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Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Night (Bright) Lights

Jon Stewart's opening segment on rare Friday night edition of "The Daily Show" was single best shot at RNC on any cable or network show this week.  Yes, covered Clint--"The Old Man and the Seat"--but also the convention in general.  Jon really lost it over Romney's claim that he had wished Obama to succeed.  "Bull-fucking-shit!" he shouted.  Read full summary and watch video via Mediaite here.

Was quite a charged moment earlier tonight when Dinesh D'Souza, fresh from a hit doc ripping Obama, appeared as Bill Maher's chief interview guest tonight.  They battled over this and that but the surprise was Maher raising what has apparently bugged him for a decade now.

Remember when he nearly got blacklisted for commenting that, whatever else you may say about them, the 9/11 hijackers were "brave"? Well, it turns out (if I understand it correctly) that Maher was referencing a similar remark that had just been made on his old show--namely, Dinesh D'Souza.  And, according to Maher, D'Souza never did come to his defense afterward.  Anyway,  again from Mediaite, here's a longer summary and the video.

Ryan Runs From Claim

What a surprise:  Paul Ryan lied about something? Experts in the running world--including at Runners World--raised questions all day about Paul's claim to have once run a sub-three-hour marathon, which is pretty damn good.  Now he has come clean--oh, he just got mixed up, it was years ago, and somehow his brother is involved, or something.  Hasn't confessed to other lies, though.

UPDATE #1  Paul Krugman has brought up this salient claim.  Remember how the GOP helped torpedo Al Gore in 2000 with constant references to him (supposedly) claiming he "invented" the internet and other alleged bits of immodesty?  "Al Gore was constantly hounded by claims of fibbing on trivial issues — claims that, by the way, were all, as far as I could tell, fabricated. These alleged fibs supposedly showed some deep defect in his character. So if Ryan is making false claims about his physical prowess, this is absolutely fair game."

UPDATE  #2  New Yorker writer with more today on if, or how, this matters.    James Fallows also weighs in on this and other "post-truths."

Gail Warning

Since you no doubt do not want to read the new GOP plarform yourself, Gail Collins does it for you on the plane back from Tampa, in tomorrow's column for the NYT.  One highlight:

"Some of the recommendations are stunning. Besides the inevitable tribute to the Second Amendment, the platform goes to the trouble of specifically mentioning that Republicans are against limiting the sale of those extra-bullet magazines for guns that maximized the victim count in the mass shootings in Tucson, Colorado and Wisconsin. Please, keep that in mind. Wherever there’s a gun capable of spraying 100 bullets, there’s a Republican platform behind it."

But then there's this: 

Listening to the convention speeches, it was easy to get the impression that every high-ranking Republican in the country had parents who were truck drivers or convenience store workers who moved up entirely through their own efforts. Also, there were a lot of grandfathers who worked in the mines. Republicans love mines, particularly coal mines. This is partly because of their big donors, but the fact that environmentalists hate coal makes coal mines even more adorable.

And the miners themselves are always sympathetic figures because they work hard and play by the rules. As a result, their biggest dreams have been realized, and they are able to spend their lives underground developing chronic pulmonary disease.



Lies On "Fire"

I see that Paul Krugman beat tonight to posting the video that best depicts this week's GOP confag, from his favorite group, Arcade Fire, so at least I have to post a different live version.  Closes with,  "You been lied to!"




Will and Ralph

Stuck at the moment on the two greats of Brit lit--Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Dickens (after "Hard Times," now "Tale of Two Cities").  Just watched the much underrated recent Coriolanus directed by and starring the Ralph Fiennes, a longtime favorite.  Vanessa Redgrave as one of the great movie moms ever.  Get the DVD or whatever.  Set in present day and with topical issues.  Tremendous.  Though does not include LvB's "Coriolan Overture."  Trailer: 




Cat Watch Fever!

Yes, the first major film  festival for the world of ultra-popular feline videos has finally been held --and at the prestigious Walker Art Ceter in Minneapolis, no less.  Here's a fun report.   Yes, some cats are celebs--and even have agents. And their pick for video of the year was great, one I posted just after it came out. See it below.




'Pussy Riot Murder Case'

That's what they're calling it in Russia today, although it's not quite what it seems.  Still, it shows how the trial and two-year prison sentence for the three punk women have set the country, and its media, on edge.  Photo at left is what was written in blood at the scene of a double-murder of two women in Kazan--sort of Manson-like.  The media suggested it was a bloody protest and blasted Pussy Riot backers.  Turns out it was probably just a man who killed an ex-girlfriend and tried to distract attention with the Pussy Riot claim.  Still, as this new story points out, it's indicative of the state of affairs in Putin's Russia today.

Every Which Way, And Loose

My new piece at The Nation on Clint & Chair.  And see trailer for upcoming Clint film where he stars as a former baseball scout--who is losing sight.  Maybe seeing things in chairs.

Meanwhile,  NYT just posted quotes from Romney insiders who are upset about the Clint affair.  Some shocked he did no rehearsal and refused to do teleprompter--and went five minutes over time.  Finger-pointing begins.  Lawrence O'Donnell last night suggested it was Stuart Stevens (who is quoted, on the defensive, in Times story)  who wrote for him on TV ("Mr. Sterling") and  now with Romney who was huge Clint fan.  

UPDATE  NYT just added to story 1)  Clint asked for chair at the last minute and 2) He ignored a red blinking light on camera facing him that begged him to wrap it up.   Also: he laughed about the whole fiasco back stage afterward.

Clint Threatened to Shoot Michael Moore

Not sure if this anecdote has been out there before, but here's a reflection by Michael Moore today in his piece at Daily Beat about the Eastwood performance art last night.  Of course, should not be taken literally, although Mike clearly did, at least halfway.  I guess Clint didn't like what he did to Charlton Heston.

"A few years ago, at the annual National Board of Review film awards held at Tavern on the Green in New York, I was there to hand out one of the honors. When it came time for Eastwood to accept his, he went up to the microphone and growled to me in front of the audience, 'If you ever show up at my house with that camera, I'll shoot you on sight.' The audience laughed, I laughed, but the person who issued the threat wasn't laughing. That creeped me out a bit.  I made sure never to go stand on Clint Eastwood's lawn."

Akin Not Brakin'

From David Nir's excellent morning email newsletter for Daily Kos.  Just in case you thought Todd Akin was doomed because Missouri voters are relatively sane.

