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Economic anxiety dominates 2014

Economic anxiety dominates 2014


Alhambra residents vote on Election Day at the Alhambra Fire Station #71 in Alhambra, Los Angeles County. | Getty

If Democrat Michelle Nunn is going to defy the odds and win a Senate race in the deep South it’s going to be because of people like Elizabeth Grubbs, a 30-year-old Waffle House waitress and student who feels stuck and anxious in the troubled American economy.

Grubbs says she is inclined to vote for Republican nominee David Perdue. But Nunn’s relentless attacks on Perdue’s record of outsourcing as a corporate executive clearly hit home. “Republicans are supposed to be the party of American business and the economy and all that, but he’s moving jobs overseas. It isn’t right,” Grubbs said this week while nursing a coffee at a sidewalk cafe in this faded Southern city.

So will she vote for Nunn? “I don’t know. Won’t she just be an Obama clone?” Grubbs said, mimicking the barrage of Perdue ads making just that claim. “And I don’t want to hear anything about how the economy is getting oh so much better under this president because it isn’t. It’s still crap.”

That sentiment — a raw anxiety about the state of the economy and President Barack Obama’s leadership — courses beneath the entirety of the 2014 midterm elections in ways that clearly tilt the landscape in favor of the GOP picking up the six seats they need to retake the Senate while adding a handful of House seats. But the fault lines run much deeper than one relatively desultory midterm election campaign and present risks and opportunities to both parties that will shape politics in 2016 and beyond.

In over a dozen interviews in Georgia and neighboring North Carolina, where incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is struggling to hang onto her seat, undecided voters spoke of their disgust with Washington gridlock and their frustration over stagnant wages, limited job prospects and general dismay over the direction of the country.

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The Bizarre Tale of Ben Bradlee, JFK, and the Master Spy

The Bizarre Tale of Ben Bradlee, JFK, and the Master Spy

When the editor’s gorgeous sister-in-law was killed, Bradlee rushed to find her diary. But why was James Jesus Angleton looking for it too?

On October 12, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer, the glamorous sister-in-law of Ben Bradlee and sometime lover of Jack Kennedy, was shot to death while walking along the C & O Canal in Georgetown. And in the hours that followed, the search for Meyer’s scandalous diary would find the future Washington Post editor in a race with one of the Cold War’s most legendary spies.

Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, is rightly lionized as a master journalist. But he was also a key figure in a Washington establishment that arguably no longer exists—the kind of guy who advised presidents even as he reported on them, and counted some of the CIA’s top officers as personal friends.

The day Meyer died, these roles converged. After Bradlee had returned home from identifying Meyer’s body at the city morgue, he and his wife Tony received a call from the Tokyo-based artist and sculptor Anne Truitt. “She had been perhaps Mary’s closest friend,” Bradlee recounts in his memoir, A Good Life, “and after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession of a private diary ‘if anything ever happened to me.’ Anne asked if we had found any such diary, and we told her we hadn’t looked for anything, much less a diary.”

Bradlee and his wife began their search the next morning, only to find that someone else had been tipped off about the diary’s existence. Meyer’s door had been locked, but when Bradlee made his way in, he found James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s counterintelligence chief, standing there in the living room. He, too, was looking for Meyer’s diary.

Asked how he had gotten into the house, Angleton, who was among other things an expert at picking locks, “shuffled his feet.” Angleton was a Washington social figure in his own right, and his wife Cecily had been close with Mary, who had been married to another high-ranking CIA officer. “We felt his presence was odd, to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary’s house thoroughly,” Bradlee wrote. After an exhaustive search, however, no diary was found.

Angleton is one of those people who will always be shrouded in mystery. To his detractors, he was a half-mad paranoiac who nearly destroyed the CIA in his obsessive search for a Soviet mole. He was also an unquestionably brilliant “master of the game” with highbrow literary interests—borrowing a line from T.S. Elliot, he memorably referred to the world of espionage as a “wilderness of mirrors.” He essentially invented the CIA’s counterintelligence operation and, until his fall from grace nearly a decade after Meyer was killed, was perhaps the most powerful man at the Agency.

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Ted Cruz trying to help Senate candidates, but his role is limited

Ted Cruz trying to help Senate candidates, but his role is limited


Sen. Ted Cruz will spend Saturday in Georgia pitching voters on David Perdue. That will bring to three the number of Senate nominees the Texas tea partier has clasped hands with this fall.

Republican hopes to reclaim the Senate hinge on eight to 10 crucial races. Cruz, one of several senators eyeing the White House in 2016 and by far the most divisive in either party, has been doing his part. He’s sent checks to some candidates, raised money for others, and donated generously to the party’s Senate campaign arm.

