The Ledes

Friday, July 31, 2015.

AP: "Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, defeating the bid from Almaty[,Kazakhstan,] in a surprisingly close vote to become the first city awarded both the winter and summer games."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

New York Times: "The commander of a group of Syrian fighters trained by the United States has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, his group said in a statement Thursday. The commander, Nadeem Hassan, and seven of his fighters were taken by the Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State in Syria, as they were returning from a meeting in Turkey."

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

Public Service Announcement

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

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

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

White House Live Video
July 30

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically-correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

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Thursday
Jun072012

The Commentariat -- June 8, 2012

** "The Triumph of Radical Individualism." Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "Conservatives have succeeded in convincing working- and middle-class people not just that they shouldn't feel solidarity with other members of their class, but that they shouldn't feel solidarity with anyone at all. It required a lot of work, particularly when you consider how much they rely on encouraging feelings of tribalism in other realms, like nationhood, religion, and region. But the conservative message on economics has always been brutally individualistic, essentially arguing that in the economic realm, no one is meaningfully connected to anyone in any way."

Robert Burns of the AP: "Suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year -- the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war. The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan -- about 50 percent more."

Paul Krugman: "... if you want to see government responding to economic hard times with the 'tax and spend' policies conservatives always denounce, you should look to the Reagan era -- not the Obama years.... Reagan may have preached small government, but in practice he presided over a lot of spending growth -- and right now that's exactly what America needs."

** Linda Greenhouse, in Slate, calls for a Constitutional Amendment limiting federal judges -- including the Supremes -- to 18-year terms.

David Lightman of McClatchey News: "Five months before Election Day, Republicans are poised to retain control of the House of Representatives and inch close -- and perhaps win the majority -- in the Senate. The outlook is driven by local factors rather any kind of wave for or against either major political party. Indeed, the lack of a national tide could help the Republicans hold the House, where they're expected to lose seats but not enough to cost them the majority." Thanks to James S. for the link. I think.

... Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal analyzes the results of California's new "top two" primary election system, which was supposed to general more centrist candidates. Pretty interesting. Bottom line, so far: "... the rules also create the likelihood of some very unconventional campaigns with Republicans appealing to Democrats, and Democrats courting Republicans. That doesn't mean that, once candidates get elected, they'll become more moderate and change their voting behavior. It does mean they'll pander as much as possible to win."

Kevin Drum: "Conservatives have made a big deal out of the fact that 38% of households with a union member voted for the union-busting Scott Walker in Tuesday's election.... For better or worse, about 37% of union members [usually] vote for Republicans, both nationwide and in Wisconsin. On Tuesday they did it again. So whatever lessons there are from Tuesday's election, the idea that union members are somehow abandoning their own cause isn't one of them." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald, writing in Salon, provides an overview of what a right-wing rock star Scott Walker is now. Seitz-Wald sees the recall effort as a big blunder. CW: I don't.

Adam Liptak & Allison Kopicki of the New York Times: "Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices' decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News."

If Right Wing News can be believed, Obama reneged on his campaign promise to push for the importation of cheap, safe drugs in a secret deal with Big Pharma in 2009.

Advice from the Career Corner. If you aspire to a career as a diplomat, especially if you aspire to be confirmed as Ambassador to Iraq, do not have sex with someone other than your spouse on the roof of the roof of a Saddam Hussein palace. People have video cameras. Jim Inhofe (R-Crazy) likes to watch.

Kevin Drum zeros in on Obama's biggest mistake of 2009. And Drum fingers just the right guy -- Tim Geithner: "Although Obama didn't have the leverage to get more stimulus spending even if he'd wanted it, he could have done more on the housing front, [which]... was quite feasible and would probably have made a noticeable difference in keeping the recovery on a stronger track.... Tim Geithner just didn't like the idea of pressing harder on the mortgage relief front, and Obama went along."

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "The first look at the 2012 FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast has Barack Obama as a very slight favorite to win re-election. But his advantage equates to only a two-point lead in the national popular vote, and the edge could easily swing to Mitt Romney on the basis of further bad economic news."

Joan Walsh of Salon: Romney didn't just dodge the draft; he lied about it. "Romney's dissembling here, all captured in newspapers in real time, should be a real problem for him."

** Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid lays out the Romney Rules, as defined by Willard. I think he should add a coda, "It's our turn now," as defined by Mrs. Willard. ...

