was all this outrage when he authorized illegal surveillance of American citizens? No umbrage over torture? No demand for his dismissal after repeatedly lying under oath to congress? No calls for impeachment after years of treason? Not to mention the outrageous manipulation attempted on previous attorney general John Ashcroft to allow Bush to illegally spy on Americans, while Ashcroft lay drugged up in a hospital bed after surgery. These heinous acts far surpass the largely small focus Fast and Furious debacle.

But not for Republicans. Because they’ll put you in prison for decades for stealing a loaf of bread if you’re a democrat or liberal, but if you’re a bank CEO and steal billions from taxpayers, or start a war based on lies, or buy up perfectly good companies then fire all the employees and sell off the assets to line your own pockets they put you in the Right Wing Hall of Fame.

Pigs.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I found Andy Kroll's piece in "Mother Jones" really, really good. It's long, but I encourage you all to read it. I had no idea that it took seven years to get McCain/Feingold to pass and then in a swift slight of hand the Supremes just abolished it. And as long as we are bringing up once again Cromwell, what he implored to Thomas More seems apt here:

"I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken?"

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.