The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

Guardian: "Medical officials in the United States announced on Tuesday the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed outside Africa during the latest outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 people this year. The patient, who has not yet been identified, is being treated in Dallas, Texas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the patient left Liberia in west Africa on 19 September, but did not develop symptoms until a few days after arriving in the US. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas on Sunday."

Los Angeles Times: "The Securities and Exchange Commission accused two men of insider trading for acting on advance word that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman planned to bet against nutritional products company Herbalife Ltd. It's the latest dramatic turn for the Los Angeles company, which is under federation investigation and has been fighting allegations for nearly two years that it operates an illegal pyramid scheme."

Los Angeles Times: "Bell Gardens[, California,] Mayor Daniel Crespo died Tuesday after he was shot by his wife, Levette, during a domestic situation, Sheriff's Department officials told The Times."

New York Times: "An Oklahoma man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the beheading of a co-worker, but federal officials said they had found no links that tie the man to terrorist organizations, including Islamic extremist groups that have beheaded several Western hostages in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. Alton Nolen, 30, who worked on the production line of a food processing plant in Moore, Okla., remains in the hospital after being shot by the company’s chief operating officer, who is also a reserve deputy sheriff, the authorities said."

New York Times: "Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader on Tuesday called for the pro-democracy demonstrators who have blocked major roads in the city to return home 'immediately,' and he gave no sign that he was prepared to compromise on their demands for more open elections to choose his successor." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the protests.

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
September 30

1:00 pm ET: Michelle Obama hosts Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards luncheon

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a luncheon honoring Indian PM Narendra Modi

3:30 pm ET: White House BRAIN conference

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

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

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker: "The first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice dropped today and, as expected, it's a madcap psychedelic Southern California love song that may or may not feature an appearance by elusive author Thomas Pynchon.... Anderson declined to answer directly in a recent interview with the New York Times, but [actor Josh] Brolin confirmed the notoriously reclusive author will appear in the film, telling the reporter, 'I don't think anybody knew... He came on as the kind of mercurial iconoclast he is. He stayed in the corner.'"

Here's a voiceover Pynchon did in 2009 promoting the novel Inherent Vice:


Whatever Happened to Piers Morgan? Guardian: "Piers Morgan, the former CNN talkshow host, has been appointed editor-at-large of Mail Online’s US operation. The outspoken New York-based British journalist, who parted company with CNN in early September, six months after his primetime talkshow was axed, will write for the Daily Mail’s US website several times a week, according to a Mail Online story published on Tuesday."

CW: You won't likely be hearing from Piers here. I've never found a reason to cite a Daily Mail story.

Los Angeles Times: "George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are married, having said their vows Saturday evening in Venice, Italy." ...

... OR, as the Business Women Media lede reads, "Amal Alamuddin, a 36 year old London-based dual-qualified English barrister and New York litigation attorney who has long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law has gone against the trend for professional women in her field and married… an actor."

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

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

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday
Sep192012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 20, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's comparison of the Romney Tapes to Obama's remarks about "bitter" Pennsylvanians, "clinging to their guns and religion." I think it responds to remarks Akhilleus made about our little "conservative big thinker." Comments are open at NYTX.

Joan Walsh of Salon sites a new "study by the Public Religion Research Institute, which confounds most stereotypes of the white working class, while confirming a couple.... They're less conservative than most political analysts give them credit for -- if you leave out the South.... [The study] completely contradicts Charles Murray and the rest of the conservatives who define struggling white workers as part of the moocher class, people who've traded hard work, marriage and religious devotion for the dole...."

