The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

White House Live Video
February 5

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Tuesday
Sep182012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 19, 2012

Matthew O'Brien of the Atlantic on what our Marxist, socialistic tax structure really looks like. Um, it's barely even progressive.

Presidential Race

AP: "Rebuking Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Americans are not 'victims' and that anyone seeking the presidency ought to be working for 'everyone, not just some.'" Here's a clip. The full interview will probably be available sometime Wednesday is here & worth watching; it begins at 7:45 min. in. The clip below is an extension of the one I embedded late yesterday:

... The video below is also the full interview; Letterman or CBS may take it down, tho:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney faced an escalating torrent of criticism on Tuesday from Democrats and Republicans for characterizing 47 percent of the country as government-dependent people who believe they are 'victims,' even as new video clips emerged of his blunt comments on other subjects during a fund-raiser in May.... The clips have already hijacked Mr. Romney's efforts to reset his campaign message and take advantage of a two-week period before the debates begin." ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones has released the full Romney Tapes, Parts 1 & 2. Corn also has audio of Romney's full remarks here.

... Jay Carney: "When you're president of the United States, you're president of all the people":

The Obama campaign talks to ordinary Americans to get their takes on Romney's remarks about the "47 percent":

Romney pushes back with an op-ed in USA Today: "Efforts that promote hard work and personal responsibility over government dependency make America strong." Huh, fails to mention that almost half of us are irresponsible, government-dependent Obama-lovin' bums. ...

... Jonathan Martin, et al., of Politico: "... longtime GOP hands find the video and Romney's attempt to neither fully embrace nor fully apologize for his comments to be symptomatic of a larger problem. The former Massachusetts governor can't seem to string consecutive positive days together and often is his own worst enemy. A month's worth of woes, beginning with a forgettable GOP convention, has taken its toll on the Republican psyche."

The Political Is Personal. Mike Isikoff of NBC News: James Carter IV, President Carter's grandson, "confirmed there is a personal side to the backstory of the campaign video: he was especially motivated, he said, because of Romney's frequent attacks on the presidency of his grandfather, including the GOP candidate's comparisons to the 'weak' foreign policy of Carter and Barack Obama." CW: as I wrote yesterday -- payback. ...

He was a refugee from Mexico. He was on welfare relief for the first years of his life. -- Lenore Romney, speaking of her husband George Romney, Mitt's father:

     ... CW: Mitt is a walking illustration of the classic selfishness that is the core "value" of so many Republicans: I got mine, screw the rest of you. Mitt's grandfather took government handouts; Mitt himself took countless millions in government handouts in his Bain deals & in his "turnaround" of the Olympics; but "you people" are irresponsible moochers who expect the government to provide for your every lazy-assed whim. Thanks to contributor Julie for the link to the video above.

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: the 47 percent make the front pages of American papers.

... Maureen Dowd: "Willard, born on third base and acting self-made, whining to the rich about what a great deal in life the poor have. We thought Romney was secretly moderate, but it turns out that he's secretly cruel, a social Darwinist just like his running mate.... Even as Mitt was spitefully demonizing and dividing in Boca, he remained cardboard-cutout un-self-aware, musing: 'The thing I find most disappointing about this president is his attack of one America against another America.' This is the absolute height of cluelessness."

Matt Miller in the Washington Post: "... the truth is that low earners were largely dropped from the rolls thanks to (sensible) Republican-supported policy that boosted the earned income tax credit? Which was itself the brainchild of conservative icon Milton Friedman! And when those in the 47 percent who aren't seniors or veterans are mostly poor workers whose payroll taxes, at 15.3 percent (since the employer side of the tax effectively comes out of workers' wages), leaves them taxed at a higher rate than was Mitt Romney on his $20 million income last year? To be so insultingly tone deaf and self-destructive even while being dead wrong and hypocritical on the substance is a perverse sort of accomplishment." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: what the Romney-Ryan-Moochermania crowd misses is that most Americans will be both "makers" and "takers" at different points in their lives, & oftentimes they are both simultaneously.

