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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Douthat Right Thing?

The NYT's Ross Douthat in tomorrow's column surveys the GOP field for vice-president, dismissing everyone from Rubio to Condi Rice, and expresses concern about picking another risky Palin candidate.  He narrows it down to the usual four, kicks out Pawlenty and Ryan and says Rob Portman will probably get the nod--but he supports Bobby Jindal (despite the "risky" warnings) as he would add a bit of pizzazz.  Also he is monumentally passes the "ready to be President" test.  Despite his "Ichabod Crane" physique.  Yes, he wrote all of that.

Friedman: Romney and Adelson Should Have Stayed in Vegas

Thomas Friedman, in a  surprisingly strong column for tomorrow's paper, blasts the Romney trip abroad.   "I mean, it was all about money anyway — how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear and how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return. Really, Vegas would have been so much more appropriate than Jerusalem. They could have constructed a plastic Wailing Wall and saved so much on gas." (With Sarah Silverman in the lounge?)  And: "Much of what is wrong with the U.S.-Israel relationship today can be found in that Romney trip."... And here's Maureen Dowd on the trip. 

Cruz, the "Texas Rubio," Wins Senate Primary

The vote is just in, and Ted Cruz, Tea Party favorite, has scored an upset win today over the mainstream GOP candidate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurts--backed by Rick Perry--and is heavily favored to win in November over Democrat Paul Sadler, given the current political balance in the state.  The family of Cruz, like the parents of Marco Rubio, hail from Cuba and he will now draw much national attention--and watch him get major play at GOP convention.   Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint and the Club for Growth backed him fiercely.   Think Progress reviews his stands, including sounding the usual rightwing alarms about sharia law taking hold.

Romney Doubles Down as Minister of Culture

After denying today that he was dissing Palestinian "culture"  in his remarks yesterday in Israel, Mitt actually refutes himself and doubles down in a piece posted by Natonal Review Online tonight.  He doesn't focus strictly on Israel this time but the message still comes through loud and clear.  And I love the eternal tributes to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, such as: "In the America they designed, we would have economic freedom... Here, we would not be limited by the circumstance of birth nor directed by the supposedly informed hand of government. We would be free to pursue happiness as we wish."  Forgetting, for the moment slavery, as he did yesterday in ignoring Palestinian's loss of land and state of occupation....

New posting tonight by John Cassidy at The New Yorker dismissing attempts by Romneyites to "put lipstick on the pig" that was his entire trip abroad.

Important New Doc on Netflix Now

Out of the blue last week, the team behind A Second Knock on the Door notified me, via Twitter (yes), that pieces I had written a few years back when I was the editor of Editor & Publisher--and writing regularly about the deaths of our troops in war zones due to suicides, accidents and friendly fire--had inspired the film.  At least one of families that I wrote about are featured in the film.  So I was happy to learn tonight via their Twitter feed that the film is now airing via Netflix, where I will no doubt screen it very soon.  Here's the site for the film.   Their Twitter feed is @5414productions.

The filmmakers: "Through interviews and investigative reports, this film explores key incidents that forced families of the fallen to embark on individual but integrally linked quests for the truth after the Army attempted to bury the truth within the fog of war." Trailer:

3 Occupyers Sue NYPD Over Pepper-Spray Attack

It's been building since last October and finally three OWS folks go to court today over the infamous incident in the early days of Occupy, with bad guy cop Tony Bologna (real name), the NYPD and the City the targets. "In addition to monetary damages, the lawsuits seek an order that the city establish and maintain a policy regarding the use of force during demonstrations and conforming with federal standards."  The incident helped galvanize national support for Occupy.

Akin Breakin' Heart for God

New ad for GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, Todd Akin, goes full God squad, with zilch production values, but don't laugh, incumbent Claire McCaskill is in trouble. "Times of crisis, when the dream seemed lost, great patriots turned to God, gave their all and rekindled freedom's flame. This now is our duty and our time." 

Reid Suggests Romney Did Not Pay Taxes for 10 Years

Huff Post has just posted a piece in which Harry Reid tells its reporters that an unnamed Bain investor called his office a month ago and told him there was no mystery why Romney is not releasing any more tax returns--he didn't pay any taxes for ten years.  Unfortunately, the investor is not known and there's no other source so it's a little surprising that Reid is floating it.  But perhaps others will step forward now.  Reid added, "You guys have said his wealth is $250 million. Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."