PPP went back into the field with another Missouri poll on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and found much the same thing they did with their one-night flash poll last week when the Toss Akin story first exploded. Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is up 45-44, little changed from Akin's prior 44-43 edge. Notably, the sample was much less red this time: 35% R to 33% D, versus a 39-30 spread last time, so clearly composition didn't have a lot to do with the earlier result. And Obama also trails 53-41, barely different from Romney's 52-42 lead a week ago.
Also worth noting: By a 52-37 margin, Republicans do not want Akin to drop out, and an overwhelming majority are ready to accept his apology (such as it is). As Tom Jensen says, "There's clearly a disconnect on Akin's candidacy between GOP leaders in Washington DC and actual GOP voters back in Missouri." And Akin's favorability appears to be bouncing back from its nadir: He's now at 33-56—still abysmal, but better than the 24-58 he scored last time. Tom also points out that undecideds on the Senate race are supporting Romney 61-25, which leads him to conclude that these voters "will ultimately hold their noses and support their party's candidate." I'm inclined to agree.

Karl Rove: Murder, He Said

Amazing quote today from a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter who was invited to a fundraising speech by Karl Rove and not told stuff was off the record. She records Rove chatting about Crossroads' aims and success, but then in referring to trying to get Todd Akin out of the Senate race in Missouri, King Karl says: "We should sink Todd Akin. If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts."  He also claimed, “We have five people who are interested” in replacing Akin. “We don’t care who the nominee is, other than get Akin out.”

Clint Blames the Chair

It happened off-stage after the speech. Now we just need someone to combine the two top visual memes of the past year: Let's see the Pepper Spray Cop giving it to the chair. Or to Clint.



Song for Clint

Classic early song from The Band, "Rockin' Chair."  With my "very best friend....I do believe that rockin' chair got me again."




MSNBC as 'Evil Twin'

Yes, Alessandra Stanley--once known as the most error-ridden NYT cultural reporter--out today with blast at MSNBC, calling it Fox's "evil twin." Try to spot all the false equivalences.   Is there too much bloviating? Yes.  Are the hosts and guests just as fact-challenged as the folks at Fox?  Oh, come off it.  Why their "hyped-up panelists shout that Republican claims are 'lies."  Of course, that's untrue, right?

"All that arch sarcasm and partisan brio may rev up the cable channel’s fans, but it constrains — and stains — NBC News, its corporate sibling, which is still the country’s No. 1 source in the evening...No wonder Brian Williams stays away."  She fails to note that Brian is perhaps the world's most frequent guest on that saracasm-free Daily Show.

And so on.  MSNBC hosts lacks the "wit" of their Fox counterparts.  As was said long ago: Alessandra needs to stick to the primetime comedy show beat. 

The Eastwood Meme

It's the hottest thing since...Pepper-Spray Cop? Anyway, Mashable is collecting examples.  Just 3 for now.  An earlier example here.  Or order an actual Obama Chair here.  BTW, the Eastwood Chair is a famous Mission/Stickley model from years back.  This three-seater, though, produced a legal complaint.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan has announced, "I'm (Also) Not There."  Expecting a Charlotte strip club to book The Chair for two nights next week for the DNC.   Also:  We may need a 4th presidential debate this year, between Clint's Empty Chair and Akin's Empty Chair (just about any Empty Suit could moderate).

Jonathan Chait on Twitter imagines the scene offstage:  "I don't think I'll use the teleprompter." "Uh, okay." "And I'll need a chair." "You can't sit during your speech!" "It's not for me."


Mitt's Pants on Fire

PolitiFact with its first fact-check of night and as I predicted it's on Mitt's "apology tour" crack and they find it not yet "false" but full-on "pants on fire."   Even more: "ridiculous." Not that the GOP will care.

A review of Obama’s foreign travels and remarks during his early presidency showed no evidence to support such a blunt and disparaging claim. (In later years, we found two formal apologies, but they were not at the start of his presidency and not part of a tour.)

While Obama's speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, he typically combined those passages with praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries had erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch.

Calling those remarks "an apology tour" is a ridiculous charge. So we rate his statement Pants on Fire.

Take Clint's Chair Home!

Now you can obtain your own Obama chair (left).   Go here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dirty Chairy for President!

Write-in campaign underway!   Elect the real wooden candidate.  Why pick an empty suit when you can get an empty chair?  Chair already leads Romney in new Gallup poll.  Poster courtesy of Buzzfeed, which also has a moving gif of Clint scolding the chair.


Clint's Chair!

Forget the dinky little thing he addressed, bizarrely, on stage at the RNC just now--at left it's the Eastwood Chair sold for movie viewing at home!  Then hit with legal complaint.  Clint should have wheeled that on stage and pretended not just Obama sitting there, but also Biden and Pelosi.

UPDATE #1 Romney camp's defense of Clint, just issued: "Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work."

UPDATE #2  Fox helpfully (?) posts entire transcript of Eastwood chatting with chair.  And see classic photo below.  This really happened.  Roger Ebert tweets: "Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic.  He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him."  Also,  now can watch video.  

Some Things Better for Koch

We heard earlier that David Koch, brother, had actually opened up a bit and answered some reporters' questions today at an RNC-related event, and now some quotes are dribbling out.  Politico has piece just up that reveals that he disagrees with the GOP platform on a few things:  gay marriage, the likely need for defense cuts and being open to tax increaaes. 

This doesn't shock me completely.  He's a NYC  guy and a big patron of the arts--I even attended a dance/Beethoven event at the Lincoln Center theater named for him awhile back.  So he does, at least, mix with some progressive people.
Koch said he thinks the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and said the government should consider defense spending cuts, as well as possible tax increases to get its fiscal house in order – a stance anathema to many in the Republican Party.


Krugman on the 'Medicare Killers'

His column for tomorrow's NYT takes a full shot at Romney and Ryan goals.   "The Republican Party is now firmly committed to replacing Medicare with what we might call Vouchercare. The government would no longer pay your major medical bills; instead, it would give you a voucher that could be applied to the purchase of private insurance. And, if the voucher proved insufficient to buy decent coverage, hey, that would be your problem.

"The question now is whether voters will understand what’s really going on (which depends to a large extent on whether the news media do their jobs). Mr. Ryan and his party are betting that they can bluster their way through this, pretending that they are the real defenders of Medicare even as they work to kill it. Will they get away with it?"

Negative Campaigning, Pompeii Style

Astounding story--that we normally might think it is from The Onion or some such--but actually at NYT site, covering negative campaigning in--Pompeii.  Apparently 3000 political signs left on the walls.  Includes "get-out-the-vote ads are more specific, like the graffiti for Gaius Julius Polybius, who “provides good bread'; for Marcus Casellius Marcellus, who 'gives great games'; and for Bruttius Balbus, who 'will preserve the treasury.' ...

"Whether Vatia won the election and was sworn in in July is unknown, but the next month Vesuvius exploded and buried the town of Pompeii and its politicians under countless tons of pumice and ash."

'Democracy Now!' Meets Sheldon Adelson: Chaos Ensues

Wild story gaining steam (and it's all on video)--a senior producer for Amy Goodman's lefty radio/TV show Democracy Now! named Mike Burke (after interviewing David Koch) happened to come upon mega-GOP donor and casino owner Sheldon Adelson being pushed in a wheelchair at the RNC.  Naturally he asked him what he thought of the GOP ticket.  He did not comment and then Burke followed him, looking for more.

