Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reiterated his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve":

The Ledes

Saturday, February 28, 2015.

AP: "The trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can stay in Massachusetts, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said any high-profile case would receive significant media attention but that knowledge of such case ‘does not equate to disqualifying prejudice.’... In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals court found that the defense did not meet the standards necessary to have the trial moved."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, February 27, 2015.

Guardian: "Prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in Moscow. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a sharp critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was reportedly shot four times in the chest by a killer in a passing car. The killing took place in the very centre of Moscow late on Friday evening on a bridge near St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, two days before Nemtsov was due to lead a major opposition rally in Moscow."

New York Times: "Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut 'Star Trek,' died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83."

New York Times: "The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the scrappy former president of the University of Notre Dame who stood up to both the White House and the Vatican as he transformed Catholic higher education in America and raised a powerful moral voice in national affairs, died late Thursday. He was 97."

New York Times: "Earl Lloyd, who became the first black player to appear in an N.B.A. game when he took the court for the Washington Capitols in October 1950, three and a half years after Jackie Robinson broke modern major league baseball’s color barrier, died on Thursday in Tennessee. He was 86."

Public Service Announcement

The Hill: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden on Sunday [Feb. 1] warned that the U.S. could see a 'large outbreak' of measles.... There are at least 102 reported cases in 14 states, according to the CDC. Frieden said that the U.S. is 'likely to see more cases.'... The said the best way to prevent the spread of measles was vaccination.Frieden said despite the U.S.'s 92 percent vaccination rate, there is growing evidence more parents are not vaccinating their children."

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

White House Live Video
February 27

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

5:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the portrait unveiling ceremony for AG Eric Holder

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

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

CW: How I'll Spend My Weekend. Season 3 of "House of Cards" is up on Netflix now:

Deadline: ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann for engaging in an "inappropriate" "Twitter War" with some Penn State students. ...

... CW: Hard to believe something like this hasn't happened sooner.

Buzz Aldrin during a spacewalk, November 1966. Last year Aldrin described the photo as the "BEST SELFIE EVER." CW: I'd say he's right.

New York Times: "Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space — from an altitude of 65 miles by a camera on a V-2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 24, 1946. (The boundary to outer space is generally placed at 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles.) The prints are vintage — dating from that era, not modern reproductions — and come from the collection of a single European collector, said Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloomsbury Auctions in London."

** Charles Pierce comments on wingers' Twitter reactions to the Oscars.

Actor Patricia Arquette accepts her Academy Award & calls for women's wage equality:

... Which sparked outrage on the right. And dismay on the left.

#OscarsSoWhite. Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Sunday was a study in contradictions; there was overwhelming emphasis on the visibility of black people in Hollywood, yet their peers hadn’t deemed their work fit for nomination in any of the major individual categories."

Common & John Legend accept the award for the song "Glory" from the film "Selma":

The Los Angeles Times' Academy Awards page is here. The main story is here. The list of winners is here.

Los Angeles Times: "A Palm Springs home built using Joseph Eichler’s original blueprints is under contract to sell for $1.29 million. The newly built Modernist design, considered the first true Eichler home developed in 40 years, came to market on Tuesday. According to real estate brokers and developers Troy Kudlac and Ross Stout of KUD Properties Inc., which handled the listing side, it sold that day for the asking price." With slideshow.

If you just can't get enough of the Academy Awards, the L. A. Times has a guide to Oscar-related TV shows. If you want to watch the Oscars online, here's where & how.

D. R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly: "... give [Jon] Stewart his props for the positive things he has done over the years. He has inspired a new generation of commentators who will continue to call out political perversity and media mendacity. However, the man was not without his flaws — and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a gigantic one. As Olbermann, Maher and Maddow have long argued, sanity has to defeat fear, not figure out some way to get along with it."

Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "In addition to canceling Joy Reid‘s daytime show The Reid Report, which MSNBC sources confirmed to Mediaite earlier today, the network is also canceling Ronan Farrow’s show and moving Way Too Early’s Thomas Roberts back to a dayside role, anchoring a straight news show from 1-3 p.m. ET daily. Neither Reid nor Farrow have been fired by the network."

USA Today: "Random House Children's Books said Wednesday it will publish a recently discovered manuscript with Dr. Seuss sketches, called What Pet Should I Get?, on July 28. The publisher plans at least two more books based on materials found in 2013 by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and his secretary...."

Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post on the unlikeable Chevy Chase. ...

... Here's a segment from SNL's 40th anniversary show. You can watch some of the rest of it here:

 

 

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Sunday
Sep022012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 3, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is a follow-up to Akhilleus' post in yesterday's Comments on Ross Douthat's attempt to show that Mitt Romney is an F.D.R. clone. The NYTX front page is here. BTW, commenting on NYTX is open to everyone.

Some of the panels of a 36-foot-long mural depicting icons of the U.S. labor movement, painted by Judy Taylor for Maine's Department of Labor. Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage had the panels removed.Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The primary plight of U.S. workers isn’t their lack of skills. It's their lack of power. With the collapse of unions, which represented a third of the private-sector workforce in the mid-20th century but just 7 percent today, workers simply have no capacity to bargain for their share of the revenue they produce.... If the war that business and Republicans are waging on labor isn't defeated, good jobs will continue to dwindle and work in America will grow steadily less rewarding. And a happy Labor Day to you." ...

