The Ledes

Friday, August 22, 2014.

New York Times: "A Chinese fighter jet flew within 30 feet of a Navy surveillance and reconnaissance plane this week in international airspace just off the Chinese coast, the Pentagon said Friday. The encounter, known as an intercept, 'was very, very close, very dangerous,' said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. The Pentagon filed a diplomatic complaint with the People’s Liberation Army on Friday morning, Defense Department officials said. As of Friday afternoon, it had not received a reply."

** New York Times: "Russian military has moved artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces, NATO officials said on Friday. The West has long accused Russia of supporting the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, but this is the first time it has said it had evidence that the Russian military was operating in Ukrainian territory."

Guardian: "Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have launched attacks to recapture two towns in the north from Islamic State (Isis) militants, as Western governments consider how to mount an effective response to the threat posed by the extremist group that has redrawn the border of Iraq and Syria."

New York Times: "The first trucks from a long-stalled Russian convoy said to be carrying humanitarian aid crossed the border into eastern Ukraine on Friday, without the consent of the Ukrainian government and unaccompanied by Red Cross escorts, as had been earlier agreed upon. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a long statement in Moscow saying, in essence, that it had authorized the crossing because it was fed up with stalling by the government in Kiev." ...

... Washington Post: "Ukrainian authorities appeared to be scrambling Friday to decide how to respond to the border incursion. A Ukrainian military spokesman backed away from previous bellicose statements, but state security chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko told journalists in Kiev, 'We consider this a direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine,' Reuters news agency reported. He said Ukrainian forces would not use force against the convoy because they want to avoid 'provocations.'”

AP: "Gaza gunmen killed 18 alleged spies for Israel on Friday, including seven who were lined up behind a mosque and shot after midday prayers, in response to Israel’s deadly airstrikes against top Hamas military commanders."

Washington Post: "Ever since the retirement of the space shuttle three years ago, American astronauts have had to hitchhike their way to the International Space Station aboard Russian spaceships. It is an increasingly costly arrangement..., made worse by U.S.-Russian tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. But in the coming weeks, NASA is expected to announce its long-awaited solution: a multibillion-dollar contract to build a U.S. spacecraft, which could help reignite a struggling American space program."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, August 21, 2014.

New York Times: "Some 10,000 mourners on Thursday buried three senior commanders of the armed wing of Hamas who were killed in predawn airstrikes by Israel, the most significant blow to the group’s leadership since Israel’s operation in Gaza began more than six weeks ago."

ABC News: "An American doctor who contracted Ebola will be released today from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, with details expected on the release of a second patient who also contracted the disease.... The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 22

1:30 pm ET: Press briefing by Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz

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

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

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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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