The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

AP: "In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, [Vice President] Biden told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms." The Guardian story is here.

CNN: "The first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line Monday, triumphant in a storied race that has become a national symbol of resiliency and determination. Meb Keflezighi, 38, won the men's division with an official time of 2:08:37, according to the Boston Marathon's Facebook page. With video.

AP: "Although [a] 15-year-old [airplane stowaway] apparently wanted nothing more than to run away, his success in slipping past layers of security early Sunday morning made it clear that a determined person can still get into a supposedly safe area and sneak onto a plane.... In San Jose, airport officials said they were reviewing how the boy slipped through security that includes video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 23

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

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Saturday
Oct292011

The Commentariat -- October 30

Comments are still open on this weekend's Off Times Square.

Here's the declaration of the 99 Percent, with info re: the formation of a national general assembly in Philadelphia beginning July 4, 2012, in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania. ...

... Now here are some really good ideas -- I just got some junk mail from Chase today, which I circular-filed. I'll be retrieving it in the morning:

... ** Frank Rich of New York Magazine: "Elections are supposed to resolve conflicts in a great democracy, but our next one will not. The elites will face off against the elites to a standoff, and the issues animating the class war in both parties won’t even be on the table. The structural crises in our economy, our government, and our culture defy any of the glib solutions proposed by current Democrats or Republicans; the quixotic third-party movements being hatched by well-heeled do-gooders are vanity productions." CW: sorry I'm so late with this. ...

... Rich talks about his essay with Rachel Maddow in the second segment of this video (begins 6 min. in); the first segment, featuring Robert Reich talking with Keith Olbermann about the positive effects of OWS, is pretty good, too:

... This history of the Bonus Army, produced for Disabled American Veterans, is a three-parter. Click through at the ends of Parts 1 & 2 by clicking on the thumbnail in the upper left-hand corner:

... Digby: Meanwhile, Democrats on the deficit reduction supercommittee roll blithely on, sparing & appealing for the fat cats at the expense of the 99 Percent. ...

... "Inequality in America Is even Worse than You Thought." Justin Elliott of Salon: "The German think tank [Bertelsmann Foundation] used a set of policy analyses to create a Social Justice Index of 31 developed nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The United States came in a dismal 27th in the rankings." ...

... BUT Never Mind. Neiman's 2011 Christmas catalogue is out! Here's the video edition for our many loyal One Percent readers:

     ... OR, take your time, and peruse the entire catalogue here.

Your Psychology Lesson for the Day, from Prof. Drew Westen, writing in the New York Times: "Just as the two parties differ in their attitudes toward authority, they diverge in the value they place on intellect. In both cases, the two parties might have something to learn from each other."

With Liberty and Justice for Some: Rachel Maddow & Glenn Greenwald discuss his new book:

In a New York Times essay, Christina Romer tells Ben Bernanke to get off the dime. She has a list of things the Fed Chair could & should do to facilitate economic recovery.

"Elizabeth Warren, Rock Star." Dana Milbank: "Part Pat Moynihan, part Erin Brockovich, she has revived the energy of the left in a way no other Democrat has, including President Obama."

Prof. Bruce Schulman in Salon, on presidential primaries: "Sadly, the current mess hardly realizes [Wisconson Progressive reformer] Robert LaFollette’s dream of open, democratic selection. If anything, the 'interests' that Progressive reformers feared hold even greater sway now than when party officials hashed out the ballot lines: At least they needed to find candidates who would appeal to a broad swath of the rank-and-file.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "... there are signs that Republicans are giving [former Speaker & GOP presidential candidate Newt] Gingrich another look. Fundraising has picked up after his strong debate performances and amid the continued frostiness that many activist Republicans feel toward presumed front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor." CW: Now all we need is a Santorum surge (ha ha), and the Delusional Season will be complete.

Right Wing World

Actual photo. "'Perpetually lazy, spoiled rotten' kids who trick-or-treat each and every year." Stock photo via Slate.Dahlia Lithwick of Slate on the Republican War on Trick-or-Treating. (All links that follow are to sourced material.) "This week, Republicans in Congress have decided to take some time off from taking time off to announce a bold new jobs initiative: As part of the effort to reward the nation’s hardest working job creators, and punish the 'growing mobs' of whining, entitled, spoiled youngsters who have taken to the streets with their irrational, socialist demands, House GOP Leader Eric Cantor this afternoon announced that America’s problems will be solved by a forward-thinking congressional initiative. Quoting himself in a speech that he almost gave last week, Rep. Cantor explained that 'Republicans believe that what is fair is a hand up, not a hand out.' And that’s why Republicans today declared war on trick-or-treaters."

News Ledes

New York Times: "... more than 1.8 million customers from Pennsylvania reaching up into New England found themselves without electricity as the region was lashed by surprisingly high winds, snowdrifts and surging seas."

Austin American-Statesman: "After a crackdown led to dozens of arrests early Sunday morning, city leaders have asked Occupy Austin protesters to appoint leaders to meet this morning and work out new rules for the group's occupation of City Hall.... Sunday's arrests of 30 men and seven women was the largest group arrest since protesters began the 24/7 rally at City Hall on Oct. 6. Three more protesters had been charged with disorderly conduct and three others with criminal trespass as of Sunday night."

AP: About 50 "Occupy Wall Street protesters chanted slogans, danced to stay warm and defiantly protested into the early hours Sunday near Tennessee's Capitol building, squaring off for the third consecutive night against state authorities.... Capitol police sporadically made their rounds and a state trooper occasionally walked past the protest in the pre-dawn hours, but authorities signaled no immediate attempt to make arrests as law enforcement agents had done on the two previous nights." ...

