The Ledes

Friday, July 25, 2014.

** New York Times: "Russia has increased its direct involvement in fighting between the Ukrainian military and separatist insurgents, moving more of its own troops to the border and preparing to arm the rebels with ever more potent weapons, including high-powered Tornado rocket launchers, American and Ukrainian officials said on Friday."

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday, an official involved in the negotiations said on Friday. As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending." ...

     ... Update: "Israel agreed to halt its military offensive in Gaza for 12 hours starting Saturday morning amid intense international efforts to seal a broader cease-fire deal and a new explosion of violence in the West Bank.... The announcement by the military came early Saturday, hours after Israel’s security cabinet rejected Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a seven-day cease-fire in Gaza and further talks...."

... AFP: "Israeli fire Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce."

AFP: "The United States on Thursday said it had evidence Russian forces were firing artillery from inside Russia on Ukrainian troops, in what officials called a 'clear escalation' of the conflict. Moscow is also planning to 'deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers' to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, US deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said." ...

... AFP: "Ukraine's prime minister resigned after his governing coalition collapsed, plunging the former Soviet state into political limbo as it struggles to quell a deadly rebellion in the east.... Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he was stepping down over the "dissolution of the parliamentary coalition and the blocking of government initiatives" after several parties walked out on the ruling group. The collapse of the ruling coalition paves the way for early elections to be called by President Petro Poroshenko within 30 days."

New York Times: "As a detachment of French soldiers reached the crash site in Mali of an Air Algérie jetliner, officials in Paris said Friday that the accident was most likely weather-related and that the distribution of the wreckage over a limited area suggested that the plane probably hit the ground intact."

 

Guardian: "The Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran has been arrested along with his Iranian wife and two American photojournalists. Iranian judicial offficials confirmed on Friday that Jason Rezaian, who holds dual American and Iranian citizenship, had been detained and is under investigation."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

New York Times: "A series of explosions at a school run by the United Nations sheltering hundreds of Palestinians who had fled their homes for safety from Israeli military assaults killed at least 16 people on Thursday afternoon and wounded many more. The cause was not immediately clear."

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said." ...

... New York Times UPDATE: "An Air Algérie jetliner with 116 people on board crashed early Thursday in a remote area of Mali near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, officials said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 25

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

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Saturday
Oct132012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 14, 2012

Presidential Race

Nate Silver Today: "President Obama halted an 8-day winning streak for Mitt Romney in the FiveThirtyEight forecast on Saturday, with his chances of winning the Electoral College ticking up to 62.9 percent from 61.1 percent on Friday. One should be careful about making too much of this: Mr. Romney has made very strong gains in the forecast over the past week-and-a-half to draw the race nearly even. It is unlikely that there will be a major change in the landscape until Tuesday's debate in New York." ...

Nate Silver Yesterday: "Mitt Romney continues to surge in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, and Friday may have featured his best set of polls all year." ...

... Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks." ...

... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Ohio poll finds Barack Obama leading 51-46, a 5 point lead not too different from our last poll two weeks ago when he led 49-45. The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they've already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven't voted yet...." ...

... Sam Youngman of Reuters: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is recovering ground in the critical swing state of Ohio as he rises in the polls and crowd numbers swell after his strong debate performance last week against President Barack Obama. Despite pundits and pollsters dismissing Romney's chances in the state in late September, the Republican is now either tied or just barely trailing Obama in Ohio ahead of the next presidential debate on Tuesday night."

AP: "Bruce Springsteen will be back campaigning for President Barack Obama. The musician will join former President Bill Clinton at a Thursday rally in Parma, Ohio, two days after the second presidential debate. Obama will not attend the rally. Springsteen also will appear at a campaign event Thursday in Ames, Iowa."

Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The fact that Mitt Romney's tax plan is mathematically impossible was reinforced again on Friday, when Mark Zandi, a former John McCain campaign adviser and Chief Economist at Moody's Economy, admitted as much. Speaking on CNN's 'Starting Point,' Zandi acknowledged a study by the Tax Policy Center that shows Romney's plan to lower taxes by 20 percent across the board, while making up those losses in government revenue by closing loopholes on the wealthy, doesn't add up. Zandi even went so far as to say that "the arithmetic doesn't work as it is right now." ...

... Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic runs down the "six independent studies" Rmoney & AynR. are always citing as absolute proof their magical numbers work. Hilariously, one of the "independent studies" was cooked up by the Romney campaign. ...

... John Amato of Crooks & Liars says "Obama should slam Romney on his 'six studies' falsehood." CW: yeah, Steve Benen comes up with about 30 things every week Obama should slam Romney for. Good luck with that.

Danny Hakim of the New York Times: "During Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts, he cumulatively spent more than a year -- part or all of 417 days -- out of the state.... More than 70 percent of that time was spent on personal or political trips unrelated to his job.... Mr. Romney ... took lengthy vacations and weekend getaways. But much of his travel was to lay the groundwork for the presidential ambitions he would pursue in the 2008 election, two years after leaving office. During his last year as governor, he was largely an absentee chief executive." CW: sorta the Sarah Palin of Massachusetts, though at least she flat-out quit.

Sam Baker of The Hill: "Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) did not appreciate Paul Ryan calling him a supporter of the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan during Thursday's vice presidential debate.... Wyden made clear on his Facebook page that he does not support the plan Romney and Ryan are advancing, despite his past partnership with Ryan."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "The Getty Images photo was taken at a Romney/Ryan campaign event in Lancaster, Ohio on Friday. A Romney spokesperson commented that the shirt was 'reprehensible and has no place in this election.'" ...

... David Neiwert of Crooks & Liars: "Now, candidates can't really be blamed for all the nutcases they attract. But what exactly did Republicans think was going to be the outcome when Romney and Co. began indulging in a campaign employing barely-disguised racial dog whistles anyway?" ...

OR, if you own a retail business, you can showcase a racist smear right in your big ole storefront window, as this guy in Spring Lake, New Jersey, is doing. CW: don't you love the way people cite the First Amendment as an excuse for the most indefensible expressions? "The Constitution made me do it."

Maureen Dowd knocks Obama, Biden, Ryan, lets Romney off the hook.

Other Stuff

** "The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent. Chrystia Freeland in a New York Times op-ed: "The irony of the political rise of the plutocrats is that ... they threaten the system that created them."

Prof. Nicholas Carnes in the New York Times: White-collar millionaires "have a super-majority in the Senate, a majority in the House, a majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.... With so few leaders with experience in working-class jobs..., economic policy routinely tilts toward outcomes that help white-collar professionals at the expense of the working class. Social safety net programs are stingier, business regulations are flimsier, tax policies are more regressive, and protections for workers are weaker than they would be if our lawmakers came from the same mix of classes as the people they represent."

Gretchen Morgensen of the New York Times reads the new book by Sheila Bair, who was FDIC chair during the 2008 financial crisis. News flash: Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke & Tim Geithner were not out to help you.

Steven Yaccino of the New York Times: "Dozens of colleges have begun their own voting registration drives in orientation programs, class registration, intranet Web sites and other interactions crucial to campus life, institutionalizing services that had often been left to outside efforts. As a result, thousands of students registered to vote, updated their addresses or requested absentee ballots from their home states within days of arriving to campus this fall, officials at several universities said."

"Bachmann Family Values." Frank Bruni interviews Michele Bachmann's gay relative, who is hoping the Minnesota referendum on the November ballot banning gay marriage doesn't pass, as she wants to marry her long-time partner. Her relationship with Bachmann is, well, strained.

Profs. Graham Allison & Shea Feldman in a New York Times op-ed: "Mr. Netanyahu's about-face [on an early military strike against Iran] resulted from a long-building revolt by Israel's professional security establishment against the very idea of an early military attack, particularly one without the approval of the United States."

Local News

CBS Tampa: "The Florida State Board of Outrageous Racism Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race. On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level." See, kids, reading is not all that important a skill for field hands. ...

