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."

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

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

Thursday
May032012

The Commentariat -- May 4, 2012

I'll be away for several days. I'll try to post from time to time, but I don't know what kind of Internet connection I'll have where I'm going, so at best posting will be sporadic. -- Marie

Gene Robinson: "Does anybody really understand the U.S. policy in Afghanistan? The president’s televised address from Bagram air base raised more questions than it answered."

** Sara Robinson of AlterNet, in Salon, on the myth of the self-made man.

In the Daily Beast, Stephen King advocates for raising the top income tax rate to 50 percent. BTW, King would pay at the 50-percent rate. "The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing 'Disco Inferno' than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar." Thanks to my very first boyfriend ever, David B. for the link. (He was the most adorable third-grader you ever saw.)

Paul Krugman on the correlation between income inequality & recession/ depression. "Many pundits assert that the U.S. economy has big structural problems that will prevent any quick recovery. All the evidence, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus. No, the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority's malign influence."

Floyd Norris of the New York Times on why the U.S. economy has fared better than European economies. His analysis includes this remark: "There is nothing more grating than an ungrateful welfare recipient riding around in a chauffeured Mercedes complaining that he is not being treated fairly."

** Sabotage! Andrew Leonard of Salon: "Machiavelli would applaud. Republicans may have lost the 2008 presidential election, but their insurgency-style guerrilla tactics ever since have ensured that the war is far from over. In 2012, the politics of sabotage rule Washington." Leonard looks at critical elements of Paul Ryan's latest effort to destroy the government.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The wages of austerity don’t stop with continental recession. They include, in some nations, the revival of the kind of political extremes not seen in Europe since World War II.... The United States has austerity demons of its own, of course. While the private sector has rebounded somewhat from the 2008-09 collapse, creating 4 million jobs since the turnaround began in 2010, state and local governments have shed 611,000 employees -- including 196,000 teachers -- since President Obama took office...."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker calls the upcoming presidential election in France the "austerity election." CW: It appears that's what the British municipal elections were, too.

Novelists Margaret Atwood, Edgar Doctorow & Martin Amis discuss the U.S.'s place in the world with New York Times film critic A. O. Scott:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The details of Bin Laden’s thoughts and frustrations while hiding in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, emerge from a sheaf of letters released on Thursday that provide a sort of anthropology of a terror network."

Jonathan Cohn & David Strauss in Bloomberg News: "A decision to uphold the health-insurance mandate would be a powerful defense of liberty in the modern age."

John Dunbar & Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity: "What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives. Of the top 10 donors to super PACs so far in the 2012 election cycle, seven are individuals -- not corporations -- and four of those individuals are billionaires. The top 10 contributors gave more than a third, or $68 million of the nearly $202 million reported by the outside spending groups this election...."

Presidential Race

William Saletan of Slate: "Elections can change history. But mostly, they decide which party will pretend that the president changed history for the better, and which party will pretend that he changed it for the worse."

Jonathan Bernstein, in the Washington Post, on right-wing -- and mainstreamish -- hyperventilation about David Maraniss's biography of Obama: "There's a Republican-driven idea out there, one Sarah Palin is big on repeating, that Barack Obama wasn't fully vetted by the press in 2008. It's preposterous. The truth is that Obama has been the mainstream Democrat he ran as, and I'd guess that it's very difficult to tie whatever idiosyncrasies he's had within that to anything in particular about his personal history, and certainly not anything we didn't know about in November 2008."

David Corn asks economists to analyze Romney's claim that when ObamaCare kicks in, the government will control 50 percent of GDP; e.g., "Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior economist in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations...: 'This analysis is so stupid it is hard to know where to begin.'"

Considering the Source.... Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Shown a new ad from the Obama campaign during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Thursday -- a clip reel of Gingrich's slams on Romney during the primary season -- [Newt] Gingrich laughed and said, 'You have a rough-and-tumble primary season and you'll get words like that.' He was asked if he still believes Romney is a liar. 'I still believe the Romney campaign said things that weren't true,' Gingrich said. 'I also believe that compared to Barack Obama, I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.'" Here's the ad:

MaddowBlog readers helped Newt write his concession speech.

Outsourcing. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Republican National Committee on Thursday stepped up its assault on President Barack Obama in advance of his campaign formal kick off Saturday in Ohio and Virginia -- hitting him on 'high unemployment' in the U.S. as the RNC used a firm located in the Philippines to set up the 'messaging' call."

Alex Pareene of Salon: "Americans Elect is a weird experiment in applying a lot of money and time and resources into proving a common elite myth: That Americans as a whole are crying out for 'bold,' nonpartisan political leadership, and that their strong desire for moderate, independent solutions is stifled by the two-party system. So far, the organization has managed to win presidential ballot access in 26 states, which is a remarkable achievement. The only problem is, it has no candidate. And the process it developed to select a candidate is turning out to be a big, hilarious mess." CW: But, hey, it has the support of Tom Friedman!

