The Ledes

Shooting Wednesday in the Canadian Parliament building:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

New York Times: "The heart of the Canadian capital [Ottawa] was traumatized and placed in emergency police lockdown on Wednesday after a gunman fatally wounded a soldier guarding the National War Memorial, entered the nearby Parliament building and fired multiple times before he was shot and killed. It was the second deadly assault on a uniformed member of Canada’s armed forces in three days. While the motive was unclear, the Ottawa attack heightened fears that Canada, a strong ally of the United States, had been targeted in an organized terrorist plot." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities. Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a 'high-risk traveller' by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car." The page includes links to related stories. ...

... Here's the Guardian's live feed.

Hill: "The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters took possession of a stray bundle of U.S.-airdropped weapons and other supplies in the Syrian border town of Kobani earlier this week."

Guardian: "A three-month old baby was killed and eight other people wounded in Jerusalem – one seriously – in what Israel police are describing as a 'terrorist attack' in which a speeding car drove onto a pavement crowded with pedestrians alighting from the city’s light railway. Video footage posted on social media appears to show a car on the main road slowing slightly before crossing to the train tracks and climbing on to the station pavement and ploughing through the people standing on it."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

New York Times: "The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims."

Guardian: "The US State Department says Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans being held in North Korea, has been released. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Fowle was home Tuesday after negotiators left Pyongyang. She said the US is still trying to free two other Americans, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae."

New York Times: "Oscar de la Renta, the doyen of American fashion, whose career began in the 1950s in Franco’s Spain, sprawled across the better living rooms of Paris and New York, and who was the last survivor of that generation of bold, all-seeing tastemakers, died on Monday at his home in Kent, Conn. He was 82."

New York Times: "Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star once seen as an emblem of triumph over adversity, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp." ...

     ... The Guardian is liveblogging the sentencing.

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
October 22

10:00 am ET: White Champions of Change -- Strengthening the Economy thru Citizenship

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

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

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

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

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowden, The Movie:

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

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

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

 

 

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

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

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

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

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Sunday
Apr222012

The Commentariat -- April 23, 2012

No column from me today in the New York Times eXaminer. But this post by Peter Hart on how the New York Times has again bungled its reporting on the Keystone XL pipeline is short & to-the-point.

** R.I.P. Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune: "To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.... Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion." Thanks to contributor Ken W. for the link.

"The Amnesia Candidacy." Paul Krugman: President Obama could have done a better job on the economy, but the Bush economy was a disaster, and Romney wants to go back to Bush policies. He just hopes the public will forget how bad they were. In a related blogpost, Krugman charts jobs losses under Bush & Obama. The blue columns are Bush job losses:

CW: Apparently I steered you wrong last week when I linked to an op-ed by former FDIC chair Sheila Bair in the Washington Post. Bair mocked the Fed's "gifts" to banks & suggested they offer the same generous "gifts"/loans to the rest of us. But Joe Weisenthal of the Business Insider writes that Bair is perpetuating a myth (and should know better): "In theory, the pro-inflation camp is the populist one, since a policy of inflation means borrowers see their burdens eased, and those with assets see the holdings devalued. But somehow people keep pushing the idea that it's the opposite, and that its the finance world screaming for higher rates, and that everyone else would benefit with tighter policy and more deflation. It's a very odd myth." ...

... How do I know Weisenthal is right & Bair is wrong? Because Krugman says so: "Quantitative easing isn't being imposed on an unwitting populace by financiers and rentiers; it's being undertaken, to the extent that it is, over howls of protest from the financial industry." ...

... On point: Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "... as [Fed Chair Ben] Bernanke prepares to meet the press for the fifth time Wednesday afternoon, after a scheduled meeting of the Fed’s policy-making committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, there are reasons to doubt that the efforts are increasing public understanding of monetary policy."

Alex Pareene of Salon: "The crumbling of once-great institutions isn't to blame for middle-class decline and anger. Politicians are." CW: This short post on the real causes of problems in Real America is pitch-perfect.