... At Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration (3 years ago), on Woody Guthrie's 100th birth year, "Union Maid," by Guthrie, performed by Billy Bragg, Mike & Ruthy Merenda, Dar Williams & the New York City Labor Chorus. (Think I've embedded this before; the exuberance of the artists & the audience is infectious):

David Sanger & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated." CW:somebody should put a muzzle on Mitt Friend-of-Bibi Romney.

Presidential Race

Ben Feller & Calvin Woodward of the AP: President "Obama addresses a United Auto Workers Labor Day rally in Toledo on Monday before getting his first look at the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in a stricken parish outside New Orleans."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "As President Obama heads into his convention this week, he is seizing on the just-concluded Republican presidential convention to ramp up his re-election argument that Mitt Romney and his party are stuck in policies of the past and afraid to spell out the details of their plans." ...

Here's a clip from President Obama's remarks in Colorado Sunday. In the clip, he addresses his differences with Romney on Afghanistan.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker writes a long piece on the rapprochement between Barack Obama & Bill Clinton: "Obama, who rose to the Oval Office in part by pitching himself as the antidote to Clintonism, is now presenting himself as its heir apparent. It's a shrewd, even Clintonian, tactical maneuver."

Matt Williams of the Guardian: "Democrats opened a fresh offensive on Mitt Romney's foreign policy Sunday, painting the Republican White House hopeful as a war-monger looking to take the US into further Middle East conflicts. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, vice president Joe Biden attacked Mr Romney's international agenda as laid out in last week's convention address, suggesting that it put him out of step with the US's priorities overseas."

New York magazine's cover story, by John Heilemann, is a long feature on Vice President Joe Biden.

... President Obama speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday:

Susan Page of USA Today: "President Obama wants to make it clear that..., 'I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan. He is a great actor, and an even better director," the president said in an interview with USA TODAY aboard Air Force One, on his way to campaign rallies in Iowa Saturday.... However, Obama seemed less eager to review Eastwood's latest performance.... 'One thing about being president or running for president -- if you're easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.' Obama said with a smile. He said there would be no effort to counter with a similar stunt at the Democratic National Convention, which opens in Charlotte Tuesday." ...

... Maybe Obama should say, "Thanks, Clint." Sahil Kapur of TPM: "President Obama's response to Clint Eastwood's speech to an empty chair was the most re-tweeted tweet of the Republican convention, according to a Twitter spokesperson":

... Juan Cole of Informed Comment on the top ten things Clint Eastwood got wrong in his empty-chair routine. (Link fixed.)

AP: "President Barack Obama's campaign is running a new television ad claiming Republican Mitt Romney's policies would 'hit the middle class harder.' The ad is running in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, key battleground states":

Thomas Catan of the Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama's campaign said Sunday that this week's Democratic National Convention would feature plans to revive the economy, promising a contrast to what it described as a policy-free Republican gathering last week. 'What you're going to hear this week in Charlotte is a president who's going to present a clear agenda for the future, that talks about how we build a sound economy that lifts the middle class in this country,' Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said on 'Fox News Sunday.'"

NBC News: "About 800 people chanting and carrying signs (among them, 'Banks got bailed out. We got sold out') marched Sunday through the central business district in Charlotte, N.C., ahead of the Democratic National Convention to protest what they said was seedy corporate influence on politics."

Steve Holland of Reuters: "President Barack Obama enters an important campaign week tied with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Sunday, leaving the incumbent an opportunity to edge ahead of his opponent at the Democratic National Convention." ...

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Last week's Republican National Convention had a minimal impact on Americans' self-reported voting intentions, with just about as many saying the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him."

"Unbecoming of a President." Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney "was able to take advantage of tax benefits in innovative ways open only to a narrow slice of extremely affluent people -- mostly those who work in private-equity firms and other investment partnerships.... Some tax experts worry that the arrangements Romney benefits from set a bad precedent for a president. 'He looks for every tax angle to a degree that is unbecoming in someone who would be the executive in command of the administrative apparatus that enforces the tax law,' said Lee Sheppard, a tax lawyer and contributing editor for Tax Analysts, a publication for accounting and legal professionals." CW: not really news, but it's good to see the press is still hammering this nail.

Gerry Mullany of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan has taken back his claim that he had run a marathon in under three hours, an assertion that had drawn great skepticism in the running community and one that came after his convention speech faced scrutiny for some questionable and misleading statements." CW: I was glad to see this story made whatever national newscast my husband watched Sunday night. This is the kind of lie that any dope can understand. ...

... AND Paul Krugman riffs off Lyin' Ryan's marathon whopper to argue, persuasively, that what's on the line in this election is the truth. (It was in 2010, too, IMHO.) CW: Sometimes, my blue-eyed Altar Boy, it's the venial sins that getcha.

"Hendrik Hertzberg and Philip Gourevitch join Dorothy Wickenden [of the New Yorker] to discuss the role of culture wars in Republican politics":

News Ledes

New York Times: "Michael Clarke Duncan, who rose from working as a ditch digger to employ his booming bass voice and immense physical presence in many movie roles, most notably a tragic prisoner with a healing touch in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 54."

Guardian: "Hillary Clinton is calling on south-east Asian states to present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The US secretary of state will be in Indonesia's capital on Monday to offer support for a regionally endorsed code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands. Jakarta is the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Clinton will press the group to insist that China agree to a formal mechanism to reduce short-term risks of conflict and ultimately come to final settlements over sovereignty."

