Tuesday Reads


Good Morning!!

At left is the cover of the next issue of Charlie Hebdo. It depicts the Prophet Muhammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign, with the words “all is forgiven” over his head.

The Wall Street Journal: Charlie Hebdo Puts Muhammad on Cover of Post-Attack Issue.

PARIS—Since Charlie Hebdo lost eight staff members in a terrorist attack last week, millions of people have declared their support to the French satirical magazine with the slogan “Je Suis Charlie.”

Now the often-caustic publication, faced with the challenge of reconciling its new status as a cause célèbre with its reflex to mock, ridicule and offend, is putting a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of what is likely to be their most-read issue ever.

Distributors said Monday they were preparing to print as many as three million copies of Wednesday’s issue, 50 times the normal circulation. That is raising pressure on a small outlet known for skewering all forms of authority—including some that have rushed to its defense.

Suddenly the political and social elites who most likely had never heard of the small satirical magazine before the attack are parading around Paris and the Golden Globes pretending to be defenders of free speech. And what about the U.S. “journalists” who are little more than corporate lackeys who echoed right wing memes about President Obama supposedly not caring enough to attend a rally in France?

“It’s been extremely moving—and also hypocritical,” said Laurent Léger, a reporter for the magazine who survived the shooting. “All of a sudden, we are supported by the entire world. Whereas for years we were completely alone.” [….]

Another target for this week’s issue is likely to be Sunday’s solidarity march in France, surviving staff members said. The massive rally became a magnet for French and international political figures that have been a mainstay in Charlie Hebdo’s pages. Attendees included dignitaries from Turkey, Egypt, and Russia, countries that it has criticized for curbing free speech.

“All those dictators at a march celebrating liberty,” Mr. Léger said. “We of course are going to continue the mockery. We’ll see if it makes them jump.”


That’s great news. As Dakinikat trenchantly pointed out yesterday, these same elites routinely ignore horrifying acts of terrorism that kill people who aren’t as high profile as the victims in Paris. And, as Dak also pointed out, it turns out those world leaders in Paris didn’t really march with the hoi-polloi. They just participated in a fake photo that showed them pretending to march. Dakinikat also posted this story from The Daily Banter in a comment yesterday, but I think it deserves to be front paged.

Now That These Leaders Are Done Pretending to March, They Should Pass Legislation Protecting Satire, by Bob Cesca.

President Abbas marched in Paris on Sunday, but a satirist in Gaza has been jailed for poking fun at the Palestinian leader.

It’s entertaining to observe the lengths to which American conservatives will overreach in order to make a nothing issue into a major scandal. Such is the case following the unity march in Paris, attended by 3.7 million people and world leaders from 40 nations. As we covered earlier today, conservatives all around are busily scolding and shaming the president for not walking hand-in-hand with those leaders, even though no president has ever marched in a protest rally overseas. Ever. But this president is, for some reason, held to a different standard than the 43 previous chief executives. It’s about “optics” they say. I often agree with that criticism and I agree that optics are important — except for the fact that no other president has been responsible for creating similar optics.

There’s another layer to this fracas. While lionizing the world leaders who marched in Paris, allegedly in support of Charlie Hebdo and free speech, critics of the president are neglecting two very important points.

1) British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Francois Hollande weren’t actually marching with the demonstrators. Their participation was staged on an empty street surrounded by security and merely photographed to look like it was part of the broader rally. It wasn’t.

2) Take a guess at how many of the nations represented by those leaders have statutes protecting satire as free speech? Not one. Indeed, there’s only one western nation where satire is protected speech. It’s the United States. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, Americans can’t be sued by other Americans for producing satire against public figures — regardless of whether the satire describes Jerry Falwell having incestuous sex or whether Saturday Night Live lampoons the president. They can try to sue, but the suit will never see the light of day.

So, while we’re applauding those 40 leaders for marching in a staged photo-op in support of a satirical magazine, bear in mind that none of those leaders come from nations where satirical speech is protected. In David Cameron’s England, for example, the prime minister or any public figure can sue cartoonists, writers, filmmakers or the producers of an SNL-style sketch show for making fun of them on television or elsewhere, and those lawsuits can actually be adjudicated and the plaintiffs can win. The same is true across the European Union and absolutely throughout the Middle East.