... The Tennessean: "The American Civil Liberties Union is working on a legal strategy to stop nightly arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters on the grounds that the state is violating their First Amendment rights. The Tennessee chapter of the ACLU will ask the courts to bar enforcement of a newly imposed curfew on Legislative Plaza, where Occupy Nashville protesters have gathered for more than three weeks. A request for an injunction could be filed as soon as Monday." ...

... Oakland Tribune: "It appeared protesters and gas mask-wearing police officers would clash again Saturday night on Oakland streets, four days after a violent police crackdown shoved the Occupy Oakland movement into the international spotlight, but, just as emotions peaked, organizers held up peace signs. Marchers turned around, patted themselves on the back and returned to their adopted home, Frank H. Ogawa Plaza." ...

... Fox "News": "Police arrested about 30 anti-Wall Street protesters in Portland early Sunday, dragging and carrying them to waiting vans, after they refused to leave a park in an affluent district.The arrests came after protesters from the Occupy Portland movement marched to the Pearl District, with some saying they viewed its residents as part of the wealthy demographic they're protesting." ... Here's The Oregonian liveblog.

New York Times: "The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran."

AP: "Western military intervention in Syria will lead to an 'earthquake' that 'would burn the whole region,' Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in remarks published Sunday, following growing calls from anti-regime protesters for a no-fly zone over the country." Here's the interview, published in the Sunday Telegraph. ...

     ... Guardian Update: "Nato has all but ruled out the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone in Syria after the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, warned that any western intervention would cause an 'earthquake' that would 'burn the whole region'."

AP "Tens of thousands of stranded Qantas Airways passengers scrambled to reach their destinations Sunday as the airline, its unions and the Australian government argued in a lengthy arbitration hearing over the abrupt grounding of its entire fleet. The government wants the panel to order Qantas to fly in Australia's economic interests. The airline is arguing for a permanent ruling to end the unions' strikes that it says risk the airline's viability, while the unions say the employee lockout imposed Saturday was an extreme action and argue for a temporary suspension instead." ...

     ... Guardian Update: "Qantas has called off the dramatic grounding of its entire fleet after a tribunal ordered the Australian airline and trade unions to end a dispute that has stranded thousands of passengers. Fair Work Australia, an independent arbiter, ordered that rolling industrial action be halted in a ruling that forces Qantas and three unions to return to the negotiating table."

Friday
Oct282011

The Commentariat -- October 29

I've opened a comments page on the GOP presidential candidates on Off Times Square. In keeping with the quality of the candidates, the "supporting documentation" is not very serious.

The President's Weekly Address (transcript):

     ... Reuters story here.

The Daily Kos lists events in more than 200 locations at OccupyWallStreetEvents.com  ...

... Brandon Gee of The Tennessean: "The state’s attempts to rein in the Occupy Nashville protests that have called Legislative Plaza home for three weeks may have served only to fan the flames, observers said Friday. If nothing else, the protesters have a new chant to add to their repertoire. 'Remember the Nashville 29' is a reference to the protesters who were arrested at 3:10 a.m. Friday when they refused to vacate the plaza. It was among the rallying cries as the group defiantly marched back toward the Capitol upon their release from the Criminal Justice Center shortly before 9 a.m. Their arrests gained them publicity and new supporters, as well as lawyers promising to file lawsuits on their behalf." ...

... Scott Johnson of the Oakland Tribune: "Sparked by the injury on Tuesday night of 24-year-old Iraq War veteran and ex-Marine Scott Olsen, the Occupy Oakland movement almost overnight became an international symbol of resistance around which millions of people are rallying. The latest sign of Oakland's galvanizing effect came with the arrival of Michael Moore ... on Friday afternoon to the amphitheater of Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, where it all began. In cities across the country, thousands of protesters Thursday night expressed their solidarity with Olsen -- and by extension Oakland -- by chanting and holding signs that said: 'We are all Scott Olsen.'"

... J. P. Masser in Daily Kos: how is it that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who says she was a civil rights activist in the 1960s, didn't think of the Kent State massacre before she "unleash[ed] the Oakland Police Department on peaceful protesters...? To mobilize hundreds of police in full riot gear armed with tear gas, flash bombs, billy clubs and rubber bullets? CW: good question.

... Zoltan, writing in Daily Kos: "If you were watching the coverage of the attack against Occupy Oakland through the filter of the corporate media, you were told that police had no choice but to use teargas on the protesters, because the protesters were throwing rocks, bottles, and paint at the police.... I looked at a lot videos of the police attack. Nowhere did I see protesters throwing rocks, bottles, or paint.... I want to see video proof before I believe that the Oakland protesters were truly throwing rocks, bottles, and paint." ...

... Drake Bennett of Bloomberg! News profiles David Graeber, an anarchist who was one of the principal organizers of Occupy Wall Street. Graeber is a respected anthropoligist who has some interesting ideas about debt. Thanks to a reader for the link.

For the Well-Prepared OWS Protester. Joshua Brustein of the New York Times: an app "I'm Being Arrested" is a free download, but it may have downsides. Read the article.

N. R. Kleinfield & John Eligon of the New York Times: "A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.... The outpouring of angry officers at the courthouse had faint echoes of a 1992 march by off-duty officers on City Hall to protest Mayor David N. Dinkins’s call for more independent review of the police. And it raises unsettling questions about the current mind-set of the police force." CW: I lived in Manhattan in 1992, & it was stunning to hear numerous officers calling the mayor, who is black, by a racial epithet.

David Dayen of Firedoglake: "Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has not been traditionally opposed to a deficit reduction plan.... So it’s quite something to see Greenstein, along with Paul van de Water and Richard Kogan, savage the Democratic opening bid in the Catfood Commission II, describing it as to the right of Bowles-Simpson, the Gang of Six and other deficit plans.... CBPP rightly notes that none of this has led to Republicans embracing the plan." The CBPP report is here.

