Wednesday NH Townhall (CNN) Live Blog

sandersclintonClinton and Sanders have their first townhall in New Hampshire without O’Malley right now on CNN.  This event comes fresh on heels the historic Clinton win of the Iowa Caucuses.  The margin was small, but a win is a win is a win.  Sanders is expected to win New Hampshire because of the neighbor effect. They always vote for fellow New Englanders and Sanders is no stranger.  CNN has a list of five things to watch.  I found this one pretty interesting.

In a similar CNN town hall in Iowa, Sanders absolutely unloaded on Clinton, hammering her as a newcomer to the progressive movement on income inequality, trade, energy and other issues.

Since then, the man who talks about never running a negative ad in his life has approved one that ripped into Goldman Sachs for paying politicians speaking fees — a crystal-clear shot at Clinton who has received that money.

He has complained about the Democratic establishment, complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s decision to hold debates often on weekends and against playoff football games and other high-profile events.

Is Sanders ready to really rip into Clinton?

His winks and nods toward the liberal base are impossible to miss.

On Tuesday in Keene, New Hampshire, Sanders launched into an attack on the Walmart-owning Walton family, saying that “the major welfare abuser in America is the wealthiest family in America.”

No wonder: Walmart is headquartered in Arkansas. Clinton once served on its board. And Alice Walton gave Clinton’s Democratic National Committee Victory Fund $353,000 in December — a contribution just made public in filings Sunday.

Sanders has the podium first.  You can watch it live on CNN or here at Raw Story.

This event and the MSNBC debate scheduled for tomorrow night were thrown together rather hastily.  Here’s variety’s take on the first part of the Sanders questions.

Ever since they left Iowa, Clinton and Sanders have gotten more pointed, particularly on Twitter, over who can better carry out a set of progressive priorities. Clinton has called herself a “progressive who gets things done,” while Sanders posted a series of tweets suggesting she has shifted her positions on such things as the Keystone pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as on the question of whether she is a centrist or a liberal.

“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.

9:10 pm ET: Sanders slams expectations. Bernie Sanders criticized the media for focusing so much on expectations in New Hampshire, where he leads some polls by a significant margin. “That is the media game. That is what the media talks about. Who cares?” he says. Clinton’s campaign has downplayed the state, in hopes of delivering a better-then-expected result. But Sanders, too, cautions that he expects the results to be “close.”

9:15 p.m. ET: How do you pay for it? In the last debate, Clinton pointedly said that she would not raise taxes on the middle class. Sanders has said there will be tax hikes. Sanders said that his proposal for a “medicare for all,” single-payer health care program would raise taxes on those in the “middle of the economy” by about $500 annually. But he tells a questioner that the switch to single payer will reduce medical costs by $5,000.

9:23 p.m. ET: On faith. Cooper asks Sanders about something the Vermont senator rarely talks about on the stump: His faith. “Everybody practices religion in a different way,” says Sanders, who is Jewish. “I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings.” He added that on the stump rarely gets that personal, but he did say he worried about a society “where some people say, ‘I don’t care,’” when spirituality to him is a recognition that “we are in this together.”

So, here we go again!  Join us!!!






Tuesday Reads: The State of the Debate

Debate showdown

Good Day!!

I’m getting a slow start today, and I think it’s because anticipating the upcoming Republican debate is giving me the willies. It could be good for a laugh, but I think the pain of watching and listening 10 freaky a-holes responding to questions from Fox News personalities will probably be much greater than any pleasure I get from watching Republicans make fools of themselves.

Like the other Republican candidates, I’m particularly not looking forward to watching and listening to Donald Trump throw his weight around onstage. I can’t figure out why Trump is still increasing his lead in the polls. The latest Fox News poll, which will determine who gets into the debate and who is left out, has Trump at 26% –16 points ahead of Jeb Bush at 15%.

New Fox News polls out today just a few days before the first GOP debate. Donald Trump finds his highest support yet getting 26% support. Those are the highest numbers for any Republican candidate since Fox began polling for the 2016 race. Jeb Bush gets a solid #2 with 15%. His numbers haven’t dropped even as Trump’s have risen. Dana Blanton writes on,

“Behind Trump and Bush, it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 7 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent each, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent a piece, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich get 3 percent each. That group is followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied at 2 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tied at 1 percent and former New York Gov. George Pataki, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore receive less than 1 percent support.”

So it looks like the debaters will be Trump, Bush, Walker, Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio, Paul, Christie, and Kasich. There’s going to a whole lot of crazy on that stage.


A local New Hampshire poll also showed Trump with a significant lead.

WMUR poll: Donald Trump surges to top of GOP primary field in NH.

The latest WMUR Granite State Poll, released Monday, says Trump is the top choice of 24 percent of likely GOP primary voters, doubling the support of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is backed by 12 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at 11 percent, is the only other candidate in double digits.

Not only has Trump surged to the head of the pack in New Hampshire, but also for the first time, he is now viewed favorably by more likely GOP primary voters than unfavorably. And, he is named as the candidate best able to handle key issues facing the nation, from the economy to terrorism, and from immigration to health care policy.

Yet likely voters are unsure if Trump will actually win the primary in February….

The poll sets up Trump, Bush and Walker as New Hampshire’s top tier with six months remaining until the voting, which is likely to be held on Feb. 9, 2016.

