Tuesday Reads

Arlington

Good Morning!!

The photo at the top of the page was taken on Mystic Street approaching Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington Center, Arlington, Massachusetts. I’ve lived in this town since the 1970s. The population in 2014 is less than 43,000. The Center has some stores, but it’s not really a shopping district. There’s a Starbucks, the public library, the main Post Office, a number of restaurants, that sort of thing. We don’t have a mayor. There is a town manager and a town meeting with elected members. Basically, Arlington is a small town, but it’s also part of Greater Boston. It’s a close suburb to Boston, situated between Cambridge and Lexington.

Arlington has always been a safe place to live, and I still feel that way about my neighborhood. But recently, big city crime has arrived here, and I’m kind of shocked. In September, the Arlington Police Department was involved in a sex trafficking case involving men from Rhode Island and Massachusetts who exploited a teenage girl and forced her into prostitution.  Also in September, a man who worked for Arlington’s Department of Public Works was charged with “upskirting” in a local restaurant bathroom. That’s a crime I hadn’t even heard of before. It when someone uses a camera to look up women’s skirts. Ugh, how creepy. And this morning I woke up to this from The Boston Globe:

Video Game Developer: Twitter Rape, Death Threats Forced Me From Home.

An Arlington-based video game developer said she and her husband had to temporarily leave their home after they received graphic threats of sexual assault and death on Twitter—a response, she believes, to her online activism on behalf of women in the tech industry

Brianna Wu, head of development for the indie video game publisher Giant Spacekat, contacted Arlington police Friday evening after a Twitter account named “Death to Brianna”—whose profile description read, “I’m going to kill Brianna Wu and her husband Frank”—posted a number of graphic death threats.

Read some of the tweets at the link.

Arlington Police confirmed that the department is investigating the origin of the message. Twitter has since suspended the account.

Wu said she is “harassed on a daily basis,” often receiving rape threats and unwanted pornographic images, but that Friday night’s messages “crossed a line to the point [she] felt scared.”

“I left the house because I felt unsafe,” Wu wrote in a Facebook message to Boston.com. “I told the officer, and he felt that was reasonable.”

There’s no truly safe place left in America these days, I guess. Maybe it was always like that, and I just didn’t know it. At least we don’t have any Ebola cases yet.

Nina Pham, nurse with Ebola (her identity was revealed by her family)

Nina Pham, nurse with Ebola (her identity was revealed by her family)

Here’s the latest from Dallas.

AP, via the Seattle Times, About 70 hospital staffers cared for Ebola patient.

About 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized, including a nurse now being treated for the same Ebola virus that killed the Liberian man who was visiting Dallas, according to medical records his family provided to The Associated Press.

The size of the medical team reflects the hospital’s intense effort to save Duncan’s life, but it also suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus during Duncan’s time in an isolation unit.

On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the infection of the nurse means the agency must broaden the pool of people getting close monitoring. Authorities have said they do not know how the nurse was infected, but they suspect some kind of breach in the hospital’s protocol.

According to the AP, the hospital shared medical records with the news agency, but “the CDC does not have them.” WTF?! Why?

The CDC has not yet established a firm number of health care workers who had contact with Duncan.

“If this one individual was infected — and we don’t know how — within the isolation unit, then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “We do not today have a number of such exposed people or potentially exposed health care workers. It’s a relatively large number, we think in the end.”

Caregivers who began treating Duncan after he tested positive for Ebola were following a “self-monitoring regimen” in which they were instructed to take their temperatures regularly and report any symptoms. But they were not considered at high risk.

Typically, the nurses, doctors and technicians caring for a contagious patient in isolation would be treating other people as well, and going home to their families after decontaminating themselves. The hospital has refused to answer questions about their specific duties.

Jesus. It sounds like the hospital is still trying to protect itself rather than doing everything possible to keep this disease from spreading.

Tort law

This story from Reuters is a must read, Following the mistakes in the Texas Ebola story. As we all know now, Thomas Duncan, the Ebola patient who died at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital initially went to the emergency room with a fever of 103, and he openly told heath care workers he had recently arrived in Dallas from Liberia. But they sent him home anyway. You’d think his family would be able to sue the hospital for millions, but they probably can’t.

As this Reuters report notes:

Texas tort-reform measures have made it one of the hardest places in the United States to sue over medical errors, especially those that occurred in the emergency room …. To bring a civil claim in Texas over an emergency-room error, including malpractice, plaintiffs have to show staff acted in a way that was “willfully and wantonly negligent,” meaning that the staff had to have consciously put Duncan or others at extreme risk by releasing him, rather just having made a mistake.