** "The Good Son." Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid: "Bush Pere does have an heir ... a good son intent on restoring the 50-year American foreign policy consensus of which GHWB was arguably the apotheosis....  His name is Barack Hussein Obama. As Jay Leno put a bunch of softballs up on a tee for Obama last night, the President, while swatting a few victory drives, made it very clear that he saw himself restoring the old multilateral, America-first-among-equals tradition -- after a period of aberration presided over by Guess Who." You can watch the whole Leno interview of Obama in the October 26 Commentariat.

Monica Potts of the American Prospect: an analysis of President Obama's new student loan reduction initiative shows the program doesn't help much. "... the problems with student-loan debt are deeply entwined with the problems in our economy overall. If student-loan payers have a little bit more to spend every month then the plan is only a disappointingly meager move to make a slight dent in a big problem. If, however, it serves to quiet the students who are, right now, the loudest in demanding reform, then the plan could do real harm."

AND in Your Weekly Friday Night News Dump, Jackie Calmes of the New York Times reports, "The White House directed a well-known businessman on Friday to conduct an independent review of government loans to energy companies, as House Republicans announced they would consider subpoenaing records related to a 2009 loan to a California manufacturer of solar-energy equipment that is now bankrupt. In enlisting Herbert M. Allison Jr., a former executive who helped the Bush and Obama administrations rescue the financial system, the White House indicated some concern that it needed to get out ahead of the Congressional investigation into the loan portfolio of the Department of Energy and, in particular, the half-billion-dollar loan to the California manufacturer, Solyndra." See also Friday's Ledes.

Right Wing World

New York Times Editors: "The Republican presidential hopefuls have been saying alarming things about the federal courts.... Whoever is elected president could shape the court for the next generation. That means voters should be alarmed by the fringe ideas they have been hearing from the Republican candidates so far."

Jonathan Cohn of New York Magazine goes a long way toward explaining why conservatives don't like Mitt Romney: "Romney’s campaign treats conservatism as an obstacle to his reelection.... He offers the right the least amount of substantive commitment.... Conservatives ... want to win a philosophically oriented campaign. They want to believe that Americans are voting for their party because they agree with it, not just because the other party was in office during an economic free fall." CW: in other words, they want people to belie-e-e-ve in Ayn Rand.

Akhilleus sent me a link to an assessment by the very funny Amanda Marcotte, whose explanation of Herman Cain's popularity among the GOP base is, in part:

There's always been a strain of conservatives -- the ones who say, 'I'm really more libertarian' -- who missed out on the 60s and so want to reimagine themselves as dangerous rebels who are out to get The Man, except in this case The Man is ordinary working people who are oppressing the beleaguered wealthy class. You don't know downtrodden until The Man, in his greedy grasping for health care and a humble pension, makes you downgrade to a smaller yacht and reduce your summer house options to a mere two or three. Luckily, the downtrodden rich have 'libertarians' out there who imagine they're being radical and subversive by calling for regressive tax structures. These folks are Cain's base. Who else do you think is buying all those stupid Harleys?

Meanwhile, this probing analysis by Jon Stewart, who looks at a range of candidates, cannot be discounted. Here he is on Mitt:

... AND here on Mitt's competition:

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: Oh, horrors! The Affordable Care Act has a "marriage penalty," which will encourage people to live in sin. Republicans have found something else not to like about the ACA, too: it reduces income taxes for poor people. Never mind that it reduces taxes in about the same amount as do the Bush tax cuts -- which the GOP thinks is just fine -- it's bad if ObamaCare does it. P.S. The ACA money goes not to the taxpayer but to the insurance industry -- you'd think Republicans would love that. That's the rule. CW: this analysis is sort of in the weeds, but these arguments will probably one day come to a 30-second spot on your teevee, so it's nice to know they're the usual baloney -- and especially tasty baloney because the vast majority of people will not know WTF the ad is talking about -- just that ObamaCare is bad for you. Somehow. 

Wow! Montana Republican Denny Rehberg is looking out for seniors all over the world! (and on your dime) --

     ... AND for all their continence requirements! Via Ben Smith. Classy, Ben.

Local News

Why I Don't Live in Texas. KVUE-TV Austin, Texas: "A radio ad for a concealed handgun class at Keller's Riverside Store in Mason, located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, is causing controversy. 'We will attempt to teach you all the necessary information you need to obtain your C.H.L.,' the ad stated.... 'If you are a socialist liberal and or voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as under the law.... If you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class with no shame; I am Crockett Keller, thank you and God bless America.'" The Texas Department of Public Safety, which certifies instructors, is investigating. Includes a video report, which is pretty good.

War on the Courts. Matt Friedman of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "For months, Gov. Chris Christie traveled the country amassing a small fortune for New Jersey Republicans. Now he has seized on an issue — 'elitist judges' coddled by Democrats — to ride into the state’s legislative races in two weeks.... State Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg set off a furor last week when she ruled that increases in the cost of pensions and health care benefits for judges and justices were, in effect, pay cuts that are forbidden by the state Constitution. Although the governor appealed the decision Tuesday, he is intent on seeking a constitutional amendment to bypass it." CW: What makes the newest Christie Crusade particularly hypocritical is that the DOJ cited him for lavish spending on luxury hotels with "insufficient, inaccurate or no justification,” during the time he was a federal prosecutor. P.S. Note how Friedman editorializes a "straight news" story with his lede.

New York Times Editors: "Of the 391 capital convictions [in Pennsylvania] since 1976, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this week, at least 125 have been reversed or sent back for new hearings by state and federal appeals courts because of serious errors by lawyers. Among the state’s egregious failures is not providing adequate defense counsel in capital cases. Government-appointed lawyers are so poorly paid that few are willing to take on these extremely difficult cases.... The low fees create a 'presumption of ineffectiveness,' a group of lawyers told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.... The state should pass a law proposed in March to end the death penalty. There is no argument in favor of maintaining a barbaric, arbitrary and expensive system of capital punishment."

