The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 9

1:00 pm ET: Senior administration officials discuss the President's FY2017 budget

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Monday
Oct152012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 16, 2012

Presidential Race

Annie-Rose Strasser in TruthDig: "Five Facts to Commit to Memory before Watching Tonight's Debate."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "the second presidential debate is designed to be a little less stiff -- a free-flowing question-and-answer session between the candidates and a studio audience. But behind the scenes, little is left to chance." CW: and here I was, hoping for a cheesy pizza preference question when the leadership of the free world is at stake (see yesterday's Commentariat).

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Two weeks ago, Obama tried to stay above the fray, backing down from nearly every attack he and his campaign have been firing at Romney by proxy -- both on television and in solo rallies across the country. Tuesday at Hofstra, will throw all the punches he pulled two weeks ago, his aides promise."

Matt Miller in the Washington Post: "Team Obama shouldn't be planning to refight the first debate. It should be prepared for a Romney who'll show up with new surprises.... Above all, it means laying out a bolder vision for a second term than the poll-tested small ball that passes for Obama's agenda thus far -- an agenda designed to help the president limp to victory, rather than address the country's real needs." CW: I've been thinking the same thing for two weeks: the next two debates will each bring a new "October Surprise" from Rmoney, just as the first one did. (I don't think Miller is necessarily right about what Romney's surprise will be, but it will be something designed to throw Obama again.) ...

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek has some excellent advice for Obama on how to approach the debate with Romney. Too bad Tomasky wasn't on Obama's debate prep team -- not that Obama would have listened to him.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones isn't so sure, based on Obama camp spin, that they know the difference between a "debate" and a "town hall" -- not that the presidential debate shows are truly debates or the town-hall show is really a town-hall meeting. If Obama behaves more as Al Gore did in the clip Serwer includes than as Bill Clinton did in the Serwer clip, we're looking at President Romney. CW: while these clips may be extreme examples, you can really see why Clinton won & Gore lost, not on substance but on style.

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed: "Vice President Joe Biden will appear on all three network morning shows on Wednesday, less than 10 hours after President Barack Obama faces off against Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate."

Nate Silver: "National polls showed a modestly favorable trend for President Obama, allowing him to gain slightly in our forecast. (Mr. Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College are now 66.0 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight model, up from 63.4 percent on Sunday.)" ...

... Say What???? Susan Page of USA Today: "Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation's top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank." ...

     ... Nate Silver tweets: "Looking at breakouts of 'swing states' from national polls is just dumb when there are dozens of actual swing state polls out every week."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama and his wife, Michelle, announced on Monday that they would both vote early, and Mrs. Obama was photographed holding an absentee ballot for Illinois that she later dropped in the mail. Mr. Obama followed up her announcement by saying that he would vote early, in person, on Oct. 25, the next time he planned to be in Chicago.... They are throwing their weight behind the Obama campaign's aggressive push for early voting...."

NEW. Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker on what women want. "When some, usually more affluent, women can easily obtain birth control, and others cannot, that has real economic implications, both for individuals and for social equity. Romney and Ryan would prefer that you forget it, but women's issues are everybody's issues." CW: let's hope Obama takes Nancy Pelosi's advice of last week & reminds voters of how different their policies are on women's health care: i.e., Romney sez, "Girls, you're on your own. P.S. If you need an abortion, go to a private clinic in Europe. Otherwise, you're going to jail in the U.S."

Falling on Her Sword. Secretary of State Clinton says she takes responsibility for the lack of security at the Benghazi consulate:

Ashley Parker & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have begun a late push to raise tens of millions of dollars in the closing weeks of the election, cash that will finance a last-minute barrage of advertising that Mr. Romney's aides believe is critical to beating President Obama. In an e-mail to top donors and fund-raisers on Monday afternoon, Mr. Romney's campaign said that it had raised $170 million in September, almost as much as the near-record $181 million raised by Mr. Obama, but the campaign added that it needed to bring in even more money in October to capitalize on Mr. Romney's surge in polls in swing states like Florida and Ohio."

RomneyMath. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney's promise to create 12 million jobs during his first term in office -- a labor increase that Moody's said will likely happen anyway -- doesn't add up: "This is a case of bait-and-switch. Romney, in his convention speech, spoke of his plan to create '12 million new jobs,' which the campaign's White Paper describes as a four-year goal. But the candidate's personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade -- which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney's economic plan. The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren't the same thing -- not by a long shot."

