The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

New York Times: "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty Wednesday as the government declared three days of official mourning and grappled with the aftermath of an attack on a school by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 145 people. The national flag was lowered to half-staff on all official buildings and prayer services were scheduled across the country." ...

... The Washington Post profiles "Mullah Radio," the leader of the Taliban attack on schoolchildren & teachers.

Public Service Announcement

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 18

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's 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.

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.

Thursday
Sep272012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 28, 2012

Voter Fraud, Palm Beach County, Florida-Style. Philip Elliott of the AP: "Republicans on Thursday fired a vendor suspected of submitting 108 questionable new voter registrations in Florida's Palm Beach County, ground zero for disputed ballots in 2000's presidential race. The Republican Party of Florida used Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting to help register and turnout voters in Florida.... The Florida state party had paid the firm more than $1.3 million so far, and the Republican National Committee used the group for almost $3 million of work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.... Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher's staff noticed signatures that looked alike and incomplete forms submitted on Sept. 5 by Strategic Allied Consulting. Bucher met with prosecutors on Monday to request an investigation." ...

... Lee Fang of The Nation: "The contractor in Florida..., Strategic Allied Consulting, [is] a business entity created a few months ago and registered online by a former Arizona Republican Party director named Nathan Sproul. Sproul ... is infamous for accusations that his firms have committed fraud by tampering with Democratic voter registration forms and suppressing votes. Sproul was hired by the Romney campaign for a period of five months that began last November and ended in March. But now there's evidence that the payments continued, only to a different name.... Strategic Allied Consulting recently put up a proxy to hide the fact that its website was registered by Sproul.... The firm has been aggressively hiring in Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida." ...

... AND the North Carolina GOP also Wipes Egg off its Face. Mark Binker of WRAL (Raleigh, North Carolina): "Republicans have been running on a platform that includes requiring photo ID when voters go to the polls as a way to combat voter fraud. So there's an heavy dose of irony that the GOP has been paying a company that is itself linked to questionable voting practices. Asked several questions about this today, North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood e-mailed me the following: "The NCGOP takes any threat to the voting process very seriously. We have terminated our relationship with Strategic Allied Consultants." ...

... WAIT! WAIT! Major Omelet Scrub. -- ... Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "Election officials in six Florida counties are investigating what appears to be 'hundreds' of cases of suspected voter fraud by a GOP consulting firm that has been paid nearly $3 million by the Republican National Committee to register Republican voters in five key battleground states.... In addition to Palm Beach County, where election officials initially reported 106 instances of suspected fraudulent registration forms, officials in Okaloosa, Pasco, Santa Rosa, Lee and Clay counties have also reported instances of possible fraudulent forms submitted by the firm, officials said.... the Republican National Committee said it had severed its ties to the firm altogether." CW: this doesn't mean the Romney campaign, which had previously directly employed Sproul, has no ties to whatever Sproul is calling his voter-fraud ops now. ...

... Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "For more than a year, [Ari] Berman [of The Nation] has been waging a one-man war on the GOP's voter suppression efforts. In this Q and A with The National Memo, he explains how this coordinated effort to deny the vote to core members of Obama's winning coalition from 2008 could still swing the 2012 election, despite some recent victories in federal court."

James Dao of the New York Times: a "crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.... The agency has already completed more than one million claims for the third consecutive year. Yet it is still taking about eight months to process the average claim, two months longer than a decade ago. As of Monday, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending." ...

... Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced Barack Obama at a campaign stop in Virginia yesterday. Watch it. And Gen. Shinseki better get his act together over there at the VA:

... Charles Mahtesian of Politico: "... coming from Webb -- a voice for the white working class, a former Navy secretary and decorated Vietnam veteran whose son left college to enlist as an infantry private in the Marine Corps and fought in the Iraq War -- his words carry a punch that few other Democratic surrogates can muster."

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "As of Thursday..., United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, had received more than 100,000 applications [for deportation deferral]..., with more than 63,000 in the last stages of review. But so far the agency has confirmed only 29 approvals."

Paul Krugman: "If Germany really wants to save the euro, it should let the European Central Bank do what's necessary to rescue the debtor nations -- and it should do so without demanding more pointless pain."

