The Ledes

Friday, April 18, 2014.

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

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

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


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

Public Service Announcement

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

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, April 17, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

... Reuters is liveblogging of the Ukraine crisis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Live Video
April 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No News, All the Time:

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

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

... This is kinda must-see TV:

Contact the Constant Weader

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Monday
Jun042012

The Commentariat -- June 5, 2012

In Hong Kong's Victoria Park, thousands remember Tiananmen Square. Photo via MSNBC.... James Fallows of the Atlantic: "That so many people would turn out, in a supremely business-minded community that has been legally part of the People's Republic of China for nearly 15 years, to observe the Tiananmen anniversary that is leading to detentions, tightened censorship, and crackdowns in other parts of China, is impressive and heartening. (It also is impressive and heartening that Hong Kong's legal regime remains independent enough to allow such demonstrations and comments, after these nearly 15 years.)"

Quote of the Day. Conservatives seem to believe that the rich will work harder if we give them more, and the poor will work harder if we give them less. -- E. J. Dionne, Washington Post

CW: I just couldn't stomach David Brooks today (and I tried), but Dean Baker does a very nice job of flaying a part of Brooks' latest nonsense.

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Congressional Democrats & the White House engaged in "an unusual example of all-hands-on-deck coordination ... in advance of a key procedural vote on the [Paycheck Fairness Act] set for Tuesday.... The bill came up for a procedural vote in the Senate in 2010 and failed, as no Republican supported it. It heads to the Senate floor again on Tuesday for another procedural vote to begin debate; it is expected to fail once again.... The paycheck legislation seems to have vexed the Romney campaign -- Mr. Romney will not state clearly whether he supports it." CW: the gist of the report seems to be to diss Democrats for being uniformly behind a bill that would help women in the workplace. Nice work, Steinhauer.

"Our Imbecilic Constitution." Sheldon Levinson, in a New York Times "Campaign Stop": "... the Constitution is enveloped in near religious veneration. (Indeed, Mormon theology treats it as God-given.) ... What was truly admirable about the framers was their willingness to critique, indeed junk, the Articles of Confederation. One need not believe that the Constitution of 1787 should be discarded in quite the same way to accept that we are long overdue for a serious discussion about its own role in creating the depressed (and depressing) state of American politics." Sorry, don't know how I missed this one, but it has not reached its use-by date. Plus, another reason not to vote for Brother Willard.

Steve Benen: Chris Hayes gives Mann & Ornstein some airtime, after other news talkshows rebuff the scholars, who have written a book -- and some essays -- fingering Congressional Republicans as the real obstructionists.

Joe Nocera has not been palling around with Wall Street terrorists quite so much lately. Today it dawns on him that labor unions were a major factor in reducing income inequality in the last century. No kidding.

CW: You wouldn't know it from reading Larry Summers' jargon-laden op-ed in the Washington Post, but the headline writer helpfully titled the piece "It is time for governments to borrow more money." I fee so much better knowing Larry doesn't feel he has to talk down to me. Jerk.

Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times: "As the European crisis intensifies, a growing number of companies in the United States are warning investors that sales in the region are slowing and could get much worse."

Greg Sargent thinks voters are too dense to appreciate the argument that Republicans are sabotaging the economy. I'm not so sure. I wouldn't make sabotage my main campaign theme, but Democrats should hold Republicans accountable, in part, for the lousy economy. On the other hand,

Presidential Race

The Republican Congress and their nominee for President, Gov. Romney, have adopted Europe's economic policies. Their economic policy is austerity and unemployment now, and then a long term budget that would explode the debt when the economy recovers so the interest rates would be so high, nobody would be able to do anything. -- Former President Bill Clinton, at a fundraiser with President Obama & finally getting with the program (for now) ...

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: former President Bill Clinton, appearing with President Obama at fundraisers in New York City, tried to clean up his earlier remarks praising Mitt Romney's business acumen. ...

... Roger Simon of Politico has quite a good take on Bill Clinton, campaign surrogate: he's "out of control." ...

... Why can't Clinton be more like Ed Gillespie? -- whom Michael Scherer of Time nominates for Best Surrogate for his performance on Chris Wallace's show Sunday. What a performance!

Mitt Romney Explains Why He Is Running for President. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "According to an analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would save himself $5 million in taxes in 2013 by winning November's election (assuming he could get his tax plan enacted into law)."

When Willard Loved the Individual Mandate. Mark Maremont of the Wall Street Journal gets his hands on a few e-mails the Gov. Romney team accidentally forgot to destroy.

