Posted: October 22, 2020 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 2020 presidential election, 60 Minutes, circular gait, coronavirus pandemic, dementia, Donald Trump, forward leaning posture, Joe Biden, Lesley Stahl, neurology, Richard E. Cytowic MD, Second 2020 presidential debate, slurred speech
Tonight Trump and Biden will meet in the second and final debate before the November 3rd election. I plan to watch, at least for a little while, in case Trump spontaneously combusts or strokes out in a rage over his mike being muted. The New York Times has the basics on how to watch:
The second and final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes place on Thursday from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Here are some of the many ways you can watch it:
— The Times will livestream the debate, and our reporters will provide commentary and analysis.
— The debate will be televised on channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, Fox News and MSNBC.
— Many news outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox News and C-SPAN, will stream the debate on YouTube.
A debate preview from the AP: Face to face: Trump and Biden to meet for final debate.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are set to square off in their final debate Thursday, one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing incumbent to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign.
Worried about losing the White House, some advisers are urging Trump to trade his aggressive demeanor from the first debate for a lower-key style that puts Biden more squarely in the spotlight. But it’s unclear whether the president will listen….
Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections.
The president has promoted an unconfirmed New York Post report published last week that cites an email in which an official from Ukrainian gas company Burisma thanked Hunter Biden, who served on the company’s board, for arranging for him to meet Joe Biden during a 2015 visit to Washington. The Biden campaign has rejected Trump’s assertion of wrongdoing and noted that Biden’s schedule did not show a meeting with the Burisma official.
Trump’s attacks on the Biden family have been relentless, including his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, which led to Trump’s impeachment. It’s part of a determined, yet so-far-unsuccessful effort to drive up his opponent’s negatives, as he did with Hillary Clinton four years ago….
While Biden will defend his own record and his son, aides have said, he hopes to focus on making the case that Trump is unfit for office and let the nation down during a confluence of crises.
As the article notes, Biden has spent the past few days preparing for the debate; Trump has been holding superspreader rallies and raging at Lesley Stahl after she apparently asked him some tough questions in an interview for CBS’s 60 Minutes.
It must have been really awful for Trump, because he cut the interview short and didn’t return for a scheduled “walk and talk” with Stahl and VP Pence. Right after the interview ended, Trump began attacking Stahl on Twitter. Forbes: Trump Attacks ‘60 Minutes’ Host Lesley Stahl After Reportedly Cutting Interview Short.
Trump tweeted a video of Stahl not wearing a mask while interacting with several people, writing, “Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come.”
Trump then threatened to post the interview in advance of its airing so that “everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about,” adding, “Everyone should compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!”
Sources familiar with the interview told Forbes the video was taken after the interview with the CBS team, who had all been tested, and that Stahl had a mask on leading into the interview….
The incident comes as Trump and his allies have become increasingly critical of the questioning he receives from the press, with Trump accusing NBC’s Savannah Guthrie of “going totally crazy” in response to her tough line of questioning during a town hall last week.
This morning Trump tweeted:
I cant wait to hear those “magnificently brilliant” responses.
60 Minutes released short clips from the Biden and Trump interviews this morning.
At The Washington Post, Greg Sargent tries to explain Trump’s inexplicable behavior: Why Trump’s endgame is to rage at Lesley Stahl.
Why would Trump squander his final chance to close his big polling gap with Joe Biden on unhinged public fights rather than on winning back voters who’ve been alienated by exactly these sorts of meltdowns?
The fact that this comes after Trump waged a public assault on Anthony S. Fauci, his own leading infectious-disease expert, only seems to compound the folly here, since voters are surely looking to the popular Fauci for advice with the coronavirus again spiking around the country.
But in a very real sense people such as Stahl and Fauci actually are the chief opponents Trump must contend with in the campaign’s final days. They are the figures he perceives to be standing in the way of his effort to conduct this campaign in an entirely invented universe that he’d hoped to manufacture for this very purpose.
Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon
Trump unloaded on Stahl at a rally on Tuesday night, showing that he’s still stewing about an interview he did with “60 Minutes,” which is set to air on Sunday but apparently went very badly.
“You have to watch what we do to ‘60 Minutes,’” Trump seethed. “You’ll get such a kick out of it. You’re gonna get a kick out of it. Lesley Stahl is not gonna be happy.”
This appears to be a reference to Trump’s threat to release the full footage of the interview before edited parts air. It’s not clear what that would prove, but Trumpworld is all in: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just told Fox News that it would show Stahl “came across more like an opinion journalist than a real reporter.”
Of course the real explanation is that Trump is looney tunes, coo-coo for Cocopuffs, and completely off his rocker.
This is a very good explanatory piece at Psychology Today by Richard E. Cytowic, a professor of Neurology at George Washington University, that addresses Trump’s odd gait, forward-leaning stance, and other behavioral symptoms that many people have noticed.