In other words, tort reform in Texas means you can’t sue a doctor or nurse for making a mistake, even a stupid, fatal one. Or even one that might end up causing multiple fatalities if Duncan gave the virus to others after he was allowed to leave the emergency room.

The author of the article, Stephen Brill is currently “researching a coming book on the economics and politics of U.S. healthcare,” and he has some interesting questions based on the Ebola case. He has found that in the U.S. expensive tests are frequently used–supposedly to protect against malpractice suits. Questions:

Have hospitals tightened their own quality-control and disciplinary processes because they know that doctors don’t have to worry about lawsuits and, therefore, want to add accountability measures of their own to deal with staff mistakes?

Or have they loosened discipline because they don’t have to worry about being sued for their staffs’ mistakes?

tort reform

Brill also wonders why the hospital hasn’t named the nurse or doctor responsible for sending Duncan home after his initial visit to the hospital.

Yes, I would like to read a story about the person who made the mistake. What is his or her record? Was the emergency room busy when Duncan showed up? Or was the staff sitting around with little to do, yet still failed to react carefully enough? And were policies, explicit or implicit, in place encouraging them not to admit uninsured patients whose bills are likely to go unpaid?

What disciplinary action did, or will, the hospital take? What usually happens in a situation like this at that hospital and at hospitals generally?

But more than that, I would like to see a story exploring the issue of personal responsibility and public accountability when private people make mistakes that have huge public ramifications.

I’d like to read a story like that too.

In more positive news, a man who survived Ebola has donated blood plasma to the Dallas nurse who is sick.

The Rev. Jim Khoi, pastor of the Fort Worth church attended by Nina Pham’s family, said she received a transfusion of plasma containing Ebola-fighting antibodies Monday afternoon.

Samaritan’s Purse confirmed the plasma came from Dr. Kent Brantly, the Texas doctor who survived Ebola. Brantly contracted Ebola while working with the nonprofit medical mission group in Liberia.

Samaritan’s Purse spokesman Jeremy Blume says Brantly traveled to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Sunday to donate the plasma.

Brantly said in a recent speech that he also offered his blood to Thomas Eric Duncan, but that their blood types didn’t match. Duncan died of Ebola on Wednesday.

mitt_romney

In politics news, it looks like we won’t see a third Romney presidential run, because Ann Romney has laid down the law.

From the New York Daily News, Ann Romney quashes rumors of Mitt 2016: ‘Mitt and I are done’.

“Mitt and I are done. Completely,” the wife of the two-time Republican presidential candidate has said to quash rumors that another campaign is in the works.

“Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mitt Romney, 67, has said repeatedly he wasn’t interested in running again, but in recent weeks he’s been seen as flirting with the prospect.

With no clear Republican frontrunner for 2016, he has taken to the campaign trail to support Senate hopefuls, including Joni Ernst in Iowa on Monday, and has also kept up relationships with key GOP donors.

But his wife, Ann, seems to think a third time is not the charm.

I hope she really means it!

Another potential 2016 candidate, Hillary Clinton spoke about a number of current issues yesterday in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Las Vegas crowd Monday night that more needs to be done to ensure young people can achieve their dreams and free students from onerous college debt “that can feel like an anchor tied to their feet dragging them down.”

“I think our young people deserve a fair shot,” she told about 900 people gathered in a Bellagio resort ballroom for the annual UNLV Foundation dinner benefiting the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Later, talking about the American public’s possible reluctance to get involved in conflicts around the world, Clinton referred to the threats posed by the Ebola virus and the Islamic State militant group.

“They want to bring the fight to Europe and the fight to the United States,” she said of the terrorist group.

And Ebola is not going to stay confined, the former first lady said.

Read more about her remarks at the link.

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri Protests

The New York Times has an article about the latest protests in Ferguson, Missouri. I can’t excerpt any of the text, because the Times has found a way to prevent it on some stories; it’s a good article and worth reading at the link. Here’s another report from the AP via ABC News: More Than 50 Arrested in Ferguson Protests.

Pounding rain and tornado watches didn’t deter hundreds of protesters Monday outside Ferguson police headquarters, where they stayed for almost four hours to mark how long 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body was left in a street after he was fatally shot by police.

Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October protests dubbed the day “Moral Monday” and committed acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region. In addition to the initial march on Ferguson police headquarters, protesters blocked the entrance to a major employer, held a loud rally inside St. Louis City Hall, disrupted business at a Ferguson shopping center and three Wal-Mart stores and tried to crash a private fundraiser for a St. Louis County executive candidate where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was scheduled to appear.

At the Edward Jones Dome Monday night, protesters briefly draped a banner over a Jumbotron video board that read “Rams fans know on and off the field black lives matter.”

More than 50 people were arrested, including scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West.

West was among 42 arrested for peace disturbance at the Ferguson police station. Some protesters used a bullhorn to read the names of people killed by police nationwide. Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy members — some of whom were among the first arrested — led a prayer service before marching to the station two blocks away.

I’m very glad that the protests are continuing. I’m afraid Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is going to get away with killing Michael Brown, so I think it’s important to keep the story in the nation’s consciousness.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Tuesday!


Lazy Saturday Reads: You People are so Ridiculous! Edition

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Morning Coffee in the City, by Michele Byrne

Good Day!!

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton are grandparents!

From the AP via The Boston Globe:

The couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, has given birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte.

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president and ex-secretary of state, announced the baby’s birth on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday, saying she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are ‘‘full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.’’

Clinton spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said the child was born on Friday but did not immediately provide additional details. The couple lives in New York City. The Clintons quickly retweeted their daughter’s message on Twitter but did not immediately comment on the baby’s arrival.

Now that the announcement is out of the way, the media demands to know if Hillary will now announce she’s running for president.

The baby has been eagerly anticipated as Hillary Clinton considers her political future — she has called the prospect of becoming a grandmother her ‘‘most exciting title yet.’’ She even has picked out the first book she intends to read to her grandchild, the classic ‘‘Goodnight Moon.’’

She has said she didn’t want to make any decisions about another campaign until the baby’s arrival, pointing to her interest in enjoying becoming a grandmother for the first time. If Clinton decides to run for president, her campaign would coincide with the baby’s first two years.

Former-US-President-Bill-Clinton-Become-Grandfather

The Christian Science Monitor even put the demand in their headline to the AP story: Chelsea Clinton now a mom. Will Grandma Hillary announce run for president?

Sigh . . . Yes, I’m sure Hillary is planning to ruin their daughter’s and son-in-law’s celebration by rushing out and the media’s wish come true. Why don’t they hound Mitt Romney instead? He already has so many grandkids he probably can’t keep their names straight; and Ann Romney has been out and about in the past week.

Ann told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that if only Mitt had been elected in 2012, there wouldn’t have been so many problems in Iraq and Syria. According to Ann,

I think he would have had a status of forces agreement on — in Iraq. I don`t believe ISIS would have had the invasion that they have — they’ve had. They wouldn’t have had the ability to — I think he would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria. I think there`s other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.

Those people are not going to go away. This is a generational problem. And the sooner we realize, I think, as Americans, that it`s not an easy solution and it`s not going to go away, but to be really aware of how dangerous the situation is — I think Mitt was very aware how — how precarious it was.

As for Mitt giving running for president a third try, Ann hinted that it will depend on what Jeb Bush decides to do.

One scenario out there, Mrs. Romney, is that Jeb Bush doesn`t run after all, and your husband has sized up the landscape and that a lot of his supporters, past and present, said, you have the name recognition, you have the Reagan example of the third time was the charm for him, and that it`s been done before.

[ANN] ROMNEY: Mm-hmm.

CAVUTO: And — and that would be appealing.

ROMNEY: Well, we will see, won`t we, Neil?

I think Jeb probably will end up running, myself. I think, you know, he — people probably are looking at it, that he`s probably looking at it very carefully right now.

CAVUTO: But why would his entrance in the race matter to — to your supporters or not?

ROMNEY: Well, I think, you know, he would draw on a very similar base that we would draw on.

Andrew Prokop at Vox thinks another Romney run could happen: It’s not crazy for Mitt Romney to run for president again. Prokop, reports that according to conservative columnist Bryan York, Jeb is unlikely to run in 2016.

“Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election,” York writes. So there seems to be at least one candidate who would definitively win Romney’s support.

