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Thursday Morning News: Aftermath

For your eschatological pleasure:
Good morning.  This is going to be short as I was up past my bedtime last night.

I’m putting my “podcast for the day” up front.  Gretchen Morgensen, financial reporter for the New York Times, explained the foreclosure debacle to Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  Yeah, yeah, I know Gross is a Kool-Ade drinker.  She still is one of the best interviewers around.  If you get lost in Dakinikat’s posts, you may find Morgensen’s summary easier to digest.

Ruh-Roh, Jon Stewart’s interview of President Obama sounds like it didn’t go so well, er, for Obama.

As example of the president’s supporters being unenthused, on The Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart called President Obama’s legislative agenda timid during an interview with the president set to air this evening.

“Is the difficulty you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered?” Stewart asked. “You ran with such, if I may, audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times. That I am not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.”

“Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you,” Obama responded, “This notion that health care was timid – you’ve got 30 million people that will have health insurance because of this.”

At many other times throughout the course of the interview Stewart joked with the president, basically questioning where the mantle of change that the comedian and many Democrats voted for had gone, leaving the president on the defense.

“You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change and the democrats this year seem to be running on please baby one more chance,” Stewart joked.

Stewart: “so you wouldn’t say you would run next time as a pragmatist? You would not, it wouldn’t be yes we can, given certain conditions.”

“No I think what I would say is yes we can but.” Obama answered to laughter from the crowd,  “but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

[....]

Asked the humorist: “What have you done that we don’t know about? Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?”

It sounds like Obama bogarted the mike the rest of the time with long, involved answers with multiple prepositional phrases.  He was probably coached to shut Stewart down.

Ayayayayay.  I have to check the DVR.  I find it amazing that the one guy in America who can conduct a serious, hard hitting, hold-them-accountable interview of a major politician is a comedian.  All hail the Jester.

In the aftermath of Obama’s slash and burn march through the Democratic party’s constituent landscape, the coalition he presumably built in 2008 is fracturing.  The New York Times reports that Catholics, women and the poor are fleeing him for the GOP.  Didn’t see that coming.  What was it that Harold Ickes said during the RBC hearing?  Disenfranchising all those votes was “not the best way to start down the path of party unity”?  From the article, Coalition for Obama split by drift to the GOP:

The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”

Here’s my take: Some of these groups never were firmly in Obama’s camp in the first place.  Some of these voters, the working class, for example,  voted for a Democrat, not Obama specifically.  Some were frightened into it, eg women.  And some were guilted into it lest they be called racists.  And now, they’re so angry at having their issues dismissed in favor of the banks that they’ll vote for  Republicans they like even less.  It’s not just that Obama has been so ineffective for them.  It’s that they could have had someone else.  You know the *other* candidate who won all those huge Democratic states by large margins and whose voters were suppressed?  Yeah, those are the people who are defecting in waves right now.

Here’s another interesting finding that jumped out of the poll:

There was clear opposition to addressing one of the government’s biggest long-term challenges — the growing costs of paying Social Security benefits — by raising the retirement age or reducing benefits for future retirees.

I’d kill the Catfood Commission.  Retirement at 70 is cruel.

Speaking of Social Security, Atrios went to another blogger conference with the White House.  Here’s the question he asked:

Q    Mine is an easy question.  Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that.  Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work.  When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things.  I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

So, what I get from this is that Obama doesn’t understand that those of us in our 40s and 50s have been paying extra into the social security system to pay in advance for the benefits we were counting on.  And when the time comes, we have every reason to expect that those funds will be there.  Oh, and retiring at 70 doesn’t strike him as the best way to solve the problem but he wouldn’t absolutely rule it out.

I would like him to absolutely rule it out.  And not touch benefits.  Ok, just get away from the social security issue altogether.  Just don’t even go there.  Just don’t.

Also from Atrios is this:

Big signs popping up around the urban hellhole with pictures of Obama, the 2008 logo/colors, saying “Support Obama. Vote Nov 2nd.”

