The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

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

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

Friday
Oct122012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 13, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. AP: "President Barack Obama is hailing the rebound of the U.S. auto industry, pointing to progress since his administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address that auto sales are the highest they've been in more than four years and the industry has created nearly a quarter of a million new jobs."

My column for the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' assessment of the Biden-Ryan debate. Comments are open at NYTX.

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "Although Mr. Obama got a distinctly poor poll in Florida, which showed him seven points behind there, the rest of Thursday's state-level data, like a series of polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College, were reasonably good for him."

** David Maraniss in the Washington Post: "The Denver debate was the second ineffective performance in a row for Obama, following his convention speech in Charlotte. That moment, protected by Clinton's incandescent oration the night before, had no discernible negative effect but, taken in tandem with the debate, intensifies the question of whether the president can talk his way out of his latest trap. His history shows that, after flailing around, he tends to respond when the pressure is greatest -- and that he appreciates the role of rhetoric." CW: Maraniss, who has studied Obama a lot more closely than I have, nevertheless arrived at about the same conclusion I did regarding the pathology that drives politicians like Bill Clinton & Obama. However, it is reasonable to presume -- based on the evidence -- that Romney performs superbly under pressure, too. (Don't get me into the pathology that drives that SOB!) So if both men are on game, we're in for a battle of two ruthless titans Tuesday. They'll make affable laughing Joe look like a real sweetie-pie.

** David Roberts of Grist tears into Martha Raddatz & the inside-the-Beltway closed loop of mind-numbing Very Serious Person gobbledygook. Good for him. This is a must-read. ...

... CW: This isn't. I am linking this story only because I find it hilarious. Daniel Halper's big news at the Weekly Standard is that MARTHA RADDATZ VISITED BIDEN AT HIS RESIDENCE IN MARCH. Holy Cow! Were they having an affair or what? Well, yes, Raddatz was attending a Women's History Month affair, probably with 200 other women. Jill & Joe Biden hosted the reception. Were Martha & Joe caught on tape in flagrante? Unhappily, no: THERE WAS NO POOL REPORT THAT MIGHT HAVE RECORDED THE DETAILS. So, okay, a cover-up! And a mainstream media conspiracy! I hardly ever get to use my exclamation key. I think I'll get a job in Right Wing World "journalism." There are so many sensational scoops in those parts.

... When Mr. Ryan said last night that Gov. Romney was a car guy, I thought, well, if having an elevator to stack them counts, I guess he was. -- Bill Clinton ...

... Matt Taibbi: Joe Biden was right to laugh derisively at Paul Ryan. The junior league budget flim-flam Romney & Ryan are pushing cannot be taken seriously. ...

... Rick Hertzberg: Romney won the first debate because Obama let him win. Obama lost "Joe Biden won, but not because Paul Ryan let him. Ryan came in second, you might say, but he didn't lose." Hertzberg parses Biden's response to Ryan's remark on the stimulus. It was a masterful turn. ...

... Hertzberg & John Cassidy talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the debate:

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable. Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night's debate, 'We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.'"

... Nielsen: "An estimated 51.4 million people tuned in to watch the sole debate between sitting Democratic V.P Joe Biden and ... Paul Ryan on Thursday, October 11." ...

... BUT Gail Collins thinks now that the veep debate is over, it's over. She was more taken with the Sherman-Berman dust-up, that almost ended in fisticuffs. (See yesterday's Commentariat.) ...

... People Who Make Me Want to Blow up the Teevee, Tom Brokaw Edition:

** Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "Wiping out itemized deductions and raising taxes on investment income would generate only enough cash to pay for a minuscule reduction in federal tax rates, according to an official analysis, raising new questions about the workability of Republican-style tax reform. In a report released Friday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for tax policy, concluded that such changes would pay for a 4 percent reduction in tax rates next year -- far short of the 20 percent reduction sought by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney." CW: if Obama doesn't use this in Tuesday's debate, he'll be fired. ...

... Always good to see an AP story like this one from Andrew Taylor: "Romney's plan offers the dessert of sweeping tax cuts but not the vegetables of how he would pay for it.... Friday ... the nonpartisan tax analyst for Congress released a study that says eliminating all itemized deductions would pay for just a 4 percent cut in tax rates -- far below Romney's 20 percent target." ...

... Contributor Roger Henry points to this column by conservative David Frum of Newsweek: of the Romney budget plan, Frum writes "... even if the plan works exactly as advertised, Romney would transfer the tax burden from the plutocrats to the orthodontists."

New York Times Editors: "A campaign should demonstrate seriousness of purpose and a set of core beliefs, and it should signal to voters whether a candidate shows trustworthiness and judgment. Those things don’t seem to matter to Mitt Romney. From the beginning of his run for the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney has offered to transfigure himself into any shape desired by an audience in order to achieve power. There isn't really a Moderate Mitt; what is on display now is better described as Convenient Mitt."

A new Obama campaign ad running in seven swing states:

Jed Lewison provides another great video on Romney v. Romney. In at least half of those remarks, Romney has to be lying, since he's contradicting himself. But he sure looks sincere in every clip.