Local News

Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "... in court last week, one of [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker's closest confidants contradicted the Governor's claim that he's been fully cooperative with the [corruption] investigation, which has already claimed three of Walker's former staffers and associates. The probe is aimed at locating government officials who engaged in a range of criminal activities while employed by Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. Tim Russell, an old Walker adviser who has himself been charged with felony embezzlement, told a local reporter that Walker has not been cooperative with the corruption probe. In fact, Russell's information shows that Walker has been 'stonewalling' investigators." ...

... PolitiScoop: "Scott Walker's closest political aide has just been named in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Monday as the source of damaging revelations that undermine Walker's claim that he has cooperated with the John Doe criminal corruption probe into his current and former administrations." Thanks to reader Jeanne B. for the link. ...

... Charles Pierce has the whole story & tells it as only Charles Pierce can. ...

... AND Obama finally gets with the program:

... AP: "President Barack Obama's press secretary says the president hopes Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett beats Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Tuesday's recall election."

Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Tuition and fees this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison would top $10,000 for in-state students, and UW-Milwaukee would be close behind, if a recommended 5.5% tuition increase is approved by the Board of Regents this week." CW: I've linked this only because it shocked me. When I went to the UW-Madison in 1962, in-state tuition was $300/year. Even adjusted for inflation, the 1962 fee would be $2,255 today.

News Ledes

New York Times: "In a hard-fought race that pitted two Democrats and onetime friends against each other, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. won the primary in the Ninth Congressional District on Tuesday. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Pascrell had 64 percent of the vote, beating Representative Steve Rothman, with 36 percent, according to The Associated Press."

Los Angeles Times: "U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) leaped to a commanding lead against 23 little-known challengers, according to absentee ballot returns Tuesday night. Feinstein captured about 51% of the early balloting, assuring her a place in the general election under the state's new 'top-two' primary rules. Autism activist Susan Emken, a Republican, polled about 12% of the absentee tally, making her the early favorite to face Feinstein in the fall."

NBC News projects Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has survived the recall effort @ 9:55 pm ET. Update: Wisconsin GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch also holds her seat @ 10:15 pm ET. Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald projected to survive recall @ 10:40 pm ET.

New York Times: "Al Qaeda's deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, was killed in a drone strike in northern Pakistan, an American official confirmed on Tuesday, in the biggest single success in the controversial campaign's eight-year history in the country."

Boston Globe: "Senate Democrats lost a key vote Tuesday to expand rights of working women to challenge employers on pay discrimination.... Democrats mustered 52 votes for passage, far short of the 60 needed to block a GOP-led filibuster. All 47 Republicans opposed the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted with Republicans as a procedural tactic to allow him to again bring up the measure."

Guardian: "Syria has severed almost all its remaining diplomatic links with the west, declaring that envoys from the US and most of western Europe were no longer welcome in Damascus, in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of Syrian diplomats last week. The Assad regime announced that 17 diplomats from the US, UK, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany and Canada were considered 'personae non gratae' as well as the entire Turkish mission in Damascus."

Guardian: "One of the highest-profile prosecutions stemming from the Iraq war period is to go ahead after the US supreme court refused to dismiss manslaughter and weapons charges against four employees of the private security company Blackwater Worldwide. Supreme court justices declined to review a ruling by a US appeals court that reinstated the criminal charges against the guards for their involvement in the incident, in which 17 Iraqi civilians died and 20 were wounded."

The New York Times has a liveblog of the Wisconsin election. ...

... Los Angeles Times: "As Wisconsin residents decide today whether Gov. Scott Walker keeps his job, reports have surfaced of automated calls instructing voters who signed the recall petition that they don't need to cast a vote to oust the controversial governor." ...

... Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Over 200 students statewide reported confusion at the polls Tuesday and many left without casting a vote, according to the League of Women Voters. 'We know there has been disenfranchisement. We know this has happened. We know students left their polling places without voting,' said Carolyn Castore, the League's coordinator for the statewide election protection hotline." ...

... AP: "Regardless of the outcome, Wisconsin voters will make history today. Either Gov. Scott Walker will become only the third governor in U.S. history to be removed from office before his term is up, or he'll be the first to survive such a challenge." The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's election day coverage is here. ...

... ABC News has a rundown of contests in other states.

New York Times: "Pressed by a banking crisis and turmoil in the markets, Germany has indicated that it is prepared to accept a grand bargain that would provide greater support for its most indebted euro zone partners in exchange for more centralized control over government spending in Europe."

