The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

Washington Post: "Overwhelmed by thousands of asylum-seekers, Hungarian authorities Tuesday briefly halted rail traffic from their nation’s main train station, the latest blow to borderless movement in Europe.... The asylum-seekers, many of whom are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, hope to make it onward to Germany, which has promised shelter and sustenance for Syrians. By midday in Budapest, the train station had been reopened, but migrants were being kept away, Hungary’s state-owned news agency reported."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
September 2

2:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks on the importance of helping Americans go to college in Miami, Florida (audio only)

9:50 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Kotzebue School in Alaska

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

New York Times: "Bloomberg News laid off as many as 90 journalists on Tuesday[, Sept. 1,] in its newsrooms in New York, Washington and across the world, part of a plan to refocus the organization’s coverage on business, finance, economics, technology and politics. The rationale for the dismissals was outlined in a lengthy memo to the staff from Bloomberg’s new editor in chief, John Micklethwait."

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Tuesday
Sep042012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 5, 2012

Presidential Race

You can watch the Democratic convention without annoying commentary on C-SPAN (online here). The convention schedule -- according to C-SPAN -- is here.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "President Obama's plans to deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday evening at an outdoor stadium rally has been foiled by a forecast of rain and heavy thunderstorms, aides said Wednesday, forcing organizers to scramble and move the final night of the Democratic National Convention indoors."

... The New York Times' liveblog is here. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Democrats opened their convention here on Tuesday night with two simple messages for voters: Mitt Romney does not get it, and President Obama does." Here's Amy Gardner's story for the Washington Post. ...

Here's Michelle Obama's full speech:

... E. J. Dionne on the First Lady's speech: "A speech that was thoroughly apolitical on the surface carried multiple political messages, linking a very traditional message about parenting with a call for social justice." ...

Click on photo for larger image.

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "Michelle Obama thoroughly bested Ann Romney’s attempts to connect with voters.... The First Lady ... connected [personal] stories to Obama's policies. Alongside more dependable applause lines such as lowering taxes on the middle class, the first lady explicitly included more divisive issues such as the Affordable Care Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, gay marriage, contraception, and even a defense of the president's economic record. And she connected the personal tales to a succinct, eloquent summary of the Democratic Party's central idea in this election." ...

... Eric Wilson of the New York Times on The Dress: "While the dress Mrs. Obama wore has not yet been produced, very similar styles from [Tracy] Reese, [an African-American self-made businesswoman,] cost $395 to $450.... Mrs. Obama's pink pumps were from J. Crew. Mrs. Romney's dress [by Oscar de la Renta] cost $1,990." CW: oops, excuse me; I commented at the time of Mrs. Romney's speech that I thought her dress looked like a glitzy version of a '50s housedress. Turns out it was a designer housedress.

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post has some quick notes on San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. ...

... Here's a long profile of Castro by Zev Chafets for the New York Times. ...

Here's Castro's speech:

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Democrats honored one of their liberal lions, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and used him to tweak Mitt Romney, who challenged him unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994. In a video tribute, Mr. Kennedy was shown debating Mr. Romney over abortion rights during that campaign." Here's the Kennedy tribute, complete with Sen. Kennedy's excellent putdowns of Romney:

Haim Saban, an Israeli-American & CEO of Univision, in a New York Times op-ed: "Even though he could have done a better job highlighting his friendship for Israel, there's no denying that by every tangible measure, [President Obama's] support for Israel's security and well-being has been rock solid. Mitt Romney claims Mr. Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus,' but in fact the president has taken concrete steps to make Israel more secure -- a commitment he has described as 'not negotiable.'"

Dorian De Wind, a self-proclaimed moderate veteran, compares the conventions, so far. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Maureen Dowd does her usual schtick about Barry & Bill, President Now & Past.

She doesn't have to say anything. You can tell by the look in her eyes. -- A Friend or Relative of Charles Pierce, explaining how he knows Michelle Obama is a racist. Read Pierce's post of Obama's speech.