... Why, Karl Rove Agrees with Cohn. A lot of people who get a Social Security check paid into that their entire lives and they're plenty wired up about the deficit and there are lots of people getting an unemployment check who would love to have a job, so you've got to be careful about that number. [P.S. Those lazy bastards are Republican voters!] -- Karl Rove

Where's Willard? Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: "Romney's light public schedule in the heart of the campaign's final sprint has led some GOP donors to grumble that he should be paying less attention to them at this point and spending more time winning over voters who will decide the election at the ballot box. 'There's not really a campaign here,' said one Republican with extensive ties to the party's fundraising community. 'He's getting ready for the debates, and he's out fundraising. You've got enough money!'" Via Greg Sargent.

Tim Noah of The New Republic: conservatives split over Lucky Ducky Doctrine. ...

... Conservative David Frum: "The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class. Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist.... And what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout.... Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless!" ...

... Digby: "This also ties into Mitt's throwback comment about how if would be easier for a Mexican to be elected President (instead of a wealthy, white male with a famous political father.) This delusion of being an oppressed class is becoming pathological. When you've got people of vast, vast wealth acting as though the poorest and least of society have huge advantages, you know they've gone down the rabbit hole and may not be able to find their way back. This isn't about Mitt Romney. He just happens to be the perfect symbol of the American aristocrat's persecution complex."

CLICK ON MAP TO SEE LARGER IMAGE. Mitt Romney, Middle East expert pontificator, cannot locate Syria on a map:

The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. -- Mitt Romney, the Romney Tapes, May 2012

... Whatever contours a possible Palestinian state would have, it won't border Syria. -- Daniel Drezner, Foreign Policy, September 18, 2012. (CW: note that neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip [on the Mediterranean] abuts Syria)

Obviously, as you know, Syria is Iran's only Arab ally in the region. Syria is the route that allows Iran to supply Hezbollah with weapons in Lebanon. Syria is Iran's route to the sea. -- Mitt Romney, April 2012 (Note that the West Bank does not abut Syria.)

A reader counted at least five times in which Romney has [called Syria 'Iran's route to the sea'].... Syria shares no border with Iran -- Iraq and Turkey are in the way -- and ... Iran has about 1,500 miles of coastline along the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, leading to the Arabian Sea. -- Glenn Kessler, April 19, 2012

Here's another helpful map from Josh Fruhlinger of Wonkette:


 


If somebody is dumb enough to ask me to go to political convention and say something, they're gonna have to take what they get. -- Clint Eastwood, on his GOP convention appearance

Mitt Romney is dumb enough. -- Constant Weader

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos on the Romney's "hilarious comeback attempt" -- highlighting a 14-year-old audio tape in which Obama said he believed in "a certain level of redistribution ... to make sure that everybody has got a shot." Earth to Willard: everybody believes in that, including -- maybe today only & maybe for the ears of the lumpenproletariat only -- you, Willard. While he was attacking Obama's old redistribution comment, Rmoney said, "I believe the right course for America is one where government steps in to help people in need -- we're a compassionate people -- but then we let people build their own lives." See, Mitt, when you take money from some people & give it to some other people, whether you do it out of compassion or because it's the law -- that's redistribution. You lunkhead.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney borrowed $20 million for his presidential campaign in August, a campaign official said on Tuesday, money that helped carry Mr. Romney through the Republican convention until he could tap into tens of millions of dollars in general election money his campaign raised.... The cash crunch appeared to have been more dire than previously disclosed."

Ben Yagoda of Slate interviews Randy Newman about his new single, "I'm Dreaming":

Congressional Races

Nate Silver: "Democrats are now favored to retain control of the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast, breaking a summer stalemate during which control of the chamber appeared about equally likely to go either way."

Fred Thys of WBUR: "A WBUR poll of 507 likely Massachusetts voters ... finds Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren leading Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, 45 percent to 40 percent. The survey has a 4.4 percent margin of error. The WBUR poll, conducted Sept. 15-17..., is the fourth released this week to find Warren making gains." Via Greg Sargent.

Local News

Kate Zernike of the New York Times: "... for much of the last year, Democrats and independent budget analysts have argued that [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's] current budget was built on wishful thinking.... Mr. Christie dismissed those doubters as 'rooting for failure.' On Tuesday, his frequent assertions of a 'New Jersey Comeback' came under fresh scrutiny, this time from Standard & Poor's, which downgraded the state's financial outlook to negative from stable. The ratings agency said it lowered its outlook because it believed the governor's revenue projections for the current fiscal year were overly optimistic, warning that the budget was structurally unsound." (Contributor Marvin Schwalb mentioned this is yesterday's Comments .)

