Tuesday Reads: Romney’s Gaffe-tastic European Tour, #NBCfail, the War on Women, and More

Good Morning!!

Mitt Romney is going to wrap up his gaffe-tastic European vacation today, but the gaffes may not be over yet. I read in JJ’s late night post last night that he’s going to make a speech in which he attacks Russia and Putin and criticize Obama for making efforts to cooperate with Russia on some issues like controlling nukes. Whatever happened to Romney’s promise that he wasn’t going to criticize current U.S. policies while overseas?

After all of Romney’s pandering during his visit to Israel, Ehud Barak spoke highly of President Obama in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday.

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the Obama White House has been the most supportive administration throughout the two countries’ diplomatic relations on matters of Israeli security, in an interview to air Monday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Barak -also a former prime minister of Israel – said that though historically administrations from both political parties have supported the Jewish state President Obama’s support, security-wise, is unparalleled.

“I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, um, administrations of both sides of political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israeli and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people,” said Barak. “But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Romney finds out about that.

As JJ also noted last night, NBC is not getting rave reviews on its delayed and edited coverage of the Olympic games. In just one of their #NBCfail updates the Independent reports that Bob Costas, whom I usually like, “made a series of jingoistic remarks, including a joke about Idi Amin when Uganda’s team appeared.” Of course the loudest complaints have been about NBC’s refusal to show any of the events live.

There was feverish anticipation for the debut of the USA men’s basketball “dream team”, who began their hugely hyped Olympic campaign yesterday afternoon. But you wouldn’t have known it by turning on a television in their home country.

While Kobe Bryant and other big names in US sport were completing a 98 to 71-point victory, viewers of American network NBC were forced to watch edited highlights of a women’s cycling race that had been completed several hours earlier.

It was the latest in a string of mistakes by the broadcaster, whose coverage is sparking ridicule from TV critics and outrage from the US public. For most of the weekend, the phrase “NBC Fail” was trending on Twitter.

Why would I bother to watch when the winners and losers have already been announce earlier in the day? I wouldn’t bother watching a delayed broadcast of a Red Sox game either, but sometimes I stay up till all hours watching them when they’re out on the West Coast.

In another update, The Independent reports that one of their reporters, Guy Adams, was suspended from Twitter after NBC complained of his many negative tweets about their coverage.

The NYT Media Decoder reports that another yuppie journalist has bitten the dust.

A publishing industry that is notoriously ill-equipped to root out fraud. A magazine whose famed fact-checking department is geared toward print, not the Web. And a lucrative lecture circuit that rewards snappy, semi-scientific pronouncements, smoothly delivered to a corporate audience.

All contributed to the rise of Jonah Lehrer, the 31-year-old author, speaker and staff writer for The New Yorker, who then executed one of the most bewildering recent journalistic frauds, one that on Monday cost him his prestigious post at the magazine and his status as one of the most promising, visible and well-paid writers in the business.

An article in Tablet magazine revealed that in his best-selling book, “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” Mr. Lehrer had fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan, one of the most closely studied musicians alive. Only last month, Mr. Lehrer had publicly apologized for taking some of his previous work from The Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications and recycling it in blog posts for The New Yorker, acts of recycling that his editor called “a mistake.”

By Monday, when the Tablet article was published online, both The New Yorker and Mr. Lehrer’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, made it clear that they had lost patience with him.

Fabricating quotes from Bob Dylan? How stupid can you get? This guy must have a fear of success.

The War on Women continues apace. In Arizona a judge (a Clinton appointee yet) has ruled that the state’s restrictive abortion law can take effect.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn’t prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.
The judge also wrote that the state provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.

Arizona’s ban, set to take effect Thursday, prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the state’s current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and another group filed a notice that they would be appealing Teilborg’s decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The law will result in more babies being born even though they have no chance of survival.

Under a new Arizona abortion law that takes effect Thursday, more babies with fatal fetal defects are expected to be carried to term, even though they will die within minutes, hours or days. But more will also be done to help their families get through the trauma of losing a child.

House Bill 2036 forbids doctors from aborting most fetuses with a gestational age of 20 weeks or older, even in situations where the doctor discovers the fetus has a fatal defect. The law also defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of the woman’s last period, meaning abortions are actually banned starting at 18 weeks of pregnancy — typically about the same time a doctor would perform ultrasounds where most abnormalities are detected.