New York Times: "In late April, the military's Special Operations Command presented the State Department and Congress with an urgent request for new authority to train and equip security forces in places like Yemen and Kenya.... But in a rare rebuke to [Admiral William McRaven] and his command, powerful House and Senate officials as well as the State Department, and ultimately the deputy cabinet-level aides who met at the White House on the issue on May 7, rejected the changes."

Washington Post: "The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that Secret Service agents are shielded from a lawsuit brought by a man who said his free speech rights were violated when he was arrested after confronting then-Vice President Dick Cheney."

AP: "A federal appeals court in San Francisco plans to announce Tuesday if it will rehear a legal challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban or send the landmark case on to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday it was ready to reveal whether a majority of its actively serving judges has agreed or refused to reconsider a February ruling by two of its member judges declaring the ban unconstitutional." ...

     ... NBC News Update: "A federal appeals court said Tuesday it will not rehear arguments on California's Proposition 8, meaning the final word on the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court."

New York Times: "The Walt Disney Company, in an effort to address concerns about entertainment's role in childhood obesity, plans to announce on Tuesday that all products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites must comply with a strict new set of nutritional standards."

AP: "Despite his repeated efforts to delay it, Jerry Sandusky's child molestation trial was set to begin with the start of jury selection, as prosecutors and his defense lawyers choose 12 people from the area around Penn State to decide his guilt or innocence."

AP: "Crowds cheering 'God save the queen!' and pealing church bells greeted Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday as she arrived for a service at St. Paul's Cathedral on the last of four days of celebrations of her 60 years on the throne. Poignantly, the queen was without Prince Philip, her husband of 64 years, who was hospitalized on Monday for treatment of a bladder infection."

Reuters: "Lawyers for George Zimmerman ... said on Monday they would ask a judge to release him from jail again after his bail was revoked last week."

Reader Comments (22)

The long knives are out for Scott Walker. If he survives, the neocons, aided and abetted by the Roberts court, will have cemented their position in our politics. We have already rued the day. The only question left is: How can we progressives build a movement that can defeat the neo-gilded age? And how can we build it in a media environment that largely has abandoned real investigative reporting for pablum and trite reporting? Maybe its time to occupy the MSM. Keep yelling at Wall Street but start yelling at GE and the other owners of the mainstream news outlets. And make it loud enough that it can't be buried. Only way to put a 21st century progressive movement on the radar imo.

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

@DaveS, I agree with you but there is a part of me that thinks that the only way out for America is to have the the Republicans win. It will be 4 years of hell but maybe the majority will finally wake up. And the fun part is the MSM will really be punished by the new depression.
No business, no ads, no income.
And note that in case you wonder about the ability to live in delusion, as Clinton noted, in Europe we had a serious test case of the Republican strategy and it failed big time. The Europeans have started to catch on, and the Germans will finally get it when there is nobody who wants to buy anything, German or otherwise. Of course in the USA, I bet that half the population never heard of the euro.

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@Marvin Schwalb-

I was born and raised in Wisconsin--when the LaFollette tradition prevailed--and I disagree with you that the Republicans (i.e., Scotty SlyWalker) have to win to show us all how bad things can get before we wake up and smell the coffee. My position is that things are that bad already!

I am quite peeved that Obama and Co. have not seen the necessity of "showing up" in Wisconsin to speak up for Tom Barrett--another cautious misjudgment by Obama. Does he (they) not see that a big speech in Wisconsin could WIN THE DAY and be good for his chances in November? Yikes!

As it goes, I am pessimistic that a 7-1 spending advantage (which is what Walker has over Barrett) can bring good tidings. That said: Wisconsin citizens are an amazing lot. They are unconventional and progressive in the best of ways, and mostly do not like dishonest creeps. How then did they vote for the crazoid who beat Russ Feingold? I cannot explain that beyond Democratic apathy and outside rightwing money pouring in--as it is for Scotty SlyWalker.

Not sure what my point is, except that I am very worried about the election tomorrow and think that a Walker victory bodes ill for the Democrats in November--and for Amurica in general. We will see the beginnings of the future of Citizens' United. Evil. Just plain evil.
And sad.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Marvin,

Part of me would like to believe that you're right about the therapeutic outcome, at long last, of a Republican victory. Except for this: the right has been plotting for a complete and total takeover of this country for nearly 60 years. And they're nearly there.

They're outside now huffing and puffing the threatening to blow the house down. And if it were just the big bad wolf out there I'd say our house might just weather the bluster.

But it isn't.

