The Ledes

Monday, August 31, 2015.

New York Times: "Former Gov. Marvin Mandel, whose record of modernizing Maryland’s state government was overshadowed by a messy divorce and a fraud conviction for helping associates profit from a racetrack deal, died on Sunday in St. Mary’s County, Md. He was 95." While in office, he left his wife for another woman. Of the other woman, whom Mandel married, his first wife Bootsie asked, “How can she be a first lady when she isn’t a lady first?” ...

     ... The Washington Post obituary is here. The Baltimore Sun's obituary is here.

NBC News: "Dr. Wayne Dyer, the self-help guru whose best-seller 'Your Erroneous Zones' was adopted by millions as a guide to better living, has died at 75, his family and publisher said Sunday."

New York Times: "Wes Craven, a master of horror cinema and a proponent of the slasher genre best known for creating the Freddy Krueger and 'Scream' franchises, died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 76."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 30, 2015.

New York Times: "Iran’s judiciary sentenced two people to 10 years in prison on Sunday for spying for the United States and Israel, but their names were not released, local media reported. It was not clear if the Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian, who faces similar charges, was one of them." ...

     ... AP Update: "Leila Ahsan..., The lawyer for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was tried for espionage in a Revolutionary Court..., says the court has yet to issue its verdict on Rezaian."

New York Times: "Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,' using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 82." ...

... Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times: "Dr. Sacks ... was a polymath and an ardent humanist, and whether he was writing about his patients, or his love of chemistry or the power of music, he leapfrogged among disciplines, shedding light on the strange and wonderful interconnectedness of life — the connections between science and art, physiology and psychology, the beauty and economy of the natural world and the magic of the human imagination."

AP: "Los Angeles and the U.S. Olympic Committee have struck a deal that will make the city America's 2024 Olympic bidder pending approval by the city council next week. If the council approves the deal at a meeting Tuesday, the USOC will announce Los Angeles as its candidate, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press."

AP: "Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said that late on Friday the jets began attacking Isis targets across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

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."

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

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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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