That could come back to bite you in the aftermath of a big loss for Democrats.

Anglachel wrote another substantial, chewy post on WKJM’s Frustration (WKJM stands for Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall).  She takes on the Stevensonian side of the party that seems to be in control of the party apparatus this cycle.  (I’d LOVE to get her take on Chris Hedges ridiculous piece of revisionist history.  There’s some meaty material to work with there including what looks like a peculiar tendency towards left wing eschatology, although Hedges would probably vigorously deny it.)

About Josh Marshall, Anglachel writes:

What scares Marshall the most is not that Bill might be criticizing Obama, but that Bill’s very presence illustrates all that is missing from the current administration. Comparing the loss of the 1994 mid-terms to the potential loss of the 2010 mid-terms is an attempt to obfuscate causes by mindlessly jabbering about effects.

Yes, Obama came in to office with a hellacious mess on his hands – and a majority in both houses and an electorate screaming for change. He had the political opportunity of a lifetime to transform the fundamental terms of political engagement, just as both FDR and Reagan did. He could have taken on the banks. He could have charged ahead for substantive health care reform. He could have pounded the shit out the failed policies of the Reagan Revolution and pinned the blame for everything on them, and the country would have lapped it up exactly the way they responded to FDR. But he didn’t and now he will play (at best) catch up for the remaining two years.

WKJM is not the only one who is trying to avoid talking about thereasons for party discontent by presenting a half-assed and historically inaccurate picture of the 1994 mid-term election. What he doesn’t seem to get is that because the majority of the nation doesn’t hold the Clintons in contempt the way he and the other Purchased Fellows do, every time he (and others of his ilk) make this comparison, he keeps reminding us about the way Bill never quit, never gave up, never stopped articulating his vision of what the party should be and how he was going to work to achieve that end. And that resulted in retaining the White House in 1996, and gaining back House seats in the next three elections – 1996, 1998, 2000.

Basically, we’re being held hostage by these guys whose fervent belief in Clinton’s betrayal of the party is resistant to any presentation of facts to the contrary or even that the working class seem to still like him in spite of all that the Stevensonians feel Clinton did to them.  Never let ugly facts get in the way of beautiful theories.  That’s not politics.  That’s religion.  It’s based on faith, not reason.

In the aftermath of the healthcare reform act, the benefits seem to be accruing for Republicans this election cycle.  Quelle Surprise.  Have you gotten your bennies package for next year yet?  There goes another whopping chunk of change.

It’s almost as if Obama *wanted* the Republicans to win.

In Senate races, it looks like in the aftermath of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win in Delaware, Pennsylvania voters are turning to Sestak.

And now for something completely different, Melvyn Bragg of  the In Our Time podcast on BBC4 discusses the legends and myths related to The Unicorn.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

And now, the lighter side of emotional self indulgent navel gazing:

Friday News and Views

Good morning Conflucians!!! TGIF!!!!!

BP Chief Tony Hayward has finally decided that the oil spill his corporation caused is an “environmental catastrophe,” CNN reports. And the “junk shot” has begun:

Also Friday, engineers in the Gulf tried the “junk shot” method in an attempt to stop a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward said.

The procedure involved shooting debris such as shredded rubber tires, golf balls and similar objects into the blowout preventer in an attempt to clog it and stop the leak. The goal of the junk shot is to force-feed the preventer, the device that failed when the disaster unfolded, until it becomes so plugged that the oil stops flowing or slows to a relative trickle.

The company plans to resume its “top kill” method, pumping heavy mud into the leak, later Friday, he said.

President Obama flew to Chicago last night, as planned; and will drop in on New Orleans for awhile today.

where he will get a briefing on the BP oil spill that on Thursday officially became the worst ever in U.S. waters. Obama will deliver a statement on the spill, following up on Thursday’s press conference at the White House.

