The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

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

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

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending":

The Ledes

Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Washington Post: "Arab leaders vowed Saturday to back the embattled Yemeni president as a Saudi Arabia-led coalition intensified airstrikes on Shiite rebel targets across Yemen, escalating a conflict that many residents fear could lead to a land invasion.... The Saudis and their allies think that the Shiite rebels are backed by Iran and that Tehran is trying to exert control over a country that had been an ally of Riyadh and Washington."

Telegraph: "A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA). He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any 'sense' in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told."

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
March 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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Friday
Jun082012

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

CW: Optimism! So if we could build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam & the Empire State Building during the depths of the depression, why the hell don't we do something equally fabulous now? Tim Egan celebrates the anniversaries of the Golden Gate Bridge & the Seattle Space Needle, built 25 years later.

... I spoke too soon. It just occurred to me that an old friend of mine -- Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University in Chicago -- just built this -- and he began the project just as the recession hit. Chicago Tribune story here. The building was dedicated May 5 of this year.

 

 

New York Times Editors: "Religious conservatives are losing one of their primary arguments for trying to ban the morning-after birth control pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken within days after sexual intercourse.... As Pam Belluck reported in The Times on Wednesday, the latest scientific findings and expert opinion indicate that the pills work by delaying ovulation.... This page supports easy access to the morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription.... We also support a treatment regimen based on RU-486, which does abort an implanted embryo weeks after the morning-after pill no longer works. It provides a safe alternative to the dwindling availability of surgical abortions in many areas. The decision on taking RU-486 should be left to women and their doctors."

CW: I see Charles Pierce & I are on the same page (see my comment in yesterday's Commentariat): "The recall provision exists in Wisconsin law not as a kind of impeachment-by-other-means, but as a direct response to the depredations of corporate wealth upon the political commonwealth that were rife the last time we had a Gilded Age. That so many Wisconsinites forgot this is a tribute to seven months of television advertising and the fact that we don't teach civics any more.... The recall was a vehicle, nothing more, and, if nothing else, it kept Walker from calling the legislature into special session to do even more damage before the November elections."

Yesterday I linked to a story of dubious origin that charged that White House e-mails proved President Obama had secretly broken his campaign pledge to fight for the importation of safe, cheaper drugs. Peter Baker of the New York Times confirms the story. His piece, which tells what happened step-by-step, is worth a read.

Woodward & Bernstein: Nixon -- "Far worse than we thought." The Post has a page of links to stories on Watergate; to refresh your memories or perhaps learn some of the highlights for the first time, this is a good place to start.

Presidential Race

James Downie of the Washington Post responds to Republicans going nutso over President Obama's remark yesterday that "The private sector is doing fine," a remark he later walked back in an Oval Office press availability. It's doing a lot finer, Downie argues, than it would be under Romney's economic prescription. ...

... Here's the walkback. Note the President's reference to firefighters, police & teachers:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

.... Who Needs Firemen, Police & Teachers? Here's part of Willard's response to Obama's presser yesterday:

     ... Read Steve Benen on this. He's livid: "Let's be clear about this: Romney is rejecting the idea of saving the jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. He sees this as an applause line. The Republican nominee for president believes we can 'help the American people' by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers." ...

     ... Greg Sargent, in the same vein: "At the same time, however, Romney takes care to show great sympathy with first responders. As Jonathan Chait has noted, Romney has spoken movingly of the financial plight of firefighters under Obama, even though they belong to the parasitic class that he is trying to scapegoat for the economic misery of other Americans. ...

We knew Mitt Romney liked firing people, but we didn't know that included firefighters and cops. Middle-class voters already distrust Mitt Romney for being out-of-touch and uncaring about regular folks. Bragging about wanting to give pink slips to first responders only cements that perception. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

     ... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos gets it exactly right: "In his words, firing government workers would put other Americans 'back to work.' But that's nuts. Anytime somebody loses a job, it's bad news for the economy. That alone demonstrates that Mitt Romney doesn't understand what it takes to be president." CW: note that in his walkback, the President makes crystal clear that he understands that working teachers, firefighters & police contribute to the economy.

Steve Benen chronicles "Mitt's Mendacity" of the week. Benen finds 20 whoppers in Week 21. The segment from Rachel Maddow's show embedded in the post brings home the point that Willard is completely -- and oddly -- shameless. When he's caught in a lie, he just keeps telling it. He has even defended telling lies as a valid & standard political tactic.

Andrew Sullivan: Obama "must make it plainer that, in this country's politics, he is still the change agent. If he weren't, why would they have done so much to stop him?"