He’s also stumped where he’s been invited, which turns out to be a limited number of contested states: Iowa, Kansas and Georgia. He’ll be in Alaska the weekend before Election Day, an aide said Wednesday.

In other battlegrounds where moderate voters hold the key, such as Colorado and North Carolina, Cruz isn’t the go-to guy. The 16-day government shutdown he instigated a year ago remains unpopular — one of several reasons that for each candidate who welcomes Cruz, there are more for whom his embrace would be toxic.

“I’m on the road just about every day. Primarily campaigning to help retake the Senate in 2014, which I think we have a tremendous opportunity to do,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m going to be in a number of other states. We’re set to travel quite a bit” in the final push ahead of Nov. 4.

In Kansas, Cruz joined three-term Sen. Pat Roberts last week. Challenger Greg Orman pounced on him for “inviting the architect of last year’s government shutdown.” Kansas political analysts agreed that the Cruz appearance came at a price.

Scott Brown’s Big-Money Sellout

By Andy Kroll

On the issue of money in politics, no senator has flip-flopped as dramatically as Brown.

Name a major super-PAC or dark-money outfit and there's a good chance it has helped Republican Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts now trying to oust Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Karl Rove's American Crossroads? Check. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity? Check. The US Chamber of Commerce, billionaire Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending, FreedomWorks for America, ex-Bush ambassador John Bolton's super-PAC—check, check, check, and check.

Despite being a darling of conservative deep-pocketed groups, Brown once was a foe of big-money machers. As a state legislator in Massachusetts, he sought to curb the influence of donors by stumping for so-called clean elections, in which candidates receive public funds for their campaigns and eschew round-the-clock fundraising. But during his three years in Washington—from his surprise special-election win in January 2010 to his defeat at the hands of Elizabeth Warren in November 2012—Brown transformed into an insider who embraced super-PACs, oligarch-donors such as the Koch brothers, and secret campaign spending. On the issue of money in politics, there is perhaps no Senate candidate this year who has flip-flopped as dramatically as Brown. Here's how it happened.

In November 1998, Brown won a seat in the Massachusetts House. That same year, voters in the state approved a ballot measure to implement a clean elections system; the proposal passed by a 2-1 margin. By law, however, ballot measures can't allocate taxpayer funds, and the fight to implement the new system moved to the legislature in Boston.

Brown allied himself with supporters of clean elections. As part of the state House's tiny Republican caucus, Brown clashed with the old-guard Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Tom Finneran, who viewed clean elections as inimical to incumbents. Brown did quibble with reformers over some details of the proposed clean-elections system, but he voted in 2002 against a plan that would have gutted the program.

Democrats pour cash into Kentucky but cast nervous glances at New Hampshire

Bill Clinton and Alison Lundergan Grimes share a moment backstage.

Democrats pour cash into Kentucky but cast nervous glances at New Hampshire

Tom McCarthy in New York

Can the Democrats hold on to their Senate majority? With 12 days to go, it looks like it’s going to be a close-run thing

Why did Messner climb without oxygen? Why did Heyerdahl cross the ocean on a raft? Sometimes it’s cooler to do things the hard way. The Democrats seem to understand this. With 12 days to go until the midterm elections, there are still many paths for the Democrats to retain their Senate majority. Those paths are just looking increasingly dramatic – through reddish states like Georgia and Kansas, instead of bluish states like Colorado and Iowa or New Hampshire. But how much cooler will it be, for them, if they pull it off?

Immigration official is mother of Canadian gunman

Gunman: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (allegedly pictured above) has been named as the Muslim convert who shot dead Corporal Nathan Cirillo and opened fire on the Canadian Parliament

Immigration official is mother of Canadian gunman

By Lydia Warren and James Nye for MailOnline and Chris Spargo

  • Quebec-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, recently converted to Islam and had dreams of heading to the Middle East
  • He had his passport seized after being designated a 'high-risk traveler' - despite his mother, Susan Bibeau, being on Canada's immigration board
  • The mother of the Muslim convert who shot dead a Canadian solider outside Parliament on Wednesday has said she is crying for the victims, rather than for her son. In a brief and tear-filled telephone call on Thursday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mother Susan Bibeau told the Associated Press she did not know what to say to those hurt in the attack.

    'Can you ever explain something like this?' she said. 'We are sorry.' 

    Mother: Zehaf-Bibeau's mother Susan, who works for the Immigration and Refuge Board of Canada

    Susan Bibeau, whose son had his passport seized after he was designated a 'high-risk traveler', works as a federal public servant for the Immigrant & Refugee board and lives in Montreal. On Wednesday, her son gunned down 24-year-old single dad Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard by the National War Memorial in Ottawa, before running inside the Parliament and opening fire. 