... Jonathan Chait analyzes a Romney lie. Well, lies. CW: I'm beginning to think Romney cannot construct a truthful sentence with the name "Obama" in it.

What's the matter with Bill Clinton? John Dickerson of Slate ticks off six theories that are making the rounds. Pick your own. You can choose more than one. ...

News Ledes

President Obama held a press conference on the economy today:

     ... New York Times: Republicans went ballistic when Obama said, as part of a response to a reporter's question, "the private sector is doing fine." He had to clarify later.

New York Times: "The NATO and United States troop commander in Afghanistan flew to the eastern part of the country on Friday to apologize personally to surviving family members for a coalition airstrike earlier this week that local officials said killed 18 civilians. The apology by the commander, Gen. John R. Allen, was the first admission by coalition forces that the strike on Wednesday had killed civilians...."

New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday assigned two United States attorneys to lead separate criminal investigations into recent disclosures to the news media of national security secrets, saying they were authorized to 'follow all appropriate investigative leads within the executive and legislative branches of government.'"

Crackdown. New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin signed into law on Friday a measure that will impose heavy fines on people who organize or take part in unsanctioned demonstrations, giving the Russian authorities powerful leverage to clamp down on the large antigovernment street protests that began six months ago and seemed to be re-energized after Mr. Putin's inauguration last month."

Reuters: "The Federal Reserve rejected pleas by the U.S. banking industry in releasing on Thursday a rigorous interpretation of an international agreement on higher capital standards for banks, known as Basel III.... The new capital standards would force banks to rely more on equity than debt to fund themselves, so that they are able to better withstand significant losses."

New York Times: "With the Syrian conflict escalating perilously after government troops and civilian supporters prevented unarmed United Nations monitors from investigating a massacre, fresh fighting was reported elsewhere on Friday as the authorities sought to extend their writ in an area under stubborn rebel control." ...

     ... Update: the story has a new lede: "Confronting a scene of congealed blood, scattered body parts, shelled buildings, bullet holes and the smell of burned flesh, United Nations monitors in Syria quietly collected evidence on Friday of a mass atrocity in a desolate hamlet, more than 24 hours after Syrian forces and government supporters blocked their first attempt to visit the site."

New York Times: "Senior inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog renewed talks with Iran on Friday aimed at securing access to restricted sites where the agency believes scientists may have tested explosives that could be used as triggers for nuclear warheads, officials at the agency said."

Guardian: "The department of justice is reviewing the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, following demands by campaigners who say the tactic is unconstitutional and racially discriminatory." CW: in case you're wondering why I didn't link the New York Times story on this, it's because there isn't one.

AP: "Britain's media ethics inquiry says Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor Gordon Brown will both appear to give evidence at [Leveson inquiry] hearings next week. The inquiry also said Friday that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Treasury chief George Osborne will both appear." Guardian story here.

Reader Comments (17)

I know we are focused on contraception but I wonder if any politicians noticed that the March to May US temperature was the warmest on record, 5.2 degrees above average. Of course it is just a coincidence but let's be honest, its a hell of a lot easier to deal with a pill than climate change. And besides the purpose of life is to make more humans even if we can't figure out how to feed them.
Oh, and congratulations to the mosquitoes, they are going to have a really great year.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

I'm responding to the suggestion Akhilleus put forward in yesterday's commentary that we think about the idea of delegating voting responsibilities to a small group of randomly-selected "electors" who dedicate a few days to listening to experts for both sides debate the merits of a candidates or issue, then vote. The article by Joshua Davis of Wired -- which lays out the plan -- is here.

P. D. Pepe stated some objections, and I agree with those, but I have another. What you would get, if the proposed model was in effect, is experts Karl Rove and Bob Reich presenting their cases. Who would be listening to these two? People just as dimwitted as the general electorate, people unable to judge whether or not Karl Rove was telling the truth (assumption: he would not be). Moreover, you would not have whatever small benefit accrues from our Fourth Estate's evaluations of Rove v. Reich.

To some extent, of course, we already have a system like the one proposed: we have, after all, a representative democracy. We elect people who are supposed to understand the nuances of issues & make wise, considered decisions -- based on expert opinion -- on how best to address problems or improve conditions. We know how that has worked out. Too many of the "representatives" are buffoons and most of the "experts" are lobbyists carrying cash to stuff in the buffoons' pockets (or freezers).

