The Ledes

Friday, September 19, 2014.

Guardian: "Alex Salmond declared he will stand down as Scotland's first minister and the lead of the Scottish National party after failing to secure a majority for independence, as the country's vote to remain in the United Kingdom foreshadowed months of constitutional turmoil. After 55% of Scottish voters rejected independence, a higher margin than suggested by the final opinion polls of the campaign, Salmond, who has dominated Scottish politics for the past decade, said he would quit in November."

CBS/AP: "France said Friday it had conducted its first airstrike in Iraq, destroying a logistics depot held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The office of President Francois Hollande's office said Rafale fighter jets struck the depot in northeastern Iraq on Friday morning and the target was 'entirely destroyed.'"

Guardian: "David Cameron has declared a 'clear result' in the Scottish independence referendum after Scotland voted by a 10.6-point margin against ending the 307-year-old union with England and Wales. Earlier, Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, struck a defiant note at a downbeat Scottish National party rally in Edinburgh, saying he accepted Scotland had not 'at this stage' decided to vote for independence. He paid tribute to what he called a 'triumph for democratic politics' and said he would work with Westminster in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – warning the leaders of the three main parties to make good on their promises of enhanced devolution for Scotland." ...

... The Guardian's liveblog on the referendum is here. ...

... The Scotsman's front page has links to numerous related stories. The paper's main story is here.

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Reuters: "Eight bodies, including those of three journalists, were found after an attack on a team trying to educate locals on the risks of the Ebola virus in a remote area of southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday."

New York Times: "The people of Scotland decide Thursday whether national pride outweighs economic risk.... Economists normally as ideologically disparate and disputatious as Alan Greenspan, Paul Krugman, Adam S. Posen and Niall Ferguson all have predicted a negative economic outlook for an independent Scotland, while expressing anxiety, too, about the impact of such uncertainty on the larger European and global economies."

... The front page of the Edinburgh Scotsman is here. The Guardian has a Scottish independence page here, with lots o'links. 

      ... Update: The Guardian is now liveblogging the vote & results. The final poll before voting put the yes votes at 47 percent & the no at 53. ...

     ... Update 2: The Guardian has a new liveblog here. Still no final results (as of 7:45 pm ET).

Guardian: "Toronto mayor Rob Ford has a 'rare and difficult' form of cancer called malignant pleomorphic liposarcoma, doctors treating him at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto announced on Wednesday." ...

     ... New York Update: Ford has endorsed his brother Doug for mayor.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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."

White House Live Video
September 19

10:00 am ET: Annoucement of Department of Defense awards on biofuel production

10:15 am ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden host a White House event to launch the "It's on Us" campaign

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** 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 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

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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