TOPIC OF THE DAY – 2012

12.31 Senate passes income tax increases
12.30 In the space of five minutes, the Tennessee Titans score 35 points, without the benefit of running an offensive play! They returned two interceptions and two punts for touchdowns.
hynoskijpg-00525aa5c71377c912.30 As expected, the Giants are eliminated, but not before Henry Hynoski debuts his rhino dance after catching his first TD.
12.29 Ginny and I visit Rose
12.28 John Boehner to Harry Reid, after Reid said ““John Boehner seems to care more about his speakership than about keeping the nation on firm financial footing.”: “Go fuck yourself!”
12.24 Christmas eve party
12.23 For the second Sunday in a row, Giants are blown out in a must-win game. They still have a chance to make the play-offs, but it is slender.
12.22 An Irish Christmas with Ginny, Molly and a very annoyed Cara.
12.21 Jeff Wells on Hollywood-Elsewhere: “It began sometime last night. I can feel it all the more this morning. Nothing you can point your finger at but it’s here, and it won’t leave for another 13 days. It’s that Xmas feeling of enervation. Today will be just fine and the weekend will be cool, but all next week and Monday and Tuesday of the following week it’ll be a kind of power-down for those who live for the hum of commerce. It’s not “bah, humbug.” It’s “bah, I miss the action. . . .Holiday slumbers are fine for most people (it’s good for the soul to feel irritated by in-laws), but they always bring me down a bit and I always feel terrific when they recede. Honestly? If I could fast-forward through January 2nd I almost would.”
obamaspider12.20 Obama vs. Spider-Man
12.21 World OK.
12.20 Mayan calendar predicts the world will end tomorrow at 11:11 AM
12.14 President Obama at the Newtown memorial service: “Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this. If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try. In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
12.12 Cherish the Ladies, with Ginny at Tarrytown Music Hall.
12.12 MIke Huckabee, horse’s ass: “ When we ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place for carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, responsibility, accountability? That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us. But one day, we will stand in judgment before God. If we don’t believe that, we don’t fear that.”
100_071012.14 A unique Hannukah gift from client Lisa Moskau
12.12 A gunman kills 28 people at an elementary school in Newtown CT. Twenty of them were between the ages of 5 and 7.
12.12 James Kwak on The Baseline Scenario: “The Treasury Department today announced that it has sold off the rest of its stake in A.I.G. Treasury will focus on the claim that taxpayers made a profit on the deal. . . .But that’s a sideshow. The point of nationalizing A.I.G. (what else do you call it when the government buys 80% of a company?) wasn’t to make money; it was supposedly to save the global economy. In any case, things have worked out pretty well: the global economy is intact, though still not healthy, and A.I.G. is a private company again. Which brings up what, to me, is the bigger question: Why were we so afraid of nationalizing Citigroup and Bank of America four years ago? And isn’t A.I.G. looking like a better company today than those two?”
12.6 Ann Coulter on the Sean Hannity show:
AC: In the end, at some point, if the Bush tax cuts are repealed and everyone’s taxes go up, I promise you Republicans will get blamed for it. It doesn’t mean you cave on everything, but there are some things Republicans do that feed into what the media is telling America about Republicans.
SH: So are you saying that, for PR purposes, that they should give in to Obama on the tax rate?
AC: Not exactly, I–Well, yeah, I guess I am.
SH: You’re saying capitulate to Obama? We don’t have a revenue problem, Ann.
AC: We lost the election, Sean!
12.5 Roeamne Cash, John Leventhal, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williamns, Steve Earle & Allison Moorer at the Rubin Museum of Art.
12.5 Gripping photo on the cover of the Post of a man about to be killed by an oncoming subway car.
12.2 Brady Quinn of the Kansas City Chiefs: “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”
12.2 Jason Whitlock on Foxsports.com: “You may argue that we all grieve differently. You may argue that playing the game is the best way to move on and heal. You may argue that canceling or delaying the game would serve no purpose and would be unfair to the fans who traveled to Kansas City to see Cam Newton and the Panthers play the Chiefs. I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it. How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons? Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy.”
11.14 Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post: “A model for a fairer war to carve congressional districts — so that they more closely reflect actual voter sentiment — exists in California. Years ago Golden State voters entrusted redistricting to a nonpartisan commission. Last week’s election was the first conducted using the new boundaries. Some longtime incumbents (among them Democrat Howard Berman and Republican David Dreier) were displaced, and some rising constituencies were empowered; California’s new congressional delegation will include five Asian Americans, nine Latinos and 18 women — all Democrats. But no one is arguing that the new members don’t reflect the state’s balance of power. Obama carried California by 21 points; Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein won by 23; and Democrats are likely to hold 38 of the state’s 53 seats when the counting concludes (two races are still out).”
11.14 Dinner with Hugh Cook.
11.13 Says the Congressional Research Service: “The reduction in top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”
11.11 Ross Douthat in the Times: “In part, the GOP’s failures can be attributed to the country’s changing demographics. Reliable Republican constituencies — whites, married couples and churchgoers — are shrinking as a share of the electorate. Democratic-leaning constituencies — minorities, recent immigrants, the unmarried and unchurched — are growing, and voting in larger numbers than in the past. But Republicans are also losing because today’s economic landscape is very different than in the days of Ronald Reagan’s landslides. The problems that middle-class Americans faced in the late 1970s are not the problems of today. Health care now takes a bigger bite than income taxes out of many paychecks. Wage stagnation is a bigger threat to blue-collar workers than inflation. Middle-income parents worry more about the cost of college than the crime rate. Americans are more likely to fret about Washington’s coziness with big business than about big government alone. Both shifts, demographic and economic, must be addressed if Republicans are to find a way back to the majority. But the temptation for the party’s elites will be to fasten on the demographic explanation, because playing identity politics seems far less painful than overhauling the Republican economic message.”
11.11 Frank Bruni in the Times: “As the 2012 campaign progressed, Rove seemed to get lost in the exaggerated, delusional spin of it all. This culminated in his attempt on election night to refute the Ohio returns and the projection of an Obama victory, prompting the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly to ask him if his contrary calculations were just “math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better.” Two days later, back on Fox News, Rove was still spinning, still in denial. He claimed that Obama won by “suppressing the vote,” but by voter suppression he meant negative ads about Bain. The same kind, mind you, that Adelson once helped circulate. Rove’s awful election night proved that you can’t buy momentum or create it simply by decreeing it, and that there’s a boundary to what bluster accomplishes. The road he zoomed down in 2012 was toward a potentially diminished place in his party, and Goddangit, baby, he was making good time indeed.”
11.11 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “When the first African-American president was elected, his supporters expected dramatic changes. But Obama feared that he was such a huge change for the country to digest, it was better if other things remained status quo. Michelle played Laura Petrie, and the president was dawdling on promises. Having Joe Biden blurt out his support for gay marriage forced Obama’s hand. The president’s record-high rate of deporting illegal immigrants infuriated Latinos. Now, on issues from loosening immigration laws to taxing the rich to gay rights to climate change to legalizing pot, the country has leapt ahead, pulling the sometimes listless and ruminating president by the hand, urging him to hurry up. More women voted than men. Five women were newly elected to the Senate, and the number of women in the House will increase by at least three. New Hampshire will be the first state to send an all-female delegation to Congress. Live Pink or Dye. Meanwhile, as Bill Maher said, “all the Republican men who talked about lady parts during the campaign, they all lost.” The voters anointed a lesbian senator, and three new gay congressmen will make a total of five in January. Plus, three states voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, told The Washington Post’s Ned Martel that gays, whose donations helped offset the Republican “super PACs,” wanted to see an openly gay cabinet secretary and an openly gay ambassador to a G-20 nation. Bill O’Reilly said Obama’s voters wanted “stuff.” He was right. They want Barry to stop bogarting the change.”
11.9 David Brooks in the Times: “[The Republican] worldview is innately suspicious of government. Its adherents generally believe in the equation that more government equals less individual and civic vitality. Growing beyond proper limits, government saps initiative, sucks resources, breeds a sense of entitlement and imposes a stifling uniformity on the diverse webs of local activity. During the 2012 campaign, Republicans kept circling back to the spot where government expansion threatens personal initiative: you didn’t build that; makers versus takers; the supposed dependency of the 47 percent. Again and again, Republicans argued that the vital essence of the country is threatened by overweening government. These economic values played well in places with a lot of Protestant dissenters and their cultural heirs. They struck chords with people whose imaginations are inspired by the frontier experience. But, each year, there are more Americans whose cultural roots lie elsewhere. Each year, there are more people from different cultures, with different attitudes toward authority, different attitudes about individualism, different ideas about what makes people enterprising. More important, people in these groups are facing problems not captured by the fundamental Republican equation: more government = less vitality. The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites. Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it. Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.”
11.9 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession. Nobody wants to see that happen. Yet it may happen all the same, and Mr. Obama has to be willing to let it happen if necessary. Why? Because Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even though the nation can’t afford to make those tax cuts permanent and the public believes that taxes on the rich should go up — and they’re threatening to block any deal on anything else unless they get their way. So they are, in effect, threatening to tank the economy unless their demands are met. Mr. Obama essentially surrendered in the face of similar tactics at the end of 2010, extending low taxes on the rich for two more years. He made significant concessions again in 2011, when Republicans threatened to create financial chaos by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And the current potential crisis is the legacy of those past concessions. Well, this has to stop.”
11.7 Donald Trump via Twitter: “We should march on Washington and stop this travesty” and “Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice!”
11.7 Andrew Sullivan on The Daily Beast: “One felt something tectonic shift tonight. America crossed the Rubicon of every citizen’s access to healthcare, and re-elected a black president in a truly tough economic climate. The shift toward gay equality is now irreversible. The end of prohibition of marijuana is in sight. Women, in particular, moved this nation forward – pragmatically, provisionally, sensibly. They did so alongside the young whose dedication to voting was actually greater this time than in 2008, the Latino voters who have made the current GOP irrelevant, and African-Americans, who turned up in vast numbers, as in 2008, to put a period at the end of an important sentence.”
11.7 Howard Fineman in Huffington Post: “President Barack Obama did not just win reelection tonight. His victory signaled the irreversible triumph of a new, 21st-century America: multiracial, multi-ethnic, global in outlook and moving beyond centuries of racial, sexual, marital and religious tradition. Obama, the mixed-race son of Hawaii by way of Kansas, Indonesia, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, won reelection in good part because he not only embodied but spoke to that New America, as did the Democratic Party he leads. His victorious coalition spoke for and about him: a good share of the white vote (about 45 percent in Ohio, for example); 70 percent or so of the Latino vote across the country, according to experts; 96 percent of the African-American vote; and large proportions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Republican Party, by contrast, has been reduced to a rump parliament of Caucasian traditionalism: white, married, church-going — to oversimplify only slightly. “It’s a catastrophe,” said GOP strategist Steve Schmidt. “This is, this will have to be, the last time that the Republican Party tries to win this way.”
11.6 Visited Vice in Brooklyn, met Shane Smith
11.6 President Obama re-elected.
11.6 If anyone cares: I said it July, and I say it now–Obama wins the popular vote by two points, and 300+ electoral votes.
11.5 To Washington to see Patricia Millett
11.2 The Economist: ““Yet far from being the voice of fiscal prudence, Mr Romney wants to start with huge tax cuts (which will disproportionately favour the wealthy), while dramatically increasing defence spending. Together those measures would add $7 trillion to the ten-year deficit. He would balance the books through eliminating loopholes (a good idea, but he will not specify which ones) and through savage cuts to programmes that help America’s poor (a bad idea, which will increase inequality still further). At least Mr Obama, although he distanced himself from Bowles-Simpson, has made it clear that any long-term solution has to involve both entitlement reform and tax rises. Mr Romney is still in the cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking you can do it entirely through spending cuts: the Republican even rejected a ratio of ten parts spending cuts to one part tax rises.”
11.1 Nate Silver of the 538 blog says Obama has an 81.4% chance of winning, with 50.4& of the vote, and 303 electoral votes.
10.30 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “ With Obama forced off the trail, Clinton and Joe Biden could fulfill their shared fantasy: to be the presidential candidate. In Youngstown, Ohio, the two “Last Hurrah” pols plunged into a thrilled throng to shake hands, pose for pictures, bounce babies and sign books. Biden employed his classic move of holding the cheeks of a delighted older woman, then reaching around her in a full body hug to grab the hands of a woman behind. As “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher” blared, the prolix, snowy-haired pair scanned for anyone to schmooze or squeeze as the arena emptied out. The Big Dog lingered even longer than C-Span cameras. Rather than campaigning, which he finds draining, the president was in the Oval calling a Republican to work things out. But this time, unlike with John Boehner at a fateful moment, a flattered Christie took Obama’s calls. While Romney campaigns in Florida Wednesday, Christie and Obama plan to tour storm damage in New Jersey, a picture of bipartisanship, putting distressed people above dirt-slinging politics. And that’s a grand bargain for both of them.”

10.30 Undamaged, amazingly.
10.29 Awaiting Hurricane Sandy. Danger zone expected between 8 PM and midnight. Biggest threat seems to be from the wind, which could be in the 6-70 mph range here.
10.29 Nate Silver, 538 blog: “There is always the chance that the race could be disrupted again over the final week of the campaign, perhaps because of the candidates’ responses to Hurricane Sandy. And there is the possibility that this will be one of those years where the polls miss the mark badly in one or another direction on Election Day. There is a pretty good possibility, however, that our forecast in every state on Nov. 6 will be the same as it was on June 7. Colorado, Virginia and Florida, being the closest states in the forecast now, are the most likely to switch sides.”
10.29 Nine days out. ABC News The Note: “The party I.D. breakdown in the ABC News-Washington Post poll is 35 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 34 percent independent. If that holds, Romney can win if he holds onto at least 95 percent of Republicans and takes more than 55 percent of the independent vote (he’s taking 55 percent now). Obama wins if he captures 95 percent of Democrats and loses independents by single digits.
10.28 Dez Bryant makes a remarkable catch in the end zone in the last minute to give the Cowboys the lead and an apparent victory against the Giants. Alas for the Cowboys, the first part of Bryant’s body to touch the ground was his fingertip, which was just barely out of bounds. The Giants hung on for the win.
10.23 Richard Mourdock, a GOP candidate in Indiana: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
10.22 Obama clearly putperforms Romney in final debate. “You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama said during the final presidential debate. “We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.” “It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?'”
10.21 George McGovern dies at 90. Bob Dole: “There can be no doubt that throughout his half-century career in the public arena, George McGovern never gave up on his principles or in his determination to call our nation to a higher plain. America and the world are for the better because of him.”
10.22 Lance Armstrong is stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles. Deadspin: “The danger is he’ll send a message to young drug users that cycling is cool.”
10.19 Sen. Lindsey Graham on the future of the GOP: ““The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
10.17 In an historic embarrassment of hitlessness, Yanks eliminated by Tigers.
10.17 Charles Pierce on esquire.com: “Not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president’s face. He got in Candy Crowley‘s face. That moment when he was hectoring the president about the president’s pension made him look like someone to whom the valet has brought the wrong Mercedes. “You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.” Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.”
10.16 Romney during the debate: ““And I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can’t we—can’t we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
10.16 Second Obama-Romney debate. The president wins in a TKO.
10.16 Joan Didion: “Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind. The picture dictates the arrangement. The picture dictates whether this will be a sentence with or without clauses, a sentence that ends hard or a dying-fall sentence, long or short, active or passive. The picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of the words tells you, or tells me, what’s going on in the picture. Nota bene. It tells you. You don’t tell it.”
10.15 Donald Trump on Twitter: “Derek Jeter had a great career until 3 days ago when he sold his apartment at Trump World Tower- I told him not to sell- karma?”
10.13 In Game One of the ALCS, a 6-4 12-inning loss to Detroit, Derek Jeter breaks his ankle, is lost for the season.
10.12 Behind a strong performance from C.C. Sabathia, the Yanks beat the Orioles 3-1, eliminating them, 3 games to 2.
10.12 Quoted in The New Yorker, Franklin Roosevelt, speaking at the New York Democratic State Convention in Syracuse on September 29, 1936: “Let me warn you and let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion which says, “Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them—we will do more of them, we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything. But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it. Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: The Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job’s being done.”
10.12 Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell:
10.11 Juli Weiner on vf.com: “Basically every time that Ryan said something, about anything, Biden looked down and giggled to himself, sometimes simultaneously scribbling down notes (“<-- hate u paul”), sometimes not. New York magazine has a fine summary of the controversy surrounding the chuckle: “On Twitter Piers Morgan deemed Biden’s laugh ‘infectious,’ and after weathering the last week many liberals seemed happy to have something to smile about. Unsurprisingly, right-leaning Tweeters weren’t amused by Biden’s suggestion that everything Paul Ryan said in the debate was absurd.” But this particular style of laughing—i.e., its specific aesthetic qualities—was what made it so universally, perhaps even subconsciously, persuasive. We think New York is correct that it is an implicit suggestion “that everything Paul Ryan said in the debate was absurd,” but the laugh was equal parts bemusement as it was conspiratorial. It was a laugh that also implicitly suggested that the audience—the intelligent, informed, rational, beautiful, amazing-taste-in-music-having, weight-losing audience—was in on the joke. It was not an arrogant laugh; at no point did Biden seem condescending to anyone but Paul Ryan. It makes sense that Morgan called it “infectious.” Every laugh was an audience-participation question: “Can you believe this guy?” No one wants to say that he or she doesn’t get what’s so funny. Everyone wants to be in on every joke. Human nature is as steady as Paul Ryan’s tie is wide.”
10.11 Orioles beat Yanks 2-1 in 13.
10.11 Biden-Ryan debate.
10.10 Raul Ibanez homers in the 9th and 12th, Yanks beat O’s 3-2
10.8 Yanks lose, 3-2.
10.10 Alex Karras dies at 77.
10.7 Taut game collapses as Yanks score 5 in 9th, beat Birds 7-2