According to CNN, Fox will give the lower level candidates some token airtime on Thursday before the official debate:

Fox News will host a 5 p.m. debate for the bottom seven candidates, giving them a chance to debate the big issues despite failing to crack into the top ranks of national polling. That debate, given its airtime and the crop of lesser-known candidates, is expected to tout significantly lower viewership.

But voters will be able to see nearly all candidates on one stage this week before the Thursday debates.

The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room

Last night there was a candidate’s forum in New Hampshire that Trump didn’t bother to attend. Politico reports that Trump’s name was never mentioned at this event.

Politico: New Hampshire Voters First Forum: 5 takeaways.

Thursday night, however, will be much different. Trump will be positioned in the middle of the stage, and chances are the candidates flanking him on both sides won’t make it through a two-hour debate playing patty-cake as they did tonight. The candidate most eager to tangle with him, Rick Perry, now appears unlikely to make the prime-time debate at all due to his anemic showing in the polls. That’ll leave an array of more nervous rivals, hoping to make their case to voters but on guard against any potential Trump broadsides. And that alone will offer political observers and debate watchers more drama than they got Monday night.

Hillary Clinton was a prominent topic though:

Hillary Clinton, the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is a target for all the Republicans seeking the nomination. But on Monday night, the candidates who went after Clinton hammer and tongs were those at the bottom of the polls.

“Give Bernie Sanders credit, at least he is honest enough to call himself a socialist,” Bobby Jindal said. “Obama, Hillary Clinton are no better, they are just not honest enough to call themselves socialist..”

Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP field, argued that she would be uniquely able to take the fight to Clinton in a general election. On Monday night, she attacked Hillary for lying about Benghazi and about her email server. “These go to the core of her character,” Fiorina said. “In order to beat Hillary Clinton, we have to have a nominee on our side who is willing to throw every punch.”

Fox debate

Lindsey Graham demonstrated his desperation for attention by bringing up Monica Lewinsky, as if that somehow reflects on Hillary. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio appeared by satellite, because they were busy in DC voting to defend Planned Parenthood. Of the three, Cruz apparently made the best on-screen impression.

The former Princeton debate champion fired away in a hohum, folksy twang. “I believe this Obama-Iran nuclear deal is the gravest threat facing America,” he said. And he defended his rhetoric, which some have panned for being “overheated” in just as a calm a tone. “Let me tell you something,” he said quietly. “Speaking the truth is not rhetoric.”

At the outset of the official debate season, it’s clear that Cruz is head and shoulders above his rivals as a communicator, promising the audience, “We’ll win by painting in bold colors and we’ll reignite the promise of America” and blasting “the Washington cartel.” He promises “to make 2016 a referendum on Obamacare.”

This election season promises to be one of the scariest in history for anyone who wants to live in a civilized country.

At FiveThirtyEight Politics, Harry Enten has a piece about Fox’s use of national vs. local polls in determining the make-up of the first debate.

There’s No Perfect Way To Sort The Candidates For A Primary Debate. But some methods are better than others.

Does the use of national polls in an important debate make sense? That’s just one of several big questions about understanding each candidate’s actual chance of winning the nomination. Gov. Scott Walker, for example, currently leads Iowa surveys — how much does that matter? Does Walker’s lead in Iowa mean more than Donald Trump’s short tenure atop nationaland New Hampshire polls? How about former Gov. Jeb Bush’s barrels of money and Gov. Chris Christie’s early endorsements?

None of these measurements is a perfect predictor, and we don’t have a very large sample size when it comes to open primary elections in the modern era. But that doesn’t mean there’s no signal in these early metrics, and some have been more predictive than others.

Chart by Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight Politics

Chart by Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight Politics

It’s a fairly long read (and quite interesting), but here’s what Enten has to say about the New Hampshire situation specifically:

Like Iowa voters, New Hampshire voters tune into the contest much earlier than most voters nationally. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire holds a primary vote, not a caucus. That means the primary and the polling for the primary is open to a wider array of voters. Most of the later contests that determine nominees are primaries, not caucuses.

This year, the early New Hampshire polling basically shows what all the indicators do on the Republican side. Yes, Trump is ahead in the New Hampshire surveys right now, but over the last six months the leader is Jeb Bush with 15.1 percent of the vote. Scott Walker is in second with 13.7 percent, Rand Paul is in third with 9.9 percent, Trump is in fourth with 9.7 percent, and Marco Rubio is in fifth with 7.4 percent. Only 1992 featured a race in which the leader in the New Hampshire surveys8 polled weaker than this year.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads in the six-month average 51 percent to 19 percent over Sen. Bernie Sanders. As in the Republican race, the short-term average probably gives too much credit to the surging candidate (Sanders). The longer-term average fits with most other pieces of data: Clinton is far and away the front-runner.

This year the endorsements and the New Hampshire polling generally are showing the same thing. The potential exceptions on the Republican side include Chris Christie, who barely leads the endorsement primary, but has gone nowhere in the New Hampshire polling. Also, Trump has shown no sign of any support from the party actors, even though he is polling fairly decently in New Hampshire over the past six months.

The upshot is that, while national polling tends to be less accurate for predicting primary winners, for now,

Overall, I can’t find too much fault with Fox News (or any other network) using national polling to determine who will eventually be competitive in a primary. There is a good argument to be made that the networks should take a longer-term average. There’s also a good argument to be made that using any of these metrics this early to sort the field by competitiveness is inexact and risky. But if a network is trying to determine a cut-off point so that the debate stage isn’t overfilled, then a national polling average is as good as looking at endorsements or fundraising at this point in the campaign. Adding New Hampshire polls, though, may be even better.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump greets supporters at a South Carolina campaign rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump greets supporters at a South Carolina campaign rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Finally, for those of us who shudder at the thought of Trump actually getting the GOP nomination, here’s Josh Marshall’s frightening assessment:

Forget Everything Else. Look at Trump’s Net Favorables.