AP: "Britain's Prince Andrew has rappelled 785 feet (239 meters) down the side of Europe's tallest building to raise money for charity. The 52-year-old's stunt began on London skyscraper The Shard's 87th floor and finished on the 20th, and took him 30 minutes. Following the descent Monday morning, the prince said: 'I will never do it again.'"

Saturday
Sep012012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 2, 2012

Oh My. Nicholas Confessore, et al., of the New York Times: "New York attorney general [Eric Schneiderman] is investigating whether some of the nation's biggest private equity firms have abused a tax strategy in order to slice hundreds of millions of dollars from their tax bills, according to executives with direct knowledge of the inquiry.... Schneiderman has in recent weeks subpoenaed more than a dozen firms seeking documents that would reveal whether they converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments, which are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income. Among the firms to receive subpoenas [is] ...Bain Capita, which was founded by Mitt Romney...."

Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes an interesting overview of some of the literature on "what's the matter with American capitalism," but strangely, he couldn't seem to find anything that addressed the interests of workers. As long as ordinary workers have no representatives at the table -- and that's the situation today -- don't expect income inequality to magically collapse.

Anne Eisenberg reviews The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povitch, the story of how women brought suit to force Newsweek management to give them writing jobs. Their effort eventually led to industry-wide change, though -- as Eisenberg writes -- "Feminism is an incomplete revolution."

Presidential Race

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "With his party's nominating convention approaching next week, President Obama started a four-day, four-state campaign trip in Iowa on Saturday, the state where he opened his unlikely quest for the presidency five years ago." ...

... Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Greeting Air Force One as it touched down under sunny skies and sultry heat [in Sioux City, Iowa] was a hand-painted banner draped across the top of an airplane hangar that reads, 'Obama Welcome to SUX - We Did Build This.' 'SUX' is the airport code for Sioux City." In the photo accompanying the article, you can see that the "Welcome to" is written in tiny letters, so the banner appears to say only "Obama SUX."

     ... "Ale to the Chief." This White House blogpost has the recipes for White House honey ale & White House honey porter.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr. & Ely Portillo of the Charlotte Observer: "Eight months after evicting Occupy Charlotte protesters from public property, police now appear ready to let protesters camp at an uptown park that has become the center of protest activity during the Democratic convention. A bus that arrived at Marshall Park Saturday brought dozens of protesters who erected tents at the county-owned park.... Local officials, while not explicitly granting permission, suggested the city and county are inclined to let protesters stay overnight as long as no trouble arises."

Jonathan Chait of New York makes the case that the real theme of the GOP convention was "we rich people deserve our money & we should be able to keep it all. Too bad for everybody else."

Maureen Dowd: Republicans "knocked themselves out producing a convention that was a colossal hoax."

End of the Affair. Alina Selyukh of Reuters: "A modest bump in popularity for U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney from this week's Republican Party convention looks to be short-lived, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Democratic President Barack Obama regained a narrow lead on Saturday by 44 percent to 43 percent over his Republican challenger ... in the latest daily installment of the four-day rolling poll. Romney was ahead by one point in Friday's online poll and two points in Thursday's survey." ...

... Nate Silver: "We'll need to wait another day or two before we can make a more confident judgement on the size of Mr. Romney's bounce, but the information we have so far points toward its being a little underwhelming."

AP/Huffington Post: in his "I Care" photo-op trip to storm-torn Louisiana, Mitt Romney advised a woman whose house was literally underwater to go home & call 211, a public service number. Maybe one of his ace staffer should have explained to Romney what "flooded-out" means. The woman still said Romney "... is good. He'll do the best for us. He has our best interests at heart. I thought he'd be more like a politician, but it was more understanding and caring." Okay.

David Sirota has a swell piece criticizing the New York Times puff piece on Janna Ryan. In real life, as opposed to the Times story, Ryan was a privileged, connected Washington lobbyist.

Caroline Bankoff of New York on why Paul Ryan's lie about running a sub-three-hour marathon matters. Bankoff puts together commentary by Nicholas Thompson of the New Yorker & Paul Krugman. ...

... Shushannah Walshe of ABC News points out that Ryan also left the impression during the Hewitt interview that he ran "marathons." But according to his campaign, he ran only one. CW: the honest answer to Hewitt's question would have been something like, "Yeah, I ran a marathon once when I was in college & I think my time put me somewhere in the middle of the pack. Now I run only 10Ks." But look at how Ryan answers Hewitt's questions. Now, could somebody show me some pictures, please, of Ryan's catfish-noodling. What with his being given to fish stories, maybe that's one, too. How about some shots of Reverse Robin Hood's killing Bambi with a bow-&-arrow. Maybe we'll find out that like Romney, Ryan's big-game hunting is limited to setting mousetraps in his basement. (Romney has Jeeves do it, of course.)

AND Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post: "We've entered the final stretch of the presidential election, and it has become apparent that Mitt Romney actually won't release any more back tax returns, on the moral principle that nobody can make him, so neener, neener.... On one hand, it would be unfair and irresponsible of me to baselessly speculate about what embarrassing facts those tax returns might reveal. On the other hand, no one can stop me, so neener, neener." Weingarten's speculations include "His tax-shelter plan is so shrewd that he is, technically, indigent. He qualifies for, and uses, food stamps."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The former Navy SEALs member who is a co-author of a first-person account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was willing to break 'the code of silence' honored by many commandos because of 'bad blood' with his former unit, the elite SEAL Team 6, according to a new e-book written by other Special Operations veterans."