Charles Pierce on "What Democrats Should be Talking about at the DNC": "... the Republican Party has gone full Tenther. Now a lot of it is couched in arguments against the tyranny of EPA regulations and the jackboots of the individual health-care mandate, but there is no question that the driving force of this theory of government is resistance to full African-American citizenship just the way it was in 1860, in 1879, in 1957, and in 1965." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Actually, this is what we all should be talking about.

I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama's butt. -- Haley Barbour, former RNC Chair, former governor of Mississippi

So, it is okay to propose "legitimate" rape of a black president with a torture device. See Charles Pierce's remarks above. P.S. If only Barbour could keep his racist sentiments to the "look in his eyes," the way Michelle Obama does. -- Constant Weader

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Oh, God. I can already feel the viral emails hitting a million inboxes on this one: Christian Right journalist David Brody seems to have done a word-search of the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions and found that a reference to the Almighty was taken out of the former in the latter." The passage in the 2008 platform described "God-given potential. "Some secular-socialist crept in and removed God from the Democratic Platform! ... Brody does not note that the platform has a whole section on 'faith' ..." CW: and Brody calls his brilliant observation an "exclusive." What exactly is "exclusive" about reading a public document?

I guess the main observation I would make is that (Romney) was a lot more interested in having the job than in doing the job. We were forty-seventh in the nation in job-creation. Real wages were declining. Our roads and bridges were crumbling. We had a structural deficit that he left behind. Business taxes went up. He did one profoundly important thing -- really profoundly important, and I say that sincerely -- and that's health-care reform, and he makes no mention of that. I can't understand that as anything but some kind of political calculation. The presentation he's making right now is that he was Mr. Fix-it, and I'm telling you, he didn't fix much. People ask me all the time what is the real Mitt Romney? Is he a conservative? Is he a moderate? Is he a pragmatist? I think he's an opportunist. I think he does and says things he needs to do and say to win elections and to appeal to the people in front of him. -- Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), Mitt Romney's successor

** Shushannah Walshe of ABC News fact-checks Paul Ryan's latest: a "comparison" between Presidents Obama & Carter. You will be shocked, shocked, to read that the chairman of the House budget committee can't do simple arithmetic & he leaves out essential facts. Huh. Maybe he's just a liar.

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Paul Ryan's defense against charges of lying is that he's a weasel.... The big point is that in 2008, Mitt Romney, the number one to Ryan's number two, called for a plan that would have closed not just the Janesville plant but General Motors itself. That's the real thing that Ryan is desperately trying to get voters to forget even as the auto industry continues to rebound strongly." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: yo, media, Paul Ryan has been lying all along: "The bit where he sadly shakes his head and blames President Obama for the failure of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that Ryan killed himself has been a staple of the Ryan shtick for two years. Reporters usually bat their eyes and coo sympathetically. Now it has become evidence of his duplicity.... Ryan ... has always resided in a counter-factual universe.... Facts taken for granted by mainstream economists have never penetrated his brain."

I remember a convention speech -- I was a pretty young guy at the time but I remember a convention speech. Remember Ronald Reagan talking about Jimmy Carter, are you better off now than you were four years ago? -- Paul Ryan, speaking in Ohio Tuesday

Reagan didn't use the line until just before the election during his only presidential debate with Carter. -- Shawna Shepherd, CNN

AND. If you're a marathon runner & you'd like to be a World Class Marathon Runner, use this handy Paul Ryan Time Calculator. Wow! You're a Phenom!

Congressional Races

Monica Potts of American Prospect on the flailing senatorial candidacy of Elizabeth Warren: "Massachusetts Democrats had assumed that a strong candidate like Warren would snatch the seat from Brown with ease -- that he was a fluke.... Maybe their expectations were so high because it hadn't occurred to them that someone as smart and accomplished as Warren still had something to learn." CW: part of Warren's problem is her staff. I had some interaction with her campaign manager shortly after Warren announced her candidacy. I was not favorably impressed. At all.

