The Ledes

Thursday, July 31, 2014.

Washington Post: A "confluence of worries sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling more than 300 points, its worst one-day drop since February. The plunge snapped a string of five straight monthly gains, and pushed the blue-chip index to a slight loss for the year. But it wasn’t just stocks that suffered. Oil fell to its lowest level since March, gold dropped and even Treasurys edged lower."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Thursday that he would not agree to any cease-fire proposal that does not allow the Israeli military to complete its mission of destroying Hamas’s tunnel network in Gaza." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional, 72-hour humanitarian truce to begin Friday morning, diplomats from the United States and the United Nations announced Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the 24-day-old conflict. In a joint statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said both sides in the conflict are sending delegations to Cairo for negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting cease-fire."

USA Today: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban two months ago, will meet next week with the senior Army officer investigating the circumstances of his capture in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Wednesday. Bergdahl, who spent five years in captivity, plans to meet with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the investigating officer, in San Antonio, where Bergdahl is stationed, according to lawyer Eugene Fidell."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States economy rebounded heartily in the spring after a dismal winter, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, growing at an annual rate of 4 percent from April through June and surpassing economists’ expecations. In its initial estimate for the second quarter, the government cited a major advance in inventories for private businesses, higher government spending at the state and local level and personal consumption spending as chief contributors to growth."

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

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 31

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:20 pm ET: President Obama signs an executive order

3:40 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Department of Housing & Urban Development

7:25 pm ET: President Obama speaks at a celebration of the Special Olympics

8:30 pm ET: President Obama attends a performance celebrating the Special Olympics

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

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

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

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.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Thursday
Oct042012

The Commentariat -- October 5, 2012

Presidential Race

AND now, time for a little gallows humor:

David Horsey for the Los Angeles Times.David Horsey's column in the Los Angeles Times is well worth reading, too. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Oops! Akhilleus corrected me. Thanks to Janet for the link. ...

... Andy Borowitz in the New Yorker: "The White House today announced that it was offering a 'substantial cash reward' for information leading to 'the location and safe return of President Obama's mojo.'" Thanks to James S. for the link.

CW: we now know what's Mitt Romney's October Surprise is: he metamorphosed overnight from Severely Conservative Mitt to Massachusetts Mitt. ...

... Massachusetts Mitt, Day 2. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Mitt Romney for the first time characterized his comments during a fundraiser that were surreptitiously filmed and caught the candidate essentially writing off 47 percent of Americans as 'completely wrong." "Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you're gonna say something that doesn't come out right,' Romney said in an interview Wednesday night with Fox News' Sean Hannity. 'In this case I said something that's just completely wrong.'" CW Translation: "Really, I love you moochers. Vote for me so I can give you the freedom to get off the dole, you lazy bastards." ...

... BTW, in case you're wondering why Massachusetts Mitt said this yesterday to Hannity instead of during the debate with its reported 67.2 million viewers, it's because Obama -- and the useless Jim Lehrer -- didn't give him a chance (see the bottom of page 1 of the linked article). Which is, um, what I said yesterday.

... Severely Conservative Mitt, the Day the Tapes Surfaced: "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question, but it's a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry, which is that the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them. Therefore I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those in the middle." ...

... The Say-Anything, Do-Anything Wing. Dave Weigel of Slate: arch-conservatives now love Massachusetts Mitt, the guy they used to hate. Why? Because they smell a winner. They don't care WTF he says.

Steve Coll of the New Yorker is sort of upbeat & blames Jim Lehrer for the debacle. CW: either Lehrer was pretending to be totally uninformed or he is pretty damned ignorant. I'm guessing the latter. When he brought up "entitlements," I wanted to throw something at him. At least Obama gently corrected him on that. ...