It's huge portions of the media. It's most of the Supreme Court. It's an enormous raft of traitors in the House of Representatives. It's the massed conglomeration of racists, haters, teabaggers, birthers, talk radio nuts, and intellectual isolationists. It's fundamentalists, nearly every right-wing Christian in the country. It's the dissemblers, the propagandists, the liars, the screamers, the misogynists, the mentally challenged ditto-heads. It's the chrome plated scumbag money men, the Scaifes, the Kochs, the Trumps.

There is an awesome array of forces lined up against the United States as we know (or have known) it and they're not going away. Once they're in the house they will not be easily evicted. Perhaps if this were another time in our history, I could be a bit more sanguine about that, but not today.

Citizens United is pretty much a Win Every Election card which won't be easy to undermine especially given the largely moribund and disinterested state of the average voter. Plus, even if such a catastrophe were to arouse the anger of that 49% who never vote at all, by the time they wake up it may be too late. The Jeb Bushes and Karl Roves will have permanently relieved them of the franchise. They may not ever again be allowed to vote. Only the chosen will get the vote. Only the approved media will be allowed to spout the party line. Only those marching in lockstep with Texas school boards who are rewriting American history according to the troglodytes will be rewarded with enough money to mount the kind of campaign necessary to win.

If we lose this time around, there may not be another time.

If the forces of evil win, it may be a long, long, long time before anyone who doesn't drink the right-wing kool-aid gets a shot at power. It's taken them many years and hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars to get to this point. They want it all.

And I say "Fuck them."

I say we don't go down without a fight.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

There's so much to say about the Believers, those weak people whose only strength is not the courage but the uninformed fervency of their convictions.

The Constitutional originalists are simply fundamentalists of another stripe, people who hew to an absolutist belief system so that they don't have to think about anything for themselves because God or The Founders already did all their thinking for them. In addition to meeting the requirements of intellectual laziness, adherence to Received Wisdom bathes the Believer in the reflected glory and power of the Sacred and Revered, a light so blinding that few notice when they fudge an interpretation of that Wisdom here and there to serve their naked self-interest.

As Akhilleus says, not giants but dwarves, timid, cowrin' beasties in fact and in deed, supercilious, autocratic, hypocritical, but most of all scared, like most of those who support them. Reality frightens they daylights out of them.

Guess we'll see how many in Wisconsin like to cower by tomorrow night.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

akhilleus I agree with your statement but having laid out the problem, what is the solution? What will it take to get the 49% to wake up and vote? Why does spending 7x lying have an impact? The Republican advantage is ignorance promoted by laziness. Paul Krugman has it right? Who the hell is he? The Republicans own 25% of the population, your 'massed conglomeration'. The Democrats own 25%. The other 50% (voters or not) are bought by whatever makes it easy for them to blame. Facts don't count. Facts require brains and homework. Not in America.
P.S. Remember, Bachmann, Cain, Trump and Santorum were actually running for POTUS. And to me the whole story of America is that Michele Bachmann is an ELECTED congresswomen.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marvin,

Sad to say but you're correct. And, at one time or another, Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry were leading polls that asked voters who should be president of the United States. That is a scary proposition indeed. I suppose a little history might help. There have always been kooks in Congress. Our political past is littered with what popular historians like to call "colorful characters". And some of them did indeed run for higher office. In my younger days I would look to the essential goodness of the American people but these days that essence, in many, has been tainted by a generation of hate and lies spewed incessantly by media and our own "colorful characters" who stay relentlessly on point: government is bad, liberals lie, Democrats are profligate spenders, taxation is stealing, rich people and corporations are your friends (this would have been news to most people during the first Republican spawned depression), unions are evil (another news flash to millions back in the day). So how do we counter the lies, the subterfuge, the mendacity and the cringing creepiness of the vision of a right-wing controlled world? It would really help, as Kate suggests, for the president and Democrats to start singing from the same freaking hymnal for once. Hammer home the necessary talking points that demonstrate the undemocratic nature of Republican policies. Hammer home the economic reality of the situation. "Who the hell is Paul Krugman?" is a very good question. If it's too difficult to introduce Joe Sixpack to the good professor, then lay it out for him. If Romney wins he may be drinking that sixpack under a bridge. And it's likely he won't even have enough to buy a sixpack because he won't have a job or a home. Scare tactics have been used cynically by the right for decades. Now, though, voters have something too be truly scared of.

Willard the Rat and his army of crony capitalists and vicious liars in congress.

The right loves to play the "They're Stealing You FREEEEEDDDOOOMMMMM" card whenever they get stuck.