Presidential Race

Willard & Co. March into the Swamps of the Radical Right. David Firestone of the New York Times on the Romney/Ryan campaign's stupid effort to paint President Obama -- based on a 14-year-old tape in which he said he favored a certain amount of "redistribution" to give everybody a shot -- as a raving radical Marxist: "Unmentioned is the entirely obvious fact that the government has long redistributed wealth, and that the country expects it to do so. That's the point of a progressive income tax, which has been in effect for nearly a century. Government takes money from those who have it and uses it for the common good, whether that involves building roads or submarines, or handing some of it over to those who are desperate. In that sense, even a flat tax would redistribute wealth somewhat, although far less efficiently. Social Security and Medicare, though considered 'insurance' programs, actually take money from one generation and hand it to another.... The problem for Republicans is that many voters -- even those who are disappointed in Mr. Obama -- realize by now that the president is no radical." ...

... Here's video of the young, radical capitalist Barack Obama urging "redistribution" to "foster "competition," "work in the marketplace," & encourage "innovation":

 

Mother Jones has the full transcript of the Romney Tapes here.

Steve Benen: on national television, Mitt accidentally admits that his tax policy sucks for half the country -- the lazy moocher half, that is. A cautionary remark for all lazy moochers of the Republican persuasion, not that most of them are smart enough to get it.

Forty-seven Percent? Nah. Paul Krugman: "... the evidence suggests that the GOP believes that the fraction of takers/moochers is much higher.... In the Ayn Rand intellectual universe..., a handful of heroically greedy entrepreneurs are responsible for all that is good. And if you live in that universe, your dividing line between makers and takers isn't drawn at the point where people make enough to pay income taxes; everyone who isn't John Galt should be grateful for what the Galts do, and we're all takers by asking those heroes to pay any taxes at all." ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: in the Romney Tapes, Romney says the Fed is buying three-quarters of all treasury debt, a "fact" he conveys with horror. Is it true? "The short answer is no.... Romney is, once again, plucking a scary number he seems to have heard from a tea party symposium somewhere and mindlessly regurgitating it to a receptive audience. But he's wrong. There was a period of about six months during 2011 when the Fed really was hoovering up a big share of all treasury debt. But that was a one-time deal more than a year ago, and since then the big buyers of treasury bonds have mostly been the usual suspects: foreigners and US households." ...

... Paul Krugman: "Look, Romney ... has a staff, and some prominent economists allegedly advising him. Yet he draws his stories about the economy from what he heard somewhere, apparently believing that if the right sort of person says something there's no need to check it out. Awesome."

... Material Man. E. J. Dionne: "The most incisive reaction to Mitt Romney's disparaging comments about 47 percent of us came from a conservative friend who e-mailed: 'If I were you, I'd wonder why Romney hates America so much.' From his perch high atop the class structure, Romney offered an analysis of political motivations that even Marxists would regard as excessively materialistic. He speaks as if hardworking parents who seek government help to provide health care for their kids are irresponsible, that students who get government aid to attend community colleges are not trying to 'care for their lives.' Has he never spoken with busboys and waitresses, hospital workers and janitors who make too little to pay income taxes but work their hearts out to 'take personal responsibility'?"

Ann Romney says her husband was taken "out of context" in the Romney Tapes. Right. Because an hour-plus of context is not enough. Also, it turns out Mitt is running because "he honestly believes he can help many Americans"; after all, Mitt "is a guy who doesn't, obviously, need to do this for a job." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link:

CW: some of our contributors have been making snide remarks about Lady Romney's ensemble as seen in the video above. If these commenters knew anything about occasion-appropriate attire, they would realize that the Duchess of Bain was simply dressing in an outfit suitable for discussing the irresponsible poor. In the casual snapshot at right, taken by the official palace photographer, she is dressed as she always dresses for dinner:

 

 

"When Bad Things Happen to Mitt Romney." Gail Collins is mighty funny as she recounts "the worst run of disasters this side of the Mayan calendar."

Mitt the Moocher. Nicholas Kristof: "As I watched a video of Mitt Romney scolding moochers suffering from a culture of dependency, I thought of American soldiers I've met in Afghanistan and Iraq. They don't pay federal income tax while they're in combat zones, and they rely on government benefits when they come back."

