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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Copy That

Wonderful.  Remember a few days ago when we brought you news that a leading Iranian news service had taken seriously an Onion article about fearless leader Ahmadinejad being more popular among rural Americans than President Obama--and then taken it in another way, plagiarizing the story.   Today the Fars agency admitted it had been snookered--but then argued that the claim in the story might still be true!

It also showed it had not exactly gotten the point about plagiarising by cutting and pasting previous corrections in U.S. outlet when THEY had been fooled by The Onion.

Kenny's Dead

NYT with piece tonight on a legendary Greenwich Village club closing--and it has some history for me, too.  It's Kenny's Castaways and it hosted a wide range of acts over the years, often unknowns but also, at times, Patti Smith and The Fugees, among others, as the story notes.

But before it landed in the Village, near where I lived for many years, it dwelled on the unhip Upper East Side, and it was there I saw my first full Bruce Springsteen show, on the night of Dec. 7, 1972.   The sign outside read: "Bruce Springstein."  Actually I'd met him earlier that day--inside Sing Sing Prison.  But that's another story: See my video below, on meeting him and then helping write the first-ever magazine piece about him.

Nixon vs. Corruption

Vintage, ironic, Richard Nixon TV spot from 1952 campaign, in that first year of such advertising on the tube--hitting corruption, of all things...Here's transcript, and vid below:

"Let's take a look at corruption. You know it ranges all the way from petty political larceny to grand government theft. And as far as corruption is concerned I want to make this one point very clear. I worked for the government, for nine months during 1942. Mrs. Nixon worked for the government in San Francisco while I was in service overseas. I am proud of the fact that I once worked for the federal government. I am proud of millions of fine, good, honest, decent, loyal people that work for the federal government. And I say that the best thing that can be done for them is to kick out the crooks and the others that have besmirched their reputations in Washington D.C. and that's what we're going to do."

Krugman: Obama Win Might End in a Loss

Tomorrow's Paul Krugman column asserts that Obama is likely headed for a convincing win, and therefore the federal "safety net," under strong attack, now appears safe.  But then he adds: Is it? 
I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he’ll be told, to fix America’s entitlement problem once and for all. There will be calls — as there were at the time of the Democratic National Convention — for him to officially endorse Simpson-Bowles, the budget proposal issued by the co-chairmen of his deficit commission (although never accepted by the commission as a whole).
And Mr. Obama should just say no, for three reasons.
In short:  Simpson-Bowles sucks, but the same insiders who boosted Ryan as a serious fellow still take it seriously.  He concludes:  ?This election is, as I said, shaping up as a referendum on our social insurance system, and it looks as if Mr. Obama will emerge with a clear mandate for preserving and extending that system. It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation’s future, for him to let himself to be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."

Crybaby Ryan Whines About Media Bias--David Carr Responds

So what else is new.  Now GOP going from complaints about poll bias to horse race coverage to (today) Paul Ryan alleging out and out "bias" in all coverage.  He makes bias charge on...Fox.
“It goes without saying that there is definitely media bias,” Mr. Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said he believed that most people in the news media were left of center and pro-Obama; that meant that he and his running mate, Mitt Romney, needed to take their message directly to the people.  Mr. Ryan declined to say exactly where he saw such bias.
For tomorrow's NYT, ace media writer David Carr analyzes this charge, pointing out that the media megaphone is largely held by....conservatives.
Think about it. What is the No. 1 newspaper in America by circulation? Why, that would be The Wall Street Journal, a bastion of conservative values on its editorial pages and hardly a suspect when it comes to lefty news coverage. (Though it’s worth pointing out that the paper has published some very tough coverage of Mr. Romney.)
What about radio? Three of the top five radio broadcasters — Mr. Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the recently departed Michael Savage — have outdrawn NPR’s morning and evening programs by a wide margin. In cable television, Fox News continues to pummel the competition.
And he doesn't even mention Drudge. 

Sunday Night Music Pick

One of the most poetic, political (and worldly) and underrated songwriters and guitarists of the 1980s and 1990s is Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian.  His album Charity of Night was one of the best of the 1990s.  Here's two songs from that album, the first done acoustic but very electric on the lp, and the second from the record.   Other keys songs: "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," "Mighty Trucks of Midnight," "If You Had a Dream Like Fine," and some fine ballads.

Back to the 'Homeland'

For the first time in my life I subscribed (probably for 3 months only) to a pay service mainly to watch a returning series, in this case Homeland.  It has various flaws, but what the hell.  Now here's a new New Yorker piece on the real-life study of Korean war prisoners from U.S. who collaborated with them and remained loyal when they returned home, a study which inspired The Manchurian Candidate, which in turn inspired Homeland.

Young Still Restless

From yesterday's live concert in Central Park, Neil Young joined by Foo Fighters to keep rocking in free world.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Okay, you may be sick of the "Moonlight" sonata (name not provided by LvB), but here's a bonus, the famous Gary Oldman version from Immortal Beloved.  Movie is preposterous but love deaf Gary.  As always, my Beethoven book here.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Glenn Gould "sermonizes" with the third bagatelle from opus 126, playing it at perhaps near-record slow pace.

'Collateral Damage' in Iran Nuke Strike

Important piece at Time on the issue almost no one in U.S. or Israel--or, apparently, Tehran--has raised:  How many civilians would likely die in an attack on Iran's alleged nuke sites.  Yes, we've heard a debate on whether such an attack would be successful and wise, but dead Iranians?  Crickets. 
While Iranians are increasingly fretful of an imminent attack, they remain broadly unaware of just how devastating the human impact could be. Even a conservative strike on a handful of Iran’s nuclear facilities, a recent report predicts, could kill or injure 5,000 to 80,000 people. The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble, a report written by an Iranian-American scientist with expertise in industrial nuclear-waste management, notes that a number of Iran’s sites are located directly atop or near major civilian centers. One key site that would almost certainly be targeted in a bombing campaign, the uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan, houses 371 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride and is located on the city’s doorstep; toxic plumes released from a strike would reach the city center within an hour, killing or injuring as many as 70,000 and exposing over 300,000 to radioactive material. These plumes would “destroy their lungs, blind them, severely burn their skin and damage other tissues and vital organs.”
The report’s predictions for long-term toxicity and fatalities are equally stark. “The numbers are alarming,” says Khosrow Semnani, the report’s author, “we’re talking about a catastrophe in the same class as Bhopal and Chernobyl.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Mac Attack

Yeah, it's cool to knock Fleetwood Mac but there were a few tunes that were always good, and endure, including one of the greats, "Go Your Own Way."  Here right at release time, 1976, best version:




When Beethoven Called the Tune for Protests in Spain

Last October, in mid-month, there were massive global protests around the world tied, to what extent or another, to the new Occupy movement.  Madrid hosted the largest gathering, with perhaps as many as half a million, rallying against austerity and other problems.  Of course, the protests are renewed there today.  Here's my report on what happened in Madrid last October--when my man Beethoven, as he so often does, played the starring musical role in protests around the world.  Video of the event below, although other videos with aerial views capture the size  of the crowd and wild response better.  Of course, in the U.S. such a crowd would say, "what's that music?"