It's Week 38 of Steve Benen's Chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity. Congratulations, Mitt Romney, on telling 39 big lies in one little week. (Last week, as I recall, Mitt told a mere 38 lies. He's getting better.)

Igor Volsky of Think Progress finds another instance in which Romney-Ryan, after complaining bitterly about government spending being a big waste that doesn't create jobs, run an ad in Ohio complaining that Obama is cutting military spending which will cost Ohio -- jobs. CW: what is it about Republicans that makes them think the only government spending that creates jobs in spending on destructive stuff? Oh, yeah, their military contractor backers.

Reader Comments (17)

I hate being the prophet of doom but we should be planning on how to respond to an R&R victory.
Romney has years of experience dominating boards, committees and other executives. Executives get to be top dog by dominating the other males.
The truth will not do Obama any good because he has never been able to sell anything. He does not have the presence of a leader.
Romney will spout lies and half truths with conviction, force and aplomb. The Media and the other under informed will eat it up. The diffident Obama will not win any debate unless Romney really screws up. Romney will be the most reasonable candidate since Eisenhower and slightly to his left for the next two debates. He will say what is acceptable as he did in the first debate. Never mind anything he said before this.
Four years of Romney and the tea party are certain to create a social and economic debacle. Who will lead the cringing,cowardly Democrats from the wilderness? Who will pick up the pieces?
Hillary is tough enough and smart enough but a little old. Elizabeth Warren if elected to the Senate is possible. Who else? Win or lose, Obama will never be a leader again, he had his chance.
Obama and a weak Democratic party have let the unified Republicans make asses of them for three years.
As a New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt, yellow dog Democrat I resent Obama's repeated capitulations to Republican, right wing crap.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Marie, thank you for linking to David Roberts excellent column. Although I thought Radditz did a way better job than Lehrer, her basic questions left a lot to be desired. She was pretty good in follow ups.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Carlyle-

I just finished watching Darrell Issa dominate Bill Maher on Real Time. Yikes. Bill is usually so good at ducking the slime. But Issa is a confident, psychopathic ideologue who puts forth a deadly charm offensive. He does not have correct facts, but he makes them up and ACTS as if he does. (Note: Ann Coulter was Bill's first guest and was so off the wall crazy, I thought she had taken a bit too much angel dust before going on the show.)

Here, to my mind, is the big problem. Image. The American people are besotted by image. Truth matters little. Mitt Romney (and Darrell Issa) have deep, loud voices--speak with conviction, look sincere, and smile arrogantly when others disagree with them. Issa even made fellow panelist, Ben Affleck, look meek, and he is an intelligent, savvy, fact-driven guy.

What this says to me is that unprincipled, lying chameleons--who look good and speak clearly, with seeming sincerity--will take and hold center stage. An introverted Black guy who says "uh" and "um" and speaks like a Constitutional Law professor has no chance--unless he is giving a practiced speech, and has no competition and/or interruptions. He is not schooled in changing his mind on the dime and lying convincingly. Also, he sees this "debate thing" as the shallow, silly, media invention that it is. And he has not yet learned to suffer fools gladly. I think this could lose him the election. He would do better if he had the Irish charm of Uncle Joe Biden. No kidding.

That said, I do think Obama will win the election. He has a fantastic campaign organization, and he is set to win Ohio and Michigan as well as the traditional Blue states. The working class people--especially the auto industry--are going to vote for him, because he actually has helped them. They know they will get less than nothing from MittWitt. Other than Ohio and Michigan--I see no good news!
Sigh.......

As my friend Akhilleus says: Remember the Fucking Supremes!

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

In a very good description of last night's debate wherein she listed Biden as the clear victor, Joan Walsh concluded thusly, " In five days, Obama will face Romney again and all of this will matter much less. But Biden dialed down Democratic panic and reminded Americans he’s part of a team that’s fighting for them."
That last comment was very interesting to me, because I have begun to feel strongly that a great slogan for Obama-Biden would be, "Fighting for YOU!"
Anyway, I loved the fight and spirit of Biden last night.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Sometimes, 'very serious' retired news readers should stay retired, (i.e.; People Who Make Me Want to Blow up the Teevee, Tom Brokaw Edition:)

Or, to put it another way, "...Mr. Brokaw, I knew Walter Cronkite, and you sir are no Mr. Cronkite.!"

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

I encourage everyone to read Marie's column today. I think it is one of her best.

And David Roberts––dynamite piece–-grist for the mill, indeed. This is what I meant yesterday when I wrote about the speed that pundits, bloggers, tweeters, etc. voice their opinions before actually digesting the material. Roberts evidently chewed a bit before putting pen to paper.

Note to carlyle from Obama: CHILL THE FUCK OUT–-I GOT IT! I HAVEN'T BEEN PLAYING "AROUND THE WORLD" FOR NOTHIN. MY BALLS ARE GONNA GET INTO THOSE NETS AND WE ARE GONNA WIN THIS GAME! YOU HEAR????