... Democratic operative Bob Shrum in the Daily Beast: "Lehrer, who is already retired, was not only a pushover, but an interrogator from the pre-modern age -- and that too played to Romney's advantage. The debate was supposed to be about domestic issues. But in Lehrer's world, that didn't include women, African-Americans, Hispanic and the LGBT community -- or any of their concerns. The Republican, who had relentlessly pandered to extort his nomination from a skeptical extremist base, didn't have to repeat or defend his voter-alienating views on questions ranging from immigration to contraception. I blame Lehrer for that, but not for losing control of the debate. I felt sorry for him." Shrum writes that despite his poor performance, Obama did score certain points that matter to voters. BUT -- and this was the point in the debate where I went nuts -- Shrum concedes: "The president made the mistake of saying that he and Romney essentially agreed on Social Security -- where did that come from? -- even though Romney has supported privatization and his running mate has called Social Security a 'collectivist system.'"

... "Obama's Enthusiasm Gap." Matt Bai of the New York Times often has silly ideas, but his post in yesterday's Times is instructive: "Mr. Obama's goal, it seems, was to indicate his continued willingness to serve in a job he believes he can do better than the other guy, but that doesn't really seem to enervate or enliven him. That's a problem, and not only for the duration of the campaign." Worth a read. ...

... Dana Milbank: "Obama has set a modern record for refusal to be quizzed by the media, taking questions from reporters far less often than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush.... Obama has shied from mixing it up with members of Congress, too. And, especially since Rahm Emanuel's departure, Obama is surrounded by a large number of yes men who aren't likely to get in his face. This insularity led directly to the Denver debacle."

... Dizzy Prez. Al Gore dreams up a better excuse, one right up there with "the dog ate my homework": Obama was disoriented by Denver’s altitude after flying in from the Nevada lowlands." O-kay.

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker lists seven chances Obama missed to hit back at Romney. You may have additional ones of your own.

Governor Romney came to give a performance and he gave a good performance and we give him credit for that. The problem with it was that none of it was rooted in fact. -- David Axelrod ...

We are obviously going to have to adjust for the fact of Mitt Romney's dishonesty. -- David Plouffe of the Obama campaign, acknowledging the campaign would change debate tactics

... Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone: "Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate -- and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president under a heaping pile of horseshit." Dickinson lists five big lies. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: "Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies." ...

... David Gergen???

... Romney Lies about Green Jobs Failures. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: when does 1/2 = 4% or 9% ? When Mitt Romney speaks. ...

... "Sick Joke." Paul Krugman: "'No. 1,' declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday's debate, 'pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.' No, they aren't -- as Mr. Romney's own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.... What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job.... As it happens, this is already the law of the land.... It applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job).... The number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Romney has made this claim on national TV before, only to have his campaign clarify that he only would guarantee protection for those with preexisting conditions who have had continuous coverage.... After Romney's claim last night, the Romney camp again clarified this difference. This is now a pattern: While millions are watching, Romney claims he favors the ban on those with preexisting conditions. Then his campaign issues a clarification watering it down that almost no one will see. The reason for this is obvious: Polls show strong public support for keeping that ban."

Deficit Hawks Pounce. Washington Post Editors: "President Obama has no adequate plan to cope with the frightening level of debt the U.S. government is accumulating. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has a plan to make it worse. To understand that harsh assessment, you have to spend a few minutes with some facts that Mr. Romney did his best to obscure Wednesday." ...

... Tales from a Debate. The Obama campaign begins to hit Mendacious Mitt. This ad is going up in swing states:

Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "The question for the press over the next few days is increasingly clear: Will the big story be about Mitt Romney's debate victory? ... Or will it be about Romney's repeated failures to stick to the facts? ... Paul Ryan's convention speech wound up being covered mainly for its mendacity, and that became the story. It seems that there are at least as many factually challenged comments from Romney's debate performance as there were in Ryan's speech, although it may have lacked any screaming-headline lies." ...