We Are Entitled to Ask President Trump for His Brain Scan.
President Trump’s pre-COVID halting gait, bent posture, and jerking right arm have caused much speculation on social media. Armchair critics, without any apparent medical background, have freely diagnosed him as having a series of mini-strokes, frontotemporal dementia, or other neurological illness such as the Lewy Body dementia that afflicted comedian and actor Robin Williams….
Trump’s forward-listing posture—illustrated by nearly every political cartoonist—was initially attributed to the high-heeled elevator shoes readily observed in photographs. But his torso leans so markedly off-center that it suggests the possibility of a neurological problem rather than vanity. In medical terms the Bent Spine Syndrome is called camptocormia, first documented in the 17th century by Francisco de Zurbaran, a Spanish painter. The mean age of onset is 65 years (Trump is 74).
While most frequently observed in Parkinson’s Disease, the bent posture so evident in Trump may also be seen in Alzheimer’s Dementia, movement disorders of the basal ganglia, and as the side effect of certain medications.
Also noted are the sudden, jerking movements of Trump’s right arm. Since they occur only on one side, the prefix “hemi” is applied, while “ballistic” means sudden or flinging in the manner of a projectile. Trump’s hemiballistic arm movements are evident in news clips from Memorial Day (also here via C-Span) at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as are his uncontrolled swaying and forward tilt. He is seen to grab his wayward arm with the left one in an effort to keep it under control.
It is common for affected individuals to incorporate the flinging into deliberate movements such as scratching or smoothing the hair as if to make them less noticeable.
Sort of like Dr. Strangelove . . .
On Trump’s “Apparent arm weakness, slurred Speech, and odd circular gait” Cytowic writes:
Evaluating gait and muscle strength is always part of the neurological exam because posture and locomotion call on vast swaths of brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. In June 2020, the president spoke at the West Point graduation ceremony. When he paused to take a sip of water, it appeared that his right arm couldn’t lift the glass all the way. As seen in this C–Span clip, he used his left hand to push it up from the bottom until it met his lips. During his address, you hear slurred speech and mispronunciation of well-known historical names such as Ulysses S. Grant and Douglas MacArthur.
When it came time to exit, Trump hesitantly edged down the ramp. He appeared to have difficulty raising his right leg sufficiently to clear it, as video spread of his struggle on the Drudge Report and major news sites. In September, as Trump walks down the White House driveway to meet the press, you see a clear example of the inability to gain adequate clearance for the right foot to swing normally. To compensate, he abducts his thigh and swings the leg in a semicircle: This is the circumducted gait, or spastic hemiparesis, the most common abnormal gait in neurology. Other photos show his right foot turned in, or inverted, which is part of the hemiparetic gait.
The fact that the leg makes a circle is what makes this way of walking distinctive. Stroke patients with weakness on one side (hemiparesis) almost always show it, along with increased muscle tone (spasticity) on the affected side and a turned in (inverted) foot. When mild, loss of the normal arm swing and a slight circumduction of the leg may be the only outwardly visible abnormalities. But Trump exhibited this spastic circumducted gait back in July during his visit to a North Carolina Lab. Exactly when it began is as yet unknown.
Read the whole thing at the link.
More stories to check out today:
Rolling Stone: Watch Obama Absolutely Torch Trump During His Debut Campaign Event for Biden.
The Wall Street Journal: Inside the Week That Shook the Trump Campaign.
William Saletan at Slate: Trump’s Attack on Fauci Is Unbelievably Idiotic.
The Daily Beast: New Columbia Study Blames the White House for at Least 130,000 ‘Avoidable’ COVID Deaths.
American Independent: Violent threats against Biden and his supporters are getting worse.
Raw Story: Armed guards at Florida polling site say they were sent by the Trump campaign.
News Channel 8 Tampa: Trump spokesperson says armed men outside St. Pete polling place were not hired by campaign.
NPR: Here’s Where The Threat Of Militia Activity Around The Elections Is The Highest.
Politico: Trump is doing worse than it seems — but reporters are afraid to say so.
The New York Times: The Relentless Shrinking of Trump’s Base.
Take care everyone, and please stop by to share your thoughts if you have the time and inclination.
Posted: June 5, 2014 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 60 Minutes, Benghazi, Bowe Bergdahl, CBS News, Chester Nez, Hailey Idaho, Harrier AV-8B, Hillary Clinton, Imperial CA, Jane Drussel, Lara Logan, Matt Drudge, Navaho code talkers, Oregon, People Magazine, right wing hate, Southern Poverty Law Center, White supremacists
I’m pretty wiped out this morning, so this won’t be an extensive post. My mom is doing okay, but she needs help with a lot of things. This morning we’re going to have to deal with the Comcast people. It would really help if she could watch TV or listen to the radio! This afternoon I have to take her to the doctor, and then we might have to go back to the emergency room to have them put on a looser splint. They told us to do that if the one she has starts to feel too tight. But enough of my problems; let’s see what’s in the news.