New York Times: "The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Korean evangelist, businessman and self-proclaimed messiah who built a religious movement notable for its mass weddings, fresh-faced proselytizers and links to vast commercial interests, died on Monday in Gapyeong, South Korea. He was 92."

New York Times: "The training of Afghan Local Police and special operations forces has been put on hold for at least a month while their American trainers conduct stricter vetting to try to root out any infiltrators or new recruits who could pose risks to the coalition troops working with them, American officials say." Washington Post story here.

AP: "A senior Obama administration political appointee and longtime aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano resigned Saturday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior lodged by at least three Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees. Suzanne Barr, chief of staff to ICE Director John Morton, said in her resignation letter that the allegations against her are 'unfounded.' But she said she was stepping down anyway to end distractions within the agency."

Washington Post: Yosemite National Park officials have closed "the park's 91 signature tent cabins, where park officials say they believe a deadly outbreak of hantavirus originated in June, sickening four people and killing two. The cabins are closed indefinitely as officials wait to see whether their efforts to close gaps between the cabin walls are enough to keep virus-carrying deer mice out."

AP: "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu called Sunday for Tony Blair and George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Tutu, the retired Anglican Church's archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to 'answer for their actions.'" His opinion piece is here.

Guardian: "Syrian rebels have seized an air defence facility and attacked a military airport in the east of the country, according to a UK-based monitoring group."

Friday
Aug312012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 1, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

The Real Welfare Queens

Thanks to readers for the above tasteful political commentary.

Presidential Race

AP: "Several groups, including labor organizations and those opposing President Barack Obama's positions on various issues, plan to demonstrate outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in the coming days. On Sunday, protesters will take part in the March on Wall Street South -- a demonstration that will focus on economic inequality, social injustice and other issues." ...

... Socks as Lethal Weapons??? Michael Biesecker & Mitch Weiss of the AP: "... protesters and free speech advocates ... fear authorities could trample on people's constitutional rights in the name of protecting public safety [at the Democratic convention]. The changes to city ordinances adopted earlier this year for 'extraordinary events' ban a long list of actions and items that would otherwise be legal from a more than 100-square-block zone. The area includes spots as much as a mile from the sports venues where the Democratic Party events are to be held.... Someone walking through Charlotte's central business district could run afoul of the law by carrying water bottles, hair spray, socks or magic markers."

President Obama spoke at Fort Bliss yesterday afternoon:

Carrie Dann of NBC News: "... Vice President Joe Biden appeared in Ohio auto country [Friday] to blast the Romney-Ryan convention speeches as 'not on the level,' accusing the GOP vice presidential nominee of fudging details of a closed auto plant.... [Also,] referencing a recent article in Rolling Stone that indicated Romney-led Bain Capital received federal assistance for its reorganization, Biden contrasted that attitude with Romney's opposition to a full auto industry bailout. 'It was one thing when a million middle-class jobs were on the line,' he said of Romney's alleged seeking of federal assistance. 'It was another thing when his own financial interests and those of his partners were on the line.'"

It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own. If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today. And Paul Ryan's budget would gut disaster funding, making it much harder to get aid to our fellow Americans in their time of need. -- Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Majority Leader, on Romney & Ryan's visit to the Gulf Coast

Mitt Romney needs to say whether or not he supports his running mate's plan to keep emergency disaster aid out of the federal budget. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

David Alexrod tells the panel on "Morning Joe" that the GOP convention felt like open-mic night for 2016 presidential candidates.

... Paul Waldman of American Prospect: at the GOP convention "it seemed like every speaker had to relate their hard-luck tale of a rise from poverty.... If they're going to tell us about their grandfathers' weary hands, at least make the connection to what they want to do now. If there's a real relationship between that (possibly vicarious) experience and your policies, just make it clear. Your grandfather sold turnips from a handcart, and that's why you want to eliminate the capital gains tax? ... All in all, it reminds me of this:

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress notes that the Republican platform declares Medicaid and other social safety net programs unconstitutional. Here's the language from the platform statement: "Scores of entrenched federal programs violate the constitutional mandates of federalism by taking money from the States, laundering it through various federal agencies, only to return to the States shrunken grants with mandates attached."

A Post-Convention Off-Script Moment. Katie Glueck of Politico: Austin, Texas, teacher Sean Duffy appeared alongside Jeb Bush at the GOP convention to speak about education, but he subsequently said he "leans more toward Obama." "Duffy said he's heard Obama talk some about education -- he cited the president's desire to make college more affordable, and that he hasn't 'necessarily heard the same' from Romney -- but added that he's still waiting to hear more on the subject from both candidates. He wasn't, however, impressed with the education portion of Romney's keynote.

Jon Stewart reflects on Romney's speech:

Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress: Romney "devoted only 202 words to national security and while his speech completely ignored the war in Afghanistan and any homage to American servicemembers, it contained a shocking number of misstatements and false and baseless attacks on President Obama.