... Seth Michaels of Working America: "As a person playing the role of a political candidate in a debate, Romney did just fine.... However, Romney let loose time and time again with jaw-dropping dishonestly. It was reminiscent of Paul Ryan's convention speech in its open contempt for truth.... Going in front of nearly 60 million people and dancing around the facts like this ... is disdainful of voters. You don't lie like this to people whose intelligence you respect -- and as his now-famous fundraiser comments show, respect for voters is not really his strong suit.... Will the press cover this debate like theater critics, looking to see who sang and danced better? Or will they look at the substance?" Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Apparently, the public doesn't mind being disrespected. The bottom line on a longish piece by Lori Montgomery & Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post: "Romney's newly aggressive stance appears to be helping his cause, at least initially. A CBS News instant survey of uncommitted voters found that they favored Obama by a significant margin on the tax issue going into Wednesday's debate. Immediately afterward, the numbers flipped." ...

... Jim Rutenberg & Peter Baker of the New York Times are not interested in tackling substance. Of Romney's lies, here's all they wrote: "Mr. Obama's aides said if there was one silver lining in the night it was that they could seize on what they called inconsistencies between Mr. Romney's stances during the primaries and those of this late campaign period." ...

... The man on stage last night doesn't want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney. He knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year. If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. -- Barack Obama, at a campaign rally yesterday ...

... In the same report, Rutenberg & Baker write that at a campaign rally in Denver Thursday, President Obama "went straight at [Mitt Romney] with a forceful argument that Mr. Romney's words of moderation masked extreme conservative policies.... In general, advisers suggested that Mr. Obama had prepared for a different Mitt Romney, one who had promoted a conservative message to the Republican base this year.... Instead, he was confronted by a candidate using a softer tone.... Some of the weaknesses in the president's performance, advisers said, were the result of a strategy of not turning off the narrow slice of swing voters, who are often repelled by personal confrontations. And, they said, he had been expecting the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, to ask more pointed questions...."

Michael Cooper, et al., of the New York Times do write about This Week's Mitt and demonstrate how he is different from Last Week's Mitt, but in terms of analysis, they write that he "used striking new language" and "may be sowing confusion about how [he] would govern." This is the most oblique & obscure translation of "Liar, Liar!" I've ever read. ...

... Oddly enough, Cooper & the same do a much better job of yelling "Liar, Liar!" in a blogpost that covers much of the same material. The post, of course, does not go out to readers of the print edition. It's almost as if, um, the Times has a totally different readership in mind for its online & print editions.

Scott Wilson & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama sought to put a sluggish debate performance behind him Thursday with a pair of combative speeches in swing states, as his campaign advisers acknowledged that he would have to change his approach before meeting Republican nominee Mitt Romney again on a national stage."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Criticizing Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate, his voice now indignant, now deeply sarcastic, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered the kind of impassioned response to the Republican nominee on Thursday that many Democrats said they wished they had heard from President Obama."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama's campaign raised more money in September than any candidate has raised in a previous month this year.... Several sources said the president's haul last month exceeded the $114 million he raised in August, in part on the strength of donations that flowed in after the Democratic National Convention and former president Bill Clinton's well-received speech."

Allen McDuffee of the Washington Post: "A new ad out of Mitt Romney's campaign claiming that President Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 solely relies on an article from the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).... The ad also says AEI is a nonpartisan, independent organization. By law, this is true.... However, ideologically, one would be hard-pressed to find somebody at AEI who didn't identify themselves as conservative. But how many in the public will know that?" McDuffee also points to Romney's reliance on an AEI opinion piece during the debate. Though McDuffee doesn't make this clear, Romney merged one conservative's opinion piece into "six other studies"; it was actually one opinion, repeated or mentioned in 5 other venues, including the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, if I recall.)

As P. D. Pepe points out in today's Comments, Robert Scheer of TruthDig viewed the "debate" between Obama & Romney as one between Tweedledee & Tweedledum. Their differences -- especially as to controlling Wall Street excesses -- are miniscule. CW: And it ain't gonna change without a Constitutional amendment to curb campaign finance "free speech."