Great Scott, If Not 'Gatsby'

The New Yorker this week publishes a short-short-story by one F. Scott Fitzgerald, which it rejected about 75 years ago.   You can quickly read it here.  And all the background you'll need is here at NYT blog. The protagonist "is a widowed, 40-year-old corset saleswoman, Mrs. Hanson, whose main consolation in life is cigarettes. After being transferred to a new sales territory in the west, she discovers that social disapproval of smoking is even stronger there than it had been back east."

Keller Redux

The former NYT executive editor was slammed or mocked by many on the Web yesterday for his column yesterday that went from ripping fellow Boomers to offering suggestions on how to drive down the cost of entitlements.  Rather than summarize, here's my post, which also quotes Charles P. Pierce.  Just now he posted at his Times blog a response to the critics, which softens (without acknowledging it) some of his original points.  At the close, he sheepishly admits that, after blaming Boomers for disco in his column,  he does have Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor on his workout tape.

He also refers to "one kneejerk-left blog" post headlined ("to quote"),  Elitist Hack Bill Keller Wants to Take Away Your Social Security.   So, who is that kneejerky lefty blogger? A Google search turns up no such exact headline.  Yes, we find "Bill Keller Wants to Take Away Your Social Security and Is Either Too Ignorant or Dishonest to Acknowledge that He Is Not a Typical Baby Boomer."  Note: It's also minus the "Elitist Hack" opening.   (Yet Keller wrote "to quote" when he cited it.)  The author?  Economist Dean Baker (pictured above), who wrote a detailed reply to Keller yesterday, but is not everyone's idea of a "kneejerk leftist." Fascinating if Keller, in a moment of self-reflection, added the "Elitist Hack" himself.

By the way, a search at the NYT site finds numerous pieces written for the paper in recent years by the kneejerk lefty Baker, who is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research,  most recently just this past May, on "The Human Disaster of Unemployment."   He even starred in at least a couple of videos for the Times, including this one on TARP.

Mass Attack

Yes, that's the front page of the Boston Herald today, referring to Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren as "Liz" and "Granny."  The paper's rightwing columnist Howie Carr has been calling her "granny" since February. 

Surprising Antiwar Campaign Ad--From 1964!

As I have noted, the 1964 race for the White House was one of the hottest ever, and those who think "attack ads" are worse than ever need to at least consider the Johnson-Goldwater race. There was the infamous "Daisy" ad (suggesting Barry would blow up the world) and one we featured a few days ago, linking the GOP candidate to the KKK. Now here's another ad from that year that I was not aware of until today. It features actor Raymond Massey (best known for his portrayal of a former president named Lincoln) angrily attacking LBJ for keeping us in...Vietnam.

It opens with Massey, practically shaking with rage,  holding a picture of a "dead American boy." The body count was then exceedingly low (275) but Massey/Goldwater wanted us Out Now.  And, sounding like GOPers vs. Obama, he closes with "Vote for a Real American."  Also, go here to view the very first attack ads on the screen--produced by Hollywood saint Irving Thalberg to defeat...Upton Sinclair.

Topical Song Pick of the Day

Actually, my favorite from the whole year so far:  Joseph Arthur, "Travel as Equals," great Letterman version:

Mitt Easy to Mock--Also Quite Possibly Our Next Prez

I've followed, and quoted from, Charles P. Pierce for years, going back to his classic book Idiot America (which, unfortunately, has proven quite prescient).  He's now at Esquire and, lucky for us, blogging daily on politics and, like Matt Taibbi, brilliant and funny in his brief rants, but also quite incisive.  One of his pieces today, just posted, includes more Mitt mockery but then turns deadly serious, warning that Romney is far more in touch with voters in Idiot America than Obama and might well get elected: "Romney is the ideal presidential candidate for people who have been taught to hate and fear the government he purports to want to lead....He is the perfect marionette in the puppet show that the new big money has made out of our politics, an exercise in political mummery guaranteed to intensify the cynicism that most people feel about the system by increasing their distance from it....in his cynicism, and in the almost gleeful way he parades his least attractive qualities, and his most monumental lies, through the public square, Willard Romney is more in tune with the political zeitgeist than Barack Obama has been since the fall of 2008. And know that this election is still tied."

My Picks: Wildest 'Attack Ads' for July

My latest piece at The Nation selects and showcases six so far, probably will choose a couple more.  Not sure if this counts as an attack or a seduction but here's that Sarah Silverman "scissors" ad:

"Kiss My Ass--This is a Holy Site"

Surely one of the quotes of the year, from a Romney aide to the press in Poland today.  The transcript has it directed at a NYT reporter, but not sure if precisely accurate.  Love the "kiss my ass" bleeped out in the video.