Other Opinion Topics

Prof. Paul Campos in Salon: "In America today, crime pays, at least if you're high up enough in the social hierarchy to take advantage of the fact that we're increasingly willing to accept that laws are for little people."

Haley Barbour talks about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program, ca. 2010:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Bob Denver, whose television roles as Gilligan, the wacky first mate in 'Gilligan's Island,' and Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik with a bongo in 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,' were first hits, then cult classics, died on Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 70."

New York Times: "... scientists have discovered ... the human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as 'junk' but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches."

AP: "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Arizona authorities can enforce the most contentious section of the state's immigration law, which critics have dubbed the 'show me your papers' provision."

New York Times: "The United States and China clashed openly on Wednesday over two of the most contentious issues riling their relationship, the violence in Syria and growing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea." ...

... Washington Post: "Japan's central government has agreed to buy a group of uninhabited islands that are also claimed by China and Taiwan, Japanese media reported Wednesday, potentially increasing regional tension over the simmering territorial dispute."

Washington Post: "Afghanistan's military said Wednesday that it has arrested or expelled from its ranks hundreds of soldiers, part of a major effort to stop the growing number of fatal attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by their Afghan partners. This year, the strikes -- known as 'insider attacks' -- have killed at least 45 troops, the vast majority of them Americans."

New York Times: "Iran has resumed shipping military equipment to Syria over Iraqi airspace in a new effort to bolster the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to senior American officials."

Washington Post: "The Chinese government has charged Wang Lijun, a former provincial police chief who became embroiled in China's biggest political scandal in decades, with taking bribes, defecting and abusing his power, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Wang set in motion a perplexing political saga in February when he fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu and reportedly told U.S. officials that the wife of his powerful boss, Bo Xilai, had murdered a British businessman."

Reader Comments (29)

Re: flailing candidacy of Elizabeth Warren

As a volunteer for the EW campaign, I have heard similar mutterings about her staff from local organizers. To me it's frustrating because I really believe she may be a good senator. I also have learned that women have an especially difficult time being elected in MA. Let's hope she can win in spite of her gender and staff!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

The Charles Pierce piece is mind boggling. It sounds like the ghost of Jefferson Davis wrote the Republican platform.
Wow.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

One has to wonder why the DSCC hasn't stepped in before now to rescue the Warren campaign. It was obvious it would be in trouble when it signed on to all those stupid chastity-belt rules re fundraising. You can't fight fair with people who don't know what "fight fair" means.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

From the Pigs Never Sleep Dept.

I just heard a wonderful speech by Deval Patrick who took up for all the families, children, parents who are being cast on the dung heap by Republicans simply because they had the temerity to be born black or poor or without access to the hoity toity schools frequented by the Romneys of the world.

A wonderful speech, really.

Cut to David (Bobo the Pig Boy) Brooks who sniffed that the only thing worth talking about was money, the economy, and Patrick had failed in that regard, giving a speech that was unconscionably partisan.

You see, in Right Wing World, it is never okay to call a pig a pig. Descriptions of the horrors wrought on this country and the world by Republican policies cannot be called by their proper name. We must all be polite when referring to such things and NEVER be partisan.

Harsh criticism and partisanship is reserved for Republicans.

And pig people like Brooks.

By the way, loved Patrick's take on Romney who left the state much worse off than when he came. Mr. Fix-it indeed. Mr. Fix-it for me and my friends to get rich is more like it.

Fucker.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Just watched Julian Castro's key note on C-Span (thanks for the link, Marie). The kid's good. He ought to get into politics.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Julian Castro beats Chris Christie HANDS DOWN!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Victoria D. & @James Singer: I'm sure Castro is a young man with ambition, but -- unlike Christie -- he knew what a keynote speaker was supposed to do -- promote the ticket, not himself. He used his own family's remarkable story to illustrate Democratic ideals. It was an excellent speech.

I've watched most of the speeches tonight, & most were very good -- and the speakers knew their jobs; I'm not sure anybody wore "Vote for Me in 2012" on her/his sleeve.