10.7 Arnold Schwarzenegger on Meet the Press: “[If] you’re a political leader and you’ve come to Capitol Hill, you can’t be scared of things in the hope that you’ll get re-elected. . . Your number one interest should not be . . .your seat. I mean, think about it: every police officer, every firefighter, every one of our brave men and women that go overseas, they risk their lives every day. They never know if they ever come home and see their family again. And our politicians are afraid of losing their seat? I mean, it takes a little bit more balls to do this kind of a profession. I mean, that’s how you get things done.”
10.6 Jon Stewart on food stamps: ““Why is it that if you take advantage of a tax break, you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher?”
10.5 Dana Milbank in the Post: “Obama has only himself to blame, because he set himself up for Wednesday’s emperor-has-no-clothes moment. For the past four years, he has worked assiduously to avoid being questioned, maintaining a regal detachment from the media and other sources of dissent and skeptical inquiry. Obama has set a modern record for refusal to be quizzed by the media, taking questions from reporters far less often than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush. Though his opponent in 2008 promised to take questions from lawmakers like the British prime minister does, Obama has shied from mixing it up with members of Congress, too. And, especially since Rahm Emanuel’s departure, Obama is surrounded by a large number of yes men who aren’t likely to get in his face. This insularity led directly to the Denver debacle: Obama was out of practice and unprepared to be challenged. The White House had supposed that Obama’s forays into social media. . .would replace traditional presidential communication. By relying on such venues, Obama’s argument skills atrophied, and he was ill-equipped to engage in old-fashioned give and take.”
10.5 Simon Schama in the Daily Beast: “There was something else that went badly missing from what, if you are a Democrat, was a wretchedly dispiriting evening—and that was the opportunity of articulating a clear, strong, unapologetic affirmation of the principles by which the Democratic Party has tried to govern America since the New Deal: of compassion in times of hardship; of fairness when sacrifices are called for; of integrity and competence when cleaning up the wretched mess so often left by the other side; of realism in the face of wishful thinking; of a national community rather than a collection of self-interested individuals. Those are, in fact, the themes that were sounded loud and clear at the Democratic convention and which have been reiterated by Obama himself many times on the campaign trail. But astoundingly he allowed Governor 47 Percent, of all people, to pose as a paragon of social understanding! That’s how staggeringly bad it was. And it was because he and his team thought it would be a smart move just to coast along on poll numbers that were already evaporating before the debate began. Never has such a strong political hand been so needlessly, carelessly, calamitously thrown away.”
10.3 The Yankees win the division title with a strong September march.
10.3 An above-it-all Obama gets trounced by Romney in the first debate. From Andrew Sullivan‘s live blog of the debate: “10.25 pm. The idea that the candidate of the current Republican party is portraying himself as the most willing to reach across the aisle is staggering. That he is more persuasive on this than the president is a staggering personal failure on Obama‘s part. And now Obama is saying he is the candidate of “saying no”. Just staggering incompetence on his part. 10.29 pm. How is Obama’s closing statement so fucking sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight. 10.30 pm. But Romney’s closing statement – very, very vague and highly deceptive. And is it me, or does he even sound like Reagan? And his final statement is on defending Medicare! He’s the protector of that entitlement, even as his actual plan is a radical overhaul of it. 10.31 pm. Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look. Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn’t there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment. The person with authority on that stage was Romney – offered it by one of the lamest moderators ever, and seized with relish. This was Romney the salesman. And my gut tells me he sold a few voters on a change tonight. It’s beyond depressing. But it’s true. There are two more debates left. I have experienced many times the feeling that Obama just isn’t in it, that he’s on the ropes and not fighting back, and then he pulls it out. He got a little better over time tonight. But he pulled every punch. Maybe the next two will undo some of the damage. But I have to say I think it was extensive.”
10.1 At the Levon Helm barn.
9.28 Paul Krugman in the Times: “In Europe, as in America, far too many Very Serious People have been taken in by the cult of austerity, by the belief that budget deficits, not mass unemployment, are the clear and present danger, and that deficit reduction will somehow solve a problem brought on by private sector excess. Beyond that, a significant part of public opinion in Europe’s core — above all, in Germany — is deeply committed to a false view of the situation. Talk to German officials and they will portray the euro crisis as a morality play, a tale of countries that lived high and now face the inevitable reckoning. Never mind the fact that this isn’t at all what happened — and the equally inconvenient fact that German banks played a large role in inflating Spain’s housing bubble. Sin and its consequences is their story, and they’re sticking to it. Worse yet, this is also what many German voters believe, largely because it’s what politicians have told them. And fear of a backlash from voters who believe, wrongly, that they’re being put on the hook for the consequences of southern European irresponsibility leaves German politicians unwilling to approve essential emergency lending to Spain and other troubled nations unless the borrowers are punished first.”
9.27 R.A. Dickey wins his 20th game for the Mets. “Growing up, you just want to compete, and then once you have the weaponry to compete, you want to be really good, and then when you’re really good, you want to be supernaturally good. “For me, there’s been this steady metamorphosis from just surviving, to being a craftsman, and then, ultimately, the hope is to be an artist in what you do. This year is kind of representative of that for me.”
9.27 Bibi Netanyahu uses a visual aid to his speech at the United Nations.
9.25 Madonna, quoted in Rolling Stone: “ “It is so amazing and incredible to think that we have an African-American in the White House! So y’all better vote for fucking Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right, we have a black Muslim in the White House, OK? Now that is some shit. That’s some amazing shit. It means there is hope in this country. And Obama is fighting for gay rights, OK? So support the man, goddammit!”
9.24 From Buzzfeed: “On Sunday morning, BuzzFeed correspondent Michael Hastings emailed Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton‘s longtime aide and personal spokesman at the State Department, asking a series of pointed questions about State’s handling of the Benghazi fiasco, and Reines’ over-the-top attack on CNN. Here is part of the exchange:
________________________________
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
?Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?
_____________________________________
From: Michael Hastings
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:50 PM?
To: Reines, Philippe I ?Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
?Subject: Re: Request for comment ??
Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?
______________________________________
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:?
I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole. How’s that for a non-bullshit response? Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day. And by good day, I mean Fuck Off
______________________________________
From: Michael Hastings
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 01:40 PM?
To: Reines, Philippe I ?Cc: Nuland, Victoria J
?Subject: Re: Request for comment
Hah–I now understand what women say about you, too! Any new complaints against you lately?
______________________________________
On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:48 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:
?Talk about bullshit – answer me this: Do you only traffic in lies, or are you on the ground floor of creating them? And since Fuck Off wasn’t clear enough, I’m done with you. Inside of 5 minutes when I can log into my desktop, you’ll be designated as Junk Mail. Have a good life Michael.
______________________________________
From: Michael Hastings ?
Date: Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:50 PM?
Subject: Re: Request for comment
?To: “Reines, Philippe I” ?Cc: “Nuland, Victoria J”?
I’ll take that as a non-denial denial.
All the best,
Michael
9.23 “ A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness. Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found. To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters. . . .Energy efficiency varies widely from company to company. But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity.”
9.23 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel has been loudly demanding that America publicly draw a “red line” in respect to Iran’s nuclear program that would delineate exactly when the U.S. would launch a strike against Tehran. Bibi is Winston Churchill when it comes to demanding that the U.S. draw red lines, but he is a local party boss when America asks him to draw a “green line” delineating where Jewish settlements in the West Bank will stop and a Palestinian state might start. Oh, no! Can’t do that, Bibi says. “I would lose my coalition.” So America is supposed to risk a war with Iran, but Bibi won’t risk anything to advance a deal with the Palestinians that might create a little more global legitimacy and sympathy for Israel, and America, in the event of a war with Iran. Thanks a lot.”
9.23 Aung San Suu Kyi, quoted in the Times: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
9.23 Gretchen Morgenson in the Times: “ This peer-group benchmark — how executive pay at one company stacks up against pay at another — is a big driver of ever-rising compensation. Boards say it helps them set pay based on what the market will bear. Well, maybe not. New research by Charles M. Elson and Craig K. Ferrere . . .conclude[s], contrary to the prevailing line, that chief executives can’t readily transfer their skills from one company to another. In other words, the argument that C.E.O.’s will leave if they aren’t compensated well, perhaps even lavishly, is bogus. Using the peer-group benchmark only pushes pay up and up. “It’s a false paradox,” Mr. Elson said in an interview last week. “The peer group is based on the theory of transferability of talent. But we found that C.E.O. skills are very firm-specific. C.E.O.’s don’t move very often, but when they do, they’re flops.”
9.22 In a wild game with the A’s, Oakland suddenly erupted for four runs in the 13th, which New York dramatically answered in kind in the bottom of the inning, before winning the game, 10-9, in the 14th. Raul Ibanez had two home runs and hustle double for the Yanks.
9.21 Memorial service for John Stacks at All Souls Church in Manhattan
9.18 David Brooks in the Times: “Romney. . . divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare? It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. . . .Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that. [They have] has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.”
9.17 Mitt Romney, speaking at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser held on May 17th in Boca Raton, as revealed by David Corn of Mother Jones: “ “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president, no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And the president starts off with 48, 49–he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty seven percent of Americans pay not income tax. So our message of lower tax doesn’t connect with them. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about these people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center who are independents. . . .”