CW: Yeah, I know we shouldn't joke about such a serious subject. I'll quit when Bibi's cartoonist quits.

... Joshua Keating of Foreign Policy presents "Great Moment in U.N. Prop Use." ...

... Jay Newton-Small of Time: Hmm, what do you do when you're a world leader & your multiple attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election fail? "Netanyahu's speech on Thursday didn't leave much for Romney to put in a press release. So, what changed in the past week that led Netanyahu to back off of Obama? Perhaps he got a look at recent polls showing Obama pulling ahead in key swing states and increasing his lead nationally. It's one thing to put a finger on the scale when a race is close and quite another to flat out provoke the man he's likely going to have to spend the next four years working with.

Presidential Race

Helene Cooper & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... with 39 days to go, President Obama and Mitt Romney dueled in [Virginia] on Thursday, both trying to lock up support from voters with ties to the military."

Nate Silver: "... there looks to be about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Romney will win, but also about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Obama will actually beat his 2008 margin in the popular vote. The smart money is on an outcome somewhere in the middle -- as it has been all year. But if you can conceive of a Romney comeback -- and you should account for that possibility -- you should also allow for the chance that things could get really out of hand, and that Mr. Obama could win in a borderline landslide. ...

... Yo, Mitt. Time to Hitch Your Wagon to Dubya's Star. Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News: "For all the talk about whether Mitt Romney should distance himself from George W. Bush -- and the policies of the last GOP White House -- a new survey shows that the former president actually has better favorability ratings than the Republican nominee. A Bloomberg News National Poll released Wednesday has Bush receiving a favorable rating from 46 percent of those surveyed and an unfavorable rating from 49 percent. That's compared to Romney's 43 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the 'super PAC' supporting President Obama..., a significant donation that could help spur more contributions in the closing weeks of the election campaign."

In this Web video, the Obama campaign rebuts Romney's claims that President Obama has misrepresented Romney's positions:

     ... AND Greg Sargent reports that

Elections Matter. Tim Egan: "The biggest threats [to our public lands] over the last 50 years have come from demands of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion -- a Western-sounding name for a property grab by well-connected special interests.... Romney has promised to let oil companies have their way -- no surprise, given that his chief energy adviser, Harold Hamm, is an oil billionaire with stakes in multiple energy sites throughout the West.... No major-party presidential nominee has ever taken a stance as radical as Romney'."

Elections Matter. We'll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now. -- Mitt Romney, on plans to torture prisoners. Charlie Savage of the New York Times has the whole story. AND Andy Rosenthal has more.

Jimmy Kimmel found the first take of Romney's "Too Many Americans" ad:

... Thanks to contributor James S. for the link. And as Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's Comments, it is surprising Romney would admit he thinks there are "too many Americans." I think we know who-all the Romney Plan would slate for "voluntary deportation." I'm sure I'm one....

Coincidentally, Jonathan Chait of New York magazine noticed something similar about this Obama ad, in which Romney provides the voiceover:

     ... Chait writes, "What's devastating about the ad, aside from the juxtaposition of Romney's words against photos of regular Americans, is ... the sound of silverware clinking on china in the background as Romney speaks. That detail contrasts the atmosphere Romney inhabits with the one in which most Americans live. You can tell, even though you're not seeing this, that the remarks are being made to people enjoying a formal dinner.... The Republican Party is going down because its candidate was seen advocating exactly the beliefs that make the party so dangerous and repellant."

CW: On September 22, when Romney dumped his 2011 tax return, I asked what the deal was with the Romneys' getting charitable deduction for a family trust. Well, finally somebody half-explains the "charitable gift" Romney gave to the kids:

... Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg News: Mitt Romney has "enhanced his family's wealth by moving assets worth $100 million into a trust while taking steps to avoid paying any gift taxes. The trust's value isn't counted in the $250 million that his campaign cites as Romney's net worth.... Use of these types of trusts has grown as the wealthy employ increasingly sophisticated techniques to avoid both estate and gift taxes on money they transfer to their families.... Romney has vowed as president to cut the gift tax rate and repeal the federal estate tax altogether -- calling it the 'Death Tax.' ... Public exposure of Romney's various tax avoidance tactics may spur legislation cracking down on them...." ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes, in plain English, how it works: "First, Romney undervalues the assets he puts into the trust so he owes little or no gift tax. Then, later, when the assets appreciate, he pays only the capital gains tax, which is considerably lower than the gift tax. And to make it even better, he pays the capital gains tax out of his own pocket, so the trust owes nothing. It's like making a second gift to his kids free and clear."