As the president listens and speaks, BP and other experts will be continuing their efforts to cap the well with a “top kill” procedure involving mud and, hopefully, cement. If they succeed, the gushing well could be dead, 38 days after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.

Mary Landrieau told Politico

“The president has not been as visible as he should have been on this, and he’s going to pay a political price for it, unfortunately,” Landrieu told POLITICO. “But he’s going down tomorrow, he’s made some good announcements today, and if he personally steps up his activity, I think that would be very helpful.”

Don’t hold your breath, Mary.

At an oil hearing in the House yesterday, Charlie Melancon (D-LA) broke down crying while talking about the damage to the coastal wetlands. Watch:

From Politics Daily:

Melancon began by citing the string of natural disasters — including Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike — that have beset his constituents and all Louisianans. With his voice quavering and eyes filling with tears, he said of this latest “slow-motion” catastrophe: “Our culture is threatened, our coastal economy is threatened, and everything that I know and love is at risk. . . .Even though this marsh lies along coastal Louisiana, these are America’s wetlands.”

The three-term congressman, who is running for the Senate seat held by Republican David Vitter, could not go on, and asked that the remainder of his written comments be submitted for the record.

Some veterans are angry with Obama for blowing off a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day–an event that is traditional for U.S. Presidents.

Instead of speaking at Arlington, as he did last year and as most presidents have done, Obama will appear at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Chicago, the White House said. Vice President Biden will take his place at Arlington, the most prestigious military cemetery in the country and home to Section 60, a large burial ground for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, expressed disappointment at the White House move. “Arlington is hallowed ground, and the center of our nation’s attention on Memorial Day,” Rieckhoff said. “Unfortunately, President Obama and his family will not be there with us.”

Fox News is also critical, of course, asking whether Obama is “stressed out or tone deaf.”

Presidents are never really off the clock, even when they go on vacation. But President Obama’s decision to skip the traditional Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington while on his second vacation since the BP oil spill began has some wondering what the schedule says about his priorities.

On “vacation,” Obama still holds staff meetings, occasionally attends local events and often gets his “relaxation” time swallowed up by pressing national and international business — his vacation to Hawaii in December coincided with the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing. The retreat this weekend is marked by a side-trip to Louisiana to inspect the damages from the oil spill.

But some conservatives, still smarting over the criticism George W. Bush fielded for his frequent trips to Crawford, Texas, say Obama’s trip to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend is conspicuously poor in its timing.

Joe Sestak’s brother (and political adviser) has spoken to the WH about Sestak’s claims that he was offered a job if he would drop out of the PA Senate Democratic primary race against Arlen Specter. Sestak won the primary even though the Democratic party machinery and the WH supported long-time Republican Specter.

Richard Sestak, who has served as his brother’s top political adviser and campaign lawyer, spoke with administration officials Wednesday, Joe Sestak said.

“They got ahold of my brother on his cellphone, and he spoke to the White House . . . about what’s going to occur,” said Sestak, who said he expects the White House will release its information Friday. He declined to elaborate on his discussions with his brother.

Joe Sestak first alleged the White House offer in February, but the matter has caught fire since the upset victory over Specter, Pennsylvania’s senior senator, in last week’s primary. The White House has refused to explain its version of events; press secretary Robert Gibbs has said legal aides have reviewed the situation and have declared that nothing “inappropriate” occurred.

Congress is making some progress on the DADT “compromise.”

After a heated Thursday night floor debate, House members voted 234-to-194 to approve a repeal amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy. [....]

Earlier Thursday evening, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a companion amendment by a 16-12 vote in a closed-door session.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican on the committee joining 15 of her Democratic colleagues to approve the measure as an attachment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it.

If signed into law as part of the Defense funding bill, the measure would not immediately repeal the law. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” would continue as the official policy of the military until two events occur: the Pentagon completes an implementation study due in December; and the secretary of Defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and President Barack Obama certify that repeal will not weaken military readiness. Once those two requirements are met, a 60-day waiting period will begin before the policy is finally lifted.

