The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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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