Right Wing World *

Tim Egan: "The House run by John Boehner is stuffed with zealots and intellectual dead-enders who think compromise is a synonym for treason."

Steve Benen: "As part of his ongoing fascination with the 'Fast and Furious' controversy, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft memo yesterday, making the case for holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.... The worst case scenario: the House holds Holder in contempt and instructs the House sergeant at arms to try to arrest the Attorney General, creating a bizarre constitutional crisis. That's an exceedingly unlikely scenario, though."

* Where sunrise is just a theory. -- Akhilleus

Local News

Charles Pierce: "Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, sat down with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to chat things over, and the talk was portentous on a couple of different levels." CW: sorry, can't find the original interview. ...

... Save the Caucasians! AND here, Charles Pierce keeps us abreast of developments in other laboratories of democracy.

News Ledes

Raleigh News & Observer: "A Raleigh lawyer who represented John Edwards before he was charged with violating campaign finance laws told an attorney for the Virginia philanthropist at the center of the case that Edwards had benefited from the payments funneled to his former political campaign aide."

Reuters: "Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill banning abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving money through the state, her office said in a statement."

ABC News: "President Obama highlighted the 'good news' in the latest jobs report today, but, speaking in the battleground state of Virginia, stressed 'we've got to do more to boost the economy, including freezing low interest rates for student loans."

Bloomberg News: "Employers in the U.S. added fewer workers than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined as people left the labor force, underscoring concern the world's largest economy may be losing speed. Payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months, after a revised 154,000 rise in March that was more than initially estimated...."

New York Times: "China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the dissident Chen Guangcheng can apply to study outside China in the same manner as more than 300,000 Chinese students already abroad, signaling a possible breakthrough in a diplomatic crisis that has deeply embarrassed the White House and threatens to sour relations with Beijing."

Washington Post: "Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday, more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. This time the defendants may put up a fight."

AP: "From tasteless photos to urinating on dead insurgents, bad behavior by U.S. troops in Afghanistan has hampered America's war effort over the past year, triggering a broad new campaign by defense leaders to improve discipline in the ranks. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in his first personal appeal to troops on the issue, is expected Friday to remind U.S. forces that they are representing the American people and they must behave up to military standards."

New York Times: "At a time of deepening austerity, social cutbacks and political fallout from the long-running phone hacking scandal, Britons seemed to have turned against their national leaders in bellwether mayoral and local council elections claimed as a resounding triumph by the opposition Labour party, according to partial results on Friday." Guardian story here with related links.

Washington Post: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday pulled a $5,000 solicitation for a magician to motivate employees at a leadership training event, weeks after a mindreader hired by the General Services Administration became an embarrassing symbol of a Las Vegas spending spree." CW: they just keep on keepin' on, don't they?

Winnipeg Free Press: "The last Canadian penny will be manufactured today."

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments (4)

Why tolerance and moderation are such dirty words on the Right.

The Alternet piece (see the link above) about the Myth of the Self-made Man (what, no Self-made Women? Perhaps women are not quite so narcissistic as to insist on describing themselves as such, or maybe the Right simply doesn’t think women deserve to be so considered) indicates one of the tipping points of right-wing ideology.

The Right is constantly referring to slippery slopes.

The idea is that there is no possibility of a middle, or even slightly moderated position. In fact, tolerating different points of view is not only anathema to right-wing dogma, it is seen as the road to hell.

That’s why the NRA will never abide even the most reasonable forms of gun control. It’s a slippery slope that will lead to NO GUNS! Gays in the military is a slippery slope as well. In fact, gays being allowed to serve in the military means that the military—according to some on the Right—has now authorized, condoned, and RECOMMENDED bestiality (I’m not making this up).

A couple of years ago the Air Force, reacting, with moderation and tolerance (Go Air Force!), responded to requests from certain uniformed personnel at the academy who are practicing Wiccans, to have a place to conduct their services. So the Air Force built a rock circle on a hillside. This simple (and incredibly inexpensive) act of religious pluralism was met with howls of hatred and intolerance from the Christian right. “It’s a slippery slope!” The Wiccan outdoor rock circle was described as a cathedral to Satan (hey, get a grip people, it’s a pile of fucking rocks. No electricity, no heat, no rent, no nothing. Rocks. That’s it) a church for witches, and every other damned ignorant, childish description you can dream up.

Predictably, the Right responded in, apparently, the only way they know how when everyone else does not give in to their every ludicrous demand. They desecrated the space, tried to destroy it. Dragged giant crosses to the spot to demonstrate that this country is ONLY a Christian one, and to reinforce their connection with the martyred Christ dramatizing how (yet again) it was they who were the ones being tortured by intolerance.

