The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, July 28, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in a letter on Monday."

New York Times: "The United States and Europe put aside their differences and agreed on Monday to sharply escalate economic sanctions against Russia in a set of coordinated actions driven by the conclusion that Moscow has taken a more direct role in the war in Ukraine. After months in which European leaders were hesitant to go as far as the Americans, the two sides settled on a package of measures that would target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. In some cases, the Europeans may actually leapfrog beyond what the United States has done, forcing Washington to try to catch up."

Guardian: "Dutch and Australian police have failed to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for a second day as clashes rage in a town on the road to the area." ...

... Washington Post: "The Ukrainian military on Monday captured a strategically important swath of territory close to the debris field of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a spokesman said, dealing a blow to pro-Russian rebels but raising new questions about whether an investigation at the site will ever yield conclusive evidence about the attack on the airliner."

NEW. Washington Post: "Israel will press its air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, preparing his country for a longer and bloodier campaign and dashing hopes that the three-week-old conflict would end soon." ...

... Washington Post: "International efforts to end the devastating three-week-old Gaza war intensified Monday with the U.N. Security Council calling for an 'immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' in the conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. The ravaged coastal enclave was relatively quiet Monday as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Israel mostly held its fire overnight, shelling only a site in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from there." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Explosions rocked a major hospital and a neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead, witnesses reported." ...

... New York Times: "On Sunday, however, [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry was having difficulty accomplishing even ... a succession of temporary cease-fires..., despite a phone call in which President Obama, in a sign of mounting impatience, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to embrace an 'immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' while the two sides pursued a more lasting agreement. ...

... A White House readout of the conversation between Obama & Netanyahu is here.

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
July 28

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

3:05 pm ET: President Obama awards the 2013 National Medal of Arts & the National Medal of Humanities Medal

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Wednesday
Oct032012

The Commentariat -- October 4, 2012

Presidential Race

Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz & Chris Hayes tore the President apart for his debate performance. Matthews said Obama needs to start watching MSNBC so he'd know how to respond to Romney. I don't disagree with any of their points -- EXCEPT -- Obama & Romney spewed so many statistics so fast that I don't think most people could begin to grasp what they said. Therefore, the content of what they said may be less important than their demeanor. I thought after the first pleasant exchange, Romney was rude & nasty -- you might say a bully -- both to the President & Jim Lehrer, while the President was our friend & leader. We'll see if the needle moves, but I'm not sure ordinary Americans want a bully at the bully pulpit. ...

... The New York Times fact-check of the debate is quite extensive. Basically, it seems to say, Romney lied about this, that & the other thing. And another thing. And another. ...

... Calvin Woodward 's fact-check for the AP makes both candidates look like serial liars. Since this is what they'll read in the hinterlands, this is hardly helpful to the President.

... For those who missed all the fun thanks to other pressing engagements (Marvin Schwalb), the New York Times has a good interactive feature that includes full video & a full transcript of "Mr. Narcissist Gets His Way."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney took the offensive in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, forcing President Obama to defend his record in a series of sharp exchanges in which Romney charged that the President's economic policies have 'crushed' the middle class." ...

... Michael Shear & Jeff Zeleny write the New York Times report. ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The candidates spent much of the 90 minutes ... defining it in narrow policy details that may have bled some of the passion out of their arguments and made them sound smaller than they were. But at its core, the debate brought home a divide over domestic policy greater than any since President Ronald Reagan and Walter F. Mondale faced off in 1984." ...

... Charles Pierce has an excellent takedown of both candidates' performances, one that essentially agrees with the MSNBC panel's conclusions. Pierce's final point is his most important one: the President's failure to articulate or even hew to a progressive view "may have buried progressive government forever by demonstrating how tight the boundaries really are around what is considered acceptable economic solutions to a battered national economy. That will remain the case, clearly, even if this president gets re-elected." ...

     ... CW: following Pierce, Obama's biggest mistake, & this was a doozy, was letting Romney get off scott-free for repeatedly calling the deficit "immoral." If you read Krugman, you'll understand that this is not remotely true -- that the deficit is, by a large, a transfer of wealth from some of our children to some of our other children. Obama owed it to the American people to explain that. He didn't, and I think the reason is that he doesn't fucking understand it. Yeah, he needs Krugman, all right -- see "Other Stuff" below. I am not, BTW, persuaded that the conventional wisdom -- shared by Pierce -- that the President made a big mistake by not mentioning the 47 percent. Obviously, Romney was prepped with a "100 percent" reply. There's an answer to that, too, but it might not be as effective as whatever lie Romney responded. People in swing states who have teevees already get the 47-percent message with their breakfast, lunch & dinner. ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post, who plays fair, lists six reasons Romney won the debate. ...