Eight other states also ban abortions after 20 weeks, but Arizona is the only one with a law that actually pushes the ban back to 18 weeks into the pregnancy.

At Salon Irin Carmon spells out the “insanity” that “prevails in Arizona.

The Clinton-appointed district court judge in Arizona just did something, well, unprecedented. He upheld Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks, claiming it didn’t actually “ban” abortions before viability, it just “regulates” them down to the most grueling emergencies.

Worse, Teilborg even regurgitated the suspect science of “fetal pain,” a first in the federal courts, though his decision was based on the contorted “regulation” versus “ban” finding. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the state can only ban abortions after viability, regardless of the rationale, but Teilborg found that Arizona’s H.B. 2036 “does not impose a substantial obstacle to previability abortions,” because a woman can still get an abortion after 20 weeks if she’s about to die or suffer major physical impairment.

“It’s such a game of semantics, to the point of Alice in Wonderland,” ACLU staff attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas told Salon. “When the Supreme Court said you cannot ban any abortions prior to viability, regardless of whether there are any exceptions to that ban, that’s exactly what they meant.”

And Virginia’s abortion clinics are still struggling to meet the ridiculous requirements they have been given by the state’s General Assembly.

Rosemary Codding has tried for months to scrape together enough to pay for a costly renovation to her Falls Church clinic, where women get checkups, Pap smears and abortions.

Codding is still short of the up to $1 million it would take to update the 50-year-old building — it needs wider hallways, new ventilation systems and additional patient rooms — after Virginia enacted some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion clinics.

The General Assembly voted last year to require the guidelines, which were quickly adopted by the state’s Board of Health. In a surprise move, the panel later exempted the state’s existing clinics, including Codding’s on busy Lee Highway.

But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) refused to sign off on the board’s decision, arguing that it lacked the legal authority to exclude the operating clinics.

Bill Clinton will play a “key role” at the Democratic Convention.

Former President Bill Clinton will have a marquee role in this summer’s Democratic National Convention, where he will make a forceful case for President Barack Obama’s re-election and his economic vision for the country, several Obama campaign and Democratic party officials said Sunday.

The move gives the Obama campaign an opportunity to take advantage of the former president’s immense popularity and remind voters that a Democrat was in the White House the last time the American economy was thriving.

Obama personally asked Clinton to speak at the convention and place Obama’s name in nomination, and Clinton enthusiastically accepted, officials said. Clinton speaks regularly to Obama and to campaign officials about strategy.

In contrast, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will not attend the Republican Convention. We still don’t know if Mitt the Twit will invite Sarah Palin.

Elizabeth Warren will also speak in prime time, but will not deliver the keynote speech.

Elizabeth Warren will not deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, but instead will speak immediately before former President Bill Clinton on what party officials hope will be an energetic penultimate night.

Warren and Clinton will speak in primetime on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and form a one-two punch aimed at crystallizing the choice between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in the general election, the Obama campaign said.

The Massachusetts Senate candidate will contrast the president’s economic plan with Romney’s, and outline the impact it will have on middle-class families across the country.

“At the president’s side, Elizabeth Warren helped level the playing field for all Americans and put in place safeguards to ensure that everyone, from Wall Street to Main Street, play by the same set of rules,” said Stephanie Cutter, a deputy Obama campaign manager.

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

30 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Romney’s Gaffe-tastic European Tour, #NBCfail, the War on Women, and More”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Oh dear….

    Romney aide loses cool, curses at press in Poland.

    The traveling press secretary for Mitt Romney lost his cool and cursed at reporters who attempted to ask questions of the Republican presidential candidate in a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw Tuesday.

    After Romney paid his respects to Poland’s war dead and shook hands with a small gathering of the nation’s military veterans, the GOP contender walked approximately 100 yards away from the memorial as he chatted with Warsaw’s mayor.

    As Romney made his way to his vehicle, reporters attempted to shout questions to the candidate. The former Massachusetts governor, who has answered only three questions from his traveling press corps during a week-long overseas trip, ignored the queries.

    When members of the press tried to ask Romney about some of the mishaps on his trip, his traveling press secretary Rick Gorka verbally dressed down reporters.