Krugman With Three Truths

New Paul Krugman blog post points to the many in the GOP, and GOP-friendly press, now moaning about what a weak candidate they have for prez.  He asks, as I have, why are they surprised? Romney got the nomination against a field of losers.  Then he picked Ryan, who has never sold his plan or himself to the public, just to the Beltway pundits.   Finally, he is in the position of having to "win" the debates when his backers forget that this rarely helps a candidate much unless the opponent acts like a fool, which is not Obama's calling card. 

I would add a 4th:  there are only about 19 true "undecided voters" left in the USA so any gain would likely be small, anyway.

Leonard and the Tower of Song

Yes, I am nearly halfway through the wonderful new bio of Leonard Cohen.  Fun fact: Joni Mitchell wrote "Chelsea Morning" while living with Leonard in the Chelsea Hotel.  Now reminded of this ten-minute, unlikely, clip of his induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame a few years back.

It's got everything:  a mini-bio, heartfelt intro by Lou Reed (who, like Leonard, has written books of poetry), then the man himself, with usual fun and touching lines, including reciting his "Tower of Song."   Yes, he is humble enough to admit that Hank Williams is "a hundred floors above" him in the tower.  Best line though is claiming that Jon Landau's famous line in the 1970s was "I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it is not Leonard Cohen."  BTW, at 78, he put out a great album this year, and is still touring.

Return of Beth

Nice to see big NYT piece just up (from tomorrow's paper) on an old fave Beth Orton, who finally has a new (and not electronic blippy) new album.  To mix metaphors, here she does Leonard Cohen (also see Leonard's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame):

More Humor from Roger Simon

We'll have to start calling him Simon & Kerfuffle.  A few days back, Roger Simon, the veteran Politico writer, took off from the very real quote from a GOP leader in Iowa about the "stench" that would be attached to Romney if he loses.  Simon then claimed Paul Ryan was referring to Romney privately as "The Stench" and already keeping his distance.  It was a joke but many in the mainstream took it serious.

Now, Simon is back with a piece about the comedy stylings of Mitt Romney.  I'm afraid that this time it is not a put-on.  Roger says Mitt needs some jokes for the big debate, to maybe win with one, like St. Reagan.   He then offers a few that Mitt has tried in the past, such as the one about Mormons believing marriage is between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman.  Ha!  Don't look for that one next week, unless the "South Park" boys set it to music.  Also check out Ann Romney's "joke" and Mitt riding to the rescue.

Virginia Man, Upset That Obama Would Be Re-elected, Kills Family

 A Virginia man killed his family and himself this week at least partly out of fear that Obama would be re-elected, one London-based news outlet reports.  He had a history of mental illness. “He felt that our God-given rights were being taken away,” a longtime family friend identified as “Maggie L.” told The Daily Mail. “He didn’t like where the country was going.”

The friend said Albert Peterson, a defense contractor, had a history of paranoia and was affected by a favorite uncle’s recent suicide. On Wednesday, Peterson, his wife Kathleen (who also worked in a defense-related company) and their two teenage sons, Matthew and Christopher, were found shot dead in their home.  Apparently he went on the killing spree a few hours after returning from church on Sunday.

Recently, according to the Daily Mail, Peterson was behaving erratically, sending paranoid political emails daily to family and friends. “They were very well-off people and they saved a lot of money,” Maggie L.  said of the Petersons. “He couldn’t understand how the government could be so irresponsible and he thought it would be on the backs of his boys.”

The Washington Post reported earlier:
Randall Alter, a neighbor who said he has known the Petersons for about 28 years and attended their wedding and their sons’ baptisms, said Albert Peterson stopped by his house Saturday night. His friend, Alter said, seemed “morose.”
“He was worried about everything,” Alter said. “He felt the economy was going in the wrong direction. He was worried about politics. He couldn’t shake things.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Late Night Music Pick

Joe Ely, with The Boss, for Joe's "All Just to Get to You."

Friday Night Music Pick

Neil Young with Crazy Horse, "Powerfinger."  Surely one of the greats.

Yes, Vote Fraud Exists--By Republicans

The AP with major update on the burgeoning story out of Florida on widespread chicanery by a firm hired by, you guessed it,  GOPers to register voters.  The firm has been hired to wide publicity. 

"Paul Lux, Okaloosa County’s election supervisor, said all of the questionable forms in the Florida Panhandle appeared to have come from Strategic’s base at the local Republican Party headquarters. He said his office had turned up dozens of them.

"Mr. Lux said some forms listed dead people and some were incomplete or illegible. He met with prosecutors on Friday, he said, but added that his staff was still going through hundreds of forms."

Helping Iran Build the Bomb

Important piece coming Sunday in NYT by veteran science writer William J. Broad on what he calls the "surprising" (though not too many) news that a great number of experts say an Israel or U.S. attack on Iran would actually speed their bomb project.  For example:
Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior nonproliferation official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a prominent arms analysis group in London, said in an e-mail interview that it was “almost certain” that a military strike on Iran would result in “a Manhattan-style rush to produce nuclear weapons as fast as possible.”

Some Like Him Hot

Breaking:  Major NYT probe that could be real game changer--who is "hotter," Obama or Romney?  With the usual liberal bias they marshall evidence to suggest that their guy, the president, is most hottest. 

For example:  A Google search for "Is Obama hot?" produced 10,600 hits while the same question for Romney drew...eight.  But have no fear, there is a "Mitt Romney Is A Hot Muffin in the Sack" Facebook page, although it has only earned 21 "likes."  Yes, he has been  the target of thousands of "Mitt Romney shirtless" searches, but on closer examination, most are for his running mate.  Poor Mittens.

Note:  Photo above is what comes up first if you put "Mitt Romney Hot" into Google image search right now.

Suicide on the Air

Fox, as per norm,  covered car chase,  in Arizona, perp runs away, then takes our pistol and shoots himself in the head as Shep Smith yells to crew, "get off it, get off it."  After commercial break, Shep apologized.   Time magazine covers here. UPDATE:  Video below of the incident now pulled by You Tube.  Mediaite still has longer version.

Buzzfeed Exposes James O'Keefe Sting

Wild:  Rosie Gray of Buzzfeed has obtained an email chain that reveals plans for a James O"Keefe undercover sting of alleged (but delusional, natch) voter fraud carried out by the SEIU in key Mass. race in 2010.  None other than John Fund at center of it, and speaking of fund, money to come from Foster Friess.  Breitbart on the chain, of course.  Plan didn't come off but fascinating reading, to be sure. Fund today calls it beating a "dead horse."

One of those who flew to Boston to take part says, however:  "O'Keefe has the footage, though I'm doubtful he would share any of it. Since, he was arrested a week later in New Orleans while attempting to wire tap Senator Mary Landrieu."

