The Ledes

Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States and five Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign against the Islamic State and at least one other extremist group in Syria for the first time early Tuesday, targeting the groups’ bases, training camps and checkpoints in at least four provinces, according to the United States military and Syrian activists. The intensity of the attacks struck a fierce opening blow against the jihadists of the Islamic State, scattering its forces and damaging the network of facilities it has built in Syria that helped fuel its seizure of a large part of Iraq this year." ...

... AP: "Syria said Tuesday that Washington informed President Bashar Assad's government of imminent U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group, hours before an American-led military coalition pounded the extremists' strongholds across northern and eastern Syria."

New York Times: "The Israeli military said Tuesday morning that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had “infiltrated into Israeli airspace,” the first such incident in at least a quarter of a century."

New York Times: "Israeli forces early Tuesday killed the two men they suspected of abducting and murdering three Israeli teenagers from the occupied West Bank in June, according to a military spokesman, closing a crucial chapter in what became the bloodiest period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Aisha, 33, 'came out shooting' around 6 a.m. as troops breached a two-story structure in Hebron where the suspects had been holed up for a week."

The Wires

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
September 23

12:50 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the U.N. climate summit in New York City

2:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks at a Clinton Global Iniative meeting

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

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

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

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

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

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

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

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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Constant Comments

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

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-- Constant Weader

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Saturday
Mar242012

The Commentariat -- March 25, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is one you've already seen; it's pre-produced below. Just thought I'd let you know. The NYTX is featuring my stuff on the front page. You can contribute to NYTX here.

What Frank Bruni lacks in style he makes up for in substance. In his column today, he writes about a college acquaintance whose life took an enlightened turn when he began acquainting himself with the big wide world. Read to the end.

Former Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney, in a New York Times op-ed, writes that he and other Florida police chiefs urged the state legislature not to pass the Stand Your Ground law. "As Florida police chiefs predicted in 2005, the law has been used to justify killings ranging from drug dealers’ turf battles to road rage incidents. Homicides categorized as justifiable have nearly tripled since the law went into effect. Back in 2005, the National Rifle Association identified about two dozen states as fertile ground for the passage of laws just like this one.... Today, at least 20 other states have followed suit."

Jeff Gerstein of Politico on how the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act went mainstream (CW: I'd make that wingnut-stream, but I fully acknowledge the Court has a majority winger faction).

Nell Painter, in a New York Times op-ed, tells the story of Carrie Buck, whose "sterilization was deemed necessary [by the Supreme Court in 1927] to halt the propagation of 'the shiftless, ignorant and worthless class of anti-social whites of the South.'” Painter writes that it is curious that Charles Murray, the author of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, thinks that white people suddenly went into moral decline in the 1960s, since in his earlier (and even more absurd) book The Bell Curve (which he co-authored) mentions Buck in a footnote.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Smerconish analyzes the publicly-released 911 tapes in the Trayvon Martin case. Bottom line: "If a voice analysis shows [the person crying 'help'] to be Zimmerman, that will suggest he was justified in using deadly force, that he was crying for help and restraining himself before drawing his gun. If, however, it is Martin crying out for help, Zimmerman's ability to cloak himself in "stand your ground" will evaporate, and that identification will appropriately lead to his arrest." ...

... CW: This Daily Mail story on the Trayvon Williams case is probably the most disjointed "report" I ever read, but the photos are excellent.

Steve Benen has revived his "This Week in God" feature, highlighting a Pew Research poll that found "The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. And most Americans continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics." Also, today's "Reason Rally" in Washington, D.C.

Right Wing World

Jurrasic Pork at Brilliant at Breakfast comments on Rick Santorum's creepy ad (see yesterday's Commentariat). I'm glad somebody besides me finds the ad abominable.

Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn't look like him? That's just nonsense. I mean dividing this country up, it is a tragedy this young man was shot. -- Newt Gingrich, on President Obama's remarks about Trayvon Martin (see video in the News Ledes under the March 23 Commentariat)

What the president of the United States should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America. -- Rick Santorum

Those two comments are really irresponsible. I would consider them reprehensible. I think those comments were really hard to stomach, really, and I guess trying to appeal to people's worst instincts. -- David Plouffe

Professed Religious Fanatic/Cafeteria Catholic. Lisa Miller of the Washington Post: Rick "Santorum observes the teachings of his church selectively." He has voted against or expressed opinions against the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on the death penalty, torture, threatening Iran with bombing, immigration. "'We do well among people who take their faith seriously,' Santorum told Fox News last week. That’s true only if what Santorum means by 'faith' is a set of politically motivated conservative beliefs, which don’t have very much to do with religion at all."

Local News

I have occasionally linked to stories about Art Pope (like this long profile by Jane Mayer for the New Yorker comes to mind). Pope is a North Carolina multimillionaire winger who made his money selling slave-made crap to poor people in discount stores where the clerks make minimum wage and now spends his filthy lucre very efffectively funding right-wing causes & candidates. While Pope stays behind the scenes, Pam Spalding of Pam's House Blend offer this insight into the kind of classy operation he runs -- in this case, advocating for an anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina.

News Ledes

AP: "A French judge filed preliminary murder and terrorism charges Sunday against ... Abdelkader Merah on Sunday, whose younger brother Mohamed claimed responsibility for the attacks."

AP: "The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday. The families of the dead received the money Saturday at the governor’s office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received $11,000, Lalai said. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures."

Reuters: "U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday urged China to use its influence to stop North Korea's "bad behavior" in a nuclear standoff with the West and hinted at tougher sanctions if the reclusive state goes ahead with a rocket launch next month."

New York Times: "Squinting through binoculars from a forward observation post here, President Obama peered into North Korea on Sunday, getting a firsthand look at the secretive nuclear nation that has been a source of recurring angst for his administration." Guardian story here.

Guardian: "Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators marched to protest against police violence and demand the resignation of New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly on Saturday afternoon. Protesters marched from the movement's original base of operations, Zuccotti Park, in lower Manhattan to Union Square, where occupiers and police have been facing off for the past week." New York Times story here.

Reuters: "Rallies are being held in cities across the country this weekend to protest the failure of police to arrest a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer for shooting to death an unarmed black teenager. Protesters, some dressed in 'hoodie' hooded sweatshirts like the kind 17-year-old Trayvon Martin wore at the time of his death, gathered for events in Columbia, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Chicago Saturday."

Reuters: "James Murdoch has severed all ties with News Corp's British newspaper business, which is at the centre of multiple investigations over phone and computer hacking and bribery, according to regulatory filings."

Saturday
Mar242012

Bonus Post – “The Feminist”

My Website is down for maintenance this morning, so – good girl that I am – I have chosen to use my downtime wisely by commenting on Julie Hollar's critique of a New York Times article by Sarah Hepola. Hepola wrote a tour-de-force in the Times Style section “pondering why no one has taken Gloria Steinem’s place as ubiquitous spokesperson for women’s rights.” Good question. To which Hollar responds, rhetorically, “Why would anyone (besides lazy journalists) want there to be just one (white, straight, white-collar) woman speaking to the media about all things woman-related?”

Obviously, Hollar has a 'tude. She's got it all wrong. We girls do need an iconic spokeswoman to make herself available for brief, controlled interviews on those rare occasions when so-called “women's issues” arise. The ideal spokeswoman should be conversant with matters as diverse as abstinence (an excellent choice), contraception (not the way things are supposed to be the sexual realm) and abortion (debatable in case of rape or incest).

Unlike Hollar, Hepola recognizes the core problem: “It’s rare to find the introversion and intelligence required to be an author and thinker fused with the charisma and good looks to knock it out of the park on the Tonight show.” The question then is – how to find such a woman? Fortunately, our male-dominated media have already pointed to a solution. To identify a perfect spokeswoman, what we ladies need is a talent contest, one that harkens back to traditional values – “Miss America” – but also incorporates today's zeitgeist – “America's Got Talent.”