The Bowe Bergdahl story gets more disgraceful with each passing day. Last night, via Little Green Footballs, NBC News reported that officials in Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, had been
deluged with angry calls from people who think that Bergdahl is an Army deserter or traitor who doesn’t deserve a hero’s welcome.
Jane Drussel, the president of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, has been fielding dozens of angry calls.
“Well, (I feel) disappointment number one, just absolutely total surprise at how bad some of them are,” she told NBC News on Tuesday….
Drussel said many of the calls are cancelling trips to the town of about 8,000.
“Well, number one is, how dare we as a community support someone who in their mind they’re thinking of as a ‘deserter,’ a traitor. That they had plans to come here on their vacation, they’re no longer coming, they’re cancelling their reservations.”
“I just find that shocking,” she said. “You know, we’re Americans, and we need to act like Americans, and to me that’s un-American. Let things play out, and if there needs to be action taken, I’m sure it will be taken. But that’s not the city of Hailey’s responsibility.”
As a consequence of the threatening calls, the town has cancelled the welcome home celebration they had been planning. According to the Washington Post, the reason for the cancellation is concern for “public safety.” The small town of 8,000 people simply can’t handle an event that might attract a large number of angry protesters.
The right wing focus on Bergdahl hasn’t kept them from carrying on the meme that Hillary Clinton is old and disabled. The former Secretary of State is pictured on the cover of People Magazine this week smiling broadly and holding onto a deck chair. But the inimitable Matt Drudge has a different theory. From Bob Cesca at the Daily Banter: Drudge Wonders if Hillary Clinton Used a Walker on People Magazine Cover.
Oh, Drudge, you magnificent bastard. There are very few right-wing trolls who are better than Matt Drudge at manufacturing an odious whisper campaign, and he didn’t disappoint today. Drudge posted the new People Magazine cover featuring Hillary Clinton, then wondered whether she was holding onto, wait for it, a walker. You know, like an old lady with brain damage. Wink, wink.
Of course he didn’t say it outright. He used the nefarious “Cavuto Mark” — a question mark at the end of a deliberately leading statement, made famous by Fox News Channel.
Yesterday afternoon, Reuters reported: Last of Navajo ‘code talkers’ dies in New Mexico.
The last of 29 Navajo Americans who developed an unbreakable code that helped Allied forces win the second World War died in New Mexico on Wednesday of kidney failure at the age of 93.
Chester Nez was the last remaining survivor of an original group of 29 Navajos recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps to create a code based on their language that the Japanese could not crack.
His son, Michael Nez, said his father died peacefully in his sleep at their home in Albuquerque….
About 400 code talkers would go on to use their unique battlefield cipher to encrypt messages sent from field telephones and radios throughout the Pacific theater during the war.
It was regarded as secure from Japanese military code breakers because the language was spoken only in the U.S. Southwest, was known by fewer than 30 non-Navajo people, and had no written form.
The Navajos’ skill, speed and accuracy under fire in ferocious battles from the Marshall Islands to Iwo Jima is credited with saving thousands of U.S. servicemen’s lives and helping shorten the war. Their work was celebrated in the 2002 movie “Windtalkers.”
May he rest in peace.
Despite all the controversy over her faulty reporting on Benghazi, Lara Logan is “back at work on CBS News’ 60 Minutes,” according The Hollywood Reporter.
The news ends a suspension that began last fall after an erroneous60 Minutes report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of AmbassadorChristopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. Logan had a handful of pieces in the works when she was suspended last November after her report that relied on a now-discredited interview with security contractor Dylan Davies.
She has been eager to return to work, say sources close to the correspondent, but the Benghazi report undermined her status as one of the veteran newsmagazine’s biggest stars and created a media feeding frenzy that unearthed a strident speech she gave a month after the Benghazi attacks in which she advocated for military intervention in Libya and asserted that the Obama administration was downplaying the threat from Al Qaeda.
At the time of her suspension last November, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told THR that the report was a “black eye” for the venerable newsmagazine, still the most watched of its genre.
A CBS News spokesperson confirmed that Logan has returned to work. 60 Minutes typically takes something of a production hiatus during the summer months, with new pieces sprinkled throughout a schedule that includes reruns and updates of previously aired segments. Logan likely will not be seen on60 Minutes until the fall, sources tell THR. But she’ll begin appearing on other CBS News broadcasts such as the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning in the coming weeks.
I guess we already knew that CBS is no longer a serious news organization. This is just one more piece of confirming evidence.
From the Southern Poverty Law Center, Massive Investigation Uncovers White Supremacist Criminal Network in Oregon.
“Operation White Christmas,” as the year-old investigation is code-named, so far has resulted in the arrests of 54 individuals, mostly in the Portland area, leading to 11 criminal cases in state court and another 43 in federal court.
