The Ledes

Sunday, September 14, 2014.

AP: "North Korea's Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced a 24-year-old American man to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage. At a trial that lasted about 90 minutes, the court said Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, California, tore up his tourist visa at Pyongyang's airport upon arrival on April 10 and admitted to having the "wild ambition" of experiencing prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea's human rights situation."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, President Obama reiterated his comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL":

The Ledes

Saturday, September 13, 2014.

New York Times: "The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has implored President Obama for help in managing her country’s rapidly expanding Ebola crisis and has warned that without American assistance the disease could send Liberia into the civil chaos that enveloped the country for two decades."

Guardian: "The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country and resurrect the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk has said. Yatseniuk told a conference of European politicians his country was 'in a stage of war' with Russia, as renewed clashes broke out between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels in the east and Moscow sent a second convoy of trucks into Ukraine without Kiev's consent. Continuous rocketfire could be heard overnight in the eastern city of Donetsk."

New York Times: "The doctor who performed an endoscopy on Joan Rivers before she went into cardiac arrest has stepped down as medical director of the Manhattan clinic where she was treated and he is no longer doing procedures there, the clinic announced on Friday.... The doctor who performed the endoscopy, Lawrence B. Cohen, a prominent gastroenterologist, had brought an ear, nose and throat specialist into the operating room to examine Ms. Rivers, even though that doctor was not authorized to practice medicine there, according to people briefed on the matter."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 12

10:30 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

11:00 am ET: President Obama commemorates AmericaCorp's 20th anniversary

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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Saturday
May052012

The Commentariat -- May 5, 2012

According to the Obama-Biden campaign site, you can watch the first campaign rally, in Columbus, Ohio, here, beginning at 12:45 pm ET.

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Placing a final punctuation mark on a week devoted to foreign policy, President Barack Obama on Saturday declared that his goal of defeating al-Qaida was within reach and said it was now time to turn the country's attention to more domestic concerns like strengthening the middle class."

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post: "The percentage of Americans in the labor force has been declining for more than a decade.... And while part of the story is clearly that the labor force is shrinking because the bad economy is driving workers out, another significant factor is that baby boomers are beginning to retire early -- a trend that has worrying implications for future growth. ...

... The New York Review of Books has an excerpt/adaptation of Paul Krugman's book End This Depression Now!

Dana Milbank: "A cornerstone of [Tea Partier] Richard Mourdock's effort to oust [Sen. Richard] Lugar [R-Ind.] is the six-term senator’s bad habit of bipartisanship — never mind that Lugar's bipartisanship was in the service of protecting millions of Americans from nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism.... Hoosier Republicans should reject Mourdock ... because they still believe that national security trumps partisanship."

Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: 'After an unconscionably long delay of nearly a decade, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks will be arraigned Saturday in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay. Observers, including journalists, will be able to watch the hearing through glass. But the government has insisted on a 40-second audio delay, meaning censors can just switch the sound off if something happens that they don't want the public to hear -- like for example if Mr. Mohammed mentions that he was water-boarded 183 times in one month."

A rally for the candidate of the center-right New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, who some analysts say is likely to head a coalition government as prime minister. Getty image.Rachel Donadio & Niki Kitsantonis of the New York Times: As Greece "heads to elections on Sunday in which no single party is expected to secure enough votes to form a stable government, they may have to try governing with political chaos. Along with elections in France, and with a rising tide of anti-austerity sentiment across Europe, Greece's vote is expected to have a clear impact on the future of the euro."

Presidential Race

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times reports on President Obama's close involvement in campaign strategy.

Gail Collins considers Barack Obama's New York years. ...

David Maraniss on why Barack Obama is comfortable being Commander in Chief: "Obama is the first president to whom Vietnam is ancient history.... Obama feels more affinity toward his grandfather's generation (Stan Dunham fought in Europe during World War II) than to his mother’s, or he at least finds it more culturally appealing."

Ben Armbruster of Think Progress: "Yesterday Mitt Romney attacked President Obama over the administration's handling of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Citing 'very troubling developments,' Romney said yesterday was 'a dark day for freedom and it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.' Last night on Fox News, Bill Kristol advised Romney to stand down on the Chen case, calling his attacks on Obama 'foolish.'" Kristol said, "There is no need to butt into a fast moving story when the secretary of state is in Beijing with delicate negotiations and say it's a day of shame for the Obama administration." Today Mr. Romney's campaign has released a statement criticizing President Obama for playing golf when the nation is at war, for his partisan decision to invite only Republicans to his foursome, for scoring too high & for looking lousy in golf shirts; the President is expected to tee up at 11:00 am ET. (CW: Could be I made up that last sentence. But seriously, Romney's buttinsky remarks on the Chen negotiations isn't just foolish -- it shows how shockingly little Romney understands about international relations & how willing he is to undermine his own country for possible political gain.)

New York Times Editors: "On Friday, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama for the April jobs figures, saying that in a normal recovery 'we should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month.' The truth is that the economy has not seen job growth like that in nearly 30 years. More to the point, the policies Mr. Romney espouses -- notably deregulation and tax cuts for the rich -- were the favored policies under President George W. Bush, years when job growth and wage gains were, at best, anemic." ...

