The Ledes

Sunday, August 31, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called on Ukraine on Sunday to begin talks on “the statehood” of that country’s rebellious southeast, a vague and provocative turn of phrase he used while demanding that the Ukrainian government negotiate directly with pro-Russian separatists."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "n this week’s address, the President wished Americans a Happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we’ve made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Washington Post: "Since Monday, more than 200 Ukrainian volunteer soldiers have been trapped in the southeastern town of Ilyovaisk, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll is mounting.... Russian President Vladimir Putin focused international attention on the trapped soldiers Friday by calling in a statement for a protected route to allow them to retreat, even as evidence mounted of a broad incursion into Ukraine by Russian troops and military vehicles." ...

... Guardian: "... Vladimir Putin, has hit back at accusations that he has effectively invaded Ukraine, accusing Kiev's forces of behaving like Nazis in the conflict in the east and ominously threatening to take his standoff with the west into the disputed Arctic."

Guardian: "America’s newest war in Iraq has cost over half a billion dollars so far, according to Pentagon estimates, all before President Barack Obama decides upon a strategy against Islamic State (Isis) militants. Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Friday that daily military operations in Iraq since 16 June, when the White House informed Congress it had ordered up to 275 US troops to bolster embassy security in Baghdad, have cost on average $7.5m."

New York Times: "An experimental drug has shown a striking efficacy in prolonging the lives of people with heart failure and could replace what has been the bedrock treatment for more than 20 years, researchers said Saturday. The drug, which is being developed by the Swiss company Novartis, reduced both the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and the risk of being hospitalized for worsening heart failure by about 20 percent in a large clinical trial."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 29

11:30 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

... 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 York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

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.

Saturday
Oct202012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 21, 2012

Presidential Race

Jeff Mason & Steve Holland of the AP: "Facing a cliffhanger re-election attempt, President Barack Obama will launch a round-the-clock, two-day campaign blitz through six battleground states next week to try to fend off the challenge from Republican Mitt Romney. Polls show Obama's strong debate performance this week gained him little or no ground against the former Massachusetts governor with just over two weeks until the November 6 election."

Truly Troubling. Tom Kludt of TPM: "President Barack Obama's lead in Ohio is down to a point, a survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling on Saturday shows.... The poll was conducted after Tuesday's debate, and the results suggest the town hall in Hempstead, N.Y. was not a game changer for the president, whose overall lead dropped despite a plurality of Ohio voters declaring him the winner of the debate." ...

... CW: this is the first time in perhaps six months that I've thought it likely Romney would win the election. I'm pissed off at everybody. (Which is supposed to come first, anger or depression? I went right to anger.) ...

... Nate Silver has more. ...

... AND It Matters that Romney Owns the Fucking Voting Machines. Gerry Bello, at al., in the Free Press: Mitt Romney, "his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public." The controlling firm also "has on its board of directors at least three close associates of the Romney family" who have contributed megabucks to Romney's campaign. Fully a third of [the company's] leadership previously worked at Romney's old Bain firm." ...

... In a somewhat tepid endorsement, the Cleveland Plain Dealer nonetheless favors Obama for re-election.

Alina Selyukhof, et al., of Reuters: "Mitt Romney held a financial advantage over President Barack Obama heading into October thanks to strong fundraising by the Republican Party that will allow its candidate to spend more on the last stretch toward the November 6 election."

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan -- have become ... artful about obfuscating their plans for Medicare, Medicaid.... Almost nothing the Republican candidates say on these or other health care issues can be taken at face value.... Mr. Romney ... says his plans would have no effect on people now on Medicare or nearing eligibility. But ... most beneficiaries would see their annual premiums and cost-sharing go up. The average beneficiary in traditional Medicare would pay about $4,200 more over the 2011-12 period, and heavy users of prescription drugs about $16,000 more over the same period, if the act was repealed...."

CW: if, like me, you are a middle-class taxpayer, and if, unlike me, you think Romney will give you a 20 percent tax break & strew your garden path with rose petals, WAKE THE FUCK UP. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress notes that to support his case that his math-free tax plan will totally work, Romney uses a study which assumes that almost all middle-class tax breaks will be eliminated. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Digby: "... obsessing over what the administration said in the first days after the [Benghazi] attack is the stupidest right-wing manufactured pseudo-scandal I've come across in quite some time. And it's pathetic that the mainstream press is still so willing to chase after these shiny objects."

