Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a mix of news for you today. Let’s start with the “serious” stuff. Supposedly the CIA has thwarted another potential terrorist attack, conveniently revealed at the end of a week of discussion of Osama bin Laden’s life and death. There have been so many of these–please forgive me for my cynical attitude. The Boston Globe reports:

WASHINGTON—The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Monday.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

Maybe this is the preamble to a rollout of even more ghastly TSA practices–or perhaps more invasive machines?

Few people are paying attention to the primaries anymore, now that Republicans have grudgingly begun to accept Mitt Romney as their standard bearer. But there is a big primary tomorrow in Indiana that could have a big impact on which party controls the Senate next year. Sen. Richard Lugar is facing an ultra-conservative Tea Party challenger with lots of superpac support, and it looks like the six-term Senator could lose tomorrow, and that could possibly mean a Democrat will win Lugar’s seat.

Lugar, 80, will face Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a career politician whose staunch conservatism could make him a more beatable opponent for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly.

An independent bipartisan poll, conducted late last week, gave Mourdock a 10-point edge heading into the final days before the primary, and many insiders think that Lugar’s only chance for survival is by generating a large turnout of independent and Democratic voters in the Hoosier State’s open contest.

Mourdock has been painting Lugar as a Washngton insider who is sometimes polite to Democrats and didn’t always vote the party line.

In Indiana, the campaign has turned into a referendum on Lugar’s career as a bipartisan lawmaker at the top of the Foreign Relations and Agriculture committees. His opponent has focused, in part, on trips to overseas hot spots with Barack Obama when he was still in the Senate and served on the committee with Lugar.

“It’s time to retire Richard Lugar,” says the narrator of a Mourdock ad, which ends with a picture of Obama and Lugar acting chummy together at a Senate hearing, with the former fake punching the latter.

For the past few weeks Joe Donnelly has been directing his efforts toward Mourdock, assuming the challenger will win the Republican primary.

You may have heard about this one already: Romney Silent As Woman Says Obama Should Be Tried For Treason. Romney called on a woman at a Euclid, Ohio town hall meeting who

expressed dismay that Obama was “operating outside the Constitution,” then said Obama should be tried for treason for violating separation of powers.

“I do believe he should be tried for treason,” she said to applause from the audience.

Romney responded with some pious remarks about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence being “inspired.” He didn’t say who or what inspired them.

He then allowed her to clarify what specifically she thought Obama had violated, and the woman proceeded to spout references to Executive Orders, including one that she said involved the Secret Service restricting the rights of citizens to protest.

Romney, who is protected by a detail of Secret Service agents, said “I will be happy to look at what he has done about the Secret Service with respect to protests.”

Romney’s failure to say that the President shouldn’t be tried for treason resulted in a barrage of attacks from Obama and his supporters as well as questions from the media and discussions on nightly talk shows. Romney later admitted that he doesn’t think Obama should be tried for treason, but he once again showed himself to be living in cowering fear of the the Republican base. At HuffPo, Mitchell Bard wrote that Romney “blew his chance at a ‘no ma’am moment” like McCain’s in 2008.

On October 10, 2008, less than a month before the presidential election, and with his standing falling in the polls in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, John McCain fielded a question at a town hall meeting in Minnesota from a woman who said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab.”

McCain didn’t hesitate. He politely but firmly took the microphone from the woman and said, shaking his head, “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have
disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s all about.”

At that same town hall meeting, another audience member asked him why he pays taxes to foreign governments.

“I don’t think I paid any foreign income taxes, but I’ll look at it,” Romney replied over the boos of the audience for the hostile questioner.

But in fact, Romney has paid over $1.2 million in foreign taxes for “passive category income” since 2000, according to his 2010 income tax return.

Additionally he has paid over $800,000 in foreign taxes for “general category income” according to the same filing.

The income was probably from foreign investments. You’d think Romney would have at least read the tax returns he released!

Buzzfeed had another funny Romney story yesterday–they discovered he had been arrested for disorderly conduct back in 1981.

According to what Romney told the Boston Globe in 1994, he had taken his family off to Wayland, Mass.’s Lake Cochituate, about an hour outside Boston, for a summer excursion. As Romney prepared to put his family boat into the water, a park officer told Romney not to launch because his license appeared to have been painted over. The officer told Romney if he put his boat into the water he would face a $50 fine.