Our country was founded on the principle of paternalistic aristocracy -- a small group of wise, landed white men would make decisions for all of us. That brought us slavery, 140 years of high-handed, careless Supreme Court justices & a string of presidents and legislators best not remembered.

As Winston Churchill and others have said (more or less), "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." On the other hand, Churchill did say, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." I'm glad people keep trying to come up with a better system; I do think ditching the Constitution or radically revising it would be a good idea, but I wouldn't do it now, as I sure as hell don't want to live under Eric Cantor's or John Roberts' idea of a Constitution.

Marie

June 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Re: Akhilleus's toss out on voting. Those of us that vote are already voting for the forty percent that don't. Who is going write the code to pick the randomly-selected voters? And if the results are not satisfactory to the non-selected citizen, then what? I don't know if it would change things much. I would rather see a gender-requirement to vote, rotating every two hundred years; and fellas, it's the womens turn. OR name me "Grand PooPaw" and I will make some changes, by god. It was WC Fields that came up with the socks full of manure plan, right?

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Marie: It's hard for me not to agree with Alex Seitz- Wald that the Wisconsin recall was an ill -advised "misadventure," given the time-line, the massive differential in contributions/spending, and the distaste of many Wisonsonites for the whole recall process. One other factor the author doesn't mention is that the Democrats apparently did not have a strong, consensus candidate going into it.
You stated your disagreement with this premise, Marie, and I would be most interested in your reasons (which are no doubt persuasive ones).

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Marvin: But that means Canada is getting warmer, too. Have often looked longingly at it just across the border and thought no, it's just a mite too cold to be an acceptable refuge but now, repelled equally as I am by our political climate and the Canadian government's tar sands extraction at any cost policies, a warmer Canada might just be enough to tip the balance in favor of Oh, Canada and the Loon.

But then there are all those darn mosquitoes you mention... and the damn liberals have outlawed DDT...so I guess I'm still undecided.

Does that make me one of the growing hordes of Independents I've been reading about?

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@ Marie: Re: your response to Akilleus about the voting business. I agree with your assessment, but would like to add in regards to being represented by those sitting in Congress. Does it make any sense to have two senators from each state when we have teeny tiny ones whose population is more than half the size of the larger states? One could argue we take care of this by the representatives, but we all know it's the senate that has the teeth.

The article by Paul Waldman is good. Ayn Rand is smirking and twisting in the wind.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie, what part of the Constitution would you ditch? The Bill of Rights? Like welfare, it's not the idea that's wrong, it's all in the implementation and enforcement, which is flawed.
And, while I too find the intellect of the average vote to be horribly depressing, by assuming that "we know better", aren't we being paternalistic also? I agree with JJG, let's put the women in charge.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

Quite a number of questions today, & I'll try to answer each.

@ Victoria D. You actually answered your own question. I think the Democrats' disarray was a lesson to be learned. Passion is great, but discipline is a must. As @Kate Madison mentioned here weeks ago, the Democrats blew any chance they had -- and I always thought the chance was weak -- when they couldn't get in a back room & agree on a candidate. Even using Akhilleus' shit-hurling method would have been preferable to a primary. But back rooms have their place.

Also, it was fundamentally stupid to arrange the recall when students -- a big Democratic constituency -- were away.

But another lesson to be learned -- not just in Wisconsin, but I hope everywhere -- is that having 10 times as much funny money as your opponent matters. I think a lot of Americans will view this not as a victory for Scott Walker but as a win for the Koch brothers & other special interests.

Conservatives are running around crowing, but they haven't -- in my opinion -- got much to boast about. They spent millions of dollars to keep a guy in office who may spend the rest of his term huddled with his criminal defense lawyers. They are touting Walker as the new Reagan. If that's all they got -- great! The guy is a moron. Moreover, if the one district vote holds, the recall elections gave Democrats control of the state senate, and that should make a huge difference in Walker's ability to run over the state. Without the recalls, that would not have happened (and it still may not -- Walker's board of elections supervisors have a way of "finding" thousands of Republican ballots when things don't work out the first time).

Of course all this is easy for me to say. I looked at this election from a distance; I wasn't out there demonstrating or trudging through the snow gathering signatures. I might be disheartened if I had more skin in the game. As it is, I see this as a setback, not a horror story, though I admit it will be more of a horror story if the Republicans regain control of the state senate.