Frankly, I wish the White House hadn’t backed down and apologized.


One of the loudest voices criticizing the president for not going to a European “unity rally” was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Time Magazine actually published an op-ed by Cruz yesterday.

On Sunday, leaders representing Europe, Israel, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East linked arms and marched together down Place de la Concorde in Paris. But, sadly, no one from the White House was found among the more than 40 Presidents and Prime Ministers who walked the streets with hundreds of thousands of French citizens demonstrating their solidarity against radical Islamic terrorists.

In other news . . .

Now that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has officially announced that she won’t run for reelection, there’s a “New Gold Rush” in California, according to Bill Press at The Hill.

Barbara Boxer’s announcement that she will not seek reelection to the Senate has set off a frenzy in California not seen since the Gold Rush. Anybody could win. All you need is a pick, an ax and the ability to raise or cough up a minimum $40 million.

Wanna play? Lots of people do.

In fact, with Boxer and Dianne Feinstein occupying both Senate seats since the early ’90s, and Jerry Brown’s longtime lock on the governor’s office, younger California Democrats have been bottled up in a no man’s land for years, taking turns rotating among lesser state offices, waiting for their chance at the big time. Boxer pulled the plug. Now all that pent-up energy and ambition is bursting out. It’s fun to watch.

Three statewide officials might have the edge, but only because they’ve already run statewide a couple of times. State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have reached a pact not to run against each other, and Newsom’s already taken himself out of the race. That leaves Harris. But don’t count out state Treasurer John Chiang. He’s young, charismatic and still gets high marks for refusing to carry out former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order to cut the minimum wage for state employees during a budget showdown.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Yesterday, Gavin Newsom announced that he’s not running for Boxer’s seat, and today Kamala Harris will announce that she’s throwing her hat into the ring. According to the LA Times story,

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer are seriously considering bids, as are several members of Congress. On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and two former state GOP chairmen are weighing runs.

Former VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced yesterday that he’s not going to climb into the GOP clown car in 2016. From an interview with NBC News:

“I have decided that I am not going to run for president in 2016,” Ryan said in a phone interview, noting that he is “at peace” with the decision he made “weeks ago” to forgo a bid for the White House.

“It is amazing the amount of encouragement I have gotten from people – from friends and supporters – but I feel like I am in a position to make a big difference where I am and I want to do that,” he said.

The nine-term congressman believes he can make that “big difference” in his new role as chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee rather than as a presidential contender.

The committee will meet Tuesday to kick off the new Congress. By announcing that he’ll pass on a White House run, Ryan hopes to demonstrate that he’ll devote his “undivided attention” to the committee, although he admits that it will be “bittersweet not being on the trail” as a candidate this upcoming cycle.

Ryan has never initiated an important piece of legislation and gotten it passed, but now he’s going to head one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Let’s hope he continues his lack of meaningful accomplishments.


In other 2016 news, it looks like Mitt Romney is actually going to run for president for a third time. From The Washington Post, Romney moves to reassemble campaign team for ‘almost certain’ 2016 bid.

Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign.

Romney’s message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he “almost certainly will” make what would be his third bid for the White House. His aggressive outreach came as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Romney’s 2012 vice presidential running mate and the newly installed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — announced Monday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016.

Romney’s activity indicates that his declaration of interest Friday to a group of 30 donors in New York was more than the release of a trial balloon. Instead, it was the start of a deliberate effort by the 2012 nominee to carve out space for himself in an emerging 2016 field also likely to include former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Romney has worked the phones over the past few days, calling an array of key allies to discuss his potential 2016 campaign. Among them was Ryan, whom Romney phoned over the weekend to inform him personally of his plans to probably run. Ryan was encouraging, people with knowledge of the calls said.

Other Republicans with whom Romney spoke recently include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, former Missouri senator Jim Talent and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah).