As for its scope, the investigation based in Portland and Multnomah County rivals the prosecutions of members of another violent gang, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
The Oregon suspects variously are affiliated with at least five known street and prison white supremacist gangs – European Kindred (EK); Rude Crude Brood; All Ona Bitch (AOB); Fat Bitch Killers (FBK) and Insane Peckerwood Syndicate (IPS), authorities say.
“The scope of this case is by far the largest ever undertaken by this agency in recent memory, based on the number of suspects investigated, the number of persons arrested and the amount of guns recovered,” Lt. Ned Walls, the investigations division supervisor for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, told Hatewatch.
What initially began as an investigation of drug and firearms trafficking by white supremacist gangs blossomed into a broader probe of robberies, home invasions, burglaries, kidnapping, assaults, shootings and witness intimidation, Walls said. Some of the crimes involved gang-on-gang violence.
“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office would have had an impossibly hard time trying to conduct this investigation on our own,” Walls said. The department, he said, got “outstanding collaborative” support and involvement from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Clackamas and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices in Oregon, the Portland Police Bureau, the Gresham, Ore., Police Department, Klickitat County, Wash., Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
It’s good to know the Feds are seriously investigating right wing domestic terrorists, but it sounds like the investigation was initiated by local law enforcement.
A military plane crashed in a residential neighborhood in California yesterday afternoon. From the AP, via the Visalia Times-Delta:
IMPERIAL – A Marine jet crashed into a residential area in a Southern California desert community Wednesday, exploding and setting two homes on fire. The pilot ejected safely, and there was no immediate word of any injuries on the ground.
The Harrier AV-8B went down at 4:20 p.m. in Imperial, a city of about 15,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border about 90 miles east of San Diego. Witnesses described an explosion and thick plumes of smoke.
“It felt like a bomb was thrown in the backyard of the house,” said Adriana Ramos, 45, whose home is less than a block from the crash scene. “The whole house moved.”
Ramos fled with her 4-year-old granddaughter and 10-year-old daughter, who both cried at the sight outside….]
At the crash site, there was chaos as people ran in every direction, he said. The two homes were on fire and it was unclear if anyone was inside.
The plane was from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, said Cpl. Melissa Lee, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. She had no details about what might have caused the accident.
As of this morning, no injuries have been reported. You can see video of the scene at The Week Magazine.
I have a few more links for you that I’ll post in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same. What stories are you following today?
Posted: May 6, 2014 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, Nigeria, Violence against women, War on Women | Tags: 60 Minutes, Affordable Care Act, CBS News, crime scene photos, FBI, Florida State Attorney, Ibragim Todashev, Lara Logan, Massachusetts Health Insurance Website, Massachusetts State Police, Obamacare, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Waltham murders
Henri Matisse, Woman Reading with Tea
I need to begin with some local Massachusetts stories that may have national repercussions.
First there is an update to the story of Ibragim Todashev, who was allegedly a friend of accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both men are deceased. As you may recall, Todashev was shot and killed in his home in Orlando by an agent from the Boston FBI office on May 22, 2013.
The agent, along with an agent from the Orlando FBI office and two Massachusetts state troopers, had been questioning Todashev about his possible involvement with Tamerlan in the murders of three men in Waltham, MA on September 11, 2011.
According to the agent and the trooper who was there with him, Todashev attacked the agent with a table and the agent had shot him in self defense. Todashev had supposedly been writing a confession to his involvement in the murders when he suddenly attacked. The agent who shot Todashev was later absolved of any wrongdoing by reports by the Florida State Attorney’s office, the DOJ, and the FBI. The FBI report has not been released; and in the other two reports, much information, include the names of the agents and troopers, some portions of photos of the crime scene were redacted.
Now to the latest news (which so far has gone unnoticed by the corporate media). A couple of days ago, a blogger named B. Blake revealed that he/she had succeeded in downloading a version of the Florida Attorney’s report that was not properly redacted. The unredacted photos and the names of the agent who shot Todashev along with the two Mass. state troopers have been published on B. Blake’s blog “The Boston Marathon Bombings:What Happened?” The post includes an explanation of how the unredacted materials were obtained and authenticated. I’m not going to post the photos or names of law enforcement personnel; but you can see them at the above link. In another blog post, B. Blake reports some background information on the FBI agent involved.
So far I’ve seen nothing reported about this in the mainstream press, but it is all over Twitter. I don’t know if this will get out into the mainstream, but the FBI must have noticed it by now. I don’t know what will happen next, but when Twitter gets hold of a story, it generally gets noticed by the media eventually. I hope no harm will come to the three men whose names have been kept quiet until now. Stay tuned . . .
The other Massachusetts story will probably be blown up way out of proportion by the GOP Obamacare haters. From The Boston Globe, Mass. scrapping flawed health insurance website: Next steps have uncertainties for users, insurers.