Ezra Klein in Bloomberg News: "It's really, really hard to be poor. That’s because the poorer you are, the more personal responsibility you have to take.... Romney, apparently, thinks it's folks like him who've really had it hard. 'I have inherited nothing,' the son of a former auto executive and governor told the room of donors. 'Everything Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.' This is a man blind to his own privilege.... that sentiment informs his policy platform -- which calls for sharply cutting social services for the poor to pay for huge tax cuts for the rich -- and it suggests he's trying to make policy with a worldview that's completely backward."

Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone: "... what Romney and the Republicans are offering voters this November isn't a coherent energy plan. It's a suicide note.... When Romney utters the words 'energy independence,' he's really promoting the idea that we can drill our way to freedom -- using a fear of foreigners to justify opening up fragile coastlines and wildlife sanctuaries to the Koch brothers."

Pew Research Center: "At this stage in the campaign, Barack Obama is in a strong position compared with past victorious presidential candidates. With an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Obama four years ago. In elections since 1988, only Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996, entered the fall with a larger advantage." CW: don't let this poll get you to excited; it could be an outlier. Another poll has Obama up by only one point.

Congressional Campaigns

Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald: "U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has moved into a narrow lead over rival Elizabeth Warren while his standing among Massachusetts voters has improved despite a year-long Democratic assault, a new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows. The GOP incumbent is beating Warren by a 50-44 percent margin among registered Bay State voters...." CW: Battenfeld writes about a poll taken nine months ago; I think he means 9 days ago. Anyhow, this race is not yet a done deal.

News Ledes

AP: "A judge on Thursday denied a request seeking to force YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim film trailer that has been blamed for causing deadly violence in the Muslim World. Judge Luis Lavin rejected the request from Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appears in the clip, in part because the man behind the film wasn't served with a copy of the lawsuit."

New York Times: "The White House, after more than a week in which it has come under fire from Republicans, is now calling last week's assault on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, a 'terrorist attack.'"

New York Times: "At least 30 people, and possibly more than 100, were killed in Syria on Thursday in the northern Raqqa Province, when government warplanes bombed a gas station crowded with people, according to activist groups."

Guardian: "B Sky B remains a fit and proper owner of broadcast licences, media regulator Ofcom has concluded. But the regulator is highly critical of the company's former chairman, James Murdoch, over his handling of the phone-hacking scandal. Ofcom criticised Murdoch, the News Corporation deputy chief operating officer and former Sky and News International chairman, for his 'lack of action' over the News of the World phone-hacking affair."

AP: "Space shuttle Endeavour flew over Tucson on Thursday in honor of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her astronaut husband [Mike Kelly] before continuing its trek west to retirement in a Los Angeles museum."

AP: "In a critical climate indicator showing an ever warming world, the amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to an all-time low this year, obliterating old records."

The Atlantic: "American intelligence officials insist that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was not pre-planned, but a new CNN report says that Ambassador Chris Stevens had expressed concerns about the safety of the mission in the months before his death. According to 'a source familiar with his thinking,' Stevens was worried about the growing threat of al-Qaeda and other extremists in Libya and even mentioned that he was on a terrorist 'hit list.'"

Reuters: "Arizona police on Wednesday began enforcing a controversial 'show-your-papers' provision of a state law targeting illegal immigration as civil rights groups prepared to document allegations of racial profiling."

AP: "The U.S. economy is showing signs of finally bottoming out: Americans are on the move again after record numbers had stayed put, more young adults are leaving their parents' homes to take a chance with college or the job market, once-sharp declines in births are leveling off and poverty is slowing [according to ] new 2011 census data being released Thursday."

Washington Post: "Two U.S. housing reports released Wednesday morning show more signs of improvement in the housing market, suggesting that it might finally be on its way toward a full recovery."