    Born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall to his federal employee mother and a Libyan businessman father and raised just north of Montreal, the young man lived a quiet childhood of private schools and suburban homes.

    Then, after years of run-ins with the law, he converted to Islam. 

    A criminal court database shows 13 identified Quebec court records dating back to June 2001 in Montreal involving Zehaf-Bibeau.

    He was charged in February 2004 for possession of marijuana and possession of PCP. He pleaded guilty to both charges in December 2004, serving one day in prison for marijuana possession and 60 days for PCP possession.

    He also spent a day in jail in March of 2004 for a parole violation and was again convicted of marijuana possession in 2009.

    Axe: Obama 'negligent' on symbolism

    Axe: Obama 'negligent' on symbolism


    David Axelrod is pictured. | AP Photo

    Former senior White House adviser David Axelrod in a Thursday report said President Barack Obama is sometimes “negligent” in the more symbolic elements of the presidency.

    The longtime Obama ally, in a Bloomberg Businessweek story about the president’s crisis management leadership style, said Obama doesn’t always embrace the more theatrical parts of being president.

    “There’s no doubt that there’s a theatrical nature to the presidency that he resists,” Axelrod said. “Sometimes he can be negligent in the symbolism.”

    His comments echo a familiar Beltway criticism of the president, who has received both praise and flak for his calm demeanor and deliberate response in the face of crisis.

    Axelrod still largely defended Obama against criticism of his leadership style, arguing that the White House had an effective response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and praising his authorization of the 2011 mission to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    Earlier this month, Axelrod also questioned the president for throwing himself into the midterm elections, saying it was a “mistake” for Obama to say that the policies he supports will be on the ballot in November. Republicans have seized on that line during the midterm election campaign to tie congressional Democratic candidates to an unpopular president.

    “I wouldn’t put that line there,” Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    Canadian Leader Says Capital Shootings Terror-Related

    Canadian Leader Says Capital Shootings Terror-Related.

    A gunman fatally shot a Canadian soldier before being killed in a shootout in the Canadian Parliament building.

    Newspaper Ad Revenue Fell $40 Billion in a Decade

    Newspaper Ad Revenue Fell $40 Billion in a Decade

    Bourree Lam

    A new report fills in the details on a now familiar story: Printed news just isn't the business it used to be.

    The fact of the decline of the newspaper business is not news. But a recent essay from the Brookings Institution contains some specific numbers that make clear just how bad things have gotten: In just more than a decade, from 2000 to 2013, advertising revenue for America's newspaper fell from $63.5 billion to $23 billion.

    The report's author, Washington Post veteran Robert Kaiser, says that the advertising money pie is being chipped away by Google and Facebook, who are able to sort and target audiences in a way newspapers can't. He also predicts that ad revenue will plummet further, as advertisers are partly contributing to print out of habit. Add Craigslist, which has largely replaced once-lucrative classified ads, to that equation for even less revenue for the papers.

    2013 was the second year that Google crossed the $50 billion line in annual revenue, with advertising driving most of those earnings. Dollars spent on mobile advertising is forecasted to swell to nearly $18 billion this year, driven by Facebook and Google.

    In the face of dwindling profits, the industry is shrinking. There's the recent news of plans to cut 100 jobs at The New York Times newsroom. The number of newspaper employees in America has gone from 59,000 in 1989 to 36,000 in 2012. And according to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of daily newspapers has gone from more than 1,800 in 1940 to 1,382 in 2011.

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    How Big Is the Canadian Terrorists’ Network?


    How Big Is the Canadian Terrorists’ Network?


    Canadian officials were quick to finger ISIS in this week’s attacks on government targets. But it’s still not clear whether or not the killers were part of a larger jihadist web.

    Terrorists have twice attacked Canadian government targets this week, with a shooting Wednesday at the country’s parliament in Ottawa. Now Canadian and American authorities are trying to learn whether the killers acted alone or were part of a larger extremist network.

    The mayhem caused by alleged Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau occurred just two days after another man, Martin Rouleau-Couture, struck two Canadian soldiers with a car in Quebec—killing one and wounding another.

    Full details on Zehaf-Bibeau are still emerging. But he appears to have been a 32-year-old native of Quebec with a history of legal troubles that predate his radicalization. Canadian journalist Domenic Fazioli reported that Zehaf-Bibeau had been arrested a total of five times for drug possession and parole violations.