Wait, wait. There's there's a link to the details at RomneyTaxPlan.com. -- Victoria D.

"Arithmetic over Illusion." In a Web video, the Explainer-in-Chief explains Romney's tax plan:

     ... CW: Have you ever heard Obama so clearly state the Romney flim-flam tax plan? Or much of anything else "my opponent" proposes? No, I didn't think so. And pay attention to Clinton's demeanor. I think I mentioned the other day that he can take down an opponent's false claims without anger or out-and-out derision. Instead, he appears to speak to voters as a friend who is helping them out. He is a master. ...

... New York Times Editors: "... members of Washington's reality-based community have a habit of popping up to point out the many deceptions in the [Romney] campaign's blue-sky promises of low taxes and instant growth. The [Congressional] Joint Committee on Taxation ... [found that] ending all those deductions would only produce enough revenue to lower tax rates by 4 percent. Mitt Romney says he can lower tax rates by 20 percent and pay for it by ending deductions. The joint committee's math makes it clear that that is impossible.... The Romney campaign claims it has six studies proving it can be done, but, on examination, none of the studies actually make that point, or counterbalance the nonpartisan analyses that use real math."

Whoopi! Huffington Post: "Barbara Walters announced on Monday's 'View' that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney canceled on the ABC daytime talk show. His wife Ann will still appear on Thursday's show." With video.

Debunking Dad: The Real George Romney. Several Reality Chex contributors recommended this piece by John Bohrer in yesterday's BuzzFeed, which sheds new light on George Romney's character & political career. Rather than portraying George as a principled politician, Bohrer describes him as an opportunist who did what he needed to do to sell himself. The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, after all. ...

... One man cited in Bohrer's piece -- has a different view of George Romney. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "A longtime aide to George W. Romney issued a harshly worded critique of Mitt Romney, accusing him of shifting political positions in 'erratic and startling ways' and failing to live up to the distinguished record of his father.... Walter De Vries, who worked for the senior Mr. Romney throughout the 1960s, wrote that Mitt Romney's bid for the White House was 'a far cry from the kind of campaign and conduct, as a public servant, I saw during the seven years I worked in George Romney's campaigns and served him as governor.' ... Mr. De Vries, who said he wished to the see the Republican Party return to its moderate roots, said he intended to vote for Mr. Obama on Election Day."

** New York Times Editors: if Romney wins, abortion rights go. "We do not need to guess about the brutal consequences of overturning Roe. We know from our own country's pre-Roe history and from the experience around the world.... Women's health, privacy and equality would suffer. Some women would die. Mr. Romney knows this, or at least he used to. Running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts in 1994..., Mr. Romney spoke of a young woman, a close relative, who died years before as result of complications from an illegal abortion to underscore his now-extinct support for Roe v. Wade. In a report in Salon last year, Justin Elliott ... found that when the young woman passed away, her parents requested that donations be made in her honor to Planned Parenthood. That's the same invaluable family-planning group that Mr. Romney has pledged to defund once in the White House."

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times has a useful piece explaining Romney's & Obama's differences on trade with China.

With Armaggedon approaching -- or, to borrow from Akhilleus'commentary, a crossing of the Rubicon about to occur at Hofstra -- let us bask in the memory of happier times -- way last week:

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week 'ramrodded their way' into the group's Youngstown, [Ohio,] soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall." ...

"I keep my good-works photo-op apron crisp & clean by only washing dishes that are already clean."... Um, the dishes didn't need washing. Oh, and there were no people there having soup. Neetzan Zimmerman of Gawker has the pathetically hilarious details. But, hey, Paul Ryan looks really compassionate when he's railroaded press photographers in to take his picture looking compassionate.