9.16 Day trip to Orvis Sandanona with Ginny and Molly. WASP Heaven. Nice day to be in the sun. Molly drive a Range Rover.
9.16 Giants play like crap during the first half, with Eli throwing 3 picks. Then they stage a bigtime comeback, score 28 points in the second half, and beat the Bucs 41-34, as Eli throws for 510 yards.
9.15 Kentucky drives the field in the last tw minutes to score a TD to tie Western KY and force OT. UK takes the lead on a nie TD and extra point, and then the Hilltoppers score a TD of their own, and then, in a very gutty call, win the game with a 2 point conversion on a flea flicker!
9.14 From the AP: “Romney‘s comments came an interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney told host George Stephanopoulos. “Is $100,000 middle income?” Stephanopoulos asked. “No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” Romney responded. . . .The Census Bureau reported this week that the median household income — the midpoint for the nation — is just over $50,000.”
9.8 Thunderstorm, sudden gust, tree crash on the porch roof–blackout. Kudos to COn Ed for restoring power in four hours.
9.8 Kentucky Wildcats beat the Kent Stae Golden Flashes, 47-17. Why? Because they have the cutest coeds, that’s why.
9.6 Barack Obama, in his convention speech: “ “While I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.” As James Cornelius points out in The Daily Beast, there is no firsthand record of Lincoln saying or writing these words. The journalist Noah Brooks, writing in Harper’s Weekly in July 1865, reported that Lincoln said this at an unspecified date. Brooks did not make clear whether he had heard this from Lincoln himself, or was reporting it third-hand.
9.6 Molly Ball in The Atlantic: “Clinton made arguments. He talked through his reasoning. He went point by point through the case he wanted to make. He kept telling the audience he was talking to them and he wanted them to listen. In an age when so many political speeches are pure acts of rhetoric, full of stirring sentiments but utterly devoid of informational value — when trying to win people over to your point of view is cynically assumed to be futile, so you settle for riling them up instead — Clinton’s felt like a whole different thing. In an era of detergent commercials, he delivered a real political speech.”
9.5 Alex Castellanos to Paul Begala on CNN: “I would recommend to my friend Paul here, tonight when everybody leaves, lock the doors. You don’t have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably reelected Barack Obama. Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party once, it was going too far left, he came in, the new Democrats took it to the center. He did it again tonight.”
9.5 Bill Clinton at the convention: “”People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic. If [the Republicans] stay with a $5 trillion tax cut in a debt reduction plan – the arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen: 1) they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving that middle-class families will see their tax bill go up $2000 a year while people making over $3 million a year get will still get a $250,000 tax cut; or 2) they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel; or they’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help middle-class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research; or 3) they’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now — cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy. Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”
9.5 Elizabeth Warren at the convention: “”Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters, because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.”
9.5 Richard Cohen in The Washington Post: “what we have is the Obama Paradox. Here is a man who is supremely gifted as an orator but dreadful as a schmoozer.”
9.5 Peter Beinart on The Daily Beast: “Here’s a reason the GOP used to nominate folks like Nixon and Reagan, who had working-class roots. It’s because many voters—not all of them left wing—really do consider Republicans a little too detached from the suffering of ordinary Americans. Most Americans respect businessmen; they recognize that they play an important role in producing wealth. But they also want the government to act as a check on businessmen’s single-minded pursuit of wealth. The GOP used to better understand that. Because of their own backgrounds and personalities, Nixon, Reagan and even George W. Bush connected personally to working-class voters (at least white ones) in a way that partially overcame the GOP’s image problem. But Mitt Romney has not, and will not. In different ways, every Democratic speaker honed in on that vulnerability. And then Michelle Obama masterfully used it to reintroduce America to her husband. The entire subtext of her speech was: Barack Obama and I are like you; we come from families like yours; we’ve lived lives like yours. We’re the un-Romneys.”
9.4 Following Tammy Duckworth, Deval Patrick, Julian Castro, Michelle Obama absolutely killed. “I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.”
9.3 Mike Lofgren in The American Conservative: “Almost all conservatives who care to vote congregate in the Republican Party. But Republican ideology celebrates outsourcing, globalization, and takeovers as the glorious fruits of capitalism’s “creative destruction.” As a former Republican congressional staff member, I saw for myself how GOP proponents of globalized vulture capitalism, such as Grover Norquist, Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, and Lawrence Kudlow, extolled the offshoring and financialization process as an unalloyed benefit. They were quick to denounce as socialism any attempt to mitigate its impact on society. Yet their ideology is nothing more than an upside-down utopianism, an absolutist twin of Marxism. If millions of people’s interests get damaged in the process of implementing their ideology, it is a necessary outcome of scientific laws of economics that must never be tampered with, just as Lenin believed that his version of materialist laws were final and inexorable. If a morally acceptable American conservatism is ever to extricate itself from a pseudo-scientific inverted Marxist economic theory, it must grasp that order, tradition, and stability are not coterminous with an uncritical worship of the Almighty Dollar, nor with obeisance to the demands of the wealthy. Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia?”
9.1 Dinner with Jo and Dave.
8.30 Clint Eastwood debates an empty chair. “The Old Man and the Seat,” says the Daily Show.
8.30 Mitt Romney nominated.
8.30 Chris Hedges: “The determining factor in global corporate production is now poverty. The poorer the worker and the poorer the nation, the greater the competitive advantage. With access to vast pools of desperate, impoverished workers eager for scraps, unions and working conditions no longer impede the quest for larger and larger profits. And when the corporations do not need these workers they are cast aside. Those who are economically broken usually cease to be concerned with civic virtues. They will, history has demonstrated, serve any system, no matter how evil, and do anything for a pitiful salary, a chance for job security and the protection of their families. There will, as the situation worsens, also be those who attempt to rebel. I certainly intend to join them. But the state can rely on a huge number of people who, for work and meager benefits, will transform themselves into willing executioners.”
8.30 Visiting Rose
8.28 David Brooks spoofs in the Times: “Romney is also a passionately devoted family man. After streamlining his wife’s pregnancies down to six months each, Mitt helped Ann raise five perfect sons — Bip, Chip, Rip, Skip and Dip — who married identically tanned wives. Some have said that Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home. This is not entirely fair. Romney owns many homes without garage elevators and the cars have to take the stairs.”
8.26 According to CNN, a 44 year-old man in Montana, wearing a kind of Bigfoot costume and apparently trying to create a hoax by traversing a highway was hit by two cars, run over, and killed.
8.25 Neil Armstrong dies at 82.
8.25 Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast: “”It turns out that there’s substantial evidence that self-righteous indignation is one of these drug highs, and any honest person knows this. We’ve all been in indignant snits, self-righteous furies. You go into the bathroom during one of these snits, and you look in the mirror and you have to admit, this feels great! “I am so much smarter and better than my enemies! And they are so wrong, and I am so right!” And if we were to recognize that self-righteous indignation is a bona fide drug high, and that yes, just like alcohol, some of us can engage in it on occasion — as a matter of fact, when I engage in it, I get into a real bender — but then say, “Enough.” If we were to acknowledge this as a drug addiction, then it might weaken all the horrible addicts out there who have taken over politics in America, and allow especially conservatism to return to the genteel, calm, intellectual ways of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley.”
8.24 Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was found sane and sentenced to 21 years in prison today for killing 77 people in Norway last summer.
8.24 Mitt Romney in Michigan: “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.”
8.23 Ginny and I visited The Museum of the City of New York
8.22 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs. . . .For all the Republican cant about how they want to keep government out of the lives of others, the ultraconservatives are panting to meddle in the lives of others. Contrary to President Obama’s refreshing assertion Monday that a bunch of male politicians shouldn’t be making health care decisions for women, this troglodyte tribe of men and Bachmann-esque women craves that responsibility.”
8.22 Matthew O’Dowd on abcnews.com: “Make no mistake, the calls for Akin’s resignation by many Republican leaders likely had nothing to do with the substance of his remarks — keep in mind, the Republican platform has a call for a ban on abortion even in cases of rape. They had nothing to do with the fact that Akin has long held out-of-the-mainstream positions on many issues and made numerous extremely conservative statements. Akin’s mistake was that by opening his mouth with crazy talk — as my nine-year old daughter says — made it much harder for Republicans to win a sure Senate seat pickup with him on the ballot.”
8.22 All your life you’ve wondered–what would happen if Superman hooked up with Wonder Woman?
8.22 Mark McKinnon on the Daily Beast: “ Akin’s stunning ignorance is the political equivalent of the GOP riding over an IED. And the shrapnel is shredding everyone. So now we can expect days of discussion about Republicans and abortion, and a heightened focus on the platform language that was drafted Monday: “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” That means no exceptions. Not rape. Not incest. Not the life of the mother.”
8.20 Paul Krugman in the Times: “ Let’s talk about what’s actually in the Ryan plan, and let’s distinguish in particular between actual, specific policy proposals and unsupported assertions. To focus things a bit more, let’s talk — as most budget discussions do — about what’s supposed to happen over the next 10 years. On the tax side, Mr. Ryan proposes big cuts in tax rates on top income brackets and corporations. He has tried to dodge the normal process in which tax proposals are “scored” by independent auditors, but the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math, and the revenue loss from these cuts comes to $4.3 trillion over the next decade. On the spending side, Mr. Ryan proposes huge cuts in Medicaid, turning it over to the states while sharply reducing funding relative to projections under current policy. That saves around $800 billion. He proposes similar harsh cuts in food stamps, saving a further $130 billion or so, plus a grab-bag of other cuts, such as reduced aid to college students. Let’s be generous and say that all these cuts would save $1 trillion. On top of this, Mr. Ryan includes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that are part of Obamacare, even though he wants to scrap everything else in that act. Despite this, Mr. Ryan has now joined Mr. Romney in denouncing President Obama for “cutting Medicare”. . . So if we add up Mr. Ryan’s specific proposals, we have $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts — with the tax cuts, surprise, disproportionately benefiting the top 1 percent, while the spending cuts would primarily come at the expense of low-income families. Over all, the effect would be to increase the deficit by around two and a half trillion dollars. Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk.”
8.20 Lubbock, Texas, County Judge Tom Head on Fox 34 TV: “[President Obama] is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N. O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. [And if the president did send in United Nations troops] I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. O.K. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say, ‘You’re not coming in here.’ And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him. I said, ‘You gonna back me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll back you.’ “Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”
8.19 According to the Huffington Post, Republican Congressman Todd Akin, a candidate for the Senate, justified his extreme opposition to abortion by claiming that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, the GOP Senate nominee was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape. “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
8.18 The Guardian‘s Michael White, on Dateline London, on Boris Johnson: “He’s a clever, lazy fellow.”
8.17 Pussy Riot is convicted in Moscow, and sentenced to two years in prison.
8.16 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “What’s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama’s campaign is giving as good as it gets — and then some. Dan Balz is correct when he observes that the “most striking” element of the campaign is “the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back.” In large part, this is because the Democrats are no longer simply whining about the other side being reckless and unfair: They are being reckless and unfair themselves.”
8.16 Dinner with Ginny, Greg, Susan, Jo and Dave at the Culinary Institute of America. Excellent!
8.15 Jamie Dimon, quoted in New York magazine: ““I’m an outspoken defender of the truth. “Everyone is afraid of retaliation and retribution. We recently had an event with a hundred small bankers here, and 85 percent of them said they can’t challenge the regulation because of the potential retribution. That’s a terrible thing. Okay? This is not the Soviet Union. This is the United States of America. That’s what I remember. Guess what? It’s a free fucking country.”
8.13 Paul Krugman on the Times: “Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal. . . .Ryan is a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing. What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.”
8.13 Helen Gurley Brown dies at 90.
8.12 Jacob Weisberg on Slate: “A valid critique of the plan Ryan developed as chairman of the House budget committee is that while it may be a useful document to start a conversation, it is utterly unrealistic as a matter of policy. The original version would reduce federal “discretionary” spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2050—far less than the U.S. now spends on defense alone. This is a preposterous target, a symptom of the Republican refusal to acknowledge that federal government has legitimate, vital functions and that fiscal balance can’t be attained without higher taxes. Another fair criticism for Ryan, somewhat at odds with the first, is that while he may be a devotee of Ayn Rand, he has voted more like a Republican hack than a revolutionary. . . .Yet Ryan is neither the heartless ideologue nor the humbug liberal critics have made him out to be. He is, rather, a conviction politician who has moved his party far more than it has moved him. Getting the House to pass his budget this year—thus putting the GOP on record in favor of ending Medicare as an entitlement—was a stunning accomplishment. It puts an end to the Republican attempt to have it both ways, calling for less government in theory while voting for more in practice. It puts the onus on Democrats to say how else they would restrain a program that is growing to consume the entire federal budget. In their efforts to portray him as simply a factotum for the rich, Ryan’s opponents frequently ignore what he has to say. For instance, the Ryan budget was widely criticized for finding savings from the elimination of tax deductions without naming any to eliminate. But when I questioned Ryan about this at a breakfast with journalists a few months ago, his answer was both clear and sensible: He would means-test all tax deductions, including the big ones for mortgage-interest and charitable contributions. This is a sound way to extract more taxes from the wealthy without raising marginal rates. If he didn’t spell it out in his budget outline, it is because he has yet to develop a consensus around the idea inside the Republican caucus.”
8.12 Cara returns to Kentucky. Vaya con Dios!
8.12 Michael Grunwald in Time: “I should probably just shut up about Paul Ryan, because I believe there’s a federal statute requiring pundits to marvel at his “seriousness” and “courage.” I think there’s also a constitutional mandate enshrining him as a “deficit hawk,” even though he voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush military and security spending binge, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the bank bailout and the auto bailout, and against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan. . . .Fuzzy math in the service of Tea Party ideology is not all that brave.”
8.12 Howard Dean on ABC’s This Week: “Campaigns are not the time for education.”
8.12 Mike Murphy:Paul Ryan is a star. I hope one day I will get to vote for him for President. But right now, in this election, he’s the wrong choice for VP.”
8.11 John Dickenson on Slate: “As a conservative ideas man, Ryan is well ahead of most others in his party not just in his level of specificity but in his willingness to stand behind his ideas. But in 2010, Republican leaders didn’t embrace Ryan’s “roadmap,” knowing that it would be too controversial, particularly the change to Medicare. House Republicans were running against Democrats by arguing that Democrats were destroying Medicare, something that would have been hard to do while also championing the Ryan plan, which would have opened them to the same charge. Those ideas are now so central to the party’s chances of winning back the White House that they have won Ryan a spot on the ticket. Ryan is loved by conservatives, but he makes moderate Republicans nervous. “We’ve switched the campaign from being about jobs and Obama‘s bad record to one about Paul Ryan’s Medicare plans,” said one Republican strategist, echoing the sentiment of several I interviewed. The Romney team argues that swing state independent voters will see the new policy focus as a road out of their current economic woes. Some Republican strategists think it’s a gift to the Obama campaign. That’s because one of the Obama teams’ goals has long been to tie Romney to Ryan and his budget proposals. They also wanted this election to be a choice, not a referendum on Obama. When both the campaign and the challenger have the same goals it suggests that one of them really has it very wrong.”
8.11 Romney chooses Rep. Paul Ryan as running mate
8.10 Laura Ingraham: “I might be the skunk at the picnic but I’m going to say it. I’m going to say it clear. Romney’s losing.”
8.10 According to a report in The Washington Post, “Three polls released in the last 24 hours show Present Obama widening his lead over the former Massachusetts governor to as much as nine points. The surveys of registered voters, all conducted sometime between Aug. 2 and 8, also have Romney’s unfavorable ratings headed north. Two of the polls show his support among independents slipping. A Fox News poll found the largest deficit, with Romney trailing by nine points (49 percent to 40 percent) That’s the widest gap Fox has reported all year. . . . Fox found that Obama’s increasing advantage comes mainly on the strength of a big bump from independents, who now support the president by 11 points, up from four points in July. . . .A new CNN/ORC International survey placed the race at seven points (52 percent to 45 percent), up from 49 percent to 46 percent in July. Among independents, Obama’s lead is at nine points. . . .Voters also appear to be losing confidence in Romney’s ability to fix the economy, according to the CNN poll. Forty-five percent said they thought it would improve under Romney, down from 50 percent in May. . . . The new Reuters/Ipsos poll has Romney trailing Obama 49 percent to 42 percent, up a tick from the six-point spread last month.”
8.9 The Women’s Soccer team defeats Japan, 2-1, for the Gold Medal.
8.8 A day after Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeat China in a tense and exciting semi-final game, the duo wins their third Olympic gold medal in Beach Volleyball.
8.7 Elton John on Australia Channel 7, on Madonna: “She’s such a nightmare. Her career is over, I can tell you that. Her tour has been a disaster and it couldn’t happen to a bigger cunt. And she looks like a fucking fairground stripper. . . .If Madonna had any common sense, she would have made a record like “Ray of Light”, stayed away from the dance stuff, and just been a great pop singer and made great pop records, which she does brilliantly.”
8.7 Mark O’Donnell dies at 57
8.7 Robert Hughes dies at 74

8.6 Alex Morgan scores on a header in the 122nd minute as the US Women’s Soccer team defeats Canada, 4-3, in a classic semi-final game.
8.6 Peter Beinart in the Daily Beast: “This country is in the middle of a profound debate about whether the federal government should try to significantly regulate capitalism. Like many liberals, I’m stunned and appalled that in the wake of Gilded Age-era income inequality, an epic financial crisis, the rise of super PACs, Hurricane Katrina, and the Gulf oil spill, so many conservatives remain convinced that America would be better off if the federal government (excluding the Pentagon, of course) were emasculated further, thus leaving Wall Street and corporate America to do exactly as they please. I think Obama can, and must, win that debate this election season, and in the four years that follow.”

8.5 Usain Bolt wins his second gold medal in the 100 meter dash, this time in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds.
8.4 Michael Phelps concludes his Olympic career with a gold medal in the 4×100 relay, his 18th gold medal and 22nd overall.
8.3 Simon Johnson on The Baseline Scenario: “Representatives of these Too Big To Fail banks and their allies are forced to fall back on perpetuating three myths. First, their critics are “populists” who do not understand banking or economics. But this is belied by the credentials of the people raising serious issues with how global megabanks currently operate. . . . The second myth is that a “cost-benefit analysis” would show that the Dodd-Frank financial reforms are not worth pursuing. This is actually a clever – or perhaps devious – legal strategy that is being pursued in a low profile but effective manner. . . . Fortunately, Dennis Kelleher and his colleagues at Better Markets are fighting hard against this myth. In a report released this week, Kelleher, Stephen Hall, and Katelynn Bradley point out that the industry never wants to take into account the real costs of the crisis – millions of jobs lost, growth derailed, lives disrupted, and massive damage to our public finances. . . .The third myth is the claim that financial reform will hurt our growth prospects. Again, as laid bare by Better Markets, it was reckless risk-taking at the heart of our financial system that led to the largest crisis since the 1930s; the damage will be with us for a long time.”

8.2 Gabby Douglas win the Gold Medal in Women’s Gymnastics in the Olympics
8.2 John Keegan dies at 78
7.31 Gore Vidal dies at 86.
7.31 In The Economist: ““American conservatism has grown so angry that it has become a parody of its former self. Tax cuts are always right (even if they inflate the deficit); government activism is always wrong (even if stimulus helped avert a depression). And the right’s hypocrisy when it comes to spending on conservative projects (prisons, the armed forces, subsidies to big business) is breathtaking. George W. Bush presided over a huge growth in government.”