    Former Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, who once oversaw Canadian security agencies in cabinet as a member of the ruling Conservative government, said he had independent information that suggested the two suspects visited the same jihadist web forums.

    “It is likely there is a digital trail that suggests they accessed some of the same Internet chat rooms and websites,” he told The Daily Beast. “It appears the [Parliament Hill shooter] was using some of the same networks as the killer [from earlier this week], who killed an army officer… And it was interesting that ISIS apparently, or a source identifying themselves as ISIS, had a photo out of this guy in pretty short order.”

    The GOP's 2016 tech deficit

    Reporters use laptop computers, iPads and ink and paper. | Getty

    The GOP's 2016 tech deficit


    Here’s an early reality check for Republican White House hopefuls: The party doesn’t have enough tech experts to staff up a wide-open primary campaign.

    What the aspiring GOP candidates will need to mount a modern-day tech race are campaign veterans with a wide range of seasoned digital skill sets — for fighting TV admen over budgets, writing fundraising email copy that doesn’t go straight to the trash bin and in using data the right way to find potential donors and voters.

    But that kind of tech savvy doesn’t just get made in a Harvard dorm room. It comes from live-fire experience in the latest election cycles.

    So while Democrats contemplate a small field where much of President Barack Obama’s vaunted campaign tech capacity transfers to Hillary Clinton, the GOP is facing a different dilemma. The tech experts it does have are likely to be scattered into a dozen or more campaigns.

    Last of the Newspaper Giants

    By Tom Shales

    The Washington Post editor’s Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic says his boss, who died Tuesday at 93, justified the description ‘legendary’ a hundred times over.

    Even his alliterative name had mythic qualities: Ben Bradlee. That sounds like the name of a dynamic, fearless, big-city newspaper editor as it might have been invented by a Hollywood screenwriter. But even though he was portrayed in one movie and appeared briefly in another with his glamorous writer-wife, Sally Quinn, there was nothing fake about Ben. Nothing had to be invented. The real story was fantastic enough.

    When Ben Bradlee died Tuesday, at 93, of complications from Alzheimer’s, the most inescapable adjective in the obituaries was “legendary,” as anyone could have predicted. When I first met him in the early ’70s, having been hired as a cub reporter in the Style section of The Washington Post, both of which he turned into national showpieces, I expected him to be physically legendary—like maybe 7 feet tall. He was, in fact, of average height, but he had an aura like a pope or a head of state. Maybe he was the last giant of the business he loved so much.

    That stature came so naturally to him that he never seemed conscious of it and in fact appeared a bit embarrassed when it was mentioned to him. But he had everything necessary—and more—to star in the last great act of American journalism, a finale that included the courageous publication of the Pentagon Papers despite threats from Congress and, of course, also included the tragicomic collapse of a presidency. Ben may have expressed doubts along the way, but he pursued the story of Watergate even as other papers, and the TV networks, cowered. Who in his line of work ever walked taller?

    Everyone knows the stories about Ben Bradlee that justify the word “legendary” a hundred times over. Even though I was a very minor player at the Post during its most turbulent and triumphant era, eventually becoming TV critic with his support, I got to spend little moments with him that anyone would treasure. As they’d happen, one would think, “I want to remember every second, every detail of this,” even if it was a casual chat in the hallway. Now that he’s gone, one struggles to retrieve every speck and glimmer from a most inadequate memory bank.

    Everyone’s heard how Bradlee told Katharine Graham, another revered mythic figure, that he’d give his “left one” to be executive editor of the Post; probably only people who worked in the building in downtown D.C. knew about such less historic but endearing details as the standing order for a “cake alert” should anybody be celebrating a birthday on the fifth floor, where most of the editorial staff were then located. “Ben,” who was hardly ever called “Mr. Bradlee,” always had to be notified when a cake was imminent. He was suddenly the kid you didn’t dare fail to invite to a birthday party, and he’d show up once he got the word.

    He was tough and crusty and blunt, just as Jason Robards (who became a good friend of Ben and Sally’s) played him in All the Presidents Men, but he was also known to cry at sad movies, and his threshold was very low. One of the other staff critics in Style was known for not being a favorite of Bradlee or other Post executives; I’ll never forget the anguish in Ben’s voice when he complained to me, once the critic had left the paper, that the guy had never stopped by his office to say hello or to chew, as it used to be called, “the fat.” It was, amazingly to me, Ben’s feelings who were hurt in that relationship. He was the one who felt snubbed.