... Gail Collins: "Romney had that funny look on his face whenever President Obama was talking. Somewhere between a person who is trying to overlook an unpleasant smell and a guy who is trying to restrain himself from pointing out that his car is much nicer than your car." ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "In the days to come, Romney may suffer from the perception of his condescension, his lying and his cruel assault on Big Bird. But for now, it seems the president missed the opportunity to put his opponent away for good." ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time: "Obviously, 2012 isn't 2008, and [Obama's] campaign can't be all about change. But change happened.... If even Obama won't defend the last four years, then what's the point of four more years?"

... Good analysis from Henry Decker of National Memo. Winner: TBD. Loser: Lehrer. Do go to the 2nd page (sorry, I can't figure out how to single-page it) where Decker slams Obama for his response on Social Security. ...

Daniel Polito of Slate: pundits agree -- Romney won big. ....

... BUT as contributor Mae Finch notes, old (& I say that with affection & accuracy) Margaret & Helen get it right. Here's a bit from Helen: "Well Margaret, once again I am going to say what the media won't. Mitt Romney is a lying sack of shit and he wouldn't know a middle class tax cut if it bit him in the middle of his gold plated ass. Evidently the media seems to think that the person who slings the bullshit the farthest wins the debate." ...

... Paul Krugman: "OK, so Obama did a terrible job in the debate, and Romney did well. But in the end, this isn't or shouldn't be about theater criticism, it should be about substance. And the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie." Read the whole post for a glaring fer-instance. ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon assesses the upsides for Romney.

Coal Miners' Slaughter:

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "... Mitt Romney has scaled back his acceptance of a program by President Obama to grant reprieves from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants. On Monday, after months of pressure to clarify whether he would end the program if elected, Mr. Romney said in an interview with The Denver Post that he would not cancel two-year deportation deferrals already granted by the Obama administration.... But on Wednesday morning, campaign aides clarified that Mr. Romney intended to halt the program after he took office and would not issue any new deferrals." CW: big surprise. As usual, Romney thinks talking to local reporters means no one outside their newspaper delivery or broadcast area can find out what he says. Since Colorado has a big Hispanic population, Romney thought it would be a good idea to pretend he was for the Dream Act for a few minutes.

Former President Clinton, speaking at the University of New Hampshire Wednesday, on the 47 percent:

CW: Assuming Penn Schoen Berland -- a pro-Democratic group -- has conducted an unbiased, accurate study of presidential messaging, it seems to me the real takeaway is, "Americans may say they're conservative, but they really prefer Democratic -- i.e., librul -- policies." Mackenzie Weinger of Politico reports on the study's results.

Congressional Races

Rebecca Berg of BuzzFeed: "In a speech on the House floor in 2008, Rep. Todd Akin said doctors give 'abortions to women who are not actually pregnant.'" CW: maybe some of you doctor people can explain this one to us.

     ... Update: "Rep. Todd Akin's campaign is standing by the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri's 2008 claim that doctors commonly perform abortions on women who 'are not actually pregnant.'"

Other Stuff

** Nicholas Kristof: "Our wealth has become so skewed that the top 1 percent possesses a greater collective worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. This inequality is a central challenge for the United States today and should be getting far more attention in this presidential campaign."

Linda Greenhouse writes a compelling history lesson to go along with the Supreme Court's pending affirmative action case. If you -- as I was for a long time -- are of the impression that Brown v. Board of Education was "unprecedented," Greenhouse highlights one of a number of cases that actually set the precedent for Brown.

New York Times Editors: "Judge Carol Jackson of Federal District Court, a George H.W. Bush appointee, dismissed the lawsuit filed against the administration brought by a mining company and its owner, who said that providing contraceptive coverage in the company health plan violated his personal religious views." You can read her decision here (pdf). The editors' synopsis of Judge Jackson's reasoning is instructive.

