The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 15, 2014.

Washington Post: "Thomas H. Boggs Jr., who sat for decades at the epicenter of Washington legal, business and political circles as the city’s marquee name in lobbying and political fund-raising, died Sept. 15 at his home in Chevy Chase. He was 73. The cause was an apparent heart attack, said his sister, the broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts."

AP: "Oscar Pistorius is free to compete for South Africa again, as long as his running doesn't go against the ruling of the judge. Pistorius, who is to be sentenced next month after being found guilty in the negligent killing of his girlfriend, could compete at any time because the South African Olympic committee has no regulations preventing someone with a criminal record from representing the country."

Public Service Announcement

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."

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
September 16

1:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the Legal Services Corporation conference

4:05 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.

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

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** 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 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.

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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Monday
Oct012012

The Commentariat -- October 2, 2012

Michael Luo & Mike McIntire of the New York Times: "Buried deep in the tax returns released by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign are references to dozens of offshore holdings.... Mr. Romney ... has offered a narrow defense, saying only that the investments, many made through the private equity firm he founded, Bain Capital, have yielded him 'not one dollar of reduction in taxes.' ... [But] in some cases, the offshore arrangements enabled his individual retirement account to avoid taxes on its investments and may well have reduced Mr. Romney's personal income tax bills."

** Mitt's Moochers. Frank Bass of Bloomberg News: "Almost 2,400 people who received unemployment insurance in 2009 lived in households with annual incomes of $1 million or more, according to the Congressional Research Service."

Maybe This is Mitt's Secret Jobs Plan:

     ... This Wikipedia entry has more on Unicor, which has been around since 1934.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Senate leaders are closing in on a path for dealing with the 'fiscal cliff' facing the country in January, opting to try to use a postelection session of Congress to reach agreement on a comprehensive deficit reduction deal rather than a short-term solution.... House Republicans continue to resist any discussion of tax increases. But lawmakers and aides say that a bipartisan group of senators is coalescing around an ambitious three-step process to avert a series of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts." CW: read what Paul Krugman thinks about such a plan (linked in yesterday's Commentariat.)

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: in California, "wealthy conservatives are championing a ballot measure that would bar unions from donating to candidates. Labor leaders describe it as the starkest threat they have faced in a year of nationwide challenges to diminish their once-formidable power. The measure, Proposition 32..., would prohibit both unions and corporations from making contributions, but the corporate provision is far less stringent than the one aimed at unions.... If passed, it would also bar unions from using automatic payroll deductions to raise money for political campaigns, a major source of labor's political funding."

Jonathan Chait liked David Leonhardt's essay in the New York Times (linked in Sunday's Commentariat, & I'm still recommending it if you missed it) on what President Obama could have done better. But, Chait notes, "Leonhardt is implicitly measuring Obama against a very tough baseline. He asks is there anything more Obama could have done, and the answer is yes. But that is true of almost any leader in history.... On the whole, Obama's response was quite good. But if Obama is going to say he did everything in his power to alleviate the crisis, then people like Leonhardt should point out that he didn't."

We Learn that ObamaCare Is Racist. They’re going to tax tanning booths. Do black people tan? -- Romney Volunteer from Massachusetts

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "As the Obama administration has cracked down on corporate fraud, lawyers representing whistle-blowers have reaped multimillion-dollar rewards. Now, as they seek to sustain these historic payouts, they are donating generously to the president's re-election campaign." Along with the political implications & intrigue, which are fascinating enough, Lipton gives some interesting stats: "Since January 2009, $13.2 billion has been collected by the federal government from companies through the False Claims Act, the primary whistle-blower tool, with about $9.4 billion of that involving alleged health care fraud. The federal government has recovered more in financial penalties against drugmakers since 2009 than in the previous 18 years combined, with whistle-blowers credited for helping initiate about three quarters of the cases...."

Presidential Race

Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: yo, Romney has another new campaign theme: "something, something, I'm not Obama." The old campaign theme, "I'm not Obama," has not worked out.

Gene Robinson: "Wednesday’s presidential debate promises sharp contrasts. One candidate wants to repeal Obamacare, one candidate invented it. One opposed the auto industry bailout, one takes credit for it. One doubts the scientific consensus about climate change, one believes in it. One wants to 'voucherize' Medicare, one wants to save it. One dismisses nearly half of Americans as a bunch of moochers, and one claims to champion the struggling middle class. It promises to be an epic clash: Mitt Romney vs. Mitt Romney. Oh, and President Obama will be there, too."