News Ledes

New York Times: "Italy's supreme court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, making it the first case to successfully challenge the contentious American program of extraordinary rendition. The ruling opened the way for the extradition of the defendants, who were tried in absentia. But legal experts said it was unlikely the Italian government would initiate proceedings any time soon."

Chicago Tribune: "More than 350,000 Chicago public school students returned to class this morning after union officials overwhelmingly called off a seven-day teachers strike."

Reuters: "A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him as a womanizing buffoon. The French government, which had urged the magazine not to print the images, said it was temporarily shutting down premises including embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers."

Space: "For the last time in history, a space shuttle soared into the skies over Florida on Wednesday (Sept. 19). Rather than riding on rockets and heading into orbit however, the space shuttle Endeavour was mounted atop a jumbo jet and is destined for a California museum's display."

Reader Comments (29)

I'd like to say I'm enjoying this spectacle, but I'm not. As Victoria said tying a dog to the roof of a car is all we really needed to know about Mitt.

My fear now is that the the GOP SuperPac's will give up on the White House and put more effort into taking the Senate.

On another note...sort of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvLeQbwuKys&feature=player_embedded

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Do you think Romney knows what river the disputed territory is the West Bank of? It appears doubtful .....

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I just finished a long phone conversation with a psychiatrist friend of mine in D.C. He and I agreed that we both see Mitters on the autism spectrum, as do many colleagues--definitely suffering from Aspergers' Syndrome. He has more connection than I with the national political scene, and told me that many of the pols he works with (usually wives of), in both parties, think Mitters is strange and robotic. Several have mentioned that he has inappropriate reactions--or lack of--and does not seem to understand the emotional importance of what he says. Nor is he able to make eye contact.

My hope is that none of the Republican operatives understands about Aspergers' and that they just keep trying to "tutor" him. It is, of course, all wasted energy! But if they get the picture anytime soon, they will let go of him completely, and do as Dave S. says--put all of their $$ and focus on Senate and House candidates. I do feel some empathy for RawMoney, (he really cannot help himself), but I think the Republicans have gotten what they deserve! And I do hope they don't know some psychologically minded person who will explain where their candidate is on the autism spectrum--in a way they can understand.

Besides.....Remember the Supremes!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Funny, I don't believe I've ever seen CW link to any Ann Telnaes animated cartoons at the WaPo. But they are always wicked good!

Watch this one on Mitt explaining about the 47%.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/telnaes?hpid=z3

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

To make "Remember the Supremes" meaningful, we've got to not only hold but overwhelm the Senate. And, as my recurring sermon demands, we've got to take back the House. The Presidency will take care of itself. Or not. It may not matter.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@James Singer-
I agree with you! My new slogan: Rember the Supremes! Overwhelm the Senate! Take Back the House!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

@MAG. Until very recently, Telnaes cartoons couldn't be embedded. I used to occasionally link to them. I embedded one the other day.

Marie

September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@jonster. I agree. The woodenness we see & hear when Romney speaks to us hoi polloi was nowhere in evidence when he was talking with "his people." Turns out -- no surprise -- that Romney comes across as halting & awkward only because he is constantly on guard, making sure the Real Romney isn't in evidence. All those gaffes -- "I like to fire people," etc. -- are the Real Romney.

Marie

September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

The groundwork for viewing fellow countrymen as nothing but lazy moochers--lucky duckies--who, through the opinion of the privileged, isolated few, are considered undeserving of health care, housing, even food--FOOD!--and who, through their demands for personal government bailouts have imposed upon the country an unnatural burden that must at all costs be rejected, has been in place for many years.

There must be some photo op images somewhere, thrown down some memory well no doubt, of Reagan holding a silver plated shovel as he broke ground for the greedy, grinding, inhumane edifice that has become the Modern GOP, an edifice housing haters, prevaricators, pretenders, liars, hypocrites, and racists. An edifice, the founding precepts of which have been eagerly embraced by one Willard Romney.

Tonight PBS is broadcasting a new Ken Burns documentary on death and the Civil War, an examination of how the nation's reaction to the horrors and unimaginable death tolls of that conflict affected our relationship to the dead, the living, and the wounded; to those for whom life had become unbearable or untenable through no fault of their own.

