The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

The Wires

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."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

... BUT ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is quite cool:

 

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

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

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Friday
Sep282012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 29, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     The transcript is here.

The Republican Voter Fraud Scandal Grows. Matea Gold, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant. The controversy in Florida -- which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County -- has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting. The RNC paid the company at least $3.1 million -- routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia -- to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do." ...

... CW: this story was first exposed by blogger Brad Friedman & amplified by at least one other blogger, Gregg Flynn of Blue North Carolina, before mainstream media began picking it up. The Internets is where it's at.

Joe Nocera: U.S. News & World Report's college rankings are a counterproductive sham. "Universities that want to game the rankings can easily do so. U.S. News cares a lot about how much money a school raises and how much it spends: on faculty; on small classes; on facilities, and so on. It cares about how selective the admissions process is. So universities that once served populations that were different from the Harvard or Yale student body now go after the same elite high school students with the highest SAT scores. And schools know that, if they want to get a better ranking, they need to spend money like mad -- even though they will have to increase tuition that is already backbreaking." Schools lose points for effecting cost-saving measures. ...

     ... CW: bear in mind when reading Nocera that here -- and oftentimes -- he makes a broad assertion based on a single source who has a vested interest in pushing the assertion. I think Nocera & his source are probably right in this case, but if you have different information, please share it. Nocera's "methodology" is really unserious, & the Times should be ashamed for allowing him to repeatedly push the agendas of people he likes. This would be a good place for a little he-said/she-said.

Prof. Roger Martin, in a New York Times op-ed, writes that the capitalistic battle of today is not merely between capital & labor, but among capital labor and "talent." The result, labor loses.

Jim Fallows, who is a long-time friend of Sen. Jim Webb, comments on Webb's remarks -- embedded in yesterday's Commentariat -- about Mitt's characterization of the "47 percent": "This is a theme straight out of Webb's heart and brain and soul. I remember hearing almost exactly the same views from him when we first met in the late 1970s. We sometimes think about campaigns as if they're all about positioning and micro-strategy and all the rest. But every now and then we see the genuine passions and principles that are at stake." CW: watch the video if you missed it.

Presidential Race

Lydia Saad of Gallup: "Gallup election polling trends since the advent of televised presidential debates a nearly a half-century ago reveal few instances in which the debates may have had a substantive impact on election outcomes. The two exceptions are 1960 and 2000, both very close elections in which even small changes could have determined who won. In two others -- 1976 and 2004 -- public preferences moved quite a bit around the debates, but the debates did not appear to alter the likely outcome." Saad has the numbers, of course.

Markos Moulitsas: The Rasmussen polling operation "is doing its mightiest work to try and keep the fiction of Romney's candidacy alive, which really, is the only reason it exists." With charts to prove his point.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Obama administration's shifting accounts of the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, have left President Obama suddenly exposed on the national security and foreign policy issues where he had enjoyed a seemingly unassailable advantage over Mitt Romney in the presidential race." ...

... Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "The two most discussed candidates to be America's next top diplomat now find themselves on opposite sides of the Libya issue, with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the role of defending the administration's narrative and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) promising tough congressional oversight while giving the State Department room to conduct its own investigation. As the controversy over the administration's handling of the issue grows, Rice's comments on the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi are coming under increasing attack. Her insistence on a number of Sunday talk shows Sept. 16 that, according to the best information available at the time, the attack was an unplanned assault and the result of an anti-Islam video is facing harsh criticism from senators."

Jonathan Landay & Lesley Clark of McClatchy News: "Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a 'deliberate and organized terrorist attack,' the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration's initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video. The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts." ...

... CW: Greg Sargent, BTW, characterizes the DNI's statement as a Friday afternoon news dump because, um, it was a Friday afternoon news dump. This suggests to me that -- contra the McClatchy report -- the goal wasn't to "shield the White House." If it had been, DNI would not have tried to bury the news.

... Bobby Cervantes of Politico: "Rep. Peter King [{R-NY}, who never saw a rolling camera he didn't like,] called for the resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for initially saying that the deadly Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was spontaneous." ...

... BUT WAIT! There's More. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: Mike Huckabee hints that President Obama should be impeached over his administration's evolving remarks about the Libya incident. ...

... CW: I know it's election season, but Peter King is a sitting Member of Congress & chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Mike Huckabee is a former governor who thought he should be president. Don't these yahoos have some responsibility to stick to rational remarks? ...

Finally, Time to Play "Where's Willard?" Major Garrett of National Journal (& formerly of Fox "News") writes, "Nearly two weeks after promising to launch a multilayered critique of President Obama's handling of the Arab Spring, Mitt Romney has remained oddly silent even as evidence grows the administration misled the country about the motives behind the lethal attack in Libya that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead." Via Greg Sargent.

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: Mitt Romney just discovered the primaries are over, & he's running in the general election. Or something like that. He's "recalibrating his message"; i.e., changing his story.