Danger for GOP? More Want One-Party Control

It's been widely overlooked, but there's a new Gallup Poll with possibly wide significance.  Polls in the past have always shown a perhaps understandable but sometimes maddening preference among voters for split control in Washington--in other words, they seem to prefer gridlock, with the White House checking Congress and vice versa.  Or maybe they think that aa split = "bi-partisan," hardly true today.

But now Gallup has just found an astonishing surge in those who say right now they want one-party control.  Since Obama is doing well at Gallup right now--maintaining a 6% lead today--this would suggest that many folks may also vote for Dems for Congress in an effort to give him something to work with.

The numbers: 38% now want one-party control vs. 23% who prefer a split, and 33% don't really care.  Gallup notes: "As the 2012 election approaches, these findings suggest that Americans may be somewhat less open to ballot splitting than in prior years."

Iran Digs 'Onion'

Hysterical, and trust me, this is about The Onion not from The Onion:  Leading Iranian News Agency, FARS, has reprinted, or rather plagiarized,  an Onion piece as fact, and you'll love the headline:  "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama."  And they carried it for a time as the 3rd most important story of the day on their site. They even tweeted the headline with link.

Article opens:
“According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. president Barack Obama.”
The second sentence of the Fars report, however, changed the phrase “have a beer with Ahmadinejad,” to “have a drink with Ahmadinejad,” and entirely omitted The Onion’s description of the Iranian president as “a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed.”
Ending:
“He takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does.” According to the same Gallup poll, 60 percent of rural whites said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim.

Leslie Knope vs. Sugary Drinks

If you missed last night's "Parks & Rec" portrayal of Pawnee's drive to follow Bloomberg into the arena of banning giant sodas.


Horse Race Baiting

Add to the list of conservative excuses for Romney losing--besides the "liberal bias" of the media, and their "skewed" polls, there's the "horse race" coverage of the race!  Which has been with us for decades now, and promoted by folks at Fox and other such outlets, but only now are right-wingers complaining.  See Ross Douthat at NYT here.

According to this meme, Obama ought to be losing due to the problems he's faced, from the economy to Libya, but NO.  Somehow he is pulling away.  And one big reason:  the media are covering him pulling away!  Also, they are covering Romney's fellow GOPers complaining about what a lame candidate it is.  If they'd just shut up, and maybe stop reporting the polls, he would no doubt surge and take control.  

Check out the Comments at bottom of Douthat post.  Fun.  Here's one:  "Fox News has been misinforming citizens for years -- Jon Stewart wouldn't be as successful without their idiocy. You're whining about the "horse race" media that refuses to INFORM the electorate? If the media has devolved to reporting the odds on the horse race, then Fox News is attempting to dope not only the horses, but the spectators."

Employee, Just Fired, Kills 4 at Minneapolis Office

Police now confirm four dead, four seriously wounded, and that the shooter (who killed himself, making the death toll five) had just been laid off yesterday.  One of the dead is the owner of the signage business, who was prominent enough to have been invited to the White House.  As for the shooter, the usual:  "One person says he was a quiet, unusual man who kept to himself."  I guess his gun didn't kill those people, he did, or so many will say...

UPDATE: Magazine Corrects One Error, Passes on Another

More than a week ago I noted here the important new article in last week's New Yorker by the estimable Jill Lepore on the birth of modern politics--a piece that kicks off with a lengthy take on the campaign that started it all.  That race--Upton Sinclair's wild and hugely influential, for many reasons, drive for governor of California in 1934--happens to be the subject of my award-winning book, The Campaign of the Century.  Lepore did not mention the book in her article, but later wrote a blog post hailing the book as a "compelling account."

So you'd think if someone like me contacted the magazine--famous for its allegedly severe fact-checking for decades--about a couple of clear errors in an article (in my area of expertise) that I  would get a response.  But after more than a week, in my case: nada.

Yes, these aren't exactly earth-shaking errors, but they certainly were not in a rush to get it right.  I even wrote a second note--and left a phone message on Tuesday with, maybe, someone from the editorial department (who knows) stating why I was calling, but again, no reply.

UPDATE  Wednesday evening: Finally got email from a top New Yorker editor saying delay caused by fact-checker being on vacation.   Said they were sorry--that I felt this was unreasonable delay.  Yesterday came word that they would be correcting one of the errors--and one about Whitaker & Baxter heading the group California League Against Sinclairism.   But they would not do the same about calling Whitaker & Baxter the "staff of two" in coming up with damaging Sinclair quotes--ignoring the L.A. Times researcher.

Miles, To Go

The great jazz trumpeter died 21 years ago at the tender age of 65.   Here's a cool 8-minute doc on his classic Kind of Blue, greatest jazz album of our era.  Little known:  My first NYC magazine, the legendary Zygote, published the longest and greatest (even Ralph Gleason said so) article ever on Miles, based on rare lengthy interview at his apt.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tales of Gun Nut Murder

Even as Paul Ryan encourages the purchase of millions of more guns--even arming his 10-year-old daughter--we get the latest accidental horror story tonight.  Seems a man in Connecticut, a fifth grade teacher, got a call from next door neighbor, his sister, about stranger outside who might be trying to break in.  Guy goes outside, sees fella dressed in black with shiny object in hand, so plugs him.  Turns out to be his son, age 15 (at left).  One neighbor claimed to have heard nine shots.

Better Heard Than Viewed

NYT wickedly pans heralded dance program that features four dancers, each acting as an instrument in a string quartet, portraying one of Beethoven's greatest works, the "Heiliger Dankgesang" movement--while the music DOES NOT play.   Interesting concept, but the execution?  Anyway, here's the unheard music, one of the most profound wordless pieces ever written by man.

Wake Up, Maggie

I got something to say to you / it's late September and you really shouldn't / be a hack in school.  "And that's what really hurts."  Well, that's the message of many reviews of the anti-teachers union movie Won't Back Down, starring usually swell Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, opening tomorrow.  Here's the new NYT pan. The film "ultimately has no use for nuance, and its third act is a mighty cataract of speechifying and breathless plot turns that strip the narrative down to its Manichaean core. Once teachers give up job security and guaranteed benefits, learning disabilities will be cured, pencils will stop breaking and the gray skies of Pittsburgh will glow with sunshine. Who could be against that?" 

TV Stations Air Obama 'Murderer' Ads

How far can a candidate go in a TV spot and still get it on the air?  In Kentucky--anything goes.  The candidate is a long-haired young man named Andrew Beacham and, yes, he's running for Congress as an independent.  He's got one ad up that liken Obama to Hitler and Ted Bundy and a second that accuses him of mass murderer and shows several images of dead fetuses.  TV stations are free to turn away such ads but are not, though one says it might run it with a "disclaimer."  Beacham says he's a Tea Party fan and produces ads for Randall Terry.  One ad expert estimates that he's put about $3000 in the ads so far.  Here's one ad:

Soros Donates to PACs

The big liberal funder has expressed opposition to donating to Obama via PACs but two sources have him suddenly giving a cool $1 to Obama's Priorities PAC,  "a significant donation that could help spur further contributions to the group in the closing weeks of the election."  Announcement leaked out of that big luncheon with Bill Clinton today.  He also will give $500,000 to two PACs helping Dem congressional candidates.   Soros donated about $40 million four years ago.  Won't match that this year but could spark others.

