The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Sunday
Apr292012

The Commentariat -- April 30, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Jonathan Weisman's New York Times puff piece on Paul Ryan. The NYT front page is here.

Thanks to everyone for your brilliant comments over the past week. I'm sorry I haven't had time to participate, but I have been reading & appreciating them. -- Constant Weader

Paul Krugman: "... there;s also a war on the young, which is just as real even if it's better disguised. And it's doing immense harm, not just to the young, but to the nation’s future.... What should we do to help America's young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want."

I'm going to go ahead & post the whole ABC News "This Week" roundtable (I posted a clip yesterday), because it was so bad. After taping it, Krugman wrote a post titled "We're Doomed." He's right:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

... Following up on a point Krugman made when appearing on "This Week" (and elsewhere), Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post writes a well-balanced report: "As the economic recovery has struggled to pick up speed, one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been job losses in state and local governments, which have been on the rise for much of President Obama's term. Early on, Obama fought for aid that saved hundreds of thousands of these jobs, economists say. Yet a year later, when his economic advisers said another large round of aid was critical for the health of the economy, Obama declined to make it a key part of his agenda.... Today..., the heavy job losses at the state and local level remain a significant economic concern. His response at different moments underscores how the president has sometimes fought hard against the political odds for policies he thinks crucial and at other times relented when the chances of success seemed low."

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times reviews Robert Caro's 4th book on President Lyndon Johnson, Passage to Power. A photo gallery depicting Caro's "painstaking process."

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Any shred of hope for a BSkyB takeover [by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.] in the near future appeared to have been dashed last week after e-mails surfaced suggesting that a News Corporation lobbyist and a British culture minister had conspired to get the deal approved.... The events in Britain and the resulting scrutiny have begun to take a toll on the broader empire...."

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Six months after President Obama ordered 100 elite troops to help capture the messianic warlord Joseph Kony, U.S. military commanders said Sunday that they have been unable to pick up his trail but believe he is hiding in this country's dense jungle, relying on Stone Age tactics to dodge his pursuers’ high-tech surveillance tools."

CW: I haven't yet read this takedown of Paul Ryan by Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, but I'm working on it.

Presidential Race

A Web video produced by the Obama campaign:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Field workers for President Obama's campaign fanned out across the country over the weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign's hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election."

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "Two well-funded Republican groups began running hard-hitting ads against President Obama last week, aiming to spend an estimated $8 million in key battleground states. The spots hit similar themes, attacking Obama on green-energy investments, and even cite similar sources.... Many of their claims -- regarding 'billions' of stimulus dollars going overseas -- had been debunked two years ago by our colleagues at PolitiFact and Factcheck.org. Yet here the erroneous assertions emerge yet again, without any shame, labeled as 'the truth' or 'fact.'"

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker on Obama's White House Correspondents Dinner performance: "I spoke to a Republican operative who is a veteran of Presidential campaigns. He worried out loud that 'Romney could never do a night like this.'"

News Ledes

NBC News: "A federal judge on Monday blocked a Texas rule that would have excluded Planned Parenthood from participating in the state's women's health program. In a win for Planned Parenthood, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Monday there was sufficient evidence the state rule barring Planned Parenthood is unconstitutional. He imposed a temporary injunction against enforcing it until he can hear full arguments."

Guardian: "James Murdoch will be criticised by MPs investigating phone hacking on Tuesday, but their assessment of his conduct is expected to fall just short of accusing the former chairman of News International of misleading parliament about the extent of his knowledge of the affair."

The Hill: "The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously tossed out a proposed 'personhood' amendment Monday.... The personhood movement supports amending state constitutions to say that life begins at the moment of fertilization -- a definition that would likely impede women's access to contraception and in vitro fertilization."

Washington Post: "The Obama administration formally acknowledged for the first time Monday its use of drone strikes against terrorism suspects, lifting but not removing the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the nation's expanding use of targeted killing operations overseas. Saying President Obama had instructed aides to be more open about the controversial issue, White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan offered the most extensive outline yet of a clandestine program that officials had for years refused to discuss -- even as evidence of its lethal toll mounted in such countries as Yemen and Pakistan."