Michelle Obama's speech was predictably saccharine, but she's a helluva better speaker than Lady Romney.

Marie

September 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

And Michelle was a wowser.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

What really pisses me off is the churlish tone of the Times's coverage. The whole outfit is taking on Maureen's Dowd's snarky idiocy. Leave it to a Republican (Michael Steele) to give the best summary of what happened in Charlotte last night: "The Democrats found their mojo!"

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalyban

The Charles Pierce piece is totally correct but it doesn't go far enough.
Yes the Republican Party is the new Confederate Party but the reason is that half of America is still racist. We thought that the Civil War ended in 1965 (not an error). We are wrong. It is still a major piece of this country. The idea that you can trust a person who has the same genes as a slave is Americas wonderful excuse for not accepting personal responsibility. Yes there are the outright racists (have you ever noticed the 'quality' of white supremacists).
But half of America are the other form. They don't say the n-word, but they believe it.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Haley Barbour - isn't he the guy who thought 1950's Citizens' Councils in Mississippi were sort of like the JayCees or the Knights of Columbus, you know, just a community service organization?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Citizens'_Council

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Re: What the Gov. said. Take god out, take abortion out, take taxes out, take education out and what do you have left? The issue is that Mitt Romney is an opportunist. We get so caught up in our own beliefs and expectations we forget there is a certain type of individual that has no beliefs except self-advancement. Gov. Patrick points this out very clearly. His message should be sent to every voter in America.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Calyban,
I haven't read the Times coverage, and intentionally skipped MoDo's current opus....she loses me the minute she refers to the POTUS as Barry. She might as well call him " boy."
As for idiocy, read DoubtIt's piece criticizing Democrat's so called identity politics. We're such racists.
Maybe the Times writers were watching a different convention.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Victoria and Calyban,

Full agreement on Dowd. If you want to be a snarky smartass, save it for the water cooler or drinks after work with your equally smarmy friends. Marie's right. This stuff is schtik which is fine if you're a comedian. But there's yet another problem with that. Harpo Marx had a schtik, but his was funny.

Dowd's is insulting and sad. A terrible waste of space at a prestigious address.

We won't even talk about Doucheboy. He wasn't watching a different convention; he inhabits a different universe.

All in all, a fine start to the Convention of People Who Look and Sound Like Real Americans.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So, I relented and skimmed over Dowd's piece.what is remarkable is the degree to which she imputed thoughts and emotions to her character, Barry. Here's an indicative passage:
"o of faux sincerity.
Obama doesn’t like to share the stage with other politicians or even campaign for House Democrats. He thinks of himself as a singular force, a unique brand, and his narrative has always begun and ended with him. He thinks he did build it himself. But now — because of his own naïveté, insularity and arrogance — he needs Clinton to rev up the disillusioned faithful and donors and lure independents and white working-class men."

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Victoria,

Imputing motives and thought processes from empirical evidence is a tricky business the result of which often produces a much clearer picture of the writer than the subject.

Dowd seems to want to ascribe a sense of superiority and smugness to the president. Now that may or may not be the case. From what I've read from those close to him, he's simply not much of a schmoozer or glad-hander. I realize those things come with the territory, but not being blessed with those particular qualities in abundance is far less terrible than missing essential things like empathy, humanity, and competency.

My sense is that Dowd may have been blown off by Obama for a one on one personal, chit-chatty interview at some point, and she now displays her pique in a state of mid-level dudgeon.

Poor Maureen. When she claims that Obama thinks it's all about him, my feeling is that her outrage stems from the fact that it's really all about her.

At least that's what it looks like (am I imputing motives? I guess so. But at least I'm clear that it's my personal guess about what's going on based on reading her stuff for many years; I'm not suggesting, as she does, that guesses should be substituted for truth or a more accurate accounting of the process).