Weegee Meets Kubrick

What happened when one of my favorite photos went on the set of my favorite movie? It happened (to my surprise) in early 1963 when the Capa of the New York streets, Weegee, journeyed to England to visit the set of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. This site publishes some of his photos, including ones from the famous "food fight" that ended the film (but was cut). See Kubrick writing "Lolita" on one of his nuclear warheads that Slim Pickens would soon ride.  (h/t Jack Shafer)

London Galling

That was the title of the Daily Show coverage of Mitt in the UK, complete with faithful takeoff on the famous Clash cover.

Colbert Goes Full Dressage

One of Stephen's funniest interview segments ever, with former dressage Olympian.  And there's a Part II coming tonight.

Monday, July 30, 2012

More from Babbling Brooks

Tuesday column from David Brooks--not yet on the NYT home page--scores the "dullest" campaign ever,  in his view.  Some of his points rinf true, but false equivalence runs rampant and he happily cites nutty Peggy Noonan not once but twice.  Favorite line has to be, in a section on the "intellectual innovation" days of olde:  George W. Bush going deep with the claim of being "a Compassionate Conservative."  Anyway, David Brooks calling something dull has to be contender for biggest pot calling a kettle black.

New Pro-GOP Ad Hits Obama on Terror

Nice use of airliner slamming into Twin Tower--which happened on Bush's watch.  Hitting Obama on "apololgizing."  Iran paranoia.  Etc.

Romney Backs Obamacare--the Israeli Version

Paul Krugman in a hasty blog post just joined in the buzz today over Mitt Romney going off script and hailing the Israeli health care system--with its individual mandate and universal care.  "But as everyone who knows anything about it quickly pointed out, the secret of Israel’s success is … intense government involvement. It’s a single-payer system; but unlike Medicare, it also sets a budget per capita (adjusted for health status), so that the nonprofit plans are in effect forced to set priorities for treatment and also negotiate hard over provider payments; think of it as price controls plus death panels.Romney’s remarks here fit the classic (Galbraith?) definition of a gaffe: it’s when a politician accidentally tells the truth."

Brat PAC Backs Santa Impersonator for Congress

Fun (if slightly unnerving) new story at NYT:  It seems that the only GOP candidate left standing on the ballot in a wide open Michigan congressional race -- after the sudden resignation of the notorious Rep. Thaddeus McCotter -- is a reindeer rancher and Santa impersonator (that's him at left, from his site) named Kerry Bentivolio.  Democrats were licking their chops waiting to take on the libertarian-leaning Bentivolio who runs a "fly by night" company.  But now there's a hitch: the so-called "Brat PAC," funded mainly by a very young and very rich Ron Paul backer, and fresh off a surprise win in Kentucky, is now backing Santa in the August 7 primary against a write-in candidate, Nancy Cassis.  Perhaps he will win by a red nose.  Here's an attack ad from the write-in candidate. 

Olympians for Romney on Thin Ice

New pro-GOP PAC ad features former Olympians touting Romney and his role in 2002 games.  Presume they knew this was for a Romney-endorsing ad, so especially sad to see Kristi Yamaguchi as the star of this. Wonder if Dems have their own athletes ready to counter.

Another Fake Bill Keller Column!

This time the hackers actually managed to get through in print as well as online what could only be another faux  Keller piece at the Times today.   As you may have heard, pranksters got wide pickup over the weekend (even from a NYT tech writer) for a Keller piece hailing WikiLeaks.  His column today, one hopes, is also a fake.   It's a self-loathing, Baby Boomer-bashing piece that essentially blames them (us) (me) for getting old, thereby burdening entitlement costs, besides also giving the world "disco."  So he might have titled the column, "Stayin' Alive."

His rich-guy-with-large-pension solution inevitably, is: Work more years before retiring (good luck finding a job, grandpa, there's always Wal-Mart greeter slots),  make do with less (that's right, medical and housing costs are well under control), and quit whining.  He should at least have the decency to apologize for backing the Iraq war, which has contributed so much to our budget mess. Also, in his pro and con list of Boomer contributions, I wish he had added, "They gave us Anthony Shadid, but also Judy Miller."

Beyond that, there's the usual bow to the previous "greatest generation" while dissing his own as selfish and self-absorbed.  Rarely mentioned in such contrasts:  the previous generation's not-so-great widespread support  1)  for racism and homophobia  2) against women's rights  3) backing the Vietnam War  4) electing Nixon twice,  and on and on.   Plus:  Social Security is a "benefit" not an "entitlement," with Boomers shelling out huge sums for, oh, four decades or more.  Earth to Bill: We already have a massive budget deficit and Boomers are only now starting to retire.  So who's really to blame? And who made the decisions setting the trajectory of Medicare and Social Security increases?   Not the "selfish" Boomers but politicians of previous generations.