Raleigh News & Observer: "The wife of John Edwards’ former aide Andrew Young testified Monday that Edwards knew of the checks coming from his wealthy supporters and gave assurances that it would not violate campaign funding laws for her to deposit the money in the personal account she shared with her husband."

New York Times: "President Obama on Monday gently prodded China to improve its human-rights record but pointedly declined to discuss the case of a prominent Chinese lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, now said to be under American protection in Beijing. His remarks highlighted the delicacy of an unfolding diplomatic dispute that analysts say may prove fiendishly difficult to resolve."

New York Times: "The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Monday night that the international talks on the Iranian nuclear program do 'not fill me with confidence,' reiterating his hard-line position about all options -- including an independent Israeli attack -- remaining on the table, despite mounting criticism from the security establishment here and a growing sense abroad that a diplomatic solution may be possible."

Guardian: "Documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago show a close working relationship between top al-Qaida leaders and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban, including frequent discussions of joint operations against Nato forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and targets in Pakistan."

New York Times: "Benzion Netanyahu, the father of the two-time Israeli prime minister Benjamin, who fought for the creation of the Jewish state by lobbying in the United States and went on to write an influential history gof the Spanish inquisition, died on Monday. He was 102."

Saturday
Apr282012

The Commentariat -- April 29, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Douthat's hand-wringing over Japanese demographics.

Paul Krugman on ABC New's "This Week" speaks about Fed Chair Ben Bernanke That jer at the end there is David Walker, one of the guys Tom Friedman thinks should be President:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

     ... You can watch more ideologues explaining economics to Krugman here.

President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night:

     ... CW: For the third year running, I thought Obama was funnier than the professional comedian.

** Edgar Doctorow in a New York Times op-ed on how "to achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world." Highly recommended.

Martin Amis, in a New York Times essay, remembers his stays in the U.S. in 1958 & 1967.

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government's long-term fiscal performance.... Experts said not to discount the accountable-care revolution just because it remained small or because the changes implemented by the Obama health care law had not come into full effect yet."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The emerging picture [of Al Qaeda] is of a network that is crumpled at its core, apparently incapable of an attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, yet poised to survive its founder’s demise."

Peter Bergen, in a New York Times op-ed: "Despite countervailing evidence, most conservatives view the president as some kind of peacenik. From both the right and left, there has been a continuing, dramatic cognitive disconnect between Mr. Obama’s record and the public perception of his leadership: despite his demonstrated willingness to use force, neither side regards him as the warrior president he is."

Greedy Bastards. Charles Duhigg & David Kocieniewski of the New York Times on how Apple avoids billions in taxes.

You can listen to oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Arizona v. the United States here. (The audio widget is on the right side of the screen.)

The Presidential Race

** Rick Perlstein of Rolling Stone on how "the ecology of right-wing smears works: Insane horror stories – Clinton is running cocaine out of an Arkansas airport! Barack Obama had gay sex in the back of a limo! -- bubble up from the collective conservative Id at the outset of an election year; professional conservatives in Washington identify the ones that seem most promising and launder them through the suckers in the 'balance'-hungry mainstream media; and presto, before you know it, it's death-panel-palooza, 24/7." Perlstein posits that Obama will be accused this year of trying to establish a state religion in violation of the First Amendment. The religion? Secular Humanism! Want proof? The groundwork is laid, & Mitt Romney is already traveling down the road.

Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: Oh, Romney is a fun guy, too. (See Obama above, at Washington Correspondents Dinner.) Romney makes jokes about firing people. Ha ha and ha. CW: This story about Romney's funny side is, not surprisingly, really short.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post bids farewell to Newt.

Right Wing World

Thomas Mann & Norm Ornstein in a Washington Post op-ed: "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional.... Today ... we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

Vatican Ragout

Maureen Dowd: "It has become a habit for the church to go after women.... Church leaders behave like adolescent boys, blinded by sex. That’s the problem with inquisitors and censors: They become fascinated by what they deplore." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus's life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it's the nun hands down. Since the papal crackdown on nuns, they have received an outpouring of support." ...

... Funny, no word from Ross Douthat on the Vatican's inquisition of American nuns.