Then: he bumped into a woman who happened to be Adelson's daughter. Accounts differ on who was at fault in this collision.  "Get off me!" she shouted.  In any case: Democracy Now! claims their camera was seized and then "dropped" to the floor. An Adelson aide then attempted to take away Burke's cell phone.

Here's the video, action starts after about 10 minutes:




'NYT' Tougher on Condi Than Rachel and Chris

As I noted on Twitter last night, and at The Nation today, I was appalled by the media swooning over Condi Rice last night--with Chris Matthews the most egregious example (though he did not mention a tingle up his leg this time) with a half-swoon by Rachel Maddow the most surprising.   Eugene Robinson dared to mention the word "Iraq" in relation to Condi and then practically apologized, calling it a mere "quibble."  (Just now he's on Hardball again calling her effort a "great speech.")  So it's good to see a NYT editorial, just posted, ripping her, when even most liberal commentators sat idle.  Excerpt:
She was a central player in the decision to invade Iraq and the peddling of fantasies about weapons of mass destruction to Congress and the public. She barely mentioned Iraq and spoke not at all about Afghanistan, even though troops are still fighting there.
She was particularly ludicrous when she talked about keeping American strong at home so it could be strong globally, since she was part of the team that fought two wars off the books and entirely on borrowed money.
Ms. Rice said the United States has lost its “exceptionalism,” but she never gave the slightest clue what she meant by that — a return to Mr. Bush’s policy of preventive war or the United States’ always insisting on getting its own way?

Romney's Lies About Obama and Welfare: Explained

Amid all of the fact-checking and charges of lies (and responses) since last night, here is a more thoughtful piece, at the NYT "Stone" site for opinion pieces by philosophers.  In this case, it's Jason Stanley, who has written three books and teaches at Rutgers.  It's a longish piece is go and read it all.  

For one thing, Stanley declares that there is no penalty for political lying these days because trust has eroded so much and people expect lies--therefore, Romney camp has nothing to lose, especially as it pushes the "gutting welfare" meme to attract blue-collar white voters.

Here's the kicker:  Stanley believes the Romney camp knows that few in that target audience actually believe what he's saying about Obama removing the work requirement, but it doesn't matter:  Romney is communicating to them that he recognizes and feels sympathy for the view of many that blacks comprise most of the welfare recipients--and that most blacks would rather not work.  So they are getting "the message" even if the facts that accompany it are bogus--and they know it. 

 It seems likely that the architects of the ad campaign want to communicate to working class white voters the message that Romney shares their opposition to certain kinds of welfare programs, ones connected in their minds to African-Americans. Given public misperceptions about the connection between race, poverty and willingness to work, and given the race of the president, it also suggests that it is the president who is out of touch with this constituency. Much of this message would be awkward to communicate by means of speech acts governed by a norm of truth: in other words, they would be embarrassing to say.
This same approach can apply to other memes in the GOP arsenal, as well, as we will likely see....

Finally, a Big Voter ID Win

After the recent tough loss in Pennsylvania, today we have a big win in Texas, with a federal court blocking a rough voter ID measure there.  Judges ruled: “That law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.”  Of course, Obama has given up on Texas in race for White House but this could help Dems in local races--besides being more fair.

Krugman, Sullivan Join "Lie!" Chorus--Douthat Defends Ryan

The campaign that I--and others--have waged this week to get media folks to call a lie a lie continues to gain momentum.  Here's conservative Andrew Sullivan (longtime Obama-booster) collecting the outrage, some from unlikely sources.  And now Paul Krugman posts at his NYT blog, after noting how long the media considered Dubya a well-meaning sorta fella:
The Paul Ryan affair has felt very similar. Once again you had an obvious flim-flam man — obvious, that is, if you actually looked hard at his proposals. But for quite a while the Beltway, once again demonstrating its unfounded faith in the power of up-close-and-personal impressions, didn’t want to hear it. I’ve heard that the usual suspects were very angry at me for questioning his bona fides.
It’s starting to look, however, as if the life cycle of the Ryan myth is proving a lot shorter than the Bush version.
But note new Ross Douthat blog post at the Times in which he defends Ryan's lies, hits liberals who focus on them, says they're nothing new or unusual--just showing that he is a good politician.  In other words:  fact-checking may be hitting home.

Follow link to his Twitter feed for more of that.    Tweets:  "Janesville lie" is *exactly* why cons think many "fact checks" are bogus.  And:  I'm saying the liberal fixation on branding normal political attacks as unprecedented, world-historical LIES is foolish, weird.

Gallup: No Bump for Romney from Convention (So Far)

Today's "daily tracking" poll from Gallup, released at 1 pm, found no change whatsoever in the race, with Obama still edging Romney 47-46.   It's a little confusing at Gallup because they report both the latest results from a single day and a weighted result from up to 7 days.  In any case: no change so far, despite the hype.   Nate Silver at NYT has said that Romney must get a 4% hike to fit past trending.  Note: Gallup has usually been among the polls that have given Romney a higher % than most.  BTW, another Gallup poll found that Ryan's "favorable" rating had jumped 13% since getting the veep nod--but his unfavorable count soared 17%.

Ron Paul Fan Aided That Code Pink Protest

You may have seen footage of a lone Code Pink protester briefly disrupting Paul Ryan's speech last night, and then get escorted out of the hall.  A similar incident took place about 10 yards from me when Dubya was speaking at the RNC in 2004, but that was in the cheap seats.  Last night, many wondered how the hell she got on the convention floor.   Now comes an explanation:  young Laura Mills got her pass from a Ron Paul delegate angry about the Romney forces treatment of their hero. 

Asked if CodePink has anything in store for Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday, Mills said, “I don’t know.”

CNN Victim in "How We Feed Animals" Incident Speaks Out

Richard Prince's long running blog at the Maynard Institute got the scoop, as the CNN camerawoman who had nuts thrown at her ("That's how we feed animals") allows her name, Patricia Carroll,  to come out and she also comments.  So much for claims by the right that she was merely taunted as a media worker, not because of race.  Another interview here (they say that's a photo of her above).  Unfortunately she can't pinpoint which state delegation the two perps were sitting with.  A few excerpts:
Carroll said no one took the names of the attendees who threw peanuts at her Tuesday on the convention floor and told her, "This is what we feed animals." She alerted fellow camera operators, producers and CNN security. The head of the delegation — she was not certain of the state — told her the perpetrators must have been alternates, not delegates.

But Carroll, 34, said that as an Alabama native, she was not surprised. "This is Florida, and I'm from the Deep South," she said. "You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don't think I should do." Carroll noted of the Republican convention, "There are not that many black women there."....