But check out this number from the latest Monmoth poll. Monmouth has polled the evolving GOP primary in April, June and July. And over that period Donald Trump’s favorable ratings have gone from 28% to 52%, while his unfavorables have gone from 56% to 35%. To put that a different way he’s gone from a -28% net approval to a +17% net approval . In other words, that’s a 45 point shift in three months….

…this is a massive, massive shift, especially for someone who is extremely well-known to the public and must have very high name recognition numbers. One might also add that it is a remarkable move over the course of a period in which Trump has marching around like a clown leveling racial slurs at whole nationalities. But that’s a more subjective judgment.

At least according to these Monmouth numbers, Republican voters’ perceptions of Trump are roughly on par with one time frontrunner Jeb Bush.


Yikes!! Could it actually happen? Marshall thinks Trump is going to in it for the long term.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think it is exceedingly unlikely that Trump will win the nomination. But these numbers really upend any idea that Trump is already maxed out – that he’s leading at 20% or more but can never go higher. And it’s hard to come up with a scenario where he leaves the race any time soon or really at any time before someone clearly beats him with actual delegates. He can easily self-fund. He has a massive ego which much be firing on insane amounts of dopamine with all this attention and adulation.

It’s a long time until the first primary, but I’m getting worried about Trump. So is Chris Cillizza at the WaPo: Boy, was I wrong about Donald Trump. Here’s why.

Donald Trump is now doubling the rest of the Republican field in the average of the last five national polls. And polling out of early states like New Hampshire puts him in the pole position in those places too.

All of which makes having written a piece on June 17 headlined, “Why no one should take Donald Trump seriously, in one very simple chart” that argued why, well, no one should take Donald Trump seriously, pretty embarrassing. Not to mention wrong….

Why did I miss Trump’s appeal so badly? Simply put: I had NEVER EVER seen a reversal in how people perceive a candidate who is as well known as Trump — much less a reversal in such a short period of time. I based my conclusion that Trump would never be a relevant player in the Republican primary fight on the ideas that once people 1) know you and 2) don’t like you, you can’t change those twin realities much.

That was 100 percent true. Until Donald Trump proved it (and me) wrong.

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


Sunday Reads: No more…please!

Good Morning!

Did you catch the debate last night?  If you didn’t Wonk did an excellent job of hosting a live blog.

Presidential debates sometimes have their moments…a thousand points of light, Hillary is likable enough, I know there are more but I am just too exhausted to think of other fine debater examples. There wasn’t any gotcha moment last night, with the exception of Huntsman who was absent in the last few Iowa debates, the performance was pretty much the same as the last 12 or 50 GOP debates this past month.

Last night just emphasized the quality, or lack thereof, of the GOP offering. They are having another “forum” on Meet the Press today, so it will be yet another reason to sleep in this morning.

Here are a few links to get you caught up on what the media has to say about the freak show, I’ll save the best pundit remarks for last:

For a quick summary:  Five Takeaways From Saturday Night’s GOP Debate

When asked about those racist newsletters, Paul tried to pass off his hero-worship of MLK and his opinion on the unfairness of the justice system as proof he is not a racist. Ron Paul says he is not racist, slams drug laws as unfair to blacks

Paul said that Martin Luther King is one his heroes for practicing “the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience,” and highlighted his understanding that the drug laws in the United States unfairly penalize African Americans.

Well, it still doesn’t answer the question about holding Ron Paul accountable for his racist newsletters. Ron Paul Calls MLK a “Hero”—After Newsletter Trashed Him as a “World-Class Adulterer”

If you need a refresher on what else these newsletters contained: 10 Extreme Claims in Ron Paul’s Controversial Newsletters

As far as Mittens is concerned. Meh…

Why Romney’s Answer on Contraception Doesn’t Add Up

Mitt Romney Is Confused About Iran Sanctions

Here is what Charlie Pierce had to say, see you could have just skipped over all the other links…I am betting most of you did. 😉

New Hampshire Debate: The Trickless-Dick Mitt Fix Is In, by Charles P. Pierce – Esquire

At this moment, I am still digesting the incredible farrago of gibbering nonsense, vengeful religious rage, political chickenshit, and Mandarin Chinese that combined to make the 45,670th of 62,390 scheduled Republican presidential debates the Level 4 biohazard that it was.

Oh yeah…you know Pierce take on the debate is going to be good.

In brief, Saturday night may have been the most naked piece of point-shaving and game-throwing since the 1919 World Series. I’ve seen fixed prizefights where the issue was more in doubt. The other candidates went so far into the tank for Willard that they may not dry off until next August. In the 1950’s, Frankie Carbo would have had them all killed because they made it look so damned obvious. Where was the promised Gingrich assault on the frontrunner? Where was the blood, the guts, the glory? Where was the damn slasher film we all anticipated? This was a waltz, and a clumsy one. If the people in that audience had any pride at all, they’d have attacked the ABC platform and demanded satisfaction for this massive piece of consumer fraud.