Reader Comments (13)

Could only stomach about half of Lady Romney's gloss on Mitt's gross. But what really struck me was the Fox softball pitcher. Or maybe straightman would be a better description, offering up puff-balls and cues to the lantern-jawed Lady R. Is this what passes for TV news in the boons? If so, I can only say Holy guano, Batman!

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Ah those Romneys; such a sense of noblesse oblige.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Inquiring minds want to know: what would happen if Lady Ann Rat
suddenly came to the conclusion that she was not going to be crowned
Queen and had to return the tiara to Walmart or wherever, and thought
that she should have the Lord Rat whacked (offsourced, of course),
would the Lyin Ryan be in line for POTUS, or would there have
to be another three ring convention to vet the liar?

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Anyone else notice the jewelry Stepford wife, Lady Romney was wearing?

The whole interview was malodorous!
mae finch

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

oops! forgot to add I bet it's gold, heavy and all she is waiting for is the crown mentioned by another poster.
Mae Finch

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

What has not gotten sufficient attention in all of the discussions of Mitt's "47%" is that it is in part a result of the tax cuts which Republicans from Reagan on have promoted that have reduced the number of people paying federal income tax. Mitt is putting down the people who have benefited from the tax policies of his own party. Mitt doesn't think straight.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGoldenrod

@Goldenrod: quite right. Over the last couple of days I have linked posts by Ezra Klein & Matt Miller, both of whom emphasized that point. I also mentioned it -- via a citation from the Miller column, I think -- in my most recent NYTX column.

Marie

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Goldenrod,
It's almost as if Mitt thinks that people whose only "crime" is to obey the tax laws should be voluntarily paying more. Yet wasn't it he himself who said he would pay what he owes, but "not a penny more?" Or maybe his remarks reflect his intention to raise taxes on those 47% if he is elected (and can get Congress to do it). Yet in public remarks, he denies he wants to raise taxes on those folks. Either he has no discernable position of any integrity, or he has a secret plan to raise taxes on the 47%.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Good morning, all out here in RomneyLand. I hope you've all picked out which barbed wire fence you'll be climbing today, scrambling for back-breaking menial factory work for which you'll be paid a pittance and allowed to pee once every two days.

In which case, congratulations. You can (after you demonstrate your obsequious desire to humiliate yourself at the feet of Lord Romney) consider yourself removed from the ranks of the bums, that 47% of takers.

If my reference is a tad obscure it derives from a section of Marie's Examiner smackdown of Saint Ross of Douthat who has been trying mightily to demonstrate that Obama is just as saddeningly elitist as Lord Rat.

She includes a point a lot of commentators seem to have overlooked, that being Romney's astounding description of a "good" worker. After touring a slave factory in China, the Rat's tiny member moved from dead to flaccid after hearing about how Chinese women could possibly be storming the barricades, climbing over huge fences just to get inside that factory and work for next to nothing under insanely abusive conditions, so as to earn enough to buy a moldy pomegranate with which to feed their family of 12 for a week. And they'd be thrilled to have that chance.

That, according to the Lord of Weaselly Rodents, is a good example of people who aren't lazy and who take responsibility for their lives.

Lady Ann thinks they are okay too.

They can keep their heads.

For now.

Oh, and to answer Forrest's question about Lady Rat, I think if Mittens loses, she won't have him whacked--at least not right away. They'll probably sail away to a south seas island so they can lord it over the monkeys.