Dahlia Lithwick & Jan Rodak in Slate: "Dodging real-world explanations for the state of the economy and high unemployment, conservatives are now attempting a backdoor campaign to chase women out of the workplace and into their proper roles as homemakers. How else to explain increasing moves toward repealing wage-discrimination laws, rollbacks on mandatory parental leave laws, and making it all-but impossible for poor women who work to choose when to bear children?"

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Medicare is wasting more than $8 billion on an experimental program that rewards providers of mediocre health care and is unlikely to produce useful results, federal investigators say in a new report ... to be issued Monday by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress." The GAO "urges the Obama administration to cancel the program, which pays bonuses to health insurance companies caring for millions of Medicare beneficiaries. Administration officials, however, defended the project...."

Larry Siems, who edits the Torture Report, in Slate: "I read nearly 140,000 formerly classified documents about America's abuse of prisoners since 2001. Here is what I learned.... Our highest government officials, up to and including President Bush, broke international and U.S. laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Worse, they made their subordinates in the military and civilian intelligence services break those laws for them. When the men and women they asked to break those laws protested, knowing they could be prosecuted for torture, they pretended to rewrite the law."

CW: This article by Philip Gourevitch for the New Yorker, first published in the magazine last December & made available on line this week, on Nicolas Sarkozy, looks to be interesting, tho I've only just skimmed it. Here's a quote, which is supposed to show how gauche Sarkozy is but which I like:

You've lost a good opportunity to shut up. -- Nicolas Sarkozy to British PM David Cameron, in response to something Camerson said in an E.U. meeting

... Also not yet read, this article by Nicholas Lemann of the New Yorker, briefly reviewing a number of recent books about the politics of inequality.

Brendan Sasso of The Hill: "The House is set to vote on a host of cybersecurity bills next week, but the fate of the legislation rests in the Senate. The House is expected to approve the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would tear down legal barriers that discourage companies from sharing data about cyber attacks.... But the White House and Senate Democrats argue CISPA is inadequate." ...

... Scott Lemieux in Salon: "Congress is seriously considering a bill called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Intended to allow information sharing both between corporations and between corporations and the government, it presents serious dangers to individual privacy."

The Presidential Race

** Frank Rich of New York magazine: "If you want to appreciate what Barack Obama is up against in 2012, forget about the front man who is his nominal opponent and look instead at the Republican billionaires buying the ammunition for the battles ahead.... Whatever else happens in 2012, it will go down as the Year of the Sugar Daddy. Inflamed by Obama-hatred, awash in self-pity, and empowered by myriad indulgent court and Federal Election Commission rulings, an outsize posse of superrich white men will spend whatever it takes to have its way with the body politic and, if victorious, with the country itself."

Alex Pareene plugs his new e-book, The Rude Guide to Mitt. In this excerpt, Pareene writes about Willard's weirdness.

Kasie Hunt of the AP: Mitt Romney wants you to know that his grandfather went broke a few times. CW: which means Mitt knows what it's like to be poor with no prospects.

Right Wing World *

Dashiell Bennett of The Atlantic: Over the past few days, former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has been making comments that represent "a repudiation of what [the Republican party has] become in the last several years. He's basically saying that their best candidates are worthless, the American people don't trust them, and they treat anyone who doesn't toe the party line the same way 'they do in China on party matters.'" ...

... Here's the BuzzFeed article by Zeke Miller, reporting on Huntsman's remarks at the 92nd Street Y.

David Sirota, writing in Salon, finds evidence that younger evangelicals are less committed than their Tea Party elders to anti-Christian, right-wing policies policies.

* Where science is just another cracked pot. -- Akhilleus

News Ledes

Orlando Sentinel: "Sanford city commissioners voted 3-2 to reject Police Chief Bill Lee's resignation over the controversial Trayvon Martin investigation."