7.31 Bar Rafaeli
in Maxim
7.31 Romney aide John Gorka, to a pestering press corps accompanying the candidate on a visit to Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: “Kiss my ass! This is a sacred site!’
7.30 UNC women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, quoted in Slate: ““Women have the toxic combination of having incredibly high standards for each other and being amazingly sensitive at the same time.”
7.29 Matthew Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times: “In any environment of serious debate, Simpson-Bowles would be dismissed out of hand. Praised for its sober bipartisan spirit, it’s a compendium of flatulent platitudes (“We all have a patriotic duty to make America better off tomorrow than it is today”), vague prescriptions (“cut all excess spending” and “avoid excessive taxation” — as if reaching broad agreement on the meaning of “excessive” is a snap), and the occasional nostrum that earns a “not” on the gonna-happen scale (strip down the mortgage-interest deduction). According to some estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the plan’s sample cuts in the tax deductions wouldn’t replace the revenue lost to its proposed reductions in marginal tax rates. . . .Every serious analyst of the federal budget knows that healthcare costs, chiefly Medicare and Medicaid, will account for virtually 100% of federal spending increases going forward. The CBO projects that they will rise over the next two decades to as much as 10.4% of gross domestic product from 5.6% now. Over that time, about half of the increase will come from the aging of the population, and the rest in growth of spending per individual. Not much can be done about aging, and Simpson and Bowles have little to offer about how to rein in the per-capita spending other than to transfer the costs off the federal budget by sticking it to others, including the premium-paying elderly. They want to cut payments to hospitals for medical education and for coverage of bad debts, which hospitals incur by treating uninsured patients. They want to cut reimbursements to doctors and pay them “based on quality instead of quantity of services,” which is a nice-sounding goal that has proven hellishly difficult to define, much less implement, in practice. Instead of focusing seriously on healthcare spending, Simpson and Bowles train their gun sights on programs such as federal disaster relief, on which they propose to apply “stricter parameters.” In ancient times, King Canute commanded the tide to recede and failed, which tells us it’s hard to impose strict parameters on nature. In any case, federal disaster spending seems to average about $20 billion a year, or a bit more than a half-percent of the federal budget. The single program getting the bulk the Simpson-Bowles plan’s attention is Social Security, which in fact contributes not a dime to the federal deficit, and can’t by law. Something else is at work here other than deficit reduction: It’s a plan to cut benefits to seniors by ratcheting back on inflation protection and sharply cutting the benefit formula for everyone, starting with those whose average lifetime earnings are $9,000 a year. What’s riskiest about Washington’s peculiar approach to deficit cutting, which erodes the programs most important to working Americans while preserving those enjoyed by the wealthy, is that it could sap the resolve of President Obama and his Democratic colleagues to end tax cuts on high levels of income while extending them for average and low-income earners. This is the root of the argument that it’s foolish to raise taxes on “job creators.” But Obama’s middle-class tax cut, which applies to joint filers’ incomes of below $250,000 and restores pre-Bush Administration rates on anything higher, would still give the richest Americans a lower bill compared with complete repeal of the Bush tax cuts. That’s because their income below $250,000, like everyone else’s, would be taxed less. The Tax Policy Center calculates that the top 1% (those earning more than about $600,000) would see an average cut of about $16,000, compared with what they’d pay under a complete repeal of the Bush cuts. The top 0.1% (that’s $2.9 million-plus) would pay an average $59,000 less. The valiant middle class — say those earning between $80,000 and $130,000? Their break would average about $1,000.”
7.27 Opening of the London Olympics. Good show–especially Bond, on Her Majesty;s Secret Service.
7.27 Paul Krugman in the Times: “So what is going on? The main answer is that this is what happens when you have a “deleveraging shock,” in which everyone is trying to pay down debt at the same time. Household borrowing has plunged; businesses are sitting on cash because there’s no reason to expand capacity when the sales aren’t there; and the result is that investors are all dressed up with nowhere to go, or rather no place to put their money. So they’re buying government debt, even at very low returns, for lack of alternatives. Moreover, by making money available so cheaply, they are in effect begging governments to issue more debt. And governments should be granting their wish, not obsessing over short-term deficits. . . .The experience of the past few years — above all, the spectacular failure of austerity policies in Europe — has been a dramatic demonstration of Keynes’s basic point: slashing spending in a depressed economy depresses that economy further. So it’s time to stop paying attention to the alleged wise men who hijacked our policy discussion and made the deficit the center of conversation. They’ve been wrong about everything — and these days even the financial markets are telling us that we should be focused on jobs and growth.”
7.26 Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker: “On the floor of the Senate this week, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican Minority Whip, criticized President Barack Obama for talking about the middle class. The mere phrase “middle class”—that most anodyne of demographic terms, the category to which half of all Americans polled identify, and into which Mitt Romney is always trying to shoehorn very, very wealthy people like himself—emerged, in Kyl’s evocation, as some kind of crazy-lefty bumper-sticker slogan. By alluding to “what he calls ‘the middle class,’ ” Kyl said, as though Obama had come up with the phrase, the President was “pitting these Americans” against the wealthy, “spreading economic resentment, and weaken[ing] American values and ideals.” Kyl went on: “We don’t need the current American President touring the country and defining every American’s values and status based on a class system that he’s made up. I don’t think there’s anything called middle-class values. I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. It’s not what we do in America.”

7.25 New car for Cara
7.25 Meeting at the Times with Sewell Chan and Susan Lehman
7.23 The Yankees acquire Ichiro Suzuki.
7.22 From the London Observer: “A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network. James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited. He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy”. According to Henry’s research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier. The detailed analysis in the report. . .suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.”
7.19 Massive storms soak the metropolitan area. (Photo of a storm striking Manhattan, taken from a commercial airliner by Dhani Jones, former Giants linebacker)
7.13 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Many and probably most of the rich do, in fact, contribute positively to the economy. However, they also receive large monetary rewards. Yet somehow $20 million-plus in annual income isn’t enough. They want to be revered, too, and given special treatment in the form of low taxes. And that is more than they deserve. After all, the “common person” also makes a positive contribution to the economy. Why single out the rich for extra praise and perks? What about the argument that we must keep taxes on the rich low lest we remove their incentive to create wealth? The answer is that we have a lot of historical evidence, going all the way back to the 1920s, on the effects of tax increases on the rich, and none of it supports the view that the kinds of tax-rate changes for the rich currently on the table — President Obama’s proposal for a modest rise, Mr. Romney’s call for further cuts — would have any major effect on incentives. Remember when all the usual suspects claimed that the economy would crash when Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993?”
7.13 Barack Obama, to CBS’s Charlie Rose: “”The mistake of my first term —a couple of years — was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important, but the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times. It’s funny, when I ran, people said, ‘Well, he can give a great speech, but can he actually manage the job?’ And then in my first two years, I think the notion was, “Well, you know, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism.”
7.13 Simon Johnson on The Baseline Scenario: “The behavior at Barclays has all the hallmarks of fraud, pure and simple – intentional deception for personal gain, causing significant damage to others. . . .George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (the equivalent position to the Secretary of the Treasury) and a Conservative Party member, said recently, “Fraud is a crime in ordinary business; why shouldn’t it be so in banking?” The answer, of course, is that fraud is not allowed in any well-run country. . . .Robert E. Diamond Jr., who resigned last week as chief executive of Barclays, reportedly said: “On the majority of days, no requests were made at all” to cheat on Libor. The Economist, which does not make a general habit of criticizing prominent people in the financial sector, observed, “This was rather like an adulterer saying that he was faithful on most days.” Mr. Diamond has fallen. Who is next? How will this play in American politics? There is still time for politicians on the right and on the left of the political spectrum to get ahead of the issue. Digging in around specious arguments in favor of price-fixing cartels is not the way to go. Power corrupts, and financial market power has completely corrupted financial markets. Barclays and the other global mega-banks involved in fixing Libor have brought their own industry very low – completely destroying the legitimacy on which sensible financial intermediation needs to be based. Who trusts a banker at this point? The collateral damage is enormous. Who in their right mind would buy a complex derivative product from Barclays or anyone else implicated in this growing scandal?”
7.12 Louis Freeh: “”Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky‘s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.”
7.12 From Lloyd Grove‘s interview with James Carville on The Daily Beast: ““I think we should embrace the deterioration of the middle class as the single biggest problem that the United States faces,” Carville says. “Bigger than the long-range entitlement crisis. Bigger than the short-term financial crisis. Bigger than terrorism. Bigger than anything.” . . . “Our point is that if you put this issue front and center,” Carville says, “and you ask: where is the National Commission on the Middle Class? Where is the Princeton Institute for the Study of the American Middle Class? You might end up with a different result.”
7.11 Eduardo Porter in the Times: “Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Libor scandal is how familiar it seems. Sure, for some of the world’s leading banks to try to manipulate one of the most important interest rates in contemporary finance is clearly egregious. But is that worse than packaging billions of dollars worth of dubious mortgages into a bond and having it stamped with a Triple-A rating to sell to some dupe down the road while betting against it? Or how about forging documents on an industrial scale to foreclose fraudulently on countless homeowners? The misconduct of the financial industry no longer surprises most Americans. Only about one in five has much trust in banks, according to Gallup polls, about half the level in 2007. And it’s not just banks that are frowned upon. Trust in big business overall is declining. Sixty-two percent of Americans believe corruption is widespread across corporate America. According to Transparency International, an anticorruption watchdog, nearly three in four Americans believe that corruption has increased over the last three years. We should be alarmed that corporate wrongdoing has come to be seen as such a routine occurrence. Capitalism cannot function without trust. As the Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow observed, “Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust.”
7.11 “According to ABC News pollster Gary Langer, 63 percent of Americans say the country’s headed in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, Americans by 58-34 percent margin predict that President Obama will ultimately to defeat Mitt Romney in November. But nothing is set in stone. “One in five of Romney’s current supporters, and one in six of Obama’s, say there’s a chance they could change their mind and support the other candidate. Very few, though, say there’s a ‘good chance’ they could shift – a mere 4 percent of Obama’s supporters, 8 percent of Romney’s. That suggests that more than changing minds, the contest likely is to be about motivating turnout – and here Obama has an edge. Among registered voters, half of his supporters (51 percent) are ‘very’ enthusiastic, vs. 38 percent of Romney’s.”
7.9 Tony Dokoupil in Newsweek: “In less than the span of a single childhood, Americans have merged with their machines, staring at a screen for at least eight hours a day, more time than we spend on any other activity including sleeping. Teens fit some seven hours of screen time into the average school day; 11, if you count time spent multitasking on several devices. When President Obama last ran for office, the iPhone had yet to be launched. Now smartphones outnumber the old models in America, and more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed. Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking: the average person, regardless of age, sends or receives about 400 texts a month, four times the 2007 number. The average teen processes an astounding 3,700 texts a month, double the 2007 figure. . . .Altogether the digital shifts of the last five years call to mind a horse that has sprinted out from underneath its rider, dragging the person who once held the reins. No one is arguing for some kind of Amish future. But the research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just” another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed. “This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change,” says Susan Greenfield, a pharmacology professor at Oxford University who is working on a book about how digital culture is rewiring us—and not for the better. “We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.”
7.8 Martin Wolf in The Financial Times: “Banks, as presently constituted and managed, cannot be trusted to perform any publicly important function, against the perceived interests of their staff. Today’s banks represent the incarnation of profit-seeking behaviour taken to its logical limits, in which the only question asked by senior staff is not what is their duty or their responsibility, but what can they get away with.” This matters because, “Trust is not an optional extra in banking, it is, as the salience of the word “credit” to this industry implies, of the essence.”
7.6 Matthew Dowd on ABC: “I am beginning to get the feeling that voters are shrugging their shoulders about politicians, no longer believing they can fix the economic problems. They’ve reset their expectations about how political leaders can change the dynamic… They also feel that politicians making typical promises about how they are going to fix things are not realistic or to be trusted. The public seems increasingly to want to be told the truth and what to really expect. They don’t want to be sold some happy story with slogans and talking points, but instead given a real sense of where we are and what our future looks like. It seems that voters want to be included in the conversation, and asked to be part of the solution. And they think the leadership solution is a much more local one in their communities and neighborhoods.”
7.6 Paul Krugman in the Times: “How did Mr. Romney make all that money? Was it in ways suggesting that what was good for Bain Capital, the private equity firm that made him rich, would also be good for America? And the answer is no. The truth is that even if Mr. Romney had been a classic captain of industry, a present-day Andrew Carnegie, his career wouldn’t have prepared him to manage the economy. A country is not a company (despite globalization, America still sells 86 percent of what it makes to itself), and the tools of macroeconomic policy — interest rates, tax rates, spending programs — have no counterparts on a corporate organization chart. Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold? In any case, however, Mr. Romney wasn’t that kind of businessman. Bain didn’t build businesses; it bought and sold them. Sometimes its takeovers led to new hiring; often they led to layoffs, wage cuts and lost benefits. On some occasions, Bain made a profit even as its takeover target was driven out of business. None of this sounds like the kind of record that should reassure American workers looking for an economic savior.”
7.5 Nice photo of Cara at work by Nadia
7.5 Andrew Ross Sorkin in the Times: “Barclays switched gears, claiming it had briefed government officials. Over the course of a year, the bank discussed its Libor submissions 13 times with the British regulator, the Financial Services Authority, and 12 times with the Federal Reserve, according to documents Barclays made public on Tuesday ahead of Mr. Diamond’s testimony. In one call on April 2008, a Barclays manager acknowledged to the Financial Services Authority that the bank was understating its Libor submissions. “So, to the extent that, um, the Libors have been understated, are we guilty of being part of the pack? You could say we are,” the Barclays manager said, according to regulatory documents. “I would sort of express us maybe as not clean clean, but clean in principle.” Or, as one Barclays official told the British Bankers Associations, the organization that oversees Libor, “we’re clean but we’re dirty-clean, rather than clean-clean.” Barclays made similar comments to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the documents say.”
7.1 Rupert Murdoch: “Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.”
6.28 The Supreme Court upholds the Affordable Health Care Act, 5-4. What is Roberts up to? And, why do so many Americans oppose this law?
6.26 Dinner at Texas de Brazil
6.26 Nora Ephron dies at 71.
6.24 Dead heat in the women’s 100 meter dash at the US Olympic Trials. Placement is determined by where the torse crosses the line. Huge amount of endorsement dollars are at stake. Jeneba Tarmoh (bottom) was at first given a time of 11.067 seconds. Allyson Felix (top) was given 11.068.
Astonishing photo.
6.24 The Washington Post: “One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, a Washington Post analysis has found. The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010. Almost one in every eight trades — 5,531 — intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, 68 to 62.”
6.20 LeRoy Nieman dies at 91.
6.18 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Why does the dollar area — also known as the United States of America — more or less work, without the kind of severe regional crises now afflicting Europe? The answer is that we have a strong central government, and the activities of this government in effect provide automatic bailouts to states that get in trouble. Consider, for example, what would be happening to Florida right now, in the aftermath of its huge housing bubble, if the state had to come up with the money for Social Security and Medicare out of its own suddenly reduced revenues. Luckily for Florida, Washington rather than Tallahassee is picking up the tab, which means that Florida is in effect receiving a bailout on a scale no European nation could dream of. . . .So Greece, although not without sin, is mainly in trouble thanks to the arrogance of European officials, mostly from richer countries, who convinced themselves that they could make a single currency work without a single government. And these same officials have made the situation even worse by insisting, in the teeth of the evidence, that all the currency’s troubles were caused by irresponsible behavior on the part of those Southern Europeans, and that everything would work out if only people were willing to suffer some more.”
6.17 Rodney King dies at 47. “Can we all get along? Can we get along?”
6.15 A visit from Cara‘s friend Sean
6.13 James Kwak on The Baseline Scenario: “Orszag’s recommendation, however, is spot-on: First let the Bush tax cuts expire; then, assuming that economic stimulus is necessary, push for a big, across-the-board, temporary tax cut. (Orszag proposes a payroll tax cut and an increase in the standard deduction; I’ve previously proposed a payroll tax cut.) There are two major reasons why President Obama should pursue this strategy. First, one more time: the Bush tax cuts were bad policy a decade ago and they are bad policy now. Even if you believe in a large permanent tax cut, giving the vast majority of it to high earners, the investor class, and heirs of multi-millionaires is the wrong way to do it. We need to get rid of them, once and for all. Second, trying to negotiate a partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts (Obama’s current strategy) is bound to fail. Grover Norquist said it very clearly: “If there were no vote in Congress and taxes rose automatically, then no politicians would have voted for higher taxes and no elected official would have broken his or her pledge. But that is different from supporting a plan by some Democrats that would end some or all of these lower tax rates, higher per-child tax credits and the A.M.T. patches.” In other words, any bill that would extend some but not all of the Bush tax cuts would violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, get zero Republican votes, and fail. Why? Because. Despite the fact that no Republican has violated the pledge in any significant manner since, oh, 1990, the administration thinks it can get such a bill to pass. Instead, if you let all the Bush tax cuts expire, the baseline gets reset (for Pledge purposes). In January 2013, taxes will be at 1997 levels (negotiated by Clinton and Gingrich), and anything the administration proposes will count as a tax cut—not just for the Pledge, but also for public opinion. Republicans being the party of tax cuts, it would be strange to see a major tax cut with 100% Democratic support and 0% Republican support.”