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "Romney's team has apparently been hard at work on the zinger front, and the New York Times reports that they've 'equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August.' Great. I don't doubt that Team Obama is doing the same, but the big difference here is that the Romney guys actually bragged about it. This is so mind-numbingly stupid that Romney probably ought to be tossed out of the race just for sheer campaign incompetence." ...

... Frank Bruni writes a fairly funny column on the Obama campaign's efforts to lower expectations for his performance at Wednesday's debate.

Craig Unger in Salon: "According to a highly reliable source..., top Republican operatives are primed to a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.... The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration 'definitely had intel' about the attack before it happened." This is supposed to be Romney's "October Surprise." Boo! ...

... Roger Cohen in the New York Times: Obama has made foreign policy mistakes, but Romney sees the world as it was 30 years ago.

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: the "47 percent" remark is still hurting Romney, thanks in part to ads the Obama campaign is running in swing states.

Allison Sherry of the Denver Post: "Young illegal immigrants who receive temporary work permits to stay in the United States under an executive order issued by President Barack Obama would not be deported under a Mitt Romney administration, the GOP presidential hopeful told The Denver Post Monday. 'The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased,' Romney said. 'Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed.'"

Jason Schwartz in Boston Magazine on why Romney is so unpopular in Massachusetts. Thanks to contributor MAG for the link. ...

... Molly Ball of The Atlantic on why Romney is so unpopular in Appalachia.

Steve Benen counts six incidents that Republicans or conservatives have identified as "Obama's Watergate," the latest of course being the Libyan attack.

CW: When even the Very Serious People on the Washington Post's editorial board accuse Paul Ryan of "budget flimflam," you know it wasn't just Romney who made a mistake in selecting Ryan as his running mate. Ryan made a mistake in accepting. When you get kicked up to VP nominee, even some VSPs will stop talking long enough to try to figure out what you're actually saying. Result: Ryan is no longer the VSP's darling boy.

Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "Haley Barbour's ... firm Resurgent Republic conducted focus groups of blue collar voters in Ohio and suburban women in Virginia who supported Obama in 2008 but are now undecided.... Their findings? Voters are a lot more willing to believe attacks based around Romney quotes than they are on Obama quotes. 'Whenever we showed direct quotes from President Obama..., voters consistently say that this is probably taken out of context and they don't seem to hold that same standard with Governor Romney,' pollster Linda DiVall ... said. CW: um, maybe that's because Romney does pull Obama quotes out of context. Apparently that trick works better when the quotes are, you know, believable.

CW: When Alex Pareene of Salon ran this picture of Romney in a post in which Pareene compared Romney to Dick Cheney (linked in yesterday's Commentariat), I thought maybe Pareene had altered the photo to make Romney look more like Cheney. But, no, I found U.S. News using the same photo, so it's the real deal. Romney is morphing into Cheney, villainous sneer & all.

Now it's time for our new show, "Two Hacks in an Office." At least Brooks says some of the right things about Willard:

     ... Via Driftglass: "What Mistah Kurtz fails to mention is that Mr. Brooks's 'longstanding conservative tradition' is a work of fiction, invented by Mr. Brooks almost entirely out of whole cloth in order to bury the deeply troubling, bigoted, anti-science, anti-reason, pro-global-conquest real conservatism to which Mr. Brooks owes his entire professional career and from which he now flees like a vampire trying to outrace the dawn."

First General Election Results Counted. Caitlin McDevitt of Politico: "Michelle Obama has won Family Circle's 2012 Presidential Cookie Bake-Off, the magazine reports in its November issue.... [Ann] Romney's M&M cookies got 48.5 percent of votes, while Obama's white and dark chocolate chip cookies won with 51.5 percent. Family Circle notes that the bake-off, which it's hosted since 1992, 'has been a bell-weather in four out of five elections.' The exception? Obama lost to Cindy McCain four years ago, despite complaints that the Arizona senator's wife had cheated."

Congressional Races

Martin Finucane of the Boston Globe: "Republican US Senator Scott Brown portrayed himself as an independent voter and thinker in Washington, while his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, charged that he had voted 'in lockstep' over and over with Republicans, as the two clashed in a debate at the University of Massachusetts Lowell tonight." Here's video of the full debate:

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post with six takeaways from the Warren-Brown debate. ...

... CW: Here's the best clip, IMHO, & may be the gaffe that costs Brown the election. You might want to watch twice: first to "See Scott Squirm," & second to watch Warren's delighted reaction to his choice:

... Steve Benen: "For much of the media, the key line in the debate was apparently Brown's pre-planned 'zinger' about not being a student in Warren's classroom. But theatrical soundbites notwithstanding, what voters actually learned last night is that Brown's centrist facade is thin and easily chipped away. Anyone who sees Antonin Scalia as a 'model Supreme Court justice' isn't a moderate." ...