Massachusetts plans to scrap the state’s dysfunctional online health insurance website, after deciding it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix, and replace it with a system used by several other states to enroll residents in plans.
Simultaneously, the state is preparing to temporarily join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace in case the replacement system is not ready by the fall.
As late as March, the state had considered rebuilding the balky Health Connector site, which has left thousands of consumers frustrated and many without coverage for months. But Sarah Iselin, the insurance executive whom Governor Deval Patrick tapped to oversee repairs to the site, said that approach turned out to be far too risky.
The state’s online insurance system must be ready by Nov. 15 for consumers to enroll in new health plans for 2015, and Massachusetts is one of several states under pressure from the Obama administration to make sure it meets the deadline.
The change mostly involves adopting a new software program and getting it up to speed by the deadline, which is set by law and has no flexibility.
Another unknown is whether the transition will create disruption for consumers. Eric Linzer, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said some insurers may not be able to afford to remain in the program, meaning consumers could end up having to switch coverage.
“I can’t overstate the complexity and technical issues that come with not having to develop just one but two separate systems,’’ he said. “Given the time frame in which all this has to be implemented, this is going to be a significant undertaking for plans.’’
Massachusetts also provides more generous subsidies than the federal health insurance program for residents with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Iselin said whether the state can retain those unique aspects of its program if it connects to the federal site is still under discussion with the Obama administration. According to the state’s plan, use of the federal website, if necessary, would be for no more than a year…
On the other hand, there is positive news long-term for Obamacare from a study of the effects of Massachusetts’ adopting universal health care in 2006. From the NYT: Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law.
BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.
The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.
A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.
“It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life.
Experts said the study, which was published online Monday in theAnnals of Internal Medicine, will not settle the long-debated question of whether being insured prolongs life, but it provides the most credible evidence yet that it might. Still, health improvements can take years to surface in mortality data, and some researchers were skeptical of the magnitude and suddenness of the decline.
Read more at the link.
In national news . . .
NYT writer Adam Liptak has an interesting analysis of Supreme Court “in-group bias” in decisions involving “free speech.”
Justice Antonin Scalia is known as a consistent and principled defender of free speech rights.
It pained him, he has said, when he voted to strike down a law making flag burning a crime. “If it was up to me, if I were king,” he said, “I would take scruffy, bearded, sandal-wearing idiots who burn the flag, and I would put them in jail.” But the First Amendment stopped him.
That is a powerful example of constitutional principles overcoming personal preferences. But it turns out to be an outlier. In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones. In 161 cases from 1986, when he joined the court, to 2011, he voted in favor of conservative speakers 65 percent of the time and liberal ones 21 percent.
He is not alone. “While liberal justices are over all more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,” the study found, “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.”
Social science calls this kind of thing “in-group bias.” The impact of such bias on judicial behavior has not been explored in much detail, though earlierstudies have found that female appeals court judges are more likely to vote for plaintiffs in sexual harassment and sex discrimination suits.
Lee Epstein, a political scientist and law professor who conducted the new study with two colleagues, said it showed the justices to be “opportunistic free speech advocates.”
Much more–with chart–at the link.
There’s quite a bit of discussion today of Lara Logan and whether or not she will ever return to CBS’ 60 Minutes. The uproar is in reaction to a lengthy article at New York Magazine by Joe Hagen, Benghazi and the Bombshell: Is Lara Logan too Toxic to Return to 60 Minutes? I haven’t had time to read the article yet, but Talking Points Memo summarizes the main points: Lara Logan’s Return To CBS Up In The Air.
A lengthy New York magazine report published Sunday suggests that Logan’s return is far from certain. In the piece contributing editor Joe Hagan explores the tensions that simmered within CBS News, where his sources in the network described the current atmosphere as “toxic,” since Logan was forced to apologize last November for a flawed report on the Benghazi attacks.
The report that led to Logan’s suspension centered around a British security contractor, Dylan Davies, who gave a heroic first-person account of the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi. The contractor’s credibility was called into question after the segment aired, when it was reported that Davies may not have been present on the night of the attacks at the compound.
TPM quotes some of Logan’s CBS co-workers:
“It’s not an accident that Lara Logan fucked up,” one of Logan’s colleagues told the magazine. “It was inevitable. Everybody saw this coming.”
During the fallout from the report, a founding member of “60 Minutes,” Morley Safer, reportedly marched into executive producer Jeff Fager’s office and demanded that Logan be fired, but to no avail. Another unnamed source suggested to the magazine that CBS President Les Moonves has since “soured” on Logan, whom he previously treated as a favorite.
Think Progress reports that CBS was so embarrassed by Logan’s reporting that they “asked Nexis-Lexis to delete [the] transcript.”
In international news . . .
There’s an extremely disturbing story from Nigeria. BBC News: Boko Haram ‘to sell’ Nigeria girls abducted from Chibok
Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram
Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has threatened to “sell” the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.