According to Politico’s Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann, Romney is promising he’ll be ‘different’ this time.

…interviews with more than a dozen staffers and supporters who have recently spoken with Romney reveal conversations in which he promises a “different” path forward without providing specifics about what that means as far as mechanics and his own sometimes gaffe-ridden performance. And, aside from most of his communications team, Romney would still be expected to bring back the majority of his old staff, sources said.

“He really has to show people that he’d do it differently, rather than just say he’d do it differently,” said a former top adviser to Romney, one of half a dozen alumni to speak Monday with POLITICO. “He needs to assure folks he’d take a much more direct approach to laying out the vision for his campaign versus having those decisions driven by a bunch of warring consultants.”

please proceed


Mother Jones has posted a series of quotes in which Romney said he wouldn’t run again, along with the famous “47 percent” video.


Finally, from Boomberg Politics, David Weigel reports that Not a Single Person Has Donated to Dick Morris’s Anti-Hillary Super PAC.


What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!


42 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    “Now That These Leaders Are Done Pretending to March, They Should Pass Legislation Protecting Satire”

    But, if they did they might get lampooned, which means it ain’t gonna happen.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Dick Morris is such a joke, just the name makes me FOTF and LMFAO. 🙂

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    And I wish Romney would run because that would give us something to LAUGH about for at least a year. I read this morning that Romney has run for POTUS so often the American public views him as a Stalker.


  4. Well, I am going to probably be in the only one here but I do think that someone should have been representing the US at the rally over in Paris. Whether it was Kerry, or Holden…or someone else from the State Dept. or our Embassy there. I felt it was odd that Holden was in Paris and didn’t attend, I can understand Obama not getting over there…but I still think we should have had a presence at that rally. It bothered me when I read about it first on my rss reader in a feed from Greta van Sustren. (I have some right wing shit subscriptions set up in a folder and when I skim through the title of all the stories I see some of the shit that goes on.) I saw the first mention of this here:

    Besides the fact that this is wrong, this is embarrassing to the American people – President Obama should not have snubbed the events in Paris today – 40+ other world leaders showed up! | Gretawire

    40 world leaders are taking part in a unity March in Paris today but our President is not going. Leaders from Britain (Prime Minister David Cameron), Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel), Turkey, Jordan, Israel (PM Netanyahu), etc.

    Sure A/G Eric Holder (who has resigned is a lame duck now) is going but he is not the President. He didn’t even bother to send the Vice President!

    Which stated that Eric Holder was going to the march…so I thought WTF, someone is going to be there to represent…these people are crazy!

    But later on I found out that Holder did not go and that just bothered me…someone should have gone. Other than that I agree totally with everything else completely. And I do feel the media is blowing this all up because of the hate Obama generates.

    I am going back to sleep so I won’t be able to comment more right now…but this is how I feel about all that, and that is all I got to say for now.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Maybe someone should have gone, but I don’t think Obama needed to be there. The WH acknowledged that yesterday. What I object to is the constant flogging of Obama by right wingers at every possible opportunity.

      But seriously, did hundreds of world leaders show up for memorials after the Boston Marathon bombing? What have these “leaders” done about the terrorist attacks in Nigeria. I’m sick of the hypocrisy and the coddling of right wingers by the corporate media.

      Did George W. Bush attend any rallies for free speech? He didn’t even pay attention when people were suffering and dying after Hurricane Katrina.

      • Oh yeah I agree BB, totally. I didn’t think Obama should have gone either. But someone should have been there.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “Did George W. Bush attend any rallies for free speech? He didn’t even pay attention when people were suffering and dying after Hurricane Katrina”

        Well he flew over and peered down from Air Force One at 15000 feet. I’m surprised he didn’t do a drawing of the damage on his Etch-a-Sketch.

        • bostonboomer says:

          That was days later after he took a vacation and went to John McCain’s birthday party while NOLA was drowning.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Yep, I remember. George thought a high altitude fly over was the same as visiting the scene. When he did finally visit he congratulated “Brownie” for a “job well done” while people were still in their stranded in their homes and at the Super Dome. George just never had a good grip on being POTUS.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      You’re not the only one, JJ. I don’t think that Obama should have gone, but it was tone deaf not to send Biden or some other big wig to the rally.
      Bill Clinton would have been perfect; he would have gone and he’s adored in most Western countries. The French would have been very pleased to have him there.