June 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@ P. D. Pepe. No, our Senate doesn't make any sense, and especially with the Senate rules as they are, Senators who represent a fractional minority of Americans can wreak havoc on the entire federal government. During the healthcare debate, Gail Collins pointed out that Senators who represented something like .03 percent (not 3 percent, .03) of the population headed the two committees who drew up the plan. And we wonder why people don't like it. These guys don't have to please anybody but a few farmers in Some Dakota & Montana. That's no way to run a government. Which brings me to ---

June 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@ cakers. I hope I didn't imply I would ditch the Bill of Rights, though there are two Amendments I would lose: the 2nd & the 3rd, & I would rewrite the 10th to leave out the part I've struck out here:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Having been reared in the part of the country that brought us slavery & Jim Crow & is still fundamentally backwards, I have a low opinion of state's rights.

To follow up on my reply to @P. D. Pepe, I think a parliamentary form of government would work better than Washington D. Gridlock. Checks & balances -- as they operate now -- are highly overrated. For more changes worth considering, this op-ed piece, titled "Our Imbecilic Constitution, which I linked a few days back is helpful.

The Founding Fathers never meant the Constitution to last forever. Jefferson thought we should have a new one for every generation, & Madison was sick of the one he helped write by the time he retired from public life.

I also would, as Linda Greenhouse suggests (linked today), term-limit federal judges. I think other limits on their power are in order, too. Levinson suggests a major one. And of course I'd make clear that corporations aren't people and money isn't speech, so doofus justices would know that.

But just exactly what occurs to me off the top of my head isn't important. What is important is for people to get over the idea that God (who ain't mentioned in it) wrote the Constitution, & we should bow down to it (apparently that's actually Mormon doctrine). The Constitution was a good start, but it's sell-by date has expired.

June 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

The sell-by date on a lot of our superstitions--capitalism, tax-exemptions for religious quackery to mention two--has expired. But I doubt they'll be pulled from their shelves in my lifetime.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

One thing that hasn't been mentioned much in the Walker recall:

The Unions would have been smarter to follow the Ohio model a la referendum. My understanding is that state law disallowed that option. Therefore they may have felt the recall was the only option. In light of that I don't think it was such a bad choice. They did retake the senate and it signaled they weren't going down without a fight. Republicans are celebrating for the wrong reasons, no matter how much bloviating David Brooks did on NPR tonight. We'll see how much they stand by their man if he gets indicted in the john doe investigation. The walker win wasn't as much an endorsement of his policies as it was a a misguided smackdown of union tactics.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Maybe I'm incorrect, but the WI senate win is meaningless. The senate was adjourned mid-May and will not re-convene until after the November elections.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

Ken Winkes: Those Canadians with the funny spots on their legs are a demonstration of an affliction much worse than skeeters Black Flies will make you cry. Be sure to ask about them before picking a place to live in Canada.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Haley Simon. You're right. The next regular session of the Wisconsin state legislature isn't till next year. But if you look at the calendar of the state legislature, they have special sessions all the time. If Sir Walker Scott doesn't control the senate, he isn't likely to call one.

Marie

June 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@Carlyle. Thanks. I will heed your advice, offered in the same spirit I'd guess as my threat to slip on North, tho' I remember--in real, true, honest to goodness fact-- black flies swarming along the Nation River, so thick I spooned them in with my food, and so ravenous themselves that I watched my blood running down my legs into the water as we lined our canoe through a shallow stretch of clear and cold---but, perhaps because the water was so cold, their bites didn't hurt. I've always tried to avoid the ones that do. But bad as the biting ones might be, living in Ronmeydom--after eight years of Bushdom I cannot forget-- might well be worse.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Recovering from my strenuous efforts to recall Scott Walker, I want to comment on some of the comments. First, we had little control over the timing of the election. The overwhelming surge of Wisconsin residents eager to sign recall petitions meant that we couldn't delay much it beyond the legal starting date. It was the Republicans who, with their court cases, filings, and other delaying tactics, managed to just push the election to the first week in June when students had left. Second, if we hadn't had more than one candidate, the Republicans would have run a "fake Democrat" to ensure a primary (although I agree that uniting behind one candidate early would have been preferable). Third, retaking the State Senate is a huge deal. If Walker still could count on majorities in both houses of the legislature, we would be seeing an immediate call for a special session to ram through more of his extreme agenda. Because of his successful efforts to consolidate power in the governor's office, he can still do some damage, but not as much.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNadd2
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