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading this morning? Please post your links in the comments. And have a fabulous friday!!!

Showdown in Pennsylvania

I woke up to the news that Arlen Specter had lost the Democratic primary for the US Senate seat from Pennsylvania and though I haven to been following this very closely, I just have to weigh in on this with my own uninformed opinion.

I was in PA for mother’s day and my mom brought up the subject of Arlen. She was agin’im. And this may take Ed Rendell and the other super delegates by surprise but she didn’t like him for the strangest reason: remember Anita Hill? Yeah, well, that hearing for Clarence Thomas left an indelible mark on my mother. She remembers it like it was yesterday and she really, REALLY, didn’t like the way that Hill was treated by Specter, as if here testimony was worth on half as much as Clarence Thomas’.

Now, I suspect that Specter was driven out because people were just tired of him. He’s something like 80 years old, he switched parties, and he didn’t really have anything to offer Pennsylvanians that they hadn’t already seen. I don’t know if Joe Sestak is going to be a whole lot better but he’s not Specter. I would advise Sestak to not move too much to the center. Elderly democratic conservatives like my mother voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008 in droves. I know because I called a lot of them. In fact, a lot of those same women want her and are frankly pissed off that they got stuck with someone who did not live up to the expectations that were shoved down their throats.

If I were Joe Sestak, I’d be asking myself, what do women want? The answer is: her own way. Sestak is going to have to run the gauntlet of these angry Democratic, older, more conservative women. Think shrewish Kate, forced to submit to decades of young, male assholes gloating about forcing them into submission. It would be wrong to assume they have ever been tamed and they still have the power to make your life a living hell in some passive aggressive ways. Channel Hillary, Joe. Praise her every chance you can. Remember, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s their sons and daughters who can’t find jobs and are threatening to move in with them with their gaggle of grandchildren. It’s social security and savings and nasty bankers. You can’t go wrong by running against bankers. And remind them that when the Tea Party folks go off about cutting taxes and entitlements, they are talking about cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting benefits, social security and medicaid, for everyone else.

Sestak has his work cut out for himself. This is going to be a tough, tough battle and the Democratic party in PA has to be feeling ambivalent at best. The state is not young and the tea party crap could be very formidable. I can almost see the Republicans licking their lips over this one. Sestak is going to have to show that neither party likes him and yet be likable enough for the wives of Bath.

Let’s hope this primary result puts the fear of goddess into the Democrats. We’ve given them plenty of dope slaps but they still don’t seem to be getting it. Women have long memories and we will remember hearings for a long, long time.

Obama Pulls Out All the Stops in Effort to Defeat Progressive Senate Candidate Joe Sestak

Jake Tapper:

Organizing for America, the former grass-roots campaign arm for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, is trying to rally supporters to phone bank and get out the vote in Pennsylvania for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., the former Republican locked in a tight primary race with a far more progressive Democrat, Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Penn.

Chris Bolling, the national volunteer coordinator for OFA, writes in an email that the “stakes of this election are high: ensuring that allies of the President are elected in the House and Senate to fight for change. So starting this weekend, through Tuesday’s election, there will be phone banks for OFA volunteers in D.C. We’ll call into Pennsylvania and encourage voters to support leaders who will fight for President Obama’s vision for change.”

Specter, of course, supported the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and only became a Democrat when it became clear he would suffer an ignominious defeat in the GOP primary to former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.

Meanwhile, the latest poll Muhlenberg tracking poll shows the race between Sestak and fake Dem Specter to be a dead heat.

In his latest attack on Sestak, fake Dem Specter charges that Sestak supports {gasp!} gun control!

Specter is highlighting his vote against the assault weapons ban in the 90s and calling Sestak out for his “F” rating from the NRA.

Sestak is returning fire by distributing an ad Republicans used against Obama in 2008 that highlighted Obama’s “F” rating with the NRA.