... The lyrics to our Florida state song are here. The state officially revised them way back in 2008 to make them, um, less offensive. I learned the original version when I was in grade school. I expect the Florida Department of Outrageous Racism is fixin' to change the lyrics back.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Arlen Specter, the irascible senator from Pennsylvania who was at the center of many of the Senate's most divisive legal battles -- from the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Clarence Thomas to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton -- only to lose his seat in 2010 after quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82." The Washington Post obituary is here.

New York Times: "Enmeshed in a bruising political battle over new mining rules seen as vital to Afghanistan's economic future, the country's mining minister on Sunday disclosed about 200 previous mining contracts for the first time, portraying the move as an attempt to bring transparency to a process vulnerable to corruption."

 

Space: "An Austrian daredevil plummeted into the record books today (Oct. 14), breaking the mark for highest-ever skydive after leaping from a balloon more than 24 miles above Earth's surface. Add one more feat: Going supersonic. Felix Baumgartner's ... harrowing plunge shattered the skydiving altitude record, which had stood for more than 50 years, and it notched a few other firsts as well. During his freefall, for example, Baumgartner became the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier...." Video above.

New York Times: "Suddenly, the Portuguese ... have joined the swelling ranks of Europe's discontented, following Greece and Spain, after the government tried to take another step up the austerity path last month. For many here, it was one step too far, driving tens of thousands into the streets in the largest protest of Portugal's crisis."

AP: "Syrian government forces appear to have recently made use of cluster bombs, weapons banned by most countries because of the danger they pose to civilians, a New York-based rights watchdog said Sunday.Human Rights Watch said in a report that Syrian activists posted at least 18 videos on Oct. 9-12 showing remnants of the bombs in or near several towns...."

AP: "The space shuttle Endeavour is finally on the home stretch of its journey through Los Angeles streets to its retirement at a museum. Officials are estimating that the space craft will reach the California Science Museum around 6 a.m. PDT Sunday. It was originally expected to arrive early Saturday evening, but it hit repeated delays throughout the day."

Reader Comments (17)

I am sick and tired of Maureen Dowd tarring President Obama for not being a backslapper. I submitted the following comment to the Times, which means if it gets published at all it will be tomorrow:

Romney has no coherent plan for anything. Not creating jobs, not closing the deficit, not shoring up women's right to equal pay or even control of their own bodies, not foreign relations or national security. Yet Dowd keeps letting him off the hook because Obama is too "aloof."
Aloofness would seem to be beside the point in deciding on a president. It's doubly strange when one considers that Romney himself is certainly anything but a people person. In fact, to call him merely aloof would be paying him a compliment.
If for argument's sake the two candidates are tied in the aloofness department, that should certainly dictate supporting the man with policies and values that will advance us as a country. And that candidate is surely President Obama.
Even Ms. Dowd would have to admit that.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Victoria: Yes, the Queen of Snark is anything but even-handed. She deserves a good skewering. I'm just waiting for Marie to give her the same treatment Marie gives David Brooks at least once a week.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Thank you to Victoria -- for your spot-on comment to the MoDo screed -- and to Calyban for your suggestion -- which I second -- that Marie devote one of her delicious take-downs to The Dowdy One. I was going to request it myself, but I'll content myself with seconding yours.

I do hope Bachmann's relative will be able to marry. Today, at my guild meeting, I got to see pictures of the recent wedding of a dear friend of mine and his partner. They had to go to New York to marry, but after 18 years together they're finally legally wed. I asked him if they would now have the same spousal rights as heterosexual couples in Michigan and he said, "unfortunately, no." As he put it, Michigan is a state with a few liberal (I would say "evolved") enclaves, like East Lansing and Ann Arbor (my home town), surrounded by a vast wilderness of ignorance and superstition. Several years ago a marriage equality proposition was placed on the ballot and ultimately defeated.