But while there have been several trial balloons for a Jeb Bush candidacy floated recently, there are reasons to be skeptical he’ll actually pull the trigger. First of all, he’s been out of politics for years and focused on making money. For now, Bush has every reason to encourage speculation that he’s running. It gives him increased media attention, perceived clout, and it makes him more valuable as a speaker and rainmaker. But he’s at odds with the GOP base on issues like immigration and Common Core, and he’s suggested that concerns from his family could be an issue. So Bush might well opt against a run, and Romney could feel that he’s the party’s only hope.

After all, writes Prokop, Romney is a known quantity and he’s popular with GOP donors. On top of that, Chris Christie has lost his luster as a candidate.

Read more details at Vox.

AnnRomney2

But what about Mitt’s problems with women? Ann says that’s nonsense, according to Politico.

Ann Romney on Tuesday skewered Democrats’ claim that there’s a GOP “war on women,” calling the accusation “offensive” and saying it won’t work as a campaign tactic.

“It’s ridiculous, honestly, I mean I don’t think they’re getting very far with that, by the way. It’s not going to work. I think women are a lot smarter than that, and that’s kind of offensive to me, to tell you the truth,” Romney said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News in response to a question about both the so-called “war on women” and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“Scott Walker’s a good guy, and he’s got a wonderful wife, and he values women and that just doesn’t fly,” Romney added.

She was responding to Wasserman Schultz’s remarks earlier this month, when the Florida Democrat said Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”

Well that’s the end of that then. Scott Walker’s wife (does she have a name) is “wonderful,” so women should just shut up and deal with having limited access to birth control, abortion, and child care, and lower pay than their male colleagues.

Wonkette responds to the Politico story with appropriate sarcasm: Ladies, Stop Offending Ann Romney With How Stupid You Are.

How many times does Her Royal Horse-Riding Majesty Ann Romney have to explain this to YOU PEOPLE? Sheesh! This so-called “war on women” claptrap Democrats can’t stop blah blahing about is so dumb and so 2012 and so not even real anyway, so why are women — who are so much smarter than Democrats think they are — so stupid as to keep falling for it?

Obviously, talking non-stop about the Republican Party’s non-stop assault on women will never work. Ann knows. She’s an elections expert. That’s why the gender gap in 2012 was only 18 points. Practically a draw! No wonder the whole Romney clan was so very shocked and awed that Ann’s 2012 pitch failed to sway the lady voters:

“Women, you need to wake up,” she urged them. “Women have to ask themselves who’s going to have and be there for you. I can promise you, I know, that Mitt will be there for you. He will stand up for you, he will hear your voices.”

Maybe it had something to do with how some of the things that spilled out of her face hole were kind of … oh, what’s the word? Offensive? Like when she said, “I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” Those hard-working women out there were such an inspiration to her because she also had suffered and struggled and worked really hard at never having a job, scraping by on nothing but her husband’s daddy’s stock portfolio.

How the heck did that not work with voters?!? Especially after she told YOU PEOPLE to stop being so dumb already, jeez, and vote for her hubby. And some of YOU PEOPLE even whispered in her ear that you totally agreed with her (and yet did not vote for Mitt anyway, weird!), and even ladies who usually don’t worry their pretty little heads about important issues — that’s Man’s Work, after all — were finally, for the first time ever, thinking about really important stuff, like the economy and “their husbands’ jobs.”

AnnRomney1

For heaven’s sake, ladies. Mitt had all those binders full of women, remember? Now get over it and go vote Republican!

Of course Mitt wasn’t included in the Values Voters Summit this weekend. That could mean he’s not running or maybe that he thinks the Tea Party vote won’t matter. The usual suspects were there though.

Despite Ann’s claims that the Democrats are getting nowhere with the “war on women” talk, the “values voters” speakers appeared to tone down the anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage rhetoric, according to ABC News: Republicans Rallying Behind Religious Liberty.

Fighting to improve their brand, leading Republicans rallied behind religious liberty at a Friday gathering of evangelical conservatives, rebuking an unpopular President Barack Obama while skirting divisive social issues.

Speakers did not ignore abortion and gay marriage altogether on the opening day of the annual Values Voter Summit, but a slate of prospective presidential candidates focused on the persecution of Christians and their values at home and abroad — a message GOP officials hope will help unify a divided party and appeal to new voters ahead of November’s midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.

“Oh, the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared Friday in a Washington hotel ballroom packed with religious conservatives. “We need a president who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul echoed the theme in a speech describing America as a nation in “spiritual crisis.”

“Not a penny should go to any nation that persecutes or kills Christians,” said Paul, who like Cruz is openly considering a 2016 presidential bid.