    Pissing off the press. Not smart.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Gorka: “Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”

      Moments later, Gorka told Jonathan Martin, a reporter for Politico, to “shove it.” About a half-hour later, the aide called reporters to apologize.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Romney & the Romnettes are the REAL Not Ready For Prime Time Players. It’s life, imitating art. Oh, my.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Roger Simon at Politico: Mitt Romney should have stayed home.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    From WSJ, Polish reaction to Romney’s speech in Poland:

    Some in Poland said Mr. Romney’s speech was bland.

    “Concise and empty,” said Marek Magierowski, commentator at conservative weekly Uwazam Rze.

    “Unfortunately, nothing tangible,” tweeted Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas, a political scientist. “He talked beautifully and at length about John Paul II.”

    Mr. Romney devoted an elaborate segment of the speech to the Polish-born Roman pontiff.

    “When he first appeared on the balcony above Saint Peter’s Square, a correspondent on the scene wrote to his editor with a first impression. This is not just a pope from Poland, he said, ‘This is a pope from Galilee’,” Mr. Romney said.

    The presumptive Republican candidate, who is yet to pick a running mate in this year’s presidential election, also quoted from Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state.

  4. I have not yet read this post, but I have to put this link up. Partly because it is so important, and partly because I am literally feeling ill at the thought of what happened to this little girl. God what is wrong with this country…I am quoting the whole piece because I just cannot comprehend how this can happen.
    Teen starved to death in spite of state’s involvement  | ajc.com

    Huddled overnight beneath the shopping carts at Walmart, Markea Berry confided in her journal that she would rather live at the store than at home.

    The next day, after store employees found her wandering among the produce, the Smyrna teen told police she had run away because she didn’t want to be a burden on her mother. She was 14, but she was so small and skinny that she looked five years younger.

    Now, less than two years later, Markea is dead; at the time of her death in June she weighed 43 pounds. The mother she wanted not to burden, Ebony Berry, is charged with murder. She is accused of starving her daughter to death despite multiple investigations over nearly 10 years by child protection workers in Michigan and later in Georgia.

    The last time the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services had contact with the family — a couple of months after Markea’s Walmart escapade in 2010 — the caseworker and supervisor noted their concerns that Markea was undernourished. But the agency closed the case after Berry sidestepped efforts to compel her to get medical attention for Markea and her siblings.

    Markea’s is a death that should never have happened, said DFCS Director Ron Scroggy.

    “This case should have remained open and a care plan should have been put in place and followed up on,” he said.

    Scroggy said the agency is revamping its protocol for cases in which a worker suspects that a child is malnourished. It’s also refining its procedures for determining from the start whether a child is in immediate or impending danger.

    The caseworker in Markea’s case left the agency about a year ago, Scroggy said. A caseworker cannot close a case without the permission of a supervisor. The supervisor in this case remains with DFCS, Scroggy said.

    The case file paints a picture of a mother determined to thwart caseworkers’ efforts to intervene. Berry told Cobb County DFCS workers she had left Michigan to escape the prying of child protection workers there.

    Sometimes, the Cobb DFCS file reveals, she yelled at caseworkers; other times she simply refused to answer the door or pick up the phone.

    When she did talk to officials, Berry made a point of telling them that Markea had been born prematurely and with a mental disability. She described her daughter as unruly — complaining, for instance, that she opened and ate food in stores.

    The children, who were homeschooled, told caseworkers they were not supposed to talk to outsiders, especially social workers.

    Berry told a detective after Markea died that she had known her daughter was getting worse, the file reveals. But the mother said she had not sought medical attention for her out of fears that outsiders would criticize her for the girl’s condition.

    In the end, it appears that Berry was simply better at repelling officials’ scrutiny than they were at protecting her daughter.

    “No matter how intimidating a person is, the caseworker’s ultimate responsibility is to make sure the child is safe,” Scroggy said.

    Melissa Carter, the former state Child Advocate, described the state’s handling of Markea’s case “shocking.”

    Even leaving aside the agency’s legal responsibilities, if a caseworker suspects that a child is not being fed, “it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be some follow up, from the human standpoint, just to have some peace of mind,” said Carter, now the executive director of Emory Law’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center.

    “It’s a horrendous case,” agreed Alice McQuade of the advocacy group Better Courts for Kids. “It’s just so hard, the idea of her slowly starving to death.”

