The Ledes

Thursday, September 18, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

AP: "Islamic State fighters shot down a Syrian war plane using anti-aircraft guns on Tuesday, the first time the group has downed a military jet since declaring its cross-border caliphate in June, a group monitoring the civil war said."

Public Service Announcement

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

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 18

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

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

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

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

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Friday
Oct192012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 20, 2012

Presidential Race

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Nate Silver: President Obama continues "to hold leads in most polls of critical states. Of the 13 polls of swing states released on Thursday, Mr. Obama held leads in 11 of them."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "Several battleground states, including Florida, Nevada and Ohio, saw large drops in unemployment over the last 12 months, the government reported Wednesday."

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "Americans who report watching the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney believe Obama did a better job, by 51% to 38%. That is a sharp reversal from the first debate for which Romney was widely regarded as the winner.... Three-fourths of Americans (76%) in an Oct. 17-18 Gallup poll say they watched the debate, higher than the 66% who told Gallup in an Oct. 4-5 poll that they watched the first presidential debate on Oct. 3."

"Romnesia!" Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "President Obama fired up nearly 10,000 supporters in Virginia on Friday by debuting a new line of attack on Mitt Romney, accusing him of having 'Romnesia' for changing his positions and trying to move to the political center. In a speech devoted almost entirely to attacking Romney, an energized Obama smiled, joked, waved his finger and portrayed the Republican as a 'throwback to the 1950s' who would restrict women's rights, favor the wealthy and squeeze the middle class." Watch the whole video:

This Is Stunning. Salt Lake City Tribune Editors: "... our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first."

David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren't supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official. 'Talking points' prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States." CW: Isn't this a timely leak? Let's hope we see Obama II in the 3rd debate & he whacks Romney for his multiple, repeated irresponsible statements about the Libyan attack. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

An Obama campaign ad running in Ohio. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos calls the ad "easily one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, ads of the campaign. And that last question -- 'How can you say something like that?' -- that's not a question that Mitt Romney can answer":

... CW: If you ask me, I think this ad is just as effective, albeit for a different demographic. "I'd be delighted" to see this ad run in every swing state & a few that might be swingable. I don't think women know this:

Gail Collins: "When it comes to gun control, both presidential candidates are strongly in favor of quality education."

Romney is outdoing himself. Steve Benen chronicles forty-nine lies in this week's installment of "Mitt's Mendacity." ...

... Free, Free at Last. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: Mitt Romney is no longer "being careful, and weighing himself down on debate stages with painstakingly parsed positions (this was frequently the situation in the primaries...). Now there's no more future to worry about and he's ... being what he basically is at heart, which is a salesman and bullshit artist of the highest order. Romney's realized that numbers don't matter, and past facts don't even matter that much: he's run all fall on completely made-up, mathematically-incoherent jobs and tax plans, and not only is he not suffering, he's made it all the way to a statistical tie with the president...."

** Charles Pierce: "There are people who have made careers and a very comfortable living by telling the rest of us how we can't expect 'government' to do everything for us, and by railing against the "nanny state." But who's out there now, spouting off about all he'll make the government do for us if we just put him and his zombie-eyed, granny-starving running buddy in charge of it? Who's talking about Five Point Plans and North American Energy Independence and all the things he'll do for us?"

"Bailout Bonanza." Greg Palast of The Nation: Mitt "Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the [auto] bailout -- and a few of Romney's most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys', were astronomical -- more than 3,000 percent on their investment.... Mitt Romney may indeed have wanted to let Detroit die. But if the auto industry was going to be bailed out after all, the Romneys apparently couldn't resist getting in on a piece of 
the action." CW: Read the whole story -- especially the part about how billionaire investors screwed the Delphi workers -- then got some of them to complain in TV ads that Obama was responsible.

