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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

... BUT ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is quite cool:

 

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.