New York Times: "Wal-Mart's stock fell almost 5 percent on Monday, accounting for about one-fifth of the losses in the Dow Jones industrial average, as investors reacted to a bribery scandal at the retailer's Mexican subsidiary and a report that an internal investigation was quashed at corporate headquarters in Arkansas." ...

... Washington Post: "The Justice Department has been conducting a criminal probe of Wal-Mart for allegations of systematic bribery in Mexico, according to three people familiar with the matter."

Washington Post: "Senate Democrats are making plans to force a floor vote on legislation that would invalidate Arizona's controversialimmigration statute if the Supreme Court upholds the law this summer."

ABC News: "Today, during the opening statements of his trial in Greensboro, N.C., two-time presidential candidate John Edwards was accused of using illegal campaign contributions during the 2008 presidential race to cover up his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, a videographer for the campaign." The Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer has a full page of links on the Edwards trial.

Washington Post: "President Obama will issue an executive order Monday that will allow U.S. officials for the first time to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, from cellphone tracking to Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses.... Authoritarian governments, particularly in Syria and Iran, have shown that their security services can also harness technology to help crack down on dissent -- by conducting surveillance, blocking access to the Internet or tracking the movements of opposition figures."

AP: "George Zimmerman was released around midnight Sunday from a county jail on $150,000 bail as he awaits his second-degree murder trial for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin."

New York Times: Anders Behring Breivik,"the self-described anti-Islamic militant who has admitted killing 77 people in a bombing and shooting spree last July, told bereaved families on Monday that he had also lost his family and friends as a result of the massacre."

Saturday
Apr212012

The Commentariat -- April 22, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Tom Friedman's little effort for the day. Friedman predicts the end of America, but I find Friedman himself more depressing than his prophecy. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...

... AND read Jason Linkins on Krugman-Friedman/Brooks, including the "See also" link at the end of Linkins' post. Funny.

Mike McIntire of the New York Times outs ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) & its corporate interests and Repubican legislatives members: "Most of the attention has focused on ALEC’s role in creating model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda. But a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes." Common Cause has filed an IRS "complaint asserting that ALEC has abused its tax-exempt status...." CW: this is a good example of liberal groups and bloggers driving an MSM story.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court will conclude one of its most significant and controversial terms in decades by taking on one more issue that has divided the nation: Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. The court's final oral argument on Wednesday -- Arizona v. United States -- provides yet another chance for the justices to confront fundamental questions about the power of the federal government."

Kim Severson of the New York Times: "John Edwards ... will face a federal jury on Monday.... The government's case is simple: Mr. Edwards knowingly accepted the money from two wealthy donors and used it to keep information [his affair & the child he had with his mistress] from the public that would have surely torpedoed his presidential campaign. Thus, the money was a campaign contribution and its use a conspiracy.... Mr. Edwards's legal team rejects that argument entirely...."

David Barstow of the New York Times: When U.S. Wal-Mart executives found out Wal-Mart de Mexico was involved in a huge bribery campaign, they hushed it up. "Neither American nor Mexican law enforcement officials were notified. None of Wal-Mart de Mexico's leaders were disciplined. Indeed, its chief executive, Eduardo Castro-Wright, identified by the former executive as the driving force behind years of bribery, was promoted to vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 2008."

Nicholas Confessore & Derek Willis of the New York Times: "President Obama's re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on..., with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors."

Right Wing World *

"This Campaign Was the Time of My Life" (This is a week old, but it's aged well):

Reid Epstein of Politico: Mitt plays the victim card, and it works.

CW: this is a little old, but perfect Sunday listening. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of the Catholic diocese of Peoria, Illinois, likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, along with past French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, [last] Sunday while condemning Obama's 'radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda.' He said that Catholics in America are in a 'war' as a result of the administration's mandate for religiously-based institutions to cover contraceptives, and compared politicians who back the mandate to Judas Iscariot." With audio. ...