Newt's Debate Prep

I'm sure you (if not Romney) will get a kick out of a lengthy Newt Gingrich posting offering tips for the upcoming debates.  He opens it with a history of recent encounters and then a full length of "expert" advice.  (h/t @newsagg) Excerpt:

Use humor
Reagan and Kennedy both had this wonderful knack of using humor to make points.
President Obama is a detached, often stiff person who overestimates his competence (the next time you see a story on the Middle East remember he got a Nobel peace prize for having done nothing).
No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.

The Great GOP 'Jimmy Carter Wins' Poll Myth

As I noted earlier this week, and then today in my column at The Nation, conservatives have been steadying their nerves this week, as bad news for Romney-Ryan (and some other candidates) emerges daily from various polls, by claiming that liberal bias is skewing the surveys, and then hyping up the coverage,  in Obama's direction.  This is laughable, given the vast number and variety of polls that are all going against the GOP, for now.

But apart from this, the major claim of the past weeks has been this old saw:  Hey, all the polls gave Carter a win over Reagan in 1980!  And look what happened there!  So Romney is in okay shape and if not will surge at the end, like St. Ronald.

Well, there are several possible responses to this.  1)  Polling methods have, by all accounts, improved quite a bit since then, as proven in countless races, including presidential.  2) Also by all accounts, voters today are much more partisan and locked-in (partly because of their media choices) than they were in 1980, and less likely to bolt a candidate.  3)  Reagan had a unique opportunity that Mitt will miss this year.  There was only one presidential debate that year--and, believe it or not, it look place on October 28, little more than a week before Election Day.  (One has to wonder which White House genius scheduled that one.)  Reagan did very well in the debate, promoting a late surge.  Not to mention:  American hostages still held in Tehran. 4) Carter's approval rating was about 30% while Obama's is close to 50%.

But let's also consider  5) and that is:  The all-the-pollsters-were-wrong meme is actually false to begin with.  See this article and graph, which show that contrary to myth, Reagan actually led in tracking polls for most of the final months of the campaign.

Let's consider the most prominent poll of all.  It's true that Gallup's final pre-debate poll showed a sinking Carter up by 3% -- but a few days later its polling gave Reagan a 3% edge before Election Day.  Of course, he won by more than that, but then again, Gallup does not poll ON Election Day.  Also:  Even before the debate, two of the other leading polls at the time: AP and Harris/ABC,  gave Reagan a nominal lead.  After the debate, they gave Reagan a 5% margin.  In fact, virtually every leading poll gave Reagan at least a 1% lead two or three days before the election, and many gave him a wider edge.

So, yes, this notion of the world being shocked by a Reagan win in 1980 is simply nonsense.  I remember my only surprise at the time was that the GOP did so well in Senate races.  Now I haven't seen such a panic among Republican since Upton Sinclair was nearly elected governor  of California in 1934. And in that case, Sinclair was a real socialist--not an imagined one.

2012, 47, or Flight

Obama camp doubles down on the Romney video with this new 30-second spot that is first to be completely based on Romney audio.   Someone joked last night that my old pal David Corn is now polling in double digits for 2016 Iowa caucuses.

New Stones Film From 1965 Coming Out

You may have read that big new film Crossfire Hurricane is hitting the festival circuit next month documenting the Rolling Stones' 50-year career.  But now comes word that a long-hidden film that "just" covers 1965, when they'd just hit with "Satisfaction" is coming on DVD, and in a much longer form than earlier.  Also Steve Van Zandt interviewing the immortal Andrew Loog Oldham in NYC next month.  Here's the new trailer:

Four Years Ago: Tina Doomed Sarah?

On this day in 2008, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did that infamous SNL skit taking off on the recent Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin--and the GOP ticket never recovered.   NBC has successfully axed all of the full YouTube versions but here's an Olbermann / Countdown segment that compared the real with the parody, side by side.  More of it here.

An Occupy Anthem

Tom Morello, the most tireless Occupy celeb activist, has just released with friends what he calls a much-needed rock "anthem" to join the earnest folk tunes that normally dominate.  "We Are the 99%" streaming today at Rolling Stone and more generally available tomorrow.   Starts Rage-like then there's a brief, softer Morello passage, before a return to thrash. Listen now.   Backup vocals by Mike Chec.

The Closer?

New two-minute Obama ad debuted today, and Chuck Todd compared it to the traditional "closer" ad that a candidate run just before Election Day.   Two possibilities:  Amid this week's surge, Obama camp really feels it can close things out, lock voters in, right now, before the debates.  And/or it's timed to the start of early voting, now about to get underway or continue in 30 states...

The Comedy Stylings of Scott Rasmussen

As you may be aware, GOPers have been charging all week that all national (and presumably state) polls showing a deep plunge in the fortunes of Romney-Ryan are wrong--for one reason or another but mainly because they are "skewed" and "over sample" Democrats.  I've pointed to the idiocy of this in recent days, with GOPers relying on outdated numbers for the percentage of self-identified Republicans in the U.S.  (many who once called themselves GOPers now tell pollsters they are Dems or Independents since they plan to vote for Obama this time).

But the conservatives chief defense?  The good old Rasmussen Poll, long "skewing" to the right, and now, reliably, the only poll showing an edge to Romney.  This morning's daily tracker finds an even split BUT a 2% edge for Mitt when the "leaners" are added.   See my new piece at The Nation on how Rasmussen, therefore, helps guarantee an Obama victory.

Another 'Mother Jones' Romney Video

They've now come up with Romney speaking about Bain way back in 1985 in which he talks about not growing companies or saving them or providing jobs but "harvesting" them for profits.   David Corn:  "The video was included in a CD-ROM created in 1998 to mark the 25th anniversary of Bain & Company, the consulting firm that gave birth to Bain Capital. Here is the full clip, as it appeared on that CD-ROM (the editing occurred within the original)." Also, see below, from same CD-ROM,  the Bainiacs sing and party, and poke fun at themselves in comedy sketch.

The Return of 'Macaca'

Labor groups in Virginia revive charges of racism against George Allen in tight Senate contest, by way of the famed "Macaca" video.  Not to mention tbe noose-in-the-office.