"I can't change these people's hearts and minds," Carroll added. "No, it doesn't feel good. But I know who I am. I'm a proud black woman. A lot of black people are upset. This should be a wake-up call to black people. . . . People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we're gone further than we have."

How Fox Fell for Reagan 'Hologram'

Is it possible I had something to do with this? On Monday, when word emerged that a legendary "surprise guest" was coming to the GOP convention, I tweeted that it could only be a hologram of Ronald Reagan--now possible after the success of that Tupac hologram.  Of course, I was joshing.  The next day this online parody appeared, claiming the folks who did the Tupac thing were now doing Reagan.

Fox picked up on this, of course, and it's now been exposed as a hoax.  Fox now claims that Clint Eastwood--a lifetimer GOPer who recently said Romney's election would make his day--will now be in that slot. Personally, I would rather have the holographic Reagan saying, "Where's the rest of me?"

UPDATE:  Yahoo News interviews guy who claims he is working on a Reagan hologram, hoped to debut it at the RNC but now aiming for end of year.  For all we know, this is also a hoax...

Swooning for Paul and Condi

As I've noted,  some heartening evidence of more journos willing to not live and let lie, but in the main, the media still swooned for Ryan and Rice last night.  My new piece at The Nation. 

Glenn Greenwald weighs in just now:
But mocking CNN is to pick low-hanging fruit. The real issue is that CNN's vapid fixation on the dreaminess of our political leaders and "their beautiful families" dominates political discourse generally, especially during the nation's presidential election cycle, which drags on for a seemingly interminable 18 months – more than one third of the president's term – and drowns out virtually all other political issues.
The reason I write so little about the presidential election is that it's the ultimate expression of the CNN-ization of American politics: a tawdry, uber-contrived reality show that has less to do with political reality than the average rant one hears at any randomly chosen corner bar or family diner. That does not mean the outcome is irrelevant, only that the process is suffocatingly dumb and deceitful, generating the desire to turn away and hope that it's over as quickly as possible.


 

Grand Collusion? Greenwald on 'NYT' and CIA

Maureen Dowd still silent on fellow reporter leaking one of her columns to the CIA  but Glenn Greenwald at his perch at The Guardian in this update is far from it.
This exchange, by itself, is remarkably revealing: of the standard role played by establishment journalists and the corruption that pervades it. Here we have a New York Times reporter who covers the CIA colluding with its spokesperson to plan for the fallout from the reporting by his own newspaper ("nothing to worry about"). Beyond this, that a New York Times journalist – ostensibly devoted to bringing transparency to government institutions – is pleading with the CIA spokesperson, of all people, to conceal his actions and to delete the evidence of collusion is so richly symbolic.
The relationship between the New York Times and the US government is, as usual, anything but adversarial. Indeed, these emails read like the interactions between a PR representative and his client as they plan in anticipation of a possible crisis. Even more amazing is the reaction of the newspaper's managing editor, Dean Baquet,

Theme Parked

Jon Stewart last night on the You DID Built That frenzy at GOP convention.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And Now the Fact-Checking Begins

Paul Ryan's speech tonight was full of lies but journalists covering it on TV, as usual, largely fail to mention that, sticking to optics, the response of delegates, and so on.  Or they say most such speeches full of "exaggeration."  Or "critics" will claim falsehoods, but good help them, THEY won't. See my piece on all this earlier today at The Nation.

But now the fact check outlets will start to check in, so to speak.  Here's PolitiFact on Ryan's lie that Obama caused closing of auto factory in Wisconsin, when it actually happened in 2008.  PolitiFact calls it "false.... the Janesville plant shut down before he took office." Wash Post's Glenn Kessler has said the same just now, plus he's critical of other points.

James Fallows tweeted on a different issue:  "1) Ryan blasts Obama for opposing Simpson-Bowles. 2) Ryan opposed Simpson-Bowles. 3) But who cares."  Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic asked if it was the most "dishonest" convention speech "ever."  He focuses on five lies, including that credit rating downgrade.  Huff Post has its own long list of untruths.  Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker also focuses on five,  but calls them "hypocrisies," not lies.  But this post asks, what happens when GOP lies that the claims of lies are lies?

And here's Jon Stewart tonight ripping GOP for all the "You Didn't Build That" nonsense last night. The inimitable Charles P. Pierce on the man he calls "The Zombie-Eyed Granny-Starver."

But don't get me started on Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow swooning over war criminal Condi tonight...Thank god old pal David Corn arrived to issue that four-letter curse word:  Iraq. 

Maureen Dowd Still Silent on Reporter Leaking Column

I'm linking to Dowd's Thursday column tonight before anyone but at least I'm not sending it to the CIA before doing it.  Her new piece makes no mention of the NYT scandal but sticks to sticking it to GOP's lack of enthusiasm for Romney (while Christie promotes himself).   "When Mitt awkwardly came out on stage at the end of Ann’s speech in what was supposed to be a crescendo, the room went flat. The few ripples of excitement in the Ward Cleaver-Betty Crocker convention with the generic music and anesthetized delegates have centered on Ryan and other 2016 prospects.

"At the very moment Mitt is supposed to be a supernova, Republicans treat him as a white-dwarf star."

Meanwhile, Gail Collins with her usual witty take on GOPers failing to inflate Mitt no matter how hard they try.  Among her zingers, referring to Ann Romney:  "She also seemed intent on telling us that he’s a fun guy, full of Mittwit, but she failed to provide any examples of fun that were actually funny. The take-away image of Mitt Romney, Neighbor, was less George Bailey in 'It’s a Wonderful Life' than Ned Flanders in 'The Simpsons.'”

Secret Service Agent Leaves Gun on Romney Plane

Astounding story tonight, as female agent taken off the job after she left her gun in the bathroom of Romney's plane.  Romney never endangered, they say.  A CBS News producer [presumably a woman] found the gun in the lavatory as the Republican nominee flew from Tampa, Fla. to Indianapolis for a speech on Wednesday. An agent on the plane was alerted and retrieved the gun without incident."

Poll: Only 1 in 10 Back Official GOP View of Abortion

A new CBS poll, taken in the wake of the Todd Akin episode, finds that only 10% of Americans back the official GOP platform view--that there should be no exceptions for allowing abortions.   But about 6 in 10 don't believe that most Republicans really support Akin's view, so I guess that helps the GOP.  Also, 57% say they would vote for a candidate (in most cases Romney?) even though they disagree with his stand on abortion. 

Detail:  "Men and women generally hold similar views on abortion, but women are more likely than men to say abortion should be allowed in all cases."