... David Corn: "Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then 'harvest them at a significant profit' within five to eight years.... In this clip, Romney mentioned that it would routinely take up to eight years to turn around a firm -- though he now slams the president for failing to revive the entire US economy in half that time." Includes video.

"Wake the Fuck Up!" Thanks to contributor Janice for the link:

Paul Ryan Joins the Poll Conspiracy Theorists. Katie Glueck of Politico: "Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday dismissed polling that shows him and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney trailing in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. 'I don't actually believe the validity of that particular poll,' Ryan told Fox News's Neil Cavuto, adding that he wouldn't get 'into all the methodologies of it.' It wasn't immediately clear to which poll Ryan was referring, but several surveys have found the Republican ticket sliding in the Badger State.... Ryan is the latest conservative to challenge the veracity of polls." ...

... CW: Maybe we should quit with all the theories -- including mine -- as to why Romney appears to be losing and settle on the real reason: the Eddie Haskell Factor. When those undecideds happen to catch a glimpse someplace on the teevee of Ryan's cloying hangdog phoniness, they go all June Cleaver.

AND Surprise, Surprise. Drudge and Co. Go Full Racist. Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic has the full story on the Drudge "Reports"'s feature "Obama Has My Vote -- He Gave Me a Free Phone."

Congressional Races

Claire, You Ignorant Slut. How to Recapture the Women's Ladies' Vote. Todd Akin assesses his debate last week with Sen. Claire McCaskill Turns out Claire used to be more "ladylike." Akin complained that McCaskill was "aggressive" in a senatorial debate they participated in last week. Apparently Akin believes that a lady senator should not talk back to a gentleman debater. Why, a real lady would never participate in something so tawdry as a political debate in the first place. ...

... Good Luck, Todd! Alexander Burns of Politico: "While the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement this week expressing support for Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's Senate campaign, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn" told the Lexington Courier-Journal that the National Republican Senatorial Committee "does not intend to put money into" the McCaskill-Akin race. "I just think that this is not a winnable race," he said.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper's founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86."

New York Times: "Spain's ailing banking industry could need as much as 59.3 billion euros, or $76.4 billion, in additional capital, according to an independent banking assessment published on Friday. The report paves the way for Madrid to request bank rescue loans that European finance ministers have agreed to extend."

Washington Post: "U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya involved a small number of militants with ties to al-Qaeda in North Africa but see no indication that the terrorist group directed the assault, U.S. officials said Thursday. The determination reflects an emerging consensus among analysts at the CIA and other agencies that has contributed to a shift among senior Obama administration officials toward describing the siege of U.S. facilities in Benghazi as a terrorist attack."

New York Times: "Chinese leaders announced on Friday that Bo Xilai, a disgraced Communist Party aristocrat, had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted on criminal charges, a move that effectively ends his remarkable political career."

Bloomberg News: "President Francois Hollande's first annual budget raised taxes on the rich and big companies and included a minimum of spending cuts to reduce the deficit."

Reader Comments (18)

This one's for Bibi, the Net-in-the-Yahoo, and his Neo Con Parade:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Iran and the Bomb, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Facts:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/27-5

With love and smacky kisses-

Dr. Strangelove

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

When he is talking about most major political issues, David Brooks is an insufferable shill for the Republicans. But he is also one of the few on the right who actually pays attention to important social trends. Here's the link to his column today speaking about the toll that psychological trauma such as child abuse and loss of a parent exacts on young people and how it cripples many of them for life.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/opinion/brooks-the-psych-approach.html?hp

Of course, he takes a swipe at what he thinks of the liberal approach and he ignores the obvious role of government in addressing the issue. But here's a problem that progressives and conservatives of Brooks's ilk could come together to tackle.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

The always gentlemanly Todd Akin complains that his opponent is not offering him tea and crumpets and instead is engaging in actual political debate. The idea.