... Oh, but you know that's not the only lie The Great Prevaricator came up with this week. Steve Benen lists 18 lies of the week.

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: Ric Grenell, the disgruntled Employee of the for a Week, has put Romney in an awkward spot: Romney "is now forced to insist that he didn't fire an aide for his sexuality, an assertion that could jeopardize his already shaky relationship with the religious right." ...

... Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: "The [Grenell] episode is reminiscent of a controversy that occurred when Romney was governor of Massachusetts: The 2004 dismissal of Ardith Wieworka, longtime head of the state's Office of Child Care Services, who alleged that she had been terminated because of her decision to marry her partner."

Your Puzzling News of the Day. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Tagg Romney, the eldest son of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, announced via Twitter that he and his wife Jen have new twin boys, delivered by a surrogate today. 'Happy 2 announce birth of twin boys David Mitt and William Ryder. Big thanks to our surrogate. Life is a miracle,' Tagg tweeting, linking to a photo of himself and one of his new sons. This the second time that Tagg, 42, and his wife, Jen, 39, have used a surrogate. The same surrogate was used for the twins carried their youngest son Jonathan, who was born in August of 2010. Their other three children were not born via surrogacy." CW: I know this is none of our business & has nothing to do with the presidential race, but I personally think it's weird to use a surrogate when a couple already has three children, let alone four. I'm open to second opinions. ...

... Oh, wait. Maybe Tagg & Mrs. Tagg want to have more kids to give them an advantage at this year's family baby toss:

 

... Apparently the Mittster plays this game all the time. I guess Ann Romney was right: he really is a wild and crazy guy:

... This kid is so not into the game. Must be one of the 99 Percent. You're doomed, child:

How Cool Is This? Ted Nugent loses it again. Remember, Willard's crew was thrilled when Nugent endorsed him:

     ... According to the Hollywood Gossip site, here's the bleeped language Nugent used, only partially bleeped here: "'I'm an extremely loving and passionate man, and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damned nice guy ... and if you can find a screening process more powerful than that, I'll suck your d-ck.' The musician then turned to a female producer and added: 'Or I'll f-ck you, how's that sound?'" ...

     ... Justin Sink of The Hill: "Mitt Romney's campaign is denying it expressed support for Ted Nugent after he made controversial comments last month that led to him being interviewed by Secret Service agents. Nugent on Friday gave his first television interview since the investigation, and the aging rocker said that Romney's team "expressed support" for him after his remarks.

AND, finally Joel Pollak of Breitbart, who must be a genius, has discovered proof positive, hiding in plain sight, that Barack Obama is a Communist sympathizer. Thank you, Joel, for this insightful piece of investigative journalism. You are a great advertisement for a free press.

Right Wing World

Heartland billboard in Chicago.

Leo Hickman of the Guardian: "The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based rightwing thinktank notorious for promoting climate skepticism, has launched quite possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns." Heartland itself boasts, "Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world's most notorious criminals say they 'still believe in global warming' -- and ask viewers if they do, too…The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden.... Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants." ...

... CW: Stalin was a meat-eater. Therefore, all meat-eaters are mass murderers. Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore all vegetarians are mass murderers. Ergo, everybody is a mass murderer. That’s the logic to the Heartland ad ad campaign despite the disclaimer they throw into their press release. ...

... Brian Vastig of the Washington Post: "The billboard went live Thursday afternoon. But by 4 p.m. Eastern time, an outcry from allies and opponents alike led the Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, to say he would switch off the sign within the hour."

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama sought to rekindle the passion of his 2008 victory with a huge rally on Saturday that signaled a new, politically aggressive phase in the debate over the country's direction and the official start of his personal confrontation with Mitt Romney." Washington Post story here.

New York Times: "The arraignment of [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed and four other accused conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks got off to a slow and rocky start on Saturday. Defendants ignored the judge and stood at random intervals to pray, as defense lawyers repeatedly tried to change the subject to restrictions on their ability to communicate with their clients."

Reuters: "China said on Friday that blind dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad, a move praised by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and suggesting an end may be near to a diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Washington."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said Friday that he had permanently removed five priests from active ministry for sexual abuse or misconduct with minors, and reinstated three others after an investigation could not substantiate similar claims against them. The decisions, which followed a 14-month review, marked one of the largest ousters of active priests in the archdiocese's history. It also validated a February 2011 grand jury report that accused local church leaders of ignoring evidence of clergy sex abuse and stirred new outrage among area Catholics.

AFP: "Boris Johnson was re-elected mayor of Olympic host city London late Friday to the relief Prime Minister David Cameron, after his Conservative Party took a beating in mid-term local elections."

Guardian: "David Cameron has apologised to hundreds of Conservative councillors who lost their seats in the local elections 'against a difficult national backdrop'. Earlier, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, described his sadness at the party's results in elections which saw both the coalition parties suffer widespread losses."