News Ledes

Denver Post: "In the most violent Saturday in more than a month of Occupy Denver demonstrations and marches, Denver police fired mace and pepper balls at a crowd of protesters in Civic Center today and arrested 20 people. Two of the protesters were held for felony charges after police said an officer was knocked off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked, as they moved into the park to tear down illegal tents." ...

... CNN: "Demonstrators encamped in a Lower Manhattan park faced New York's first snow storm of the season Saturday without the benefit of propane tanks and generators that they had been using to cook food and keep warm.... A day earlier, up to 40 firefighters removed the group's propane tanks and six generators, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said." With video. New York Magazine story here.

Al Jazeera: "China has said it wants more clarity before investing in an EU bailout fund, as the head of the scheme held talks in Beijing to try to win the help of the world's second-largest economy. Friday's announcement came after earlier expectations for a strong commitment from Beijing over Europe's debt crisis. The Financial Times, a UK newspaper, had quoted a source saying China could inject more than $100bn to help bail the EU out.... But publicly, Beijing has been noncommittal and Chinese state media said Europe must take responsibility for the crisis and not rely on "good Samaritans" to save the continent from its fiscal woes."

AP: "Tennessee state troopers for the second straight night arrested Wall Street protesters for defying a new nighttime curfew imposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in an effort to disband an encampment near the state Capitol. And for a second time, a Nashville night judge dismissed arrest warrants of the arrested protesters." The Tennessean report is here.

New York Times: "Qantas announced on Saturday that it had grounded its entire fleet around the world, the most drastic move yet in a protracted labor dispute between the airline and its employees."

Guardian: "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the fugitive son of Libya's toppled late leader, told the International Criminal Court he is innocent of alleged crimes against humanity, the court prosecutor said on Saturday."

Thursday
Oct272011

The Commentariat -- October 28

Tim Egan: boomer parents don't know what to tell their jobless millennial kids. "For all the efforts to raise hyper-achievers, we didn’t teach enough of a basic survival skill — to find joy in simple things not connected to a grade, a trophy or a job." ...

     ... I've posted a comments page on Egan's column on Off Times Square.

... OR the Kids Could Incorporate. Andy Borowitz: "... for a limited time, we are offering every man, woman and child in this country a chance to incorporate and become a card-carrying member of Corporation of American Corporations (CAC™). As a newly-formed corporation, you’ll immediately reap the benefits that such other CAC™ members as the Koch Brothers enjoy, such as:

–  Exemption from Federal, State and local taxes
–  Freedom to despoil America’s air, water, and birdlife
–  Exclusive opportunities to sell weapons to Iran

... AND How to Be a One Percenter. George Zornick of The Nation: First, get rich (see Borowitz above). Then buy Congress & the President, making sure the President picks judges & justices who will rule in your favor. Zornick cites recent cases decided & laws passed designed to help the rich and hurt everybody else: Wal-Mart v. Dukes and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion protected big business from class action suits, the patent law protected big business from mom-and-pop inventors and the free trade agreements "are designed to depresses the wages of ordinary workers." President Obama promoted passage of these bills & signed them into law. ...

** Gene Robinson of the Washington Post: "Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive [upward] redistribution [of wealth]. Another word for what’s been happening might be theft.... The system is rigged. Wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence over public policy because of the often decisive role that money plays in elections.... The real issue is what kind of nation we want to be. Thomas Jefferson’s 'All men are created equal' is properly understood as calling for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. But ... as [economic] polarization increases, mobility declines." ...

... Tax Me! Robert Frank of the Wall Street Journal: "A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more)  support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners." ...

... AND if you'd like to know what a true blue-blooded blue-nose thinks of Wall Street (with which he is intimately familiar) and Occupy Wall Street, former Bush I Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, in a Washington Post op-ed, says tut-tut to everyone. Welcome to the drawing room, my dears, where we will commiserate together about this deplorable state of affairs.

... Jesse McKinley & Malia Wollan of the New York Times: "For supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement..., the wounding of an Iraq war veteran [in Oakland, California] has provided a powerful central rallying point. The veteran, Scott Olsen, 24, was critically injured on Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a projectile thrown or shot by law enforcement officers combating protesters.... Mr. Olsen, who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine, suffered a fractured skull.... On Thursday night, camps in several major cities — including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia — were expected to participate in a vigil for Mr. Olsen, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which he is a member." ...

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, to the baffled punditocracy: "What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television.... It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.... Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences. While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible 'protesters' with their oddly well-worded 'signs,' the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly." ...

Occupy Congress:

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Rarely has the disparity between [President] Obama’s sweeping foreign policy accomplishments and cramped domestic agenda been so stark — vivid evidence of a president hemmed in by a hostile Congress and a penurious fiscal climate, but still left with some powerful levers to pull as the nation’s chief executive." ...

... Thomas Mann & Norm Ornstein in The New Republic: contra David Brooks' "friendly advice" to President Obama to play nice with Republicans in pursuit of a "Grand (Deficit Reduction) Bargain, "... if there is any hope of achieving bipartisan policy success, it will come from Republicans believing that blocking the president’s initiatives or offers will cause them political harm. Mitch McConnell admitted as much when he acceded to a deal on the debt limit — not because it would avert economic chaos, not because a conciliatory president offered it to him, but because, in his own words, the failure to do so would damage 'the Republican brand.' In other words, Obama’s new approach of turning up the heat — by calling out Republicans for their obstruction and their opposition even to ideas they have previously embraced, like a continuing payroll tax cut — actually has more chance of achieving the policy outcomes Brooks wants than his conciliatory approach. Obama, at the center of today’s political spectrum, should therefore be explicit and forceful in communicating the stark differences between the parties and the source of inaction and gridlock in Washington. To do anything less would be a disservice to the public, his party, and his hopes for a constructive and consequential presidency."

... Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid." ...

     ... Ben Smith: "... it's worth noting this is part of another trend...: the normalization of the Obama campaign into Democratic politics. Of course figures like David Cohen, Ed Rendell's former chief of staff, now at Comcast, and Andy Spahn, a Hollywood Democratic fixer, are bundling for Obama. It's what they do. And while influence is part of the picture, this shouldn't be mistaken for regular lobbying; it's simply a feature of the Democratic money establishment, one that supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 and has now for the most part united, without a second thought, around the Democratic president."

... Sam Youngman of The Hill: "A number of White House officials, sensing momentum on their side, blasted Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail, mocking recent measures and Congress's 9 percent approval rating."

Leslie Gelb in the Daily Beast: center-left liberals "are ... practically the only ones today who are asking the essential policy questions — about domestic versus international priorities, the utility of land wars in inhospitable countries, the role negotiations need to play with adversaries.... Republicans and neoconservatives are attacking Obama for withdrawing all American troops from Iraq in two months and accusing him of giving the store to Iran. Forgotten is the carnal fact that the Baghdad government said 'Get out!' and that Iraqi and President George W. Bush’s officials signed an agreement three years ago mandating full withdrawal. The Republicans and neoconservatives didn’t say a word of criticism about that deal.... For decades now, the right has more or less called the national security shots.... But the liberals and lefties are leading the charge on reviewing fundamentals.... Give them a hearing."

Felix Salmon of Reuters: Federal Judge "Jed Rakoff has been a hero for a while now, but his questions for the SEC with respect to its Citigroup settlement are truly great even by his standards. Salmon lists them all. Read 'em. And ask yourself why other judges have not held the SEC's feet to the fire like this.

Déjà Vu All Over Again. Mike Lillis of The Hill: "Liberals on and off Capitol Hill agonized Thursday that supercommittee Democrats had bungled early negotiations over a budget deal and put their party in a position to be bested again by Republicans. By proposing significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as an early offering, liberals said the panel Democrats weakened their party’s negotiating position as Republicans, who have ceded no ground on their central anti-tax message, sat back and watched."

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "In an effort to expand broadband Internet service, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved an overhaul of its fund that subsidizes rural telephone service, turning it into one meant to offer broadband service to the millions of Americans who lack high-speed connections. Calling its plans “the most significant policy step ever taken to connect Americans to high-speed Internet,” the commission voted unanimously to approve the revamped Universal Service Fund, which includes a $4.5 billion annual budget cap for its main Internet component, the Connect America Fund." Oh, and your phone bill is likely to go up.

Paul Krugman is in Iceland: "Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.... Iceland hasn’t avoided major economic damage or a significant drop in living standards. But it has managed to limit both the rise in unemployment and the suffering of the most vulnerable; the social safety net has survived intact, as has the basic decency of its society." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Europe’s leaders did better than expected, but expectations were low to start.... Europe is still only grappling with the financial symptoms of the crisis, not the underlying causes.... None of these gyrations [leaders are taking] would be necessary if the European Central Bank was authorized to act as a lender of last resort. Without that, and a turn away from austerity to growth, Europe’s crisis will continue and continue to threaten the American economy and the global recovery."

Once again, libertarian Dave Weigel of Slate defends Elizabeth Warren against Massachusetts GOP lies from their "whopper factory."

Right Wing World

Steve Benen: Speaker John Boehner has "great concerns" about President Obama's exceeding his Constitutional authority by creating a few jobs, when Boehner's little friends in Congress will do nothing of the kind. But, funny, Boehner was thrilled when former President Bush used his executive authority to do business normally reserved for Congress.

A few reasons to like Mitt Romney 2002: pro-choice, pro-minimum wage, pro-gun control. Ten years later -- a different guy. Via Ben Smith.

Immigration Has Brought out the Worst in Romney & Perry. Conservative Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson: "Romney, Perry and the others are, unfortunately, reflecting current Republican sentiments. Legitimate concerns — including overwhelmed public services in some communities — and high unemployment have combined to heighten resentment against illegal immigration.... The cynical accommodation of anger encourages serious division in a permanently diverse country. It is primarily the fault of politicians when the immigration debate turns ugly.... On issues of Hispanic concern, Obama’s lip service has been deafening."

Creepy AND Weird. Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "Walid Phares, the recently announced co-chair of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Middle East advisory group, has a long résumé. College professor. Author. Political pundit. Counterterrorism expert. But there's one chapter of his life that you won't find on his CV: He was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon's brutal, 15-year civil war."

Jay Newton-Small of Time is not counting Rick Perry out, tho his GOP poll numbers are as low as 6 percent. But she does outline some of the ways his presidential campaign was, well, massively unprepared: "It wasn't just poor debate performances.... The campaign ... neglected to prepare a robust policy platform. Perry's energy speech was taken virtually whole cloth from an oil company lobbyist group's website. His economic plan remained unfinished just days before he was scheduled to give a speech on it and, according to two sources close to the campaign, Perry himself hadn't been briefed on the proposal on the Sunday before the big roll-out, an assertion [the campaign] denies." ...

... Jason Embry of the Statesman: but, really, the Perry campaign's worst problem is -- Rick Perry.

* Where it's bold leadership if I do it, unconstitutional if you do it.

News Ledes

AP: "A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an armored NATO bus Saturday on a busy thoroughfare in Kabul, killing 17 people, including a dozen Americans, in the deadliest strike against the U.S.-led coalition in the Afghan capital since the war began."