    But in one sense, McQuade said, the case is not unique: The family’s last contact with DFCS came at a time when agency policy was to trim caseloads. It did so, in part, by referring hundreds of troubled families to community resources such as social services or medical providers rather than taking children into custody.

    Markea’s case is a tragic outcome of that strategy, known as “diversion,”McQuade said.

    “Obviously Markea Berry was not a case appropriate for diversion. Clearly she should have been removed,” she said, adding that she fears there are other stories like Markea’s that have yet to surface.

    Scroggy, who wasn’t DFCS director in 2010, agreed that diversion was the wrong choice in this instance. “In hindsight, it would have been better if it was an investigation,” he said.

    On June 15 of this year, Berry called police to report that she had discovered her daughter unresponsive. Officers who went to the house found the girl’s body lying on a mattress on the floor, but they suspected that it had been moved there.

    Under questioning, Berry admitted that she had waited at least an hour to call police; her excuse was that she had taken time first to attend to her younger children, one of whom is an infant. (The case file is unclear as to whether Markea had two or three siblings.)

    Investigators found that Berry had often locked Markea in her bedroom at night with “pee pads” and a urinal. The mother said it was to prevent others from entering the girl’s room.

    Sgt. Dana Pierce, spokesman for the Cobb County Police Department, said the homicide unit is still investigating the case. Autopsy results are pending. Berry’s other children have been taken into DFCS custody.

    “Obviously this child fell through the cracks,” said Normer Adams, executive director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children.

    Sadly, he said, some abusive parents are adept at fending off the state’s efforts to intervene on behalf of their children.

    “Many of these people who regularly interact with the agency, they know the system better than the caseworkers,” Adams said.

    In Markea’s case, he said, agency workers “went in and saw red flags and did nothing about it.”

    • “Diversion?” call it what it is…spending cuts on an already overtaxed and understaffed child services, from a bunch of GOP assholes that are more concerned with a fucking blob of cells than a human being.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        And clearly this woman lacked the instinct for parenting. The fact that she had younger children still in her care is chilling.

        How many more of these cases will arise if the GOP has its way and bans both the use of contraception and abortion rights when a woman is forced to give birth to an unwanted child?

        This poor child was not a “blessing” but a victim whose short life was one of misery, The authorities who looked the other way are as responsible as the witch who abused her for so long.

        Sadly, this stuff goes on daily across the nation but only gains attention when it reaches such an egregious level as this one.

        Too bad the effort to guarantee this child a better life was abandoned the day she left the delivery room.

      • HT says:

        That is horrendous. That poor girl – failed by her mother, then failed by the people who were charged with the responsibility to protect children like her.

      • Pat and HT, how could someone let this happen. Appalled is not enough to describe how I feel about it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s heartbreaking. Obviously there are other stories of parents starving their children. I’ve read many. It’s horrifying!

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Markea’s life & death is beyond tragic. Her story should be front page news, generating serious discussions of how little life is respected and not nourished on so many levels. I know, in my heart, that neither the mainstream nor lame stream media will make this a front and center prime time story. If it does, it will only feed the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle – on the Right, her mother will be a welfare queen & will enforce the lazy, inept government employee union workers meme. On the Left, it will be the Ryan granny & child starving budget. Markea and other children like her will get lost and forgotten in the ensuing finger pointing. It won’t be about fixing the infrastructure of the child protection & mental health systems.

    • Delphyne says:

      Here’s a link to a doctor who knows the mother and encourages “being hungry is a good thing.”

      Chung authored and self-published a book called “Be Hungry” in 2007 and says he believes that hunger is “wonderful.” He discourages people from eating more than 32 ounces of food each day.

      Reached by phone, Chung admitted to 24 Hour News 8 that he knows Ebony Berry but insists that he did not encourage her to starve her child.


  5. BB, I saw this on FB,

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Greed Uber Alles. Gotta sell those ads, support those sponsors – that’s really what the Olympics is all about – selling advertising. It’s not about excellence in athletics. It’s not about personal achievement, it’s just about making a buck. Welcome to the United States of Corporatocracy.

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    In case you are interested in knowing more about Marco Rubio, give this 30 minute discussion with the author of a new Rubio biography a listen: http://www.wmfe.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=13123&news_iv_ctrl=1041

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro will be first Latino keynote speaker at Democratic National Convention