The Ledes

Friday, August 29, 2014.

Washington Post: "Russian President Vladimir Putin called on pro-Russian separatists to release trapped Ukrainian soldiers Friday, one day after Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into the southeastern part of the country in earnest, according to the Ukrainian government.... The Russian leader did not answer accusations from both the Ukrainian government and the West about Russia’s military presence in southeastern Ukraine. He praised the separatists instead....”

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Washington Post: "At least four hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, including an American journalist who was recently executed by the group, were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity, according to people familiar with the treatment of the kidnapped Westerners."

New York Times: "Declaring that Russian troops had crossed into Ukraine, President Petro O. Poroshenko on Thursday canceled a planned visit to Turkey and convened a meeting of the national security council to focus on the 'marked aggravation of the situation' in the southeast of his country.The meeting of the national security council will focus on shaping a response, and Ukraine will also request a meeting of the United Nations Security Council." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Supported by NATO satellite imagery showing Russian forces on the move in eastern Ukraine, its president accused Russia on Thursday of an invasion to aid the separatists, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription to help counter what he called an 'extremely difficult' threat."

Time: "In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a 'much bigger problem than anyone anticipated.' ... But Frieden says ... Ebola can be stopped.” ...

... New York Times: "As the tally of deaths from the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus continued its seemingly inexorable rise, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people — almost seven times the current number of reported cases — before it could be brought under control."

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 29

11:30 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

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.:

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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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