Sarah Garfinkel of the Peoria Journal-Star: "Some faculty members at the University of Notre Dame are calling on Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky to renounce statements he made during a controversial April 14 homily or resign from the school's Board of Fellows. More than 90 faculty members have so far signed the letter, which was released Monday to the Notre Dame student newspaper, according to John Duffy, an English professor at the university. Jenky, during his homily, analogized the political actions of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to those of President Obama." Via Steve Benen.

Vatican Rag

Your Sunday Sermon

The Gospel According to Saint Paul. The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. The overarching threat to our whole society today is the exploding federal debt. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are ‘living at the expense of future generations’ and ‘living in untruth." -- Paul Ryan (RTP-Wisc.)

Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love. -- Letter to Ryan from a group of Jesuits & Georgetown University faculty

A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons. -- Letter to Ryan from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ...

... Holy Shit! Now the Pope is an economist. Poor Krugman! Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "A small handful of Catholic social justice activists descended on Georgetown University's gothic campus to protest Ryan's speech there this morning, unfurling a 50-foot sign that read, 'Were you there when they crucified the poor?' Organized by Catholics United, a left-leaning advocacy group, members argued that Ryan's proposed cuts to Medicaid and other welfare programs for the poor go against the teachings of the Church to uplift the poor and downtrodden." ...

... Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: "During the Q&A session that followed, where Ryan fielded questions submitted by students, he insisted that welfare reform had brought down child poverty rates. The claim is false, especially in Ryan's home state. According to the most recent data, the child poverty rate in Wisconsin jumped 42 percent between 2000 and 2010. The suffering would have been more significant but for the large increases in federal food assistance that Ryan wants to scale back. Welfare reform is more likely a contributing factor to child poverty, not a solution to it, making it a dubious model for for combating poverty 'at its roots,' as Ryan said he wants to do." ...

... Dana Milbank: "The moderator asked [Ryan] about 'the moral dimension' of a budget that gives tax cuts to the wealthy and cuts spending for the poor. Ryan’s answer included the phrase 'subchapter S corporations.' ... If government does too much for the poor, 'you make it harder' for churches and charities to do that work. It was a bold economic — and theological — proposition. Even Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Ryan would rather give the rich a tax cut."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Obama administration scrambled on Sunday to contain a growing diplomatic crisis between the United States and China, sending a senior diplomat to Beijing to discuss the fate of a blind dissident who fled house arrest last week."

New York Times: "If the winds are forgiving enough over Lower Manhattan -- up where workers can see the whole outline of the island's tip -- a steel column will be hoisted into place Monday afternoon atop the exoskeleton of 1 World Trade Center and New York will have a new tallest building."

New York Times: "President Obamapoked fun at himself, Congress, the Secret Service, the media and particularly his rival Mitt Romney on Saturday night, mocking his Republican opponent as a fuddy-duddy rich guy who travels with his dog in a cage strapped to the roof of the family car." Full video above.

New York Times: "Google's harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report."

Guardian: "Concern is growing for relatives and supporters of Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who fled from 19 months of house arrest in a Chinese village in Shandong province and is said to be sheltering inside the American embassy in Beijing. Police have detained four family members and two of those who aided his escape, a rights group said."

New York Times: "Egypt's most conservative Islamists endorsed a liberal Islamist for president late Saturday night, upending the political landscape and confounding expectations about the internal dynamics of the Islamist movement. The main missionary and political groups of the ultraconservatives, known as Salafis, threw their support behind Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a dissident former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood known for his tolerant and inclusive view of Islamic law."

Guardian: Prime Minister "David Cameron has insisted there was 'no grand deal' with Rupert Murdoch over the BSkyB bid in exchange for support for his party....The prime minister indicated he regretted attending a Christmas party at the Oxfordshire home of the then News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, in December 2010, and admitted discussing matters with James Murdoch, but insisted it did not involve 'any inappropriate conversations'."

Al Jazeera: "The Co-Operative Group, a British supermarket chain, is extending a boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements and will now shun any supplier known to source from these areas, a statement has said."