Guardian: "Up to 40 people have been killed after Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters following Friday afternoon prayers, according to activists."

New York Times: "A federal judge in Washington has granted final approval for a $1.25 billion settlement by the Agriculture Department for  African-American farmers’ longstanding claims of racial discrimination. The Thursday decision by the judge, Paul L. Friedman, was expected and gives about 40,000 plaintiffs a second chance to have their complaints heard by a court-appointed neutral party."

AP (via NYT): "On the defensive over a half-billion-dollar loan to a now-bankrupt solar company, the White House on Friday ordered an independent review of similar loans made by the Energy Department, its latest response to rising criticism over Solyndra Inc."

Guardian: "Muammar Gaddafi's fugitive son Saif al-Islam has been in contact with the international criminal court in the Hague about surrendering to face charges of inciting the murder of thousands of Libyans."

ABC News: "A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters coordinated a march in mid-town Manhattan today, delivering 6,000 'angry letters' to five major banks. Before the march, the group, Occupy the Board Room,  invited people to submit letters online to Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Today, the group delivered printed letters to the doors of the bank headquarters." ...

... Reuters: "Anti-Wall Street protesters' plans to camp in a New York park throughout the city's harsh winter were dealt a blow on Friday when the fire department confiscated six generators and about a dozen cans of fuel. With the first snow forecast to fall on Saturday, the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement against economic inequality lost the generators that had been powering heat, computers and a kitchen in the Lower Manhattan camp they set up six weeks ago." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Occupy San Diego protesters vowed Friday to return to the civic plaza behind City Hall despite being ousted and their tents removed by a massive police sweep hours earlier. Police arrested 51 people at the plaza and at Children's Park in the nearby Gaslamp Quarter, most on suspicion of illegal lodging, encroachment and resisting." ...

... New York Daily News: "Tennessee state troopers cleared out Wall Street protesters from the state Capitol grounds early Friday because they didn't have the resources to 'babysit' the overnight encampment.... Commissioner Bill Gibbons said Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's office approved the pre-dawn roundup of protesters for refusing to comply with a new overnight curfew and permit requirements.... Twenty-nine people were arrested, but a night judge refused to sign their warrants because the policy had only been in effect since the previous afternoon." ...

... San Francisco Chronicle: "Occupy Oakland protesters moved Thursday to reclaim the battleground plaza outside City Hall, pitching two dozen tents and canopies just two days after police dismantled an elaborate encampment over sanitary and security concerns." ...

... Oakland Tribune: "Oakland Mayor Jean Quan shifted into damage control Thursday, asking hospitalized protester Scott Olsen and other Occupy Oakland demonstrators to cooperate with police investigating Olsen's head injury. Quan visited Olsen, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, on Thursday morning at Highland Hospital." ...

     ... Guardian Update: "Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran who was seriously injured by a police projectile during a protest in Oakland, has regained consciousness but 'cannot talk'. Olsen, 24, is communicating with friends and family at his bedside by writing notes, but his injury is believed to have damaged the speech centre of his brain, according to Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq."

AP: "Pushing a campaign to act without Congress, President Barack Obama will announce on Friday two more executive actions on the economy, both of them small steps intended to give a boost to businesses. The moves cap a week in which Obama has sought to employ the power of his office as he struggles to make headway on his jobs bill on Capitol Hill." ...

... AP: "Appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. plans to cut 5,000 jobs, about 10 percent of its workforce in North America and Europe, as it faces soft demand and higher costs for materials. The world's biggest appliance maker also on Friday cut its 2011 earnings outlook drastically and reported third-quarter results that missed expectations...."

Guardian: "Libya's interim government says it will prosecute anyone found responsible for the death of Muammar Gaddafi after his capture, in a retreat from its earlier insistence that the dictator had been killed by crossfire." ...

... AP: "NATO has announced it will end its air campaign over Libya next Monday, following the decision of the U.N. Security Council to lift the no-fly zone and end military action to protect civilians. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday that the operation was "one of the most successful in NATO history," one which was able to wind down quickly following the death of former Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi."

Guardian: The 16 Commonwealth Nations of the Queen's realms have agreed to change the royal order of succession to be gender-neutral. "An elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would become Queen. The changes ... will also lift the ban on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Catholic...."

Wednesday
Oct262011

The Commentariat -- October 27

I've added a comments page on Off Times Square on the judiciary -- that third branch of government we so often ignore, a branch which GOP presidential candidates are only too happy to excoriate.

CW: Why I Think Barack Obama Will Be a Two-Term President:

The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own.’ If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own.... I reject an argument that says we’ve got to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from exploiting people who are sick. And I reject the idea that somehow if we strip away collective bargaining rights, that we’ll be somehow better off. We should not be in a race to the bottom where we take pride in having the cheapest labor and the most polluted air and the least protected consumers. -- Barack Obama, at a San Francisco fundraiser ...

... Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.... Obama’s pitch to donors has increasingly sought to raise the stakes for the 2012 race, and the interruptions of resounding applause and handsome fundraising hauls show his message is striking a chord."

In a Q&A with Justin Elliott of Slate, historian Michael Kazin puts Occupy Wall Street in historical context & looks at what the future of OWS may be: "... protests like this have to progress from tactic to strategy if they are going to endure. They have to either start their own organization — as the sit-in movement started SNCC — or link up with other organizations." ...

... Michael Scherer of Time has this video, shot by a protester, of "a protester [Michael Thomas Olsen -- see today's Ledes], who happened to be an Iraq War veteran, was bleeding from the head, having been hit by a projectile of unknown origin. (In addition to rocks being thrown at the time, the police fired non-lethal beanbag rounds and tear gas canisters.) Other protesters ran to his aid. A police officer tossed an explosive deterrant into the crowd. It detonated near to the wounded protester’s head":

     ... Read Scherer's whole post: "The effect has been devastating for the local mayor, who was already facing a nascent recall effort. In the age of social media, such incidents have enormous viral potential. Nearly a day after the event, Quan, who has gone through several police chiefs in recent months, issued a statement of near complete contrition." ...