The speaking program included such potential 2016 candidates as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Several possible Republican candidates — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among them — did not attend. The group has positions on social issues across the spectrum — from the libertarian-leaning Paul, who favors less emphasis on abortion and gay marriage, to Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor whose conservative social values define his brand.

Jindal1

Here’s a lovely little homily from Bobby Jindal:

Jindal, who is also weighing a White House bid, seized on what he called Obama’s “silent war” on religious freedom.

“The United States of America did not create religious liberty,” Jindal said. “Religious liberty created the United States of America.”

Anyone know what he means by a “silent war?” I have no clue. What a charlatan Jindal is!

The ABC article didn’t mention Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but they were there too.

From Mediaite on crazy Michele’s speech:  Bachmann Rouses Values Voters Crowd with Calls to ‘Kill’ ISIS Until They Surrender. See video at the link.

Talking Points Memo notes that Sarah Palin doesn’t know the address of the White House. I wonder who lives at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Palin Goofs: Truth Is Endangered At ‘1400’ Penn Avenue. Watch it:

I wonder if the “values voters” liked Palin’s biker chick get-up?

And, of course, Ted Cruz was his usual loony self. Salon: 5 craziest things Ted Cruz just said at the Values Voters Summit (including the full video of his “deranged” speech.

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Morning Coffee, by Carol Bolt

Quick News Headlines:

The Boston Globe, 7 Questions We’d Ask Ferguson’s Chief of Police.

A man set a fire at an air traffic control facility at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, but it’s not being called terrorism–maybe because the guy isn’t an Arab American?

KTLA Channel 5, FBI: Chicago Controller Sent Facebook Message: ‘I Am About to Take Out’ FAA Facility.

NY Daily News, Illinois man charged in fire at Chicago air traffic control center

The Texas State Board of Education is at it again. Now they want teachers to tell kids that Moses is an inspiration for the U.S. Constitution (very interesting and detailed article at The Daily Beast).

AP, via Yahoo News, Police: Woman beheaded at Oklahoma workplace.

 Fox News, Four College Sophomores dead in Oklahoma bus-truck crash.

Discovery News, Japanese Volcano Erupts: Hikers Missing.

The New Yorker on the newest social media entry, Ello’s Anti-Facebook Moment.

LA Times, Water on Earth predates the solar system, and even the sun.

Raw Story, Complex life on Earth may have appeared 60 million years earlier than previously thought.

National Geographic, Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap? A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.

M.I.T. News, Battling superbugs: Two new technologies could enable novel strategies for combating drug-resistant bacteria.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in comment thread. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Poor Sad Sack Romneys At Loose Ends

mitt21n-1-web

Did you see the hilarious piece by Philip Rucker in the Washington Post this morning on how poor Mitt and Ann Romney are having trouble adjusting to life out of the spotlight?

Gone are the minute-by-minute schedules and the swarm of Secret Service agents. There’s no aide to make his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. Romney hangs around the house, sometimes alone, pecking away at his iPad and e-mailing his CEO buddies who have been swooping in and out of La Jolla to visit. He wrote to one who’s having a liver transplant soon: “I’ll change your bedpan, take you back and forth to treatment.” [….]

Four weeks after losing a presidential election he was convinced he would win, Romney’s rapid retreat into seclusion has been marked by repressed emotions, second-guessing and, perhaps for the first time in the overachiever’s adult life, sustained boredom, according to interviews with more than a dozen of Romney’s closest friends and advisers.

Romney’s next door neighbor is renovating his house, but the Romney’s planned renovations to their La Jolla home, including the famous car elevator haven’t even begun. The former presidential candidate is now renting an office in Boston at his son Tagg’s firm, Solomere Capital. Ann Romney is reportedly more devastated than her husband.

By all accounts, the past month has been most difficult on Romney’s wife, Ann, who friends said believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back to riding her horses.

Ann apparently bought into the White Horse Prophecy, and believed–along with her husband’s pollsters–that God would keep the black people away from the polls because Mitt had been chosen by god.

But Mitt’s friends say he’s not bitter, and he isn’t going to let himself go, despite his hangdog appearance in the photo above. He’s been riding his bike around his La Jolla neighborhood, and he’s not going to balloon up and grow a beard like Al Gore did after he was cheated out of the presidency.