  5. NW Luna says:

    …a much more direct approach to laying out the vision for his campaign

    A vision for the 0.1%, no doubt. Romney’s 3rd failure is going to be hilarious!

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Elizabeth Warren Gives Firm ‘No’ On Whether She’s Going To Run For Prez

    Warren, a favorite of the liberal wing of the Democratic party, was asked if she was going to run for president in an interview with Sheila Bair for Fortune magazine.

    “So are you going to run for president?” Bair asked.

    “No,” Warren responded.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Woody Allen is going to create a TV series for Amazon.

    Now Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can tell incest jokes at the next Golden Globes awards ceremony and I suppose some people will think they are funny and serving a positive purpose…

  8. dakinikat says:

    The real victims of Charlie Hebdo are American Conservaitves and more freaking idiot whining from the right:


    National Review writer Matthew Continetti has stepped up to the plate, explaining that while he is very sad about the dead people, it’s time now to start talking about the real problems facing society, namely that conservatives don’t get invited to nearly enough dinner parties with the cool kids.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The writer of that article doesn’t know the difference between a theory, a hypothesis, and a study, but the ideas are interesting. I looked for more info.

      Here is a cautionary article about the Markram’s work, written by two autism researchers. The second one, Uta Frith is a world renowned autism expert.

      The notion that people with autism are overwhelmed by stimuli isn’t new, but this theory is extrapolated from two studies done with rats.

      The Markrams extrapolated these findings to suggest the presence of increased activity in certain regions of the brains of humans with autism, leading to overactive perception, memory and attentional processes. These, they say, are hypercapabilities that all individuals with autism possess. These features manifest as extreme sensitivity to sensory stimuli, elevated fear and over-emotionality. The intense world theory suggests that to deal with this intensity, people with autism tend to shut down and withdraw from the world….However, whereas the VPA rat model may demonstrate hypersensitivity, the human data are much less clear-cut.

      In people with autism, sensory symptoms appear to vary wildly: from hypersensitivity (strong reactions to sounds, light and touch) to hyposensitivity (failure to orient to sounds, and low sensations of pain) and ‘sensory-seeking’ behaviors (a craving for intense sensory stimulation), as described in a 2005 review of almost 50 years of literature on sensory abnormalities in autism6 and a 2013 discussion of the issue7.

      A unifying theory needs to account for all, not just some, observations. We urgently need an exploration of the behavioral features that accompany the neurobiological changes seen in the VPA rat model. Does the suggested hyperreactivity, hyperplasticity and hyperconnectivity lead to enhanced or reduced brain processing? There is currently no consensus on whether increased neural activity facilitates or hinders brain function

      The researchers question the Markram’s recommendations for treatment.

      Although we all yearn for an overarching theory of autism, and the idea is appealing, the theory has thus far received very little academic scrutiny. We know all too well the damage that can result when researchers prematurely release a hypothesis into the public domain — for instance, the unsubstantiated claims of a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism.

      Our particular concern regarding the intense world theory centers on drastic suggested treatments for individuals with autism, namely withdrawing stimulation during infancy. The Markrams do not merely hint at such interventions, but explicitly spell them out. Yet if the theory is incorrect, these treatments could be damaging. As studies of Romanian orphans have strikingly shown, insufficient stimulation and impoverished neuronal input in early development are damaging to children’s social, cognitive and emotional functioning.

      • dakinikat says:

        Thx … I was curious when i saw the basic insight

        • bostonboomer says:

          They’re not saying the theory isn’t useful–just that it doesn’t explain everything and it’s too early to start telling parents to withdraw all stimulation from their kids. That’s a frightening idea, IMO.

          • dakinikat says:

            Yeah. That’s why I wondered about. It seems like reducing stimulus is already part of the therapy but you have to wonder if withdrawing all is over the top.