Dowd has demonstrated a fine ability as a writer--now and then. It's just that too often her stuff devolves into not much more than high-falutin' gossip, innuendo, and vaguely supported assumptions, all cloaked in her special brand of snark.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And good morning to you all. Though I missed much of it, the bits of the Democratic convention I heard were far more satisfying and uplifting than the belligerent boobery that Tampa tried to sell to the nation last week. Some humor and real people saying some real things about the state of our polity. Hope the masses were listening.

As for the recycled "Are we better off...?" query, only a real dummy or someone born in the last two and a half years could even ask the question.

Before I went to bed last night, took a few minutes to take Douthat to task, never much of an effort.

"Please note, Mr. Douthat, that the Democrats' "Identity" constituencies are minorities of one kind or another: minorities of color, sexual orientation, or some other combination of traits that leave them relatively powerless in a social order still largely controlled by white wealth. While it is true that the Right's strategy of peeling off white voters given to racism, fear or resentment has had its successes, that does not mean that the Democrats would be better off pretending that we are all one big, happy homogeneous family when we assuredly are not...and are becoming less so every day.

In the last century, the Democrats achieved power by bringing together a coalition of the well-educated and the well-meaning with the downtrodden, often using blue collar (but still mostly white) union workers as their ground troops. With the decline of unions, that option is no longer as effective. As the only party whose policies demonstrate it cares about ALL citizens, not just the white, the wealthy or privileged, Democrats must find their support where they can get it and if they have to recognize differences where they obviously exist, all that means is that once again Democrats are acknowledging messy reality, while the other party continues its policies of pretence: their reality is still embedded in a 1950's narrative that never happened...and never will.

Note further the Republicans can pretend the nation is homogeneous because they darn near are. I'd suggest a column about Republican exclusion. That would be fun."

But it will never happen. I dream of the day when at least one pundit will view the political world from an objective perch, not from an avowedly left or right perspective. But considering the phantasmagoric abyss into which the Right has fallen, I guess that would be hard to do. The Right has drifted so far into dreamland, objectivity and liberal have become synonymous.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I believe the Haley Barbour remark is an old south slavery reference as in branding. That was my instant take on it and I see others are interpreting it the same way. I'm so sure I'd bet money on it.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

I should have added to my comment above that it may have been a Freudian slip. Or have they really sunk so low as to purposely use allusions to slavery.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

@ Tommy Bones: whether an "accident" or purposeful, Haley Barbour -- as @Patrick pointed out, a White Citizens' Council kinda guy -- thinks it's A-okay to make allusions to branding slaves & apply them to the POTUS. I think Barbour presumes it is impossible for a white person to be disrespectful to a black person. Any type of language, no matter how vile, is acceptable, and nothing -- even being POTUS -- gives a black person immunity from the worst sort of slurs.

I've posted a video of Barbour, when he was governor, waxing eloquent about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program. Is this the bad Haley v. the good Haley, or was Haley all the while looking for the racism in Michelle Obama's eyes?

The next time the South decides to secede, can we please let it go? I'll be happy to move back north of the Mason-Dixon line, waving ta-ta as I drive up I-95.

Marie

September 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Jon Stewart interviewed Tom Brokaw Tuesday night and asked him the question: "When did fact checking and journalism go their separate ways?" The essence of Brokaw's response was that during Ryan's speech at the RNC, the NBC staff was doing all kinds of fact checking and that Chuck Todd (who aspires to be Tim Russert and could never be in this lifetime), came on the air with 'facts' saying that it appeared that Ryan overreached ~ at which point, Stewart interrupted and said, "overreach is just another word for LIE," which stopped Brokaw in his tracks.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Regarding Haley Barbour's oh so humorous comment about how he'd would have loved for Chunky Christie to assault the president with a branding iron or hot poker or whatever was in his teeny little racist brain, I'd have to agree with Marvin's assessment that the Civil War is not over in many parts of the country. I recently had the opportunity to drive clear across the state of Alabama (from the Gulf up to the Tennessee border) and I couldn't begin to count the number of Confederate flags I saw. And this was on an interstate! A few of these things were huge. I would have taken a Katrina sized blow to get them flapping. No matter. The message is clear. "We have never surrendered and we never will. No black man will ever be MY president." Before he was even elected people were screaming "Kill him!" at Republican rallies, one of which was attended by Sarah Palin who had nothing to say about such a demand. Numerous death threats, nearly all emanating from southern or western based white supremacists for whom the Civil War has never ended either.