... Steve Benen writes, "... the bishop concluded his harangue about his hatred for the president by giving the congregation voting instructions.... In a complaint to the IRS, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn explained it's 'impossible to interpret' Jenky's voting instructions as 'anything but a command to vote against Obama.' Since the church is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status if it tells parishioners who to vote for, the Hitler comparison in the bishop's partisan rant may end up being the least of his troubles."

* Where Savonarola still rules. -- Akhilleus

News Ledes

AP: "An audio recording has surfaced of an Arizona sheriff [Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County] playing his refusal to cooperate in a racial profiling investigation for laughs at a fundraiser for an anti-illegal immigration group in Texas. He ridicules politicians who sought the probe and displayed contempt toward federal authorities who were -- and are still -- investigating him on two fronts."

Guardian: "The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, the first such mission in its history. The human rights inquiry led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, is scheduled to begin on Monday."

BBC News: "US and Afghan negotiators have finalised a partnership agreement for the US role in Afghanistan after its forces withdraw at the end of 2014. The draft agreement on their long-term relationship was signed in the Afghan capital Kabul after months of talks. No details were released, with the deal to be reviewed by both presidents." ...

     ... Update: New York Times story here.

Reuters: "French voters headed to the polls on Sunday in round one of a presidential ballot, with economic despair on course to make Nicolas Sarkozy the first president to lose a fight for re-election in more than 30 years." ...

     ... BBC News Update: "French Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of the country's presidential election, estimates show. They suggest he got more than 28% of votes against about 26% for centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. The two men will face each other in a second round on 6 May."

Friday
Apr202012

The Commentariat -- April 21, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. AP: "Eager to energize young voters, President Barack Obama is depicting Republicans as obstacles to an affordable college education as he previews an argument he will make on university campuses next week in states crucial to his re-election."

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "Congressional redistricting, a decennial process that generally allows the party in legislative power in each state to draw new lines, has not created many opportunities for new seats for Republicans, as the party’s leaders once expected. But it has forced multiple House Democrats, viewing their odds in new districts as slim, into retirement. Many of those districts are now either in play or solidly Republican, making the climb for Democrats all that more onerous."

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post talks to Prof. Arthur Goldhammer about the upcoming French elections. This is a nice shortcourse on what's at stake.

CW: Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post can be rather shallow, but she's right in this post on the Vatican's crackdown on American nuns: "After a lengthy investigation by the office formerly known as the Inquisition, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has been signed up to oversee a forced reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the 57,000 Catholic nuns in this country.... American sisters do outnumber the priests, and it’s the women who have the troops, too – at schools and hospitals the bishops couldn’t close if they wanted to. The nuns no longer only empty the bed pans, you see, but now also own the institutions where they work. And you have to wonder whether that’s the real problem."

CW: Our So-Called Justice System. I am not a fan of the Post's editorial board either, but they too are right to condemn the FBI & the Justice Department not just for the FBI's shoddy labwork but also for hiding later-discovered exculpatory evidence from convicts and their lawyers.

Joe Nocera's column on Joseph Alsop is both interesting and a frightening reminder of how influential journalists -- think "Tom Friedman, Policymaker" -- once were.

This should probably go in Right Wing World: Dan Friedman of the National Journal: "Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has done more than any other Democrat up for reelection this year to distance himself from President Obama, said he does not know if he will vote for Obama or presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November." Jerk.

The Presidential Race

Woe unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell. -- Book of Mormon ...

... The Road to Hell is Paved with Lies. Steve Benen documents 21 lies Mendacious Mitt told this week. That's a record!

Greg Sargent: the Romney campaign has been making the argument for months that President Obama is responsible for the Bush recession, "and it continues to generate virtually no skepticism in the press."

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney may be inclined to start moving to the political center now that he’s practically got the Republican nomination won and done, but the Obama campaign would much rather keep him right where he’s been for the past few months: in the conservative territory he staked out while battling for Republican primary voters."

