The Ledes

Thursday, May 5, 2016.

AP: "A massive wildfire raging in the Canadian province of Alberta has grown to 85,000 hectares (210,035 acres) in size and officials would like to move south about 25,000 evacuees who had previously fled north. More than 80,000 people have emptied Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada's oil sands." -- CW

Guardian: "The local police investigation into the death of Prince is being beefed up with staff from the US attorney’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as a California doctor who specializes in prescription drug addiction revealed the singer’s representatives reached out for urgent help the day before he died.." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 4, 2016.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Prince was found dead one day before he was scheduled to meet with a California doctor in an attempt to kick an addiction to painkillers, an attorney with knowledge of the death investigation said Tuesday." -- CW

AP: "The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials said destroyed whole neighborhoods.... The wildfire, whipped by unpredictable winds on a day of unseasonably hot temperatures, worsened dramatically in a short time and many residents were given little notice to flee." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

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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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