Scott Shane of the New York Times: the Romney campaign tries to hang the Jimmy Carter label on President Obama. "Historians say the broad parallels between Mr. Carter's term and Mr. Obama's make for legitimate comparisons. But many of the details differ, and some tilt decisively in Mr. Obama's favor, both factually and politically."

CW: I'm totally with Ta-Nehisi Coates on this: Mitt's "47 percent" remark was no gaffe: "It is a thesis, delivered at some length, with confidence and vigor. It is unfortunate for Romney that it is now public, and that it fits right into the narrative Obama started drawing months ago. But I don't think this was a 'slip-up.'"

In Week 36 of Steve Benen's chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity, Benen identified 37 lies.

Right Wing World

CW: I have been making the point for some time that birtherism is beyond ridiculous because whether or not Barack Obama was born in the U.S., nobody doubts his mother was an American citizen, thus making Barack a "natural-born American," just like, say, John McCain, who was born in Panama to American parents. Well, evidently a few birthers got the message, so now there is a sickening, festering movement to smear the President's mother. The crazies -- a few of whom are rather prominent -- are not calling her a Russian-born Communist plant yet, but just you wait. Steve Benen has the details on the smears. ...

... Here's more from Michelle Goldberg of Newsweek.

Congressional Races

Freedom's Just Another Word for "Discrimination." I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. -- Rep. Todd Akin (RTP-Missouri), on why he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "Gender discrimination in compensation has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. But ... [Rep. Todd] Akin responded to a question about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- which made it easier for workers to sue over unequal pay -- by suggesting that employers shouldn't even be barred from paying women less in the first place." CW: As Ari Berman pointed out while appearing on MSNBC today, this is the same argument employers used during the Gilded Age to quash child labor laws. You can see why Newt Gingrich -- who thinks poor (read "black") children should take the jobs of school janitors -- has endorsed Akin. Newt & Akin are of a feather. ...

... Rebecca Schoenkopf of Wonkette: "When Republican consultant Kellyanne Conway told Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin to be more like David Koresh -- the cult leader in Waco whose standoff with the ATF led to the death of 80 of his followers and himself -- apparently, Todd Akin listened! So how did Todd Akin set his compound on fire today? Oh just by saying that the Equal Pay Act, which dates back to 1963 and says it is illegal to pay Fallopian-Americans less than men solely on the basis of their plumbing, is unfair, because freedom." ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "So the only 'freedom' Akin is talking about here is the freedom of businesses to break the law. Which he thinks is fine, because he doesn't think that equal pay should be the law, even in largely unenforceable theory. Just like he doesn't think there should be a minimum wage. Hey, then businesses could pay women, like, 50 cents an hour. That's freedom for you!" ...

... CW: I hope readers don't pay too much attention to Schoenkopf & Clawson. They are just girls, they probably have PMS & they clearly have "issues." Let's hope they are not getting paid as much as the guys writing in the profitable bloggersphere. Besides, it's a disgrace those feminazis are not home making meatloaf, mashed potatoes & babies for their deserving hubbies. ...

... Update: Todd Akin distances himself from David Koresh. CW: see, Akin is way more liberal than you thought.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Washington Democrats ... moved into the Maine Senate race on Friday with a sizable advertising buy to attack the Republican seeking to succeed Senator Olympia J. Snowe.... The $410,000 ad buy came as the position of the front-runner, former Gov. Angus King, an independent, has seen some erosion. Washington Democrats ... have avoided supporting their own candidate, Cynthia Dill, a state senator, hoping that Mr. King would walk away with the race and ultimately side with Democrats in Washington."

Ian Lovett of the New York Times: California's new voting law pits Democrat against Democrat in an expensive Congressional race in the San Fernando Valley.

News Ledes

BBC: "The youngest prisoner to be held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre has been returned to his native Canada. Omar Khadr had been held at the US base in Cuba since 2002, after being detained in Afghanistan aged 15. A military plane flew Khadr, the last Westerner at Guantanamo, to Canada early on Saturday. He will serve the rest of his eight-year jail term in Canada. He pleaded guilty to killing a US soldier in Afghanistan."

Washington Post: "Yemen's leader said Saturday that he personally approves every U.S. drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda's gains. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also provided new details about the monitoring of counterterrorism missions from a joint operations center in Yemen that he said is staffed by military and intelligence personnel from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman."

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."

AP: "... the Supreme Court is embarking on a new term beginning Monday that could be as consequential as the last one, with the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights."

AP: "One Somali journalist was shot dead by gunmen on Friday while a second journalist was beheaded and his body dumped in the street, officials and residents said, two attacks that bring the number of Somali journalists killed this year to 15."

Reuters: "Authorities in Libya thwarted plans for a huge demonstration against militia in the capital Tripoli on Friday, while in Benghazi, scene of mass anti-militia protests last week, supporters of an ousted Islamist group returned to the streets. Activists had hoped that a planned demonstration in the capital would be as successful as a giant anti-militia protest held in Benghazi last week, but only about 400 protesters turned up on Friday after the country's mufti and mosque preachers warned people not to attend."