Other Stuff

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "If he gets another four years in the White House, [President Obama] already has plans to go right back on the campaign trail to build support for his deficit-reduction framework, Democrats say, and administration officials are debating whether Mr. Obama should make some concession to Republicans to spur negotiations." CW: sure sounds familiar, doesn't it? It would be nice if, instead of "building support for his deficit-reduction framework" & "making some concession to Republicans to spur negotiations," Obama took Jon Chait's advice (see link in yesterday Commentariat) & just stuck it to Congressional Republicans, something he would easily be able to do because of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Monetary policy, while highly accommodative by historic standards, may still not have been sufficiently accommodative given the economic circumstances.... With the benefit of hindsight, monetary policy needed to be still more aggressive. -- William Dudley, President of the New York Fed

No shit. -- Constant Weader

A doctor writes to Paul Krugman adding another way that emergency rooms do not care for patients with life-threatening illnesses. CW: Mitt Romney doesn't care if they die. See also Krugman's column linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

Kevin Roose & Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine have a little on Vikram Pandit's ouster as CitiGroup CEO (see today's News Ledes) but not much.

News Ledes

New York Times: "An officer for the Central Intelligence Agency was killed on Saturday in a suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan, American officials said Tuesday."

AP: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for voters in the battleground state of Ohio to cast ballots on the three days before Election Day, giving Democrats and President Barack Obama's campaign a victory three weeks before the election. The court refused a request by the state's Republican elections chief and attorney general to get involved in a battle over early voting."

New York Times: "A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the terrorism conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden whose case has been one of the most tangled to emerge from the war crimes trials of detainees held by the military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The court found that Mr. Hamdan's conviction by a military commission for providing material support for terrorism could not stand because, under the international law of war in effect at the time of his actions, there was no such defined war crime."

Reuters: "Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit has resigned effectively immediately, the company said on Tuesday in a statement from Chairman Michael O'Neill." CW: oh, there will be more to this story, which at this point is just an item. ...

     ... Update: here is more from the New York Times, but nothing really definitive as far as I can see to explain Pandit's "surprise" resignation. ...

     ... Update Update: more from the Times.

AP: "The White House, under political pressure to respond forcefully to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, is readying strike forces and drones but first has to find a target."

AP: "Several paintings have been stolen from a museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam that was exhibiting works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh."

Reader Comments (20)

Jon Stewart's take on the vicepresidential debate was tremendously funny and sharp, even by his very high standards.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Let's face it. Obama is not a very good politician. He is an excellent speaker, but does not excel at debate. He can inspire only when he has positive feedback from an enthusiastic audience. Mitt RawMoney is a heartless fighter. He does not care what it takes to "win." Nor does he care who is against him, or about the veracity of his arguments.

Winning through nasty "combat" is such a mistaken, ill-conceived concept when it comes to electing someone to lead our sad little country. Whatever else Obama might lack, he does not lack for decency, thoughtfulness and human concern. RawMoney is an empty suit--a chameleon who can change color depending on the empty suit he is inhabiting.

I hardly can bear to watch the debate tomorrow night, because I know Obama is going to be anxious--and he is just not up to skullduggery. If he tries, he quite possibly will get it wrong. Mitters will not. He will say whatever he intuitively knows will get Obama on the ropes. Truth will be the loser, as it almost always is in our so-called "free" electoral process.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I hesitate to make a prediction before hindsight improves its accuracy, but I'm guessing the President will do much better tomorrow than he apparently did the first time around.

If I were giving advice (and if anyone on the White House staff were listening or reading Reality Chex, which should be a daily assignment in the oval office), I'd suggest he come armed with a dozen or two of the Mittster's largest, most evident lies, those most damaging to the country, and drop them into his comments/answers one by one. Something along the lines of "But Governor Romney, you yourself said...." And since the Mittster has said nearly everything on every side of every issue, selecting an arsenal of the most egregious whoppers and finding one even tangentially related to every likely topic should should not be too hard.

Mittster the Liar should be tomorrow night's theme, hammered on and home at every opportunity. Previous debates prove such comments don't have to stand sequitur's test to be effective; they just have to be repeated pleasantly, yet forcefully and often.

And best of all, pointing out the Mittster's lies is just telling the truth...something we should require and expect of any President.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

On the Ryan Family pearl diving adventure at SVDP kitchen:

"Chris Maloney, Ohio communications director for the Romney campaign, said that the visit by Ryan had been intended to highlight the work of the soup kitchen volunteers.

“Our campaign and Congressman Ryan were pleased to bring attention to the meaningful charitable contributions the St. Vincent De Paul Society makes to people in need,” Maloney said."