Then there's blaming Boomers for the recent Wall Street outrages.  While it's true many of men at the top were Boomers, the vast majority of the real wheelers-and-dealers below them were far younger.  And those creeps now want to throw grandma off the train.  Talk about feeling "entitled."

Naturally the great Charles P. Pierce is on Keller's case, as well:  "The 'we' sprinkled throughout this bag of pus is probably the most noxious thing about it. Look around, Bill. You and Mitt Romney have far more in common than do you and the overwhelming majority of your 'fellow' boomers. One catastrophic illness, and many of our families die on the vine. This is not hyperbole. This is how it works in the world. And, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Keller signs on with the clowns at Third Way, who assure us that the real problem is that the elderly moochers are the ones keeping us from building new bridges, or flying to the moons of Neptune."

Media Controversy Alert!

So it seems that a  White House deputy press married an ABC reporter over the weekend.  Mike Allen at Politico broke the news today.  Raising eyebrows on the right--Daily Standard covers it here, dryly for now--is this one detail:  the reporter has been covering the 2012 campaign, mainly the Republican side.  From his ABC bio:  "Matthew Jaffe is a reporter for ABC News and Univision covering the 2012 presidential campaign. For the past year he traveled around the country covering the Republican primary, from the Iowa Straw Poll to the various debates to this year's primaries and caucuses."  Stay tuned.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X Minus 7 Days

Last year at The Nation, I wrote a daily piece  during the two weeks leading up to the first use of an atomic bomb, against Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945.  This is subject that I have written about for the past three decades, including in two books.  The daily posts revealed what had happened on that day in 1945--more than 125,000 died, the vast majority civilians--as a way of considering what might have been done differently.  The U.S. "first use" policy remains today along with a certain message to the world:  nuclear weapons can be used in a pre-emptive strike.  I'll be linking to those stories here every day now that we are down to the final week.  Here's the report on July 30, 1945, which includes the drafting of Truman's (criminally misleading) announcement of the bombing and dreadful response to the first bomb test at Trinity--which would help put U.S. soldiers in harm's way for years to come.

Will U.S. Media Explore Mormonism?

With Romney downplaying--virtually ignoring--his Mormon faith, and how it might influence his decisions and attitudes as President--most in the media have pretty much gone along.  But the BBC did not.  You may have read about or seen snippets of their probe, but here's the full program, including an interview with a Romney, Mitt's second cousin and something of a lookalike.  He says he left the Church after deciding it was a "fraud" and exploited members--Mormons as "masters of mendacity" who engage in "brainwashing." (h/t @prorev)

Unique "Attack Ad" Hits Romney on Hair-Cutting Assault

Finally, a TV spot devoted entirely to hitting Romney on his attack on a student with scissors at age 18.  It even charges that the is "either a sociopath or a liar" for claiming that he doesn't remember it at all, while the other attackers says they are "haunted" by it.  The speaker says he suffered a similar assault in his youth.  Will he gain votes?  There's jone catch.  The speaker, poised in front of a flag, featured in the ad is not a candidate for office--but a Michigan attorney, and it's an ad for his law firm.  Also: He used to be Jack Kervorkian/s lawyer.

The Web, the 2012 Campaign--and a New Obama Ad

My latest piece at The Nation tackles this question, with a look back at 2008, lessons learned then, and the new reality of 2012..  It kicks off my new daily blog focus there on the media and the campaign, after several weeks of a more general approach.  “We are watching a conversion of our politics from the twentieth century to the twenty-first.”

And here's latest Obama ad, hitting Romney on "women's issues."  Get ready for pushback--GOP claims Romney does (now) allow for certain "exemptions" for abortions.  And see NYT editorial today on "Republicans vs. Women." I suppose that will draw charges of "coordinated" media attacks.