One historian described the rousing of the country and its people to heed a higher calling than self-advancement in an effort to provide comfort and succor to those in need as nothing less than "humanity 101". The simple basic reaction of humans, one to another.

And so it has been in this country, especially beginning in the depths of the Great Depression, a humane concern for other Americans that lasted nearly a century.

Until Republicans took over.

Since then it's been "Fuck you Charlie. I got mine" and "These moochers want food? Fuck them! Let them rot!"

Romney and his Republican allies would just as easily step over bodies and spit on citizens in need than lend a hand or kind word or allow the government to act in response to basic human needs.

Humanity 101 is a class they all flunked.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

On Lucky Duckies.

That 47% Romney is complaining about better watch out or each of them might find himself tied to the roof of one of Romney's cars.

And here is a link to the original opinion piece "The Non-taxpaying Class" published Nov 20, 2002 by the WSJ that Akhilleus mentioned.
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1037748678534174748,00.html

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

On another note...

The French today are up in arms about a new study about to be released by researchers studying the effects of Monsanto's new corn they're trying to peddle to other nations (including France). Our corporate masters have long controlled the scientific community regarding the "safe and natural" qualities of chowing down on their pharmaceutical concoctions. Well, it turns out when independent researchers take a closer look, we are taking about DEADLY DISEASES! Our representative puppets in the government don't think foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms should be labeled because us Americans don't want to be bothered with such hassles and besides, GMO's are in no way different than natural organisms.

It will be very interesting with our corporate-owned media to see how much coverage this story gets, if any. I could only find articles in French, but you could probably get Google to translate it for you if you're not Francophone.

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/ogm-le-scandale/20120918.OBS2686/exclusif-oui-les-ogm-sont-des-poisons.html

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Akhilleus: Re: the PBS Civil War program last night. It breaks your heart.

When Oliver Wendall Holmes was ninety-one he tried to read a poem he liked about the Civil War to Marion Frankfurter, but broke down in tears before he could finish it. they were not tears for the war. They were tears for what the war had destroyed. Holmes had grown up in a highly cultured, homogeneous world, a world of which he was in many ways, the consummate product: idealistic, artistic, and socially committed. And then he had watched that world bleed to death at Fredericksburg and Antietam, in a war that learning and brilliance had been powerless to prevent. When he returned from that war Boston had changed and so had American life. Holmes. too, had changed, but he never forgot what he had lost. "After the Civil War the world never seemed quite right."

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Well, after that bit of commentary inanity a week or so ago, Maureen Dowd shows she's got her groove back today.

By the way, I was fascinated watching the Boca fund-raiser videos, noticed Mitt gobbling food between questions while he stands at the 'podium'. Was there no place at the table for Mitt to sit and 'dine' among his peer(less)? In bookstores soon: Eat. Prevaricate. Runoff (at the mouth). Preach.

CW: I get it —look forward to some Telnaes links!

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

PD,

There really is nothing in living history as terrible as the Civil War must have been, and one can grasp only the merest glimpses of its effect on the country through such anecdotes as the O.W. Holmes story.

Another recounting that has stayed with me for years comes from the Education of Henry Adams. Adams, as a boy, once engaged in a running snowball fight between the Beacon Hill boys (Henry, his older brother and their friends), and boys from the North End of Boston, toughs who had no love for the well to do Brahmins.

Eventually the fight turned vicious and when the leader of the invaders chased them down, Adams' brother, young Henry, and two of their friends turned to face the oncoming threat. As the leader of the mob approached he seemed, in Henry's memory, to sense a certain courage in the boys who refused to flee. He left them untouched and instead chased down those who ran.

It seems an interesting enough story until the last sentence. Henry, recalling the names of the boys who stood their ground, wondered if, on that day on Boston Common, they learned the lessons that got them killed on battlefields far from home less than ten years later.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

This comment from Ken H. (of Athens, GA) to Maurueen Dowd's column is right on the money:
"Please, PLEASE do not put this election in the win column seven weeks before the final vote. The right has tens of millions of unspent dollars and a talent for obfuscation that rivals the defense attorneys in the Rodney King case. Our society has a remarkable capacity to ignore truth in favor of fantasy. More people in the United States believe in horoscopes than in evolution.