So, where are the photos of those SVDP volunteers to whom the campaign wanted to bring attention? Stone soup, my friends, stone soup. And let's not even get into the history of "taking the soup" back in Ireland, 160 years ago, when The Ascendancy, complete with Ladies Bountiful, used the soup to force conversion of immiserated Irish peasants. The gentry are kind and generous.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Re: "With the benefit of hindsight" that's popularly known as "Our heads were up our asses." Even Casey Jones knows when you're drivin' that train there's trouble ahead. Why do the big cheeses think the benefit of hindsight excuses their excesses? Not much difference with the proposed tax plan by the RichRats except the benefit of hindsight is going to be a poke in the eye for all of US.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Speaking of Pinocchios, for a good chuckle go to this website:
www.romneytaxplan.com

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Like most everyone else who isn't already consumed by the dark side or languishing in the torpid latitudes amongst the infamous (and infamously stupid) "uncommitted", I long for the president to smack the Rat upside his rodent head with the rotting fish of his many lies. However, It may be too late for that. He should have been doing this all along (I suppose he has, but his message, through the neglectful offices of a supine, gullible, and lazy press, has never reached its intended audience).

Here's what will happen if Obama spends the time to "correct" the Rat-Lies. First, the Romney Mechanism is programmed not to care about the truth and its programming has been tweaked to spit out even more lies when confronted with past whoppers. He knows that people like us and certain actual journalists will fact check his claims and find every single one of them knee-slappingly false, but he also knows that none of the brainless uncommitted will. Why do you think they're still uncommitted?

So at this point, he can get away with anything--ANYTHING. He can go in there tonight and claim that Obama is trying to convert good white boys and girls into inner city criminals, gangstas, and socialists who will be required, through an Oval Office approved initiation, to experiment in sadomasochistic same-sex rituals followed by an acceptance of satan as their personal anti-savior, all the while urinating on the bible and an autographed picture of Ronald Reagan.

And he'll get away with it.

At this point he can pretty much say whatever he wants. So can the Fraud. He drags reporters into an empty soup kitchen where he cleans already clean pots and pans. They KNOW it's a fraud. But they snap, snap, snap, anyway. But who will know? The AP will offer these pictures and newspapers in flyover states will publish them with relish, captioned with "Oh what a nice boy he is" rubbish. What I want to hear is someone like Very Important Pundit Tom Brokaw ridicule such mendacious nonsense.

Chances of that happening? Vegas lists it at 5,000,000 to .01.

So I admit it. I'm worried. Polls out this morning show increases across the board for the Gnawing Rodent and the uncommitted brainiacs at the debate tonight are just as likely to nod their heads in stupefied agreement as the Mechanism spits out an even larger assortment of lies than usual. Watch for crowd shots of these imbeciles, nodding ignoramuses all, as the Rat sells them a fresh bucket of dead fish heads.

I'm officially Really Worried, my brothers and sisters.

I'm worried that no matter how well the president does tonight, iacta alea est. *

The press has what it wants. The imbeciles will get what they want (but don't really understand, yet, what that means.)

I'm hoping this is just a "bit of bad beef" as Dickens might have said, but there may be a few more October surprises from the Dark Side before November.

The Rubicon was just a muddy little stream but it swept away the Roman Republic and put in place Romney-like god-emperors.

* CW: "The die has been cast." "... attributed by Suetonius (as iacta alea est [ˈjakta ˈaːlea est]) to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 BC as he led his army across the River Rubicon in Northern Italy." -- Wikipedia. Madame Dummkoph here hadda look it up. Apparently the Greek Akhilleus also speaks Latin.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Patrick,

The right is still trying that old conversion trick. In Romney World, if elected, assistance for all but the wealthy will be outlawed. If you're sick, broke, broken, homeless, you will be pointed to helpful fundamentalist churches who will feed you as long as you convert. As long as you renounce democracy and your own religion and show up faithfully for 6 hour daily bible readings.

Don't take my word for it. It's been happening for years.

And it will be the only recourse for many if the Rodent gets the cheese.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

On a slightly different topic, it was interesting to see Hillary Clinton take responsibility for the Benghazi situation. She's showing the All Talk No Action Republicans what it means to be a stand-up guy. All they can do is shout and scream and toss off epithets. They also voted to de-fund the State Department's ability to provide the kind of adequate security the right is now screaming that Obama should have had. Fucking hypocrites.

But let's get in the Way-Back Machine and see how Numero Uno Stand-Up Guy, Saint Ronald of Reagan handled a much worse debacle. Let's see just what these Republican tough guys are made of.