Other Stuff

Quotes of the Day. The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state. -- Justice Antonin Scalia, explaining why some cases are easy

Remember the Supremes! -- Kate Madison, explaining why you should hold your nose & vote for Obama

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: when the jobs numbers look good, Fox "News," et al., have the jobs-report conspiracy theorists at the ready.

Denise Grady, et al., of the New York Times: "The nation's growing outbreak of meningitis, linked to spinal injections for back pain, was a calamity waiting to happen -- the result of a lightly regulated type of drug production that had a troubled past.... The outbreak, with 5 people dead and 30 ill in six states, is thought to have been caused by a steroid drug contaminated by a fungus. The steroid solution was ... concocted by a pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., called the New England Compounding Center. Compounding pharmacies make their own drug products, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration."

News Ledes

ABC News: "The D.C. transit system must allow a pro-Israel ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages, a federal judge ruled Friday. A spokesman for the Metro system said it would comply with the judge's decision and that the advertisements would go up over the weekend."

New York Times: "American officials confirmed Turkish news reports on Friday that two Tunisian men had been detained in Turkey in connection with the killing of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the attack on a United States diplomatic post in Libya on Sept. 11.... It remained unclear whether the two were considered to be suspects or witnesses in the violent attack in Benghazi...."

** Bloomberg News: "The unemployment rate in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, as employers took on more part-time workers."

AP: "The potential scope of the meningitis outbreak that has killed at least five people widened dramatically Thursday as health officials warned that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients who got steroid back injections in 23 states could be at risk. Clinics and medical centers rushed to contact patients who may have received the apparently fungus-contaminated shots. And the Food and Drug Administration urged doctors not to use any products at all from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the suspect steroid solution." See also today's Commentariat.

ABC News: "Authorities are looking closely at the possibility that a friendly fire accidental shooting is at the heart of the incident that killed Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie and wounded a second agent, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News. A third agent was unharmed in the incident."

Washington Post: "The Secret Service has formally adopted new policies on the use of alcohol and social media, banning excessive drinking and the sharing of work-related information on sites including Facebook five months after more than a dozen employees were accused of drunken partying with prostitutes in Colombia."

Reader Comments (17)

As long as we all are hanging out on the Dark Side, Charles Ferguson's article on "The Duopoly of Money in Politics....." in The Guardian UK is worth reading. Here is an utterly depressing part:

..." But the Democrats have, by now, been profoundly reshaped by the oceans of money that dominate US politics.

In 2008, Obama could afford to run as the reformer, and perhaps even needed to. But not so in 2012: Obama's economic positions - not just his actions, but even his public statements and promises - are the result of triangulating reality, public opinion and money. Obama still needs to get some votes from his base, so he must call for some burden-sharing by the rich. But he cannot be honest about the depth, or the sources, of America's structural economic problems, for two reasons.

First, he would be telling much of his blue-collar, minority, unionized and/or less-educated voter base that their skills are obsolete and they are economically doomed. Even in 2008, he might not have been able to get away with that; he certainly can't get away with it now. But second, Obama cannot be honest about the economic damage caused by a criminalized, out-of-control financial sector, nor about other major industries contributing to America's economic problems (energy, telecommunications, industrialized food, pharmaceuticals) - because he needs their money.

As a result, Obama seemingly makes himself unusually vulnerable on the economy. But he can afford to, because Romney cannot take full advantage of Obama's vulnerabilities. Romney, you see, depends even more heavily on the money and support of the financial sector, the wealthy, business and of anti-union, anti-immigrant forces. Romney's only appeal to average Americans is through "values" conservatism (religion, opposition to gay marriage, abortion, drugs, immigration, etc), vague complaints about government bureaucracy and, yet again, tax cuts.

And so Obama can avoid all the hard issues and yet retain the grudging support of his base simply by proposing modest tax increases on the wealthy, and by supporting the safety net (unemployment benefits, Medicare, social security) that Romney might cut.