For us, all doubts about his incompetence and unworthiness to become President now have been dispelled. It is time for us to campaign as if Romney were leading, not for us to gloat in the damage that may have been done to his candidacy by the temerity and cruelty of his latest comments.

Send money. Volunteer for a phone bank. Campaign in a swing state. Post a yard sign. Become a poll worker. Do something more than write comments to articles that only a tiny fraction of the public will ever read. Losing this election would ensconce the right wing into our political future for years to come, and reward the most heinous and calculated assault on the interests of democracy we have seen in a hundred years. "

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Victoria D. Thanks. I don't usually republish entire comments from people who have not authorized me to do so, but I hope Ken H. will be glad to have his message spread.

Marie

September 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Thanks, Marie. I could have stopped with the first column which makes the most important point. This race is NOT over, although it may feel that way at the moment, given Romney's jaw-dropping stupidity on everything from tax policy to the mid-east. But there are almost two months to go, and anything could still happen. ...not a time to rest on our laurels.
Besides, we want a BIG win , to help the down-ballot candidates and send a message to Republicans (not that they'll receive it).
And, as Kate says: Remember the Supremes :-)

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: Guess who's not coming to dinner; I have the feeling that our Mr. Brooks finally came to his senses and realized he was not getting an invite to the dinner table. I wonder if a lot of 47%'s are thinking the same thing. It's like having really rich 'friends' that are going helicopter balloon rafter skiing in the mountains of outer Mongolia and you get excited about the trip until someone points out you're not going.
From the eye of the carpenter; I have to comment on the backdrop that the video was shot against in Boca. Party rental chairs; even rich people don't want other people sitting on the good furniture. It's the architectural detail in the room that made me laugh. Most all of yesterday's Mc'mansion cliches are on display. An awkward elliptical archway flanked by nonsupporting non-fluted yet Corinthian capitaled columns. Behind that classical entry one can see a linear alcove with an antique clock to really give the hallway some pop. The dining room is trimmed with crown moulding painted the same color as the ceiling, destroying it's purpose. Finally behind the Lord of the Small Balls there is a floor to ceiling sideboard case done in Russian-Iranian imperialist style. All in all, a visual feast that shows off the taste and sophistication of the owners;
design team.(Honey, what do you think of a red wall, the interior designer said we need one; oh an a clock, we need a clock for the alcove. Any clock; an old clock; make sure it's old, really old, a hundred years old. Did they have time a hundred years ago?)
I've been in on the building of these kind of houses, it's not about the house; it's about the egos that are housed.
I always ask to see the vomitorium when I get the walk through.
Money can't buy style and style has nothing to do with money.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Back to you Ak: I love coincidences. This morning I retrieved "The Education of Henry Adams" from my bookshelf; a book I bought some years ago, started but never finished. It will now be my afternoon read–––yes, I'm retired, so I can finally have "afternoon reads." And this brings me to someone else's books that I have devoured: David Halberstam, who was the first journalist to uncover the real horrors of the Vietnam War and whose basic question was why men who were said to be the ablest to serve in government in this century had been the architects of what struck him as likely to be the worst tragedy since the Civil War. Strange how that question resonates today.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The hacks and flacks are out of their holes and working furiously to change the direction and meaning of Romney's words from his notorious Boca fundraising declaration of principles.

Over the last couple of days NPR has given ample time to winger hacks Jonah Goldberg and Eric Erickson to manipulate Romney's message and to twist it into something far more anodyne than "Half the country are lazy slobs and they can go to hell."

The New Idea is that Mittens was only talking about his love for small government and that crack about 47% of the country being losers? Well, as Willard himself stated, his expression lacked elegance but he was only referring to "votes".

Seriously? That's the "real" interpretation?

That's like hearing Don Corleone say "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" and interpreting it to mean he's gonna visit the guy's house and mow his lawn for free.

This isn't just a matter of interpretation. What's to interpret about "My job is not to worry about those losers"? This is out and out lying. But they do it so well it appears many are buying into it.

On another front, Republicans in Pennsylvania, it appears, have to convince a judge that the roadblocks they've been throwing in front of a population of largely Democratic voters before they can get an ID which they'll need to get within shouting distance of a voting booth, are easily overcome.