One longtime counselor contrasted Romney with former vice president Al Gore, whose weight gain and beard became a symbol of grievance over his 2000 loss. “You won’t see heavyset, haggard Mitt,” he said. Friends say a snapshot-gone-viral showing a disheveled Romney pumping gas is just how he looks without a suit on his frame or gel in his hair.

The article says Romney might write a book about the campaign, and he’s even thinking about starting some kind of charity along the lines of the Clinton Global Initiative. But wouldn’t that require some kind of ability to empathize with people who need help?

But here’s the funniest part. On Thanksgiving, son Josh came for a visit with his four kids–they all had to sleep in one bedroom–and no one wanted to cook dinner, so they ordered out from Boston Market.

It’s all so very very sad.


Monday Afternoon Open Thread: The Dust Bowl, The Return of Charles Pierce, and Mittenfreude

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

If you didn’t get to see the first half of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl last night on PBS, please be sure to watch it when you can. It was outstanding, although very painful to watch at times. I watched it with my mom. It brought back lots of memories for her, as she grew up in North Dakota in the Dust Bowl days. Toward the end of the show last night there was film of FDR visiting North Dakota to survey the damage. Most of the archival footage is from Oklahoma and Kansas, with lesser amounts from Colorado, Kansas, and Texas.

The second part of the documentary will be on tonight. I’m guessing this part will be less agonizing because it will cover Roosevelt’s efforts to deal with the greatest man-made ecological disaster in history. I hope it will cover the creation of the CCC and how the government supervised planting of lines of trees for windbreaks. You can still see them all over the Midwest. There are lots in Indiana. There must have been other scientific improvements to farming that I don’t know about.

I highly recommend watching the second part tonight if you can. I don’t think you need to watch them in order necessarily.

I’m so happy that Charlie Pierce is back from his interminable week-long vacation! He has some great pieces up today already.

This morning he weighed in on the Susan Rice witchhunt on yesterday’s Sunday talk shows.

Then he recommended that Ross Douthat and other who missed the ’60s

drop some brown acid, listen to the first Quicksilver album, or at least read more than two books before they start telling the rest of us how everything they would have loved about America, had they been alive then, went to hell in a handbasket the first time Ken Kesey sat down at a typewriter.

He gave us a title for the Petraeus scandal and some great nicknames for John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Well, not much happened while we were gone. The entire national-security apparatus got together and decided to produce a remake of the famous 1989 Helen Mirren vehicle, The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, Her Lover, The General, His Wife, The Other Woman, The Other Other Woman, The Other General, and The Lovesick Shirtless FBI Guy. In the other half of the double feature, we have Senator Grumpy and his sidekick, Huckleberry Closetcase, yelling about Benghazi while Harry Reid contemplates turning a garden hose on them to cool them down.

And then he beat up on Maureen Dowd for her nasty Sunday column on Susan Rice.

let’s pause for a moment and mark the return of airy dementia to the prose of one M. Dowd, of The New York Times, who decided to unlimber herself on the Bigger-Than-Watergate-Teapot Dome-Crédit Mobilier-The-Combined scandal surrounding what the gnomes in John McCain’s head think happened in Benghazi. Notably piquant is this passage in which Ms. Dowd wonders whether or not the president and his staff are as shallow and muddleheaded about politics as she is.

And MoDo will absolutely hate the photo that accompanies the post. I’m sooooo glad Pierce is back!

I have to admit, I’d like to stretch out the Mittenfreude, so I have a few Romney links for you.

TMZ caught Mitt and Ann going to see teen chick flick Breaking Dawn yesterday. I knew those two were immature, but I guess I didn’t realize how immature.

NBC News has a piece about what Romney and Ryan would have been doing this week if they hadn’t been beaten in a landslide on November 7.

If Mitt Romney had won the presidential election, insiders say, it’s not hard to imagine what he and his number two, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would have been tackling on this very day.

An extensive preparation plan dubbed the “Romney Readiness Project,” pulled together by the GOP nominee’s team and no longer of any use, offers detailed insight into how ready he was to take the reins, the sources told NBC News.

Romney and Ryan each had office space set aside for them at a transition office in southwest Washington, D.C., where former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt led a team of hundreds of advisers tasked with crafting an ambitious agenda for the Republican’s first 200 days in office.

Insiders describe a well-prepared transition that was ready to hit the ground running on Nov. 7, and begin the work of fashioning a Romney government.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!! I’m sure glad we dodged that bullet!