The coalescing has begun. The non-Romneys seem to be coming to grips with the fact that there’s virtually no chance that Willard isn’t the nominee. So, by and large, the rest of them started paying court staying away from him.

Pierce then breaks down the two things all this VP ass kissing accomplished.

1) Willard was able to get away with being even more banal than he usually is, except for that one moment when George Stephanopoulos tried to get him to give a straight answer on the right to privacy as derived from the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision in reference to contraception. “I don’t know any state that wants to ban contraception, George,” said Willard, running through all four of the expressions of which his face is capable, beginning with “Lordly Disdain” and ending with “Flog The Butler.” Stephanopoulos pressed on. (At one point, I thought he might throw a packet of Trojans at Willard and say, “These, motherfucker!”) Romney ducked, weaved, made his face work harder than he was, until he finally cried, “Hey, contraception works!”

Not exactly Webster’s Reply To Hayne, true. But not banal.


2) Because they declined to be dicks to Willard, because they’re all going to spend most of next autumn getting sockless, drunk, and standing behind him on a stage, pretending they don’t want to hit him with their shoes, the rest of the cast decided to be dicks toward each other, toward the president, and toward large numbers of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Ron Paul called Newt Gingrich a chickenhawk, and Newt responded by saying that he’d never asked for his deferment, which he received because he was married at the time to the first of his future ex-wives. Paul came back at him. “When I was called, I was married and had two kids. I went.” Dr. Paul has a dickish side to him that has been heretofore covert. Not anymore.

However, not to be outdone…

Newt rallied his well-wrought dickness, though, right after a lengthy wrangle over gay marriage that might have been the most pointless discussion of that particular controversial issue ever conducted, by attacking the “liberal news media” for paying so much attention to discrimination under the law aimed at gay people, and none at all to the fact that Catholic organizations have been forbidden from arranging adoptions and performing other social services because they choose to practice discrimination based on religion. “There’s anti-Christian bigotry and none of it gets covered,” thundered Gingrich, who earlier in the discussion said that being nice to gay couples (Hey, you can visit your partner when he’s dying. Is this a great country or what?) didn’t mean adjusting the sacrament of marriage. It apparently has eluded his Holiness, Pope N. Leroy I, that not only is secular marriage not a sacrament, but also that a lot of Protestant denominations don’t believe it is, either.

Just go over to the link and read the whole thing…

The thing that stood out to me was the misleading remarks when it came to Obama and his weak liberal stance on Iraq, and his European socialist policies. Misleading is putting it mildly. Obama follows in Rumsfeld’s footprints

Defense analysts almost immediately drew the comparison between Rumsfeld’s vision and the one spelled out in Obama’s plan.

“It is easy to emphasize Asia, technology, and quality over quantity,” Pentagon adviser and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman said Thursday. “In fact, this is what Secretary Rumsfeld did.”

Center for Defense Information analyst Winslow Wheeler, a former congressional defense aide, said the Obama plan is “very much like Rumsfeld’s ‘Transformation’ agenda.”

What’s more, Wheeler said, the Obama plan’s shifting of the nation’s defense strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region “re-emphasizes the focus on the Air Force and Navy as the ‘transformative’ military services — Rumsfeld’s word, not theirs — but they seem to mean very much the same thing.”

As far as the European Socialist remark made by Newt, let’s go back to Pierce for a moment:

The trademark Gingrichian sneer was mostly leveled at President Obama, who, Gingrich said, “in his desperate attempt to create a radical socialist European model is undoubtedly sincere.” Ooooh, snap! Look upon my adjectives, ye mighty, and despair!

I won’t spend any time on the frothy dick, aka Santorum, you can read Pierce for that…

In other news…Musharraf Will Be Arrested on Arrival in Pakistan, PTI Reports

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as Pakistan’s president in 2008, will be arrested on arrival in the country later this month, the Press Trust of India reported, citing a prosecutor.

Musharraf is a “proclaimed offender” and there’s no need for a warrant for this arrest, PTI reported today, citing Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, prosecutor at the Federal Investigation Agency. Musharraf lives in Dubai and London and plans to return to Pakistan on Jan. 25 or Jan. 27, according to the report.

In Texas, CVS Refuses To Sell Texas Man Emergency Contraception For His Wife, Suggests He’s A Rapist

A Texas man has enlisted the ACLU to help him sue CVS for gender discrimination after a pharmacist refused to sell him emergency contraception.

Jason Melbourne had already visited four pharmacies in search of Plan B for his wife when he was referred to a CVS in Mesquite, Texas, some 15 miles away from his home. They had one box left:

But when he finally got there, the overnight pharmacist, Minni Matthew, told Melbourne she wasn’t going to sell it to him.

In order for him to buy the meds, the pharmacist said, she’d need to talk to and see the ID of his wife, who was at home with their two young children. He asked why, and she pointed to the fine print on the medication’s box, which says it can only be sold to someone age 17 or older. Melbourne pointed out that he was well over 17.

“I’ve bought this plenty of times in my life, and it’s never been a problem,” he said. “Are you telling me every other place I’ve bought it from has been wrong?”

Didn’t matter, Matthew said, since the medicine obviously wasn’t for him.

Why don’t you show me the law that says you can’t sell this to a man?” Melbourne replied.

The situation got worse from there. Melbourne put his wife on the phone and even Googled the medication to show the pharmacist there was no law against selling it to a man. But “she didn’t want to see it,” he said.