Militant leader Abubakar Shekau sent a video obtained by the AFP news agency, in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.
About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.
The Boko Haram insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.
The girls were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on the night of 14 April.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has attacked numerous educational institutions in northern Nigeria.
In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.
“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.
I wonder why it is that “God” give so many widely varying “instructions” to people of different “religions.”
More from CNN: ‘I will sell them,’ Boko Haram leader says of kidnapped Nigerian girls.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language….”Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.
Not surprisingly, there has been much criticism of the government’s response to the kidnappings.
Weeks after the girls’ April 14 kidnapping, Africa’s most populous country seems to be no closer to finding them, triggering complaints of ineptitude — some of which are expressed on Twitter with the globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Nigeria’s finance minister said Monday that her country’s government remains committed to finding the girls, but should have done a better job explaining the situation to the public.
“Have we communicated what is being done properly? The answer is no, that people did not have enough information,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told CNN’s Richard Quest.
Revealing details about the investigation is tricky, she said, “because you are dealing with people that you don’t know, and you don’t know…what they might do to these girls.”
There is much more information about the Boko Haram group at the CNN link.
Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a lovely spring Tuesday!
Posted: September 22, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 60 Minutes, apostasy, David Twede, excommunication, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mitt Romney, Mormon church, Scott Pelley, tax returns, The Hobbit 75th anniversary
Everyone is still talking about Mitt Rommey’s taxes and his struggling campaign. I have some interesting reads on those subjects, but first I want to all attention to a story from The Daily Beast yesterday by Jamie Reno that I think deserves more attention. The Mormon church in Florida is threatening to excommmunicate one of their prominent members who has written some negative on-line articles about Mitt Romney.
David Twede, 47, a scientist, novelist, and fifth-generation Mormon, is managing editor of MormonThink.com, an online magazine produced largely by members of the Mormon Church that welcomes scholarly debate about the religion’s history from both critics and true believers.
A Mormon in good standing, Twede has never been disciplined by Latter Day Saints leadership. But it now appears his days as a Mormon may be numbered because of a series of articles he wrote this past week that were critical of Mitt Romney.
On Sunday, Twede says his bishop, stake president, and two church executives brought him into Florida Mormon church offices in Orlando and interrogated him for nearly an hour about his writings, telling him, “Cease and desist, Brother Twede.”
Twede posted the letter he received from his stake president on his blog, Prozacville. His excommunication hearing “for apostasy” is to take place September 30. Twede wasn’t using his real name on-line, but the church learned his identity from someone at a pro-Mormon website, Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research.
So apparently the Mormon church is not as neutral in this election as it has claimed. In fact, ABC News recently reported that the church has been working to get Mormons registered in swing state Nevada.
In a provocative move within a religious organization that has sought to display strict political neutrality, an official of the Mormon church has disseminated a presentation across the key swing state of Nevada that urges members to vote and speak “with one voice” in the coming Presidential election that pits Mormon Mitt Romney against President Barack Obama.
“Any Mormon would understand exactly what’s being said there,” said Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth religion professor who has studied the church’s handling of Romney’s presidential bids. “This is very thinly coded language.”
Personally, I think this is very creepy. The church seems to be quite involved in this election–trying to encourage votes for Romney and at the same time attempting to silence critics of the prominent Mormon candidate.
If the Romney campaign was hoping that releasing Mitt’s 2011 tax returns along with a vague “summary” of his returns for the past 20 years, they will be disappointed. Most tax experts aren’t buying the “summary,” and lots of them are trying to figure out exactly what Romney is trying to pull this time.
I thought this piece in USA Today by Rick Newman was very helpful (h/t Dakinikat). Newman reads between the lines of the official release and finds some oddities. First, somehow $7.2 million disappeared from Romney’s income between January when he filed an estimate and now on his official return.
Between January and October of this year, Romney’s adjusted gross income for 2011 fell by $7.2 million. And it dropped by nearly $8 million compared with his AGI in 2010. His federal tax liability also fell, by similar proportions.
The most likely explanation is that Romney’s accountants transferred income from Romney’s personal return to one of the three trusts that also generate considerable income, almost all of it from investments. It will take a detailed examination of the 2010 and 2011 documents to figure out what changed, but here’s a clue: Romney’s campaign has begun to focus on the “personal” tax rate paid by Romney, rather than the tax rate that might be associated with the trusts and his total income from all sources.
Newman also notes that the Romney representatives are emphasizing the word “personal” when they refer to Romney’s tax returns, suggesting that some kind of fudging is going on.
Romney hasn’t released tax documents prior to 2010, but some tax experts think his overall tax rate could have been very close to zero during at least a couple of years, possibly because of capital losses suffered during the stock-market wipeout of 2008, which zeroed out earnings for many investors.
The Romney campaign now says that since 1990, “the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate” Romney paid was 13.66 percent. In other words, the rate on what might be characterized as his personal income never fell below that threshold.