I'm amazed we're not showing up in the polls as a deep red state, but as my friend says, there are all those unionized auto workers, plus the liberal enclaves -- and then there's Detroit. At one time Michigan had a Romney we could all embrace: George Romney was a successful auto executive and a decent governor. Sometimes I think his son must be a changeling. He looks like his dad, but there, the resemblance ends. George was popular even with us lefties, because he was a kind of Republican that has been missing from the scene for decades, the kind that might have differed with Democrats in theory, but who, like them, ultimately cared about good governance. And who, to that end, could work in the kind of bipartisan way that we haven't seen for far too long in our state legislatures or national congress.

Willard, on the other hand, isn't popular even with Republicans today. Only with his fellow aliens -- you know: Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, Ann Coulter, Maureen Dowd....

Go get 'er, Marie!

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose in Michigan

Dowd seems to frame every male politician through the lens of her own psychological conflicts with father figures. To me her writings feel like they are at the emotional level of a pre-teen girl writing "dear diary" entries. Clearly she's well educated and literate, which for me, makes her stuff kind of creepy. No snark intended - seek professional help.

I stopped reading her columns about the 100th time she called Obama "aloof". She uses superficial snark to try and disguise the emotional holes. I don't see much value in her columns to either readers or as a method to improve her own psychological health. She may be successful but she's also sad.

I was born and raised in Michigan, left in 1981 at 27 for CA. As a small kid, I vaguely remember George Romney but more so after, his lasting legacy. He was well liked and respected by members of both parties. I truly believe he would be appalled at what the GOP has become and especially the total moral bankruptcy of his son. Rose, Go Blue! my Alma Mater.
Finally - Netanyahu has moved away from his very aggressive stance on Iran because he doesn't have the backing of enough of his constituents. No one wants nuclear engagement, unless you 're Dan Senor. Netanyahu put on his bully hat and tried to force a hard line commitment to invasion from Obama by trying to pit Obama against Romney. Netanyahu had no definition for his OWN red line. Lord Small Balls jumped at the bait, but sporting that woeful set of small balls, he couldn't really follow through. Netanyahu has had to call elections early precisely because he doesn't have the backing for an Iranian invasion. Doesn’t really look like he’ll be able to round up enough backers. Biden, hyperbole and all, ( "I've known Bibi for 39 years") handled it just right when he cautioned everyone to " calm down". If the US engages in another war, I can't see how it could be accomplished without reinstating the draft.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane's "Dear Diary" take down of the Dowdy One is apt; and telling.

I've pretty much given up reading her. Even her once every 3 month or so readable effort requires wading through the usual uncontrollable name dropping, the same tired, banal, backbiting and her hyper-critical fault finding which leaves no room for solutions and instead reserves every last syllable for snark with extra snark on the side. Just in case too much is not enough. She's like that long time friend who was funny in high school, annoying in college, and as an adult, became so insufferable you simply avoid at all costs, every encounter with whom you resent, feeling your life being drained away with each passing second.

Nope. Into the Brooks-Douthat Remainder Bin with all those terrible books you pass by in bookstores on your way to the good stuff, wondering how in fucking Publishers Clearing House Hell they ever made it that far in the first place, right next to deathless titles like "Chicken Soup for Racists" and "How to Remove Your Own Bladder in Thirteen Easy Lessons (scalpel included)".

That being said, I'd like to address the problem of the Missing Links who keep saying they'll vote for Romney and Ryan rather than put Obama back in the White, White House. Or any other house, for that matter.

Let's try a little thought experiment, kids.

Let's substitute the word "President" with "Surgeon".

So, you have some terrible problem, which you suspect might be a tumor. You're not sure if it's malignant or not so you visit Doctor Obama. He orders a series of tests based on actual scientific and medical precedent. He suggests a treatment based on the evidence and indicates that proper attention to your problem will have positive results, but it might take some time, so you need to follow the plan and be patient. His bedside manner leaves something to be desired, but he is, after all, a respected doctor with a successful track record in dealing with very difficult cases. Plus he has an actual degree in medical science.

You're not sure so you get a second opinion. You go to Drs. R&R.