Say what? That’s just a new low in stupid.

No tolerance for the concept of human influenced climate change. Another slippery slope. No agreement on reasonable tax laws that ask all Americans to pay a fair share. Un-unh. ‘nother slippery slope. (You can go on and on with this. Just pick a topic.)
Why all the slipperiness? Because by the feeble light of the Right, any accommodation of views other than those they have certified as proper and just means that they might not be completely correct in all their views all the time. So what to do? A reasonable, intelligent and thoughtful person might be confident enough in themselves and their views to make room for ideas that might allow them to increase their understanding of the world. But for the Right, that would be bad. Very bad.

That would mean that all those groups they so despise might have a point now and then, and those points should be considered since we’re living in a pluralistic society (conservatives get stuck on the “unum”; they conveniently forget the “pluribus”) and we really do all have to live together.

But that would be a slippery slope. So what do we have?

Gun Control=Government Stealing Their Guns.
Gays in the military=Government sanctioned Bestiality
Taxation=Government theft of rightful riches
Public Education=Government handouts to the undeserving poor
Religious Tolerance=Government sponsored Cathedrals to Satan
Global Warming=Government conspiracy to attack corporations.

And not giving the Self-made Man myth full and complete support might mean that they would have to acknowledge the role of government, regulation, taxes, low cost public education, and toleration for all the great unwashed whose efforts every day make this a better place to live and start a business, and perhaps some consideration for them as more than just peons to do their dry cleaning and clean their toilets.

It’s a weird, whack-job pathology, but it’s theirs. No tolerance. No moderation. They distrust their own ideology so much that they feel, subconsciously, at least, that it would crumble under its own internal contradictions if they made the tiniest nod to other points of view.

Call me if that’s about to happen. I want front row seats.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Yes, stupid--that bad word my six year old grandchild says I shouldn't use--plays a large part in insulating the Right from reality. After all, if you can't see it--now we're talking a three year old's hands over the eyes trick--it's not there, no boogyman, no threat; and phew! you're still comfortable and safe. With a nod to that grandson, maybe childish is a better word.

But I keep coming back to the concept of control and the mythology surrounding our often unwarranted celebration of the individual. We've developed a social/commercial culture wherein we pretend the individual reigns supreme. Hence all the cant about individual responsibility. We make our own decisions, we're told; our fate is in our hands. "Blame yourself," as some instantly forgettable person was fond of saying.

But what if what happens in our lives is not entirely up to us, as you say, and as it surely is not? What if we don't choose our own parents? What if we're a crack baby? What if our schooling sucks? What if the only job we can find pays a mere minimum wage. What if a random gamma ray zaps a cell deep within our body and we die of cancer? What if we're one of the millions to whom these "if's" happen every day?

It's the accidental nature of so much of our lives that the Right can't stand because it undercuts their faux superiority, their essential belief that whatever success they've had, usually defined by money, they've done it on their own. Above all, it's this certain sense of their own worth they need, heightened by an implied contrast with the losers around them. That's why everything is a slippery slope to these folks; anything that even intimates there's another or additional explanation for what they become is automatic anathema.

I one called religions short cuts to superiority. Examined, so are the right wing's positions and habits of mind you mention. Their pathology lies in their childish urge to control all aspects of a world they are not mature enough to understand, like True Believers everywhere.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Good afternoon. So here is all you need to know about the American mind. A recent poll found that one in ten accepted the Mayan myth that the world will end in 2012 and one in seven believes the world will end in there lifetime. These folks can vote. To bad they can't think.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Ken,

Can we say "childish" AND "stupid"?

I'd do an "LOL" but neither are very funny given the stakes.

You do raise a very interesting point about individualism. The very idea of the individual is the cornerstone of many philosophies including liberalism, libertarianism, existentialism, and even anarchism. Each school of thought applies different measurements to their approach to the individual. Conservatives often castigate liberal approaches to the individual as being too permissive. But classical liberalism as preached by someone like John Locke indicates that the moral worth of the individual is important but so also is their responsibilities to society. Conservative philosophy, especially the modern neo-con school overshadows responsibility with rights. This is why the gun crowd screams bloody murder about their rights but gives little consideration to the responsibilities incumbent upon the manufacturers, dealers, and owners of deadly weapons.

Here again, a more useful approach to the idea of the individual can be balanced by the role of that individual in a social setting. None of us exist in a vacuum so thinking about the individual as solitary actor from whom nothing should be demanded but their own personal pursuit of riches, fame, fortune, happiness, etc., is intellectual wanking at best.

Of course it helps to have short cuts to superiority, as you put it, in order to help one avoid any messy discussions about what one is expected to do in return for all that happiness and wealth. What? Tax me? Why? I don't need the government for anything. I made all this money by myself. Now go away.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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