An annual contest titled “The Feminist” would be perfect. The contest would be multifaceted, like “Miss America,” because, as Hepola explained, the winner will have to look good and know stuff. For the know-stuff part, that quiz show where contestants had to answer questions like, “Who was president during the Eisenhower administration?” is a perfect model. The show, called “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” had a great hook: when the contestant was stumped, he could ask for a “lifeline” – a friend or family member who told him the right answer. To make “The Feminist” really different, the helpful friend – get ready – would have to be a woman! Oh, girlfriend! (I'm sure readers are warming to this whole concept already.)

“The Feminist,” as Hepola has preordained, will have to incorporate a beauty contest. Since the winner will have to go on the teevee and appeal to men, naturally we'll include male judges on “The Feminist” panel. But I would keep it classy. No Limbaugh. I'm thinking more like Piers Morgan, Simon Cowell and for diversity, Donald Trump. Cowell could make inappropriate tits-and-ass remarks of a tasteful nature. Sexist putdowns sound so much more acceptable when spoken with a British accent. Cowell is also excellent at rolling his eyes and grimacing in disgust.

The women who becomes “The Feminist” should be well-rounded. I am not referring only to her aforementioned body parts here. I mean the “America's Got Talent” kind of well-rounded. “The Feminist” must demonstrate some performance talent, and that panel I've suggested will be the perfect judges here, too. When I say “talent,” I'm not talking emotive re-enactments of Sojourner Truth speeches. I'm talking singing, dancing, playing the accordian! Naomi Wolf belting out “I Am Woman!” Debbie Wasserman Schultz boogying to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Condi Rice tickling the ivories.

Whether or not a swimsuit contest should be part of the contest is a conundrum. I was thinking the contestants could actually include some older women. Oh, not as old as Nancy Pelosi, but Susan Faludi could maybe make the cut. Kirsten Gillibrand for sure. That said, we don't want to gross out male viewers. So maybe tankinis.

Ultimately, viewers would choose “The Feminist” via call-ins, but not before Trump shouts “You're fired!” at a bunch of losers, followed by close-ups of feminist wanna-bees crying. Humiliation will be just as important an element of “The Feminist” as it is on all the other popular shows. Who better as humiliator-in-chief than a serially-bankrupt former presidential candidate, birther, casino operator and mega-corporate-welfare recipient who keeps dumping his wives for newer models? Is America great or what?

Really, “The Feminist” will be a sensation. And a public service. I must read the New York Times Style section more often.

Friday
Mar232012

The Commentariat -- March 24, 2012

Sorry, the site has been down for maintenance all morning.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

David Maraniss of the Washington Post on the striking parallels in the lives of Presidents Bill Clinton & Barack Obama. ...

(... Not to be confused with Dana Milbank's Washington Post column on the striking parallels in the personality traits of Mitt Romney and Milbank's dog Z.Z.)

In a Washington Post op-ed, Reniqua Allen argues that "the first black president has made it harder to talk about race in America." If, like me, your first thought was, "Nah," listen to what Geraldo Rivera has to say in the clip below, & be assured that racism is alive and well outside the Deep South. P.S. When I see a black kid in a hoodie approaching, I do not cross the street, I do not even think about crossing the street, I do not give him a second thought, though if we make eye contact and/or we're not on a crowded street, I say hello or good morning. I think my reaction -- or lack thereof -- is normal, not even slightly extraordinary. Evidently Geraldo would not agree.

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "As it prepares to take power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is overhauling its relations with the two main Palestinian factions in an effort to put new pressure on Israel for an independent Palestinian state. Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank."