David Firestone: "Bill Clinton took the stage at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday night and delivered an hour-long education in the real issues at stake in this election. He talked about Medicaid and financial reform and the student loan system with an appreciation for the granular not usually displayed by the man he was stumping for, President Obama. It was the dream speech of a policy wonk, but Mr. Clinton never assumed that the details would bore a general audience, and they did not." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. Here's a taste:

Jeff Sommer of the New York Times: "Through Friday, since Mr. Obama's inauguration -- his first 1,368 days in office -- the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 67.9 percent.... The market's rise and fall has an enormous effect on the wealth of ordinary Americans -- and on whether they feel themselves to be wealthy. American presidents since 1900.... The stock market has flourished under the president -- and under Democratic presidents generally. Since 1900, it has returned 7.1 percent annually when Democrats have occupied the White House, and only 3 percent under Republicans.... Are you better off than you were four years ago? For stock portfolios, at least, the last four years have been bumpy but they haven't been bad at all."

MoDo doesn't like Obama & she doesn't like Romney: "In some ways, the two rivals are alike: cold, deliberative fish, self-regarding elitists with upbringings out of the norm and trouble connecting at times...." Read at your own risk.

This was inevitable:

Multi-billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticizes both candidates, too. At least his criticisms are substantive.

Ha ha. The New York Times reports that the U.S. & Iran have agreed to talks re: Iran's nuclear program. So I wrote: "get ready for the wingers to claim Ahmadinejad is a key Obama supporter." Well, sure enough, here's some person named Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator: "This is nothing other than an Iranian attempt to bolster Obama's re-election chances." Ditto from Jazz Shaw at Hot Air. Must the wing-nuts be so predictable?

Congressional Races

The New York Times endorses Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York for U.S. Senate.

The New York Times endorses Rep. Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut for U.S. Senate.

Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times: "U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is heading back to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn."

Other Stuff

In a New York Times column, former Obama economic advisor Christina Romer reports on academic studies that show the stimulus was a big jobs creator. She also goes into what-all could have been done better, implicitly blaming the Obama administration for a failure to communicate. CW: Do you suppose the "undecideds" depicted below will gobble up Romer's analysis & immediately become staunch Obama backers? See, actually, facts don't matter.

For those of you having trouble "Understanding the Undecideds," Brian McFadden of the New York Times is here to help:

CLICK ON CARTOON TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.Bill Marsh of the New York Times outlines new state voting restrictions. "The most rigid voter ID laws are believed to affect about 10 percent of eligible voters, said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center." CW: of course most of those would be Democratic-leaning voters, so that raises, to as much as double the percentage of Democratic voters who may find they can't or don't dare to vote. So when I said in a comment to yesterday's Commentariat that Obama could lose even though more Americans preferred to vote for him than for Romney, I wasn't exaggerating. Michelle Obama said not long ago that voting rights were the civil rights movement of our era. She was right. ...

... You Are Now Living in a Third-World Country. Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week."

** Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger when he released reams of State Department communications Friday, according to Obama administration officials.... 'When you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,' an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. 'This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.' ... Even WikiLeaks had approached the State Department and offered to negotiate retractions of sensitive information before releasing their cables.... Issa did not grant the State Department that opportunity...."

Glenn Greenwald on the "unfathomable ignorance" of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (Fla.), who appears, in the embedded video, not to know anything about President Obama's "kill lists."

Tracy Bloom of TruthDig: The Rev. Phil Snider, a Missouri pastor, delivered an impassioned speech before the Springfield City Council in which he appeared to be making the case against amending the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to add protection for sexual orientation and gender identity." Don't be offended, & do listen till the end. Thanks to contributor P. D. Pepe for the link:

... In his post "This Week in God," Steve Benen highlights a preacher of a different stripe: Romney supporter Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association who argues that "'masculine leadership in society over the nation' is 'God's basic plan for today,' and 'political leadership ought to be ... reserved for the hands of males.' Anticipating criticism, the religious right leader added that those who believe in gender equality won't offer a 'reasoned' response to his shameless misogyny." Benen provides video, so enjoy your Sunday sermon. ...

... Also via Benen, Eric Maripodi of CNN reports, "Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham's mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association." Whaddaya bet Mitt didn't diss the cookies this time?

In a New York Times op-ed, Samantha Bee discusses a recent scientific UCLA study which found that GOP female Members of Congress have more feminine faces than do Democratic women MOCs. Bee is thrilled that research dollars are going to such important work.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Russia's security services have killed 49 rebels and captured dozens more in a counterterrorism offensive that officials called a "considerable" blow to the insurgency in the North Caucasus region, the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee announced on Sunday. President Vladimir V. Putin had urged the use of increasingly aggressive means to subdue the insurgency in the North Caucasus ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the southern city of Sochi, which is at the edge of the turbulent region."