Slimy racists like Barbour have always existed. It's one of the great hopes of America that appeals to the darkest impulses of the vast majority of its citizens will, at least vocally, decry racism as terrible thing, but as Marvin notes, too many are ready to go that route when egged on by immoral race baiters like Barbour, like Beck, and even assholes like Romney who may not be a KKK grand dragon but has no problem tossing out racially tainted bon mots as long he believes that appealing to racists could get him elected.

Maybe Barbour should have the stars and bars branded onto his fat ass and see what it feels like.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The South is still fighting the war ~ the confederate flag continues to wave proudly in that land that time forgot. When Perry was ranting about seceding at the beginning of the Pig Roast (love this reference, Akhilleus) earlier this year, I felt as you do, Marie ~ let them, please, let them. In the Republican Party, their blue suits just cover their white sheets (heard or read this statement somewhere a few weeks ago).

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

@Winkes: Let's make that "With the <engineered> decline of unions, that option is no longer as effective."

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne-Wisconsin

Lynne-Wisconsin: my thought exactly. The takedown of unions was, and is, a purposeful strategy of Republicans, mostly aimed at weakening the organizational GOTV aspects of the Democrats. Secondarily it keeps wages suppressed which benefits the Kochs of the world.
Now that they have neutralized unions, they play the race card by accusing Dems of identity politics.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Excellent post by Tom Junod on esquire.com, on the politics page. Look for the piece about line cutting. It's slow starting (but very entertaining) so hang in there. He has a great point and he makes it in grand fashion. If you've ever stood in line to board a plane while Romney and Ryan types waltz up, flash a magic "I'm more impotent than these schmoes' card and are seated like royalty while you and your kids and elderly mother stand on line for another half hour, you'll appreciate Junod's take on the two Americas and why we need to understand what's at stake in November.

A good piece of writing.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Lynn and Victoria: Agreed. Wholly. That's why I will be out again this afternoon erecting 4 x8 foot pro-union signs along I-5, one side of which shouts, "Stop the war on workers." American workers have been getting the shaft for at least thirty years. I only hope they're (outside of Wisconsin) beginning to notice it. That our sign-erecting party consists of a retired female operating engineer, a retired longshoreman and a retired school administrator tells me, though, that the rank and file unions members (over thirty percent of some construction trade members continue to vote for Repugnants), let alone those who do not belong to unions, remain oblivious to what has been happening to them

And aside from the domestic war on workers, our international trade agreements are primarily a very successful international war on workers. A huge problem that I would comment on at greater length if I didn't have to rush off to meet the seventy year old longshoreman.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Last night after the convention coverage, I happened to catch a program titled, "Wal-Mart in America," or something thereabouts. I could only stomach about 15 minutes of it, but during that time, I heard former Wal-Mart mid-level and higher managers/trainers tell that they were instructed to tell their employees how to apply for Medicaid and other social safety programs. It was incredible to listen to these people tell their stories. Something was said about Wal-Mart's conscious effort to shuffle employee benefits off to the government programs available to help them rather than cut into corporate profits to pay decent wages and provide benefits. I had to change the channel when a number so large I had to count the zeros to grasp it popped up on the screen--$1,557,000,000--followed by the words that this is what it costs taxpayers to cover Wal-Mart employees because Wal-Mart won't.

I WILL NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM WAL-MART AGAIN.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

@Jacquelyn, I have been boycotting Wal-Mart for many, many years. If you want to know more about the global boycott, check out this website:
http://www.1worldcommunication.org/Walmart.htm

Nestles is another corporation I have been boycotting since 1977. If you are interested, this is the website to see: http://info.babymilkaction.org/nestlefree

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba
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