Finally, Kevin Drum calls Romney “Officially the Most Hated Man in America,” and all because the articulated what most Republicans believe–that about half of the American people are worthless layabouts who don’t deserve to eat, live indoors, or have health care when they get sick.

What are you reading and/or hearing?


UAW, CREW File Ethics Charges Against Romney for Hiding Auto Bailout Profits

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King and the Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) will hold a press conference at 2PM today to announce that they are filing formal ethics charges against Mitt Romney with the US Office of Government Ethics for

improperly hid[ing] a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” “It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

The ethics complaint is based on investigative research by Greg Palast, published in The Nation on October 17. Briefly:

The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a limited partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.

According to ethics law expert Dan Curry who drafted the ethics complaint, Ann Romney does not have a federally-approved blind trust. An approved “blind” trust may not be used to hide a major investment which could be affected by Romney if he were to be elected President. Other groups joining the UAW and CREW include Public Citizen, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Public Campaign, People for the American Way and The Social Equity Group….

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bailout fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

Singer’s fund ended up making $1.27 billion, after which he moved all Dephi production to Mexico along with 25,000 UAW jobs. The goal of the ethics complaint is to force the Romneys to reveal how much profit the made off this sleazy deal.

Feel free to use this as an open thread.


Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.


Tuesday Reads: Horses and Bayonets

President Obama temporarily wipes the smirk off Mitt Romney’s face.

Good Morning!!

The reviews are in: President Obama clearly won the third presidential debate. Now we’ll see if that is reflected in the polls. I’m going to give you a few quick links with reactions to the debate. I’m writing this at 11:30 Monday, so I know there will be lots more in the morning.

Washington Post: Obama keeps Romney on his heels in last debate

President Obama seemed to use the authority of his office to put Republican challenger Mitt Romney on his heels in their final presidential debate Monday night, telling Romney he didn’t understand foreign-policy problems as well as he does.

That idea underlay some of the night’s harshest lines from Obama. He scoffed at Romney’s assertion that Russia remained the country’s chief geopolitical foe: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”

And, when Romney asserted that the United States had fewer naval ships than decades ago, Obama retorted that his opponent didn’t understand the modern navy. There were fewer ships, he said, but also fewer “horses and bayonets.”

“We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on ‘em,” Obama said. ” “The question is not a game of battleship, where we’re counting ships.”

Romney: “Hey, no fair! You sank my battleship!”

Chris Cillizza names the winners and losers in the debate. According to Cillizza, Barack Obama and Bob Shieffer were winners. Mitt Romney was a loser.

The New York Times: Obama and Romney Bristle from Start

Talking Points Memo: In Foreign Policy Debate, Obama Uses Romney’s Past Positions Against Him

Throughout Monday night’s presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama used past positions that Mitt Romney has taken over the course of the campaign to depict him as the wrong candidate to run U.S. foreign policy.

Obama used the tactic both to defend his own initiatives — particularly his Libya policy — and to characterize Romney as an untrained foreign policy hand who has been wobbly and inconsistent.

“I know you haven’t been in a position to execute foreign policy,” Obama said, in summarizing his theme of attack, “but every time you have offered an opinion, you have been wrong.”

Specifics at the link.

The Daily Beast reviewed Michelle Obama’s and Ann Romney’s dresses.

Perhaps it’s a symbol of the Recession: Michelle Obama didn’t wear a brand new designer dress. She didn’t wear a blinding pink suit either. No, at the fourth Presidential debate in Florida on Monday night, she recycled a dress.

Michelle Obama appeared in the crowd in the same black and grey Thom Browne dress that she had worn on the second night of the Democratic National Convention in early September. It was an interesting choice for debate night — a night when the candidates’ wives traditionally have chosen to stand out from the crowd in bright designs….

Ann Romney, on the other hand, wore a silk green top and cream and green silk skirt to the debate on Monday. Typically, it was not as fashion-forward as Obama’s choice, but it was adventurous for her, and it demonstrated the ease and facility with which she is now styled on the trail; a creative assembly of different items to acheive a polished look. But it was also throwback: a bell skirt and helmet of blonde hair defiantly recalled the look of a 1950s housewife. She has finally grown more confident with her style: she’s been told she has to dress like a First Lady, and maybe, just maybe, does she finally look the part.

In other news,

Efraim Halevy, a former Mossad chief discussed Iran and Mitt Romney with Laura Rozen at AL Monitor. He’s not a fan of the Mittster. Here’s a quote:

Obama has placed emphasis on negotiations. In this current election for the US presidency, his hands are tied. He cannot proceed, because he cannot appear soft on Israel’s security.