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Seven people were shot late Sunday morning at a spa near the Brookfield Square Mall [near Milwaukee, Wisconsin] - apparently none fatally - and police were combing the area searching for the suspect. The multiple shooting occurred about 11 a.m. at the Azana Salon & Spa on N. Moorland Road, just south of Blue Mound Road and across the street from Brookfield Square."

New York Times: "George McGovern, the United States senator who won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1972 as an opponent of the war in Vietnam and a champion of liberal causes, and who was then trounced by President Richard M. Nixon in the general election, died early Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90." The Washington Post obituary is here.

** ABC News: "The latest intelligence assessment of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi indicates there was little if any pre-planning for it and that it was in part an opportunistic response to the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.'"

Reuters: "Libyan militias captured Muammar Gaddafi's chief spokesman on Saturday, the government said, but an audio clip posted on Facebook purporting to be the voice of Moussa Ibrahim denied his capture."

Reader Comments (21)

"In some ways, the two rivals are alike: cold, deliberative fish, self-regarding elitists with upbringings out of the norm and trouble connecting at times...."

Vintage MoDo "plague on both your houses" crap. Little relationship to reality. Lots of self-aggrandizing snark. She deserves a good smack down, if only the smacker could be sure that MoDo herself would read it.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Jeebus! Why did I read that fool's column. She sounds like a jilted lover. At some point in time, Dowd must have felt she didn't get the attention she deserved from Obama. She called him "pampered, petulant, self-pitying, organic arugula, a cold, deliberate fish, and a self regarding elitist". Nonsense. Impossible to keep those dark urges under control. She is so far into her own brand of neurosis that most everything in the column about Obama seems like counter-transference. Lord have Mercy. Has she no friends who could steer her toward a good therapist.

The stuff I read about Iran agreeing to one-to-one talks had 2 important caveats. The Ayatollah had to approve, which he hasn't done to date and the meetings would not take place until after the election. Iran doesn't want to have to begin negotiations with one President and then continue with another. Sounds reasonable on its face, however, I think that means if Romney wins, talks are off - or its possible the whole thing could be a stalling tactic. At any rate, I think it helps Obama in the short run.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Lynnell Mickelsen takes down MoDo back in April 17, 2008)

"Well, if any of you read the New York Times op-ed today, you caught Maureen Dowd writing one of her typical "Obama is an effeminate elitist" columns.

Which, I have to say, sounds just like her old "John Kerry is an effeminate elitist" columns. Which sounded a lot like her old "Al Gore is an effeminate elitist" columns. Which sounded a lot like her "Mike Dukakis is an effeminate elitist" pieces. I mean, does anyone detect a little pattern here?"

To read Charles Leck's entire & relevant blog post go to:

http://chasblogs.blogspot.com/2008/04/lynnell-mickelsen-takes-down-maureen.html

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Mirkin's letter is exactly the kind of testimonial that we need––why don't we have more? Fear of retribution in some way? Thank you, Julie, for getting permission to print it.

Thanks also to MAG for the link––boy, do we miss Molly Ivins––her tearing off the finery facade of Maureen is delicious. I had no idea so many had real problems with Dowd. Interesting.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I wish I had time today to write a column on Dowd, but I'm hanging light fixtures (one down, six to go) & bathroom vanities (haven't started, expect problems), so I'll have to save it for another day.

In the meantime, I highly recommend the 2008 Molly Ivors (not Ivins) blogpost that MAG indirectly links.

Marie

October 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Garry Wills in his piece in the November 8 NYRB describes this campaign as a revulsion. Romney, it's clear to Wills, never thought this election would be or should be about him. "It was all supposed to be about what is wrong with America––namely, Obama. It has been cast not as a choice campaign, but a retrospective verdict on Obama."

The fact that a historic boundary had been crossed when a black man was elected president, he goes on to say, this breakthrough did not cancel a long sad record of historic American racism.

"Dinesh D'Souza's [this evidently written before Dinesh's fall from grace] book "Obama's America" became number one on the NYT best seller list, and the film based on it played in over a thousand theaters, yet its chapter on Obama's mother revives one of the oldest racist stereotypes, that a white woman must be a slut if she has sex with a black man. A "documentary" with that same theme has been mailed to thousands of voters in key states screened by Tea Party groups and by Phyllis Schlafly's [or as we used to call her back when, "Shoo-fly-pie"] Eagle Forum Council. Guess which man the audience for these, and for hundreds of obscurer tracts, will vote for?"

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@MAG great blog. Wow - the beat goes on endlessly from Dowd.