Investor Peter Joseph, in a New York Times "Campaign Stops" blogpost: "... voters need to consider whether the time [Mitt Romney] spent in single-minded pursuit of profit ... has prepared him to tackle the complex problems facing America, which can't be reduced to a financial model. Romney's financial success ... came by following the mantra of increasing cash flow, cutting jobs and minimizing taxable income.... The real issue is how Romney's experience relates to a president's need to balance budgetary responsibility with the heavy lifting required to address our collective concerns, our common obligations.... I can assure you that compassion and broader social concerns rarely make it into an investment memo."

Rick Hertzberg & John Cassidy talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the presidential town-hall debate:

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News, with a little help from Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, prognosticates on what a Romney presidency would look like. CW: it depresses the hell out of me. ...

... Wilkinson didn't even mention the Romney-Ryan International Misogyny Program. New York Times Editors: "Romney & Ryan "would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world's poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly."

Jamil Smith, writing in The New Republic, on a new form of voter suppression: billboards -- up in poor Cleveland neighborhoods -- announcing that "Voter Fraud Is a Felony! 3-1/2 Years & $10,000 Fine." You might not give such a billboard a second thought, but many people who live in neighborhoods where the police & the courts are their enemies would likely take a different view. ...

     ... What Smith doesn't mention is that Clear Channel Communications -- the company that owns the billboards themselves -- is owned by Bain Capital. What a coincidence! Color of Change, has an online petition campaign to force Clear Channel to take down the billboards. Rashad Robinson, who heads Color of Change, told The Huff Post, "For us, these billboards, they create a culture of fear. They've only been put up in black and brown neighborhoods, so these are not widespread billboards. They are targeting certain communities, and they're creating a fear for people going to the polls."

Bush III. Tim Dickinson's piece in Rolling Stone -- "19 Ways Mitt Romney Is Just Like George W. Bush" -- is mostly superficial, but the superficial parallels are still notable & form a cautionary tale.

Congressional Races

Dana Milbank: "If not for a series of tea party upsets in Republican primaries, the Republicans would be taking over the Senate majority in January."

CW: Contributor Julie complained about Scott Brown's latest misleading attack ad against Elizabeth Warren, but it's worse than it appears. Per the Huffington Post: "Scott Brown recently got in hot water for falsely claiming that ... Elizabeth Warren was using paid actors in her commercials. Brown ... should have known more about the people appearing in his ads." A Brown television ad "featured a union construction worker whose publicly accessible Facebook page is riddled with insults against ... Warren and President Barack Obama. On one post made in August, well before Brown's ad appeared, the worker, George Patriarca, calls Warren a 'DOUCHEBAG.' On another he labels the president a 'faggot,' and on a third he says, 'there is a Muslim in the White House.' ... Patriarca's ... union, the Sprinkler Fitters and Apprentices Local Union 550..., supports Warren." ...

... CW: I missed this from earlier in the week, but it's worth passing along. Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Sen. Scott Brown apologized Wednesday after suggesting people in an ad defending Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren's work on an asbestos case were paid actors -- in fact, all five were the relatives of asbestos victims. 'A lot of them are paid,' Brown had told reporters, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette. '... Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it.'" Yeah, regular folks like George Patriarca. Brown's assertion was disgraceful. Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe has more.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran." CW: get ready for the wingers to claim Ahmadinejad is a key Obama supporter.

Washington Post: "The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria's civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials." ...

New York Times: "The government of Syria, trying to contain a rapidly expanding insurgency, has resorted to one of the dirty tricks of the modern battlefield: salting ammunition supplies of antigovernment fighters with ordnance that explodes inside rebels' weapons, often wounding and sometimes killing the fighters while destroying many of their hard-found arms."

Washington Post: "When local elections opened on Saturday, Palestinians across the West Bank began to exercise their right to vote for the first time in six years. Here in this city, the poll carried even more significance: A long 37 years have passed since residents last cast ballots for their municipal council." ...

... AP: "Israeli army radio is reporting that naval vessels have made contact with a pro-Palestinian boat sailing to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade. The radio reported Saturday that Israeli forces ordered the Swedish owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle to halt its course."