That’s when a male pharmacy technician informed Melbourne that they didn’t want to sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”

Jezebel notes that Melbourne’s ordeal happened around the same time that a Houston CVS store refused to sell another man Plan B. CVS apologized for that last month, calling it an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t.

CVS isn’t the only pharmacy that has issues with selling Plan B to a man…

In fact, in 2010 ACLU received reports that Walgreens stores in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma were refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. Walgreens relented when the ACLU confronted them publicly.

Moving on, yes I am too tired to keep this up much longer.

‘Whooping cranes plane’ runs afoul of FAA

Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.

Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.

FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration’s plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that’s the category of aircraft that the group’s small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft — which are sometimes of exotic design — from being flown to benefit a business or charity.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: An interesting health link for you today…

Radical liver surgery saves life of young mom, California first

A team led by Alan Hemming, MD, transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Health System, has successfully performed the west coast’s first ex-vivo liver resection, a radical procedure to completely remove and reconstruct a diseased liver and re-implant it without any tumors. The procedure saved the life of a 27-year old mother whose liver had been invaded by a painful tumor that crushed the organ and entangled its blood supply.

“During a 9-hour surgery the team was able to remove the basketball-sized tumor,” said Hemming, professor and surgical director of the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (CHAT) at UC San Diego Health System. “This is a surgery that carries a 15 to 20 percent risk of mortality. In this case, the patient would not have survived if she did not have surgery. This was the only way we could save her liver and her life.”

During the procedure, the diseased liver was detached from the body, flushed with preservation solution and cooled to a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. This allowed Hemming to carefully remove the tumor from the liver in a bloodless field while preserving vital structures. Hemming then removed the tumor which weighed as much as the liver itself. Once the tumor was removed, the vessels were meticulously reconstructed. The liver was then successfully reimplanted.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: A few weeks ago I wrote about the Congo’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, there is a guy heading into the jungle to find the Congo mokele mbembe. Dom Joly: If I’m munched by a mokele mbembe, farewell, dear readers – Dom Joly – Columnists – The Independent

I’m off to the Congo for two weeks. I’m still travelling the world looking for reputed monsters to put in my new book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. This time I’m going after the mokele mbembe, a dinosaur-type creature that is supposed to inhabit Lake Tele in the far north of “good” Congo.

In case you didn’t know, there are two Congos: the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is the “bad” Congo. The giveaway being the use of “democratic” in the name – this is always a sign that it is not democratic and not much fun (see the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic People’ s Republic of North Korea). I’m off to the Republic of Congo to try to find the elusive beast that has apparently forced tribes of pygmies to build huge stockades around their villages.

Lets hope he doesn’t become lunch.

That is it for me, it is 3am and I just want to go to sleep. So if you come accross any typos…you know why.

What are you all reading and blogging about today?



The New York Times has a review of this mornings debate: <a href=””>Romney Is the Main Target in a Caustic G.O.P. Debate –</a>

Thursday Reads: Mostly Mitt

Good Morning!!

A few months ago, there was quite a bit of talk about a BBC story on Alessio Rastani, a self-described “independent trader,” who indicated he couldn’t care less what the European financial crisis did to people’s lives. For him it was all about making money and another recession would enable him to make plenty. Andrew Leonard of Salon tied the story together with and article in Der Spiegel on a Swiss study of traders. The results showed that these people

behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test.”

Particularly shocking for [Thomas] Noll [researcher] was the fact that the bankers weren’t aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage. Instead of taking a sober and businesslike approach to reaching the highest profit, “it was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents,” Noll explained. “And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents.”

Using a metaphor to describe the behavior, Noll said the stockbrokers behaved as though their neighbor had the same car, “and they took after it with a baseball bat so they could look better themselves.”

The researchers were unable to explain this penchant for destruction, they said.

Yesterday, Dakinikat sent me a Bloomberg article by William D. Cohan about a British academic’s “theory” on the causes of the financial crisis: Did Psychopaths Take Over Wall Street Asylum?

It took a relatively obscure former British academic to propagate a theory of the financial crisis that would confirm what many people suspected all along: The “corporate psychopaths” at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame.

Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of “people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry” lack a “conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people.”

As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are “extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society.”

Of course this isn’t a scientific study, but it certainly makes intuitive sense. Boddy blames changes in corporate culture for the problem.

Until the last third of the 20th century, he writes, companies were mostly stable and slow to change. Lifetime employment was a reasonable expectation and people rose through the ranks.

This stable environment meant corporate psychopaths “would be noticeable and identifiable as undesirable managers because of their selfish egotistical personalities and other ethical defects.”

For Wall Street — a rapidly changing and highly dynamic corporate environment if there ever was one, especially when the firms transformed themselves from private partnerships into public companies with quarterly reporting requirements — the trouble started when these charmers made their way to corner offices of important financial institutions.

There they supposedly changed many of the moral and ethical values that previously had guided businesspeople. This theory seems somewhat flawed, since it doesn’t explain how these men differed from the 19th century robber barons. But I haven’t read Roddy’s original articles. Perhaps he explains this inconsistency in his argument. I would argue that these kinds of people have always been involved in business and probably in politics too.

Case in point: Mitt Romney. I urge you to read the new article about Romney in Vanity Fair: The Meaning of Mitt: The Dark Side of Mitt Romney. The article is based on a new book about Romney by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, The Real Romney. There’s no way I can briefly summarize the piece or excerpt all the important parts. The article focuses on Romney’s attitudes toward family, his deep involvement with his Mormon religion, and his business career. If you read it, you’ll recognize characteristic signs of the psychopath–coldness, calculation, lack of empathy for others, self-involvement. The only thing missing is the charisma that these people often have.