Bain and His Existence

The Boston Globe, which provided fodder with its deep probes, reports on MoveOn asking DOJ to investigate whether Romney illegally claimed on ethics forms that he had noting to do with Bain after 1999.  “There is substantial evidence that Governor Romney was in fact involved with the operations of Bain Capital after that date,’’ MoveOn.org said in its letter to the Justice Department. In a press release, the group asserts there is “substantial evidence that Mitt Romney may have committed a felony.’’  Romney camp dismisses as a political "stunt."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Okay, Send Sarah Silverman to Florida Again

Obviously, the battle is on for Sunshine State.  (Photo: NYT)


Romney Bags a Golden Bear

Gail Collins in her Thursday column follows Mitt Romney in key swing state Ohio where, it must be said, he now trails by, oh, ten points.  At least voters there get courted, uniike most of the rest of us in this bizarre democracy where the vast majority of votes for president actually don't really count.

Anyway:  She gets off some good Ohio riffs, but Mitt's focus today was on getting the endorsement of golf great Jack "Golden Bear" Nicklaus.  Jack, Mitt's kind of man, says he chose golf because he didn't need anyone else's help and could build his golf game himself.  Mitt then says this "touches my heart."   But the polls don't lie.  Fore! dead in O-HI-O.

Second Video Haunts Scott Brown

Here's a full update on the latest today on the Mass. race and turmoil around supporters of Sen. Scott Brown mocking Elizabeth Warren with Indian war chants and tomahawk chops.  A second video of such behavior surface today from this past summer.  Brown put out a second statement which again offered no apology but asked both campaigns to cool it with this stuff--although there has been nothing comparable on the Warren side. 

Brown was forced to move today after the head of the Cherokee Nation--my man Will Rogers' tribe--demanded an apology.

Wednesday Night Music Pick

Like most people, I had sort of forgotten about Graham Parker, one of my favorites from the late-1970s (he even had an album win the annual Village Voice critics poll and I met him a few times), until I saw he was playing a show nearby.  Then saw he has a role in upcoming...Judd Apatow flick.  So here's a couple vintage cuts.

Heavily-Armed Kentucky Man Ran Roadblock During Obama Visit

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An eastern Kentucky man has been detained by federal authorities after allegedly running through a roadblock while carrying multiple firearms during President Barack Obama's visit to the Cincinnati region this month.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed in Covington on Wednesday says Kerry T. Prater of West Liberty had three weapons and at least 500 rounds of ammunition when he ran through an Erlanger police roadblock on Sept. 17. Obama's motorcade passed through northern Kentucky that day on the way to Cincinnati.

The complaint, written by Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Agent Ronald Young, says Prater has a lengthy criminal history and had been previously declared mentally ill...

The Secret Service met with Prater's family on Sept. 19 and family members described him as having a history of mental illness and repeatedly threatening people, including former President George W. Bush in 2004, authorities say.




52 Years Ago: The Nixon-Kennedy Debate

Yes, it took place 52 years ago tonight.  If you missed it (I certainly did not, as a young, ahem, Nixon backer), don't sweat it, here's the first half hour. My Nixon book here.

Newspaper Endorsements DO Matter

At least a little, in presidential races.  Yeah, most people, in this day and age, would question that, but consider:  in 2004, based purely on editorial endorsements, I picked 14 of 15 swing states correctly.  In 2008, I got 12 of 13 right.  I wonder if anyone did any better job of predicting.  Anyway, see my full piece on this subject at The Nation.

David Brooks Re-claims Rightwing Credentials

In their weekly online gabfest,  Gail Collins gives David "Babbling" Brooks a chance to make nice with conservatives after his all-too-light dusting of Romney in the past week.  And boy does he seize the opportunity.   Since he's a Ryan fan-boy he has to praise his courage in going to the AARP convention and, you know, risk getting booed by group that represents so many in the 47%.  Then Brooksie adds: "When future generations curse us for bankrupting them, I suspect they will view AARP as the epicenter of twenty-first century greed."  No, not hedge funders or Wall Streeters.  Dave, ask your hero Bruce what he thinks of that.

Of course, he also demands that the retirement age get hiked, forcing Collins to point out that while people may be living a little younger they usually don't have the option of, you know, working longer. Brooks simply replies, to paraphrase, "Hey, lot of healthy looking seniors out there!  Can't they work on the highway?"  And then he claims seniors have been getting lavish health care for years and now must settle for "broccoli."  


General Disorder

Very rare for a general--happened only twice in 13 years--especially in a war zone, to face this but here's report  from the Fayetteville Observe.  UPDATE  More details:  Forced sodomy was oral sex with a subordinate, which is now classified as rape.  Also multiple charges of adultery.
A Fort Bragg brigadier general has been charged with forcible sodomy and other offenses involving sex, pornography and alcohol, Army officials said this morning. The Fayetteville Observer has been monitoring the case and learned of the charges this morning. Fort Bragg officials will hold a press conference this afternoon.
"Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair has been charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Col. Kevin V. Arata, the 18th Airborne Corps public affairs officer.
Charges include attempted violation of an order, violations of regulations by wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships and misusing a government travel charge card.
Sinclair was sent back to Fort Bragg from Afghanistan several months ago while serving as deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters. The charges are under the Uniform Code of Military Justices, the military legal system.

Croon River

The crooner Andy Williams has died at 84.  He was a big part of my childhood, sometimes on the charts with easy listening numbers and constantly on TV, and known for his family and his sweaters and later his golf tourneys.  Fun fact: Was married to ex-showgirl Claudine Longer who later got away with killing boyfriend Spider Sabich (she served 30 days in jail).  Fun quote from Andy in 2009:   “Obama is following Marxist theory,” he told The Radio Times, a British magazine. “He’s taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.”

Drone Strikes Hit

UPDATE  Charles P. Pierce with brilliant posting,  noting report below and latest (anonymous sourced) claim that we killed a terrorist and "five others."  So he imagines who those "Others" might be.   And notes this is Obama's war.

Earlier:  A new report from Stanford and NYU researchers hits the U.S. for its continuing drone strikes in Pakistan which they said is causing many more civilian casualties, and worse alienation of locals, than we admit. 
The report, by human rights researchers at the Stanford and New York University law schools, urges the United States to “conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices” including “short- and long-term costs and benefits.” It also calls on the administration to make public still-secret legal opinions justifying the strikes.
Human rights groups have previously reached similar conclusions, and the report draws heavily on previous reporting, notably by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism in London. But the study is among the most thorough on the subject to date and is based on interviews with people injured by drone-fired missiles, their family members, Pakistani officials, lawyers and journalists.

UPDATE: Paul Ryan Loves Girls With Guns



Wonder whatever happened to Paul Ryan?  He's been off buying hunting gear and a nice new Remington rifle for his daughter.  Who is age 10.  "I got her a Remington 700 243 junior model – 243 is a caliber – it's a good gun...My daughter she's been hunting with me for years, watching me, but she's old enough this year to hunt on her own.  She's really looking forward to it."  Yes, the legal age for hunting in some states is 10.