Reader Comments (7)

Re polling results from Maine. (Story posted 2 years ago: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/17/the-polling-business-a-close-look-at-rasmussen-reports/ ) A number of major news organizations like the New York Times will not cite Rasmussen's surveys because, unlike polls by Gallup, the Pew Research Center and those commissioned by the national newspapers and networks, which do live telephone interviews with respondents, Rasmussen uses what is known as IVR, for interactive voice response. This is an automated method where people who pick up the phone hear a recorded voice that asks them to give their responses to questions by punching a number on the keypad.

Checking comments on a recent & related story in the Portland Press-Herald suggests this is the polling method experienced by many Mainers. (Can such a poll have any legitimacy when it is likely based on, oh say 500 robo calls and probably 498 hang-ups?) Also, many said, even tho' they liked Dill, on election day they'd vote for Angus King vs. the fear & loathing of Charlie Summers; or as one commenter said: "... in other words, people who would prefer to not see Maine become a national laughingstock again a la 2010, when we put a man of questionable integrity and sub-standard intellect into a high public office. Yeah, probably best to avoid that. "

Interestingly, Jonathan Weisman's does not cite either of the two polls as background in his NY Times article—other then to say, "two recent polls"!

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@Marie: I don't think there is a "she said" side to the Nocera story. As someone who has been a faculty member (and faculty spouse) in a number of different kinds of colleges and universities, it has been painfully obvious since US News started doing the college rankings that not only are they completely spurious, but they induced a kind of noxious money-eating competition (or should we say Mutual Assured Destruction) among the colleges that jumped into the improve the ranking game. My wife taught at a small but distinguished college when it decided to join the rankings race. Faculty stars were promoted at the expense of real scholars. The college went in ruinous pursuit of the same students being recruited by Yale and Harvard. An obscenely expensive and never-ending "capital campaign" lumbered into gear. I don't like Nocera and his hobby horses any more than you do. But this time, I think he has it right.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

Let's connect some dots...

The unconventional mosaic of voting blocs the Romney campaign has been appealing to is quite clearly not going to outnumber the groups the 'modern' GOP has directly offended and/or berated.

Nearly every poll claims an increasing lead for Obama yet the Neo-Con wing is muddying the waters denouncing them as "fraudulent" liberal media propaganda ploys. Now even the VP hopeful is denouncing them, surely followed by a similar response from Romney. (Who wears the pants in that family?). Preparing the foundations for a surprising GOP win? (Well as you see here the polls said we we're winning in that state, didn't you see?)

Now we have mounting evidence of a DIRECT link to the GOP party and voter fraud. Knowing their cunning ways, Rove and his strategists will correct their revealing mistakes and return their patriotic practices back behind the curtains where they rightly belong. These accusations will therefore, unfortunately, be a non-issue unless a serious group of Very Important People take up the mantle and shine a national spotlight on these egregious activities.

I'm not holding my breath.

Illegal and immoral activities appear to be the only lifesaver for the GOP's sinking ship. Maybe that explains the apparent lack of funds for the Romney campaign's 'war' chest (BTW I just love our constant poetic military imagery use in our language, what explains this?). The Republican financiers might have finally given up on the democratic process and moved onto investing in more effective means of winning elections.

Get ready for many more YouTube videos of voter suppression and other clever technical tricks to systematically disenfranchise our fellow Americans.

This is the "war of all wars" people so we'd better take up our arms and battle 'til the last (wo)man standing. To the victors go the spoils, so let's not spoil our opportunity to give a decisive blow to the Neo-Con ideologues. All hands on deck!

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Could someone please explain why in the "The View" video from yesterday when Ann Coulter was holding court in her usual snarky monotone (I find this woman so obnoxious, so unappealing––her arrogance is astounding) and Whoopi asked Ann what she knew about being black, the video ended. Don't we want to know how Coulter responded? Would love to know the answer if anyone here heard it.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

This comment, which @Mushiba wrote yesterday, got stuck in my infernal spam machine. So here it is, a day late:

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).
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 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@PD Pepe

When I Googled “Ann Coulter and The View” I got:

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=17339061

I think this is what you are referring to. Coulter is just bat shit crazy. I listened to what she was saying and I just don't get it. She seems to be turning the registration of voters or the voting rights act on its head and saying that is what hurt blacks and Hispanics and/or saying the liberal democrats are what is causing the current problem. I kid you not. I did not understand what I first heard so I am sure my analysis s screwed up and frankly I do not want to spend my thoughtful energy trying to figure her out. She is one of the more disgusting talking heads I have ever witnessed. She is arrogant, egotistical, and to me anyway just vapid with her nonsensical blathers.

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrom-the-Heartland

@P. D. Pepe: what I assume is the entire appearance of Ann Coulter on "The View" this week is here. I got as far as the part where Whoopi challenges her -- thank goodness it's near the top -- and Coulter did attempt to answer. Then they got into a back-&-forth, which -- like @From-the-Heartland -- I couldn't stomach, so I didn't listen.

September 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader
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