Change is, yes, health care reform. You want to call it Obamacare — that’s okay, because I do care. That’s why we passed it. That is why we passed it — because I care about folks who were going bankrupt because they were getting sick.  And I care about children who have preexisting conditions and their families couldn’t get them any kind of insurance. And so now we’ve got reforms that will ensure that in this great country of ours you won’t have to mortgage your house just because you get sick. -- President Obama in Atlanta last week ...

... ** Former Clinton DOJ attorney Walter Dellinger, who filed a brief on behalf of the Congressional Democratic leadership defending the Affordable Care Act, debunks five myths about the law. CW: this should be required reading for every opponent of the law. ...

... ** Jonathan Chait of New York magazine on "the barbarism of the health-care repeal crusade." Read the whole post to see how Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan -- and the whole right-wing gang -- fit into the picture. "The conservative movement’s fanatical determination to achieve this goal — through the courts, through the election, through sabotage of its implementation by denying funds and refusing to confirm administrators — reveals an even higher level of commitment to the principle of denying health insurance to the undeserving." ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "... what, if anything, to do about the nearly 50 million Americans who today lack health insurance? Those millions of uninsured rarely intrude into the promises from GOP congressional leaders and the party’s presidential field to defend liberty by repealing Obama’s plan." ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post takes on Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post: "I’m still not sure whether Charles Krauthammer’s Friday column is actually a Stephen Colbert-like parody of over-the-top conservative opposition to President Obama’s health-care law." Stromberg refutes Krauthammer's self-parody point-by-point.

Major Garrett of the National Journal: "'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.' With that one sentence, President Obama on Friday placed himself in the middle of a raging national debate as a parent, a president, and an African-American speaking to and for the black 'community.'" ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Many of us have been sympathetic to the restraints [President Obama] wears while nevertheless wondering when he would say something about the tragedy. He did so Friday with a palpable sadness, for the family of Trayvon Martin, for himself, and for all of us." ...

... Manuel Roig-Franzia, et al., of the Washington Post examine George Zimmerman's multi-racial ethnicity, his upbringing and his hopes -- to be a policeman. Zimmerman is the man who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

Right Wing World ...

... is horrified President Obama spoke out in sympathy for Trayvon Martin's parents. Something about black panthers. AND there's this:

CW: This has to be the worst presidential campaign ad since LBJ's "Daisy" ad of 1964. As Dylan Byers of Politico notes, "Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad morphs into U.S. president Barack Obama right about the time the narrator says 'sworn American enemy.'" Byers has more here, and sorry, the Santorum spokesmen's phony excuses don't cut it.

Contributor Marvin Schwalb has a good assessment of the elements of Right Wing World in today's comments. And Schwalb presents a logical argument for banning hunting! A perfect means to drive the NRA nuttier.

Kevin Drum: that nice Paul Ryan cares three percent more about the poor than he cared last year. (I'm pretty sure my math is wrong here, but when it comes to toting up the kindliness of Paul Ryan, the figures are so teensy it doesn't really matter -- I think the right answer is closer to 5 %. Whoop-tee-do!)

It's Friday so it must be time for Steve Benen's countdown of Mitt Romney's Lies of the Week: "It was heartening that Mitt Romney's habitual dishonesty generated far more attention than usual this week, but the scrutiny doesn't appear to have discouraged the Republican frontrunner, who had an incredibly mendacious week.... Take a look at the 11th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. Unfortunately, it's one of the longest editions to date."

Nia-Malika Henderson & T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "Ahead by double-digits in polls [in Louisiana, Rick] Santorum is expected to do well and to continue his streak of strong showings in the South. Yet, with a delegate gap that keeps getting wider, the final vote tally in Louisiana may not matter much in the long run given that the former senator from Pennsylvania faces daunting odds and a difficult stretch of contests next month.

Gail Collins thinks of six things you need to know about the GOP primary race. CW: that's about as long as such a list should get.

News Ledes

Well, this complicates the story:

New York Times: "Rick Santorum was projected as the winner of the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday night, capturing a deeply conservative state with a hefty portion of the kind of evangelical Christian voters who have helped him claim victories in 10 other states." The Washington Post is updating results here.