I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine. And I knew without question, that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine. -- Mitt Romney, speaking of his wife during his convention speech

He doesn't say women should go back to the kitchen, stop working, and instead do the much harder and more important job of raising kids full time. But he doesn't want to spend any money or burden any business with any kind of rules or programs that would push us to a new more egalitarian equilibrium. -- Matt Yglesias of Slate

Yo, Matt, you just don't understand class differences. What Mitt means is this: women of the privileged class should have the luxury of staying home & rearing their children. All other women should get off their asses and earn their way in "real" jobs. Too bad if they're pregnant because they can't afford contraception; too bad if they're sick because their lousy employers don't provide coverage; too bad if their non-union jobs barely cover the cost of child care much less gas for the car, work clothes; etc. -- Constant Weader

Economist Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute has a fabulous post in which he proves that the Romney/Ryan "economic recovery plan" is the exact same plan George W. Bush & John McCain produced in 2008, 2006 & 2004. "Which is another way of saying that the Republicans have no plan for how to actually deal with this specific crisis we face." It's pretty amazing. ...

... "The Definition of Insanity..." Paul Krugman: "I would just add to Mike's take the historical experience. Romney says that his plan would create 12 million jobs in his first term. Leaving aside the fact that this is about what forecasters on average predict in any case, surely we should ask how the identical policies worked out in Bush's two terms. And the answer is: zero job growth in term one (and a fall in private sector employment), one million in term two. Oh, and private sector employment lower when Bush left office than when he arrived."

I was born in the middle of the century.... To be an American was to assume that all things were possible. We went to bed at night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world. -- Mitt Romney, in his convention speech

He also lived in an America where state universities provided excellent, low-cost education, the government was building infrastructure (like the interstate highway system), unions helped keep wages high for most (white) Americans, the tax code topped off at about 70 percent, income inequality was at its flattest in history, & the FHA & VA helped Americans buy homes they could afford, the Congress was passing laws to help Americans in need, & the courts were expanding civil rights. That's the America Misty-Eyed Mitt wants to destroy. -- Constant Weader

Steve Benen continues his chronicle of Mitt's Mendacity. He up to Vol. 32, & found 30 baldfaced lies Mitt told this week.

Michael Barbaro & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "A senior Republican involved in convention planning said that [Clint] Eastwood's appearance was cleared by at least two of Mr. Romney's top advisers.... This person said that there had been no rehearsal, to the surprise of the rest of the campaign team." ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... the Eastwood incident ... is one of many examples of how just when you are convinced that Mitt Romney runs the tightest ship in the business, run by ruthless cyborgs who insist on reducing the margin of error to nothing, something like this always seems to happen.... It ought to make at least a few people nervous about how this Genius Business Leader's hand-picked underlings might function if they are in charge of the country next January."

... Commentators -- including President Obama -- react to Clint Eastwood's "conversation with an empty chair." NBC's E!Online has more here:

... Michael Moore in the Daily Beast: "The people of the future will know nothing about Dirty Harry or Josey Wales or Million Dollar Baby. They will know about the night a crazy old man hijacked a national party's most important gathering so he could literally tell the president to go do something to himself (i.e. fuck himself). In those few moments..., he completely upended and redefined how he'll be remembered by younger and future generations."

CW: I think the whole convention was a disaster, not just the appearance of a dotty old movie star to lead off the network TV coverage on Mitt's Big Night. The speakers, as David Axelrod pointed out, were all auditioning for president in 2016, & they barely mentioned the guy who got the nomination in 2012 -- the one they were supposed to be boosting. If Romney or his "people" vetted these speeches, they're idiots. If they didn't, they're idiots.

Paul Ryan -- Marathon Liar

Episode 1. At the top of his report on his interview of Paul Ryan, winger Hugh Hewitt wrote. "Because biography is character and character often matters much more to voters than policy prescriptions, I chose to focus on Ryan's youth." Yes, character does matter to voters, Hugh. thanks for pointing that out. Hewitt added, "I was also surprised to hear Ryan has run a sub-3 hour marathon. Add another interest group to the list of groups like Catholics, hunters and Miami of Ohio grads who are going to connect easily with this candidate." Yes indeedy. During the interview, Hewitt asked Ryan what his "personal best" marathon time was. Ryan said, "Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something."

Episode 2. Scott Douglas of Runner's World: "Runner's World has been unable to find any marathon results by Ryan. Requests for more information from Ryan's Washington and Wisconsin offices, and from the Romney-Ryan campaign, have so far gone unanswered."

Episode 3. Scott Douglas: "A spokesman for the Romney-Ryan campaign e-mailed Runner's World today to say Ryan ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, while a college student in 1991. Ryan's name does not show up in the 1991 race results provided by Grandma's. Runner's World ... found a finisher in the 1990 race by the name of Paul D. Ryan, 20, of Minneapolis.... The finishing time listed was 4 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds. We are awaiting confirmation from the Ryan camp that the vice presidential nominee is the Paul D. Ryan listed in the race results -- and, if he is, whether he ran any other marathons faster than 4:01:25." (Same link as Episode 2.)

Episode 4. Scott Douglas: "In a statement issued to Runner's World by a spokesman Friday night, Ryan said of his marathon experience: 'The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin -- who ran Boston last year -- reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight.'" (Same link.)

Epilogue: So, Hugh, what was that about the importance of character & runners "who are going to connect easily with Ryan"?

AND the Romneys Are Just like You. Lady Ann Romney says Mitt's turning down a $30 million-a-year job in 2008 was easy. "We're used to kind of passing up offers like that." CW: yeah, I can relate.