Mark David Chapman: Latest Version of Lennon's Murder

You may have read that John Lennon's killer recently lost his 7th attempt at parole.  Now you can read full 39-page transcript of his hearing.  Chapman says, among other things, that after Lennon ("Very cordial, and very decent man") signed his album that day,  "I did try to tell myself to leave. I’ve got the album, take it home, show my wife, everything will be fine. But I was so compelled to commit that murder that nothing would have dragged me away from the building."

Chapman says he'd like Yoko to know that it was "nothing personal." He simply wanted to kill the most famous person he could to gain "notoriety" and Lennon was on top of his list of seven celebs.  As is known, he came to NYC once before to do the deed and did not follow through.  He says he changed mind after seeing the film Ordinary People. 


He also says he gets yearly "conjugal visits" from his longtime wife, who still lives in Hawaii.  Naturally, he has found Jesus.

Katrina, Seven Years On--A Kind of Repeat Coming?

UPDATE  MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry tweets that her new home in NOLA just destroyed by hurricane, and posted photo (left).  It was not yet occupied and family safe.  I tweeted last night that her husband, James Perry, was being interviewed on the Weather Channel about riding it out in their current home. See his twitter feed @JamesHPerry for photos of other houses.

2 p.m.  Latest reports giving me great fears for  beloved city.  Yes, the levee that was breached is a  a "local" not a federal levee--but now those closer to home may be nearly topped or at least imperiled, Weather Channel reports.  They just showed a photo of massive flooding, to the rooftops, in Braithewaite, LA -- which is not far from NOLA.  Just now Army Corps spokesman on Weather Channel says levee may have been over-topped near Braithewaite and they may create a breach to relieve pressure.

The problem:  Isaac ain't moving.  It must be one of the slowest moving hurricanes ever.  Very heavy rain to remain in NOLA for another 12 hours or more.  My fear is that while flood control no doubt much improved did they ever foresee this much rain?  Prepared for larger hurricane but not two solid days of record rain?  Army Corps guy says pumps working as planned so far in NOLA.  But power out widely and people isolated.  Remember: no forced evacuation in this case.

We'll see.  And, obviously,  tremendous concern about other areas, already horrid videos from Gulfport, Biloxi, more.  Meanwhile, here's how I live-blogged Katrina seven years ago (the article is from a year ago so it says six years).

Don't Hang Down Your Head, Mr. Dooley

As an old (accent on old) newspaperman and former j-school student (that's "j" as in journalism to you, bud), I have known about "Mr. Dooley" for decades.  He's the witty, clever, fictional Chicago saloon keeper  concocted by humorist Finley Peter Dunne (left) in hundreds of columns, who commented on life and politics, giving us several sayings that persist to this day, such as "Politics ain't beanbag" and the role of the press being to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."  

In current days he is perhaps best immortalized with an every day quote ("Your Morning Dooley") at Charles P. Pierce's "Politics" blog at Esquire.  Note: I once interviewed Dunne's son, screenwriter Philip Dunne, for my book on Upton Sinclair's amazingly influential race for governor of California in 1934 (Dunne was one of his few Hollywood backers).

Coming tomorrow in print at the NYT, and just posted online, is a tribute from longtimer Sam Roberts, marking the century that has passed since Dooley famously commented on New York City: “This throbbing home of joy never slows down."  And more.  Personally, I'll take Will Rogers, straight up, but still, a welcome tribute.

Dylan: 'Tempest' No Tea Pot

I brought you leaked audio of three songs from upcoming Dylan album The Tempest (which I dubbed, "Shakespeare's in the Alley") a few days back, and now he's released the video for one of them.  It starts very bouncy but turns very dark.  Kids looks a little like a young Gene Clark. Personally, I think it's inspired by his cover of Hank Williams' "I Can't Get You Off of My Mind" from a Hank tribute album a few years back.  

Matt Taibbi on Romney and Ryan: "Whitest Kids U Know"

In a cover story for the next Rolling Stone just posted online, Matt Taibbi rips (no surprise) Mitt Romney as only he and a few others (we're looking at you, Charles Pierce) can. Excerpt:

"His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.

"The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race....

"Mitt Romney – a man whose own father built cars and nurtured communities, and was one of the old-school industrial anachronisms pushed aside by the new generation's wealth grab – has emerged now to sell this make-nothing, take-everything, screw-everyone ethos to the world.  He's Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR – and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we'll all end up paying for the acquisition."

Copies of Bin Laden Book Emerge, Lies Exposed

 UPDATE  Now NYT's Eric Schmitt gets his copy and here's his lead: "A new firsthand account of the Navy SEALS raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year contradicts the Obama administration’s previous descriptions of the mission, raising questions about whether the leader of Al Qaeda posed a clear threat to the commandos who fired on him."

Earlier: Last year I was among the relatively few who questioned the official story on the raid to kill bin Laden from the start.  The U.S. media seems to swallow the official story whole, and then when cracks appeared, still swallowed it, at least half-whole.  Now that book, No Easy Day, about the raid by the ex-Navy Seal, writing under a pseudonym, is about to come out and the AP and  Huff Post managed to scoop others today after buying the book in a bookstore where it had been placed on sale a week before it was supposed to (this inevitably happens).  The book apparently shows that bin Laden was unarmed, and was shot dead before the Seals even entered his bedroom.

As I noted at the time, the raid was clearly an assassination attempt, beyond what the White House said (though media did not care).  And, from Huff Post:
The book calls out inaccurate accounts of the assault. "The raid was being reported like a bad action movie," Owen writes. "At first, it was funny because it was so wrong." Contrary to earlier accounts, Owen says SEALs weren't fired upon while they were outside the gate of the compound. There was no 40-minute firefight. And it wasn't true that bin Laden had "time to look into our eyes."
From AP:
In another possibly uncomfortable revelation for U.S. officials who say bin Laden's body was treated with dignity before being given a full Muslim burial at sea, the author reveals that in the cramped helicopter flight out of the compound, one of the SEALs called "Walt" — one of the pseudonyms the author used for his fellow SEALs — was sitting on bin Laden's chest as the body lay at the author's feet in the middle of the cabin, for the short flight to a refueling stop inside Pakistan where a third helicopter was waiting. 
It appears the book may help GOPers in their claims that the Seals believe Obama took too much credit for the action, though this is much disputed. 

Lie and Let Live?

My new piece at The Nation on GOP more or less announcing they do not care for the facts or fact-chcckers.  Now:  How will the media respond?

Morris Has New Vision of 'Fatal Vision' Case

This Sunday's NYT features David Carr interviewing famed film-maker Errol Morris about his new book, our next week, on the infamous "Fatal Vision" murder case--you know, Jeffrey McDonald allegedly slaughtering his family, later immortalized in the Joe McGinniss book of that title (and Joe was then ripped by Janet Malcolm in her book).   That's McDonald being interviewed by Mike Wallace at left.