Romney felt that his license was still visible and decided to ignore the order from the officer and pay the fine.

“I figured I was at the state park with my kids. My five kids were in the car wondering why we weren’t going out in the boat, so I said I’d launch and pay the fine,” Romney said in 1994.

So he went ahead and launched the boat, and the cop handcuffed him and took him into town. Book ‘em, Dano! Romney appeared before a judge in a bathing suit and was released on his own recognizance. When he later went to court to defend himself, he threatened the cop with a lawsuit, and the charges were dropped. This guy thinks he can buy his way out of anything, and he probably can.

Yes, Romney’s a cowardly con-man, but according to Bloomberg, senior citizens love him even though he wants to give their Social Security funds to Wall Street.

The master-gardener meeting, the bridge tournament, and a heated match of seven-card draw poker leave little time for politics at the Via Linda senior citizens’ center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Yet ask about President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and it doesn’t take long to determine the preferred candidate.

“He has some very socialistic leanings and believes in big government,” Lu Ittner, 86, a retired surgical nurse, said of Obama. “He is destroying our economy with his policies.”

While Obama so far dominates Romney among many demographic groups — women, younger voters, middle-aged voters, blacks and Hispanics — the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a solid lead among the nation’s senior citizens. Some of the most reliable voters, those 65 and older represented 16 percent of the electorate in the 2008 election, exit polls show.

A CNN/ORC International poll taken April 13-15 showed Romney led Obama, 54 percent to 39 percent, with seniors. Among those supporting Romney, 58 percent said their vote would be more against Obama than for Romney.

Well, I will officially be a senior on Dec. 1, and I do not like Romney. Not all seniors are stupid or rich and greedy.

Just a couple more links. Actor John Travolta is being sued for sexual battery by a masseur.

According to court documents, the events in question unfolded on Jan. 16, when Travolta allegedly asked the masseur to meet him on a street corner and then fetched Doe in a black SUV. Condoms, as well as scattered chocolate cake wrappers, were said to have littered the car’s center console and floor.

It was back to the Beverly Hills Hotel, to a private bungalow, where Travolta stripped immediately and was “semi-erect,” the suit claims, and Travolta then proceeded to suggestively remove a towel covering his buttocks, touched the masseur’s genitals repeatedly and tried to coax John Doe into a reverse massage.

Then, according to John Doe’s recollection (TMZ has the full suit here (PDF)), when Travolta got the message that no mutual play would go down, he became erratic and verbally abusive, calling Doe a “loser.”

The most troubling nugget in Doe’s account claims that Travolta went on a rant that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity” and that his habit of making such trades began in his “Welcome Back Kotter” days.

Of course Travolta denies everything and says he out of the state that day. If so, he probably has proof–like plane tickets or hotel receipts–and the suit will be thrown out. Or maybe all those rumors about Travolta were true. The part about being abused when he was younger, I can believe (not the antisemitic part though).

The Daily Beast has the “13 naughtiest bits from the Masseur Lawsuit Against John Travolta.” I couldn’t bring myself to read it yet–maybe later.

HuffPo has a huge collection of supermoon photos from the weekend. They are gorgeous.

How would you like to live in the “house that Ruth built?” No, not the old Yankee Stadium. The house the Babe lived in when he played for the Red Sox.

Known as “Home Plate Farm,” the spacious antique colonial located at 558 Dutton Road was occupied by famed Boston Red Sox [team stats] and New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth from 1922 to 1926.

The asking price for the property that’s going, going, soon-to-be gone — $1.65 million.

Is that all?

Along with boasting 5,124 square feet on more than two acres of land, five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, the property also has a 5,000-square-foot barn zoned for residential and commercial use with horse stables, sub-divided office space, working garage bays, and a top-floor apartment with skylights, and full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom….

Though the home has been “meticulously renovated throughout,” Adamson said, touches of the Sultan of Swat can still be found, including burn marks from Ruth’s cigar ashes in the wooden floor of the living room, and a third-floor memorabilia room containing several photographs of the Hall of Fame slugger who played 22 seasons in the Major Leagues.

It probably won’t be on the market long with that history.