In other news, polls show that Akin has pretty much sewn up the "legitimate rapist" vote in the state. The few who were on the fence have decided that McCaskill's non-ladylike-ness might impact their "hobby" when and if she's re-elected.

(Oh, mouse over the link Marie provides to the Charlotte Observer story about Akin's ache. The headline reads "Todd-Akin-Confident-Hell-Prevail". That about says it.)

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Peter Manseau, a scholar in residence at Washington College, has an op-ed claiming that this presidential campaign is nowhere near the dirtiest on record. But his trite conclusion is completely undermined by the point he so casually throws in (but does not deal with) near the end of column:

"While the use of deceptive ads by campaign organizations goes back at least as far as Jefferson and Adams, Ms. Deckman noted, recent research shows that while negative ads accounted for 9 percent of all political advertising in 2008, in this election attack ads account for 70 percent of the total. “Given that Election Day is still weeks away,” Ms. Deckman said, “from an advertising perspective, this election could well be the most negative in history.”

Here's the link:

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/is-this-the-nastiest-election-ever/

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Given that Strategic Allied Consulting is turning in bogus signatures on its voter registration forms, it should be only a matter of hours before the furor on the right reaches such a pitch that SAC is hounded out of business - just as happened to ACORN.
What's that, silence we hear?

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re: How about ol' Mitty coming out in favor of a more rigorous torture policy? Going after the pro-torture voter, good move. I never thought I would see that kind of a promise from a presidential hopeful. "Vote for me and I'll waterboard the world." Why Mitt? Get voted in and you can drone the suspect before you ask questions. Torture has been proven not to help in getting information from people. What's is wrong with America when Mitt can use torture as a appeal for a vote?

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Apparently Nathan Sproul, the director of Stragic Allied Consulting has a long history of dirty tricks - and the Republicans hired him anyway. This is from an article in the LATimes:
"Working through state parties, the RNC has sent more than $3.1 million this year to Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona political consultant. Sproul has operated other firms that have been accused in the past of improprieties designed to help Republican candidates, including dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats. None of those allegations have led to criminal charges."

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

(I see Victoria has already delivered the goods on rat bastard Nathan Sproul, but since I've already written this, here's some additional info on this scumbag--and who he's working for now...)

Thanks to Marie for the link to the story on actual voter fraud in her home state. The kind of voter fraud Republicans have been screaming about for years. But oh, wait. This is voter fraud perpetrated BY Republicans. Oops.

The usual suspects will slither out of their holes to decry this episode as a single anomalous event blown way out of proportion by the media, but lest anyone be taken in by such lies (they’re all SO good at lying! How did they ever become so proficient at it? Must do it a LOT), let me point you to a firm which, unlike Acorn, which was faulted for turning in phony voter registrations (meaning that someone hired to register voters turned in fake names to pad their paycheck; there was never any expectation that those made up names would turn into people who would show up and try to vote), ensured that real people who tried to register as Democrats at registration centers operated by this company would never be allowed to vote. Why? Any forms filled out by Democrats were shredded. Presto! No voto! You show up on election day and your name is nowhere to be found. Ain’t democracy grand?

But this company, originally Sproul and Associates, now Lincoln Strategies (the name may change again soon; do you ever wonder why so many shady right wing operations are constantly changing their names? Kind of reminds me of criminal aliases), has a loooonnnggg history of screwing with the legal rights of Americans to vote. After being investigated for destroying forms filled out by Democrats in a number of states, Bush and Cheney were so impressed, they hired this asshole and paid him over $7 million to do the same thing for them. (Remember Ohio?)

Now after all the attention on voter fraud and the self-righteous screaming and crying and incessant whining by wingnuts and their political attack dogs, one would think that such a creepy, unsavory operation would be persona non grata with any respectable group. Right? Of course. But groups not very respectable would line up to hire them. Like the GOP and many of their pols standing for election.

Including Willard Mittens Romney.

Sproul is quietly working behind the scenes for the Rat, devising ever more ingenious and illegal ways to steal this election.

Don’t you just love these fucking guys? The absolute fucking height of hypocrisy. And every week they outdo themselves.