     ... Mayor Quan's statement is here, via the San Francisco Chronicle. Reporters Aimee Allison writes, "Yesterday, the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers’ Guild demanded a full investigation [of the police crackdon on Occupied Oakland]. ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "... while alarmists seem to think that the [OWS] movement is a 'mob' trying to overthrow capitalism, one can make a case that, on the contrary, it highlights the need to restore basic capitalist principles like accountability. To put it another way, this is a chance to save capitalism from crony capitalists." ...

 

... Jesse McKinley & Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "After weeks of cautiously accepting the teeming round-the-clock protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street, several cities have come to the end of their patience and others appear to be not far behind." ...

... Kate Linthicum, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "More than a month into the Occupy movement, officials are beginning to talk openly of moving protesters out of their encampments in parks and public squares around the country. But many activists show no signs of budging as the movement continues to generate heavy media attention and support from liberal circles. Looming large is the cautionary spectacle of Oakland."

Only the Military Can Create Jobs! Dean Baker: "Faced with the prospect of cuts to the Defense Department's budget, the defense industry is pushing the story of the military spending fairy on members of Congress. They are telling them that these cuts will lead to the loss of more than 1 million jobs over the next decade. Believers in the military spending fairy say things like "the government can't create jobs," but also think that military spending creates jobs.... [Actually,] during a downturn where there are lots of unemployed workers, any government spending will create jobs, regardless of whether or not it is on the military. In fact, military spending is likely to create fewer jobs than spending in most other areas (e.g. education, health care, conservation) because it is more capital intensive. When the economy is near full employment, military spending is a drag on the economy. It pulls resources away from private sector uses...."

Rule of Thumb. Every time President O'Bipartisan agrees to a Republican-backed bill or program, you and/or a decent, deserving neighbor will be screwed. Karen Garcia has two cases on point:

     ... (1) "... GOP leaders have agreed to pass the most right-wing portion of the president's American Jobs Act: ending a requirement that the government withhold three percent of payments to federal contractors to ensure tax compliance. [See also yesterday's Ledes.] But but but -- only on condition that it becomes harder for poor& people to qualify for Medicaid." Garcia, with a little help from Brian Beutler of TPM, explains how many currently-Medicaid-eligible seniors will have their benefits cut. "... in these times of social unrest and ever widening income disparity, the Democrats still buy into the conservative ideology that programs to further enrich the wealthy must always be paid for by our country's most vulnerable citizens."

     ... (2) Behind closed doors and in the presence of a phalanx of big corporate CEOs who will benefit from the laws, President O'Bipartisan signed three free trade agreements negotiated by George W. Bush & backed primarily by Republicans in Congress. "... the 250,000 jobs it is forecast to create by Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce boosters will not be American jobs. That's why it was delayed. The Democrats insisted on adding a little token assistance to middle-aged American textile workers who are expected to lose their jobs to 40-cent/hour North Korean wage slaves allowed to work in the DMZ." ...

     ... David Bacon, writing in TruthOut, has more on the effects of free trade agreements on workers.

Just for you literary critics, Charles Pierce of Esquire does a masterful job of analyzing a short paragraph of a Paul Ryan speech, a speech Ryan delivered at the Heritage Foundation, so you know it is loaded with Ayn Randian dog whistles & red meat for the selfish. I came away thinking Ryan should be institutionalized, whether he's massively deceptive or pathetically deluded, he is one sick puppy. ...

... Greg Sargent takes apart Ryan's entire speech and demonstrates that it was "misleading, out of touch, and filled with tired talking points." Ryan just makes stuff up about what "Democrats believe." CW: as I said, Ryan is delusional or purposely deceptive, as Ari Berman of The Nation calls him, "a class warrior for the wealthy." ...

Just last week, the President told a crowd in North Carolina that Republicans are in favor of, quote, 'dirtier air, dirtier water, and less people with health insurance.' Can you think of a pettier way to describe sincere disagreements between the two parties on regulation and health care? -- Paul Ryan ...

... Paul Krugman: "Just for the record: why is this petty? Why is it anything but a literal description of GOP proposals to weaken environmental regulation and repeal the Affordable Care Act? So Ryan is outraged, outraged, that Obama is offering a wholly accurate description of his [Ryan's] party’s platform.... You really have to be somewhat awed when people who routinely accuse Obama of being a socialist get all weepy over him saying that eliminating protections against pollution would lead to more pollution." ...

... ** Update: Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine has the most complete takedown of Paul Ryan & his crazy worldview. "Ryan cannot process the realities of this world because they are so at odds with the imagined world of his ideology. After his speech, he was asked about the CBO’s report on inequality, and he brushed it off, falling back on Rand-esque lingo the virtuous rich ... and parasitic poor...."

CW: here's a thought: middle-class conservatives are stupid. Some pretty good evidence: Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "Middle-class conservatives have become completely convinced that 'good' tax policies include a flat tax, lower capital gains rates, and repeal of the estate tax, all of which are designed to benefit the rich almost exclusively."

I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it’s volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well.... To the bank’s critics, I say, 'You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us.' -- Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, to BoA employees ...

Nobody cares how upset you are at being yelled at, ace. In 2009, the taxpayers of the United States gave you 20 billion reasons to shut your piehole. -- Charles Pierce, Esq.

New York Times Editors: "The revised No Child Left Behind Act that passed out of the Senate education committee last week goes too far in relaxing state accountability and federal oversight of student achievement. The business community, civil rights groups and advocates of disabled children are rightly worried that the rewrite of the law would particularly hurt underprivileged children."