Friday
Apr272012

The Commentariat -- April 28, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Gail Collins just nicks the tip of the iceberg on the privitization of education, but it's enough to infuriate me. If you want to talk war on everything, the war on public education is perhaps the most scandalous, because it is, to borrow a phrase from Obama, winning our future. That is to say, our future is losing. CW: BTW, it may be coincidental, but ever since I wrote a column (which nobody liked) in the NYTX criticizing Collins for wasting her NYT real estate on frivolous stuff, Collins has written mostly substantive columns.

Kevin Drum: "Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that, but a couple of recent data points suggest the answer is yes." This is an interesting post in that Drum cites studies that indicate both Medicare & Medicaid costs are actually holding steady or decreasing. This was news to me.

Paul Krugman: "Obama, far from presiding over a huge expansion of government the way the right claims, has in fact presided over unprecedented austerity, largely driven by cuts at the state and local level. And it’s therefore an amazing triumph of misinformation the way that lackluster economic performance has been interpreted as a failure of government spending." With a chart to prove it. ...

... Here's Krugman on NPR; includes summary of the interview.

How to Control the Narrative. Glenn Greenwald doesn't like it: "This is what the Obama administration does over and over. It’s a flagrant abuse of its secrecy powers. It uses anonymous leaks to selectively boast about what it does and thus shape media narratives and public understanding of its conduct (also called 'domestic propaganda'). But it then simultaneously insists that the whole matter is classified — Top Secret — when it comes time to be subjected to any form of legal accountability or have its assertions publicly tested."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to [Hillary] Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself." Naturally, there's a tit for tat.

CW: Sorry, forgot to post this yesterday. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 13 people, including Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison and John Paul Stevens, the White House announced Thursday." Post includes complete list of honorees.

Richard Ryan & William Ryan in the New York Times: "In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "After a week of public squabbling, both [Scott Brown & Elizabeth Warren] publicly released several years of tax returns earlier today, and it turns out their incomes aren't very different. According to the Boston Globe's report, Brown and his wife (a former television reporter at Boston's ABC affiliate) took in $510,856 in 2011. The total for Warren and her husband: $616,181. Their 2010 returns tell a similar story, with Brown reporting around $840,000 in income and Warren about $955,000. Those totals put each of them near the top of the income scale. There's a wider gulf in earlier years, before Brown's 2010 Senate victory, which he parlayed into a lucrative book deal."

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "On Capitol Hill, Democrats are aggressively pushing the case that Republicans are now waging a 'War on Women' on three legislative fronts. First, they are blasting House Republicans for their proposal to block changes to the Violence Against Women Act.... Second, they've cast the GOP proposal to lower student rates by taking money out of Obamacare's prevention fund as another 'assault on women.' ... [Third,] Senate Democrats are planning to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which 'would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference.' ..."

Meanwhile, in ...

... Right Wing World

The Presidential Race

We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, rich person with rich parents, like so many of us ...

Steve Benen chronicles Mitt's lies of the week; 15th in an extraordinary series.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: President Obama may use climate change to smoke out Willard Romney and his climate change denials turns; it could play well with upscale voters who think Romney is appealing.

Local News

Believe me, there is [sic.] a lot of good and hardworking people that work for the state. They are not the problem. The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it's hard. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine) ...

... Eric Russell of Bangor Daily News: LePage "offered no proof of corruption, no data to back his case that these managers don't work and he didn't identify a specific department. He did go on to talk about how most of these employees are not appointed by him and are protected through union contracts."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The latest high-level talks on ending a diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan ended in failure on Friday over Pakistani demands for an unconditional apology from the Obama administration for an airstrike. The White House, angered by the recent spectacular Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, refuses to apologize."

New York Times: "The recently retired chief of Israel's internal security agency said Friday night that he had 'no faith' in the ability of the current leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat, ratcheting up the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the defense and intelligence communities."

New Rules. New York Times: "... the Secret Service ... announced on Friday that it had tightened its rules for staff members traveling in foreign countries."

AFP: "A leading Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest last weekend is now under US 'protection' and Washington and Beijing are in talks over his status, an overseas rights group said Saturday. Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood, fled last Sunday with the help of his supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family."

New York Times: police chiefs from 250 American cities gathered in Washington this week to focus on disparities in gun violence among cities.