There are multiple examples of Romney’s insensitivity toward women and women’s autonomy in the article, and his career as a corporate raider and junk bond pusher are described in detail. I’ll give you just one shocking example of Romney’s attitude toward women’s rights in his role as “spiritual leader.”

Peggie Hayes had joined the church as a teenager along with her mother and siblings. They’d had a difficult life. Mormonism offered the serenity and stability her mother craved. “It was,” Hayes said, “the answer to everything.” Her family, though poorer than many of the well-off members, felt accepted within the faith. Everyone was so nice. The church provided emotional and, at times, financial support. As a teenager, Hayes babysat for Mitt and Ann Romney and other couples in the ward. Then Hayes’s mother abruptly moved the family to Salt Lake City for Hayes’s senior year of high school. Restless and unhappy, Hayes moved to Los Angeles once she turned 18. She got married, had a daughter, and then got divorced shortly after. But she remained part of the church.

By 1983, Hayes was 23 and back in the Boston area, raising a 3-year-old daughter on her own and working as a nurse’s aide. Then she got pregnant again. Single motherhood was no picnic, but Hayes said she had wanted a second child and wasn’t upset at the news. “I kind of felt like I could do it,” she said. “And I wanted to.” By that point Mitt Romney, the man whose kids Hayes used to watch, was, as bishop of her ward, her church leader. But it didn’t feel so formal at first. She earned some money while she was pregnant organizing the Romneys’ basement. The Romneys also arranged for her to do odd jobs for other church members, who knew she needed the cash. “Mitt was really good to us. He did a lot for us,” Hayes said. Then Romney called Hayes one winter day and said he wanted to come over and talk. He arrived at her apartment in Somerville, a dense, largely working-class city just north of Boston. They chitchatted for a few minutes. Then Romney said something about the church’s adoption agency. Hayes initially thought she must have misunderstood. But Romney’s intent became apparent: he was urging her to give up her soon-to-be-born son for adoption, saying that was what the church wanted. Indeed, the church encourages adoption in cases where “a successful marriage is unlikely.”

Hayes was deeply insulted. She told him she would never surrender her child. Sure, her life wasn’t exactly the picture of Rockwellian harmony, but she felt she was on a path to stability. In that moment, she also felt intimidated. Here was Romney, who held great power as her church leader and was the head of a wealthy, prominent Belmont family, sitting in her gritty apartment making grave demands. “And then he says, ‘Well, this is what the church wants you to do, and if you don’t, then you could be excommunicated for failing to follow the leadership of the church,’ ” Hayes recalled. It was a serious threat. At that point Hayes still valued her place within the Mormon Church. “This is not playing around,” she said. “This is not like ‘You don’t get to take Communion.’ This is like ‘You will not be saved. You will never see the face of God.’ ” Romney would later deny that he had threatened Hayes with excommunication, but Hayes said his message was crystal clear: “Give up your son or give up your God.”

Not long after, Hayes gave birth to a son. She named him Dane. At nine months old, Dane needed serious, and risky, surgery. The bones in his head were fused together, restricting the growth of his brain, and would need to be separated. Hayes was scared. She sought emotional and spiritual support from the church once again. Looking past their uncomfortable conversation before Dane’s birth, she called Romney and asked him to come to the hospital to confer a blessing on her baby. Hayes was expecting him. Instead, two people she didn’t know showed up. She was crushed. “I needed him,” she said. “It was very significant that he didn’t come.” Sitting there in the hospital, Hayes decided she was finished with the Mormon Church. The decision was easy, yet she made it with a heavy heart. To this day, she remains grateful to Romney and others in the church for all they did for her family. But she shudders at what they were asking her to do in return, especially when she pulls out pictures of Dane, now a 27-year-old electrician in Salt Lake City. “There’s my baby,” she said.

The information the authors provide about Romney’s career at Bain Capital is just as revealing of Mitt’s insensitivity and lack of empathy. Here’s just a brief quote about Romney’s attitudes toward capitalism.

Romney described himself as driven by a core economic credo, that capitalism is a form of “creative destruction.” This theory, espoused in the 1940s by the economist Joseph Schumpeter and later touted by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, holds that business must exist in a state of ceaseless revolution. A thriving economy changes from within, Schumpeter wrote in his landmark book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, “incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” But as even the theory’s proponents acknowledged, such destruction could bankrupt companies, upending lives and communities, and raise questions about society’s role in softening some of the harsher consequences.

Romney, for his part, contrasted the capitalistic benefits of creative destruction with what happened in controlled economies, in which jobs might be protected but productivity and competitiveness falters. Far better, Romney wrote in his book No Apology, “for governments to stand aside and allow the creative destruction inherent in a free economy.” He acknowledged that it is “unquestionably stressful—on workers, managers, owners, bankers, suppliers, customers, and the communities that surround the affected businesses.” But it was necessary to rebuild a moribund company and economy. It was a point of view he would stick with in years ahead. Indeed, he wrote a 2008 op-ed piece for The New York Times opposing a federal bailout for automakers that the newspaper headlined, let detroit go bankrupt. His advice went unheeded, and his prediction that “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye” if it got a bailout has not come true.