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@MAG, I couldn't agree more I've been throwing up in my mouth every time I've had to hear Tom Blowchow pontificate on some subject for the last several years now. He is no Walter Cronkite. Walter had a depth of understanding of national issues that the light weight, news reader from South Dakota has never been able to approach.
David Frum in Newsweek has a nice description of how The Rats tax plan dines on the "merely rich" to feed the ultra rich, the top 1% of the top 2%. I feel sorry for Republicans who believe they are 'all in this together'.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

Re: Marie's David Brooks forgets American History

Powerful!!!

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

''Get rid of the loop holes for the top earners"

If this actually happens....... how long do you think it will take for slime bag lobbyist to get bigger and better breaks for their "customers",down the road?
Altho Romney can lay down a 10K wager with his lunch money, I can only offer a $5 wager. I say six months.
Any takers?

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Lowery

"Lying is an accursed vice. It is only our words which bind us together and make us human. If we realized the horror and weight of lying, we would see that it is more worthy of the stake than other crimes.... Once let the tongue acquire the habit of lying and it is astonishing how impossible it is to make it give it up."
-Montaigne

A thought-provoking quote in this era of Post-Truth Politics where lies have taken center stage of American culture like never before. Now that it's understood by the GOP that calculated bold and brazen lying can effectively get you to the top, I see no reason for them to reverse course, ever. The Dems will adopt and adapt. Lies have always been at the heart of politics, but at least they used to go out of their way to wrap them in fancy presents. Now they're served up cold, raw with a soulless stare down and a cheesy smirk. The fact-checking industry will prosper but with little effects as the general public is numbed down by corrupt salesmen without an honest bone in their body.

Shall we bring back the Inquisition? A few serial fibbers burned at the stake could turn the tide. Drastic times call for drastic measures

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersafari

And another thing.

We are becoming a Nation of takers. I have yet to hear of a politician not taking a campaign donation or a top earner NOT taking a tax break.
Excellent day for a rant. I feel better already.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Lowery

My favorite part of Marie's column is the last paragraph. One of the ways that I can occasionally temper my loathing for folks like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, the Tea party congressmen, etc is to know that the brothers Koch and their ilk see these guys as expendable parasites. There is a delicious irony in that.

As for Brooks, he's a nightcrawler twisting at the end of a hook, his relevance will soon be swallowed by a fish. In the meantime he is desperately trying to hang on and contemplating life as fish poop.

Obama will persevere, it is one of his strongest characteristics. Now if I were a Republican and thought I was ordained to restrict "you peoples' " freedoms I would restrict all reality shows to pay-per-view at a $100 a pop to be used as an education tax. People have lapped up so much ignorance, an insatiable capacity for lies and sleaze, no wonder Lord Small Balls gets ratings.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

The Republican proposal to reduce everyone's tax bracket by 20% seemed to spring out of nowhere. The conversation had been simply about whether to let the incredibly low Bush tax rates expire in their entirety, or expire at all. Then suddenly came this proposal to reduce the already historically low rates even further, but ah!: they had to be revenue netral as a nod to the deficit, so loopholes must be closed. Now we get into a big fight over the unspecified loopholes.
My question is this: why reduce the marginal rates (in a regressive way at that) thereby twisting everyone into knots at how to "pay for them" - which means increasing the burden on taxpayers in some way by playing around with deductions to get back to the point you started? I just honestly do not get it. It seems like a real gimmick to me, a way to sneakily lower burdens for the uber-wealthy, as has been pointed out by some.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Kate: I realize that the news has not been good for the past two weeks. But I'm willing to bet Obama does a little better than just Ohio, Michigan and the traditionally blue states: he looks to pull in at least three of the following: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virginia. It would not be a blow out, but a solid victory. And right now, it looks like I'll collect on my better with Marie on a Warren victory.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

@PD: I have to agree with you that Marie's column today was (yet again) terrific, and especially that last paragraph. I hope I live long enough to see Brooks and company realize that he is only one of us expendable worms, to be discarded at the whim of his plutocrat bosses.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Another take on Raddatz and DC think by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian.
I'm a year older than Biden. My interest in US politics began with McCarthy and was fully formed by the time of Nixon. Perhaps that explains my preference for the old heart-on-his-sleeve Biden over the cool Ayatolla Ryan (can't separate his political and religious selves) with his amoral self aggrandizing core.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercowichan

It's laughable that losers want to denigrate Raddaz, but not Lehrer. Denigrate Biden, but not Romney for his TOTAL disregard for Lehrer and the President.Yeh. Romney is good at dominating boards and lying boldly to close the deal,.but that is not what this debate is all about.The pontification of his philosophy is not a plan or a solution to the ills of the society.To listen to the post analysis you would think he walked on water and jobs will be created as soon as he reached the shore of the White House. Biden did give facts, Romney gave blather,Biden did give facts Ryan gave aspirations. Neither Ryan or ROMNEY WON THE DEBATE.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRueben Scott
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