AP: "Calling it an 'oversight,' George Zimmerman's attorney said Friday the neighborhood watch volunteer did not disclose that a website had raised more than $200,000 for his defense, even though his family told the judge they would have trouble coming up with his bond.... Florida Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he wanted to know more about the money."

AFP: "A Ukrainian court adjourned until May 21 on Saturday the new tax evasion trial of the jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike, on account of her failing health. The unexpected decision came as Western concern mounted over the fate of the fiery opposition leader after she stretched her fast into a ninth day to protest an alleged beating at the hands of three prison guards."

Thursday
Apr262012

The Commentariat -- April 27, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' latest attempt to take down Paul Krugman. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...

... Driftglass has something to say about Brooks, too:

Mr. Brooks, in case you hadn't noticed, the government of the United States has been conducting a massive experiment for about the last 30 years. It's called 'Conservatism'. Maybe you've read about it? Its key features radical deregulating of everything, the mass rejection of science, running up staggering debt by throwing money at rich people, gutting our manufacturing base, shredding our social safety net, lying our way into some of the worst foreign policy decisions in our history, slandering, lying and impeaching opponents, voter suppression, mass-distributing firearms as if they were free sausage samples being handed out at the mall....

Paul Krugman: "... something has changed [in Europe] in the past few weeks. Several events — the collapse of the Dutch government over proposed austerity measures, the strong showing of the vaguely anti-austerity François Hollande in the first round of France’s presidential election, and an economic report showing that Britain is doing worse in the current slump than it did in the 1930s — seem to have finally broken through the wall of denial. Suddenly, everyone is admitting that austerity isn’t working."

NEW. Governing by Executive Order. Anne Gearan of the AP: At Ft. Stewart today, President Obama signed "an executive order mandating several new education protections for military service members. Though there is little the federal government can do to shut down diploma mills, the new protections would make it harder for post-secondary and technical schools to misrepresent themselves to military students.... Bills pending in Congress, largely backed by Democrats and unlikely to become law soon, would do many of the same things Obama was ordering Friday."

Thirty-one Republican Senators voted against reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (see yesterday's Ledes):

Robert Farzad of Business Week: we taxpayers still have a "special relationship" with A.I.G.; Treasury has effectively given them another bailout, according to Elizabeth Warren & is playing numbers tricks according to Neil Barofsky. And A.I.G. hasn't learned a thing -- its CEO can hardly wait to get back into risky business. ...

... Speaking of Elizabeth Warren -- Robert Rizzuto of The (Massuchusetts) Republican: "With Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown set to release six years of tax returns sometime today, the Massachusetts Democratic Party released a new video this morning portraying him as 'a millionaire under that $675 barn jacket" (via Greg Sargent):

The Presidential Race

** New York Times editors: "Mitt Romney has made [Robert] Bork a chairman of his Justice Advisory Committee. As with other Republicans leaders, Mr. Bork's central position in Mr. Romney's legal team says a great deal about the presumptive presidential nominee's approach to the law, none of it good."

E. J. Dionne: "Mitt Romney ... has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve. He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney's campaign.... This is Romney’s true radicalism."

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: no matter how "moderate" Gov. Etch-a-Sketch becomes on immigration, he won't be able to top McCain 31% of the Hispanic vote because "Romney, like his party, is just too white.... Average Latino voters, men and women who work really hard every day for white bosses, are just going to find that he reminds them too much of the guy who docks their pay when the bus comes late. And they won't be wrong -- he basically is that guy."

John Broder of the New York Times: "The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities. The ad is going up in eight states." And it's full of lies. CW: Good for Broder for debunking the ad. ...

     ... NEW. Stephen Lacey & Rebecca Leber of Think Progress fact-check the ad. Oops, no facts! ...

     ... AND. NEW. Steve Benen: "If President Obama has failed as spectacularly as his Republican detractors argue, shouldn't it be easier for them to come up with honest attack ads?"