Morris feels McDonald is innocent, though he admits he doesn't quite prove that in the 500-page book.  But he is former investigator and I have always enjoyed his films and his deep probings for the NYT site on various matters.   The McDonald case has always been a bit of a thorn in my side because one of the alternate suspects is named....Greg Mitchell.  Need I say, no relation?

Now Morris is back to his other main project--a doc about the life and times of Donald Rumsfeld.  Remember his film about Robert McNamara? 

Quayle's Hunt Over

In little-noted primary news today:  Dan Quayle's son Ben lost the GOP primary to another congressman in a costly race out in Arizona.   Ron Barber, who earlier won the election for Gabby Giffords seat, beat back a Dem challenge from the left.  And Richard Carmona won primary for U.S. Senate, and is given best chance for a Dem in that state since 1995.   On the GOP side, a man endorsed by Sarah Palin beat another fellow famous for advocating that students carry guns on campuses.

"This Is How We Feed Animals"

UPDATE #2  Josh Marshall at TPM on the difficult spot CNN finds itself in--remain mum on this incident or make it a real "story."

UPDATE  Wash Post reports:  "A Secret Service official told me that they’re referring calls on the incident to the Republican National Committee. Not a police matter, in other words. It is, however, a matter for CNN. It knows all the details of this event." Including the names of the two attendees ejected.

Tuesday night:  CNN has confirmed story reported earlier:  "An attendee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday allegedly threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said 'This is how we feed animals'  before being removed from the convention....It is not clear whether the alleged culprit was a delegate or attending the convention in some other capacity.

"In a written statement, CNN addressed the matter but divulged few details: 'CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.'” Another report had two attendees ejected.

Liars Poker

They're calling Chris Christie's keynote speech a "barn burner"--except for Maddow, who said it was the most "selfish" major speech she'd seen since Chris barely got around to plugging his party's nominee--but the real barn burner of the night is Charles P. Pierce's review of the entire show at his blog (he is in Tampa).  Over and over he repeats--the whole night was one long "demonstrable lie."   Even that little history of Oklahoma. One excerpt:

"It was an entire evening based on a demonstrable lie, and it was topped off by a demonstrable liar named Chris Christie, who talked about how the president can't lead, and that nobody wants to tell the Americans the truth of the sacrifices we have to share, and talked about 'politicians who pander' at a convention that is preparing to nominate Willard Romney, which was the final hilarious lie of the night, since Romney hasn't stopped pandering since he walked down the steps of the Massachusetts State House in 2006."

He closes with just one word: "Liars."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kristof: "You Didn't Build It, Mitt"

Timely Nick Kristof column just posted exposing lies of GOP's "We Built It" theme tonight. On of chief speakers, Sher Valenzuela, got millions of help from government, and so on.  But also:  those infernal taxes also "built it."
In short, taxes don’t just smother. They can also fuel growth — when they’re invested in highways or the Internet, in colleges or early childhood education. They can create opportunities, as they did for Sher Valenzuela.

Or for Romney himself. He built his Bain empire partly because he was smart and hard-working, but also because of a great education and because of tax breaks for debt financing. Tax loopholes helped him build his fortune, and other loopholes gave him the low tax rates to retain it. 

If the Republican convention wishes to highlight and explain Romney’s success, it should have a moment of silence to honor our infernal tax code.

Who built this country? Entrepreneurs, yes. But so did schoolteachers and railway construction workers. Doctors and truckers. Scientists and soldiers. You didn’t build it, Mitt Romney — we all built it.

Christie / Springsteen Alert

Old friend David Corn says he's seen Chris Christie's speech tonight and he references Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town."  Of course, we all know Christie claims to be one of Bruce's biggest fans--and that Bruce does not return the love one bit.  Anyway, for those who may not be Bruce fans, here's great live version of "Darkness" from awhile back.



Recalling the "Kill Him" at 2008 GOP Rallies

Probably won't hear it tonight at GOP convention when Obama's name is mentioned, but it's worth revisiting  2008--especially with rightwing talk of "civil war" if he wins again, and the racial/racist tone of the Romney campaign now.   So, back to 2008:




Bic of the Week

Thanks to my friend Tim Page for discovering this: parody reviews of a Bic pen, aimed at women. at Amazon.  As he points out, every so often a bunch of wags settle on such a product or book and write "deep thought" or absurdly academic reviews that can leave you in stitches.  So check this out.  They may get taken down any minute.

"One example: I love BIC Cristal for Her! The delicate shape and pretty pastel colors make it perfect for writing recipe cards, checks to my psychologist (I'm seeing him for a case of the hysterics), and tracking my monthly cycle. Obviously, I don't use it for vulgar endeavors like math or filling out a voter application, but BIC Cristal for Her is a lovely little writing utensil all the same. Ask your husband for some extra pocket money so you can buy one today!"

When the GOP Lost Its Soul Forever

If you've never seen the famous incident in 1964 when that once not-so-rare but now mythical beast known as the Republican liberal, in this Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, got booed loudly by Goldwaterites at the 1964.   I grew up in NY State and my family voted for numerous GOP liberals named Rockefeller, Keating, Javits and others.  The only black U.S. Senator was Edward Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts. The Goldwater takeover of 1964 eventually led to Reagan in 1980 and the rest is history.


'NYT' Reporter Forwards Mo Dowd Column to CIA Source

UPDATE #2 (Wednesday)  NYT public editor Art Brisbane (still on the scene until Friday) weighs in on the incident, saying "two boundaries" were broken.  Times continues to down play.


UPDATE   NYT just issued statement calling reporter's action a "mistake" and not consistent with their standards.

Earlier: Judicial Watch has obtained emails showing that ace NYT national security reporter Mark Mazzetti (left) sent an advance copy of Maureen Dowd's August 7 column on upcoming film on bin Laden raid (by Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow) to a CIA spokesman.    Mazzetti wrote, "this didn’t come from me….and please delete after you read. See, nothing to worry about.” The NYT so far is downplaying the incident.

The film was pushed back to December after protests that it might help Obama too much before the election. Other emails seem to show extra efforts by the CIA and White House to assist the film project, over some others, since it's coming from an Oscar winner.

The raid is back in the news due to controversy over un-approved book by former Navy Seal--which, in other news today, had its publication moved up a week to early September with 575,000 in its first printing. 

The Day I Got Thrown Out of the Republican Convention

The year was 2004. The place: Madison Square Garden. A weekday afternoon. The week had kicked off with maybe 200,000 marching against the Iraq war (I was among them).  Now I was, for the first time, on the floor of a national party convention, as editor of Editor & Publisher, along with my colleague, the great Joe Strupp, and an ambitious intern, who will go unnamed (he had already been semi-adopted by John King and Tucker Carlson).

Was having fun arguing with GOP boss Ed Gillespie and chatting with the more human Matt Dowd (he would soon come out against the war and turn towards the center) and Shep Smith. The Bush girls were doing a sound check on stage. Then the three amigos from E&P  got booted off the floor--maybe there was a time limit or something. We sat in the MSG cheap seats for awhile but, bored (like most Knicks fans these days), we went back to the floor.

