The Ledes

Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

AP: "Islamic State fighters shot down a Syrian war plane using anti-aircraft guns on Tuesday, the first time the group has downed a military jet since declaring its cross-border caliphate in June, a group monitoring the civil war said."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 17

11:50 m ET: President Obama speaks at MacDill AFP in Tampa, Fla.

12:00 noon ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Nuns on the Bus rally in Des Moines, Iowa; will make effort not to insult Roman Catholics

2:00 pm ET: Recovery at the White House: celebrating 25 years (of something)

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

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CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

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

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Sunday
Sep162012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 16, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on a Times' story about Romney playing a fun-loving human being on the teevee while Ryan attacked President Obama at the Value Voters Summit. Commenting on NYTX is open to all. ...

Quote of the Day: We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. -- Rick Santorum, to Values Voters

... Josh Glasstetter of Right Wing Watch has more on the backers & speakers at the Values Voters Summit where Ryan spoke. What is most disturbing is that a vice-presidential candidate, members of Congress and two sitting governors are right at home with this bunch of documented wackos & holy warriors. ...

... Steve Benen has more in a feature he's carried over from his days at Washington Monthly: "This Week in God." ...

... Brian McLaren, writing on CNN's "Belief" blog: "... any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse." Thanks to contributor Lisa for the link.

"Don't Tell Anyone, But the Stimulus Worked." David Firestone of the New York Times: "On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent. The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down."

Presumption of Guilt, with a Price. Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: more than 300 district attorneys across the nation are allowing debt collection companies to use their stationery & permitting those debt collection companies to not only threaten criminal prosecution for writing bad checks but also to con the check-writers into taking costly, stupid classes on "financial accountability." CW: one irony: the biggest debt collection agency using this D.A. scam -- went bankrupt. Maybe that shoulda taken their own stupid class. P.S. This egregious practice is just what Americans should expect to happen when private corporations take over public functions. Privatization is a racket.

Jeremiah Goulka explains in a Salon piece why he left the GOP. The ignorance Goulka admits is stunning, but let's give him credit for admitting it. There are millions of Americans who are just as ill-informed as Goulda once was and living lives just as insular as Goulka's was. Thanks to Lisa for the link.

Presidential Race

John Ingold of the Denver Post: "Mitt Romney canceled his Sunday afternoon campaign rally after a fatal small-plane crash at the airport in Pueblo, [Colorado,] closed down two of three runways. An experimental, home-built airplane crashed as it was attempting to land at Pueblo Memorial Airport around 9 a.m. Sunday. The man ... died in the crash. He was the only person on board. Romney, making his first campaign visit to Colorado in a month, had been scheduled to speak at the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum on the airport's grounds at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is declining to endorse Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's charge that President Barack Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus' during his first term in office. In an interview aired Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press,' Netanyahu initially demurred on Romney's comments, but then appeared to distance himself from the GOP candidate's inflammatory charge. 'You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that,' the Israeli prime minister said." CW: Evidently Bibi has been reading the polls.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: after initially faltering in public opinion polls, Democrats are winning the Medicare argument again. CW: Calmes is writing what is mostly a horse-race story, but she does write: "At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages.... Critics say the fixed payments might not keep up with rising insurance costs and could leave older Americans facing cutbacks in care or paying more out of their own pockets." (Emphasis added.) That's about as pro-Romney/Ryan as a report can get & not qualify as an op-ed piece.

"The Foreign Relations Fumbler." Nicholas Kristof: "... every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things.... It has been unseemly for Romney to side with a foreign leader [Netanyahu] in spats with the United States." Kristof also writes, "President Obama himself blew it a few days ago by mistakenly asserting that we didn't consider Egypt an ally." CW: that was no fumble. See Juan Cole's take, linked in yesterday's Commentariat.

"Neocons Slither Back." Maureen Dowd: in his Values Voters speech, “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte. A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel's neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it's all ominously familiar." ...

... Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Fear of President Barack Obama -- not enthusiasm for Mitt Romney -- is driving religious conservatives to pull the lever for the GOP nominee this November.... Conservatives attending the [Values Voters Summit] said they worried about a range of things during a possible Obama II, from implementation of the president's health care law, and a move to what they saw as more 'socialist' policies to the end of the very values -- including the protection of life and traditional marriage -- that they came to the summit to support. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor ... framed the campaign as a battle for the very core of the country, saying another term for Obama would continue the nation's decline. 'This election is going to determine whether or not the very moral fabric of our country will be upheld, or whether it will be torn apart,' he said."

Dylan Byers of Politico: Romney's "blame the liberal media" ploy isn't working all that well when a good deal of the criticism is coming from the right.

Right Wing World

It seems Right Wing World is winging out over "brownshirted enforcers ... [who made] a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration." I won't link to the original Instapundit post, but here are comments by John Cole of Balloon Juice and David Watkins of Lawyers, Guns & Money, both of whom cite the "key bits" of "evidence" that has led Instapundit to regretfully demand that President Obama immediately resign in disgrace.