October 23, 1983. Beirut International Airport. Marines Reagan had sent, completely unprepared, woefully unprotected, and, as usual, bereft of any knowledge of the local languages, customs, history, or significant knowledge of the conflict(s) raging in and around Lebanon at the time, were attacked by suicide bombers who drove a truck laden with high explosives straight into the barracks. Over 240 dead.

You know who took responsibility for hanging those Marines out to dry?

No one.

Reagan gave the usual "dead or alive" sort of speech that all modern GOP whiners give, but there was no retaliation. No investigation that turned up anything. And Reagan and Poppy Bush, who declared that we weren't leaving, "Nope, not gonna do it. Not gonna leave", eventually cut and ran.

Mission Accomplished. Stand-up guys sit down. So then, what are they made of? Jello. Except without the integrity.

The Republican Way.

Hillary has more balls than all of those rat bastards. Put together.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

For those of you who are obsessively checking polls every day, a number of commentators on Nate Silver's NYT post today have raised some serious issues about the Gravis results:

Mike in Denver, for example, writes:

"Gravis never released a poll before Aug 9, but since then they have released more polls in swing states than any other pollster, despite the fact that they appear to be owned by a fax spammer without any supporting education or experience in polling, and no apparent revenue. They've published results that are mathematically impossible! I'll take DU's investigation with a grain of salt, but it's an interesting read.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021539890#post32

This is a story mainstream journalists need to investigate-especially after all the Republican complaints about biased polls before the debate...it might be the a real story. If any hack with a criminal background can start a "polling" firm overnight that shapes the dynamic of the presidential race...that's frightening concept."

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

With The Rats election Roe v. Wade is gone, women's rights will suffer a terrible set back. Just as important, Stem Cell research will be dealt a dramatic blow as the superstition of the Catholic church will be imposed upon it's pursuit. The rest of the world, not inhibited by such superstition, will continue to pull ahead of the US in discovery of treatment methods for a multitude of health problems. Perhaps it doesn't matter, for our insurance industry dominated health care system will refuse to pay for these "unproven experimental treatments" anyway.
Akhilleus, Kate I'm afraid I share your early remorse. The practitioners of Conditioned Response are simply overwhelming the less glamorous deliverer of knowledge from the mountain. Bill Clinton , I love ya man. Too bad our presidents get smarter AFTER they leave the White House.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

"If any hack with a criminal background can start a "polling" firm overnight that shapes the dynamic of the presidential race...that's frightening concept."

But not one, unfortunately, that will interest most "journalists". Too much feet-on-the-ground investigating and not enough feet-on-the-desk stenographing.

If this is true, it is, as Calyban suggests, outrageous. One would hope that Nate Silver would be a bit more circumspect about publishing numbers from "Ex-Convicts for GOP, Polling, LLC", but in this election season nothing surprises me.

Thanks for the new info.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

I'm thinking the only way to win a debate -- especially in this phony town-hall setting -- is if the other guy screws up. Obama had all the advantages in the first debate because Romney is such a phony he has to keep his policies secret. Obama had a simple task: expose Romney. He didn't even try; in fact, in his remark that he & Romney agreed on Social Security, he (a) told a lie, & (b) gave Romney an undeserved boost. In the town-hall format he'll have to go at debunking Romney in a very roundabout way. I don't think he'll have enough of a chance.

Romney has screwed up before in answering questions posed by "real people," & he could screw up tonight. Then again, so could Obama. Wait till someone asks him if Romney is "likable enough." I have a two-part answer for that, but I had to think about it; I doubt I could have come up with a crisp answer on the spot.

When you look at those two town-hall clips that Adam Serwer posted -- both of which are famous -- it's hard not to think Obama is more like Gore than like Clinton. This is not a character flaw, but it is a presentation flaw. Romney is a closer -- that's probably what he did in the big deals at Bain. It remains to be seen if Obama can be a closer. I've watched a bit of his 2008 town-hall event with John McCain, & that would suggest the answer is "yes." He says he's gonna try. So we'll see.

Marie

October 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

PLEASE, she blurted between sobs, Remember the Supremes!