Reader Comments (16)

Millbank needs to be reminded that if the dog hadn't stopped to shit he would've caught the rabbit.

In other news, I just voted, so I can go take a nap.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Ugh!!! Scott Brown's newest ad against Elizabeth Warren must have been produced in hell's cesspool. Mister Massachusetts nice guy is a low life!!!! He must be desperate. I hope people will feel as repulsed as I do. He's as low as the rest of his ilk. If he were running against Mother Theresa he'd probably say she molested children.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

I wrote a comment this morning early--very early. My last words on the friendship thingie, and the comment disappeared into cyberspace. But that is all so yesterday, and I have spent the day at a boring class, so I am brain dead.

Do want to tell PD Pepe that I am sorry I referred to you as "RD." I know better. I will not make the same mistake again. And I must say, I quite like your name, Phyllis. Also like Phyllida. Amen.

Julie - Do ya think "anybody" in MA has put Scotty Brown's nude Cosmo centerfold on a billboard near an evangelical church? Hope so.

I am not so brain dead that I can forget the Supremes. Remember them, etc.etc.etc.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I keep having this thought that there could easily be some serious international incident that will happen before the election that will give the repubs a perfect opportunity to blame Obama and turn the election to the gop's favor. When you think about how small and inter-connected the world has become and the pursuit of money and power that runs this world (think global), I do not find it far-fetched that something of this nature could be instigated. And I for one would not put this past the right-wing fanatics and their billionaire bosses. There is so much at stake in this election. I think we might be near the precipice. Remember, the ultra rich, the multi-billionaires are not constrained by borders and flags. Patriotism is only a whip to be used on us.

I promise I do not have a tinfoil hat on my head.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

Re Gail Collins: Gail knows that all politicians have a real fear of the NRA. The fear is justified. The NRA has the money and the will to attack anyone that does not toe their line. They have rural America convinced that they are the only ones keeping the bunny huggers from taking their guns.
The Mayor of NY, a billionaire, is supporting those that dare oppose the NRA. Hopefully he will be able to demonstrate that the NRA can be opposed safely. Once their power is shown to be limited, then the political world will take a chance on gun control. Twenty more years?

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Add Tampa Bay Times and the Denver Post to the Salt Lake City Tribune as papers which have endorsed President Obama, basically echoing what the President said today: let him finish what he started.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Here is a piece of an article by Daniel Ellsberg: "Defeat Romney, Without Illusions About Obama"

...."It's true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It's even fair to use Gore Vidal's metaphor that they form two wings ("two right wings," as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.

Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overall. To be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.

The traditional third-party mantra, "There's no significant difference between the major parties" amounts to saying: "The Republicans are no worse, overall." And that's absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It's crazily divorced from present reality.

And it's not at all harmless to be propagating that absurd falsehood. It has the effect of encouraging progressives even in battleground states to refrain from voting or to vote in a close election for someone other than Obama, and more importantly, to influence others to act likewise.That's an effect that serves no one but the Republicans, and ultimately the 1 percent."

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Tommybones: you don't have to disavow wearing a tin-foil hat. I agree with your comment. And I'm still wondering if that vile video ostensibly produced by the felon from California was a put up job. Just a thought, not even a hypothesis. But it is so easy in today's mid-east tinderbox to provoke an incident.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@ Tommy Bones: I am not worried about billionaires staging an embarrassing international incident. But I have a real concern, based in reality, that in every state &/or county controlled by Republicans, Obama must win by at least 5 percent, because GOP officials -- sometimes openly -- will find ways to suppress even those votes that they do not otherwise suppress by discouraging people from voting or turning them away at the polls. Wordsmith Charles Pierce aptly calls this (without suggesting a percentage) the "Margin of Chicanery." There is a real danger, I think, that 2012 could make Florida 2000 look like good governance.