... Eric Randall of Boston Magazine pans Warren-Brown moderator David Gregory & otherwise comments on the debates. Highlight clips included. ...

... ALSO, see the report in today's Comments by Julie in Massachusetts, who attended the debate.

Local News

How Low Will They Go? T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: with Arkansas the only state in the South that still has a Democratic state legislature, the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity has its sights set on flipping a few seats to turn the statehouse Republican. ...

... Looks like the Koch Brothers Express has taken on more than one local route. Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald in a National Memo post: "The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch. They couldn't care less about Florida, but they love to throw their money around."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Prosecutors in Lille have dropped a sexual assault investigation into Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief, after a Belgian escort recanted her original account about a brutal encounter. But Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 63, still faces a criminal charge of participating in an organized prostitution ring, the result of sex parties that he attended in northern France and at a deluxe hotel in Washington."

AP: "A former Penn State graduate assistant who complained he saw former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky showering with a young boy on campus and testified at his sex abuse trial sued the university on Tuesday for what he calls defamation and misrepresentation. Mike McQueary's whistle-blower lawsuit claims his treatment by the university since Sandusky was arrested in November has caused him distress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment."

New York Times: "The American military's top-secret Joint Special Operations Command is preparing detailed information that could be used to kill or capture some of the militants suspected in the attack last month in Libya that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, senior military and counterterrorism officials said on Tuesday."

ABC News: "Pope Benedict's former butler took the stand at his own trial today to say that while he admits he took thousands of documents from the pope's private apartments and leaked them to the media, he is not guilty of theft because he was doing it for the good of the church, 'to bring the church back on the right track.' ... Intrigue, corruption and back-stabbing are clearly not new here at The Vatican, what is new is that Gabriele's indiscretions have opened the doors on Vatican dirty deeds in a way that has never happened before."

New York Times: "Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, plans to travel to Europe before the end of the year, among other things to press for a toughening of sanctions against Tehran, Israeli officials said Tuesday. The plans appeared to be another indication of a shifting Israeli emphasis, at least for now, toward efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program by means other than military action."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "A Commonwealth Court judge issued an injunction today blocking Pennsylvania's controversial new voter ID law from taking full effect before the presidential election, clearing the way for voters without government-issued identification to cast regular ballots on Nov. 6. Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. in essence ruled that the general election would be - like the primary - a soft rollout of the law. 'I reject the underlying assertion that the offending activity is the request to produce photo ID; instead, I conclude that the salient offending conduct is voter disenfranchisement,' he said." Here's a pdf of the opinion.

New York Times: "With the surge of American troops over and the Taliban still a potent threat, American generals and civilian officials acknowledge that they have all but written off what was once one of the cornerstones of their strategy to end the war here: battering the Taliban into a peace deal."

Washington Post: "The White House has held a series of secret meetings in recent months to examine the threat posed by al-Qaeda's franchise in North Africa and consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes, U.S. officials said. The deliberations reflect concern that al-Qaeda's African affiliate has become more dangerous since gaining control of large pockets of territory in Mali and acquiring weapons from post-revolution Libya. The discussions predate the Sept. 11 attacks...."

New York Times: "Georgia's larger-than-life president, Mikheil Saakashvili, conceded defeat on Tuesday after early results in Georgia's hotly contested parliamentary race showed that a coalition backed by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili had edged out his party...."

Reader Comments (8)

What an exciting evening! My husband and I attended the Elizabeth Warren/Scott Brown in Lowell, Ma this evening. Upon entrance to Tsongas Center both sides of road were flanked by Warren and Brown supporters holding signs; I guesstimate Warren supporters outnumbered Brown by 4 to 1.

We thought that Warren was strong during the first half of the one hour debate, but that Brown somewhat over powered her by his agressive (sometimes bullish) and long drawn out responses (thus leaving less time for Warren to speak) during the last half. I think she won on substance.

Although, David Gregory, the moderator had told the audience to remain quiet during the debate, all heck broke loose during the last half it. The audience became boisterous with applauding, booing, shouting and such so that it was impossible at times to hear what the candidates were saying.

The "let them die" crowd was in obvious attendance. When asked a question regarding the Dream Act Brown voiced his opposition to it, and his supporters were frenzied in their response. I was repulsed and saddened by the jeering crowd.