6.11 Nifty catch by Nick Swisher.
6.11 The Los Angeles Kings defeat the New Jersey Devils and win the Stanley Cup.
6.11 Brad Paisley: “Look around, it’s all so clear–wherever we were going, well, we’re here.”
6.6 Ryan Cooper in The Washington Monthly: “it is still astonishing that the Democrats have allowed George W. Bush to be erased from the national discourse. I really hope they’re got something planned to address this. Substantively, the response I would expect [to criticism of the Democrats’ timidity] is that the Democrats did all they could. They only had 60 votes in the Senate for a short time, and Republicans filibustered and dragged down everything they could. But this just speaks to the Democrats’ larger lack of vision and commitment. Anyone with a lick of sense could have seen the consequence of failing to go huge on stimulus—namely, discrediting the whole idea, and getting crushed in 2010 for failing to fix the economy. Furthermore anyone who had been awake for the last generation would have known that Republicans weren’t going to compromise, they were going to obstruct. In Master of the Senate, Robert Caro talks about how Lyndon Johnson, through a lot of deft maneuvers and force of personality, upended the rules of the Senate to give more power to the party leadership (i.e., himself), which allowed the Senate to work for the first time basically in a century. If the Democrats in 2009 had any guts, they would have realized the implication of their situation and taken that lesson to heart. Right at the start of the congressional session they could have killed the filibuster, streamlined the Senate rules, especially removing a lot of the horrible anonymous “holds” and so forth, and then rammed through their agenda on a party-line vote, especially including a stimulus appropriate to the situation. The Republicans would have howled bloody murder, and the DC press would have taken to the fainting couches, but by November 2010 no voter would have remembered and the Democrats would still be in power. That’s the key point out there, for future political movements. Policy has real consequences, and the way to win (during a recession, at least) is to actually fix things and make government work for people. If your stimulus is limited by having to get Olympia Snowe’s approval, then you write her out of the equation.”
6.5 Last Transit of Venus of my lifetime.
6.5 Bruce Bartlett, quoted by Andrew Sullivan: “Republicans are always quick to attack Democrats for waging “class warfare” whenever they suggest that the wealthy ought to pay more taxes to help reduce the deficit and prevent the decimation of programs to aid the poor. But Republicans also engage in class warfare when they suggest that the poor are to blame for deficits because so few pay federal income taxes. Those among the wealthy who are paying no income taxes at least deserve equal time.”
6.4 Paul Krugman in the Times: “What do I mean by saying that this is already a Republican economy? Look first at total government spending — federal, state and local. Adjusted for population growth and inflation, such spending has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War. How is that possible? Isn’t Mr. Obama a big spender? Actually, no; there was a brief burst of spending in late 2009 and early 2010 as the stimulus kicked in, but that boost is long behind us. Since then it has been all downhill. Cash-strapped state and local governments have laid off teachers, firefighters and police officers; meanwhile, unemployment benefits have been trailing off even though unemployment remains extremely high. Over all, the picture for America in 2012 bears a stunning resemblance to the great mistake of 1937, when F.D.R. prematurely slashed spending, sending the U.S. economy — which had actually been recovering fairly fast until that point — into the second leg of the Great Depression. In F.D.R.’s case, however, this was an unforced error, since he had a solidly Democratic Congress. In President Obama’s case, much though not all of the responsibility for the policy wrong turn lies with a completely obstructionist Republican majority in the House. That same obstructionist House majority effectively blackmailed the president into continuing all the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, so that federal taxes as a share of G.D.P. are near historic lows — much lower, in particular, than at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. As I said, for all practical purposes this is already a Republican economy.”

6.3 On the Thames today, Queen Elizabeth II‘s Diamond Jubilee flotilla. Anne Applebaim on Slate: “The queen, simply by living so long, has come to epitomize an increasingly rare idea of duty that many in Britain, and elsewhere, admire. She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t talk to the press or protest when people draw nasty caricatures or say unpleasant things about her family. For six decades, she has shown up at charitable events, raised money for good causes, represented Britain when she was told to, met regularly with the British, Canadian, and Australian prime ministers, among others, attended all of the state ceremonies, always looked the way she was supposed to look, and always thought of something to say. She may or may not be an interesting person—there are different schools of thought on this point—but it doesn’t really matter. She isn’t supposed to be interesting; she is supposed to be steadfast, consistent, patriotic. And she is. At the end of the day, the queen is one of the few public figures who can always be relied upon to keep her emotions under control. She used to be mocked for her stiff upper lip, but no longer: In a world of kiss-and-tell books, vengeful memoirists, and television confessions, her unrevealing face, reliable public smile, and formal appearance make a welcome contrast. There are too many emotions on display in the public sphere at the moment, and it’s a relief that one celebrity, at least, can be relied upon never to show any at all.”
6.1 Classy Johann Santana no-hits the Cardinals, becoming the first pitcher in the Mets’ fifty-plus year history to achieve that feat.
6.1 Simon Johnson on The Baseline Scenario: “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, is a brilliant and sometimes breathtaking survey of country-level governance over history and around the world. Professors Acemoglu and Robinson discern a simple pattern – when elites are held in check, typically by effective legal mechanisms, everyone else in society does much better and sustained economic growth becomes possible. But powerful people – kings, barons, industrialists, bankers – work long and hard to relax the constraints on their actions. And when they succeed, the effects are not just redistribution toward themselves but also an undermining of economic growth and often a tearing at the fabric of society. . . .The historical evidence is overwhelming. Many societies have done well for a while – until powerful people get out of hand. This is an easy pattern to see at a distance and in other cultures. It is typically much harder to recognize when your own society now has an elite less subject to effective constraints and more able to exert power in an abusive fashion. And given the long history of strong institutions in the United States, it appears particularly difficult for some people to acknowledge that we have serious governance issues that need to be addressed. The governance issue of the season is Jamie Dimon’s seat on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”
6.1 The Green Lantern comes out.
5.30 John Avlon in The Daily Beast: “Romney’s repeated reluctance to take such a [Sister Souljah-like] stand speaks to the extent to which he is still being held hostage by the right-wing reality-show primaries. It reeks of Stockholm syndrome—Romney seems to think his captors are his friends. If the lure of big money isn’t enough to cause him to break the birther embrace, what will? Where is the red line that Romney won’t cross in his pursuit of political gold? The fact that his long-fought-for nomination victory is being overshadowed by this radioactive distraction ought to be wake-up call enough. Romney is now the leader of the Republican Party, and it’s his responsibility to stand tall and set a tone that shows a capacity to be president of the United States. Failure to confront and condemn ignorance and hate indicates precisely the opposite.”
5.29 Donald Trump, quoted in Slate: “Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
5.29 Lunch with Steve Schragis at the Bryant Park Grill.
5.22 Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley on the cover of the July issue of Vogue Italia
5.17 The Washington Post reports “For the first time in U.S. history, most of the nation’s babies are members of minority groups, according to new census figures that signal the dawn of an era in which whites no longer will be in the majority. Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children younger than 1 last year were Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups. That’s almost a full percentage point higher than the 49.5 percent of minority babies counted when the decennial census was taken in April 2010.”
5.17 The Washington Post reported that a paralyzed Massachusetts woman picked up a bottle of coffee and sipped from it by moving a robotic arm with her thoughts. “The moment marked the first time in 15 years the 58-year-old, who had suffered a stroke, was able to pick up anything of her own volition. Using the Braingate neural interface system, the woman was able to use her thoughts to control a robotic arm. . . Researchers called the advance the first demonstration of reaching and grasping by a brain-controlled prosthetic arm. In recent years, other paralyzed patients have high-fived with a different robotic arm and moved a cursor around a computer screen simply by thinking about it. While the scientists involved cautioned that it will be years before such devices will be widely available, they hailed the advance as a milestone. “Things in this field are exploding right now,” said Andrew Schwartz”, who is developing another thought-controlled robotic arm at the University of Pittsburgh.
5.17 Chris Cilizza in The Washington Post: “President Obama carries a significant, but far from determinative, edge over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the race for 270 electoral votes this fall. . . .Obama starts the general election with 15 states (plus the District of Columbia) and 196 electoral votes solidly for him while Romney begins with 21 states and 170 electoral votes solidly in his corner. (One of the states solidly for Romney is Indiana, where Obama won in 2008 but no one expects a repeat performance in 2012.) Another three states — Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16) and New Mexico (5) — lean toward Obama while Arizona (11) and Missouri (10) lean toward Romney. Add up the states solidly for Obama and those leaning his way and you get 237 electoral votes. Add up the states solidly for Romney and those leaning his way and you get 191 electoral votes. While Obama is closer to the prize than Romney, victory will likely come for either man from the nine swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia — that are considered genuine toss-ups in our first electoral college predictions.”
5.16 James Kwak on the Baseline Scenario: “Liberals need to have a coherent message on the national debt. I think the message should be something like this: the national debt is a real problem that needs to be addressed; we need to address it in the way that’s best for the American people as a whole; that means preserving the social insurance programs that almost everyone depends on; and we can preserve those programs, while bringing the debt under control, through a set of policy changes that make sense on their own grounds (eliminating distorting subsidies, eliminating tax expenditures, introducing Pigovian taxes like a carbon tax and a financial activities tax).”
5.15 Joe Nocera in the Times: “Which brings us, inevitably, to the Volcker Rule, that part of the financial reform law intended to prevent banks from doing what JPMorgan was doing: making risky bets for its own account. JPMorgan executives have insisted in recent days that the London trades did not violate the Volcker Rule (which, for the record, has not yet taken effect). But that is only because the banks have lobbied to protect their ability to hedge entire portfolios. A letter to regulators written in February by a top JPMorgan lobbyist — a letter denouncing the potential effects of a strictly interpreted Volcker Rule — describes a trade that sounds exactly like the ones that have just caused all the problems. Such trades need to be preserved, the lobbyist argues. Actually, they don’t. “I just want all this garbage out of insured banks,” said Sheila Bair, the former head of the FDIC. “A bank with insured deposits should be making loans. If they have excess they should put the money in safe government securities. If they want to trade, set up separate subsidiaries that have higher capital requirements.” What banking most needs is to become boring, the way the business was before bankers became addicted to trading profits.”
5.15 David Brooks in the Times: “There’s an interesting debate over how much personal qualities matter in a presidential election. The evidence this year suggests: a lot. . . .In survey after survey, Obama is far more popular than his policies. The key is his post-boomer leadership style. Critics are always saying that Obama is too cool and detached, arrogant and aloof. But the secret to his popularity through hard times is that he is not melodramatic, sensitive, vulnerable and changeable. Instead, he is self-disciplined, traditional and a bit formal. He is willing, with drones and other mechanisms, to use lethal force. . . .Obama has displayed a kind of ESPN masculinity: postfeminist in his values, but also thoroughly traditional in style — hypercompetitive, restrained, not given to self-doubt, rarely self-indulgent. Administrations are undone by scandal and moments when they look pathetic, but this administration, guarded in all things, has rarely had those moments. In 2008, Obama had that transcendent, messianic tone. This year, he has adopted a Clinton 1996 type of campaign — strong partisan attacks combined with an emphasis on small and medium-sized policies — like the Buffett Rule and student loans — intended to display his common man values. As a result, Obama has come off aggressive, but also, (unlike Romney) classless and in touch with middle-income groups. I’d say that Obama is a slight underdog this year: the scuffling economy will grind away at voters. But his leadership style is keeping him afloat. He has defined a version of manliness that is postboomer in policy but preboomer in manners and reticence.”
5.14 Eliot Spitzer in Slate: “It was Chase’s own lobbying on Capitol Hill and with the Treasury, the Fed, and other agencies that made these bets arguably permissible within the scope of hedging under the Volcker rule. Had they not lobbied and pushed and delayed and made the rule more complicated, these bets would have been illegal or at a minimum so transparent as to have been smaller and less damaging. The banks love to complain about the complexity of these rules. But the rule as proposed by Paul Volcker was simple. It is only because of the very lobbying by the banks that the complexity and loopholes crept in. The structural solution is not complicated, and it is something close to what was proposed by a conservative banker from the Midwest last week. Warren Stephens, CEO of the Stephens Bank, argues that we should slim down “too big to fail” institutions by a significant factor, reducing their deposits and assets as a percentage of GDP to a more manageable 5 percent from the existing 10 percent—and bring back Glass-Steagall, which separated commercial from investment banking. That way taxpayers would guarantee only what should be guaranteed: deposits and basic lending.”
5.14 Comedian Kristen Schaal on The Daily Show: “What’s the difference between a fertilized egg, a corporation and a woman? One of them isn’t considered a person in Oklahoma.”
5.13 Molly takes a cooking class; Cara comes home
5.13 William Deresiewicz in the Times: “A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an “unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.” (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law. The only thing that puzzles me about these claims is that anyone would find them surprising. Wall Street is capitalism in its purest form, and capitalism is predicated on bad behavior.This should hardly be news. . . .Enron, BP, Goldman, Philip Morris, G.E., Merck, etc., etc. Accounting fraud, tax evasion, toxic dumping, product safety violations, bid rigging, overbilling, perjury. The Walmart bribery scandal, the News Corp. hacking scandal — just open up the business section on an average day. Shafting your workers, hurting your customers, destroying the land. Leaving the public to pick up the tab. These aren’t anomalies; this is how the system works: you get away with what you can and try to weasel out when you get caught.”
5.13 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times, quoting Michael Sandel: ““Over the last three decades,” he states, “we have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society. A market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organizing productive activity. But a ‘market society’ is a place where everything is up for sale. It is a way of life where market values govern every sphere of life.” Why worry about this trend? Because, Sandel argues, market values are crowding out civic practices. When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens.”