Charley James of Daily Kos: "Reports surfaced today that Nobel Prize Winning economist Dr. Paul Krugman will be offered the job of chairman for the White House Council of Economic Advisors." Contributor Dave S. writes, "Be still my beating heart." My response: Dave S., my heart beats fast with thine; Alas, t'is Krugman who we both do pine. However, we should remember that presidents pay little attention to their Council of Economic Advisors. (Sorry, hadda quit with the beyoutiful poetry--there's no to can scrunch "Council of Economic Advisors" into iambic pentameter.) Joe Stiglitz is bald only because he tore out his hair when Clinton, Rubin, et al., killed Glass-Steagall. And Christie Romer, who headed Obama's CEA, quit early to help her teenaged son with his homework or something.

Matthew Lee of the AP: "Past investigations into attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions have blamed both the administration and Congress for failing to spend enough money to ensure that the overseas facilities were safe despite a clear rise in terror threats to American interests abroad."

AND Blue Plate Kentucky Roadkill Special. Mike Krumboltz of Yahoo! News: "Customers at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., alerted authorities after they spotted something they probably wish they hadn't: restaurant employees wheeling roadkill back to the kitchen.... The roadkill was apparently a deer stuffed into a trash can. 'There was actually a blood trail they were mopping up behind the garbage can,' customer Katie Hopkins said." Thanks to a friend for the link.

News Lede

AP: "Iran deployed riot police at key Tehran intersections on Thursday, after tensions flared over the nation's plunging currency in the most widespread display of anger linked to the country's sanctions-hit economy.The show of force reflects the authorities' concerns in the wake of sporadic protests Wednesday over the plummeting currency, which has sharply driven up prices."

Reader Comments (41)

I do not want, the good Dr. Krugman, to quote LBJ, " inside the tent pissing out." I do not want him inside that tent at all. The good Dr. should refuse to be part of an aministration but free with advice both private and public.
I know the administration would like to silence a critic. You and I need this critic functioning publicly. Good critics are in short supply.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Just watched the 1st presidential debate. A sad night for Democrats who watched their beaten leader slink off to leave stage center to a victorious challenger and his family.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercowichan

I just watched the first debate, too, and was "tweeting" to MoveOn all the while. I finally got down to one tweet about MittWitt--"He's lying again," and sent it about a dozen times. Glad the NYT agrees.

I am with Marie. Romney is an anxious bully. And Obama is a tired professor. One tweet I saw called them "Twitchy and Geeky." I think that says it all about tonight. To say it was a game changer attributes less smarts and critical thinking ability to the American voters than I already give them, which (as you all know) is pretttty low. I do agree with Chris Matthews that Barry oughta watch MSNBC until the debates are over.

Other important news: I am glad Roger Henry and I have made up! We all have bad days; today has been one of mine. Sorry to say, my paranoia is intact, but am hoping it will not go ballistic if the debate "spin" goes all anti-Obama! I have enough obnoxious Tea Party fellas here in my little ocean side community to cover the bases.

Oh yeah: Remember the Supremes! (:

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Marie - I agree with your assessment 100%. I thought Romney looked half crazed, and not at all presidential. Most of my liberal friends seemed disappointed, whereas I thought Nama came across as both reasonable and presidential. The adult in the room.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Cowichan....the Romney camp was just relieved he didn't throw up. Of course they hogged the stage.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Where is Marie's assessment posted?!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

Never mind, I figured it out. Guess I'm just so angry about lying Romney that I can't see straight.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

If there was a point where I thought Romney lost the public, it was at what was supposed to be the end of the first segment, so about 15 minutes in. Jim Lehrer said something like, "Okay, now we're going to discuss...." Romney interrupted & said, "No, the President started this segment, so I'm going to finish." Lehrer said, "Well, you can begin the next segment." Romney again said, "No, I'm going to speak now." And he did.

We all have met people who treated us the way Romney treated Lehrer. If a person is totally pro-Romney, he will probably think, "Wow, that's great. He's really sticking it to that elitist PBS nerd." But maybe undecided voters, people who are trying to decide who they want in their living rooms for the next 4 years, were turned off by that.

Romney did something similar in a primary debate to another candidate, & even tho I definitely wasn't rooting for the other candidate (I forget if it was Perry or Santorum), Romney made me recoil. He was boorish & domineering. I think he even put his hand on the other candidate's shoulder to intimidate him.