As soon as she finds out where all the money is buried, THEN she'll have him taken out. By then Paul Ryan will be working as a male prostitute, helping pay down the deficit by showing off his pecs while servicing Wall Street tycoons, walking their dogs, and reading Atlas Shrugged to their kids, so no time for Mrs. Rodent.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Not having the stamina or stomach that Frank Rich has in being able to spend weeks just watching and listening to conservative right wing blather (re: his essay in New York magazine) I do manage to watch snippets of it––just to get a flavor of that juicy fruit and then being able to spit it out. What I'm hearing is how dare these low life democrats stoop to make an opera out of that Romney video––they just grab at anything–– they are distorting what Romney was saying and isn't that just typical–(accent on typical with great flourish). Yet their whole Republican convention was built around a contrived Obama out of context "You didn't build that" business with their slogan of "We Built It." What followed were all the hard luck stories of immigrant parents who built it themselves. ("The party is hostile to immigration in the present, whatever sentimental warmth it exhibits toward immigration in the past*") Lane Turner even came up with a song about building IT himself––whatever the heck IT was, he doesn't say. Throughout though, a miasma of hypocrisy hung like Tampa's cotton wood trees clouding the fact that government had been a key factor in all those hard luck stories of "doing it by ourselves." A sorry spectacle and a desperate one.

Another key question should be asked of Romney, affectionately known here as King of Small Balls: If your chief claim to office is that you are a master CEO with an eye for detail and zero tolerance of failure, how come you fuck up on all these details while failing miserably?

* J. Freedland

When my youngest son was around three he began to tell us emphatically that "I want to do it my own self." So with encouragement and a boost from behind the scenes by his parents he accomplished a great deal.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The Ryan/Romney philosophy is not new but a modern issue of the old; " Every man for hinself and the Devil take the hindmost ."
Great bumper sticker. Ryan/Romney= Devil take the hindmost!!

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

One of the many positive outcomes of the Rat's campaign--a three ring circus that merits inclusion at a world historical level for its ineptitude and staggering incognizance--is the opportunity to deconstruct some of the more mendacious and damaging metaphors informing intellectual life (such as it is) in Right Wing World, one of the more infamously stupid being the Takers/Makers fairytale, told by Wall Street bankers and assorted wingnut adherents to their children as they fall asleep under blankets woven from spun gold.

There have been many worthy forays successfully revealing the nodding ignorance of such a vicious demarcation between the haves and have nots, so I won't attempt to retrace that ground. But it seems such an ignoble and wretched thing, that those who have so much not only feel the need to grind their boots into the necks of those who have much less, they also feel entitled--no, required--to heap insults upon those less fortunate, despising them for their lack of luck.

Plus, as with many such insults, it's a two-fer. It gives them permission to degrade and insult millions who have not been as lucky (read: NOT had everything handed to them), AND it makes them feel so much better about themselves, they being heroic MAKERS, and all.

But really, what kind of a MAKER has Romney been? Bain has made him wealthier than he already was, as a scion of a rich family, by dismantling many of the businesses they scooped up, squeezing every penny they could out of their employees, taking their pensions, and pocketing their retirements.

How is that "making" anything?

Oh, wait. Okay. Now I get it. Mittens IS a maker after all.

He MADE himself even richer. But he did it by TAKING money from those less powerful.

So who are the real "takers" here?

If the public debate swirling around such swinish canards does something to inject even a tad more reality into right-wing thinking, then I'll be happy.

But I'm not holding my breath.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One additional word of warning to Marie's caveat re the Pew poll numbers.

Given the brain numbing incompetence and staggering idiocy of Lord Cheese Eater's campaign, any opponent other than, say, a black Democrat whose father came from Kenya, should have a huge double digit lead in the wake of Willard's post convention pratfalls.

The fact that it's still so close is scary bad.

Anything within 5 points can be easily overtaken by election rigging and poll skullduggery.

Anything within 10 points won't be quite so easy, but don't be surprised to see at least four or five states leaning heavily for Obama but ending up in Romney's pocket. Republican operatives are willing to leave few loose ends and raise many eyebrows given their successes in Ohio (and who knows where else) in 2004. They don't care to steal a few states and leave some fingerprints. They did it before and no one said "boo" to them.

It can happen again. Add to that all the voter ID bullshit and the teabagger thugs hitting Democratic polling places and you have a recipe for stealing the White House (again) straight from the anti-democracy labs buried deep in the muck beneath Chez Rove.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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