5.13 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “In the end, Obama had to rip off the Band-Aid and take a stand, because if his campaign depends on painting Romney as a bundle of ambiguous beliefs, the first black president can’t be ambiguous himself on a civil rights issue. Not to mention that big bucks from gay backers will be needed to replace the lost bucks from alienated Wall Street donors. The gay community, forgiving all prevarication, was electrified. As the Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick put it on the CBS morning show, there are now little boys who can dream of both being a president and marrying a president. As Obama is reminded of what it feels like to generate excitement, what it feels like to lift the spirits of a demoralized country by using the bully pulpit, maybe he can start occasionally blurting out something he feels strongly about. It’s humanizing.”
5.9 President Obama announces his support for gay marriage
5.8 Sen. Richard Lugar loses Republican primary in Indiana. “If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator,” Lugar’s concession statement said. “But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party.”
5.8 Maurice Sendak dies at 83.
5.7 Tom McGeveran in Capital.com: “What [editor Jim Windolf] sees in Punch! is the possibility of creating a successor to Spy, the seminal late-’80s monthly-magazine brainchild of Kurt Andersen and Graydon Carter that was a turning point in the culture of magazine-making and reading. It was a relatively short-lived, money-losing proposition that, in the final stages of its growth, scattered its seed across Manhattan like some kind of plucked dandelion, sprouting nasty bits of yellow everywhere it landed. . . .The two of us had thumbed through the Spy anthology and he had been pointing admiringly to lots of its pieces and features. We both found ourselves doing what one always does looking at that book: Wondering where the energy came from to be so enervated about the culture, to have it sprout out so easily, so messily and so perfectly on the page. . . .Much of the web is an endless array of little bites one after the other, a Tapas restaurant from hell. At some point you walk away from the table and pay an astronomical bill, but those little bites are still arriving at other tables, piling up in your absence, swimming in garlic and grease. It’s possible that nothing you’ve tasted yet is as important or as good as the things now accumulating there, you think, as you make the difficult choice to walk away. Spy was something else: A big, rich meal, served at a white tablecloth, course after course. Before long, dawdling over each plate becomes something you do in the hopes that someone will take it away, and that suddenly you’ll be given a cup of coffee, or some other sign that your gluttony was near an end. And then you got it: the last page of the magazine. You wouldn’t be eating again that way for a month.”
5.4 Dan Balz and Philip Rucker in The Washington Post: “Mitt Romney faces a narrow path to the presidency, one that requires winning back. . . three historically Republican states that Obama won in 2008 — Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — and believes that changing demographics in Virginia present a challenge. After that, Romney must play take-away with the Democrats in a number of other states that the Obama campaign flipped to its column four years ago. The two biggest and most important are Ohio and Florida, which advisers see as must-wins for Romney unless he can pick off one of the 18 states that Democrats have won in each of the past five elections. Romney’s advisers see two things in particular working to their advantage despite some of the geographic hurdles they face. One is the overall weakness of the economy, which they believe will ultimately decide the election, and the other is that enthusiasm within the Obama coalition is down from 2008. . . .
Romney campaign officials point to Michigan as one of those traditionally Democratic states where they expect to compete hard, noting that it is the former Massachusetts governor’s home state. But some top Romney supporters scoff at those ambitions, arguing that Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout alone is a sizable hurdle to overcome there. . . .If, however, Romney can win the three longtime Republican states and take back Ohio and Florida, he will need just one more of the states that Obama flipped in 2008 to get to 270. Romney advisers express optimism about their chances in two other states in Obama’s column in 2008, Iowa and New Hampshire. . . .Among the tossups is a trio of Western states that Obama carried four years ago: Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. At this early stage, Nevada appears the most competitive because the state’s economy has been decimated by the housing crisis. And Romney’s team is counting on high turnout by Mormon voters there.
5.35.3 The Great Rivera tears his ACL shagging flies, ending his season, and possibly his singular career
5.2 Junior Seau commits suicide at 41.