UPDATE  Apparently news of Ryan's way sparked wingnuts to post photos of their own daughters with rifles, via Malkin's site and others.  Can't wait for show and tell in school.  Didn't any of these kids see Bambi?  Maybe Disney is really on the outs.  Such as below:




The Man Behind 'The Stench'

Okay, it might be the quote of the campaign so far: a certain obscure GOP leader in swing state Iowa telling the NYT that after November, Paul Ryan may have to "wipe the stench" of Romney off him if he wants to be a factor in 2016.   Roger Simon riffed on its yesterday at Politico taking it to a another level, even if he did make some shit up.  Now the quote-maker has written a lengthy post explaining/defending/qualifying it.

His name is Craig Robinson (left, and no, it's not Jonah Hill) and as you will see he does not claim he was misquoted.  He still plans to vote for Romney.  He loves him some Ryan.  "I used the word stench," he tries to explain, "to basically say that Paul Ryan will have plenty of baggage to deal with should he and Romney come up short on November 6th.  I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, but my choice of words has elevated my comment to something I didn’t necessary intend it to be."  Smells like team spirit. 

And he says wiping off horrid smells nothing new for GOPers, for example:  "Rick Santorum had to wash off the stench of losing his 2006 Senate campaign before being considered as a serious presidential candidate."

Wednesday Update: Poll, Poll, Pitiful Me

Wednesday update:  Gallup in its daily 1 p.m. report on its tracking poll finds, as I guessed, a whopping 3% gain for Obama in the race, now moving it up to 50%-44%.  He also gained a point in approval rating to 51%.  Both numbers now over that magical 50% mark.

Same poll cited just below also gives Dem senators big leads in those states:  Bill Nelson by 14% in Florida and Sherrod Brown by 10% in Ohio.  This is consistent with other polls, by the way.

New NYT/Quinnipiac poll finds Obama widening lead in two key states, Ohio and Florida, plus the peripherals looks good.  If he wins those two it's a wrap.  And the lead is now massive: 10% in Ohio and 9% in Florida (plus 12% in PA.).   So is the enthusiasm gap.  And Obama holds an amazing 25% lead among women in Ohio, and a 35% bulge among young people there.

Remember the tales of the youth vote being up for grabs this year?  I guess Paul Ryan's iPod playlist--mainly Boomer--backfired...


Tuesday update:   New Bloomberg poll gives Obama clear 6% lead.


Gallup daily tracking just out at 1 pm ups Obama lead over Romney to 48%-45%, actually one of the more narrow current bulges. 

Wash Post cites new polls showing large Obama bulge in Ohio and clear edge in Florida.  GOPers, meanwhile, reduced to claiming all of the key polls "oversample" Dems:  More evidence that they are stuck inside "the bubble." Or they just don't realize: when voters switch to one candidate they often start claiming that they are members of his party,  which leads to what seems like "over-sampling." 


Monday update:  The daily 1 p.m. report from Gallup on their tracking poll (which averages the past 7 days) finds no change in Obama's 2% bulge vs. Romney--but widens his approval "plus" rating to 9%, at 51%-42%. 

Sunday update:  Big boost for Obama in new Gallup today--effect of Romney video, as I predicted, now settling in?  His approval rating suddenly jumped 4% and disapproval down 3%, so now at very good 51%-43%.  Also opened up 2% lead over Romney, which will probably grow as the 7-day average continues. 

Friday updates   Much-awaited Pew Research poll finds Obama a whopping 8% ahead.  Go here for many details. Critically, Obama now tops Romney easily for enthusiastic support, 68% to 56%.

New Gallup daily tracking just out at 1 p.m.  No change on race, deadlocked, but Obama picked up a point in approval, to 47%.  Any fallout from the Romney video should show up in a day or two.


 Director of NBC polling on Chuck Todd's show just now says these very big Obama gains in three key swing states (see below) might reflect fallout from Romney video, since some of polling took place after the vid came out--and his favorable ratings really dropped. 

Today's Rasmussen finds Obama with 2% lead, 3% counting "leaners."


Thursday Updates:  Breaking this evening: New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls.   CO - Obama 50%, Romney 45%; IA - Obama 50%, Romney 42%; WI - Obama 50%, Romney 45.   All better marks for Obama than in past in true toss-up states. 

Gallup, which gave Obama a big bounce after DNC--all the way to a 7% lead--just now in its daily tracking (which averages the past seven days)-- calls the race dead even.  It also sliced another two points off Obama's "approval" rating, now down from 52% to 46%.  One wonders if--at least via Gallup--the Libya episode rebounded against Obama, despite the egregious Romney statements.

 Is that a big "doh" we're hearing this morning from GOPers?  Even as most polls show nice Obama lead, Repubs have clung to Rasmussen for dear life, as it has showed a Romney lead in recent days.  Today, suddenly, it shifts to putting Obama back in front by 3%.

Nate Silver with Thursday update, looking at vast number of national and state polls released yesterday.  Although some dissonance, finds that most favor Obama and while his "bounce" seems to have ended in national polling it's still there at the state level.  And he points out again, as below, that polls including cell phone "surveying" are most accurate.

Fascinating report by Silver on breakdown in polls this year--ones that survey voters--some reached via cellphones--strongly back Obama.  Those that don't, don't. Bringing new meaning to "smart phones."  Of course, the demo may be somewhat different for cell phones, although not so great as years ago when they really skewed young.  One results: "Mr. Obama’s advantage is also clearer in the swing states. The cellphone-inclusive polls give him an 80 percent chance to win Virginia, a 79 percent chance in Ohio, and a 68 percent chance to win Florida, all considerably higher than in the official FiveThirtyEight forecast."

The Politics of 'Homeland'

NYT Magazine piece coming Sunday just posted, a Q & A with the two men behind Homeland, as season opens.  Touches inspirations--from movie thrillers to my man Graham Greene--but also a lot on the politics of their former show 24 vs. the current show.  "The thing on '24,' it was a divergent group of political beliefs, but I don’t think that affected the story. Occasionally, maybe. But we all recognized that storytelling is agnostic. Once you start dressing it up as a platform for some kind of ideology or point of view, it becomes propaganda, and I think the audience can smell when it’s counterfeit like that."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Coming Alzheimer's Epidemic?

Provocative post by NYT good guy Mark Bittman on research finding more reasons to believe Alzheimer's is actually Type 3 Diabetes--caused by eating too much junk food and other....junk.   Of course, not all on board but he claims proof is building.  Of course, only two types of diabetes recognized now.  But the surge in Alzheimers would make sense if tied to 1) diabetes 2) poor eating habits and obesity...
If the rate of Alzheimer’s rises in lockstep with Type 2 diabetes, which has nearly tripled in the United States in the last 40 years, we will shortly see a devastatingly high percentage of our population with not only failing bodies but brains.