Congressional Races

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Even as Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan exhort Republicans to embrace their proposed Medicare changes and spending cuts, the party's rank and file is growing less enthusiastic about the fight than the top of the ticket. Republican lawmakers and candidates are distancing themselves from the Ryan budget plan.... Republicans say the party now belongs to the more senior -- and historically more malleable -- member of the ticket, Mr. Romney, and not Mr. Ryan...."

Alexander Burns of Politico: "Karl Rove phoned Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin to apologize for having joked about killing the Republican congressman, an Akin spokesman confirmed to Politico.... Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier that Rove told a gathering of donors in Tampa that Akin had to be forced out of the Senate race, and joked that if Akin were 'found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts.' ... Rove called the embattled Senate candidate and 'spent about three minutes' explaining that he didn't know there had been a reporter in the room and that he would not have made such a comment if he'd been aware of her presence." CW: If a tree falls in the forest & there's no reporter to cover it...

News Ledes

Soggy Holiday. AP: "What's left of Isaac has been plodding north into states that badly need moisture. The worst drought in decades stretches from Ohio west to California. Isaac will move straight through some of the hardest hit states: Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Lesser rain is expected to the west in portions of Oklahoma and Kansas. State emergency agencies, city and county leaders and utility crews have been preparing for the deluge."

AP: "Federal authorities say they're closing their abuse-of-power investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona without filing charges against him."

Politico: "Federal prosecutors are not seeking any jail time for a former top aide to Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Doug Hampton, in connection with Hampton's admission that he violated a federal ethics law by lobbying former colleagues within a year of leaving the Senate. Hampton is set to be sentenced in federal court on Wednesday in what seems likely to be the final chapter in a messy saga that exposed Ensign's extramarital affair with Hampton's wife Cynthia, ended both Hamptons' Senate employment and ultimately led to Ensign's resignation from the Senate last year."

The Great Maple Syrup Heist. AP (via NYT): "The police said Friday that thieves had stolen a considerable amount of maple syrup from a warehouse in Quebec.... It was too soon to determine the exact quantity or value of the syrup stolen from the warehouse, where more 10 million pounds -- about $30 million worth -- is stored."

AP: "Samsung on Saturday accused Apple of resorting to litigation in an effort to limit consumer choice after the iPhone maker said it was seeking to stop the sale of Galaxy S III smartphones in the United States. Fresh from its $1 billion court victory over Samsung Electronics Co<, Apple Inc., in a separate case, asked a federal district court in San Jose, California, on Friday to add four more products to a list of Samsung goods that Apple says infringe its patents."

Thursday
Aug302012

The Commentariat -- August 31, 2012

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project. The disappearance of midwage, midskill jobs is part of a longer-term trend that some refer to as a hollowing out of the work force, though it has probably been accelerated by government layoffs." CW: this is exactly the kind of trend a Romney presidency -- would exacerbate. From quashing unions to defunding education to whacking the social safety net to encouraging outsourcing to cutting government to just plain disrespecting the ordinary American (or what David Firestone calls "contempt for the mainstream"), gutting the middle & upper-middle economic class is almost the bedrock of the Romney/Ryan plot.

Corey Robin makes the argument, based on historical analysis, that Democrats, not Republicans, are the real austerity/deficit hawk party. Via Digby, whose commentary is on point.

John Cassidy in Fortune: President Obama's biggest economic mistake was retaining Ben Bernanke as Fed chair. Bernanke, a Republican, did a pretty good job for a Republican president, but "Bernanke's performance since 2009 has been less impressive, and this year it's been pretty awful." Oh, why did he do it? -- he took Tim Geithner's advice. CW: frankly, I think hiring Timmy was Obama's biggest mistake. Thanks to my husband for suggesting I link this post.

Rebecca Robbins of the Harvard Crimson: "Harvard College's disciplinary board is investigating nearly half of the 279 students who enrolled in Government 1310: 'Introduction to Congress' last spring for allegedly plagiarizing answers or inappropriately collaborating on the class' final take-home exam." CW: what more appropriate place for "nearly half" of the students to cheat than in a class about an institution where "nearly half" of the members are crooks & liars?

Priest Takes "Blaming the Victim" to a New Low. Colleen Curry of ABC News: The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, "a well-known Catholic priest who hosts a weekly religious television show, said in an interview this week that child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys and should not go to jail on a first offense.... He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky as a 'poor guy.' ... The comments were removed by the website that published them and replaced by an apology from the priest and the site's editors."

Presidential Race

Steve Holland of Reuters: "Mitt Romney has moved into a narrow lead over U.S. President Barack Obama in a small bounce for him from the Republican National Convention, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Thursday. Romney entered the week four points behind Obama.... But the most recent daily rolling poll gave Romney a two-point lead...." CW: this is worrisome only if Romney's lead holds after the Democratic convention next week.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times has a chat with David Axelrod: "Top [Obama] advisers said they would seek to make the Republican candidates' statements into a larger issue of character, one that they hoped would reinforce Mr. Romney's image among many voters as a shape-shifting politician who has reversed position on abortion and gay rights, gun control and other issues -- as his Republican rivals complained throughout their long nomination battle.

Nice to see this headline on the front page of the New York Times: "Facts Take a Beating in Acceptance Speeches." In an article originally headlined "Ryan's Speech Contained a Litany of Falsehoods," Michael Cooper lists some of the lies Ryan &, incidentally, his running mate, told in their speeches. Unfortunately, Cooper felt compelled to prominently feature a couple of "both sides do it" grafs, which is the journalistic gold standard these days. ...