Their office is nice and shiny with rich leather chairs and expensive appointments but right away you notice that neither of them are actual doctors. They pooh-pooh any tests. Instead, they bring out leeches and suggest a good bleeding will have enormous results overnight. You look at Dr. Romney's track record and you see all the other patients he's bled in the past.

They're all dead.

But what the hey, he's a nice guy, he's got an expensive suit and great hair. He doesn't frown like the other guy. In fact, his partner never stops grinning. The fact that he's wearing a baseball cap, backwards, and works out with weights the whole time is a little off-putting (plus the dead deer carcass in the corner is odd) but he reassures you that the huge fee they're going to charge you will guaran-fucking-tee that you'll be all better really, really, really quick.

You tell them to go ahead and start bleeding you.

And they do.

You don't like the real doctor so you sign on with the witch doctors?

You get what you deserve, morons. You need a surgeon? Hire one. You want to be bled to death? Dr. Romney will see you now...

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Two thoughts this morning.

One of my children who is in a graduate school program and who is solidly democratic and who supports Obama, thought that the vice president was rude for interrupting Paul Ryan in the debate. We discussed that a bit and that dynamic may be coming from her youth and that age group which identifies with Ryan's age group. The visual image that comes from watching the debates is very important. Obama kept shaking his head up and down when Romney was lying, and Biden is "rude" when he "laughs" and smiles and interrupts when Ryan lies. I suspect that many individuals would realize there was a substantive difference in how they viewed the results of the debate if they watched it with the sound off and then read the transcript, and there might be a different substantive rating of the debate from that of viewing it first and listening later, if they read the transcript and then watched the debate with the sound off. I know that if I dictate and then have transcribed some writing of mine, or type it up myself, the result is two very different products and I am convinced part of the difference is in how it is processed in my mind because of the oral vs. physical component of the process. The instant feed back of the written word on the screen creates a different thought process with the instant feedback loop. Perhaps its the listening which at first requires some personal feedback to be able to say "I get what he/she just said" verses the visual, immediate effect which puts a truth or false, or scared or calm, or some other internal "feeling" about what the words you listen too after seeing the person bold faced lie.

This mechanism gives Romney (looks convincing) a big advantage in the debates - it does not matter if he is lying when he is selling you the idea - because he is a practiced lier and I thing because of his pathologic nature may actually believe he is telling the truth. This comes out in the image and it does not matter what he is substantively saying.

Secondly, I recently was on vacation in rural Maine and New Hampshire where I witnessed supporters of Romney/Ryan with a booth at the entrance to a major public event with the booth ringed by posters of the President with a Hitler style mustache drawn on the President's upper lip. This is such an offensive smear and yet the people behind the booth were unapologetic about the images and were even defiant. I don't know what to say about this smear campaign (10 to 15 thousand people probably went by this booth for the week long event) as it relates to the followers of Romney/Ryan.

Both of these thoughts are scary to me. I think the mechanism behind them are related but I cannot articulate how. I fear for our country. I am not hopeful right now.

But, remember the Supremes.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfromtheheartland

If only these would be Obama's talking points in the debate:

1. Economic Darwinism -- Republicans want the Poor to Pay
2. Payroll Tax -- Republicans want the Middle Class to Pay
3. Job Shrinkage -- Republicans want Young People to Pay
4. Retirement Planning -- Republicans want the Seniors to Pay
5. Public Fire Sale -- Republicans want Society to Pay

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/08

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

@FromTheHeartland: it is difficult to know how to express disdain for a liar, particularly when you know half the viewers have no idea the lying liar is lying. Some pundit I read wrote that he listened to the first half of the veep debate on the radio while traveling, & he too thought Biden was being rude. Then the writer got to his destination & watched the second half of the debate, & he didn't think Biden appeared to be rude at all.