Suddenly, Strupp and I were accosted by security folks, including a woman who claimed she was from the Secret Service, while our intern somehow slipped away, with a guard in hot pursuit. Our credentials were seized and we were threatened with a real grilling--waterboarding, perhaps?--before being marched out of the hall by NYPD cops.

Funniest thing--on the way out,  who do we see coming our way down a corridor but--the fugitive intern. We laughed as he passed, without incident, and the cops never did catch on. We were so dangerous they marched us out of the building, and all the way across 7th Avenue. 

The next day I used a ticket to sit up in the press section for Bush's acceptance speech, unhassled. Below, hundreds of delegates were smashing sandals together relentlessly--you remember, to signify that John Kerry was a "flip-flopper." A fellow anti-war type about 20 yards from me stood up and started chanting and was dragged out. Then it got so dull I simply walked out.  Without an escort, this time.

The intern? He had sneaked in, climbed to the top of the press photographers' scaffold, and took some photos of Dick Cheney that we posted on our site the next day. Still at large, he covered the Democratic convention for us four years later, and somehow talked his way into the first five rows for Obama's acceptance speech in the stadium.  Ah, but I digress...

Crescent City

Watching Lake Pontchartrain already kicking up ominously made me think of the great Lucinda Williams with her tribute to town she knows well, NOLA, the "Crescent City."



Randall of 'Honey Badger' Fame Meets David Brooks

It happened it Tampa last night, of course. If you have missed the craze, and the profanity, here's a video with 50 million views.  And, naturally, there's a Honey Badger 2012 site, a book, and press conference today.  At least he's pro-environment. 

Brown Back in the Truck

New ad from Sen. Scott Brown in Mass. finds him back in his trademark pick-up truck as he goes fishing for votes. Thickening up the accent, too.




Intrepid 'NYT' Reporters Visit Strip Club

Just in case you thought you'd seen the last story about Tampa as strip club capital of the world, here's report from brave NYT reporters--the story was so big it took two to handle it--who visited a club last night.  "How could Republicans stay away? They could not, even in the midst of a tropical storm and with a $20 cover fee."

Revelation:  most candidate backers who showed up were Ron Paulists.  Also: another Sarah Palin lookalike spotted.  Let's hope reporters get reimbursed, or even earn combat pay.

GOP on Women's Parts

Courtesy of Nerve.com.  I had forgotten about "witchcraft."  But where's 'hysteria"?


GOP Candidate Has Lot of Balls

My apologies, I somehow missed this story two days ago in Politico,  about a Republican running for Congress, which boasts the best two opening grafs of the month:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ted Yoho is one of the best-known large-animal veterinarians in Central Florida. So in May, when an old friend needed help castrating several miniature horses, Yoho rushed off in between radio interviews he was doing to talk about his underdog congressional campaign and lent his friend some scissors and a hand.

After the deed was done, Yoho held up the horse’s testicles and proclaimed: “Washington needs a few more of these.”


The Ad Dems Should Start Running Today

Dubya playing guitar in California while New Orleans went under water after Katrina.


Romney Family Lies

New recurring segment on Letterman.   Does he really wear shirts from Costco?



Brooks: Just Babbling?

UPDATE:  Ben Smith of Buzzfeed just tweeted:  "David Brooks says he found the reaction to his column today, which was intended as parody of media, 'regrettable but predictable'."

Earlier: A new column by David "Mel" Brooks, mocking Mitt Romney's life story,  has been drawing a wildly diverse response on Twitter and the web since it was posted last night.  Some didn't get that it was tongue-in-cheek.  Others got it and declared it amazingly funny (for Brooks): "Brooks outdoes Borowitz and the Onion."  Or just plain stupid. Some declared that he was throwing Romney under the bus--GOPers will be outraged--even if he was just joking. Or that it was a successful takedown of his fellow pundits (of the left-leaning variety).  Or merely that he'd gotten drunk or high before penning the column--and should do so more often.

I tweeted that much of this analysis was overblown--I'm sure he still supports Romney (and loves Ryan) and was just having some "fun."  Perhaps it reveals that all of his fan-boy columns about Springsteen are also purely satiric.   Maybe a way to mock Chris Christie?  Also:  Proof that with today's GOP truth is still funnier than fiction.  Did hear the one about women being able to turn on internal sperm bombs?

Israel Not at Fault in Rachel Corrie Death

UPDATE: NYT tonight with statement, and video, from witness,  to Rachel Corrie's death, now a journalist, rejecting finding of Israeli judge.  If there had been video of her death everything might be different.

Earlier: The closely watched court decision came down just a few hours ago in the tragic and ultra-controversial case. "An Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was run over by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested housing demolitions in the Gaza Strip. The lengthy verdict in the civil case, read to a courtroom packed with supporters of Ms. Corrie’s family here, called the death an accident that occurred during 'a military activity meant to prevent terrorist activity. She chose to put herself in danger,' said the judge, Oded Gershon....

"Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch called the verdict 'a missed opportunity' for the Israeli Defense Force to reform an investigative system that he characterized as deeply flawed."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Give Them Shelter

Going to one of my favorite cities in the world, New Orleans (and others in the Gulf, of course, including Hush Puppy), one of the five greatest rock 'n roll songs ever:




A Real Head Case

A few days back we reported on judge in Buddy Holly's hometown, Lubbock, Texas, who said in a TV interview that the county had to get ready for a "civil war" and armed insurrection (against invading UN army), which he would lead.  Now an update:  the local paper and many citizens have demanded that Tom Head  resign, after embarrassing the city around the world, but he refuses to apologize--even at a meeting today when he faced a crowd.

But's a right-wing town. "A handful of residents said that Mr. Head was right in preparing for the worst. 'I believe that we need a sheriff’s militia to protect Lubbock County, and get all the sheriffs in Texas to start a militia to protect Texas,' Kim Wade Gatewood, 48, told the commissioners and Mr. Head." 

AP's Amazing Goof: UCLA Stuns Oregon!

It's happened before but usually not to this extent. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of web sites, big (such as Wash Post)  and small, published today an AP dispatch on a college football upset, often under the title "UCLA Stuns Oregon."  Score:  21-20.  Late TD pass decided it.  One problem: It never happened.  AP had sent out some dummy copy.   Here's a full rundown at Deadspin.  AP by now has retracted but much too late, of course.  They sent out on wire, "The Associated Press has withdrawn its story slugged UCLA-Oregon. The story was prepared as a test story during a training session and was moved inadvertently to the wire. It was not meant for publication."

And it was such a good one: "Bob Jones threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 10 seconds left." Why, he might have gotten a university named after him!