So I think others may react to his pushing around Jim Lehrer as I reacted to his nearly physically pushing a fellow candidate. He isn't someone people can like, & he isn't someone they think would treat others fairly. It's all about Mitt. And he's a churlish boor.

Marie

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I agree with Marie. Romney's verbal behavior convinced me that the story of his bullying does go back to the attack on his blond schoolmate; and I kept thinking: have you no shame, sir? At long last, have you no shame? (lies, lies, lies)
I thought the President was exercising the adult attitude of "forbearance (sp?)." Romney's need to control and interrupt made me sure the stories about Bain were true. I don't think he was the winner at all.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

When the 'debate' was over...I was confounded by how the evening went, from Jim Lehrer losing control from the start and then listening to Romney lie, relie, lie again and not getting pushback from the President. The debate format was stilted, the setting was oppressive...and yes, I know an audience can be stacked...but it sorely lacked immediate feedback. No wonder Matthews & company were pissed.

Trying to tell myself, Obama was cleverly setting Romney up for the next two debates...let him put non-position positions or the flip flop kind that he is known for...and THEN, magically a super-charged Obama will appear and go for the jugular. I hope!

Charles Pierce ("The Presidential Debate That Wasn't Very Presidential: How Obama Let the Etch-a-Sketch Take the Controls Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/presidential-debate-obama-2012-13353709#ixzz28KYvPB7Y
—states things far better than I can.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

That "look" that Gail Collins mentions looks to me like ARROGANCE. Mr. I –can– talk– better– and faster just took over and by, god, it felt sooo good to him––he was back in form, back debating, something he does like the Cover-Girl ad says, "Easy, Breezy." The substance of his talk of course was layered with lies, but no matter, that apparently makes no difference in these debates. Obama played the nice guy, the presidential person on the podium, knowing that Romney's words would be scrutinized, but I don't think the second debate will find Obama so passive and polite–-he just may be laying the bait and getting his rod ready.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.S. I think Carlyle makes a good point about pissing out rather than in the tent. Although, lord knows, it would be great to have Krugman advising the power brokers and skipping over to Congressional hearings during a rain soaked Monday to "splain" money business to those that have been dealing with all this monkey business.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.D. Pepe: "that look" which Gail Collins and you both referred to really stunned me as I watched the debates. I thought Romney looked crazed....at the very least, it was obviously something he practiced a lot in the mirror. Actually he reminded me of the Big Bad Wolf dressed as Granny.
Already the fact checkers are pointing out Romneys many lies and distort ions.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: The winner is!... the media crowd. How strange that everything has been reduced to a sports creed. Unless one of the two debaters states at the end of the debate that he has been convinced of the others opinion how can you claim a victory? Did anybody in America get up off the couch and say, "Gee, that Mr. Romney sure has his facts on the tip of his tongue, he's got my vote; anybody want ice cream?" I don't think so. Or, "Jez, my man Obama wasn't on his game tonight, his facts stacks weren't stacked like Mitt's facts stacks; he lost my vote; anybody want ice cream?"
The real winner was the media; days and days of copy about the debate. Did the president look tired? What color was Mitt's tie?
And the facts stacks; "program, program, get your program here; you won't know the facts stacks without a program." Mitt says that 47% of Mormons lie about 80% of the time if they have an income 67% lower than 10% of the sheep in Utah. "Honey, did you know that? About the sheep, either did I, that changes my vote."
Really?
So I'm with Marie, It's pretty simple, both men have their camps, one mans camp claims victory; the other accepts defeat. Which camp is going to jump to the other side? One guy came off as a rude SOB who would sell his soul for gold butterfly; the other guy came off as someone who was using the rope a dope plan but forgot in the tenth round you have to land some punches for the plan to work.
When Mitt said he was a twenty-five year leader of business I thought Obama should have pounded that statement. Twenty-five years of making what?

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

I am deeply saddened this morning. My right wing relatives comparisons of Obama to Jimmy Carter, which I have ridiculed, are now haunting my sleep time. I am a person who believes bully's must be quickly identified and summarily gobsmacked. To concede that he agreed with that lying bully on any subject was an act of cowardice that only acted to remind us, his base, of four years of half loaves, compromises,and crumbs we have had to accept in the name of pragmatism. A half loaf in QE1, poorly directed for job creation. A 600,000 person cut in state and local government employment. No clear vision on cleaning up the SEC. No indictments of corrupt banking officials. Charles Pierce is painfully correct in his description of the narrowness of options occurring to the President.
The staring at the floor like an errant child getting a tongue lashing in the principals office while the camera was on him was particular disheartening.
I can only hope, with the rest of you, that this was some sort of bait to a trap to be sprung in the next two debates. To undo the damage from last night will be a great challenge, but that's sort of Obama's style. Dig a hole to test your strength by crawling out of it.
If it does not happen, I truly fear for republic for ignorant bullies are being physically confronted in many areas of the world.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

Did anyone else notice the worried looked on Michelle Obama's face prior to the start of debate vs. Ann Romney's smug look?