** E. J. Graff in the American Prospect: "According to the Guttmacher Institute, widely considered the most reliable source of accurate facts on the reproductive debates, nine out of ten abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That’s not a fetus; it’s an embryo — a little cluster of cells smaller than a thumb.... To me, what matters is that new life happens. It doesn’t particularly matter which new life happens, whether human or mushroom.... I find it absolutely impossible to believe that spiritual magic strikes when a sperm fertilizes an egg, divides into a blastocyst, or curls into an embryo. If it’s okay to abstain from sex, or to use contraception, then it’s okay to clean out a uterus of those gathering storm cells as well.... Legislating othersbehavior based on a spiritual belief (and while Larimore says she’s not religious, her justification is still a belief) strikes me as theocratic, even totalitarian."

Dave Weigel of Slate: What Elizabeth Warren & Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick actually said. Surprise: it isn't what the hit jobs on Warren claim. ...

... Steve Kornacki on Elizabeth Warren: it was that video.

Susan Saulny of the New York Times: "If Herman Cain feels his management skills are up to any challenge, some of his former staff members think he should have started with the disorder in his own campaign." ...

... Mark Benjamin of Time: Herman Cain's smokin' campaign guru Mark Block has had an unusual political career, marred by a charge of corruption, which he settled.

Paul Wallsten of the Washington Post: "Republicans who are eager to repair the party’s battered image among Hispanic voters and unseat President Obama next year have long promoted a single-barrel solution to their two-pronged problem: putting Sen. Marco Rubio on the national ticket.... But Rubio’s role in recent controversies, including a dispute with the country’s biggest Spanish-language television network and new revelations that he had mischaracterized his family’s immigrant story, shows that any GOP bet on his national appeal could be risky."

AND this column might not actually be by Paul Krugman. For one thing, the headshot seems somehow ... different.

Local News

CW: I'm a week late on this, but it's worth noting. AP: "The League of Women Voters sued [last] Thursday to block Wisconsin's new voter photo identification law, arguing that the state constitution clearly only bars children, felons and the mentally incompetent from voting, not people who lack photo IDs. In its lawsuit filed in Dane County [Madison] Circuit Court, the League's state chapter contends that Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature had no authority to bar a class of people -- those who don't have an appropriate photo ID -- from voting."

(Fort Myers, Florida) News-Press: "U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, the Republican congressman from Fort Myers, is entering the race for the U.S. Senate." CW: CoMa is my Congressman, so it's nice of him to finally do something for those of us in Southwest Florida -- give us a reason to work to re-elect Sen. Bill Nelson, a ConservaDem.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Air Force has been secretly flying armed Reaper drones on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding U.S.-led proxy war against an al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, U.S. military officials said."

Washington Post: "Amid a flurry of counter-proposals from the deficit-reduction committee, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday rejected a Democratic offer to slash $3 trillion from future debts because it contained significant tax increases."

San Francisco Chronicle: California "Gov. Jerry Brown this morning unveiled a 12-point proposal aimed at shrinking the costs of public employee pension benefits in California in part by raising the retirement age for most new employees from 55 to 67."

Guardian: "Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran who suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a projectile fired by police during the Occupy Oakland protests, has woken up and is lucid as he awaits surgery, hospital officials and family members have said.... He has been upgraded from critical to fair condition."

The Hill: "A Pentagon official who was being investigated for what whistleblowers called incompetence, extravagant spending, cronyism and 'tyrannical' management has resigned. The Defense Department announced Thursday that Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, has submitted his resignation to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta."

Philadelphia Daily News: "Two women accused of participating in the ghoulish, deadly activities inside a filthy West Philadelphia abortion clinic, calmly told a judge on Thursday that they were guilty. The guilty pleas by Adrienne Moton 34, and Sherry West, 52, leave seven defendants to be tried in the ... crimes that took place inside Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Women's Medical Society.... Gosnell, 70, could face the death penalty.... He is accused cutting the spinal cords of seven babies born alive at his clinic. He is also charged with the third-degree murder of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, a clinic patient who died in November 2009 from an overdose of drugs prescribed by Gosnell."

New York Times: "European leaders, in a significant step toward resolving the euro zone financial crisis, early Thursday morning obtained an agreement from banks to take a 50 percent loss on the face value of their Greek debt."

San Francisco Chronicle: "Seeking to cool the violent tone set by Tuesday night's street clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters, police pulled down barricades Wednesday near City Hall, dramatically reduced their presence and said they would allow nightly demonstrations in the area until 10 p.m. Hundreds of protesters responded Wednesday night by packing the amphitheater at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where they voted to hold a citywide general strike on Nov. 2, when workers and students will be urged to stay home to show support of the Occupy movement." AP story here. ...

... Oakland Tribune: "In what appears to be the first serious injury nationwide in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran lay in an Oakland hospital Wednesday night with a critical skull fracture, adding a new level of intensity in a mass demonstration that has swept the country and led to clashes with police. Scott Thomas Olsen, 24, of Daly City, was struck in the head above his right eye with a tear-gas canister during a massive confrontation Tuesday night in which protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers who deployed tear gas and fired bean bags to disperse the crowd of about 1,000." ...

AP: "Young South Africans brought their frustration over poverty and joblessness to the streets Thursday, responding to a call by the tough-talking youth leader of the governing African National Congress who has clashed with older party leaders over economic policy."

AP: "A Palestinian official says the Palestinian president will meet with the leader of the militant Hamas movement next month to discuss uniting dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza. The meeting will be the first between President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' Khaled Mashaal since they signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in May."

AP: "The wife of disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff says the couple tried to kill themselves after he admitted to his loved ones that he'd stolen billions of dollars in the largest Ponzi scheme in history."