... Paul Waldman of American Prospect on the "Cool Obama" ad from Karl Turdblossom Rove (see the ad in yesterday's Commentariat): "So once again, we have to wage a campaign of the cool kids versus the squares. This all started in the 1960s, when people like Rove and Romney watched their contemporaries smoking grass, listening to music with electric guitars, and dancing wildly about with adventurous girls in sheer peasant blouses, and thought to themselves, 'Gosh darn it, I hate those guys!'" CW: my thoughts exactly.

Right Wing World *

Russell Berman of The Hill: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sounded a pessimistic note on the prospects of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) modified DREAM Act proposal making it into law this year.... 'I found it of interest,' he said of Rubio’s proposal, 'but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. And to deal with a very difficult issue like this … I think it would be difficult at best.'" CW: Hostile political environment: see also 20-foot electrified double border fence with alligator mote. ...

... Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The Rubio proposal hardly puts Obama in a 'box,' as the Post suggests [see yesterday's Commentariat]. All Obama has to do is endorse the Rubio option as a stopgap measure, say it's the best that can be done for now, and tell Congress to get to work. At that point, the GOP will fling it into a black hole of obstruction, from which neither hope nor light can escape." CW: and if Romney also endorses it, that will leave him once again at odds with the Xenophobe Party. C'mon, Obama, you know what to do.

* Where it sucks not to be white. -- Akhilleus

News Ledes

New York Times: "The economic output of the United States grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, largely on the strength of consumer spending and a surge in residential building helped by unseasonably warm weather."

Vice President Oops! Politico: "The Federal Election Commission has fined Sen. Marco Rubio $8,000 for accepting more than $210,000 in improper contributions during his 2010 run for the Senate."

New York Times: "Moments after an unusual fiery appeal from Speaker John A. Boehner, the House voted 215 to 195 on Friday to prevent a doubling of student loan rates and challenge President Obama over a veto threat. The bill, which would strip $5.9 billion from a program within the health care law to pay to keep rates on subsidized undergraduate loans at 3.4 percent, is all but certain to fail in the Senate, where lawmakers have put together their own measure to keep the rate from reverting to 6.8 percent by closing tax loopholes for some wealthy business owners."

New York Times: "The dramatic nighttime escape of a blind rights lawyer from extralegal house arrest in his village dealt a major embarrassment to the Chinese government and left the United States, which may be sheltering him, with a fresh diplomatic quandary as it seeks to improve its fraught relationship with Beijing."

New York Times: "Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Thursday passed a bill that encourages intelligence agencies and businesses to share information about threats to computer systems, including attacks on American Web sites by hackers in China and other countries."

New York Times: "Federal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court."

Guardian: "Japan and the US have agreed to relocate thousands of US marines from Okinawa in a move aimed at reducing the island's military burden amid lingering anger among residents over pollution, accidents and crime. Under a deal reached in Washington late on Thursday, about 9,000 marines will move from the southern Japanese island to the US Pacific territory of Guam and other locations in the region, including Hawaii and Australia."

New York Times: "... the Secret Service has begun to change its policies after the scandal [in Colombia]. The agency plans to bar employees from drinking alcohol beginning 10 hours before their shift.... The previous cutoff was six hours.... According to a Congressional official, the employees involved [in the prostitution scandal] included nine Secret Service agents and three uniformed officers. None were part of the president's personal detail."

Guardian: "The military judge in the court-martial of the US soldier accused of handing WikiLeaks the biggest trove of unauthorised state secrets in American history has put army prosecutors on notice that they must prove Bradley Manning knew he was helping the enemy or face the possibility that the most serious charge against him be dismissed."

Reuters: "A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh 'enhanced interrogation techniques' the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs."

New York Times: Jeremy Hunt, the "embattled British cabinet minister who has drawn criticism for his dealings with Rupert Murdoch's media empire, promised on Friday to hand over text messages and e-mails relating to his role in a failed $12 billion bid by Mr. Murdoch to take full control of BSkyB, Britain's main satellite broadcaster."

Reuters: "George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who is accused of murder in the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, has raised at least $200,000 through a website set up to fund his defense, his lawyer said on Thursday."

ABC News: "While U.S. officials say publicly there is no specific threat of a terror attack, behind the scenes law enforcement officials tell ABC News there are plans for a major security surge at airports and transportation hubs in advance of next week's anniversary of Osama bin Laden<'s death."