Ry Cooder Tackles Romney, Occupy, and More

One of the great guitarists, songwriters and folklorists of recent decades, Ry Cooder, is out with a new album, Election Special,  in a few days, previewed here by The New Yorker.   I met Ry back in my 1970s Crawdaddy daze, and he's become increasingly "political" ever since, whether it's covering Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" or writing his own Depression/Recession classics.   His pro-Occupy classic "The Wall Street Part of Town," first released a months ago, remains one of the best tunes to come out of the movement. The new album includes "Mutt Romney Blues," sung by poor Seamus:  Where I’m goin’ I just don’t know / Po’ dog got to bottle up and go.”  Here the promo for it:

Palestinians Enraged by Romney Statement

We know it won't get the attention of his London missteps, but Romney's statements comparing the Israel and Palestinian economies (and culture) today at, what else, a fundraising breakfast, have caused an uproar among Palestinians, with an aide to Abbas labeling them "racist."  Read a full report here and decide. Let's just say he seems clueless about some of the rather crucial, and unique, reasons the Palestinian economy may not be keeping pace with Israel's.  He even compared the gap to other neighboring societies (such as the U.S. and Mexico) where, shall we say, the comparison lacks certain key elements...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Song for Scalia

You may have heard Justice Scalia's remarkable interview on Fox today (where else?) when he suggested that the right to bear arms might well include small rocket launchers since they are capable of being borne.  So, in a likely fruitless attempt to change his steel-trap mind, we present the old Bruce Cockburn classic, "If I Had A Rocket Launcher."

Bill Clinton To Play Key Role at Dem Convention

So the Big Dawg will hunt, after all, at the DNC in Charlotte, on Sept. 5, and in a surprise move, to be announced tomorrow, he will even put Obama's name in nomination in a primetime barn burner.  The NYT has it tonight.  "The address is intended to offer a strong contrast with the Republican ticket and will be closely watched, particularly given a string of blunt statements — and retractions — that Mr. Clinton has made this year when talking about the Obama administration."

Romney and the 13.9% Question

ABC has released a full transcript of its interview with Mitt Romney.  Given a chance to deny that, as many suspect, he has paid even less than the 13.9 % rate on taxes that we know about from the two returns released, he refused to do so and acted dumb.  Then there's this quote-of-the-day: "[F]rankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president."

ABC:  So from what you have released and from what we have seen we know that there was one year when you paid about 13.9% tax rate. Can we clear this up by asking a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than 13.9%?

Romney: I haven't calculated that. I'm happy to go back and look but my view is I've paid all the taxes required by law. From time to time I've been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares y taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due. I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

ABC: You said you would go back and look, would you look for us?

Romney: I haven't looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall.

Obama Just as 'Negative' As Romney--Except, He Isn't

Hey, New York Times' Jeff Zeleney, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story!  In his new piece, given prominent play on the home page since late yesterday, he probes Obama going "negative" in the campaign, with Romney and his allies merely "giving as good as they get."  One problem:  It's not  accurate.  "Romney and his allies" are giving much more than they are getting.  Later in the piece, we learn that the ratio of Obama ad airings since April  are 2-1 negative (plus he has done too widely-shown positive spots this week), while Romney's are a whopping 5-1.

Then Zelaney dryly adds, as if it's no big deal, "This does not include the Republican 'super-PAC' ads that are almost entirely attacks on the president."

Romney: "I'm No Wimp"

Romney has already responded to new Newsweek cover, claiming on CBS this morning that he had never been called a "wimp" before (to this face). I guess there's another word for someone who cuts off hair of gay kid and ties dogs to roofs.  Here's the cover story.  They say Mitt makes "Poppy" Bush look like Dirty Harry.  

Romney and The Wall

So we're told that Romney, on his visit to the Western Wall today,  surprised many by slipping a note into it. But what was on the note? A prayer for a safe bombing run over Iran?  Or for Jewish comedians in the U.S. to go easy on him?  An offer to buy the Wall and sell it to China for a huge profit?  Your own guesses welcome.

Meeting of the Giants

For  a latenight Saturday: One of my favorite clips ever,  vintage Leonard Cohen with guest Sonny Rollins, wailing.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Billboard Compares Obama to Aurora Killer

Here's an update on backlash growing in Idaho over an electronic billboard sponsored by a well-known local libertarian that sort of compares Barack Obama to Aurora mass killer James Holmes.  "The giant sign on Franklin Road and North 21st Avenue features a photo of Holmes with the words, 'Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault riffle, everyone freaks out,' written under his picture, juxtaposed to a photo of Obama with the words, 'Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize," written below."  One defender claims it is simply inspired by Obama breaking his promise to bring troops home from Afghanistan by now.

Off Brand

Much tsk tsking over Russell Brand's claim that conservatives, and maybe the media, let Sarah Palin get away with murder because they, you know, want to "fuck" her.   Now Sandra Fluke has weighed in on Twitter:  "Completely unacceptable remark re Sarah Palin. Female politicians deserve to be judged on merits of their ideas only." BTW, he also  referred to Chick-Fil-A as "the racist chicken dispensary." Pushback sure to come on that, as well.

Wildest Anti-Obama Ad Yet?