... Rosalind Helderman has a better & more balanced piece, appearing on the front page of the Washington Post, on fact-checkers. Here's the lede: "Did Paul Ryan bend the truth? The verdict, rendered by a slew of media fact checkers, was immediate and unequivocal: In his first major speech before the American people, the Republican vice presidential nominee repeatedly left out key facts, ignored context and was blind to his own hypocrisy."

This Is News Analysis: Chuck Todd of NBC News says Democrats wish they had as many non-white leaders as Republicans have. Via Josh Marshall of TPM in a post titled, "Okay, That's the Stupidest Thing I Ever Heard":

In case you missed it, the "Daily Show" obtained a copy of the moving Romney bio-op that aired during the GOP convention. Very touching:

A beginning, a muddle and an end. -- Ezra Klein, describing Romney's speech

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday by making a direct appeal to Americans who were captivated by President Obama's hopeful promises of change, pledging that he could deliver what the president did not and move the country from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post fact-checks Romney's speech. Apparently the part about his loving his family is true.

... New York Times Editors: "Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life, for Thursday night's session of his convention, around an extraordinary reinvention of history -- that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed.... The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security.... [On foreign policy,] apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it's not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently. But after watching the Republicans for three days in Florida, that comes as no surprise." ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: Romney's "disappointment" in Obama was phony. ...

... Tim Egan: "The empty chair that a befuddled Clint Eastwood spoke to had to compete with the famous empty suit of Mitt Romney.... A man whose father walked out on the Barry Goldwater convention of 1964 because it was too extreme let the heirs to those toxic politics write a platform that would move the country backward by two generations." ...

... In a post titled, "Mitt Romney -- More Effective than Clint Eastwood," Jonathan Chait of New York magazine writes, "Romney attempted to disarm [the difficulties Obama faced in 2009] by acknowledging the bad hand, but implying Republicans wished Obama well. The GOP as a whole 'wanted Obama to succeed,' he said, adding that he personally shared this wish, making Obama's failure to eradicate the impact of the crisis entirely his own fault. In reality, Republicans planned from before Obama took office to withhold cooperation and thus regain their majority, and Romney himself was obviously running to defeat Obama the entire period." ...

He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government. -- Mitt Romney, explaining in his convention speech why Obama has failed

But if business experience is the key qualification for a president, why did Romney pick Paul Ryan, who has spent even less time in the private sector than Obama, to be his vice president? -- Ezra Klein (Klein's whole post, which covers several aspects of Romney's speech, is worth a read.) ...

... Steve Benen: "... last night, I kept waiting for something, anything, that resembled substance, but it never came. About the closest thing Romney came to a meaningful policy idea was his stated goal of using public funds to subsidize private school tuition. That's a horrible idea, but I'll concede it at least counts as an idea.... Once again, the Romney campaign message boiled down to: President Obama hasn't done enough; I'll do more; just trust me.... But therein lies the rub: Romney hasn't given Americans any reason to trust him." ...

... CW: I swear Mitt Romney is looking more and more like Richard Nixon. By November you won't be able to tell which is which. I muted the sound during his speech, so if he said, "I am not a crook," or "My wife wears a good Republican cloth coat," or "Checkers loves riding on the hood of the car," I totally missed it. ...

... While Nixon Rmoney was speaking, I read Michael Shear's interview of President Obama. That was kinda depressing, too. ...

     ... I see David Dayen of Firedoglake agrees with me.

Elizabeth Williamson of the Wall Street Journal: "Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood, the Republican National Convention's much-touted surprise guest, delivered a rambling, awkward speech that was the highly orchestrated evening's first off-script moment." Includes video.

     ... CBS News has the full transcript of Eastwood's speech.

Bonus Quote. Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dali. -- Ben LaBolt, Obama campaign spokesperson, on Eastwood's speech

... "Disaster." Kevin Cirilli of Politico: MSNBC, Fox "News" analysts react -- or not -- to Eastwood's speech.

CW: There's a big shebang going on up the road in Tampa. I was going to try to watch a bit of it, & I did -- about 17 seconds was all I could stand. For all I know, I was invited to attend: this afternoon a fellow named Mitt Romney robo-called me. At least I think it was a robo-call. Hard to tell with Mitt. Don't know what he had to say as I hung up after, "Hi, I'm Mitt Romney." Hope I hurt his robo-feelings.

Quote of the Day: Just because someone tells you different facts than you remember from when you were there watching the event happen doesn't mean that he is lying. It may just mean that he is trying to be elected to something. Besides, there is literal truth and story truth and narrative truth and speech truth, and, of the four, literal truth most seldom gets invited to parties. Conversation as we know it would end. Politics consists of assembling a convincing story about events out of the facts at your disposal and seeing how many people prefer your story to your opponent's. We all start with the same fabric of fact, but a lot of art goes into the draping. There are lies, damned lies, statistics and Things Your Opponent Did to Grandma. -- Marc Theissen of the Washington Post, defending Paul Ryan's dishonest convention speech, or what Charles Pierce calls "for the most singularly stupid piece of writing [the Post] likely ever will publish, even if it renews Marc Thiessen's contract for the next 20 years.

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "A compelling, fact-based defense of the content of Paul Ryan's vice-presidential acceptance speech last night is impossible. The deception was so flagrant, so thorough, so sloppy and so unending that, as one observer on Twitter put it, Politifact probably melted down.... Most casual voters don't read editorials and fact-checker columns and probably don't get much beyond the headline, picture and (maybe) first paragraph or two of a news story about a speech like Ryan's. The Romney campaign is clearly counting on this." ...