Voila: an election in which there are a dozen elephants in the room, and neither candidate pays them any notice at all; an election that Obama can win because he's somewhat less bad, somewhat less utterly bankrupt, than the other guy."

Aye, and therein lies the rub: both parties are so corporatized that they cannot "afford" to tell the truth. Obama certainly has a better heart and understands the dilemma of being poor and a minority better than MittWitt, but do remember--he NEVER has punished the banksters, and chose Timmy Geithner as his Secy. of Treasury. And Larry Summers as his top advisor. Christina Romer fled. And, I suspect, Paul Krugman would as well.

Bummer!

Oh well--Remember the Supremes!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Kate: Along Ferguson's line is Robert Scheer's (who I imagine has real fruity pebbles each morning that continue to rumble around in his stomach––the guy is ruthless and spares no one) piece in Truthdig:

"It is absurd to depict this rhetorical stew of superficial nitpicking by two candidates with a proven record of subservience to the Wall Street bandits responsible for wrecking our economy as a meaningful exercise in democratic governance. Both would rather talk about anything but Wall Street’s financing and control of both parties and chose instead to dwell on their nonexistent differences over health care reform."

In other words the game is rigged and we pretend we have a democracy. He recommends Shelia Bair's "Bull by the Horn" which tells us why she can't really do the job she was hired to do. Also mentions how reforms put in place by FDR to curb another financial collapse were gutted by Clinton––we all know this, but it's always good to bring this little nugget back every once in awhile. By the way, when Timmy G. leaves, we should all break out the bubbly.

Listening last night to all the after debate critiques I almost lost the delicious apple I was munching on. Such nonsense––especially Mark Halpren (sp?) on Charlie Rose who never once mentioned Romney's obvious fabrications otherwise known as LIES. There was one interesting segment on CNN by a Harvard Psychology professor who studied Romney and Obama without sound and ascertained that Romney was like a boxer––he kept moving around–- was in an aggressive stance–– to him this was like a physical match–he even started sweating and had to wipe his upper lip with a handkerchief several times while Obama was trying to contain his anger/boredom by removing himself–-looking down and when talking looked more at Jim L. than at Romney. Not that these were unusual observations, but she (the prof) spent a lot of time stressing Romney's physical aggressiveness. I hadn't realized how much he had been moving around.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

Romney is, and always has been, a moving target. Try to pin him down. He dodges (usually to the right) and then sucker punches you with a flurry of lies.

(Am I the only one who wants to deliver a punch of my own to the knuckley-heads of Obama's team who, in the aftermath, are just now realizing that Romney is a lying ho-bag? So David Axelrod and company are just figuring out that the Rat will say anything in order to win? "Oh, shit. Now that we know that, we'll be ready next time! Yesiree Bob. Just you wait 'n see." Okay Dave. Nice that you could join us. Have some more coffee...)

Also, pay no attention to Mark Halperin. If he were a lot smarter than he is it would only bring him up to the level of a Class B Right-Wing Stooge. Not even Class A. That's reserved for the more effective propagandists like Hannity.

The fact that Halperin, a standard issue Beltway Blowhard, has any kind of job as a political "pundit" (that term really does need to be retired, having as it currently does, only the meanest relation to reality), indicates the extreme paucity of actual intelligence, circumspection, and attention to things like facts that has scarred the poli-sci landscape for some years now. I suppose it should now be called poli-sci-fi.

It's also instructive to recall that Halperin was recently suspended from appearing on MSNBC for calling Obama a dick on one of the political bash-em shows. The problem with that is that MSNBC should have outright fired his sorry ass. And not for calling the president a dick. His routinely horrible "reporting" and "commentary" is sloppy, devoid of truth, and stupidly, extravagantly, tautological.

Also, he's a dick.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

From the “Nino, Nino, Nino, What Fucking Century Are You From?” Department

It’s nice to be right all the time, isn’t it? It’s nice to shrug your shoulders, look at your poor benighted fellow Supremes and fellow countrymen and say “Sorry, you’re wrong. I’m right. James Madison would never go along with gay marriage. There’s nothing in the Constitution that specifically allows for it.”