Far-right group--with large following--goes part-Birther, full-paraoid (half-Manchurian candidate?) in new attack ad against the "who is this guy" Obama who shouldn't even be a candidate for President let alone sit in the White House. They want him struck from the ballot and out to get 10,000 names in each congressional district. Production values and tone make you think that at the end they will be offering  "for just $9.55 you'll get our new Trump miracle slicer and dicer."

Saturday Corrective: Beatles Live

In case you found last night's "Hey Jude" a bit, ahem, unsatisfying, see this from 1968, plus George and John interviews at the end.

Danny Boyle's Ode to NHS

One wonders if maybe, just maybe, at least a few more America viewers of the surprise tribute to the British National Health Service last night at the Olympics might actually ponder that something like that might actually be a good idea in this country, after all. If you missed it (and it features real doctors and nurses):

Friday, July 27, 2012

Still Tops in Olympics Ceremony Music

No matter what music we get today in London--McCartney? Coldplay? Susan Boyle?--it can't possibly top the truly one and only universal anthem, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," oft-heard at such ceremonies, most memorably at Nagano for the close of the Winter Games.  (Yes, I've co-authored a book on the worldwide cultural and political influence of Beethoven's Ninth.)  Here's Part II of the Nagano opus with thousands joining in:

Updated: Another 'Joker' With Huge Arsenal Planning Mass Murder Arrested

We had saga of that fella in Maine a few days back, and now this creep in Maryland.   Sorry that he lost his job and all that, but... Naturally, he was able to assemble an "arsenal." Authorities in Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties "have foiled what they believe would have been a mass shooting in the style of the one that killed 12 people in a Denver-area movie theater, police sources tell ABC 7 News."  Update #1 from WUSA-TV: There were about 25 firearms recovered from the home, including semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

Update #2: Full report here.  Man called himself "the real Joker" and threatened to kill many and/or "blow everybody up."   Besides the many handguns and rifles,  police found 40 steel boxes of ammo.  He was about to be fired by Pitney Bowes when he made the threats.   Classic line:  "Prescott was groggy when police made contact, and was wearing a shirt that read, 'Guns don't kill people, I do.'"

Rats, Broiled Again!

Forget the BearCam for a moment, if you can, and consider today's new four-legged stars: Rats! The NYT has a lengthy piece on a dinner for 20 at at New York gallery where the guests "nibbled on goat cheese bruschetta topped with rat leg tenderloin, and rat-pork terrine encircled with beef fat, prepared by a chef after much trial and error with his proteins. The rats were shipped from a United States Department of Agriculture-approved West Coast processor that supplies pet owners with humanely killed, individually flash-frozen rodents, in classifications ranging from 'jumbo' to 'fuzzy.'”

The newspaper helpfully provides a recipe for Braised Rat.  Never thought I'd see directions, "Transfer rats to a 5-by-8-inch molded edge sheet pan."  Well, at least if we all have to live in the subway tunnels after a nuclear attack we will know how to cook our main meat staple. 

Americans Still Don't Know Obama's Religion

You might have figured that by this late date even most of the diehard fans of the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News probably have accepted that the President may, in fact, be a Christian and not, say, a Muslim or the Anti-Christ?  Not so.  In fact, the trend is moving in the opposite direction, according to a new Pew poll.   In fact, one in three conservative Republicans still think he is a Muslim.

"A survey by the Pew Research Center found that only 49 percent of those polled knew Obama is Christian, while 17 percent thought he is Muslim and 31 percent said they don’t know.... .the percentage of voters who know Obama is Christian has declined since October 2008, when 55 percent correctly identified him as Christian. It is higher, however, than in August 2010, when just 38 percent knew his faith. The poll found that the increase since 2008 was concentrated among conservative Republicans, about a third of whom think the president is Muslim."

Weather or Not? Colbert vs. Carell

Remember ye olde "Daily Show" segment "Even Stevphen" with Steve Carell debating Stephen Colbert on the hot issues of the day?  It seems they took on a very popular topic today, the weather (for or against) way back in 1999, introduced by a frighteningly young-looking Jon Stewart.

Sarah Palin, Stripper? Tampa Gets Ready for GOP

The local Tampa press has been on this for awhile but now the NYT joins in with piece on how the city's strip clubs are prepping for the upcoming GOP convention. Yes, there's even a Sarah Palin pole-dancing lookalike (above) who will grin and bare it, you betcha, for all those faith-based Republicans.  Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, which serves as a trade association for strip clubs, said an informal survey of convention business in New York and Denver had determined that Republicans dropped more money at clubs,  "hands down" (so to speak). By the way, my book on the 2008 campaign charts the rise and fall of the "real" Palin.