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Anyone who still sees Romney as the “reasonable” Republican candidate needs to read this article. I knew that Romney had been involved in Mormon Church leadership, but I had no idea how deeply he was involved and how committed to his religion he is. And yet, he’s probably going to be the Republican nominee, facing a weak, unpopular Obama. We’ve heard about a meeting of Conservatives to discuss possible alternatives, but Politico reports that GOP elites are saying Romney probably can’t be stopped.

We’ll see. There’s nothing more dangerous than a Newt scorned, and South Carolina looks to be unfriendly to Mitt. But the next challenge for Romney is New Hampshire, where he leads by double digits. Can Santorum and Gingrich knock him down a peg? Only time will tell.

So….. What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share.

Evening Reads for “Columbus Day”

This morning was the first day of fall break and given the chance to sleep in, the insomnia that comes and goes struck once again. As I lay there for hours, with a bit of annoyance deep within my right ear, a feeling of dread reached my toes. When you have no insurance and no money that feeling which precedes an inner ear infection is something that brings about anger, frustration and an all around resigned feeling that best expresses itself in the quick yet elongated blurted out word…”shit.” (More along the lines of, Sheiiiit, in two syllables, ending harshly on the t.)

So with that, today’s evening reads may have a characteristic cranky ring to it. Since that constant sting of irritating pain is radiating from my ear to the other parts of my head, more specifically the brain, which reacts by shutting down.

Now that the warning has been issued, here is the evening news reads for this Monday, Columbus Day.

I remember when I was little, Columbus Day gave the teachers reason to teach about the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria…we got a chance to make murals of Columbus setting foot in the new world, and happy Indians greeting him with gifts and smiles. It was not until 5th  grade, when I did a report on the indigenous people of the Hudson Valley that I fully “got” the jest of what really happened. So I do like Dakinikat’s references this morning to Native American or Indigenous Peoples Day.

However it seems that Columbus Day has morphed into the very thing the Occupy protester are bringing attention. The commercialism and capitalism that has turn Columbus Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day and the other “bank” holidays into nothing but a showcase for loud obnoxious announcers pitching spectacular sales and no interest for a year financing. (Well, that list bit about the financing is not as readily available these days.)

On with the show…

Last week I pointed out the irony in the presidents chosen group of CEO’s to perform the job of pushing job creation here in the US. Here is an article that articulates it better than I could.  Obama’s jobs advisors include job-cutting executives –

In another public demonstration of concern about the struggling economy, President Obama will meet in Pittsburgh on Tuesday with the business and labor leaders he has chosen to counsel him on job creation.

But many of the chief executives have cut American jobs and adopted tactics that weaken organized labor — even as their businesses post record profits.

The executives are members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which Obama created in January by appointing 26 leaders of companies including American Express, Comcast and Intel. (A 27th member was added in June.)

This article puts the CEO’s into a specific light, check it out:

Just days before the president appointed Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive of American Express, to the council, the company announced a massive restructuring that closed a facility in North Carolina and eliminated 550 jobs, or about 1% of the company’s workforce. At the same time, American Express announced it had made $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 48% from the same period the previous year.

Xerox, whose chief executive, Ursula Burns, sits on the board, has cut 4,500 jobs in the first six months of 2011.

Jim McNerney, chief executive of Boeing, shrank the company’s California operations because of the end of the space shuttle program and defense cutbacks. In January, Boeing said it was cutting 1,100 U.S. jobs, including 900 in Long Beach, and has since announced further cuts in Alabama and Kansas, while adding jobs elsewhere. At the same time, Boeing reported that profits rose 20%, to $941 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

Some companies have been cutting jobs for years. Eastman Kodak, whose chief executive, Antonio M. Perez, is a member of the council, has completed a number of layoffs at its Rochester, N.Y., manufacturing facilities. Between 2004 and 2011, Kodak’s Rochester workforce shrank by 9,200 to 7,100.

A handful of companies with leaders who serve on the council have received government funding for research and job creation projects under the Obama administration. General Electric, for example, received $210 million in stimulus funds, making it one of five companies on the council that received a combined $610 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to data posted on, the government website that tracks stimulus dollars.

Some economists say the records of these businesses indicate that the U.S. can no longer look to corporations to boost job growth.

No kidding…but the thing that really pisses me off is the response from the White House to the legitimate doubt that these CEO’s will offer up any constructive action to create jobs in the US.

“Nobody should expect this group to come up with innovative ways of investing in the American workforce and generating not only more jobs but higher wages,” said Robert Reich, who was Labor secretary during the Clinton administration. “That’s just not what these big companies do.”

The White House says members of the council serve as independent advisors. The council meets with the president every quarter and presents him with job creation proposals that have included decreasing regulation for small businesses and increasing foreign investment in U.S. companies.

Regardless of their track records, the council members “have offered a wide range of recommendations to the president,” White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said. “While decisions about which policies to pursue are ultimately the president’s alone, he values the wide array of advice and input he gets.”


I have some interesting links for you regarding the Occupy protest. One of our readers, RalphB has let us know about the OccupyAustin protest he has attended. (Thanks Ralph!) It looks like that city’s group is moving in the right direction.

History News Network has this post up from Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Lessons from History for Occupy Wall Street on How to Build a Movement

Far from signifying social dysfunction (“anarchy,” as some commentators suggest), mass political protest is conventional.  It is as old as the nation itself.  Participatory democratic action of the sort seen today on Wall Street exists along a spectrum of political forms that includes boycotts, demonstrations, strikes, and town hall meetings, among myriad other ways that citizens make their voices heard in public policy debates.  The country has sometimes even witnessed violent rebellion against titans of industry—real, not figurative, class warfare.

