Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

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.

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.

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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.

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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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