But that doesn’t account for the three trusts, or other investment vehicles that may have existed prior to 2010. And it’s unusual to limit the claim to “personal” taxes when Romney has acknowledged other types of income. So it’s possible that the effective tax rate on the trusts was very low at some point—and maybe even zero, which would have indicated a net loss for the year.
Greg Sargent talked to another expert, Roberton Williams, of the Tax Policy Center, about the 20-year summary and Romney’s claim that “Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.” Sargent learned from the campaign that this represents an average of Romney’s tax rates over the 20 year period.
Williams tells me that this is a far less meaningful way to calculate the overall rate than the second way, which actually calculates the real tax rate Romney paid over the period.
Here’s why: The first way obscures the fact that income may have fluctuated quite markedly from year to year. If Romney paid his lowest rates in a number of the higher income years, the overall 20 percent figure would overstate the rate he actually paid over the whole period. Williams provided the following purely hypothetical example:
“Let’s say you have 10 years in which you paid 13 percent in taxes, and 10 years in which you paid 27 percent,” Williams told me. “If you average those rates, you’ll get an overall rate of 20 percent. But if the 13 percent years were high income years, and the 27 percent years were low income years, then his total taxes paid as a share of total income over the 20 years would be less, perhaps significantly less, than 20 percent.”
Yet in that scenario, the Romney campaign would be claiming, by its chosen metric, to have paid 20 percent.
This is very troubling, and I’m sure more detailed analyses will be coming. You have to wonder why Romney didn’t just keep stonewalling instead of raising lots more questions about his taxes.
There have been lots of stories this week about what Romney should do to rescue his flailing campaign, but the candidate himself says there no problem. At least that’s what he told Scott Pelley of CBS’ 60 Minutes.
Scott Pelley: You are slipping in the polls at this moment. A lot of Republicans are concerned about this campaign. You bill yourself as a turnaround artist. How are you going to turn this campaign around?
Mitt Romney: Well, actually, we’re tied in the polls. We’re all within the margin of error. We bounce aroun — week to week– day to day. There are some days we’re up. There are some days we’re down. We go forward with my message, that this is a time to reinvigorate the American economy, not by expanding government and raising taxes on people, but instead by making sure government encourages entrepreneurship and innovation and gets the private sector hiring again.
Scott Pelley: Governor, I appreciate your message very much. But that wasn’t precisely the question. You’re the CEO of this campaign. A lot of Republicans would like to know, a lot of your donors would like to know, how do you turn this thing around? You’ve got a little more than six weeks. What do you do?
Mitt Romney: Well, it doesn’t need a turnaround. We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent president to the United States.
Scott Pelley: Well– as you know, a lot of people were concerned about the video of the fundraiser in which you talked about the 47 percent of the American people who don’t pay taxes. Peggy Noonan, a very well-known conservative columnist, said that it was an example of this campaign being incompetent. And I wonder if any of that criticism gets through to you and whether you’re concerned about it at all….
Mitt Romney: I’ve got a very effective campaign. It’s doing a very good job. But not everything I say is elegant. And I want to make it very clear, I want to help 100 percent of the American people.
In non-political news, yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Corey Olson has written a history of Tolkien’s beloved book. Check it out at The Daily Beast. It’s quite interesting.
It’s getting late and I need to get this post up, so I’ll end there.
What are you reading and blogging about today?
Posted: August 7, 2012 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: 60 Minutes, Arthur Miller, Brooklyn, Marilyn Monroe, Mike Wallace, movies, nostalgia, Photography, popular culture, The Seven Year Itch
Lawrence Schiller, “Marilyn Monroe,” 1962. (Credit: Courtesy of Judith and Lawrence Schiller; Lawrence Schiller © Polaris Communications, Inc.)
I’m writing this late on Monday night. I’m a little burned out on the news, and I haven’t been feeling so great today, so I thought I’d skip politics and devote my Tuesday morning post to noting the 50th anniversary of the day we lost Marilyn Monroe, August 5, 1962. We can talk about the news in the comments though!
LA Weekly has a report of the memorial. The main speaker was Professor Lois Banner, the author of a new biography of Monroe.
Lois Banner certainly must be considered one of the Marilyn religion’s rising gospel writers. Banner, a professor of women’s history at USC, is the author of Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, her well-received, scrupulously researched and ten-years-in-the-writing biography, whose release was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary.
Banner’s book, which attempts to demolish any lingering image of Marilyn as a dumb blonde and merely the sexual object of male fantasy, asserts that the star was shaped by a complicated and deeply conflicted personality. Marilyn was marked by an intense intellectual curiosity but also by emotional and sexual abuse as child that would develop into full-blown sexual addiction and her ultimately tragic substance abuse.
Outside the memorial, the 73-year-old writer briefly spoke about Marilyn’s status as an “icon of the American character” and the key to her enduring fascination. The answer, according to Banner, is complex but begins with her tragically early death. Dying at the height of her beauty instantly made the star what Banner calls “the Aphrodite of the national imagination — the woman who represents our sexual desires and dreams.”