Local News

CW: I'm posting this story only because the island is a few miles upriver from my house:

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "On Thursday, a 1.4-acre patch of land on the Caloosahatchee River off Fort Myers, Fla., was gaveled away in an unusual Internet auction that featured the private island.... The new owner walked away with $258,5000 worth of sand, rock, oak trees and sea grapes, and, of course, a battalion of Florida's unofficial mascots, mosquitoes." CW: Alvarez is exaggerating the mosquito population; the water here is brackish, so mosquitoes can't mate & there's always a breeze on the river. This is a manmade island, built when the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel through the river to complete the Intercoastal Waterway. Another larger island, near the city center, is for sale for about $5 million. Other islands in the river are bird sanctuaries. ...

... In slightly more important Florida news ... Joseph Williams of Politico: "Good-government advocates have sued the state of Florida, alleging its purge of non-citizens from voter rolls has swept up too many legally-registered African American and Latino voters and is undermining laws that ensure fair access to the ballot box."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A federal health official's ruling has cleared the way for 50 different types of cancer to be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

AP: "Spain could ask for a rescue of its troubled banks this weekend when European finance ministers hold an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss its hurting lending sector, a move that would turn the nation into the fourth from the 17-nation eurozone to seek outside help since the continent's financial crisis erupted two years ago." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Responding to increasingly urgent calls from across Europe and the United States, Spain on Saturday requested assistance for its cash-starved banks. European finance ministers in turn promised up to $125 billion in aid, which they hope will quell rising financial turmoil ahead of elections in Greece that could roil world markets."

Guardian: "Bradley Manning has failed to persuade a military judge to throw out half of the counts against him in a pre-trial hearing before his court martial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks. Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over the proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defence motion that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier should be dismissed."

Washington Post: "Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown pleaded guilty Friday to lying on bank-loan applications and violating a city campaign law, branding a once-promising star in local politics as a convicted felon."

AP: "China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday."

Reader Comments (14)

Interesting story on the island--and, fittingly, you found some corrections to make! Ok about the mosquitoes, but..are there snakes??

And if the Corps of Engineers can create a valuable island....

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

@alphonsegaston. Snakes. We got snakes. We got lizards that look like snakes -- long & slithery & got no feet (but got no scales). We got river rats -- my husband has caught 5 in the basement & one got in the kitchen once -- I screamed bloody murder. We got giant palmetto bugs a/k/a cockroaches. We got spiders -- my neighbor whacked one on her kitchen floor & it exploded with a hundred babies running in all directions. We got a big critter -- maybe one of the many opossums around or a raccoon -- who is eating my mangoes (haven't seen him, just seen the hollowed-out mangoes). We got alligators. I saw a 12-footer swimming past one time. We got monitor lizards -- there was a 7-foot monster on my seawall the night of the 2000 election -- not a good omen. We got iguanas. But we also got manatees, an occasional dolphin, lots of tarpon, snow crabs you can harvest off your dock if you have a mind to, pelicans, egrets (one of the bird sanctuaries I see from my yard, which I think the Audubon Society maintains, looks like a white cloud some afternoons, as egrets nearly cover the trees), cranes & herons, flocks of ibis, giant green parakeets (descendents of domesticated birds), bald eagles & osprey, plus the usual snowbirds, both fowl & human. It's a wilderness in the city. For better or for worse.

June 9, 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

From @Dave S.

Blast from the past in today's WaPo:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/woodward-and-bernstein-40-years-after-watergate-nixon-was-far-worse-than-we-thought/2012/06/08/gJQAlsi0NV_print.html

...and today's GOP is far worse than Nixon was.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Apropos of nothing except perhaps bad men in politics, Rick Scott has been on my mind. There is something––is fey the right word?––about him, the way he moves, turns his head in an almost coquettish way, his speech which seems to me to be lacking in heft––and then what comes out of that mouth smacks of sophomoric blather. And I'm wondering how this man who was CEO of a health concern that went belly up because of fraudulent practices could get elected as governor, but as I write this sentence I realize how futile a question.