The Too Cool 'Cat' and the Neo-Cons

Maureen Dowd's column tomorrow finds some fault with Obama's standoff approach to foreign policy--but at least he's not surrounded by the people who gave us Iraq.  Of Romney's neo-con advisors, 17 or 24 served with Dubya.  They put the "tank" in "think."
On foreign and domestic policy, Republicans have outsourced their brains to right-wing think tanks. It’s one thing for conservatives at the American Enterprise Institute and other think tanks to sit around and theorize about the number of people who are “dependent” on government programs and to deplore the trend, or to strategize on privatizing Medicare. If you’ve got a lot of people on government programs, their response is not to help those people get off the programs, it’s to cut the programs.

Jeff Tweedy Gets Out the Vote

Jeff Tweedy with wild woman Jennifer Granholm tonight on Current.  Here's the segment and the outtakes.

Sarah Smiles

We brought you the Sarah Silverman off-color "Get Nana a Gun" Voter ID video before nearly anyone and by now you have no doubt seen it, even if it's NSFW (you have another chance, below).  At least four million have viewed it so far.  Now she's given her first interview since it came out. “I think it’s important to make it kind of shocking,” said Silverman. “The expletives are fairly gratuitous. But you have to be loud to get people to see what’s going on.”  Then she urged a vote for Obama.

The Circle Game

UPDATE  More comedy from Ross Douthat in another blog post tonight!  This time, with Romney doing so poorly in the polls, Ross decides it's a damn shame that the vote in November would be straight up or down on Obama--with no lame opponent on the ballot to muddy the waters!  

Earlier:  I don't know what's more amusing--the circular firing squad of GOPers over Romney described, and furthered, by Ross Douthat just now in this blog post, or Douthat referring to anything Ben Domeneck writes as "influential." It's come to that!  Anyway, what's on Ross's mind now is the anger among Tea Party types that the "establishment" foisted Romney on them, they've sucked it up, and now the same foisters are now slamming Mitt for his non-consequential video exposure.  Fun!  "Indeed, for much of the primary campaign, the most Romney-friendly press in the conservative-land probably emanated from (of all places!) Ann Coulter and the Drudge Report."

She's No Lady, She's a 'Slut'

Yes, Staten Island is known to very conservative (especially)  by NYC standards, but still, one has to be surprised to see that its borough president, James Molinaro, has just called Lady Gaga "a slut" and ripped her for promoting drugs.  Apparently that photo of her smoking a joint in Amsterdam really got to him.  In his defense--his son did OD on drugs.  Not too sure about the "slut" part, though. 

Lacking Native Intelligence

Buzzfeed with amazing video (see below) of Sen. Scott Brown staffers--including at least one top guy--going way too far in mocking Elizabeth Warren's claim of some slight Indian ancestry.  Yes, there are Indian war whoops and tomahawk chops and, for some reason, "Yankees Suck."

UPDATE  Great Charles P. Pierce take on all this, of course.  One excerpt:  "Staging amateur theatricals on the sidewalk concerning issues nobody cares about is distracting, and it makes you look like a jackass, and, besides, you're the one opposed to 'negative attacks,' remember? The second-most bipartisan senator in the universe?"  And it's also a wink-wink to the anti-affirmative action crowd.

UPDATE #2   NYT tonight with full report on Brown going negative and charging that Warren has "failed" the character issue. "With six weeks left and the high-stakes Senate race still very close, Mr. Brown is seeking to convert almost everything into a character issue."


Let's Play "Twenty-One"

The NYT prints helpful list of 21 government programs or credits that many people benefit from--along with the estimate from Cornell researchers that 96% of us --not 47%--get something from one or more of them.  They also ask readers to let them know how many of them you have gained from, so I will do the same here, and via my @gregmitch at Twitter.   Here is the list:
  1. Head Start
  2. Social Security Disability
  3. Social Security Retirement and Survivors Benefits
  4. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  5. Medicaid
  6. Medicare
  7. Welfare (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or T.A.N.F.)
  8. G.I. Bill
  9. Veterans’ benefits
  10. Pell Grants
  11. Unemployment Insurance
  12. Food Stamps
  13. Government Subsidized Housing
  14. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
  15. Hope and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits
  16. Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
  17. 529 accounts (qualified tuition programs) or Coverdell education savings account (Education I.R.A.’s)
  18. Earned-income tax credit
  19. Employer subsidized health insurance
  20. Employer subsidized retirement benefits
  21. Federal student loans

Just Kill Me

One of the craziest ads of the cycle comes from that brushcut Dem from Montana in tough re-election right,  Sen. Jon Tester.  It shows various mounted or stuffed (gunned down) animals, and a large fish, hailing him for making it easier for hunters to, you know, shoot or hook more of their brethren.  The logic may defy you....

Mitt Wonders

With reports of Romney's classic claim that it's an outrage that you can't open windows on airplanes gaining more play (see my post today) a Twitter hashtag, of course, has been born: #MittWonders.  My old pal Lizz Winstead offers:  "Why can't people smoke at gas stations? I mean, it's outdoors!"  (Then's there's the idea of strapping Rafalca to the roof of a plane.)A few other favorites so far:

--“I shave but it keeps coming back! What’s THAT all about?”

--"Why didn't Tom Hanks just buy a new Wilson?"

--"Why do cats get 9 Lives and Humans only get one?"

-- "Why would a baker include 13 in a dozen when it's just going to cut into his profit margin?"

--"How many millions does it take to win this thing?!"

--And, of course, the venerable: "Why do people drive on a parkway but park in a driveway?"

Good News for Labor Though

Outrageous call at end of Packers-Seahawks game last night ought to speed return of locked-out refs, but who knows.   Here are two new fun music video parodies mocking the replacement refs/scabs. By now you might have viewed last night's final play 100 times so here's something different--the radio by Green Bay announcers.   I like the tweet by Packers' guard T.J. Lang after issuing a profanity:  Okay, fine me--and use money to get the real refs back.

A Window to His Mind

I thought this might stay off the radar, so to speak, but much chatter today about Romney's amazing claim that,  jeez, windows on airplanes ought to be able to be opened from the inside if necessary--I guess rolled down or with a push button, like in a car.  "the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous."He was inspired to comment, of course, by the weekend problem of some smoke in his wife's plane on the campaign trail. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yes He Can, Can?

New Romney ad takes Obama snippet on not being able to change Washington "from the inside" and runs with it, with young folks slamming him for forgetting about "Yes, We Can." What the hell, throw it against  the wall and see if it sticks, must be the Mitt camp view.

Romney or Vermin?

Fun moment in Lima, Ohio, as a questioner asks Paul Ryan why he should vote for Mitt instead of Ron Paul or another wacky longshot candidate, Vermin Supreme.  The latter, a perennial candidate, often wears a boot on his head and promises a pony in every garage if he is elected; he also likes to glitter-bomb anti-abortion activists.  Anyway:  Paul responded by taking on the Ron Paul challenge BUT NEVER DID discourage the fella from backing Vermin.  Or maybe he thought the guy was referring to his running mate.  Video:

Sponge Blobs

If you are a loved one is facing a hospital stay,  you might want to exit this blog.  If you're still here:  A report here  that surgeons leave behind about 4000 of their instruments or sponges inside patients bodies every year.  
All sorts of tools are mistakenly left in patients: clamps, scalpels, even scissors on occasion. But sponges account for about two-thirds of all retained items.