To that she adds the aura of mystery contributed by Marilyn’s involvement with the Kennedys and the conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Then there are the photographs. Marilyn was probably the most photographed woman of the 20th century, Banner says, “and the famous images of her literally run into the thousands. She realized herself in front of the camera, and many have said the camera was her real lover.”
Here are two Huffpo links to some lovely photos of Marilyn:
Marilyn Monroe Photos: Candid Shots Of The Woman Behind The Starlet
Marilyn Monroe ‘Intimate Exposures’: Exhibit Unveils Never-Before-Seen Bruno Bernard Photos
Between inventing pin-up photography, earning the nickname “Bernard of Hollywood” and discovering Marilyn Monroe, Bruno Bernard may just be the world’s most famous photographer.
In her new book “Marilyn: Intimate Exposures,” Bernard’s daughter, former Playboy Playmate Susan Bernard, has released a collection of her father’s most famous photographs of the one and only Marilyn Monroe–including 40 never-before-seen shots.
In the collection are the first professional photographs ever taken of Monroe (then named Norma Jean Dougherty), intimate backstage shots throughout her career, original negatives, Bernard’s work notes and letters from Monroe to Bernard, including one reading, “Remember Bernie, you started it all.”
Bernard is presenting the collection at the San Francisco Art Exchange for its United States premiere during the 50th anniversary commemoration of Monroe’s death.
The photos at both links are wonderful. I really enjoyed looking at them.
The LA Times reports on another exhibit of Marilyn photos.
One of the many disappointments to befall the actress’ tragic life was her struggle to have a child, having suffered multiple miscarriages. Very few images of a pregnant Monroe exist but famed celebrity photograper Phil Stern found himself at the right place at the right time during her last pregnancy with third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.
In 1958, Look magazine assigned Stern to capture what studio mogul Sam Goldwyn saw through his office window. Perched high and out of sight from the people below, he spotted Monroe walking across the lot during a break from filming “Some Like it Hot,” and snapped the photo just as the wind blew open her kimono, revealing her pregnant belly.
This photo is just one of many that Stern took of Monroe during an illustrious career that spanned six decades. Twenty-three images from his collection will be on view at The Phil Stern Gallery opening Sunday on the 50th anniversary of her untimely death. The exhibition continues through Nov 1.
You can view some of the photos at the link.
On Sunday night, 60 Minutes ran a 1987 interview with Playwright Arthur Miller by Mike Wallace.
During their relationship, Miller wrote the screenplay for “The Misfits,” with the lead role played by Monroe. She played a wounded young woman, who falls in love with a much older man. It would be her last film.
Despite the success of 1961’s “The Misfits,” Miller’s marriage to Monroe had been struggling for months, and the couple ultimately separated. In addition to drug and alcohol dependency, Monroe had endured several miscarriages and was battling depression.
“I guess to be frank about it, I was taking care of her. I was trying to keep her afloat,” Miller told Wallace. “She was a super-sensitive instrument, and that’s exciting to be around until it starts to self-destruct.”
When Wallace asked Miller if he knew Monroe’s life was destined for disaster, he said, “I didn’t know it was doomed, but I certainly felt it had a good chance to be.” Less than two years later, Monroe was found dead at the age of 36 in her California home.
There are some more lovely photos in this NY Daily News article: Marilyn Monroe, famed blond bombshell, yearned to retire to Brooklyn in her twilight years
The blond bombshell, who lived in New York City on and off for several years before dying in Los Angeles in 1962, called Brooklyn her “favorite place in the world” in a radio interview with NBC’s Dave Garroway.
“When I retire I’m going to retire to Brooklyn,” Monroe told the late “Today” show host. “That’s my favorite place in the world, so far, that I’ve seen.”
Monroe, then 31-years-old and inbetween her marriages to New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, admitted she hadn’t “travelled much, but I don’t think I’ll find anything to replace Brooklyn.”
When asked what it was about Brooklyn she loved, Monroe’s answer was simple: “Almost everything.”
“I just like walking around,” she said in her soft, whispy tone.
Monroe said one highlight was the view of Manhattan which can only be seen from Brooklyn, but stressed her affection for the borough was more than that.
“It isn’t only the view, it’s the people,” Monroe said. “The people and the streets and the atmosphere, I just like it.”
On Weekend Edition, NPR ran a piece on Marilyn Monroe As An ‘All-Around’ Comedian.
I love just about all of Marilyn’s movies, but I guess my favorite is The Seven Year Itch.
The Rachmaninoff fantasy scene:
And the famous subway scene:
It’s hard to believe it was all so long ago. Sorry this post is so short, I should be back to my regular self in the morning. Now it’s your turn to fill me in on the real news of the day. I’ll pitch in some links too, of course.