5.1 For no good reason, a 1993 photo of Kim Cattrall appears in The Huffington Post
5.1 Frank Bruni in the Times: “Gingrich and Edwards belong to different parties but are beholden to similar demons, and they have a whole lot more in common than a bounty of hair — white in the Republican’s case, brunet in the Democrat’s. They’re the salt and pepper of outsize egos in presidential politics. . . .Beware the extreme narcissist. Although he may radiate a seductive confidence, he can justify and forgive himself for just about anything, given his belief in his own exalted purpose. He’ll lose sense of the line between boldness and recklessness. And he’ll quit the stage reluctantly, because he can’t bear not to occupy the very center of it. What once drew so many people to Edwards and to Gingrich? Both men had an exaggerated and infectious certainty about them. In Gingrich’s withering sneer and Edwards’s shampoo-commercial smile, there was a seeming estrangement from any and all doubt. It is the kind of thing that assuages a voter’s anxieties. . . .When you’re that wholly in thrall to your own heady promise, you exempt yourself from rules, absolve yourself of hypocrisy and persuade yourself that you’ll get away with it all. And so Gingrich pressed for the impeachment of a philandering president despite his own continuing adultery, made his partner in adultery his third wife, and then preached traditional values with her on his arm. It was almost inevitable that he cheated: someone as intent on affirmation as Gingrich — or as Edwards — isn’t likely to remain content with the knowing gaze of a longtime spouse. He needs the bedazzled expression of a fresh acolyte. Edwards commenced his lunatic dalliance with Rielle Hunter at his moment of greatest political possibility . . .Neither the affair’s exposure nor the birth of the couple’s child convinced him that his political career was done. He got a slavishly loyal aide to claim to be the baby’s father. As hard as it is to imagine such sycophancy, it’s harder still to imagine the hubris and entitlement of the leader who would request and be comfortable with it. . . .Until last Thursday night, Gingrich had a Secret Service detail that was costing taxpayers about $40,000 a day. Never mind that any hope he had of winning the Republican nomination had been extinguished weeks earlier. The campaign went on. . . .“It’s been a long and expensive two years,” he said. “But it’s been fun.” And that’s what really matters. Gingrich’s good time. . . .As long as he’s an object of mild curiosity, even if it comes with major ridicule, he has not yet become an afterthought. And that’s the territory that men like Gingrich and Edwards dread most.”
4.30 President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner
4.30 Stephen King in The Daily Beast: “Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “OK, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.”
4.29 From tonight’s Mad Men: “One day your little girl will spread her legs and fly away.”
4.26 Weider History Group in Leesburg VA–with no brakes!
4.26 In his blog The Audacity of Despair, The Wire‘s David Simon talks about writing for free: “Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere. . . . A free internet is wonderful for democratized, unresearched commentary, and it works well as a library of sorts for content that no longer needs a defense of its copyright. But journalism, literature, film, music — these endeavors need people operating at the highest professional level and they need to make a living doing what they do. Copyright matters. Content costs.”
4.25 Visited Rose
4.21 Down 9-0 in the sixth inning, the Yankees defeat Boston 15-9. This matched the largest comeback in the team’s history, the fifth such occasion when they have surmounted such a deficit. Nick Swisher (left) and Mark Teixeira each has six RBIs.
4.19 Curtis Granderson goes 5 for 5 with 3 home runs as Yanks beat Twins 7-6.
4.19 Levon Helm dies at 71.
4.19 Barney Frank, quoted in New York magazine: ““People ask me, ‘Why don’t you guys get together?’ And I say, ‘Exactly how much would you expect me to cooperate with Michele Bachmann?’ And they say, ‘Are you saying they’re all Michele Bachmann?’ And my answer is, ‘No, they’re not all Michele Bachmann. Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann.’”
4.18 Dick Clark dies at 82.
4.17 Sad news about Levon Helm.
4.16 James Kwak in the Baseline Scenario: “Republican tax cut plans fall into two categories: the ones that don’t bother pretending that they’re going to be revenue neutral and the ones that do. But the latter can never make the numbers add up because you can’t have massive rate cuts and be revenue neutral unless you’re willing to eliminate popular tax expenditures for the middle class, the preference for investment income (the most important tax break for the rich people who pay for Republican politicians’ campaigns), or both.”
4.16 Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel: ““We are in the grip of a way of looking at the world and social life and even personal relations that is dominated by economic ways of thinking. That’s an impoverished way of looking at the world.”
4.16 Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post: “To our mind, there are nine truly swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — where the election will be decided. Those states will hand out 110 electoral votes in November, roughly 41 percent of the 270 votes President Obama or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney need to win. Obama starts with the edge in these swing states. He carried all nine in 2008 with an average margin of victory of 7.6 percentage points. But, six of the nine states went for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004.”
4.16 Roseanne Barr in The Daily Beast: “Hilary Rosen should not have attacked the Leisure Class’s women—does Romney pay her, too? What a great opportunity she has given the vast right-wing conspiracy—suggesting that their women don’t work, when everybody can see that the Women of the Right are large and in charge. The picture of Ann Romney “manning” the phone banks in front of a campaign poster that reads “Mitt Romney is good for business” tells me all I need to know about her contributions to her family, her church, and her country—convincing other privileged white women that defeating feminism is necessary to save the confederacy of dunces called the GOP, which steals bread from the mouths of widows and orphans and workers’ retirement funds as it congratulates itself for dismantling all that social-safety-net, entitlement, nanny-state load of socialist insurrection and places that money instead into private hands, so that the filthy working sluts can’t get any of it for their selfish selves. They will just use it to pay for abortions and other fun things if given half a chance.”
4.14 Loose Lips?
4.14 James Kwak on the Baseline Scenario: “There’s no definitional reason why tax reform has to reduce marginal rates. You could simplify the tax code and eliminate loopholes, reducing both administrative and compliance costs and economic distortions, without touching marginal rates. Sure, this would increase revenues. But it seems pretty obvious to me, as it would to a third grader, that if the problem is the budget deficit, then you want to increase revenues. It’s also obvious to Daniel Shaviro, a leading tax professor who has been writing about deficits and tax reform for well over a decade. From the abstract: “First, if tax expenditures are properly viewed as spending through the tax code, a revenue neutrality norm in which the budgetary gain from their repeal ostensibly needs to be offset by rate cuts is intellectually incoherent. Second, the long-term U.S. fiscal gap makes rate-cutting, in particular for individuals, potentially imprudent. Third, if one wants to address rising high-end income concentration in the United States since 1986, the option of raising, rather than reducing, the top marginal income tax rates may need to be squarely considered.” You may disagree with the third point, but the first two seem pretty irrefutable to me.”
4.13 Simon Johnson in the Baseline Scenario: “The world’s largest banks have been accused of many things in recent years, including taking excessive risk in the run-up to 2008, doing great damage to the American economy by blowing themselves up and then working hard to resist any sensible notions of financial reform. All of this is true, but it misses what is likely to be the most profound negative impact of the banks’ behavior on most Americans. The banks’ actions led directly to an increase in government debt, which in turn has made the reduction of that debt by “cutting runaway spending” a centerpiece of the Republican presidential campaign to date. As a result of this pressure, Medicare now stands on the brink of being eliminated as a viable form of social insurance. Yet the executives who lead these banks – and the politicians with whom they work closely – will not be held accountable this election season.”
4.11 Rep. Allen West (R-FL): “I believe there is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party [in the House of Representatives) that are members of the Communist Party.”
4.10 Robert Reich: “I have never been as concerned as I am now about the future of our democracy, the corrupting effects of big money in our politics, the stridency and demagoguery of the regressive right, and the accumulation of wealth and power at the very top. We are perilously close to losing an economy and a democracy that work for everyone, and replacing them with an economy and government that exist mainly for a few wealthy and powerful people.”
4.10 Cara goes canoeing with friends.
4.8 Paul Krugman in the Times: “$4.6 trillion is the revenue cost over the next decade of the tax cuts embodied in Paul Ryan‘s plan, as estimated by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. These cuts — which are, by the way, cuts over and above those involved in making the Bush tax cuts permanent — would disproportionately benefit the wealthy, with the average member of the top 1 percent receiving a tax break of $238,000 a year. Ryan insists that despite these tax cuts his proposal is “revenue neutral,” that he would make up for the lost revenue by closing loopholes. But he has refused to specify a single loophole he would close. And if we assess the proposal without his secret (and probably nonexistent) plan to raise revenue, it turns out to involve running bigger deficits than we would run under the Obama administration’s proposals. Meanwhile, 14 million is a minimum estimate of the number of Americans who would lose health insurance under Ryan’s proposed cuts in Medicaid; estimates by the Urban Institute actually put the number at between 14 million and 27 million. So the proposal is exactly as President Obama described it: a proposal to deny health care (and many other essentials) to millions of Americans, while lavishing tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy — all while failing to reduce the budget deficit, unless you believe in Mr. Ryan’s secret revenue sauce.”
4.6 Mike Wallace, the peerless interviewer of 60 Minutes, dies at 93. In this photo: George Crile, my good friend Jim Noonan, and Wallace during the CBS-Westmoreland trial.
4.6 Yanks lose opener to Rays. The Great Rivera blows the save, loses!
4.5 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The real reason the attacks on Mr. Bernanke from the right are so destructive is that they’re an effort to bully the Fed into doing exactly the wrong thing. The attackers want the Fed to slam on the brakes when it should be stepping on the gas; they want the Fed to choke off recovery when it should be doing much more to accelerate recovery. Fundamentally, the right wants the Fed to obsess over inflation, when the truth is that we’d be better off if the Fed paid less attention to inflation and more attention to unemployment. Indeed, a bit more inflation would be a good thing, not a bad thing.”
4.3 Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast: “This whole subject of the post-Bush GOP and its relationship to No. 43 is pretty fascinating. Like a crazy, drunk uncle shooting an epileptic dog because he has fleas, the current GOP shuns him for all the wrong reasons. Since the GOP will presumably spend the next few months trying to pretend the man never existed, Democrats ought to remind people that he did. In fact, the Democratic Party should spend the next 20 years talking about Bush, turning him into the new Jimmy Carter and making the memory of those eight squalid years quadrennially fresh to everyone with living memory of them for as long as is humanly possible.”
4.2 Kentucky beats Kansas, 67-59, to win the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship.
4.1 Michael Sandel in The Atlantic: “Why worry that we are moving toward a society in which everything is up for sale? For two reasons. One is about inequality, the other about corruption. First, consider inequality. In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means. The more money can buy, the more affluence—or the lack of it—matters. If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to afford yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would matter less than they do today. But as money comes to buy more and more, the distribution of income and wealth looms larger. The second reason we should hesitate to put everything up for sale is more difficult to describe. It is not about inequality and fairness but about the corrosive tendency of markets. Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them. That’s because markets don’t only allocate goods; they express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged. Paying kids to read books might get them to read more, but might also teach them to regard reading as a chore rather than a source of intrinsic satisfaction. Hiring foreign mercenaries to fight our wars might spare the lives of our citizens, but might also corrupt the meaning of citizenship.” More than that, I would say. It’s also because we suspect–nay, we know–that markets are rigged. And second, because the market then comes to justify anything and everything.
3.31 Kentucky beats Louisville 69-61, advances to the Finals. Anthony Davis is amazing!
3.31 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “Liberty should have nothing to do with this case {health care]. . . .There’s nothing in the Constitution that guarantees you “liberty” in the abstract. The Bill of Rights guarantees you various freedoms, from the freedom of speech to the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, but those are all specific, not general. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments don’t hold up against an enumerated power of Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment provides broad protection for liberty interests, but only protects them from being infringed without due process of law. The whole liberty thing, in the context of the individual mandate, is a pure ideological framing concocted by small-government fanatics who want the Constitution to be some kind of libertarian scripture that it isn’t. When Justice Kennedy asks, “Can you identify for us some limits on the commerce clause?” you have to wonder where he’s getting this stuff. The Commerce Clause doesn’t have any internal limits. The limits are in the rest of the Constitution; you couldn’t pass a bill under the Commerce Clause that violated the First Amendment, for example. The Commerce Clause itself has nothing to do with balancing individual freedoms against government action. The balance is in the Constitution as a whole; you have to find some other part of the Constitution that the individual mandate violates. It’s hard to imagine that the conservative justices don’t understand this—at the very least, their clerks must. . . . The only thing that should matter in this case is whether the individual mandate regulates interstate commerce. I think it’s obvious that it does.”
3.30 President and Mrs. Obama
3.29 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “Historically, the Republicans were the party of business. Businesses like to make money. That can mean a lot of different things for government policy. In some cases, they want less regulation, since regulatory compliance costs money. On the other hand, large companies often want more regulation, since they can absorb the costs of compliance better than small competitors.. . . Regulation can also be a mechanism for price fixing, as with the old Interstate Commerce Commission, which functioned as a legal cartel for railroads. Businesses definitely want lower corporate tax rates, since that increases their net income. But they also like some types of government spending. Most obviously, defense contractors like lots and lots of defense spending. Less obviously, businesses have historically been major beneficiaries of free public education, since it gave them a more skilled workforce. So in general, the business community is not obviously in favor of lower taxes or lower spending. Contrast this with the interests of billionaires. The super-rich do have a lot of wealth tied up in company stock, so to some extent they share the interests of businesses. But as rich people, they have their own interests. In this case, they unequivocally gain from lower taxes and lower government spending; they get to keep more money and they don’t need government services, as individuals. Besides, once you’ve made your first billion, it doesn’t really matter how your business does after that point. With increasing inequality and the relaxation of contribution limits, the balance of power within the Republican Party may be shifting from big business to billionaires. As USA Today reported, 25 percent of all super PAC money in this election cycle has come from five people. Furthermore, super PACs are accelerating an ongoing trend of decreasing party control over spending. Note that while major trade organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable favor government spending that supports businesses, the Club for Growth, an antitax organization, is against. As I said, I think the party will figure out a way to paper over its differences ahead of the elections in November. But in the long term, how long will it be before the business community figures out that the new Republican Party has fallen into the hands of antitax, antigovernment zealots who are willing to put low personal income tax rates ahead of high corporate profits?”
3.26 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The American Legislative Exchange Council is a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law. Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization. What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.”
3.25 Thomas Friedman in the Times: “I laugh out loud whenever I hear Obama administration officials explaining that we just need to train more Afghan soldiers to fight and then we can leave. Is there anything funnier? Afghan men need to be trained to fight? They defeated the British and the Soviets! The problem is that we turned a blind eye as President Hamid Karzai stole the election and operated a corrupt regime. Then President Obama declared that our policy was to surge U.S. troops to clear out the Taliban so “good” Afghan government could come in and take our place. There is no such government. Our problem is not that Afghans don’t know the way to fight. It is that not enough have the will to fight for the government they have. How many would fight for Karzai if we didn’t pay them?
And so it goes. In Pakistan, we pay the Pakistani Army to be two-faced, otherwise it would be only one-faced and totally against us. In Bahrain, we looked the other way while ruling Sunni hard-liners crushed a Shiite-led movement for more power-sharing, and we silently watch our ally Israel build more settlements in the West Bank that we know are a disaster for its Jewish democracy. But we don’t tell Pakistan the truth because it has nukes. We don’t tell the Saudis the truth because we’re addicted to their oil. We don’t tell Bahrain the truth because we need its naval base. We don’t tell Egypt the truth because we’re afraid it will walk from Camp David. We don’t tell Israel the truth because it has votes. And we don’t tell Karzai the truth because Obama is afraid John McCain will call him a wimp.”
3.25 D.D. Guttenplan in the Guardian: “For the right, every day is Armageddon. Obama hasn’t come close to fulfilling the radical hopes some of us allowed ourselves in 2008. But the Republicans, and the economic interests they represent, have made their dedication to “rule or ruin” abundantly clear. Even with Obama in office, they have pushed the political debate – not just on abortion and gay rights, or healthcare, but on human rights, the social safety net, and the environment – so far to the right that to pretend this election doesn’t matter is simply not a luxury we can afford.”
3.23 Levon Helm Band at Tarrytown Music Hall
3.23 President Obama on the Trayvon Martin case: “I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
3.23 Rick Santorum, at a campaign stop in Texas: “You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”
3.22 Giants flag down, Kentucky flag up. Go Cats!
3.21 On CNN, Romney communications director Eric Fehrnstrom responded to a question about whether Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich “might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election” by saying “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
3.21 Stephen Kaye in the Times: “Persian Gulf oil now constitutes a significantly smaller share of American oil imports than it did just 20 years ago. At the same time, domestic oil production is actually increasing after decades of decline, meaning we have to import less than before. Taken together, these trends suggest that the oil weapon, at least in the hands of Persian Gulf producers, may no longer have the same edge for the United States. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2010 some 49 percent of American crude oil and petroleum product imports came from the Western Hemisphere — about 25 percent of that from Canada alone, making it our single largest supplier. (Other substantial hemispheric oil suppliers include Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.) In contrast, the Persian Gulf states provided only 18 percent of our oil imports in 2010, down from 27 percent as recently as 1993.”
3.21 Jets get Tim Tebow
3.20 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: “Let’s rewire the whole nation, energy grid and internet, to deliver ultra-high-speed data and efficiently routed power to every home. Let’s leapfrog South Korea and other wired nations. That would be a powerful economic generator when all the work was done, it seems to me. And in the process, we’d have to tear up and rebuild a lot of infrastructure that needs refurbishing. That’s off the top of my head, but why not?”
3.19 Matthew Yglesias in Slate: “More and more newspapers are deciding that they need to charge for access to their websites rather than relying on advertising. This is often portrayed as a reversion to the print norm, where the paper is really free, but I think it’s best understood as an innovation. The price you pay to subscribe to a daily newspaper is really the price of producing and distributing the physical object. The journalism is paid for by advertising. And as the latest Pew State of the Media report observes, the business issue here isn’t that there’s no online advertising, it’s that Google is reaping all the revenue.” And it’s doing so off other people’s content!
3.19 Sofia Vergara on the cover of Esquire
3.19 David Ignatius in the Washington Post: “Bin Laden’s biggest concern was al-Qaeda’s media image among Muslims. He worried that it was so tarnished that, in a draft letter … he argued that the organization should find a new name. The al-Qaeda brand had become a problem, bin Laden explained, because Obama administration officials “have largely stopped using the phrase ‘the war on terror’ in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims,” and instead promoted a war against al-Qaeda.. . . Bin Laden ruminated about “mistakes” and “miscalculations” by affiliates in Iraq and elsewhere that had killed Muslims, even in mosques. He told Atiyah to warn every emir, or regional leader, to avoid these “unnecessary civilian casualties,” which were hurting the organization. “Making these mistakes is a great issue,” he stressed, arguing that spilling “Muslim blood” had resulted in “the alienation of most of the nation [of Islam] from the [Mujaheddin].”
3.16 Spoke before The Group, in Pleasantville
3.13 From The Washington Post: “Ed Rogers, a Republican consultant and Alabama native, put it more bluntly. “None of them hit the sweet spot,” he said of the GOP field. “None of the candidates are story tellers, none take football seriously, none are Protestant and nobody really has a favorite country music singer.”
3.12 47% of GOP in Alabama, 53% of Republicans in Mississippi believe Obama is a Muslim.
3.8 Harold Meyerson in the Post: “The weakness of this year’s Republican field is chiefly a refraction of the weakness of the Republican electorate. Republicans want a candidate who channels their rage at Obama and the unfamiliar America — economically stagnant and increasingly multi-racial — over which he presides. They want a candidate who will turn the clock back to the economics, demographics and verities of an earlier — if needs be, mythic — time. These are not tasks that serious leaders embrace. In the absence of serious leaders, we have Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul.”
3.10 Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit: “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world.”
3.8 Charles Murray in the Times: “I can see four steps that might weaken the isolation of at least the children of the new upper class. For one thing, we should get rid of unpaid internships. The children of the new upper class hardly ever get real jobs during summer vacation. Instead, they get internships at places like the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute (where I work) or a senator’s office. It amounts to career assistance for rich, smart children. Those from the middle and working class, struggling to pay for college, can’t afford to work for free. Internships pave the way for children to move seamlessly from their privileged upbringings to privileged careers without ever holding a job that is boring or physically demanding. So let the labor unions win this one: If you are not a religious organization and have more than 10 employees, the minimum wage law should apply . . . We can also drop the SAT in college admissions decisions. The test has become a symbol of new-upper-class privilege, as people assume (albeit wrongly) that high scores are purchased through the resources of private schools and expensive test preparation programs. Instead, elite colleges should require achievement tests in specific subjects for which students can prepare the old-fashioned way, by hitting the books. Another step would replace ethnic affirmative action with socioeconomic affirmative action. This is a no-brainer. It is absurd, in 2012, to give the son of a black lawyer an advantage in college admissions but not do the same for the son of a white plumber. Finally, we should prick the B.A. bubble. The bachelor’s degree has become a driver of class divisions at the same moment in history when it has become educationally meaningless.”
3.4 William Johnson in the Times: “How, then, should we measure students and teachers? In ninth grade, my students learn about the scientific method. They learn that in order to collect good data, scientists control for specific variables and test their impact on otherwise identical environments. If you give some students green fields, glossy textbooks and lots of attention, you can’t measure them against another group of students who lack all of these things. It’s bad science.”
3.4 George Will on This Week: “Boehner said that Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using a salad fork for your entree — that is inappropriate. Rick Santorum says, ‘Well, what he said was absurd and an entertainer is allowed to absurd.’ No, it is the responsibilities of conservatives to police the right excesses on their side just as the liberals unfailingly fail on their own side. . . .Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. “They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
3.3 Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who supported President Obama‘s position mandating contraception coverage, was called a slut by Rush Limbaugh. “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Later, he added, “If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” After Obama called Fluke to offer his support, Limbaugh saif the Democrats were using Fluke as a political pawn for fund-raising. ““The Democrats are desperate. This is all they’ve got, is to go out and try to discredit their critics, to impugn and discredit the people who disagree with them.”
3.3 Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush nominee, apologized for a racist email he sent to friends implying Obama’s mother had sex with a dog. Wrote Cebull: “I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family for the email I forwarded. I accept full responsibility; I have no one to blame but myself.” Cebull added that the action will “never happen again.” In the email, Cebull wrote “A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” Cebull said that he referred his conduct to the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit. “Honestly, I don’t know what else I can do.”
3.2 Paul Krugman in the Times: “all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich. And nobody should be surprised. It has been obvious all along, to anyone paying attention, that the politicians shouting loudest about deficits are actually using deficit hysteria as a cover story for their real agenda, which is top-down class warfare. To put it in Romneyesque terms, it’s all about finding an excuse to slash programs that help people who like to watch Nascar events, even while lavishing tax cuts on people who like to own Nascar teams.”
3.2 David Frum on the Daily Beast: “My very conservative friend John Vecchione jokes about the impending Romney nomination: “I feel like the bride in an arranged marriage I cannot escape.” After Tuesday’s votes, escape will become that much harder. The resistance remains. But it becomes more futile. . . .Romney emerges from Michigan committed not only to the Ryan plan, but also to a 20% cut in tax rates, above and beyond his prior commitment to making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He emerges as the candidate who has endorsed the idea that President Obama is waging war on religion as never before seen in this country, not even when the prophet of Romney’s faith was murdered and his own family driven into exile. He emerges above all as a candidate who has distanced himself from his own most signal achievement in government, his Massachusetts healthcare plan, and identified himself with America’s financial elite in almost every regard.”
3.1 Amid Capeci dies at 51. A good guy.Terrible to see him go so young. Here is with the lovely Rachel Clarke, back in the Esquire days.
3.1 In the Washington Post, Matt Miller quotes Bob Kerrey: “Bob Kerrey told me once that a campaign is not the time to try to convince voters of anything they don’t already believe. A campaign is about showing how your values align with theirs. “In a political campaign it’s too risky to lead them,” Kerrey said. “And so what you do is pretend to lead while basically you’re trying to follow their opinions.”
3.1 In the Post, Jonathan Capehart quotes from a study from the Center for an Urban Future on the cost of living in New York City: “Income levels that would enable a very comfortable lifestyle in other locales barely suffice to provide the basics in New York City. . . .Given the vastly higher cost of living in New York City, however, it is doubtful that any New York household that earns even $60,000 per year enjoys a quality of life that remotely approaches what we typically imagine as “middle class.” The “New York City premium” on goods and services from housing and groceries to utilities and transportation means that a $60,000 salary earned in Manhattan is the equivalent of making $26,092 in Atlanta; $31,124 in Miami; and $35,405 in Boston. In less-expensive Queens, that same $60,000 salary carries only as much purchasing power as $37,451 in Atlanta, $44,673 in Miami, or $50,819 in Boston.”
2.29 Davy Jones of The Monkees dies at 66. Now I’m a Bereaver.
2.29 Paul Begala in the Daily Beast: “Mitt Romney barely winning a primary in his home state is like Charlie Sheen barely winning a primary in a Hooters. Sure, it’s a win, but the fact that it was close is more than embarrassing—it’s mortifying.”
2.28 Bill Keller on Morning Joe: “I find…this whole campaign has been one of those little cars that come out in the circus. One clown comes out and another clown comes out and you can’t believe there are any more clowns to get out. And they keep coming.”
2.26 The Artist wins Best Picture. Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for The Iron Lady. Angelina Jolie‘s leg steals the show.
2.25 Rick Santorum at the Americans for Prosperity forum in Troy MI: “Not all folks are gifted in the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands. .?.?. President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.”
2.20 Paul Krugman in the Times: “What will it take to convince the Pain Caucus, the people on both sides of the Atlantic who insist that we can cut our way to prosperity, that they are wrong? After all, the usual suspects were quick to pronounce the idea of fiscal stimulus dead for all time after President Obama’s efforts failed to produce a quick fall in unemployment — even though many economists warned in advance that the stimulus was too small. Yet as far as I can tell, austerity is still considered responsible and necessary despite its catastrophic failure in practice. The point is that we could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years. That’s true even in America, which has avoided full-fledged austerity at the federal level but has seen big spending and employment cuts at the state and local level. Remember all the fuss about whether there were enough “shovel ready” projects to make large-scale stimulus feasible? Well, never mind: all the federal government needs to do to give the economy a big boost is provide aid to lower-level governments, allowing these governments to rehire the hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers they have laid off and restart the building and maintenance projects they have canceled. Look, I understand why influential people are reluctant to admit that policy ideas they thought reflected deep wisdom actually amounted to utter, destructive folly. But it’s time to put delusional beliefs about the virtues of austerity in a depressed economy behind us.”
2.20 Carneval in Brazil, as usual.
2.19 Dinner with the Lindstroms at Mediterraneo.
2.18 Yanks trade AJ Burnett to the Pirates. “I’m not one to lie or point fingers. Did I produce during the season? No. Did I have good games when we needed? Yeah. It is what it is.”
2.18 Saw Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall.
2.18 New Jersey legislature approves gay marriage, but Chris Christie vetoes; says he’ll send the matter to a referendum, which is a cowardly move.
2.17 At a hearing Thursday convened by Rep. Darrell Issa, five male witnesses, all religious leaders, explained why the regulation still assaults their religious beliefs. When Democrats asked Issa to invite some female witnesses, he said the debate was about religious freedom, not “reproductive rights and contraception.” Before storming out, Rep. Carolyn Maloney demanded, “Where are the women?”
2.17 Gary Carter, Hall of Fame catcher of the 1986 New York Mets, dies at 57. “I was our last hope,” he wrote, “and as I took my place and looked out at Schiraldi, all sounds shrank back, and I felt a presence in me, or perhaps besides me, a calming certainty that I wasn’t alone. I was not alone, and I was not, so help me, going to make the last out of the World Series. I felt certain of that.”
2.16 Rick Santorum on contraception: “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea… It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal… but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it–and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong–but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special. Again, I know most presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues.”
2.15 Spoke about the Monitor and the Merrimac at the CWFMNY.
2.15 Fareed Zakaria in the Post: “In the end, however, the global revolutionaries in Moscow, the mad autocrats in Pyongyang and the terrorist-supporting military in Pakistan have all been deterred by mutual fears of destruction. While the Iranian regime is often called crazy, it has done much less to merit the term than did a regime such as Mao’s China. Over the past decade, there have been thousands of suicide bombings by Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Pakistanis, but not been a single suicide attack by an Iranian. Is the Iranian regime — even if it got one crude device in a few years — likely to launch the first? “Israel is finally confronting the sort of choices the United States and Great Britain confronted more than six decades ago,” says Gideon Rose, the editor of Foreign Affairs. “Hopefully it, too, will come to recognize that absolute security is impossible to achieve in the nuclear age, and that if its enemies’ nuclear programs cannot be delayed or disrupted, deterrence is less disastrous than preventive war.”
2.15 Linsanity, Day 7
2.13 Linsanity reaches a sixth game, as Jeremy Lin leads the wandering Knicks to the sixth straight victory, this time with a three point shot with less than a second left.2.13 Paul Krugman in the Times: On Friday, Mitt Romney told “the Conservative Political Action Conference that he was a “severely conservative governor.” As Molly Ball of The Atlantic pointed out, Mr. Romney “described conservatism as if it were a disease.” Indeed. Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, provided a list of words that most commonly follow the adverb “severely”; the top five, in frequency of use, are disabled, depressed, ill, limited and injured.”
2.12 19 year-old Kate Upton, 36-24-34, graces the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. “We would never use her,” said Sophia Neophitou of Victoria’ Secret told the Times, although in fact Upton has modeled for the company’s catalog. “Her look is too obvious. She’s like a Page 3 girl. She’s like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.”
2.12 Sandra Tsing Loh in The Atlantic: “Owing to medical advancements, cancer deaths now peak at age 65 and kill off just 20 percent of older Americans, while deaths due to organ failure peak at about 75 and kill off just another 25 percent, so the norm for seniors is becoming a long, drawn-out death after 85, requiring ever-increasing assistance for such simple daily activities as eating, bathing, and moving. This is currently the case for approximately 40 percent of Americans older than 85, the country’s fastest-growing demographic, which is projected to more than double by 2035, from about 5 million to 11.5 million. And at that point, here comes the next wave—77 million of the youngest Baby Boomers will be turning 70.”
2.12 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “You know how in Scrabble sometimes you look at your seven letters and you’ve got only vowels that spell nothing? What do you do? You go back to the pile. You throw your letters back and hope to pick up better ones to work with. That’s what Republican primary voters seem to be doing. They just keep going back to the pile but still coming up with only vowels that spell nothing. There’s a reason for that: Their pile is out of date. The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub. Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions.. . . Since such a transformed Republican Party is highly unlikely, maybe the best thing would be for it to get crushed in this election and forced into a fundamental rethink — something the Democrats had to go through when they lost three in a row between 1980 and 1988. We need a “Different Kind of Republican” the way Bill Clinton gave us a “Different Kind of Democrat.”
2.11 Whitney Houston dies at 48.
2.10 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The truth is that some indicators of social dysfunction have improved dramatically even as traditional families continue to lose ground. As far as I can tell, Charles Murray never mentions either the plunge in teenage pregnancies among all racial groups since 1990 or the 60 percent decline in violent crime since the mid-90s. Could it be that traditional families aren’t as crucial to social cohesion as advertised? Still, something is clearly happening to the traditional working-class family. The question is what. And it is, frankly, amazing how quickly and blithely conservatives dismiss the seemingly obvious answer: A drastic reduction in the work opportunities available to less-educated men. Most of the numbers you see about income trends in America focus on households rather than individuals, which makes sense for some purposes. But when you see a modest rise in incomes for the lower tiers of the income distribution, you have to realize that all — yes, all — of this rise comes from the women, both because more women are in the paid labor force and because women’s wages aren’t as much below male wages as they used to be.For lower-education working men, however, it has been all negative. Adjusted for inflation, entry-level wages of male high school graduates have fallen 23 percent since 1973. Meanwhile, employment benefits have collapsed. In 1980, 65 percent of recent high-school graduates working in the private sector had health benefits, but, by 2009, that was down to 29 percent.
2.7 Rick Santorum wins t”hree primaries. Republican race thoroughly confused.