... Ditto from Dan Amira of New York: "Ryan's pants are on fire, but all America saw was a barn-burner." ...

... "Fact-Checkers Are No Match for Romney & Ryan." Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "Romney and Ryan are obviously engaging in some simple cost-benefit analysis.... There are some other conditions that could raise the costs -- let's say if Paul Ryan had a Palinesque on-camera humiliation, in which an interviewer confronted him with his Janesville auto plant absurdity and forced him to explain himself. If that happened, afterward he might be afraid to bring it up again, lest everyone replay that interview." CW: Don't hold your breath till that happens. ...

... Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress notes that even when reporters call out lies, they use euphemisms: "factual shortcuts," "perceived inaccuracies," "questionable claims," etc. Beauchamp calls out specific reports.

... Paul Krugman is more optimistic: "It's starting to look ... as if the life cycle of the Ryan myth is proving a lot shorter than the [George W.] Bush version. Even people who were fanatical Bush defenders and Krugman-haters seem to have had enough of Ryan's shtick, thanks to the most dishonest convention speech ever. And I think this matters. Ryan's true constituency isn't the Tea Party, it's the commentariat; strip him of his unjustified reputation as an honest policy wonk, and he's just another mean-spirited ideologue. Indeed, his character may itself become an election issue." ...

Krugman: "... many people are wondering why Ryan keeps using the closed Janesville GM plant to illustrate the failure of Obama's policy -- when the plant actually closed under George W. Bush.... [Maybe] he's branched out from Ayn Rand, and is now also listening to this guy:

... In his column today, Krugman writes, "Paul Ryan's speech Wednesday night may have accomplished one good thing: It finally may have dispelled the myth that he is a Serious, Honest Conservative." The Romney-Ryan "Vouchercare" plan "would mean higher costs and lower benefits for seniors." ...

... BUT what if facts don't matter? Philosopher Jason Stanley analyzes the assumptions & rationale behind the blatant Romney/Ryan campaign lying machine. ...

     ... CW: Stanley may have exaggerated the public's low expectations of political candidates, but he's surely on the right track. The dogwhistle appeals to racists work because they reassure racists that Romney & Ryan "get it" and are on their side. There is more than racism at work here, tho. Some time back David Brooks misused a study about attitudes toward the minimum wage. When I read the actual study results, instead of relying on Brooks' distorted gloss, what I learned was that people earning just above the minimum wage were opposed to raising it. This isn't about racism per se; it's about people not wanting to be at the bottom of the ladder, which is indeed one of the motivations to racism -- if we deserving white people can keep minorities down, we'll never be the bottom rung. Racism in this sense is not the cause but the effect of status anxiety. ...

... AND the Best Little Fact-Checker of Them All. Seriously:

... BUT Stephen Colbert defends the "big ideas" in Paul Ryan's speech -- like "Lying Is Handy":

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A federal judge ruled Friday that Ohio must allow in-person voting on the weekend before the presidential election, a victory for Democrats who claimed Republican efforts to close down early voting were aimed at discouraging voters most likely to support President Obama.... Ohio has allowed in-person voting the weekend before the election since 2005, and U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus said Friday that the state did not offer a convincing argument as to why it was changing the rules now."

New York Times: "The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, delivered on Friday a detailed and forceful argument for new steps to stimulate the economy, reinforcing earlier indications that the Fed is on the verge of action.... Mr. Bernanke did not announce any new steps in his speech, delivered before an annual monetary policy conference.... Nor did he offer a timetable, although many analysts expect the Fed to act at the next meeting of its policy-making committee on Sept. 12 and 13."

AP: "Isaac crawled into the nation's midsection early Friday, leaving a soggy mess in Louisiana. Neighborhoods were underwater, and many homes that stayed dry didn't have lights, air conditioning or clean water. It will be a few days before the soupy brown water recedes and people forced out of flooded neighborhoods can return home."

AP: "Under pressure from a U.N. nuclear agency probe, Iran is urging member countries to revamp the [International Atomic Energy] Agency in a way that would dilute the power of nations that fear it may be trying to make atomic arms, while giving its allies more authority."

New York Times: "A Japanese court rejected Friday patent claims made by Apple against Samsung, a victory for the Korean company after its crushing defeat in the United States last week and a reminder of the global scope of the patent war between the two technology giants."

ABC News: "The Pentagon has determined the former Navy SEAL who has authored a book about his role in the Osama bin Laden raid is in 'material breach' of non-disclosure agreements and warned him it is considering legal action against him as a result. It added that it is considering legal action against all those 'acting in concert' with the SEAL on his book, 'No Easy Day,' which is scheduled to be released Tuesday."

ABC News: "A former Marine who was working at a U.S. consulate office in China has pleaded guilty after trying -- and failing -- to spy for China, the Department of Justice said today. Bryan Underwood, 32, pleaded guilty to one charge for attempting to pass photographs and access to the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China to China's Ministry of State Security.... Underwood had "Top Secret" clearance...."

Washington Post: for murdering his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, George "Huguely [V] was sentenced to 23 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Edward L. Hogshire, who chose to impose a shorter term than the 26 years recommended by the jury.... Huguely, 24, and Love, who was also a successful lacrosse player, were within weeks of graduation from" the University of Virginia.