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

As my nerves go to over over drive with worry, I repeat Kate's
"Remember the Supremes"!
How many years til Nov 6th? Anyone?
mae finch
PS
CW- thank you and all the posters. All send me everywhere, and give me lots to think about.
Coming here is like being hungry and sitting down to a banquet.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

I want to see Uncle Joe debate the Faux Phlegmer again.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Marie,

At this point, pretty much any prognostication over tonight's outcome is reduced to a species of intellectual wanking.

We have no idea how the president will respond to the Rat's new raft of lies, nor how the audience will react. Remember though, that the questions have been screened and they are, after all, questions from people who are--by definition--unreconstructed morons.

And that's giving them all the best of it.

Uncommitted? Hey, folks, this ain't about whether you prefer home fries to hash browns. This is more like "would you rather live or die?" The question is that stark. Or if you prefer a touch less hyperbole, we can boil it down to "Sparta or Athens?". "Are you for Sparta, where they subject infants to exposure to cold and wild animals in order to see who will survive to serve the wealthy warlords, or are you for Athens where every citizen is seen as important, every life valuable (okay, except for the slaves), and where human spirit, industry, art, learning, and democracy are prized as virtues of a noble society?"

If you have a problem figuring that out then you really shouldn't be allowed to vote. Hell, you shouldn't even be allowed to drive a fucking car. Or do any other damn thing requiring a modicum of problem solving through critical thinking. "Ah...let me see. It says railroad crossing. Oh look, there's a choo-choo. Let's drive real fast and beat it to the crossing!"

That being said, I think Obama must, in addition to exposing the Rat as a flagrant and chronic liar, without being led astray by his connivances, map out what he has done for the country (or tried to do, Republican intransigence notwithstanding) and where he wants to take us.

While the Rat may be a closer, he is no less subject to l'esprit d'escalier than any of the rest of us. His zingers are scripted and practiced, so he is still subject to whatever is in his program. Obama may not be as quick on his feet as Bill Clinton or Jack Kennedy, but he has one huge asset the Rat does not. He is a human being.

I don't know if that will help him, but he needs to show up ready to rumble because Kate is not the only one whose mantra is "Remember the Supremes".

Karl Rove has it tattooed on his sloping hominid forehead. And you wouldn't believe his short list from which the Rat will choose the next new Supremes. The Five Families would weep with joy to see his compilation of corruptibles.

So....RTFS, Barack. For all our sakes.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Uncommitted voters? Thom Hartmann suggests, as does Akhillius, that anyone uncommitted by this time is dumb or woefully ignorant. I'm a bit more skeptical than that. How many would simply claim to be uncommitted just to get their phiz on TV? Not an insignificant number in a nation whose citizens all crave their 15 seconds of fame. And how many of those will craft questions that promote their own so far hidden agendas?

Guess we'll find out in four hours. I may watch the baseball game.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Buck up folks. It's far from over. If this is any indication, thingd might not be as bleak as they might seem:

http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2012/oct/14/obama-best-choice-president-ar-2689120/

.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Dave,

A fine commendation from the Winston-Salem Journal who see fit, now, to countenance an Obama second term.

The problem, as we have all perceived, is that many of those whom the Republican Party are allowing to vote, have decided that facts and reality don't mean jack.

The editors of the Winston-Salem Journal may have seen the light, but the vast majority of those who pulled the lever for McCain (and even some who didn't but whose levers pulled themselves for McCain) are still living in the 13th century and LOVE the Willard Mechanism. For one thing, he's confident (a practiced liar), he's rich (having stolen millions from other Americans), he's good looking (blemishes are unknown to robots), and he professes to be a good, holy, religious man (see that bit about being a practiced liar), plus he's a member of the Kill Anything That Moves Party.

To pretty much everyone who is voting for, or considering voting for, the Rat, truth matters less to them than the History of Socialism, introduction by Hugo Chavez, forward by Francois Mitterand, and edited by Terry Eagleton.

So they really won't give two Wal-Mart brand cheap vegetable oil assisted fucks about what the Winston-Salem Journal has to say. In fact, any North Carolinians who happen upon this piece can check in with their local Fox affiliate or Fox online to "learn" that there is simply no truth in this assessment.

The Rat is the one they must vote for in order to maintain their standing as TRUE AMERICANS.

Idiots, line up right here, toe to heel, toe to heel, that's it. Don't worry about a fucking thing. We've got your back. Pull that lever for the Rat and his assistant pig, the Fraud.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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