Next from NYT: How Tampa's gay clubs are also getting ready for GOPers? (h/t

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bear Cam: The Whole World Is Watching!

Twitter on fire as thousands, maybe millions, watch brown bears trying to catch salmon in Alaska on Brooks River at a small waterfall.  Succumb via link below (and bears should return by 6:30 am on Friday):

Brown Bear & Salmon Cam - Brooks Falls - Bears - explore

Also love the comments at #Bearcam hashtag, such as:  "Bear in lower left has the patience of a zen master."   Naturally: "Can tell by his face that one bear is totally peeing in the river. " Also: "This if more interesting than MSNBC."  And: "Do you think there are bears watching a Peoplecam?" Speaking for many: "Can't.  Stop.  Watching." Empathy:  "Everyone's getting a fish except the one dude on top of the falls--can't catch a break."  Concern:  "Attention Bear On The Far Shore--I know the water is cold, but I'm concerned you're going to starve to death."  And there's even a guide to the "hotspots" in what you're viewing.  Next:  We know what happens when they go in the woods, as it were.

The Rejected 'Strangelove' Trailer

For Stanley Kubrick's birthday: Yes, "Dr. Strangelove" helped changed my life (or twist my world outlook, same thing) as an early teen and remains my favorite film anyway.  Here's the long suppressed, rejected trailer for the film, downright hysterical. This is for real, not a latter day mashup. "Blast off!" says Bucky.  Funny, I would spend much of my career writing about The Bomb.

London Mayor Mocks Mitt: Updated

Fun video caps Romney's disastrous trip to London, as the mayor rips "some guy" named Mitt Romney.  Full roundup on press reaction there. Insiders claim Cameron and aides felt Romney made Sarah Palin look good. Now Romney surrogates are claiming he doesn't give a damn about the foreign press.  There goes his Golden Globe nomination... London may "swiftboat" Romney--back to U.S. across the ocean...Waiting for Mitt's jokes when he lands in Poland--winning the "Pole vault,"  leading in the Poles, hoping to meet a "ten-foot Pole" and so on.... Brit press dubbing the fiasco "RomneyShambles"... Next, Romney will hail "true British military hero," Group Captain Mandrake.

And now, to make matters worse, Foreign Policy extracts from old Romney book Lord Dressage's views on his hosts:  "England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions."

When Frank Sinatra Sang for His Buddy (Jack Kennedy)

The Chairman of the Board actually recorded and released a single (a takeoff on his hit 'High Hopes') for JFK campaign in 1960. 

Romney Faces the Music on "Mittorabilia"

Rough day for the Mittster so far, what with the outrage in London over his diss of the prep for the Olympics there, and now this: Perhaps you've heard about this breaking today but not seen link or image but, yes, ABC reports that Romney had pin made featuring his face for the 2002 Olympics, and outsourrced it to China.  Other memorabilia from 2002 was also made in China or Bangladesh.  Romney has admitted he just wanted to save money.

Countdown to Hiroshima: X Minus 11 Days

Every year at this time, as I noted in this space yesterday, I return to a subject I have covered--in dozens of articles and two books (see the rail at left)--since the mid-1980s: the use of two atomic bombs against Japan in 1945. Last year at The Nation, I wrote daily "Countdown to Hiroshima" pieces, revealing what happened on that day in 1945, a unique way to probe how the decision to use the bomb might have been handled differently. Here's my article from last year on July 26, 1945, when two momentous events occur: an order to use The Bomb, and the release of the Potsdam Declaration demanding Japan's surrender.

'Build That' Hammered

Not a shock by now that "The Daily Show" last night produced the best single TV segment on the GOP "build that" lie.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ms. Knope Goes to Washington

If you haven't heard, Amy Poehler and the rest of the "Parks and Recreation" shot scenes in Washington, D.C. last week (her character, Leslie Knope, was elected to the city council in Pawnee, Ind. but her boyfriend moved to D.C.)  Now the New York Times has a full report, kicked off with a shot of Amy with John McCain, who has a cameo, along with Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe.  McCain "made straight for Ms. Poehler. His first words to her: 'Do you remember when we shared a shower together?'"  Note: This was on the night he guested on SNL.  Missing was Ron Swanson, who is probably out campaigning for Ron Paul somewhere.

The Only Proper Response to Anglo-Saxon Bias

Too much to expect a Monty Python response to the (unnamed) Romney adviser (see below), but one can wish.  And I say this as one whose father was born in Yorkshire.