I guess Specter is banking on those bitter, gun-toting Pennsylvanians to put him over the top. But are they more worked up about owning assault weapons or about the crappy economy and the lack of jobs? I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday. Personally, I’m rooting against Obama’s candidate.

This is an open thread.

Sestak Now Leading Specter in PA Senate Race

Here is Joe Sestak’s latest ad–a great take-down of phony Arlen Specter.

CBS News:

According to the latest Muhlenberg College tracking poll (PDF), Specter leads Sestak 48 percent – 40 percent, with 11 percent either not sure or choosing someone else.

Now Sestak has unveiled a tough new ad portraying Specter as a political opportunist who only became a Democrat so he can win reelection. (See it at left.)

The spot shows Specter saying his party change will allow him to remain in office as well as footage of President George W. Bush effusively praising Specter. It also includes a shot of Specter with Sarah Palin.

“Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job: his, not yours,” an announcer says.

Specter has the backing of the Democratic establishment….

Ha. ha. ha.

This is an open thread.

Friday Spaced-Out News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! TGIF!

I’m getting a slow start today. I’ve been surfing around, and there is quite a bit of news out there, but no overarching theme that I can see. I’m a little spacey though, as I always am at the end of a semester.

I usually get to the point where I’m running on adrenalin, and as I get close to the end, I can feel that my body and mind are just about ready to shut down for a couple of days. I still have a little work to do, so I’m trying to stay alert and keep that adrenalin flowing just a little bit longer.

The British election ended this morning in a “hung Parliament.” I don’t know too much about British politics, so I hope someone else may be able to explain what all this means.

Map of election results at the Independent

BBC: What next for each party in event of a hung Parliament?

The constitutional convention states that – in the event of no party winning a majority – the sitting prime minister remains in place until he decides he cannot form a government and chooses to resign.

After returning to 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown has said it is his “duty to play his part” in securing a strong and stable government in the next few days.

He has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell to arrange for the Civil Service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.

It is likely he will approach the Liberal Democrats to try and agree some form of coalition deal – a stance backed by senior Labour figures.

But it sounds like the Libdems have already sided with the Tories:

Cameron has ‘first right’ to form government, says Nick Clegg

David Cameron was today offered the keys to 10 Downing Street, after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that the Conservatives had the “first right” to seek to form a government in Britain’s first hung Parliament since 1974.

The Conservative leader will give his initial public response in a statement at 2.30 this afternoon, but it was thought far from certain that he would accept any deal with the Lib Dems which included reform of Westminster’s first-past-the-post voting system.

I’m clueless–someone please help me understand this.

Some creepy news related to the health care deform bill: Documents reveal AT&T, Verizon, others, thought about dropping employer-sponsored benefits

Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill’s critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.

That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama’s statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we’ll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America’s employers would remain the backbone of the nation’s health care system.

Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences. Amazingly, the corporate documents that prove this point became public because of a different set of unintended consequences: they told a story far different than the one the politicians who demanded them expected.

The chairman of the Democratic Party in PA has issues a “stern warning” to party members, and says a win for Sestak in the primary would be “cataclysmic.”

As polls show Sestak, a second-term House member from the Philadelphia suburbs, cutting Specter’s advantage to single digits, Chairman T.J. Rooney told POLITICO in an interview that “if we want to keep this seat in Democratic hands, the only person capable of delivering that victory is Arlen Specter.” [....]

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week showed Specter’s once formidable double-digit lead narrowing to only 8 percentage points, 47 percent to 39 percent. By midweek, the tracking poll sponsored by Muhlenberg College and the Allentown Morning Call showed Specter ahead by only 5 percentage points.

“Momentum is clearly on Sestak’s side at this point,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Well, I’m rooting for Sestak anyway. I just don’t see Arlen Specter as much of a Democrat.

Some interesting commentary on The New York Times’ biased coverage of the BP oil spill: A Gusher From the Newspaper of Record by Richard Ward at Counterpunch.