AP: "President Barack Obama is opening his pitch for faster work to lock down nuclear material that could be used by terrorists with an up-close look at the nuclear front lines along the heavily militarized border with volatile North Korea. Obama arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning, local time, for three days of diplomacy."

New York Times: "The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.... An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops."

AP: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital, his office said."

NBC News: "More than a decade before former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse, a psychologist warned university police that his actions fit that of a 'likely pedophile’s pattern.'” Includes video story.

AP: "U.S. investigators believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday."

AP: "Dozens of French Muslims are training with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears of future attacks following the shooting deaths of seven people in southern France allegedly by a man who spent time in the region, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday."

New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The four Republican candidates for president crisscrossed Louisiana on Friday in a last bid for votes before today's primary. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for a ballot that also includes some local races and issues."

Politico: "Jon Corzine inappropriately ordered the removal of $200 million from customer funds while serving as the head of MF Global, according to a memo released Friday by a House Financial Services subcommittee -- a finding that appears to contradict the former New Jersey governor’s congressional testimony. The money contributed to the disappearance of an estimated $1.6 billion in client money."

New York Times: "The New York City police detective who fired the first shots in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell in 2006 has been fired, and three others involved in the shooting are being forced to resign, law enforcement officials said on Friday. The decision came after a Police Department administrative trial in the fall found that the detective, Gescard F. Isnora, had acted improperly in the shooting that killed Mr. Bell on what was supposed to have been his wedding day and that he should be fired."

Reuters: "Syrian forces pounded the central city of Homs with mortar fire while troops backed by heavy armor stormed rebellious towns across the country on Saturday, leaving six civilians and four soldiers dead, opposition activists said."

Guardian: As expected, "US army staff sargeant Robert Bales has been formally charged 17 counts of premeditated murder, a capital offence that could lead to the death penalty in the massacre of Afghan civilians, the US military said."

AFP: "A piece of an old Russian satellite whizzed by the International Space Station on Saturday, forcing its six-member crew to temporarily take shelter in two Soyuz escape capsules, officials said. The incident was the third of its kind in more than a decade of continuous inhabitation of the orbiter, whose first element was launched by Russia in 1998, the US space agency NASA said in a series of Twitter updates."

Thursday
Mar222012

The Commentariat -- March 23, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is here. It's mostly on Gail Collins.

"President Obama announces an order to expedite a pipeline project that will help move oil more quickly and efficiently from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Encouraging oil development and infrastructure in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people is part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to develop every available source of American energy":

... Clifford Krauss & Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "... the increasing production and declining consumption [of oil and gas] have unexpectedly brought the United States markedly closer to a goal that has tantalized presidents since Richard Nixon: independence from foreign energy sources, a milestone that could reconfigure American foreign policy, the economy and more. In 2011, the country imported just 45 percent of the liquid fuels it used, down from a record high of 60 percent in 2005."

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: if the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, so are Medicare & Social Security.

Steve Collender of Capital Gains & Games: "We now have some real indications that the fiscal 2013 budget plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is going to be as much a political albatross as a plus for Republicans.... It's hard not to wonder how hard the House Republican leadership will try to help Ryan get the budget resolution adopted when it's debated by the House. He could well be on his own." ...

... Reader MAG sees a resemblance, which I find totally unfair:

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade: Elizabeth Warren says it's time for President Obama to "evolve" on gay marriage.

Larry Sabato rolls his crystal ball at U.S. Senate races.

Right Wing World

** Paul Krugman: "... the kind of pandering [Mitt Romney] has engaged in during his quest for the nomination matters. Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right’s paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America’s political life. And he should be held accountable for his actions."

If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future. -- Rick Santorum

I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. -- Mitt Romney

Chris Moody of Yahoo! News: "Rick Santorum suggested Thursday that re-electing President Barack Obama would be better than electing Republican rival Mitt Romney, a statement that is arguably his toughest criticism of Romney to date.... The Santorum camp later clarified the candidate's remark, saying he didn't mean to insinuate that voters would be better off re-electing Obama than choosing Romney."