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

I want to thank all of you for filling me in on what I missed last night. And Marie, in case you didn't follow it, the Yankees won 14-2. A lot more fun than watching any politician. And BTW, the very idea that we are going to choose the next POTUS on the basis of debate 'performance' rather than policy content is just like choosing the winner of Dancing with the Stars. Welcome to America, the land of the free and the home of the Kardashians.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The first thing the President said was, "I'd rather be home making love to my wife on our anniversary." Or something like that. And he proved it. He was not prepared for a debate, & he did not engage in one. He may have been "professorial," as so many pundits are saying, in that he gave a few little mini-lectures on this or that policy, but he was not professorial in the sense that he employed the Socratic method -- as so many actual professors do -- to bring out the flaws in his student's views. Imagine if 20 minutes in, he had just said, "Okay, let's look at what Mr. Romney is claiming here -- then nailed down point-by-point why just one remark Romney made was nonsensical. Instead, Obama barely engaged Romney at all, whereas Romney spent the whole night whacking him. I think this left Romney looking like a rude, arrogant bastard, but at least his base really likes rude, arrogant bastards. I'm just not convinced that's what so-called independent voters want in a president.

I don't know what kind of debate prep Obama did, but it didn't involve, um, debating. The meme going in was that Obama could come off as arrogant & aloof. Well, there's a split decision; Romney gets every one of the arrogance points, but Obama wins on aloof because he pretty nearly ignored Romney.

On another point: all the libruls are complaining this morning because Obama didn't fight for us. They are right on every point. But think about that. In a general election, do we really want liberals (14 percent of voters self-identify as liberals) to be super-happy?

Marie

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I sat down last night to post something right away but I had such a bad feeling about this I couldn't finish it.

My very first reaction was how smooth and smarmy the Rat was. Slick as frying grease. His much touted and highly rehearsed "impromptu" zingers delivered with same smug sense of innate superiority of the bullying rich kid he was as a schoolboy (when he was assaulting fellow students who raised his righteous ire).

Some of these were just too cute and came off as petulant and unctuous rather than cool, like the "Oh, wait. I just remembered, the president IS going to do something different from me. He's going to cut $716 billions dollars out of Medicare."

Here was Obama's chance to shove the Rat's smug face into a brick wall and he.....did nothing.

Time and again he had great openings and did nothing with them.

I can't even tell you how disappointed I was--and am.

He lost a huge, huge opportunity. I agree with Marie that the flurry of statistics may blunt this win for the Rat, but he came off smooth, oleaginous, unflustered and aggressive. The president was back on his heels all night.

Too bad. The next debate, on foreign policy won't matter to most people. Debates surrounding the nation's stance on the internal politics of Syria will evaporate into the aether.

All the lies that Romney spewed; not a one was challenged. He u-turned on a slew of things he's on record saying and not a one was tested. It was like hearing someone who had been telling you one thing for weeks get up in front a group of people at a party and tell a completely different story.

AND GET AWAY WITH IT.

The president's performance wasn't Gerald Ford terrible, but it wasn't anything to write home about. And I agree with Roger and others here that his looking down at the floor while being tongue lashed by a lying prick like the Rat made him look awfully bad.

Next we have Biden. Not sure whether to cheer or slit my throat now and get it over with.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Marvin Schwalb. The Yankees won 14-2? Wow! Who were they playing?

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

If anyone needs some humor this morning, try reading this blog: http://margaretandhelen.com/.
Of COURSE it is one CW featured in the past.
Bullying any moderator is wrong but, Jim Lehrer?
The other 2 moderators better cry foul, and get a mic mute for Mittens.
mae finch

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

And another thing about the "professorial" bit. The best way Obama could have used his time was to conduct a tutorial -- as professors do -- to explain what he had done to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, how Romney's party had fought him tooth-&-nail to prevent him from doing more, & why his plan for his next term would continue to help the middle class & the poor while Romney's plan would only help the rich. He did that an itty-bitty bit, but all-in-all, I don't think regular people came away thinking, "Gee, Obama is really going to help my family, and Romney only cares about the rich." Getting that across should have been Obama's objective, & he barely made a stab at it.