Check it out:
http://www.republicreport.org/2012/romney-nathan-sproul/

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

JJG,

At this point, Romney has the pro-torture vote, from Todd Akin he's assured of the legitimate rapist vote, and this morning, according to TPM, he is being advised by Teabagger hatemongers that empathy for those without health insurance is most definitely NOT a trait to be cultivated or desired in Republicans. He's sure to get votes from vulture capitalist firms and those who are all for self (or forced) deportation of immigrants, as well as all those against the mooching 47%, plus he's sure to get the racist pigs, birthers, conspiracy nuts, misanthropic morons, war mongers, and wingnut droolers.

Quite a collection of fans old Mittens has there for himself.

I'm sure his mom and dad would be proud.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Sam Tanenhous wrote a superb essay, "Conservatism is Dead" back in 2009 which was an intellectual autopsy of the movement in which he said this:

"But, if it’s clear what the right is against, what exactly has it been for? This question has haunted the movement from its inception in the 1950s, when its principal objective was to undo the New Deal and reinstate the laissez-faire Republicanism of the 1920s. This backward-looking program mystified one leading conservative. Whittaker Chambers, a repentant ex-communist, had passed through a brief counterrevolutionary phase but then, in his last years, had gravitated toward a genuinely classic conservatism. He distilled his thinking in a remarkable sequence of letters written from the self-imposed exile of his Maryland farm, and sent to a young admirer, William F. Buckley Jr. When their relationship began, Buckley—a self-described “radical conservative”—was assembling the group of thinkers and writers who would form the core of National Review, a journal conceived to contest the “liberal monopolists of ‘public opinion.’” Buckley was especially keen to recruit Chambers. But Chambers turned him down. He sympathized with the magazine’s opposition to increasingly centralized government, but, in practical terms, he believed challenging it was futile. It was evident that New Deal economics had become the basis for governing in postwar America, and the right had no plausible choice but to accept this fact—not because liberals were all-powerful (as some on the right believed) but rather because what the right called “statism” looked very much like a Burkean “correction.”

I see the movement at this time floundering and gasping for air and if Romney looses, if Democrats pick up more congressional seats, it will be paramount for the Republicans to reboot and reconsider what in the hell they really stand for. If it turns out otherwise, we are in for years of plundering and polluting and just plain penurious state of affairs.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

As we become more embroiled in the lead up to the election with all the hate speech coming from the right wing, I think it is noteworthy that September 30 through October 6 is Banned Books Week. This event is promoted annually by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom ~ this year marks their 30th anniversary.
Here are two links you may find interesting:
General information: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek
and, to learn why a particular title made the list: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/reasonsbanned.

While this subject may seem off topic right now, book censorship efforts remain with us and have found fertile ground in places like Arizona and Texas (surprise, surprise).

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Marie, thanks for posting the clip of Senator Webb, in which he among other things criticizes Mr. Romney for failing to mention his "age peers" who served in Vietnam in his RNC acceptance speech. Senator Webb's larger point is that those receiving veterans' benefits are givers, not takers. Exactly.

I suspect Mr. Romney thinks of the Vietnam war as history, like the Civil War, and because he did not participate it is like something you learned of in school -- and he seems to have had no exposure to it. In that, he is like ex-VP Dan Quayle, who served in the National Guard and apparently did not have to think about Vietnam much after that. They are sort of in the same set, and same age. I was in Sydney, Australia, in 1989 when Mr. Quayle came to speak at the Coral Sea Day commemoration dinner (an annual April Oz-US hugfest). The room was full of Aussies of all ages, about half of them Mr. Quayle's age, and to my eye most of those were vets who had served in Vietnam. Mr. Quayle noted how they Battle of the Coral Sea (1942) had turned the tide against Japan, kept Japan away from Oz, and strengthened US-Oz ties. Then he said something like "we in our generation have never been tested together in battle, but ..." blah blah. Hundreds of attendees looked at one another quizzically, since many of them had been with us in Vietnam, and all knew that Australia was our "winter soldier" ally in that war. But it was clear to me that Mr. Quayle did not think that the Vietnam war was in any way a test of our generation or our alliance. He wasn't making any point to that effect -- he was just oblivious.