Obama's excuse for his initial debate performance was that he was "too polite." I suppose it's okay to be polite in a debate where the outcome doesn't matter. But it is ethically wrong to be "too polite" when your opponent is running for POTUS, & he is lying to the viewers. I don't know that it's necessary to continually interrupt the guy, but it is necessary to say again & again -- in the strongest of terms & looking into the camera -- "This guy is not telling you the truth." There are at least 50 good ways to say this -- without equivocating -- & Obama should employ every one of them. It would be nice if at some point Romney asked, "Are you calling me a liar?" The answer should be "Yes," or "Yes, and your whole performance here has been a serial lie. I find it shocking that you would run for president just telling one lie after another. This is a moral failing that disqualifies a person for high public office. Am I saying that I don't think you're qualified for the presidency? Yes, I am."

It would be good for Obama to channel Bill Clinton in his 'tude. Clinton can say this kind of thing & sound sad to have to inform the American people that Romney is perpetrating a giant hoax. It's a gift.

Marie

October 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Re: Still fightin' the white. Freedumb to wear my racism t-shirt. Freedumb to show the world that America was founded by and created for Caucasian males. Freedumb to stand by a scripture that promises "Freedom and liberty for all" and ignore the "all". Freedumb to fan the fires of difference to fuel the fat of greed.
Rude? I'll give you rude. Rude is a national political party that gathers covert racists to try to control the inevitable march of progress.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

@Right on! (Yes, I'm in that generation) Marie! Wish Obama played politics the way he plays basketball: no quarter asked for or given!

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Re Dowd and the Problem with Punditry:

Once a paid pundit has established a voice and a point of view, too often it is the combined approach of the two that dictates what the pundit has to say, not those shifty things like facts or reality. Contemporary pundits are so tied to and dependent on meeting the expectations of their blindered bases, they dare not deviate from them. To do so would require thought and worse, run the danger of confusing and alienating their audiences.

In Dowd's case, her subject is mostly method or manner, which often hit the mark when she applied it to Bush II and the tastelessness and intellectual emptiness of his White House kennel of frat-boy wonders. It's easy and accurate and even useful to make fun of the banal, especially when it's so dangerous. There's a lesson there worth teaching. The same method applied to the last four years and the current administration, though, just comes across as snotty cleverness in search of a subject. That's why I don't read her any more. Even when she's occasionally funny, the humor doesn't feel right because it's wit without worth.

By the way, and reading the accumulated comments, it sounds like we picked a good debate to miss.

Missed you guys.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The pioneers of advertising and subliminal mind control, armed with early psychological studies, refined the understanding and use of symbolism in touching areas of the mind deeper than intellect can penetrate. Josef Goebbels was an early practitioner of these arts. Appealing to intellect or truth telling is limited in its' effectiveness when fear mongering, race baiting, and sexual stereo typing touch these areas of unexpressible feeling.
The 2008 Obama campaign was much more effective at tapping into these depths of feeling. For some reason this campaign is more academic and mechanical in feeling. I guess it is Obama's attitude.
God, Bill Clinton is giving some of the best speeches of any political time, the man understands symbolism. Joe Biden, for a man of 69, is really putting out energy like a nuclear reactor. If Obama can't lite a fire under his college professor ass next week, he will soon be back in a classroom.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

For a pretty thorough profile on Romney's "go-to economist" Glen Hubbard go to the business page of the NYT. If Romney wins this guy might become Sec. of Treasury and since Hubbard was instrumental in the last Bush administration, woe unto us.

Discussion this morning re: the frustration we feel when people we encounter can't distinguish the facts from the fabrications. Seeing that picture of the skinhead with that disgusting message on his back reminds us––as though by now we need reminding––that the asininity caliber of "those folks out there" is rampant.

Yesterday my husband went to our local green grocer fruit and vegetable place––features fresh local or/and state grown produce. We know the owner by now, having been customers for over two decades. Dennis, the owner, is a small business man that frequently complains to us about the problems he faces running a business like that–-problems that any one running a business like that would have. But yesterday when Joe, my husband, encountered Dennis among the cantaloupes and asked how things were going the conversation veered toward politics. Dennis is voting for Romney, he said, because –––well, just because he doesn't think Obama has done a good job. This set Joe on a missionary zeal and for almost an hour Joe and Dennis, at times voices raised, so that passerby's slowed down to listen and at one point several of the workers shouted, "Go Obama!" In the end Joe had convinced Dennis not to vote for Romney and instead, Dennis said, he'd write in a vote for Ron Paul which as Joe told Dennis, "At least now you are voting with your principles."