Sean Lennon: Imagine...No Fracking

We posted last week about new celeb-driven anti-fracking group, along with a clip of Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon on Leno's show talking about the issue a few weeks back.  Now Sean Lennon, son of John, has written an op-ed for the NYT, coming tomorrow, on how fracking destroys land.   He recalls his parents taking steps to become "dairy farmers" back in the 1970s. Excerpt:

"Though my father died when I was 5, I have always felt lucky to live on land he loved dearly; land in an area that is now on the verge of being destroyed. When the gas companies showed up in our backyard, I felt I needed to do some research. I looked into Pennsylvania, where hundreds of families have been left with ruined drinking water, toxic fumes in the air, industrialized landscapes, thousands of trucks and new roads crosshatching the wilderness, and a devastating and irreversible decline in property value."

Soldiers Plotted to Kill Obama--U.S. Soldiers

Shocking story from AP just now (and see update and video below): four U.S. soldiers plotted with militia to kill Obama,  take over army base--and attack a dam. They also killed a comrade and his girlfriend.  "Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group of active and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components." 

"This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk," prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. "Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans."  The group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready.  Pauley said authorities don't know how many members it had.  Here's a Reuters report.

UPDATE #1  Much more from local news source here.   "Pauley said Aguigui recruited soldiers for his militia initially by introducing them to a video game and checking their responses. 'The game features a domestic terrorist organization comprised of US soldiers who attack their own government, thus the soldiers are the true patriots, she told the judge." 

Also:  "She said in addition to planned acts of national terrorism, the group was plotting local terrorism as well. 'Acts of domestic terrorism included forcibly taking over the ammo control point at Fort Stewart to take over the post, bombing vehicles of state and local judicial and political figure heads and federal representatives to include the local department of Homeland Security, and bomb fountain at Forsyth Park in Savannah,' she said."  See local TV report:



The Original "Van the Man"

A few years before Van Morrison reached these shores the most famous musician "Van" in the U.S. was Mr. Cliburn, the young classicial pianist who in the late 1950s and early 1960s captivated audiences live and via black and white TV here and then became the rage of the Soviet Union, easing Cold War tensions at least a little.  He came to live a quiet life, mainly in Texas, although the piano competition named after him remains high profile.  Now it's reported that he has advanced bone cancer.  Here is one of my favorite performances of a favorite work (from Moscow, no less):




Oh, Man: Rocker Loses Van

A few days back I tweeted the lament by terrific indie rocker Joseph Arthur that, while away, his van had been towed by NYC (for unpaid tickets),  and somehow it and its contents--vintage musical equipment and many of his paintings (he is a serious artist)--sold.  I have been a Twitter and Facebook friend of Arthur's since the end of last year after I covered his appearance at Zuccotti Park and his Occupy-inspired song "Travel As Equals"--see terrific version below that he did on Letterman (I dubbed it the song of the year).

Anyway, now the NYT has covered his plight.  His lawyer, Bill Kunstler's old partner and then radio personality Ron Kuby, is handling his case, begging for the buyer to have a heart. 

UPDATE  Arthur reports today,  "We found the guy who has the van but he only speaks Spanish. Now we are looking for an ace Spanish speaking interpreter."  Later adds, guy is thinking about doing the right thing over next 48 hours.





Priorities! It Was Always Thus

You may be shocked to learn that the issue of Life magazine dated 67 years ago today which contained one of the most famous and iconic American photos ever--Eisenstadt's sailor's kiss in Times Square on VJ Day--did not feature that shot on the cover (quite the opposite). Actual cover at left.  It's titled "Ballet Swimmer."  The Times Square photo was taken on August 14, 1945, of course, the afternoon of Japan's surrender.  In other words:  the media cover-up of images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki had begun. 

A Madness to His 'Method'

My old and witty friend Paul Slansky--he wrote for me at Crawdaddy decades ago, including the brilliant (and prescient) "Nixon's Last Conference," and now labors for the New Yorker among others--at Huff Post is asking why a Paul Ryan quote that "should have forced him off the ticket" has gotten no major media play.  Here's his piece and clip below.  It's horrible, though I'm not quite 100% with Paul on this, but see what you think.



Shakespeare, He's in the Alley: New Dylan Album

Like Will, he has named a new opus "The Tempest."  Three leaked tracks:







Mitt Romney: Give Him a Polk

Ross Douthat at NYT just now with a blog post on what he admits is one of the "stranger" claims about Romney emerging from Tampa--that he is the new James K. Polk.  Yes, that former president, who annexed Texas, won the Mexican war, and served only one term--before passing away three months after leaving office.  Here's the They Might Be Giants, yes, on Polk:




If It Ain't Brokered, Fix It!

Fun to read today that Ron Paul backers are at least going to enter his name in nomination at the GOP convention and even make some kind of fight on rules.  But conventions, just a few years ago, usually offered some kind of drama--a big platform fight or some kind of last minute challenge to a likely nominee.  So while we paused for the unexpected day off in Tampa, let me briefly recall the 1924 Democratic convention, when a compromise candidate indeed came out of nowhere and earned the nod. This was the gathering that inspired the famous Will Rogers line, "I don't belong to any organized party, I'm a Democrat."

The convention was held in New York City from June 24 to...seemingly forever. Two powerful candidates headed the field - Gov. Al Smith of New York and William G. McAdoo, former Secretary of Treasury. There were some parallels to Obama and Clinton in 2008, with Smith deemed unelectable by many because he was a Catholic and McAdoo having a close familial relationship to a former president, as son-in-law of Woodrow Wilson.

They each had strong, very separate constituencies. McAdoo had the backing of Protestants, farmers, the vast majority of delegates from the South, Midwest and West. Smith, of course, was favored by Catholics, ethnics, liberals, those in big cities, especially in the Northeast. McAdoo's people favored Prohibition and refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan; Smith's fans were against both.

Now here's a key point: A nominee then had to gain two-thirds of the delegates to win the nod. If that were true today, a brokered convention would probably be inevitable. McAdoo got a majority on the first ballot, 431 votes, not close to the two-thirds needed,. with Smith gaining 241. Will Rogers, who would have been my candidate, got one vote; Franklin D. Roosevelt earned two. With so much anger on both sides, neither candidate backed down, and the balloting went on, and on.

By the 100th ballot, Smith was in first place but Gov. John W. Davis, the obscure former congressman and "compromise" candidate, had now overtaken McAdoo in the number two slot. It was now July 9, more than two weeks into the affair - no wonder today's cable news gasbags are salivating - and Will Rogers was exclaiming that New York had invited the delegates tot visit the city but not move there permanently. On the 103rd ballot, the delegates threw up their hands and nominated Davis.

He would be trounced by the seemingly weak Republican - a successor to the unpopular, disgraced, Warren G. Harding -- "Silent Cal" Coolidge.