Well, that's exactly what they're planning on. And people need to hear it.

I guess, as Nino Scalia says, we can all just get us each a soap box and a megaphone. It's just the same, according to the Five Little Dwarfs, as a hundred million dollar corporate sponsored smear campaign.

All eyes on Wisconsin today.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Re: On Wisconsin...Commentators here are old, wise, know the past and fear for the future. Not so typical for the general public. I, on the other paw, am Joe Sixpack. I am that laborer you hold up as an example of the great unwashed. I am the guy that doesn't vote because "voting for one is the same as voting for none." I see my paycheck stub taxes and wonder how the money is spent. My charity extends to my family and church. My knowledge comes from the MSM and my pastor. My world is so small and limited in scope I can't see outside my backyard.
Given that profile why would you all be surprised at the outcome of todays vote? Better still: How can the old and the wise enlighten my kind? Not by ridicule.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

akhilleus, it certainly would help if the Democrats opened their mouths and nailed the assholes. I don't know why they don't. And Obama has a huge advantage. When he speaks, the MSM has to report it without paying for a commercial. When the campaign becomes official, maybe we will have a miracle and see a real leader.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

JJG,

Certainly not by ridicule. But by constantly hammering home the facts about which many voters are in the dark and kept that way by most of the MSM, with the hope that at some point some of it sticks and plants at least some small seed of doubt that what they've been sold for years as gold is nothing but pyrite.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

The remedy is in process. Unfortunately it will take several decades and most of us will miss the end of the story.
Roosevelt was pure luck and we will not be that lucky again. Only wide spread misery, fear, poverty, hunger and despair will create the climate needed to support real change and the large increases in expenditures and revenue needed.
Only a few years of Republican reverse Robin Hood practices will create economic chaos. We know that protesters will be treated as terrorists and the laws and courts and police are in place to control them
In the end, the future of Freedom will depend on the answer to this question, will American police shoot American citizens?
My guess is yes. "Some say the world will end in fire, some say ice."

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@JJG, the old and wise have no mechanism for enlightening "your kind". This is the person you are and nothing short of hell will wake you up to reality. When your grandparents or great grandparents were introduced to hell by Herbert Hoover, they woke up. But over time, you have again hidden from reality, made much easier by the new environment.

P.S. Telling the truth when it is not pleasant is not ridicule. It's annoying, maybe even insulting but it is still just the truth and hiding from the truth is what it is all about.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

There were some of us who warned that George Bush's obsession with Iraq was going to end very badly; the "regular guys" ignored us.

There were many who warned that Bush's tax cuts that favored the wealthy would not create jobs; we were right; we were ignored and even ridiculed in "American" bars and living rooms from coast to coast.

Economists such as Paul Krugman warned from the middle of the decade that a real estate bubble had formed, was getting dangerously large, and could cause real pain if it burst; the "sensible people" ignored the professor because they liked what they heard from others like Glenn Beck, that America was so very prosperous because the deity loved it better than the other kids.

Other liberal warnings: The stimulus was too small (Krugman, Stiglitz, and others), austerity in the face of a depressed economy will just make things worse (same guys), Afghanistan will continue to suck the life and fortune of America into a sink hole (just about everybody I know).

After each of these warnings, the ridicule has flown fast and thick. If you're really "Joe Sixpack," it's likely that you participated in the Hannity/O'Reilly/Scarborough orgy of derisive laughter.

Well, here's a tip: If you're going to ridicule, it's better to have been right. The idea that "Joe Sixpack" will resist actions designed to improve his life because those actions are supported by "the elite" who may or may not think that he is a masochistic fool, well, proves the point, doesn't it?

Don't choose an action for the company; do so for the effect. Get over it, as the faith healer was wont to say.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Assuming that 4 years of Republican hell would be enough to wake up the masses and bring them back into the light, is assuming that they will still have the right to vote at the end of 4 years. That's an assumption that I'm not willing to make.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

On a side note, since we're talking about reverse Robin Hoods like Willard the Rat and his merry band of vultures, I tried to read the Larry Summers op-ed Marie linked to above but just couldn't get through it.

Why?

Because he's such a fucking dick. That's why. Last night I stayed up way too late to watch (again--talk about masochism!) the Frontline special on the economic meltdown. At one point a clip comes on showing Summers standing at a podium, grinning. He pulls on a leash and out comes Bill Clinton to announce the repeal of Glass-Steagall (done in by another bill promoted by the absolute devil himself, Phil Gramm, someone whose eminent participation in the economic debacle has largely been hidden or ignored by the MSM).