Negotiating with Iran is perceived as a sign of beginning to forsake Israel. That is where I think the basic difference is between Romney and Obama. What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war. Therefore when [he recently] said, he doesn’t think there should be a war with Iran, this does not ring true. It is not consistent with other things he has said. […]

Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.

In the end, this is what I think: Making foreign policy on Iran a serious issue in the US elections — what Romney has done, in itself — is a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel.

It is not as if, if he wins the election, and gets into the White House, he can back up. The Iranians are listening attentively to what he says. When he says, he would arm the opposition in Iran. They understand.

From the Boston Phoenix, a really creepy story about Romney’s sense of entitlement: Gold Star Mother: Romney Skipped Funeral, Left “Bullying” Messages.

Remember when Ann Romney claimed on The View that Mitt had attended every funeral of a soldier from Massachusetts who lost his or her life in Iraq or Afghanistan? Not according ot one grieving mother, Stephany Kern. She says that Romney, like other politicians called and left messages for her, but she was too broken up to respond. Kerry and Kennedy contacted other family members to find out when would be a good time to try again. But Romney called repeatedly, leaving insensitive messages indicating that he was insulted by the lack of a return call.

“I can’t believe you haven’t returned my call,” Romney said on one of the voice mail messages, according to Stephany Kern, speaking at her Westerly, Rhode Island home this past Saturday. “Here I am making a second call; I haven’t heard from you.” ….

Kern’s son, Marine Lance Corporal Nickolas Schiavoni, was killed by an IED explosion in Iraq on November 15, 2005. He was born and lived his entire life in the Haverhill, Massachusetts, area, and his funeral took place in Haverhill on November 26. His grandfather, David Swartz — Kern’s father — was a well-known attorney, prosecutor, and city councilor in that city.

Romney didn’t go to Schiavoni’s wake or funeral.

Mrs. Kern says that many officials, including Romney and Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, left messages for her the day after her son died. She felt unable to speak to anyone in those initial days. “I didn’t listen to any of the calls,” she says.

Only Romney, she says, complained in a second message that she had not called back.

“He was completely unable to understand that a mom was not going to return his phone call, and that it wasn’t a priority for me,” she says. “I wasn’t being disrespectful. I was being a mom who was greeting the casket of her son coming home from war.”

And Romney called a third time, even more annoyed:

Steve Kern, who has been married to Stephany Kern since prior to Schiavoni enlisting in 2002, says that he heard Romney’s second and third messages.

He recalls Romney saying in one: “I’m a busy man.” He describes Romney’s tone as “disrespectful,” “antagonistic,” and “absolutely inappropriate to use on a Gold Star mother.”

Some weeks later, Kern says, someone from Romney’s office called her to say that Romney intended to visit Sciavoni’s gravesite. Kern asked that he not do so if he intended to have his photograph taken there; she does not know whether Romney visited or not.

The Kerns didn’t save the answering machine tapes, but that sure sounds like Mitt Romney.

This is interesting. Although the media constantly reports that the military supports Romney, Open Secrets reports that in terms of donations: Armed Forces Show Overwhelming Support for Obama

Update, Oct. 21: Fundraising numbers for the month of September show Obama continuing to dominate when it comes to contributions from the military. The new data, which came in after the story below was published Oct. 15, show he raised $142,197, just a shade less than he collected in August, his strongest month with this set of donors. Romney brought in $111,015 for his best month ever with military donors, but that was still 22 percent less than Obama received.

The new numbers bring Obama’s total from military donors to $678,611, and Romney’s to $398,450.

The Italian judiciary system might be even worse than ours. Check this out: Italian experts convicted of manslaughter over deadly 2009 quake

Defying assertions that earthquakes cannot be predicted, an Italian court convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter Monday for failing to adequately warn residents before a temblor struck central Italy in 2009 and killed more than 300 people.

The court in L’Aquila also sentenced the defendants to six years each in prison. All are members of the national Great Risks Commission, and several are prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts.
Scientists had decried the trial as ridiculous, contending that science has no reliable way of predicting earthquakes. So news of the verdict shook the tightknit community of earthquake experts worldwide.

“It’s a sad day for science,” said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s unsettling.” That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case “hits you in the gut,” Hough added.

The war on science is international, apparently.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about today?