Judd Legum & Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress: "Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s new foreign policy spokesperson Richard Grenell has an odd penchant for targeting the wives of male politicians and women in general on Twitter. Grenell, who served as George W. Bush’s spokesperson at the UN and was announced as the Romney campaign’s new representative yesterday, has gone after Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Callista Gingrich, Sandra Fluke and others. He also asserted that President Obama’s children should be fair game for political debate." CW: Read the tweets. They're disgusting, sexist crap.

Remember Him? Shannon Travis of CNN: "Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign continued to face outrage and claims of 'wasteful spending' of taxpayer money on Friday as the candidate keeps his Secret Service detail, which could cost north of $40,000 per day."

Right Wing World

Delusions of Grandeur:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Charles W. Colson, who served as a political saboteur for President Richard M. Nixon, masterminded some of the dirty tricks that led to the president’s downfall, then emerged from prison to become an important evangelical leader, saying he had been 'born again,' died Saturday. He was 80."

AP: "Utah Republicans denied U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch a clear path to a seventh and final term Saturday, forcing the 78-year-old lawmaker into a June primary with 37-year-old former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Hatch fell short of the nomination by fewer than 50 votes from the nearly 4,000 delegates at the party convention."

AFP: "The United Nations on Saturday authorized the deployment of a 300-strong ceasefire monitoring mission, but the United States warned it may not allow a renewal of the mission saying its 'patience was exhausted.'"

The Hill: "Conservative firebrand journalist Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure, according to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner on Friday."

New York Times: "The Obama administration says it believes that a Chinese manufacturer sold North Korea the chassis and other parts for a missile-transport vehicle displayed in a military parade this week, a senior official said Friday, raising new concerns about China’s ability to enforce a ban on military sales to North Korea."

AP: "Afghan security forces have arrested five militants with 10 metric tons (11 tons) of explosives that they had brought from Pakistan to use to carry out a massive attack in Kabul, as well as another three planning an assassination attempt against the vice president, an official said Saturday."

Washington Post: "The repercussions from the burgeoning Colombia prostitution scandal continued to mount Friday as the U.S. Secret Service forced out three more employees, while agency director Mark Sullivan gave his first briefing to President Obama on the alleged misconduct of those in charge of protecting him."

Reuters: "Leading world economies on Friday pledged $430 billion in new funding for the International Monetary Fund, more than doubling its lending power in a bid to protect the global economy from the euro-zone debt crisis."

Washington Post: "American nuns struggled to respond Friday to a Vatican crackdown on what it calls 'radical feminism' among the women and their purported failure to sufficiently condemn such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage."

Reuters: "Labor groups at bankrupt American Airlines said on Friday they support a potential merger with rival US Airways Group Inc in a deal they say would save more jobs than a plan by parent AMR Corp to reorganize as a stand-alone carrier."

Thursday
Apr192012

The Commentariat -- April 20, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Gospel According to Gutting -- Is Confusing." It's a response to a Times op-ed post by philosopher Gary Gutting. I usually find Gutting informative, but this time he was way off the mark. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Quote of the Day. People ask me, ‘Why don’t you guys get together?’ And I say, ‘Exactly how much would you expect me to cooperate with Michele Bachmann?’ And they say, ‘Are you saying they’re all Michele Bachmann?’ And my answer is, ‘No, they’re not all Michele Bachmann. Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann.’ -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "Some of the same spoilers that interrupted the recovery in 2010 and 2011 have emerged again, raising fears that the winter's economic strength might dissipate in the spring."

Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: the NRA deleted the Ted Nugent videos from their Website yesterday, in advance of Nugent's meeting with the Secret Service about his incendiary comments. CW: I doubt the NRA has gone all sensitive; they probably just don't want the Secret Service hauling them in for disseminating this crap.

Melissa Russo of NBC New York: a Marist College student pollster calls 911 & saves the life of a woman he phoned who was going into diabetic shock when she picked up the phone.