2.5 Giants Win!
2.3 Ben Gazarra dies at 81. One less witness to my John Scanlon birthday routine remains.
2.3 Denise Chow on space.com: “A potentially habitable alien planet — one that scientists say is the best candidate yet to harbor water, and possibly even life, on its surface — has been found around a nearby star. The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface. “It’s the Holy Grail of exoplanet research to find a planet around a star orbiting at the right distance so it’s not too close where it would lose all its water and boil away, and not too far where it would all freeze,” Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told SPACE.com. “It’s right smack in the habitable zone — there’s no question or discussion about it. It’s not on the edge, it’s right in there.” . . .The researchers estimate that the planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, which makes it a so-called super-Earth. It takes roughly 28 days to make one orbital lap around its parent star, which is located a mere 22 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion). “This is basically our next-door neighbor,” Vogt said. “It’s very nearby. There are only about 100 stars closer to us than this one.”
2.2 I found this wonderful photo of the wonderful Jennifer Morrison, from last August’s Vanity Fair. Sigh.
2.2 Jacob Weisberg in Slate: “Even more than Gore and Kerry, Romney is running away from his own perfection. He must grapple with the affliction of excessive handsomeness, mussing his hair just so before appearances to avoid looking like a television anchorman. He struggles to seem ordinary despite his riches. But anything Romney does to downplay his wealth merely highlights the vastness of a personal fortune estimated at more than $250 million. And for the time being, at least, Romney must disguise his reasonableness, his record of businesslike practicality and ideological moderation. The number of people who can sympathize with such problems is rather small.”
2.1 Jonah Goldberg in National Review: “Romney’s simply not a good enough politician. He may be the most electable on paper. He’s certainly a nice guy, decent father, smart, successful etc. But, every time he seems to get into his groove and pull away he says things that make people think he doesn’t know how to play the game. That can be reassuring to some, who take it as proof he’s not another politician. The problem, for others at least, is that because he isn’t a natural politician he breaks the language where it needs to bend. He uses language — “I like to fire people!” “It’s nothing to get angry about” etc — that doesn’t make him seem like an unconventional politician. Rather his language makes him seem like a caricature of a conventionally stiff country club Republican. A case in point, here he is this morning talking about how he’s “not very concerned about the very poor”. I get the point he’s making. It’s a point that Bill Clinton won the presidency with — but with language that attracted voters. Romney’s language won’t do anything of the sort. And the concern is, after nearly a decade of running for president, if he can’t get this stuff down now he never will.”
2.1 First look at the Skyfall James Bond.
2.1 Mitt Romney said today “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” I’m not concerned with the very poor?
1.30 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground. Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s — and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy. And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.”
1.29 Gail Collins in the Times: “Do you think that after all is said and done, Newt Gingrich will just go down in history as the politician who conclusively proved that voters don’t care about a candidate’s sexual misbehavior?”
1.27 David Brooks in the Times: “This election is about averting national decline. The president is making a mistake in ceding the size advantage to the Republicans. The Republicans at least speak with epic alarm about the nation’s problems. They are unified behind big tax and welfare state reforms that would purge Washington and shake things up. The president is making a mistake in running a Sunset Boulevard campaign: I am big; it’s my presidency that got small.”
1.26 Newt Gingrich in Mt. Dora FL: ““We are not going to defeat Barack Obama with some guy who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts, owns shares of Goldman Sachs while it forecloses on Florida and himself a stockholder in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while he thinks the rest of us are too stupid to put the dots together to figure out what this is all about.”
1.26 David Ignatius in the Post: “In every GOP debate, you hear insistent calls for a restoration of U.S. power from Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. They evoke a lost Arcadia and suggest that the United States can reclaim its exceptional status as a “city on a hill,” towering above other nations. The specific GOP prescriptions mostly involve muscle-flexing: more military pressure on Iran; more CIA covert action against Iran, Syria and other rivals; tougher trade policies toward China. The implicit theme is that President Obama’s efforts to mend fences with allies and work through the United Nations are signs of weakness — and that a strong America must lead from the front. The problem with the GOP version is that America is already muscle-bound to a fault. To exercise power effectively, it needs good allies. . . .The GOP candidates sometimes seem disdainful of global realpolitik, and they voice the romantic, go-it-alone ethos of the neoconservative wing of the party. Romney, for example, dismissed the idea of negotiating peace with the Taliban — a position even some of his own advisers reject. On the Middle East, Gingrich disdains the two-state solution that every other major nation (including Israel) favors — calling the Palestinians an “invented” people who, presumably, don’t deserve a state. That kind of rhetoric is so far outside the mainstream that it’s the strategic equivalent of walking off the plank.”
1.25 The hard-nosed Jorge Posada retires.
1.25 Dana Milbank in the Post: “On the very day Obama gave his call to class warfare, the former speaker, whose allies had already branded Mitt Romney a job-destroying “predatory capitalist,” successfully goaded the former Massachusetts governor into releasing tax returns that reveal him to be making millions of dollars per year from investments and paying paltry tax rates — while tucking money in the Cayman Islands, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock and a Swiss bank account. Gingrich exulted Tuesday that the already rich Romney is “getting richer off Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” Romney, suddenly faltering in his bid for the nomination, found himself declaring in Florida on Tuesday that “banks aren’t bad people.” He continued to characterize Gingrich as an “influence peddler,” a tool of K Street and an exorbitantly compensated Freddie Mac lobbyist. Gingrich’s campaign, in turn, answered with the implausible claim that it “can’t find” all of the lucrative contracts the candidate had with Freddie. (Did they look under the sofa cushions?) Obama strategist David Axelrod couldn’t have arranged it better: Republicans helpfully turned themselves into fat-cat foils for Obama, staging all-out war between the Gingrich haves and the Romney have-mores.”
1.24 Jon Stewart on the Daily Show: “How in the world do you — Mitt Romney— justify making more in one day than the median American family makes in a year while paying an effective tax rate of the guy who scans your shoes at the airport?”
1.24 Meeting with Mark Reiter
1.22 Giants beat the 49ers 20-17 on a Lawrence Tynes field goal in OT, win NFC Championship, head for the Super Bowl.
1.20 Etta James dies.
1.19 Paul Begala in the Daily Beast on Rick Perry‘s withdrawal: “Perry is a dope, and now all the world knows it. If he lives to be 100 he will be remembered for his “Oops” moment—when he couldn’t recall the three government agencies he wanted to abolish. To be sure, even the smartest of people can have a brain freeze, but Perry’s cerebrum has been on dry ice for decades. The pride of Texas A&M can now slink back home, defeated and disgraced, where he can try to explain to the lobbyists and billionaires who funded his campaign how he squandered a huge fortune and blew a big lead. In the most modestly gifted field in memory, Perry stood out. His incoherent debate performances, his weird, rambling, giddy speech in New Hampshire, his embarrassingly low vote totals, will define him for the rest of his career.”
1.18 In the Times: “Romney also characterized as “not very much” the $374,327 he reported earning in speaking fees last year, though that sum would, by itself, very nearly catapult most American families into the top 1 percent of the country’s earners.”
1.17 David Brooks in the Times: “Republican audiences this year want a restoration. America once had strong values, they believe, but we have gone astray. We’ve got to go back and rediscover what we had. Heads nod enthusiastically every time a candidate touches this theme. I agree with the sentiment, but it makes for an incredibly backward-looking campaign. I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.”
1.17 From Anthony Trollope, courtesy Regina Sokas: “a certain class of dishonesty, dishonesty magnificent in its proportions, and climbing into high places, has become at the same time so rampant and so splendid that there seems to be reason for fearing that men and women will be taught to feel that dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable.”
>1.15 The Giants beat the Packers, 37-20, in a game that wasn’t that close. Key play: Eli Manning‘s Hail Mary TD pass to Hakeen Nicks at the half.
1.11 Mitt Romney, talking to Matt Lauer on The Today Show: “”I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent vs. 1 percent, and those people who’ve been most successful will be in the 1 percent, you’ve opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.” LAUER: “Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?” ROMNEY: “You know I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms. But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach.”
1.11 Paul Begala in the Daily Beast: “You gotta hand it to the Mittbot 3.0. With all the charisma of a foreclosure agent and all the charm of a calculator, Mitt Romney rolled to a win in New Hampshire, a state in which one of Mitt’s many mansions sits—and right next door to Massachusetts. Given those advantages, Romney looks weak even when he wins. Sure, he managed to surpass his 2008 total in New Hampshire (75,546 votes). But look at his competition this time! The field is so weak it would make a lame old plowhorse look like Secretariat. None of Romney’s opponents ran a significant number of negative ads against him in New Hampshire. It’s pretty easy to look bulletproof when your enemies are shooting blanks. Yes, Jon Huntsman ran a “comparative ad” that was weaker than baby’s pee. And, yes, Newt Gingrich body-slammed Romney in the Meet the Press debate, essentially calling him a liar and demanding he “cut the pious baloney.” But no one hit him right between the eyes with the kinds of ads Hillary and Barack used, let alone the carpet-bombing Romney’s allies used against Gingrich in Iowa.”
1.10 Looks like Santorum might have actually won Iowa.
1.10 Richard Cohen in The Washington Post: “Lately, Romney has been on something of an insincerity tear. This son of a big-state governor, this Harvard Law School graduate, this multimillionaire, this hunk with the voice of an AM radio weatherman (“Good morning, Southland!”) has been portraying himself as an average guy. He said, for instance, that he, too, knows a bit about job insecurity.I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired,” he said the other day in New Hampshire. “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” His campaign has been unable or unwilling to document those instances. . . .Similarly, Romney has adopted an aw-shucks pose about his presidential ambitions. His father ran for president in 1968, and Mitt himself must have declared pre-natally. This is the second time around for him . . .Yet, Romney is capable of looking all of New Hampshire straight in the eye and saying, “I have to tell you: This chance to run for president of the United States, I never imagined I’d do it. This is just a very strange and unusual thing to be in the middle of.” He added: “I mean, I was just a high school kid like everybody else with skinny legs. And, you know, I imagined that I’d be, you know, in business all my career. And somehow I backed into the chance to do this.” He backed into it by running for governor of Massachusetts, and he backed into it some more by running for senator from the same state. In my experience, if you back and back with a certain goal in mind you can no longer call it backing. It is forwarding, as in Sherman’s march to the sea. Romney’s campaign has been a bloody slog, and there has been nothing extemporaneous or serendipitous or even fun about it.”
1.9 Mitt Romney at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
1.9 Bill Keller in the Times: “Hillary Clinton is 64 years old, with a Calvinist work ethic, the stamina of an Olympian, an E.Q. to match her I.Q., and the political instincts of a Clinton. She has an impressive empathic ability — invaluable in politics or statecraft — to imagine how the world looks to an ally or adversary. She listens, and she learns from her mistakes. She was a perfectly plausible president four years ago, and that was before she demonstrated her gifts as a diplomatic snake-charmer. (Never mind Pakistan and Libya, I’m talking about the Obama White House.) She is, says Gallup, the most admired woman in America for the 10th year in a row, laps ahead of, in order, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and Condoleezza Rice; her approval rating of 64 percent is the highest of any political figure in the country.”
1.8 In an unbelievable 75 yard strike in the first play of overtime, the Tim Tebows top the heavily-favored Steelers, 29-23.
1.8 In a game highlighted by long strikes and two staunch stops on fourth-and-one, the Giants stomp the Falcons, 24-2.
1.8 Spoke about And the War Came at the Briarcliff Manor Historical Society.
1.8 Tony Blankley dies.
1.7 Lunch with Will Leitch at the Downtown Bar and Grill in gentrified Bouerem Hill.
1.6 Nice movie night with the girls (including the one with the Dragon Tattoo.)
1.5 Nice dinner with the family at Mediterraneo.
1.5 As Rick Santorum told CaffeinatedThoughts.com in October, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Santorum has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president.
<a href='http://foxsports.com?vid=fac369d7-cda9-4662-a062-1b4b3af67df7&#038;mkt=en-us&#038;from=sp^foxsports_en-us_videocentral&#038;src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='GOTD: Howard scores amazing Goal' >Video: GOTD: Howard scores amazing Goal</a>1.4 Tim Howard became the fourth goalkeeper to score in Premier League history, when he landed a wind-blown clearance from about 100 yards. Despite the goal, Everton lost 2-1. “I was delighted that we were in the lead and would hopefully go on to get three points, but it’s not a nice feeling for a keeper. It’s really awful actually,” Howard told Sky Sports.
1.4 Molly is accepted by SUNY Purchase. Yay!
1.3 Romney beats Santorum in the Iowa caucuses by 8 votes.
1.2 In the Winter Classic, the Flyers lost to the Rangers, 3-2.
1.1 In an exciting win or go home game, The Giants beat the Cowboys, 31-14.

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