I think Warren is smart and compassionate. I do worry that her ideas and message may be drowned out by ignorant and agressive voices. But, there were moments during the debate when cheers of reason and fairness rang clear, and in this I heard hope.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

Apparently Michelle Obama is to attend a Mariners-Angels game at Safeco Field (Seattle) tonight. And neither Washington or California is a swing state. What a great First Lady! (And a beautiful ballpark).

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

The October issue of Boston magazine has a short feature by Jason Schwartz: "Kerry's Dilemma." Say Warren wins, Obama is re-elected and Kerry gets Sec. of State (his dream job), since Clinton will not continue another term THEN THIS MEANS that Massachusetts will need a new senator. List of possibilities for the position on the Democratic side is tight. Even if Gov. Patrick appoints an interim senator, a special election is required, and Brown likely will (still) be out there! See where this could lead?

Schwartz's main article is "Mass Revolt" explains why Romney's so unpopular in Massachusetts today." Can find this online (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/index.html )

@PDP from yesterday. Hmmm, the link works for me...but, just try Google "Janeane from Des Moines + NY Times."You should find the article, (which has a link to the movie site and the trailer); plus there are YouTube videos of "Janeane's" interaction with the various Republican candidates during the Iowa run.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Interesting about Unicor. My first job after college was with FPI as a catalog writer. It was during Eisenhower's prosperity, and I was lucky to get it. Paid a whole $4,000 a year... almost enough to live on.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Too good not to share! Unfortunately, don't know the source.

"Last week, Newsweek launched a Twitter hash tag, #MuslimRage, to spur chatter about its cover story. What followed may constitute the most inspiring revolt yet of new media against old. Scores of English-speaking Muslim Twitter users, offended by the magazine's cliched imagery, hijacked ("pun intended," one wrote) the online forum to post jokes about Muslim rage in the real world. One lamented a shortage of 'Sharia Garcia' ice cream. A woman in a head scarf wrote, 'I'm having such a good hair day. No one even knows.' Another, much re-tweeted entry read, 'Lost your kid Jihad at the airport. Can't yell for him.' We await an explication of the roots of Muslim irony."

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

A broken hip kept me from Realitychex for a few weeks. I'm glad to be back. Absentee voting started here in Georgia where it hasn't dawned on them that they lost the Civil War. I cast my ballot for the Prez where it will disappear into a sea of red. Oh well.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

Re: "Citizens in waiting"; not much time now but; thinking about Marie's answer for what to call "illegals". I live in a town where even the Mexicans have Mexicans so I got an opinion based on experience. One thing I think we all need to remember is that there is no such thing as a stereotype. Sure, I'm Irish/English/German/woodshed mix; doesn't mean I am a drunken,prig,world conquering squirrel eater. So whenever we lump people into a group we are not doing justice to those outside the group with the same basic identity of the group. Now, sub-grouping is easy, the criminal "illegal" sub-group should not be confused with the hardworking "illegal" sub-group. What I have seen in forty years of working with "illegals" is a change in their background. A long time ago most every "illegal" I worked with had a rural upbringing. Came north to work the fields and found construction to be easier than picking grapes. Then, maybe fifteen, twenty years ago I ran across more and more city "illegals". Kids from the streets of the big cities, much more likely to scam the system or turn to crime to make a dime. Big difference.
So the hard working "illegal" is every bit as much of immigration as is the scam artist "illegal".
It is a fact that our generous system of aid is far better then where most of the "illegals" came from. Free health, free food, free education. We are indeed "La Tierra of Si Hay". Why do you think anyone would risk their lives getting here if it wasn't better than home? So of course they are going to tax the system.
"Illegals" are not dumb, those that want a better life know that as an "illegal" you are always suspect and you can lose everything in a heartbeat so most "illegals" that want to stay are law-abiding.
This country was build by immigrants so the "illegals" are just the latest to arrive to help build and shape US.
I wanted to write "illegals" as many times as I could because I believe that "illegals" stresses the reality more than "undocumented worker". You see, in my world if you are "undocumented" it just means you haven't gotten your papers from the guy down on the corner. You want people to stay home? International minimum wage, fair trade. Yea, like that's going to happen.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

I did the digging in order to see "Janeane in Des Moines". I'm afraid it was lost on me and, in fact, the clip of what looked like a breakdown when she corraled Romney was damned unpleasant.
But then I'm finding very little "pleasant" these days. I just spent an hour watching the Brown/Warren debate (painful) but the Muslim hashtags were great. Thanks, Kate. I promise I'll remember The Supremes.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon
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