Then you adjust your tricorn hat, fill your reed stem pipe with the purest Trinidado, and sit in front of the fire with your slave basting the venison roasting on a spit, for a long self-satisfied smoke.

But in the quote Marie highlights today, 18th Century Nino goes on to claim that there is also nothing in the Constitution that disallows us from restricting abortions.

What?

You could just as easily say there’s nothing in there that prevents us from burning witches. After all, he goes on to support his assertions by saying that gay marriage was outlawed for hundreds of years. Burning witches was allowed for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Do we still do it? Slaves were only counted as part of a person. Do we still do that? Oh shit! Wait. Looks like a slave was elected to the presidency. That shit ain’t right! The Constitution never said we couldn't restrict black men from being elected president, did it? Nooooo.

These originalist arguments are so fraught with inconsistencies, shallow thinking, and out and out stupidity. If Nino is so down on justices who seek to delineate a finely wrought and thoughtful direction from Constitutional guidelines, then why do we need him at all? Or any of them? If it’s not in the Constitution then we don’t do it. Period. Schools? Nope. Roads? Nope. Police and fire protection? Not specifically. No government assistance for scientific and medical problems. No moon shot, no vaccines, No FBI, ATF, Centers for Disease Control, no national rail system, federal highway system, on and on and on. We don’t need anyone to tell us what the Constitution SPECIFICALLY authorizes, or restricts our ability to disallow, do we? So fire those bums. Who needs 'em?

Because once you start down that road, you might as well put on your tricorn hat and smoke your fucking pipe because that’s about all you’ll be able to do. Maybe that’s why the commerce clause is so out of favor with Johnny and the Dwarfs. There wouldn’t be much commerce without the governmental agencies and programs that allow for interstate commerce.

So it’s back to burning witches. Hey, they did it for a long time. It MUST be okay.

Now tell me again what cases the Supremes and 18th Century Nino are looking at this term?

Remember what Kate always says…and get those tricorn hats ready.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The next debate will have Clint Eastwood's empty chair as moderator. No one will notice the difference between that and an 80 year old news reader. Obviously, Robin MacNeil was the wiser of the pair, retiring while still competent.
Uninhibited by truth or fact, the psychopathic Rat was on an adrenalin high that all bullies feed on when they smell blood in the water. He could not help but dance around like a frenzeed boxer, punching out with whatever zinger that came to his brain.
In all the turmoil and campaigning leading up to the debate, perhaps Michelle forgot to give Barry his balls back to use that night. Maybe she was saving them for an after debate anniversary present.
Whatever, one can only hope the glare of the Mitters lies and flip-flops will keep the attention of the nation dazzled enough to ignore Obama's lack of punch.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Henry

@ Akhilleus: Thanks for the run down on Halperin–- wondering how this guy gets to run his mouth on all these shows and be taken seriously. I get it now––he's a dick (takes one to know one? when he called Obama one) and since it's the season for dicks (when has it not been?) he's good to go.

Something else crossed my mind this morning while ruminating on the debates was when Romney referred to his cutting of programs ––the Big Bird bonanza–-and said we can't be owing all that money to China. This is something we hear all the time and why is it? America owes foreigners, not just China, about 4.5 trillion. But America owes America 9.8. Am I missing something here?

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Dear CW
If I am out of line, please do not post this.
As an old white New Englander- I'll ask the question-
wonder if Pres Obama wasn't more pugnacious due to race... you know the old "he's an angry black man" syndrome- it makes many whites nuts.
Frankly, having lived thrugh Till, Evers, John Kennedy, the three civil rights workers,Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King among others, it is stunning we still have Barack at all.
mae finch
PS as Kate reminds- "Remember the Supremes!"

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

A bit of interactive fun-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19794259Predict the election state by state...
mae finch

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Now it is really crazy time! I got this one from Dan Sena at the DGA in my mailbox this AM. (And several other appeals with basically the same message.) Which I am sure all of you have as well.