Marie

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

I neglected to mention this on Thurs. and it is not strictly a US story. However, NPR ran a spot on this story. Sheldon Adelson established a free newspaper in Israel in 2007 which is now running the liberal paper ( and others) out of business. The story indicated that Adelson's newspaper is now publishing polling results made up out of whole cloth ahead of the Israeli elections. (Bibi - 93% of vote)

The print story accompanying the radio program:

http://www.npr.org/2012/10/18/162816525/sheldon-adelson-shakes-up-israeli-newspaper-market

I am convinced that Jabba the Hut Adelson has 666 tattooed in numerous places. I will never be convinced that he follows any Faith but that of accumulating wealth. He is truly a kindred soul with Lord SB. I disagree with Obama about Lord SB being a "a great family man" and faithful to Mormonism. The money he gives to to the Mormon Church is about tax breaks and power not Faith. Two peas in a rotten pod.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

There was a good comment on Peter Joseph's article about financier in chief. A chief executive who follows that model would see the red states that take in more than they conribute as cash flow negative, so they should be sold off!

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

A couple of days ago in the Opinionator column of the NYT, Gary Gutting, a Philosophy Professor at Notre Dame, posted "How Not To Choose A President" After reviewing the various thoughts of the ancients about how to think about a selection of an individual for any position, they concluded that they were too many variables to really know in advance how anybody would perform. Gutting then went on to give his own answer."Typically, I propose, by voting for the party rather than the person. All we can reasonably expect is that the country will probably move in the ideological direction of the winning candidate’s party."
I have always thought the same. Think where we would have been had Hoover won in 1932, or any Republican the next 4 elections, no Truman, no JFK or LBJ, no civil rights legislation, etc, etc. Yes, we have Dixicrats, Blue Dogs, fake Democrats, but it doesn't matter in the total scheme, because the party philosophy has been set on a pathway that is progressive and leans to benefiting humanity, to civilize, to restore and establish rights for the benefit of the whole national community as well as the world. Don' take my words for it; look at the history and the facts. If I were running for office, I would confess my sins, mistakes, foolish ventures from birth to the present day, but then ask people to vote for me because I'm a Democrat PERIOD.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/how-not-to-choose-a-president/

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdan

Dan: I have an erstwhile college chum who ran one of Alan Cranston's successful senatorial campaigns. He once said to me when I was dithering over some election, "Just remember, any democrat is better than the best republican."

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

To again quote my friend Maynard, " Raise the IQ of the American public ten points and there would never be another Republican elected."

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

@dan and James Singer
That's why I am voting a straight ticket.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

@Dan: Vote the candidate's party? Easy for the nationals. But locally & statewide this sometimes gets iffy to figure out
who is representing what. NOBODY publishes their party affiliation (I almost typed affliction here—though it might be applicable) on the cards and fund-raising letters that arrive in the mail, on the placards on front lawns and along the streets. Even when making their house-to-house calls, with "Howdy, I'm running for...." seems no one mentions their affiliation/affliction!

Then there's the irritating marketing (I don't know much about pollsters & robocalls as Caller ID keeps me from picking up), but there is:

1, There's the dumb fund-raisers. I got one letter with "Thank You for Contributing to Romney" in bold letters above my address. I marked it RETURN TO SENDER and dropped it back the mail slot. Two days later it was back in my box. Why? Mail lady said it was a non-profit org. and couldn't be returned. Annoyed, I took it home...was going to toss in the trash, but decided to look inside. It came from (no-kidding) a Democratic fund-raising group using this "reverse psychology" approach. I blasted the 'genius' who came up with this idea on their Web site. Nah! No reaction. No comment. No one there.

2. Next Allen West and some military dude put out a letter plea to raise money to keep the damn flat-head in Congress. Scrawled "JERK and OBVIOUSLY ANOTHER JERK" in bold, black marker across the letters...and mailed both back to DC—paying for postage was worth it to vent.

(Of course, my gentile euphemism doesn't compare to the words I suspect others on this site would have used !!!!)

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG
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