Local News

Deborah Charles of the AP: "Voting-rights groups that virtually stopped registering voters in Florida for a year as they challenged the state's new restrictions on elections now are scrambling to get people there registered for the November 6 election."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Having been rebuffed privately by President Obama last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took to the airwaves in the United States on Sunday to warn that Iran was only six or seven months from having -90 percent' of what it needed to make an atomic bomb."

AP: "Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam video produced in the United States clashed with police as they tried to march toward the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi." ...

... Guardian: "Defence secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that the US was still on standby to deploy elite forces to protect American interests in cities caught up in a wave of Muslim protest, but that the level of violence appears to be levelling off." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration ordered the evacuation of all but emergency U.S. government personnel, and all family members, from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday and warned Americans not to travel to those countries. The action came as leaders across the Muslim world took stock of their relationship with the United States, a major provider of aid and investment, and struggled to balance it with the will of their populations." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people in connection to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, Libya's parliamentary chief said." ...

... Al Jazeera: "The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans and ten Libyans was the work of 'experienced masterminds' that had been planned well in advance, the Libyan president says. 'I think this was al-Qaeda,' President Mohamed al-Magarief told Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid on Friday...." ...

     ... ABC News Update: "U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance."

Washington Post: "Four international service members were killed early Sunday near a remote NATO installation in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them.... The deaths at a remote checkpoint in Zabul province marked an escalation of so-called insider attacks on foreign troops.... On Saturday, an Afghan gunman thought to belong to the local police killed two British soldiers in southern Helmand province."

Chicago Tribune: "Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal. Hundreds of union leaders are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout." ...

     ... Update: "The Chicago teachers strike will continue Monday as the union's House of Delegates refused to halt the walk out this afternoon and signaled classes may not resume before Wednesday."

AP: "About 300 people observing the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street marched to a small concrete park in New York's lower Manhattan that served as headquarters for the protest movement and was its birthplace. Police patrolled the crowd Saturday and took at least a dozen people into custody near Trinity Church that borders Zuccotti Park.... Protesters marched from Washington Square Park and headed south down Broadway to Zuccotti Park, chanting as they went."

Reader Comments (8)

Marie, thank you for pointing out Kristof's (possible) error in characterizing Obama's "ally" remarks as a flub. Juan Cole is most convincing that it was not, that it was in fact a persuasive use of diplomacy, which showed great subtlety and sophistication - two qualities you could never attribute to Romney. According to Cole, the message sent to Morsi worked.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: Dumber than a bullfrog; I guess I can admire Mr. Goulka's awakening. Hard to admit having the wool pulled over your eyes for a lifetime. But come on, does anybody grow up that isolated or insulated from the realities of our society? I think the key is his repeated thought that because he was born and raised better than all the rest of us, he deserved his position. That is the core belief of the Republicans.
GOP; Greedy, Oblivious, Pendejos. But better late then never.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Just followed your link to Steve Benen's post, where toward the latter part of his otherwise salient post, he says: "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this rather disconcerting."

Benen is certainly given to understatement following the details he highlighted as to what was said and played out at the Values Voter Summit.

He should rephrase it to say. "I hope I'm not the only one who finds this f&@#ing insane."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Having read Goulka's confessions I must confess I was moved by his previous naiveté and his now rude awakenings. Kate and I could send this piece to our brothers and say––SEE––stop being such chumps and open your eyes––but alas, I doubt it would change anything.

While on the Salon site I happened to come upon another little gem: Katie Billotte's "Conservatives Killed the Liberal Arts," with a photo of Bill Buckley on the front piece looking as though he's had one too many martinis as he was wont to have.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Thank the Universe! MoDo is back on her game temporarily, I am sure, seens to gave given up her grudge against Barry. Taking on Paulie AynRyn and his NeoCon mentor, Dan Senor, is exactly what she should be doing. Dan Senor, talk about a know-nothing, dumbass creep. He still believes we liberated Iraq! Yikes.

IMHO after Obama is safely reelected, we should take up the worthy cause (again) of bringing the NeoCon war zombies to justice. We may have to be rid of Eric Holder to do that, but I am beginning to see the stirrings of a new movement--smart people who are horrified that the "crazier than shit-house rat" slimebags are trying to dance their way back into the ballroom of the Imperial Prom. BTW, I think Liz Cheney should be her father's prison cellmate. They could survive for awhile on their pate of vitriol!

Maybe I am dreaming, but I am not the only one...........

P.S. Remember the Supremes!

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

I especially liked the Rick Santorum quote of the day "we will never have smart people on our side". Doesn't that say it all? What person with any smarts would commit to a group that obviously hates them?
Oh! I forgot, millions are doing it, which just proves that otherwise
intelligent people can be brainwashed by repeating the same lies over and over. WTF.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

This quote from the Reuters article on voter registration in Florida makes me despair, especially about the chances of taking Florida:
"Two weeks ago, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law. But because the law was in place for about a year, its impact was stark, especially among Democrats.
The Florida Times Union has said 11,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections."
The bastards.
I do wonder why a system couldn't have been put into place by Dems to offset the negative effects of the law - but it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

This passage from Brian McLaren's article is profound:
"Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate."

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
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