Chris Moody: Romney "campaign political director Rich Beeson wrote in the memo.  'So as Senator Santorum continues to drag out this already expensive, negative campaign it is clear that he is becoming the most valuable player on President Obama's team.'"

Brendan Nyhan of the Columbia Journalism Review on "How the media constructed another Romney gaffe — and why it is unlikely to matter." CW: we'll see.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: Mitt Romney's primary competition is utterly incompetent; they don't have the sense to charge a campaign intern with doing Nexis searches of Romney's past statements. Good luck in the general election, Willard.

Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News: "The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Karl Rove on Thursday in which he played down the significance of President Barack Obama's decision to order the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- and twists Bill Clinton's words ... almost beyond recognition, making him say essentially the opposite of his meaning in the film.... [and] to make it seem the former president agrees with Rove." ...

... Jeff Bercovici of Forbes: "Shocker! Karl Rove endorses Obama in Wall Street Journal op-ed." Or so it would appear, if you butchered Rove's written statements the way Rove butchered Bill Clinton's. P.S. Looks like Bercovici forced the WSJ to post a correction. ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones writes a terrific rebuttal to Rove's op-ed: "Rove, the fellow who put a president in a flight suit and had him land on an aircraft carrier where he spoke in front of a 'Mission Accomplished' banner, now contends [the decision to go after bin Laden] was no big deal. He obviously hasn't ... bothered to consider the facts."

Local News

Henry Curtis of the Orlando Sentinel: "Sanford police let George Zimmerman go home after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin last month, but Central Florida police agencies routinely make arrests for murder in 'stand your ground' cases — and then let courts decide if a killing is justified." ...

... Miami Herald: "Angela Corey, the special prosecutor Gov. Rick Scott appointed to handle the Trayvon Martin shooting case, has a reputation as a tough-on-crime state attorney who has the distinction of prosecuting the youngest murder defendant in Jacksonville history, 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez." CW: thanks to reader savecristian for the input on Angela Corey. The linked post gives some background about Corey which is consistent with savecristian's comments about her.

News Ledes

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon":

AP (via the NYT): "A Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board improperly revealed information about the agency’s private deliberations to outside parties who had cases pending before the board.... The board’s inspector general said the member, Terence F. Flynn, violated ethics rules.... A report from Inspector General David P. Berry also faulted Mr. Flynn for a 'lack of candor' during the investigation. President Obama appointed Mr. Flynn ... in January."

Elections Have Consequences. Time: "In a surprise move, President Barack Obama on Friday named Dartmouth President Dr. Jim Yong Kim as his nominee to head the World Bank." Washington Post story here. BBC News story here.

New York Times: "The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.... The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism." Washington Post story here.

AP: "Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.The infiltration echoes the tactics the NYPD used in the run-up to New York's 2004 Republican National Convention, when police monitored church groups, anti-war organizations and environmental advocates nationwide."

Guardian: President "Obama announced Thursday that he was directing federal agencies to expedite a 485-mile [pipe]line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast that would remove a critical bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system. The directive would also apply to other pipelines that alleviate choke points."

Washington Post: "A U.S. counterterrorism official ... said Thursday that [Mohammed] Merah, [the accused French terrorist killed Thursday in Toulouse] was also on the list of known or suspected terrorists prohibited from flying to the United States and had been since 2010."

AP: "The wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad will be hit with a travel ban and have her assets in the EU frozen, a European Union official said Friday. A total of four members of the Assad family, along with eight government ministers, will be targeted in the latest round of sanctions aimed at stopping the violent crackdown on members of the Syrian opposition...."


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/03/new-prosecutor-in-trayvon-martin-shooting-has-lock-kids-up-rep-charged-youngest-ever-murder-defendan.html#storylink=cpy