Clinton, with Summers standing next to him, smug expression barely hiding his glee in throwing open the doors to the vault to all his buddies in the financial industries, announces a 'modernization' of banking. It was, in fact, its Waterloo. Well, not really. It was Waterloo for taxpayers. The financial industry came through in flying colors. It's as if the guys who set the town on fire have been given all the money collected from the now homeless and destitute townspeople and put up in the mansions on the hill that escaped the conflagration. Everyone else is forced to carry the arsonists through the streets so they won't get their alligator leather shoes muddy. And Larry Summers handed them the match.

But wait, it gets better. Soon after the repeal of Glass-Steagall, some regulators who actually cared about taxpayers, like Brooksley Born, and who were beginning to look carefully at things like credit default swaps and derivative trading were backstabbed by Summers who fought tooth and nail against any possible oversight of the derivative markets.

The guy is vermin.

So why would anyone waste their eyesight or their hearing, reading or listening to anything he has to say?

That is, unless and until he stands in a box in a courtroom and says the words "I plead guilty, your honor, to dereliction of duty, malfeasance, setting up the American public, allowing my cronies in the banking industry to commit fraud and theft, and letting them steal from taxpayers. Oh, and being a dick."

I'd listen to that.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The forces of darkness (aka: Republican Dirty Trick Squads) are out in force in Wisconsin doing whatever they can to make sure that actual democracy has no chance of affecting the outcome of the recall. The biggest trick is to arrange (with money sluiced in via some Citizens United sump pump) for hundreds of thousands of robo-calls to anyone who signed the recall petition. That's over a million voters. The call tells them that since they signed the petition, that will count as their vote and there's no need to go to the polls.

I wonder how the Joe Sixpacks feel about dirty tricks like this? Are they okay with this sort of thing? Because if so, if they, like the charlatans they vote for are fine with stealing elections and denying others the right to vote either by hook or by crook, then they're no better than these creeps. But if they truly do believe there should be fairness in America, especially where elections are concerned, they should speak up. And the media should be right on top of yet another naked and fraudulent power grab by the right.

Of course Scotty and his tribe deny any responsibility (see, because Republicans are all about responsibility. Just not their own) but are happy as snakes in a shithole if it suppresses the vote.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I'm torn, or maybe at heart I'm one of the creeps. If what Akhilleus says about WI dirty tricks is true (forgive me, Akhilleus, but it seems too outrageous a plan to be believed) and a million people don't vote because they've been told their signature on a petition will be counted as their ballot, well then that kind of stupidity almost deserves to lose. On the other hand - wouldn't such a trick be illegal, as being worthy of JAIL? Hell, calling a million people must leave enough evidence around the routers at AT&T that even Holder could get a conviction.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

Haley,

I'm not sure Holder could convict these criminals, but not even Walker's people are denying the robo-calls. They are
, however, shocked that anyone Would accuse him of such perfidy. The story is on Salon.

I might be tempted to agree with your assessment of those who might be taken in by such skullduggery until I think about the stakes and recall rank Republican hypocrisy about their love of American democracy. If only a few thousand voters succumb to Republican lies about this election and stay home, that could be more than enough for them to steal yet another big election and distort the tenor of political discussion in across the nation. These are people are as serious as an eviction notice. They play dirty and they don't give a rat's ass about legality. Not much different than what Jeb Bush did in Florida in 2000 to help his brother steal the presidency by spreading disinformation in Democratic voting districts. Is this sort of thing illegal? I'm pretty sure it constitutes fraud but good luck finding Walker's guardian devils.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Sorry for all the typos. I'd blame Karl Rove if I could but it's more a case of fat fingers, small iPhone.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Joseph Stiglitz has a must read in today's Guardian Do not miss it.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Oh, and as for AT&T routers, the best (cheapest way) to pull this off is to place the calls through voice over IP services. Any respectable hacker could bounce calls around multiple IPs making them virtually untraceable. Five guys working out of their basement with an MP3 file could do it.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Carlysle,

Stiglitz was also a guest on Fresh Air today.

http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/

Akhillieus, That doesn't surprise. Walker's known for dirty tricks at the polls going back to his college days. The man is a vile criminal and it seems everything he says is a lie. Pierce has good piece today describing a conversation with a postal worker that illustrates just how bamboozled the Joe Sixpacks that populate the GOP base are by "the politics of envy" (Thanks Mitt!) that GOP are so good at fomenting.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS
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