..."BREAKING: Reuters post-debate poll shows Romney surging. 12 hours to respond.

Romney’s lies are working, and this moment – RIGHT NOW – could decide the White House and key governors’ races. Only 12 hours until midnight.

Rush your gift to the DGA before midnight. Even as little as $5 in the next 12 hours helps fully fund our new ad buy."


Umm...Thanks for proving my point, Dan--that many voters are so dumbed down they cannot tell truth from lies, or perhaps do not much care! And your new "ad buy" will not change anything. After all, the debates are a SPORTS CONTEST, a performance. Obama should have stopped being the professor he is and gone to Method Acting School to learn pugilism. Mitt Romney certainly did. But he looked more like an anxious middle aged guy with an early case of Parkinson's. However, at least he invested in acting school, and remembered to look at the camera, and did not pause between lies--just danced around between punches. No wonder that tweet I received called these guys "Twitchy and Geeky."

Don't think I will send Dan Sena, or Emily's List, or DNCCC my $5. I am going to spend my time trying to find David Axlerod to convince him that Barry needs to have a few sessions with a good Gestalt therapist--one who can play accurately his ghostly father (NOT John Kerry)--and practice Barry in how to stand up to him. And remind him look at the audience.

Or he could just ask Alan Grayson to go a few rounds with him. Big Al could out-maneuver MittWitt any day of the week.

I need more coffee. Remember the Supremes!

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Lucky for me I will happily vote for Obama without having to hold my nose: civil rights (employment discrimination, equal opportunity to marry), reproductive rights, green energy, protection of national resources and public lands, universal healthcare, and...yes....the Supremes.
I'm fortunate that I am proud and enthusiastic about my President.....and I'm sure not alone.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Victoria D. I didn't mean to suggest that Madison or I were holding our noses, but this is her warning to liberals who are "so disappointed" with Obama that they plan to stay home or vote for a vanity candidate. I wholly concur with her on that even though I more often than not agree with Obama's liberal critics.

Marie

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@mae finch. I don't think your suggestion was out of line at all. Obama has been really careful not to play into any black stereotypes. I think it's a travesty he has to do that, but I sure get it. Imagine the glee on the right if Obama -- or even an Obama family member -- was caught in a photo doing something absolutely natural & innocuous like eating a slice of watermelon at a state fair. Does Obama have to tell his daughters, "Please don't eat the watermelon?" I know life isn't fair, but this kind of ridiculous double standard enrages me.

Obama also has to be careful not to come off as an "uppity black man." His natural aloofness plays into this stereotype, even though a tendency to aloofness or reserve obviously has nothing to do with what color a person's skin is.

That said, there are ways Obama can call out Romney without appearing angry or aloof: "There you go again," is the classic way, & it sure worked for Reagan. You just shake your head in wonderment that your opponent could be so stupid, ignorant, mendacious, whatever. Then you "correct" him.

Marie

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

I particularly like this post -- it's a double-goody with Political Animal Ed Gilgore commenting and citing Esquire's Charles Pierce, framing the absurdity of cutting PBS to solve federal deficit. I particularly like Pierce's suggestion that Big Bird characters show up campaign stops. :-)
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2012_10/the_double_whammy_on_big_bird040322.php

The Rat is now apologizing for his characterization of nearly half of Americans as moochers, miscreants, and layabouts.

I thought his motto was "No Apologies". I guess that only applies to black men he considers his inferiors. Oh...and all of us too.

Yet another example of how this rat fuck will do and say anything in order to win.

He's the kid in the playground who challenged every legal score that went against his team, who sarcastically impugned any kid who was in the right if it didn't jibe with his rodent's view of the world. But he was never the kid who would stand his ground and put up his dukes if challenged. Only the plebes stoop to that sort of thing.

Rat Fucks like Mittens inveigle their drooling followers to fight their battles for them.

Can this smirking, self-absorbed lizard of a candidate get any lower?