Hospitals traditionally require that members of a surgical team, usually a nurse, count — and then recount, multiple times — every sponge used in a procedure. But studies show that in four out of five cases in which sponges are left behind, the operating room team has declared all sponges accounted for.

Piercing the Allusions

There are few more amusing and rewarding things in life than catching up with Charles P. Pierce's gleeful weekly recounting of the Sunday morning talk fests, starring as he puts it, "Disco Dancer Dave" Gregory, Bob Schieffer (who covered the Fillmore administration) and on ABC "The Clinton Guy Shocked by Blowjobs."  I'll just direct you to this week's edition (which has been up for awhile) and go have some fun if you like.  But a few highlights:

"I honestly believe that, if Clinton ran against Romney, Clinton would get 500 electoral votes, because three Canadian provinces would sign up just to vote in the election."

"Let me just say for the record that the image of Peggy Noonan's talking about what 'an old hand' might do is not an entendre that I care to double down on that early in the morning."

"Yes, God must love the poors, because He's allowed cruel and stupid Republican economic policies to create so many of them."  The GOP "has nominated a Walking Tax Avoidance Scheme for president, after so rigging the economic system for three decades that a Willard Romney was all but inevitable."

Does New Book Mention Ike on Hiroshima?

More than 67 years since the atomic bombings, no U.S. president has visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki while in office, or raised any question about Truman's decision to explode the new weapon over the center of two large cities populated largely by women and children.  Obama, at least, has asked our ambassador to Japan to attend the annual ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which I've attended myself).  Some, after leaving office, have expressed a few doubts about the wisdom of the use of the bomb, most notably Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously said, "It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing" (Japan in his view was already defeated).

Tomorrow's NYT holds a Janet Maslin review of a new Evan Thomas book on Eisenhower threatening to use the Bomb during the 1950s as a way of avoiding using it.  Thomas, who once ripped of large portions of my book on Hiroshima with Robert Jay Lifton for a Newsweek cover story, appeared on Charlie Rose once with me and defended the use of the bomb against Japan, so one wonders what knots he ties himself into in writing about Ike.


I'm Beginning to See the Light (Fade)

Gosh, month is over and I haven't even posted Lou Reed's surprising version of one of the most recorded songs of all time, "September Song."   Yes, Lotte Lenya got there first, not to mention Jimmy Durante. 

Pepper-Sprayed and Pregnant

Now this is my kind of heart-warming story, the kind with a political twist.  Almost exactly a year ago I covered the famous incident, and video, of a small group of Occupy Wall Street protesters getting pepper-sprayed by a certain NYC cop with the too-good-to-be-true name of Tony Bologna.  It was a watershed moment.  Occupy had just formed and was getting roundly ignored by the press until this outrage.

Today came news that one of the victims, now 26,  had joined some others in a high-profile lawsuit against Bologna and the city.  And guess what?  She is now pregnant--by a Good Samaritan/medic who came to her aid that day.  They plan to wed. Some wag on my Twitter feed has already suggested they name the kid Kettle.  The NY Post has its take here, including photo.  Here's the famous video again:

The Other "Rudy"

Courtesy of the excellent daily emailed newsletter from David Nir of Daily Kos.  Clip from the film below.
Probably the most famous feature film set in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District (aside from "Knute Rockne, All American") is the 1993 football tearjerker "Rudy," which takes place at Notre Dame. Well, Democrat Brendan Mullen didn't manage to land Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, but he scored the next best thing: Actor Sean Astin, who played Rudy in the movie, is headlining a fundraising event for him. (You younger nerds probably know Astin best from his role in those movies with the little dudes and the weird wedding ring and Magneto when he had long white hair.)

Ryan Accuses Romney Of Hiding His Money

Well, by extension.  Buzzfeed found a video pf Paul Ryan from 2010 wishing for a world where corporations kept their money in the USA instead of hiding it in the Cayman Islands.

Sympathy for the Doofus

That's the title of a new Paul Krugman blog post.  His point: Yes, Romney is a weak candidate but the GOPers now slamming him are ignoring that the real issue is their party.  Or as I might put it: The fault likes not in their star but in themselves.  "What, after all, does Romney have to run on? True, he hasn’t offered specifics on his economic policies — but that’s because he can’t. The party base demands tax cuts, but also demands that he pose as a deficit hawk; he can’t do both in any coherent fashion without savaging Medicare and Social Security, yet he’s actually trying to run on the claim that Obama is the threat to Medicare. On fiscal matters, doubletalk and obfuscation are his only options."

In his Monday column, Krugman explores Romney's claim, in the video, that the economy will perk up just from his election, without having to do anything at all.
In fairness to Mr. Romney, his assertion that electing him would spontaneously spark an economic boom is consistent with his party’s current economic dogma. Republican leaders have long insisted that the main thing holding the economy back is the “uncertainty” created by President Obama’s statements — roughly speaking, that businesspeople aren’t investing because Mr. Obama has hurt their feelings. If you believe that, it makes sense to argue that changing presidents would, all by itself, cause an economic revival.
There is, however, no evidence supporting this dogma.

Did Bounderby 'Build That'?

David Frum, the (relatively) sane conservative, posts a mini-review of a book I touted here last month, Dickens' wonderful and prescient Hard Times.   He calls it the master's "pre-buttal" to Ayn Rand and Galtism--and therefore, Paul Ryan--and also the "you didn't build that" meme.  Of course, the lead character in that is Bounderby, with his tales of rising up from the (literal) ditch purely by his own workings ("I pulled through it, though nobody threw me out a rope), when the truth was (spoiler alert) quite different.  But it's a book that's great, and often funny, for many others reason--for our own hard times.  And now we witness in Romney the same "vast amount of Bounderby balderdash and bluster," as Dickens put it.

Breaking: China

Reports from China this morning suggest there was some kind of riot at a giant Foxconn industrial/electronica sites, with many workers taking part, possibly after a guard beat one of them. Censorship in place but some reports got out, including the video below. NYT covers here.   Here's a report and updates.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

David Brooks on "Least Popular" Candidate Ever

Watch Dave on "Meet the Press" on Romney. Oh, he also says Mitt's faking it all.

The 'Chutzpah' of Romney

You really have to read this amazing new NYT account of Romney, on his campaign plane, bitching to reporters about why he's behind in key polls:  1) Obama lies about his record  (no matter his own) 2) Obama opting out of fed funding on campaign so Mitt has to do too many fundraisers 3)  fact-checkers falling down on the job (even though his campaign said it would ignore fact-checks) 4) and more. 

Romney, who has been running ads that lie about Obama's welfare policy for weeks, has the balls to say this: “I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you’ve had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on."