The Presidential Race

 

It is kinda ironic given that [Mitt Romney's] family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy. Women are not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico. -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Montana), agreeing with a remark by Daily Beast reporter Ben Jacobs

Attacking a candidate's religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don't think others should either. -- Lis Smith, Obama campaign spokesperson

Noam Scheiber of The New Republic on Team Obama's hardball tactics: "... the new ruthlessness is actually a sign of maturity."

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "It isn't Mitt Romney who's giving Barack Obama fits as the president moves into re-election mode. It's those federal bureaucrats carousing in Las Vegas, the Secret Service consorting with Colombian prostitutes and U.S. soldiers posing with bloody enemy corpses. The scandals are taking a toll. They are distracting embarrassments that are dominating public attention while Obama seeks to focus on difficulties abroad and jobs at home. And they are giving Republicans an opportunity to question his competence and leadership, an opening for Romney in a race so close that any advantage might make a difference."

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that among registered voters, "President Obama's progressive vision of government trumps Mitt Romney's trickle-down philosophy.... According to the poll, voters clearly believe government should be doing more, not less, to strengthen the economy and the middle-class.... Perhaps the answer is that contrary to conventional wisdom, President Obama is the one would benefit from this campaign being about economic ideas, while Mitt Romney is the one who benefits from trivia and distraction.

Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post: "Just a day after President Obama visited this crucial swing state, Mitt Romney spoke at a shuttered drywall company visited four years ago by then-candidate Obama to make the argument that Obama’s record has yet to live up to his lofty rhetoric.... Romney laid the blame for the company’s fate squarely on Obama.... The company actually shut down in June 2008, months before Obama took office....." ...

... Steve Benen: "Asked about this, Eric Etch-A-Sketch Fehrnstrom [Romney's campaign spokesman] said, 'The fact that [the economy] struggled through the last three years is not the fault of Barack Obama's predecessor; it's the fault of this administration and the failure of their policies to really get this economy going again.' This is simply incoherent for anyone who cares about reality."

David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix catches Mitt Romney in a pretty big Red Sox fib. A misstatement about he Sox did in Massachusetts U.S. senatorial candidate Martha Coakley; could Romney's lie affect the presidential election? I doubt it, but Bernstein's analysis of Romney's patterns of lying (Bernstein IDs two) is an interesting read. ...

... AND Yet Another Romney Lie. Juliet Lapidos of the New York Times: Romney & his spokesman Fehrnstrom are telling the press that Romney won't release more than two years of tax returns because that's all Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry released when he ran in 2004. Only that isn't true. Kerry released between seven & ten years of returns. CW: BTW, I think Kerry & his wife Teresa Heinz are richer than the Romneys, so it's not as if Kerry wanted to release his returns (my recollection is that Heinz -- who keeps her income separate from her husband's -- didn't release her returns).

Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast: Tom "Friedman and Financial Times columnist Sebastian Mallaby, whom Friedman quoted, and others in the center-left orbit they inhabit genuinely seem to believe that if Barack Obama put a bold and comprehensive tax-reform plan on the table, the Republicans would be forced to respond and negotiate in good faith. But this is pure fantasy. All that would happen would be that Obama would cost himself loads of political capital, and the center of gravity on the subject of taxation would again be pushed to the right. That isn’t just bad for Obama, which is a second-order concern; it would be horrible for the country." ...

... CW: Oh, this is heartbreaking. Ned Martel of the Washington Post on Americans Elect, the sleazy operation that is promoting a third-party candidate. "Last week was supposed to be the first week of online voting on the Americans Elect site, when anyone anywhere could click to endorse practiced politicians or to draft neophytes. But the candidate choices have remained decidedly low-profile, and traffic is meager on the site, which cost $9 million to construct. Scrambling to avert failure, Americans Elect has postponed online voting for a month." Martel, BTW, describes Doug Schoen as a "Democratic pollster; that's like describing Karl Rove as a Democratic operative.

Right Wing World *

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "American Crossroads, the pro-Republican super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, and its nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS, will announce $100 million raised for both so far through the 2012 cycle...."