I know he can. Nothing is too low, too untruthful, too slimy for this epitome of hypocrisy.

So WHAT is Obama doing about it?

Robert Caro, in his Johnson books, details the efforts of LBJ to convince the Kennedy people to stay with him in the days immediately following the assassination. They hated him, most of them, and he knew it. Add to that the fact that their hero was murdered in Johnson's home state. Then top it off with their distrust of him as any kind of liberal; a guy who hated unions, couldn't be trusted as a civil rights supporter, and who sided with their enemies at every turn prior to his ascension to VP.

Johnson knew exactly how to align the stars. He abased himself before the "smart" Kennedy guys. He pleaded with them to help him. He prostrated himself, politically and intellectually before them, for, as he said, the good of the country. And by the time Kennedy was in the ground, they were all on his team, whether they liked it or not.

Johnson knew how to play the game. Kennedy was killed on Friday. By Tuesday, his men were Johnson men and he was on his way to the '64 election.

Johnson had no Yes Men in that organization to assuage him, so he pulled out all the stops and did what he had to do.

My feeling that Obama can do something similar with the country is tenuous at best. Can he make the kind of "phone calls" that Johnson did in order to put power into his own hands?

I'd like to say that I don't have a clue. But can anyone out here say, honestly, that Romney would stand a chance against a Lyndon Johnson or a Harry Truman? Does anyone our here think he could get away with his lies and bullshit against a guy like Johnson???? LBJ would rope him and brand his ass with a hot iron.

But this lying, scheming Rat has a very good chance against my guy. I'd like to say different, but I can't right now.

Time for the president to stand up and kick some ass. If he's tired of it all he should have left the field in time for someone else. As of now, he's our only chance of staving off disaster. And believe me, brothers and sisters, if that fucking Rat ascends the throne of power, this country will be throttled within an inch of its life.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Mae: Your query as to whether Obama was held back because of the "angry black man" syndrome is something that the Psych Prof. who I mentioned that was studying the body language of both candidates targeted. She thought it was something that Obama was very much aware of. I completely forgot about that and am glad you brought it up. It's a factor that plays large in today's bigoted, prejudiced society. I think of how he has dropped most "ing's" from his lexicon–––in order to sound folksy and friendly? Also the ubiquitous "God bless America," God bless everyone" is something I long to have disappear sometime in my lifetime.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Akhilleus: I'm afraid our guy is nothing like LBJ nor good old Harry; the former had political skills honed from the Texas prairies by watching his Dad be humiliated–-something that never left his craw. That kind of fever never leaves and makes one do almost anything to get even and become on top; the latter was the last American President who had not been to college, but was one of the best-read ones and didn't give a flying fig what he said and how he said it–––most of the time. Truman was not deliberative, something Obama certainly is. But as I write these words I see that perhaps I am mistaken––perhaps "our guy" has elements of both these past presidents in that he has the fever, but it has a different temperature and I'm sure he agrees that "the buck stops here." So, no, I don't think Romney would have a chance with LBJ nor Truman, but we haven't seen the end of this road show. Obama might display a little Lyndon and Harry on us yet. So give that dog of yours another bone and get some more of that chunky chocolate whatever. Indulge while you can.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

When I was a lad there was a comic strip called "the timid soul', featuring a character named Casper Milqtoast. Unfortunately, our President is a timid soul. He has submitted himself and Democrats like me to foolish things like deficit reduction when our problem is lack of jobs and demand for goods and services.
He is signing on to things like the "grand bargain" to reduce spending a whole bunch and increase revenue a tiny bit. Is he aware of what is happening in Europe with austerity in the UK and the southern European countries? Austerity lite will ensure a slow, inadequate growth path for decades.
The coming election is a lose, lose for those few real Franklin D. Roosevelt, liberal, New Deal. "yellow dog" Democrats. It will probably take thirty years of protest, harm, fear, and truncheon supported government to drive the money changers from the Temple.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle
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