Then there is the question of whether political protest is futile.  History says no, or at least, not necessarily.  Mass political action has given rise to momumental changes in law and society. Industrial strife and social unrest during the early twentieth century yielded legislation during the New Deal that fundamentally changed Americans’ relationship to the workplace.  The right to collectively bargain and the eight-hour workday, among other innovations, grew out of these protest movements.  Citizen protests also produced revolutionary socio-legal changes in American race relations.  Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the wake of widespread social protest.  That historical moment is now so acclaimed that the nation has seen fit to memorialize the likeness of the movement’s foremost leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, on the national mall.  Of course, citizen mobilization certainly can come to naught.  However, the most striking feature of the American political landscape in recent decades has been the failure of citizens to even engage in sustained public protest—about anything.

Brown– Nagin continues to discuss the technical aspects of a “movement” which he argues requires,

Movements require structure and organization, unifying themes, concrete goals, effective symbols, tools for engagement with the public, and methods to influence policymakers.  Thus far, these protesters do not appear to constitute a full-fledged movement.

He believes that once the movement gains that structure and organization, and pins down key demands, it will command attention.

Even if the protesters develop a coherent agenda, organization and so forth, the resulting structure will not  function like an interest group or political party—as some commentators seem to expect.  By their nature, protest movements are spontaneous and unpredictable rather than poll-tested and packaged.  Social  movements gain leverage precisely because they are unscripted and exist outside of the normal political channels. Observe the Tea Party movement. This historical  moment is pregnant with possibility.

Which brings me to Jesse LaGreca, you may have seen him interviewed in the street…a great interview that seems to have taken the journalist by surprise…no he is not a hipster doofus.  Jesse LaGreca And George Will | This Week And ABC News| Occupy Wall Street Video | Mediaite

It started as just a minor “gotcha” moment–a YouTube clip of an Occupy Wall Street protester criticizing Fox News coverage of the movement to Griff Jenkins popped up on the Internet, as these things tend to do. It was later discovered that the protester was Jesse LaGreca, a Daily Kos blogger. On Sunday, LaGreca appeared on ABC’s This Week to talk about the protests, and–agree with his point of view or not–he came across as well-spoken, smart, and level-headed, which seems to be an outlier from the blanket media coverage of an OWS supposedly littered with uninformed, anarchist, silly sign-holding masses.

LaGreca made a point to say that he doesn’t want this movement to turn into an anti-government protest–it’s actually just the opposite:

“I find it ironic that when people demand action from their government, suddenly people tend to overreact and say, ‘Well, that’s out of control government.’ Our government is a function of our democracy,” LaGreca said. “By attacking the government, we are attacking democracy…I think we should ask our government to represent the will of the people, and if the will of the people are demanding action, then they should follow suit.”

LaGreca’s best quote was when he said he’s likely the only working class person who will appear on the Sunday news; his quick answers and honest presentation may just keep bookers putting him on throughout the week. And this is exactly what OWS needs.

Okay, I am going to just quickly post some other links for you to look into.

Michael Bloomberg has announced that the protesters in can stay in Zuccotti Park indefinitely. Hmm…what does this change of “heart” mean? I don’t know, but I don’t trust it.

Paul Singer, a republican activist, hedge fund manager and Clarence Thomas BFF, is the money-man behind the “journalist” in Saturdays protest  that closed the Air and Space Museum in DC. What is it with these rich GOP donors?

Glenn Beck is spewing the hate and fear over the airways yet again…

“Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsie with these people, you are wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you. They will do it. They’re not messing around. Those in the media – and I am included in this – they will drag us out into the streets and kill us. If you’re wealthy, they will kill you for what you have. You cannot tolerate this kind of stuff. You certainly do not encourage it.”

Damn, where is Gretchen and the other Fox & Friends to condemn this violent rhetoric?  (Crickets)

Speaking of the idiots…Herman Cain is moving up in the latest New Hampshire poll. (A trend that started last week.) Dak has more on that here.

This past week Ezra Klein wrote yet another apologetic/excuse ridden piece. David Dayen has a rather long post today over at FDL that points out inconsistencies. (If you can call it that…I just think it is only rationalization from one of Obama’s love struck reporters.)

Oh, if only the Obama encountered the kind of journalistic water hazards like these when he plays golf…Shark Infested Golf Course Lake | Australian Golf Course With Sharks | Video | Mediaite

 The term “water hazard” takes on a whole new level at a golf course in Australia. It seems that the broken banks of a flooded river in Queensland, Australia led to six bullsharks to live in a lake in th emiddle of Carbrook Golf Clube in Brisbane.

SkyNews reports:

Water hazards are a challenge for anyone who plays golf, but on the 14th tee at the Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane there is another reason to be concerned.

Half a dozen man-eating bullsharks live in the lake in the centre of the course where their fins poking through the water have become a regular sight.

The sharks got onto the Queensland golf course when it flooded some years ago after a river broke its banks.

Just imaging those bull sharks wearing sharp film noir Fedoras, you know the ones…with the press label sticking out of the band. Oh, and a little notebook and pencil in one fin…and a non filtered cigarette hanging precariously out of the shark toothed mouth.

Real journalism…Yup, that would be something to see. What you doing this evening? Give us the low down…comment section is below.