Marie

October 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@ Akhilleus: Who but you, in just five adjectives, can describe Romney to a T. I especially like "oleaginous"––it glides over one's tongue ever so smoothly. Save your razor for your face and not your throat––– if after the fat lady sings and the popcorn is all gone we are still in the black hole, then...but in the meantime get some of that ice cream JJG is bringing to our table and partake. Or watch the Yankees win another game.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

I'm afraid I've a ways to go before a cheering up can take place; Dr. Johnson's black dog has taken up semi-permanent residence (likely until early November). He's sitting under my desk right now looking up at me with those baleful eyes as if to say "It ain't over, is it? You thought your guy was going to at least hold his own? But he didn't, did he? He sucked royally."

Hate that fucking dog.

And for a lifelong Red Sox fan, watching the Yankees win another game doesn't offer much relief.

But I guess I'll have some of that ice cream after all. Got any Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk?

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Obama 's best messaging would have been a strong, "I've been fighting for YOU.....and I'll keep on fighting. " Marie alludes to this in her last comment. Obama sorta went there, but he didn't seal the deal.
He should get a new debate prep team...fast.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

sent last verse of Longfellow poem to Obama's web site...

Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -are all with thee!

It was sent to Roosevelt by Churchill on the eve of WW2.
Pg 213, No Ordinary Time- Doris Kearns Goodwin.
the verse expresses my sentiments.
@ Akill, if your black dog is same as Churchill's, it is sitting here, also.

mae finch

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Mae,

Yup. Same creature.

He's visited me periodically over the years. Best I can suggest, don't feed him.

A different poem occurred to me last night, which we might send along with the Longfellow as a kind of ghoulish admonition; one of Walt Whitman's:

Oh Captain, My Captain.

Overly pessimistic?

We'll see.

That damn dog is gnawing on my ankle.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Now I know why I keep coming back to read Akhilleus. We both love Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk!
Unfortunately I need more than one pint to heal my remorse about my hero's abysmal performance. The lying bully may have won the debate on appearance but not on facts. Style over substance does not mean the battle is over. I still have HOPE for my hero.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Janet,

Unfortunately, the Rat did win on style; he could never win on facts.

But I think Victoria may be on to something regarding the Obama campaign people making some drastic changes in their prep planning.

He was woefully unprepared, or if not, he ignored whatever coaching was offered. For one thing, I remember reading that John Kerry was going to play the Rat during the practice debates. John Kerry? As that evil, lying, bully boy? Seriously? What he needed was someone to lean into him, call him names, tell him he sucked, question his place of birth and tell him he was stupid. Remember Mike Dukakis' bloodless response to the question of what he would do the man who raped and murdered his wife? "Well, you see, I'm a staunch opponent of the death penalty, and....blah, blah, blah..." Fuck that, Mike. You needed to say "My first reaction would be to sentence the prick to 3 days in the electric chair. And I want to pull the goddam switch myself...after that...."

See? And like that.

And Obama was nearly as bereft of passion. Christ, he appeared downright distracted at times. As if he was thinking of something else and suddenly remembered that Romney just called him an asshole.

And is it my imagination, or did the Rat actually address the president at one point as "Barack"? One of those slimy, underhanded debating tricks. Remember when Poppy Bush used to refer to Mario Cuomo as "Maaaa-rio" (with a longer A as opposed to correct short A)? Fucking insulting. And the Rat last night also slid in a few "Democrat Party" slurs. Another low-life maneuver.

Finally, in his closing remarks, the president looked at Lehrer, the crowd, (I think he stole a couple of quick glances at his watch, like he'd rather be anywhere else), the ceiling, and the floor. The much better coached Rat glared right into the camera. He didn't give a shit about Lehrer or anyone else in that hall. He was speaking to the tens of millions of people who had just watched him beat up on the president.

Get Obama a good, sharp, debate partner who will make fun of him and get under his skin. Is Lewis Black available? Hell, Maher or Colbert would have done a better job of imitating that arrogant, lying, piece of shit than the kindly, patrician Kerry.