Like Mr. Romney, who probably thinks that something that went on 40 years ago has no meaning to him, because he was not part of it.

But like Senator Webb said, for many of us not a day goes by that we do not recall who gave what. And what astounds me is that, unless polls have changed around, Mr. Romney still seems to have the veterans' vote nationally (but perhaps not in Virginia), despite the huge commitment and accomplishments of this administration towards veterans' issues.

For context, I was in Vietnam in 1969-70, in the Army, and got shot at a lot, no scratches thank God. Like Webb says, not bitter or resentful, and have no problems with those who didn't go -- which was a logical choice. And I am glad that my sons did not have to face the choice that we faced in the late sixties.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Patrick,

Well said. I think you hit on part of the reason for Romney's lack of historical connection. Another part is that, for Romney, Vietnam offered no opportunity for monetary advancement. So neither does honoring those, like yourself, who served when he did not and who fought a war he did not even though he supported it and hailed our presence in that conflict, just as long as he didn't have to risk anything.

Your anecdote about Quayle brings to mind the blind spot that so many conservatives have about war. They are ever eager to thrust this nation into combat, having never served themselves, and having as you and Sen. Webb and many other Americans do, direct knowledge of what that really means. The neocons under Bush and Cheney railed for war, lied for war, cheered for war, but had no real understanding of it and therefore no appreciation for the level of sacrifice and personal cost extracted from military personnel and their families. It's a big game to them.

Neither does Romney who has been rattling his toy saber in the direction of Iran, have any understanding of the human cost of war. Rather than honoring those who went so that he didn't have to, he's chomping at the bit to send more Americans off for his personal glory.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Banned Book Week update:

Good news! Only 13 new books banned in Texas this year (so far).

But plenty of "restricted" books for which students need the permission of both parents (same sex parents don't count, I'm going to bet), a doctor's note, and clearance by an examination board comprised of three fundamentalist preachers, two teabaggers, and Rick Perry's intellectual consultant, Koko the Clown, before they can even see these book.

Which horrible books are so restricted, you might ask?

How about "Farewell to Arms"? Pretty racy stuff, that. That Hemingway guy is STILL a dangerous fuck.

Kate Chopin's "The Awakening". Oooooh can't have that kind of feminazi stuff just lying around, now can we?

"Tess of the D'Ubervilles" I kid you not..."Tess of the fucking D'Urbervilles!!" Written, what, over a hundred years ago??

Toni Morrison's "Beloved". Can't have kids thinking that slaves had souls and feelings, can we?

Anyway, you get the picture.

Wonder what books R&R would burn....er, ban? I know which ones they'd make required reading...

(Still chuckling about "Fahrenheit 451" being banned...that kills me...)

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Patrick: You owe a vote of thanks to Mitt. 5 years before your Vietnamese sojourn Mitt was risking his life protesting, in the dangerous streets of America, in support of the Vietnam war. And then he fled to France. So I think that, unless he was just role playing (protester for a day) for Mitt Vietnam is more than just a forgotten piece of history. Vietnam is Mitt's earliest common link to Ryan. Ryan voted to send troops to battle, earlier Mitt supported their right to die.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercowichan

Thanks to Akhilleus, I may have found a new and most profitable
occupation. Stonework is exhausting and rocks are heavier than books.
So I think smuggling books into Texas and selling them would
really pay. (Oh, wait, who buys books? Bet they can get almost
anything on their E-readers). Curses! Foiled again.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@forrest morris, there is already a group that is smuggling books. It is called Librotraficante, which translates from Spanish to 'BookTrafficker' (http://librotraficante.com). They have a focus on creating underground libraries across the country and last week started a campaign called, 'The Librotraficante 50 States of Freedom of Speech'. They organized in response to Arizona's banning of ___________ fill in the blanks.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Forrest,

You may have something there. And don't worry about e-books. I'll bet that wingnut-teabag-fundie TX monitors and attempts to censor Internet traffic as assiduously as Red China.

That means that paper and ink artifacts could have a profitable cachet in medieval Texas. Just don't overlook the fact that right-wingers fear ideas far more than they do illegal immigrants, and like most wingnut states, will shoot first and not bother with questions.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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