The Matt Taibii piece was terrific ( Kate––I sent it to my brother after I received a "must read" interview with Steve Forbes). I thought it the best run-down of the VP debate yet.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@marie. I wasn't meaning to imply I agreed with my son/daughter's impression of the debate. She get's it because we have in our family had discussions about truth in politics. Your assessment in these comments is right on the mark. And, every time Biden looked into the camera I thought he was extremely effective.

Our President needs to talk right into the camera a say to US that "He is not truthful on . . ." Now say to the moderator, or back to Romeny "You are not telling the truth." The President needs to make eye contact with US voters and tell it like it is really - "That is not true and here's why . . . ." Much more effective. Don't even acknowledge the audience or moderator or Romney.

The Tiibii piece was terrific as PD Pepe said. These charlatans need to be called out immediately for their lies. Obama needs to call out Romney every time. He needs to respond to the outright boldfaced lies, some of which may require interrupting even in this upcoming town hall format rather than waiting for his turn which may never come.

Thank you all for the wonderful posts!!!

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfromtheheartland

The SNL VP debate parody was pants wetting funny. There was a wonderful illustration of just what Dave Roberts was talking about in the article (linked by Marie 10/13) on Martha Raddatz. Likely you have all seen it, but just in case....http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/snl-vp-debate-video-145419790--election.html

Lawrence O'Donnell, on The Last Word had a very good "rewrite" segment Friday on Presidential/VP debates. It's still on the Last Word site. He suggested that we aren't really electing a "debater-in-chief" and wonders what value there is in judging snap answers and zingy comebacks in the context of the job of the Presidency. Presidents are rarely if ever faced with a situation that requires a snap answer without thought, information, discussion and input from others. He concludes that a lot needs to change including giving the questions ahead of time, if we are really measuring fitness for the Presidency. The piece got me thinking.
They are contests in the most artificial sense, in the mold of a reality show, some more Jerry Springer than others. Its part expectation by a public programmed for 24/7 superficial snippets, a culture that over diagnoses ADHD and programs media accordingly but mostly a lot about ratings=money. The few serious politicians are heavily criticized and penalized for not playing along with the model of snappy answers - lies or not, pressured speech, sound bites and a frenetic speaking pace.

You can see the disdain that Obama has for that kind of discourse. That doesn't mean he is not passionate or committed. I've never seen him as aloof, I see him as thoughtful. In 2008, a lot of the energy was contained in the personal dreams and stories of populace. Obama was "the first". Not only "the first" but apparently, before anyone saw that as a possibiity. He'll never be the first again and he can never live up to the pride, joy and exuberance that accompanied him to the Presidency. It is predictable, there is severe pressure to return us to the old (white guy) status quo. Change is way scary, especially for those whose time is passing.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane: I saw O'Donnell's Rewrite and though it was spot on in its two main points. Do we really want to toss out of our collective brains everything we know about Mitt and everything we know about Obama and base our vote on how smoothly they presented themselves one particular night, as "debaters?" Secondly, the whole idea of getting to the truth by ambush is illogical. As O'Donnell said, that is not how governing works. Even if we were the subject of a surprise attack, the WH would take some time to gather facts before launching a counter assault. As, in fact, history has shown.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Rose in Michigan; Your story of friends going to NY state to get
married reminds me of dozens of couples I know who have done this,
and, of course, it does nothing to legalize things between two people.
Case in point: I live in Michigan and want to be cremated at the end.
State law says it must be approved by your husband/wife, or immediate family. My life partner has no say in this; state law.
Many gay people have no immediate family if rejected. Anyway,
you live in paradise (A2). What I would give for a Zingermans
corned beef right now (better than NYC).

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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