Hell, hire me. I'll do it.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@akhill
SLAM, the gavel bangs- hear my vote for you? You'd be wonderful to play Mittens.
:)
mae finch

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Ironically, the only true thing said by Mitt last night may have been that he has 5 lying sons.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I wouldn't worry too much about last evening. The problem trying to debate Mitt is figuring out which Mitt will show because he's change his positions so many times. At least last evening he laid down some pretty clear markers in front of a pretty large audience. If I had to advise Pres.Obama, when Mitt says that he will repeal Obamacare on day one in the WH, but keep items like insurance in spite of pre-existing conditions, kids on their parent's policy until age 26 ..("good luck with that !" Zinger),and more, buried in a cascade of other lies about rates, taxes,etc. , I would advise Obama not to try to give an answer to every item, but pick just one and ask Mitt a question,i.e. "How do you plan to get the health care insurers to keep the benefits of Obamacare without adding people to the pool since your pick of your favorite benefits implies that the insurers will voluntarily forego their profits or will have to raise their rates?" Let Mitt answer and catch himself in his own lies.

Of course, the format of the debate is all important....if one wanted to respect the rules. But last evening both clearly rolled over the moderator, so it's open season next time, no matter the agreed rules.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdan

I think the moderator should have bitch-slapped both of them a
number of times and repeated the rules of a debate very slowly
until they got it. And the look on Mitt's face; my partner said it's
that look I get when prepping for a colonoscopy, so I was waiting
for Mitt to ask for a bathroom break. Next time will be better, or
else!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Akhilleus,
Amazing, the only time I never voted for a President was when Dukakis could not stand up for his wife. I could not even hold my nose so I left the box blank!
Our LA political cartoonist captured the debate last night with his pen and paintbrush perfectly. His commentary is interesting too.
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

It seems everybody is bemoaning Barry's performance. What if he put on a perverse rope-a-dope to lull Mitt and everyone else into paying less attention than if he was a charging fighter? Will he come out and stomp on Mitt next time? I didn't see the debate, but I would ask Hillary and Bill if they would underestimate Obama again.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625

Forrest's "or else" should be enough to rouse the Obamans and their candidate out of their torpor.

I just ripped through an article suggested by PD a few days ago, Nick Lemann's New Yorker exegesis of the World According to Mitt. It's nothing new to most of us, at least as concerns general perceptions, but Lemann offers a wealth of specific detail (an urge sternly and assiduously avoided by mercurial Mitt) that limn the boundaries of the Rat's malleable morality.

Here's a guy who can shift loyalty, ethics, rationality, scruples (such as they are ), and form based on whatever is required for him to get you to buy whatever he is pimping. Mostly it's himself. His sense of entitlement is far more advanced than you might think from ingesting the gilded hairballs spun by the royal consort, Lady Ann.

Goddam you Mr. President if you don't put this conniving, meretricious confidence man down for good. If you let this amoral solipsist track a noisome trail of slime into the Oval Office without a decent fight, I will fucking never forgive you. I don't give a shit about "change you can believe in" anymore.

Rise up and righteously smite this greedy, smirking, self-obsessed liar.

If you don't, the "or else" may put us all beyond the pale.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Prez's I'd-rather-be-antwhere-but-here performance seems to have energized the Dem party base--more crucial than ever to hold the Senate and re-take the House. Don't know what it's done to the Prez's base, likely put it in despair... even deeper than it was before.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Way back, when Obama first capitulated to the wing nuts, I described him as a stud mouse. I was right then and he has been a weak leader and not a real progressive. Working Americans will not be helped by Obama.. A Romney disaster will set the ground for a NewDeal.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Oh! Canada!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

James Singer: as a proud member of 0bama's "base," I can tell you that I was not in "despair" before, and I am not in that state now. Disappointed with the debate performance? Oui!
But I'm certainly not going to let one subpar performance alter my view of his presidency, which I think has been effective, or of the man. I know many of my friends feel the same.
It just seems that if Obama isn't perfect every time, people in his own party turn on him. I am not counting some of the disaffected individuals on the left , I refer to people who generally seem to accept Obama....until he has a misstep.
Not sure why that is.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I hope you're right, Victoria. All I can offer is that my friends who manned phone banks for him and went door-to-door for him the last time have a deep sense of betrayal, of being sucker punched, and won't be working on this campaign this time.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer
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