A couple of days ago I sent a comment in response to an article written by John M. Broder and Tom Zeller Jr. (“Gulf Oil Spill is Bad, but How Bad?” 5/3/10) that sounded like it could have come from the BP public relations department, downplaying the effects of the blowout in The Gulf of Mexico. Arguably the worst part of the article was a gross factual error stating that the Iraqis fleeing Kuwait in 1991 released 36 billion gallons of crude into the Persian Gulf. My comment: “Whoa! The Iraqis released nowhere near 36 billion gallons of crude in the Persian Gulf. The highest estimates are 500 million gallons. Somebody needs to activate the NYT’s fact checker. This is a real gusher. What’s going on here?”

The Times did not print this. A few hours later I tried again. Same comment, same result. Either they chose not to publish it or it wasn’t getting through. The next day I tried again, a sort of experiment, commenting on another article about the blowout, this time adopting a decidedly different tone: “Let’s all calm down and get a grip. In three weeks all this will be a memory. The best minds in the business are dealing with this. Relax people. Kudos to the Times for presenting us with a balanced point of view.” Not only did they print the comment, they put it in their highlight section, “a selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.”

Speaking of gushers: Actress Scarlett Johansson Gushes She’s Drunk the ‘Kool-Aid’ of ‘Amazing’ Obama. Johansson:

admitted on Wednesday night’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that she was amongst those who “drank the Kool-aid” at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last Saturday where she found him “amazing” and “hilarious.”

Obama administration continues its fight against the first amendment: Pentagon Bans Four Journalists From Guantanamo Bay for revealing name of witness.

The four journalists are Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Steven Edwards of Canwest, Paul Koring of the Globe & Mail and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. They are not being thrown off the base, but, as of now, they are barred from returning. [....]

While the judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, issued an admonition yesterday for reporters to respect the anonymity of the classified witnesses, he did not rule that any reporter here had violated the protected order. The decision to block the four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay is a matter of policy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And those four are not the only ones within the press corps here to have reported Interrogator #1’s name.

Those four reporters comprise much of the institutional knowledge of Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions, as their colleagues widely acknowledge.

Huffpo: Senate Votes For Wall Street; Megabanks To Remain Behemoths

A move to break up major Wall Street banks failed Thursday night by a vote of 61 to 33.

Three Republicans, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Ensign of Nevada, voted with 30 Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in support of the provision. The author of the pending overall financial reform bill in the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, voted against it. (See the full roll call.)

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), would have required megabanks to be broken down in size and capped so that their individual failure would not bring down the entire system.

I guess most Senators would rather bring down the system than give up their campaign contributions from Wall Street.

Newsweek: Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood

As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

Or, on second thought, maybe you didn’t hear. With two other “disasters” dominating the headlines—the Times Square bombing attempt and the Gulf oil spill—the national media seems to largely to have ignored the plight of Music City since the flood waters began inundating its streets on Sunday. A cursory Google News search shows 8,390 hits for “Times Square bomb” and 13,800 for “BP oil spill.” “Nashville flood,” on the other hand, returns only 2,430 results—many of them local. As Betsy Phillips of the Nashville Scene writes, “it was mind-boggling to flip by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX on Sunday afternoon and see not one station even occasionally bringing their viewers footage of the flood, news of our people dying.”

Mike Allen at Politico says Obama will nominate Elena Kagan to SCOTUS next week, and he will also ask for a line-item veto (Dear God, no!)

NYT: Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans

Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all and left their imprint in the human genome, a team of biologists has reported in the first detailed analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence. [....]

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Experts believe that the Neanderthal genome sequence will be of extraordinary importance in understanding human evolutionary history since the two species split some 600,000 years ago.

The article also includes comments from a number of archaeologists and paleontologists who are skeptical of the conclusions of this study.

Here’s a new movie documentary that I’m really looking forward to seeing.

That’s all I’ve got this morning. What are you reading? Please share. And have a fabulous Friday!!!!

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