Continuing with bad men: the picture of Nixon reminded me of the phrase––"nattering nabobs..." that someone used the other night on a news show. Bill Safire, that skillful ventriloquist, praised for his brilliant lexicon, had the perfect dummy in Spiro Agnew whose cool, uninflected voice was the perfect vehicle. The most famous of these triumphant linguistic confections was the aforementioned nattering, but here is the complete piece:

"In the United Sates today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. they have forgotten their 4H club––the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

Imagine the fun Bill must have had collecting all those N and H words to produce such memorable alliterations.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'm still trying to figure out how firing police and firefighters and teachers creates jobs. Willard never explains it....or I missed something.
He sure doesn't seem to get some simple concepts such as the role of demand or the goal of expansion of the economy. He must think it's a zero sum game and if you hire a teacher you have to fire someone else, perhaps someone in the private sector?
As I said, I'm perplexed.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

To understand the resistance of the T GOP to all things that would be good for America, just keep in mind they are just following the well laid out plan of the 1%

By being against everything except military spending they are pusing the way toward the "Secular Caliphate of the 1$

Three candidates for "Supreme Leader": Ron Paul, Donald the Great and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul will wait.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJefffrey

Germane to Victoria's, and I guess all of our frustration with divided politics, is this interview from Bill Moyer's.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/encore-how-do-conservatives-and-liberals-see-the-world/

Apropos Chris Chirstie just this past week at the CPAC conference wow'd the crowd by saying "We're right and they're wrong!" Yeah there's no one more divisive but at after watching this I feel a little less anger and angst and a little more thoughtful about how we can bridge this divide. I found this a fascinating discussion.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Obviously, my problem is NOT fixed. This interesting comment just plain got disappeared:

From Nadd2:

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.

CW Update: I take it back. The comment appears in yesterday's thread. However, we should all read it because Nadd2 addresses some of the issues we've been talking about & s/he does it from an "insider'"s perspective. Very informative.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

How frustrating! Once again thanks for all you do. That's a great comment and commensurate with much that I have read. I forgot about the fake democrat. I still think Moyer's interview is worthwhile, but now I'm troubled that it only superficially addressed the immorality of the dirty tricks squad. It's a fitting reminder on the anniversary of the Watergate exposition that we have much work to do to bring real integrity to our governance.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Note to DaveS: There can be no no real integrity to [or in] our governance so long as money rules.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

I'm the one who thought the senate win was meaningless. I did not realize special sessions are often called. However even if the Republicans had retained the senate, I think Walker would choose to lay back for a while - play nice, beer and brats and all that. The last thing Wisconsin wants right now is another fight. Better to finish off the unions after November. And I do think they will go down. The other day the NYT had a piece about the pension vote in San Diego and San Jose. There were lots of comments and they weighed heavily against the unions - really heavily. Pretty astounding for NYT readers.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

@James Singer

Point taken. Yes work to get the money out. But that money is only exploiting divisions that already exist. Heal the divisions and the money is muted. There has to be a way to defeat the fascists. It's been done before, and it was never easy. If history is a guide it will be ugly. Can we find another way?

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

@ Dave S. I think I posted the Moyers interview of Haidt a while back. I watched it, anyway. I think Haidt is a bit naive & hasn't thought things through.

Let's look at a few of his premises. Liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives. That's true as far as it goes. But it doesn't take a genius to move on to the next step: liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives because they taught themselves to be. It's quite natural -- for all of us -- to be comfortable with what we know. But liberals push their own boundaries. Yeah, when I was 16, I would have been embarrassed to be staring up at the penis of Michelangelo's David. But I grew out of it. Indeed, I have stared up at the penis of the David, with strangers milling about, & I don't recall feeling any embarrassment at all. But then, I saw it when I was well past the age of 16. So, at 16 my view of sexuality was conservative. I could have remained naive & grown up to be a prim church lady. In my case, getting over teenaged embarrassment might relate to personal experience. But it doesn't have to. Consider Sister Margaret Farley. Her liberal ideas about sexuality, except perhaps in relation to masturbation, do not likely reflect her personal experience. She's just does not limit her views to what she learned/believed when she was 16. I think it's fair to say, with all due respect, that conservatives are emotionally and intellectually retarded. Haidt doesn't seem to even consider that.

While Haidt is partially correct about tribalism, even there what he is really describing is conservative behavior. I don't think I'm better than you because I had such-and-such an experience & you had a different one. I don't belong to the University of Wisconsin tribe or the Irish heritage tribe. Haidt says we judge people on these bases every time we interact with them. I don't. I expect people to have beliefs, experiences & foibles which are different from mine. It is the differences that make other people interesting to me.

(I do agree with Haidt about Democrats lacking a coherent narrative, but that is tactics much more than substance. I'll admit Obama is squishy on substance, too, but that goes back to his basic desire to do what Lincoln correctly said can't be done: "please all of the people all of the time." The desire to please is sort of a politician's curse. Look where it got Bill Clinton: claiming in sworn testimony that the meaning of "is" is mutable.)

I don't mean to suggest that Haidt is completely wrong. I just think he is too willing to accept as justifiable conservative views that are in fact naive and simplistic. He doesn't make me want to go hug a conservative.

Etc.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns
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