Guardian: "The bodies of 23 people have been found hanging from a bridge or decapitated and dumped near city hall in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, where drug cartels are fighting a bloody and escalating turf war. It follows the discovery in Veracruz of four journalists' bodies in a canal."

Reader Comments (7)

For Akilleus and his "slippery slopes":

I remembered what Denny Crane [a character in the sitcom "Boston Legal" said once about something that baffled him:

Denny: I just think it’s one heck of a slippery slerp!

Allen: That’s slope, Denny.

Denny: Well, in this case that slope is mighty slerpy.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie - Regarding your comment that Romney's remarks about the fast moving Chinese dissident story (Chen) showed an astonishing lack of understanding of diplomacy and wilingness to undermine U.S. foreign policy for political gain. When I heard Romney's comments I was shocked. What responsible candidate from a major party would comment about a delicate and tense situation like this, especially when he says point blank that he doesn't have all the facts? Actually he didn't have any of the facts except what had been reported which was certainly incomplete. Romney only looks like a credible candidate when compared to people like Santorum or Perry.
Romney has zero foreign policy experience but even at that, one would think his advisors who are supposedly experts, would bring him up to speed on certain basic facts and protocols. Romney is looking more and more ill suited to the presidency every day.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Heartland Institute is proof that not all think tanks can think. Wait! Karl Marx could think, does that mean that.....?

Marie, it is not weird to use a surrogate to have lots of children. First, all women are required to have as many children as possible. I am sure the world can handle another 10 or 20 billion. Second I am sure that since there is no mention of surrogate moms in Romney's magic book, that means that his god is OK with it. Only things that were with us 2000 years ago are no goes. You know, like contraception, abortion.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

So Tagg and Mrs. Tagg hired surrogates that brought three children into the economy. Maybe we have finally seen a glimmer of Romney's strategy to create jobs. Bearing babies is what a 99 per center without access to education, jobs training or health care can do to make some dough! At least if she's a female.....

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Whenever Charlie Pierce writes, "We're screwed," I find myself nodding in agreement. I wondered during the primaries how Romney could garner so many votes when so few admitted to liking him. It's becoming more clear: While Santorum wants to return America to its glory days under Cesare Borgia, and Gingrich wants to return America to 1995 when everyone thought he was pretty nifty, Romney is the apotheosis of the composite modern Republican: willing to speak the truth only when doing so is helpful to his cause, a worshiper of money but willing to pretend to share YOUR belief system as well, and spectacularly numb to the difficulties experienced by his fellow citizens. He is the antonym of compassionate, and as such he represents those who think that "lucky duckies" are actually lucky. Ever since Reagan it has been a "Conservative" (I really don't think that they deserve that label, do you?) mantra that government is the problem. Romney, who every day reinforces the notion that in America any fool with a trust fund can become President, might be the man Reagan had in mind.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

The whole Romney-rama-lama-ding-dong, whirling like a hypnotic swirl of greenbacks, privilege, arrogance, disconnection, and just plain weirdness spins around several hubs, one of which appears to be son number one, Tagg, nee Taggart who is incensed that anyone would consider him any different than any other kid from a family of five whose parents both had to work and who had to put himself through college and was lucky enough to eke out a living until hitting it rich through hard work and smarts. He's just the same. Sure he is.

The fact that his dad is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has been running for president since God was in short pants, and has a rolodex any CEO would kill for has nothing to do with it. Now he's tweeting messages about his sons born to a surrogate. I can't really say anything about their use of a surrogate if there is a medical problem, but it just adds to the overall weirdness of the Romney clan and their essential cluelessness.

Will we see these twins trotted out the way Palin held her (daughter's?) baby in front of her at rallies like a magic talisman during the campaign, used as just another prop to allow Romney to stave off criticism that he's not just a regular guy? Here again, their calculation does not compute.

Why?

Most regular people could not afford a surrogate. That's a luxury only for the well off or those able to mortgage a pretty nice home and dip into significant life savings. If they think this makes them look 'regular' they've made yet another miscue.

I'm reminded of the Scott Fitzgerald quote about the rich being different from you and me. No kidding. And he was only talking about the Murphys. The Romneys make Gerald and Sara Murphy, for all their extravagance and loaded bohemian life choices, look like Dagwood and Blondie.

I can picture that scene in Reversal of Fortune where Ron Silver, playing Alan Dershowitz, says to Claus Von Bulow "You're a pretty strange guy" to which the Von Bulow replies "You have no idea."

We have no freakin' idea just how strange the Romneys are. And the funny thing is neither do they.

Note to PD. Denny Crane, in addition to his role as conservative manque on Boston Legal, was also an inveterate horndog. But as odd and egocentric as Denny was, wouldn't you take him any day of the week over Paul Ryan?

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

@all the surrogate commenters (that is, lest I be misunderstood, those who commented on surrogates): More children=more workers=more competing for the same job=lower wages. Therefore, excessive breeding by whatever method is both patriotic and very Republican. Why do you think they're agin' abortion and birth control? It's all part of the GRD, the Grand Republican Plan. Tagg and his wife are just offering themselves as a selfless example for the peons.

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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