Hmm..so let's see. These new Republican written rules say that in order to get an ID, Democrats have to run ten miles, barefoot, over broken glass and barbed wire, lift an SUV full of obese teabaggers over their head, beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets using only a slotted spoon for a racket, translate the complete works of Rush Limbaugh from its original pig Latin, and allow drunken 2nd amendment supporters to use your house for target practice.

All in three hours.

And don't forget to sign over your first born.

Then it says that Republican voters, in order to get an ID to vote....hmmm, says here they don't need any IDs.

Sounds fair to me.

Democracy, wingnut style.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@JJG: good points. The whole event, from the commentary to the setting, was tasteless & phony in so many ways.

Marie

September 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

PD,

Henry is an interesting companion. I know a lot of people consider the History dry stuff but for a student of late 19th century America it's invaluable. He's a bit standoffish in some ways but his enthusiasms are easily uncovered. If you're looking for references to his wife's death (by suicide), you won't find it here. He never even mentions it. Some parts of his education, it seems, were too difficult for him to share.

He had fabulous connections and offers many candid observations on people and places of the times. As he moves into the 20th century, he develops an interest in modern science which he reveals in a fascinating passage on viewing early electrical generators.

Not a very electric guy himself, but a thoughtful, cogent observer (and participant) in the decades leading up to the "American Century".

Enjoy.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

William Pfaff has a piece in Truthdig worth reading and digesting: "Arab Outrage Should Come as No Surprise."

"What is more than “somewhat ironic” is to interpret American diplomacy in Egypt, and tardy U.S. support for the European-initiated intervention in the earlier Libyan revolt, as generous contributions to the liberation of the Arabs. What the U.S. did in the Arab revolts, against a regional structure resting largely on American-supported authoritarian governments, was to catch the last train out, coming back in, so far as it has proved possible, through the back door."

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Definition:
Liberal: someone who believes that everyone is entitled to an entitlement.
Conservative: someone who believes they are entitled to an entitlement but no one else is (especially if that person happens to have a different skin color).

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

This just in:

According to conservative big thinker Ross Douthat, Obama no better than Romney. He dismissed half the country too!

Very bad.

Democrats same as Republicans, but Democrat elites hate religion.

Very bad. Not good like Douthat who knows all and sees all. And is a good little boy (except maybe when he's porking blow up dolls).

More false equivalencies to come. Stay tuned. Film at 11.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

You don't have to be a Viennese psychiatrist to interpret Lord SB's preference for fund raising over campaigning (Conroy/Sargent). He has been assured by the Supremes that money will buy elections. The added bonus is the insulation money provides from the rabble, i.e. the 47%.

Scary comments by Jeffrey Toobin on NPR, Fresh Air, Tues about his just released book, The Oath, on the the Roberts Court.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane,

The truly scary thing about that Supreme guarantee by Little Johnny and the Dwarfs, that the unlimited cash dumped into Republican coffers through the offices of Citizens Indicted, a stunning rejection of generations of SCOTUS precedent, will purchase a positive outcome for their brothers in arms (sisters are hand holders in the modern GOP) and will eventually allow Republicans to turn back the clock on a century of progress despite the inconvenient fact that their chosen Rat has apparently spit the bit.

Look at it from their POV: any candidate not named Willard, given the enormous sums provided by their sniggering largesse might easily have a 10 pt lead over a Democrat nee-gro whom they can force to prove his legitimate claim to citizenship.

The problem with that thinking is, of course, that Republicans fielded a collection of third-rate Vaudeviilians and have little hope of counting on any saviors in the near future who won't admit that astronomy is more reliable than astrology.

The problem for those of us with working brains?

More Americans believe in horoscopes than believe in evolution.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And just in case anyone was thinking that the Supreme Court of the United States wouldn't inject itself into cases that could be justifiably considered rank, The Dark Lord hisself, Nino Scalia, has told hundreds of thousands of Latino voters in Texas to "Fuck off; We're in charge here. Now shut up and go clean my pool."

A challenge to illegal and ridiculous Republican gerrymandering prior to the next election has been summarily dismissed by Lord Scalia.

If you won't vote White Republican, then you won't vote at all.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus
Hand holding. Hmmmm. Can you do that on your knees with an aspirin tightly gripped betwixt them?

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
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