Julie, thanks for the letter from Mirkin - it is amazing how folks completely miss what is so glaringly obvious.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Yes, thanks Marie, Ivors–– She's been gone so long I can't even spell her name correctly anymore. A shame!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@P. D. Pepe: Ivors & Ivins are two separate people. Ivors, I assume (but don't know), is using a pseudonym -- the name of the feminist character in Joyce's magnificent novella "The Dead."

Marie

October 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Denial.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfreethink

@freethink. Generally speaking, a one-word comment is not illuminating. Your comment fits the general rule. I have no idea what you mean.

Marie

October 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie -and all - please don't lose faith. I am scared to death of a Romney presidency, the return of the neo-cons, and the subsequent new war which would be inevitable. To say nothing of what will happen to the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act , Medicare.....
So what I plan to do this week is - doorbell. I have signed up for ten hours with the OFA local. It will be windy, cold and rainy (three things I dislike) but I plan to bundle up and go forward. I also dislike doorbelling and phone banking, as it is an inevitable intrusion on people. But I will do it.
When I want to give up I will reflect on an experience of last night. I attended a fundraising event for a local charity that provides healthcare for low income people. A young woman addressed the gathering to give the pitch asking for donations. In telling her story, she related that she had seen a doctor for some suspicious breast symptoms, but put off the recommended mammography for lack of funds (at the time, she didn't know this particular organization would have assisted her). When she was finally, after delay, able to have the mammogram, it led to a diagnosis of breast cancer, Stage IV. There she was, standing up there all lovely and glowing, with a death sentence hanging over her head.
People shouldn't have to wonder how they can get basic health care, or go around begging for help to obtain it.
So I am going to do my legwork for this young lady, who will leave behind a 9- year- old son, and for all of us.
And, I will continue to believe our President will win, as he deserves to .

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

"Gabriel found himself partnered with Miss Ivors. she was a frank-mannered talkative young lady, with a freckled face and prominent brown eyes. she did not wear a low-cut bodice and the large brooch which was fixed in the front of her collar bore on it an Irish device and motto."
Again––thanks Marie for clearing all this up and yes, "The Dead"
is indeed, magnificent. As for the dead Molly Ivers, we mourn her passing.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Should the President lose, which, though possible, I still choose to believe is unlikely, the Senate races become even more important. A simple Democratic majority will not allow the Repugnants to modify the filibuster rules at the next session's opening and then we can only hope the Dems, spines stiffened by calamity, will treat the Repugs and the Romney initiatives, which I suspect will make the Reagan years and his fatherly foolishness far fonder in remembrance than in fact, the same way the Repugs dealt with virtually all the President's efforts to right the sinking ship of state. It is clear the Repugs already plan another round of pillage and if the President loses, only a Democratic Senate majority offers any hope of at least slowing down their intended rapacity, maybe the next time around long enough for the LI voters, that is the majority, to notice what has happened to them.

Such is the sad shape optimism must take in these perilous times.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Victoria D. Understand the anxiety. Its difficult not to feel discouraged, mad, incredulous and just plain scared today. Didn't help that George McGovern died, my first Presidential vote at 18. I keep donating what I can and working on a Congressional campaign (Lungren v Ami Bera), because the down ticket races are also critical. I'll miss the debate Monday, as that's my standard volunteer-enter-data night. Jeebus, I'm thinking the folks who make Xanax will clean up in the next couple weeks.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane - thanks for providing an idea for a coping mechanism (drugs) as we all carry forward. I'll be thinking of you as I walk the streets this week. (Oops, that didn't come out right !)

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

The real deal, George McGovern, has left our world. It was his time, but still sad. What an excellent human being! I think it tells us in what a sad state our country exists, that he was so humiliatingly rejected in his run for President against Nixxxxon. Yikes! Times have not really changed. We the people are growing older, but our country is still wearing diapers.

Debate night tomorrow--and, in fact, the rest of the time until November 7--we are calling our Ativan Retreat. Glad my husband was a physician, so we still have old samples in our medicine drawer. Do not tell me they are expired! I don't care.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

No, don't despair! Watch "Where the Hell is Matt" video and dance, drive, walk or bike to your nearest campaign office!

Every Friday I join others in sign holding, and for the past 5 Saturdays have canvassed for Elizabeth Warren. Today we worked on a Get Out the Vote mailing for our town. Two of our hardcore volunteers are leaving Friday for Janesville, Wisconsin to tell Wisconsinites what Massachusetts knows about Etch-a-sketch man. These 2 women have full time jobs, and are using vacation time to do this! The least I can do is get my introverted self up to New Hampshire!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

Why isn't Darrell Issa an Enemy of the State, and in a cell next to Bradley Manning?
Answer in three letters.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Gloria: I think we all know the three letters are WTF! Ciao.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Gloria: GOP

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones
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