* Where who screams loudest wins. -- Akhilleus

News Ledes

New York Times: "The police arrested a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were lying on a sidewalk at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street on Friday afternoon after one demonstrator announced that the law allowed them to do so as a form of political protest."

New York Times: "Concluding that racial bias played a significant factor in the sentencing of a man [Marcus Reymond Robinson] to death [in Fayetteville, North Carolina] 18 years ago, a judge on Friday ordered that the convict’s sentence be reduced to life in prison without parole, the first such decision under North Carolina’s controversial Racial Justice Act."

New York Times: "International pressure for a harsher line on Syria escalated Thursday, with the president of France calling the Syrian leader a liar, the American secretary of state moving a step closer to endorsing use of military force, and the head of the United Nations accusing the Syrian government of failing to carry out nearly every element of a peace plan that went into effect a week ago."

Washington Post: David Randall Chaney, "one of the Secret Service supervisors ousted from the agency this week for their involvement in the Colombia prostitution scandal, made light of his official protective work on his Facebook page, joking about a picture of himself standing watch behind Sarah Palin.... Several people familiar with the matter have identified the other supervisor as Greg Stokes, who was assistant special agent in charge of the K-9 division. Stokes has been notified by agency officials that he will be fired, although he will be given an opportunity to contest the charges...."

... New York Times: "The Secret Service's investigation into alleged misconduct with prostitutes by agency personnel in advance of President Obama’s trip to Colombia last week has been expanded to determine if the misconduct was confined to the 11 employees who were first tied to the scandal, according to a senior American official." ...

     ... Update: "The director of the Secret Service has told lawmakers that at least two more members of the agency will be dismissed in connection with alleged misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia last week.... The spokesman for the United States Southern Command in Miami released a statement on Friday saying that the military officer in charge of investigating the alleged misconduct is scrutinizing 11 service members -- one more than had previously been disclosed."

New York Times: "A United States helicopter crashed in bad weather in southern Afghanistan on Thursday after it responded to evacuate Afghan police officers wounded in a suicide attack on a police checkpoint, an Afghan official said. Two Afghan officials said the crash killed four Americans. Late on Thursday, however, NATO confirmed only that one of its helicopters had crashed in southern Afghanistan. It said on Friday that its investigation was ongoing, and would not say whether those on board had been killed nor confirm their nationality." ...

ABC News: "A new photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News showing the bloodied back of George Zimmerman's head, which was taken three minutes after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, gives possible credence to his claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as he fought for his life." With video. Linked page links to photo. ...

... AP: George Zimmerman "is asking a Florida judge to let him out of jail while he awaits trial, and legal experts say he stands a good chance of being granted bail at the hearing Friday." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Speaking publicly for the first time, George Zimmerman ... briefly took the witness stand at his bail hearing on Friday and apologized to Mr. Martin’s parents." The judge set Zimmerman's bail at $150,000, "considerably lower than the $1 million requested by prosecutors."

NEW. Philadelphia Inquirer: "Complaining that he was blindsided while on church business in the Vatican, the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va. [Michael J. Bransfield], on Thursday angrily denied trial testimony in Philadelphia alleging that he sexually abused a child during the late 1970s."

AP: "Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik took to the Internet to learn how to carry out a bombing-and-shooting rampage, studying attacks by al-Qaida, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center."

Washington Post: "By noon Friday, Cairo's Tahrir Square ... was packed with Egyptian protesters, promising to be one of the largest demonstrations since the 18-day revolt last year.... The rally was called by liberals to reject the nomination of Mubarak-era figures in the presidential race. But by Friday it had morphed into a rally against the ruling military council and included a cross-section of Egypt's society with differing and competing messages."

CNN: "The U.S. Secret Service said Thursday that it has resolved any questions regarding rocker Ted Nugent, whom its agents interviewed after he said he would be 'dead or in jail' if President Barack Obama were re-elected. 'The issue has been resolved,' and the agency 'does not anticipate any further action,' Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told CNN after the interview."