Build THIS, Karl Rove

Actor D.C. Douglas with video out today mocking GOP's manipulation of Obama's "build that" quote.  Others have done this--see Lewis Black on "The Daily Show" last night--but no one else ends with link to Karl Rove and you-know-what-scene in Deliverance. 

Romney 'Bundler' Had Role in Outing Valerie Plame

Politico made the connection today, and here's good wrap by Philip Turner--who published my "So Wrong for So Long" book on Iraq and the media.  "According to information that came out at the Scooter Libby trial in 2007 ... [Robert] Novak sent a draft of his fateful column attacking Iraqi invasion critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson  and outing Wilson’s wife Plame as a CIA official, to [Richard]  Hohlt, who then sent on to the Bush White House. This is interesting on at least two counts." Follow link above for more.  Holdt is a D.C. lobbyist.  Romney, of course, said yesterday in his VFW speech that his White House would never "reveal classified material for political gain."

Is This That Romney Source in "Anglo-Saxon" Flap?

Last night we brought you word of report in British press of an unnamed Romney foreign policy advisor claiming Romney had edge over Obama because of that "Anglo-Saxon" thing (see below).   Romney camp today disputes account, claiming fella couldn't have said it, or in any case was not speaking for the campaign.  But still: Who is he?  One of my sources in London says that he is getting tips that it is one Nile Gardiner,  from the Heritage Foundation, a frequent Fox News talking head and critic of Obama.  Unconfirmed, of course.  Wikipedia reveals that he a frequent contributor to the newspaper that got the scoop--the Telegraph.  His Heritage bio here. 

Update: Gardiner denies it, to Wash Post's Greg Sargent, but says he did talk to reporter.  Then again, would he confirm it?

Update 2:  Now Talking Points Memo reporter talks to Romney staffer who says no retraction or correction requested--and the Telegraph confirms it has received no such request.

Countdown to Hiroshima

Every year at this time, I begin to reflect on the use of two atomic weapons over Japanese cities, killing at least 200,000 civilians, in early August, 1945.  I visited the two cities at length back in 1984, and have written dozens of articles, and two books (see the rail at left on this page), about the issue.  Also took two trips to the Truman Library,  interviewed dozens of survivors--and pilots of both planes that dropped the bombs, and so on.  Last year, at The Nation, I started a daily "countdown to Hiroshima, "revisiting what-happened-on-this-day leading up to the use of the bombs, offering a unique way to judge what might have been done differently.  Here's my first piece in that vein one year ago, with Truman writing in his diary.  And my popular video below:

Let the Romney Games Begin!

Rather clever, possibly over-the-top, new ad spot from the Priorities USA PAC (which has taken lead on hitting Romney on Bain) timed to the start of the Olympics this week.  We see a parade of nations in the stadium, all linked to Romney through his outsourcing or as tax havens (good luck to the Swiss). 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Romney Shocker: Racial Issue Raised in London?

Mitt's visit to the UK off on wrong foot. From just published Daily Telegraph:  "In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one [Romney aide] suggested that Mr. Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr. Obama, whose father was from Africa. 'We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,' the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: 'The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.'"

More: “Obama is a Left-winger," said another. "He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory'.”  Juan Cole weighs in here.http://t.co/Elj6Jd3Z

And You Think Attack Ads Are Bad Now?

 You have probably heard of the famous “Daisy” ad for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 suggesting that his opponent, Barry Goldwater, might blow the world to bits if elected in a nuclear holocaust. But you may not know about this ad from the same year: linking Goldwater to the Ku Klux Klan. This actually got passing mention on Mad Men. And you think attack ads are a fairly recent phenomenon? But like the “Daisy” ad, this one was either not aired at all or pulled quickly.  Also, don't miss:  go here to see the very first attack ads on the screen--it may surprise you to learn that they were produced by Hollywood saint, Irving Thalberg, way back in 1934, to defeat the Democratic nominee for governor of California--none other than socialist author, Upton Sinclair!

Roughest Campaign Ad of the Year (So Far)

In race for U.S. Senate in Texas, where there's a hot GOP runoff, this ad accuses Ted Cruz of--more or less--killing this woman's son, or rather, leading to a self-inflicted "bullet in the heart."

Yes, I'm Back With Regular Posting Here

For the past few months I've taken a break here, being tremendously busy with my blog at The Nation (which of course continues) and my new Roll Over, Beethoven blog (ditto), plus finishing new books or helping bring out new editions of old books (see below and the bar at the left on this page).  Anyway, I'll posting here again, with plenty of videos and fun, so welcome friends, old and new.

Bookmark this blog, please.  And check out all those books.