    His feelings were hurt, too, he told me, when Howard Simons, the rough-edged managing editor, grew angry and embittered as the publicity surrounding All the Presidents Men grew deafening and Bradlee became a nationally known figure. Ben couldn’t understand why Howard would feel jealous of Ben—and express it. I remember a wise man saying, “Those giants can suck all the oxygen out of a room,” but Ben wasn’t that way. He seemed anxious to share the luster. He really didn’t want to hoard it, even if he was the most charismatic character any of us knew, or ever would know.

    He was also, other than my father, the only great man I ever knew.

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    Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

    A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman. (YouTube/FCKH8)

    Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

    By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

    A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman.

    In the “F-Bombs for Feminism” video, little girls drop the F-word over and over again while “educating adults on sexism,” the company FCKH8 says in the description.

    Obama and the End of Greatness

    Obama and the End of Greatness

    By Jeff Shesol

    In March of 1977, several weeks into the Carter Administration, “Saturday Night Live” featured a skit called “Ask President Carter.” The premise was a radio program, hosted by Walter Cronkite (Bill Murray), on which callers brought their problems to President Carter (Dan Aykroyd). After walking a postal worker through a highly technical repair to her letter-sorting machine (“There’s a three-digit setting there, where the post and the armature meet”), the President expertly talks a man down from an acid trip. “You did some orange sunshine, Peter,” Carter tells him. “Just remember you’re a living organism on this planet, and you’re very safe.… Relax, stay inside, and listen to some music, O.K.? Do you have any Allman Brothers?”

    The real Carter, it turned out, wasn’t much like this—letter-sorting machines, maybe, but never the Allman Brothers. What the skit captures is the suspension of disbelief at the start of most Presidencies—that moment when a good number of Americans are able to convince themselves that we might be in the presence of a great man, and that his greatness will be manifest. That this is the man who has the answers. When it becomes clear that he doesn’t, we never quite forgive him for it.

    This is where we stand right now with President Obama.

    There are two years left in his tenure, but we are already in the process of writing him off. The Atlantic is calling him “our passé President”; at a rally in Maryland on Sunday, while Obama delivered a campaign speech, dozens of people drifted out of the auditorium. Yet he is still, of course, our President, and we still, on some level, expect heroics. Deep down, we don’t want Obama to appoint an “Ebola czar.” We want him to march into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, set some new protocols, and put this unpleasant business behind us. Instead, to quell our Ebola freak-out, Obama “hugged and kissed … a couple of the nurses” at a hospital in Atlanta, which, really, is an assignment Joe Biden could have taken.

    We are a long way from the ideal Presidency—the kind on display for fourteen hours in “The Roosevelts,” Ken Burns’s new documentary, which aired last month on PBS. Granted, any President—Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore—given the Burns treatment would emerge a monument, but the greatness of Franklin Roosevelt (and, to a lesser extent, his cousin Theodore) is beyond serious question. “Who else among his twelve successors can compete?” asks Aaron David Miller in “The End of Greatness,” a thoughtful new book on Presidential performance. “In almost every category—including longevity, impact, wartime leadership, media mastery, durability of coalition, ensuring party control—F.D.R. seems to have cornered the market.”

    By Miller’s reckoning—and he is hardly alone here—F.D.R. is the last “undeniably great president” this country has seen. “Our challenges today,” he argues, “are varied and diffused, our politics too broken and dysfunctional and unforgiving to be resolved by a single or a series of heroic presidential actions.” Though Miller thinks “acts of greatness in the presidency are still possible,” he insists that “we cannot have another giant”—and “seldom need one” at this stage in our national development. It is time, he concludes, for America to “get over the greatness thing” and “come to terms with the limits of a president’s capacity to fix things.”

    The current President would most likely agree. Despite the grand hopes and hype of the 2008 campaign, this tempering of ambitions, this recognition—and acceptance—of the constraints on Presidential power has been a leitmotif of the Obama Presidency.

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    Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

    Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

     Dashiell Bennett

    A leaked autopsy report supports claims of a fight inside officer Darren Wilson's car.

    A new report on Michael Brown's official autopsy results appears to support Officer Darren Wilson's version of the events on August 9, according to two medical experts.

    The new analysis of the autopsy results was released on Wednesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which asked two independent experts who were not involved in the investigation—one of them, the St. Louis County Medical examiner—to review the available evidence.

    Their report says that Brown was shot in the hand at very close range and his blood and other tissue were found both inside and outside the car. Wilson has reportedly told investigators that he fought with Brown inside his police SUV and that Brown attempted to take his gun.

    St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham told the paper that the autopsy "does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.” The other expert, forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, went even further, saying that the wound on Brown's hand "supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun" and adding that another shot, which went through Brown's forearm, means Brown could not have facing Wilson with his hands up when he was shot, an apparent contradiction of the now iconic "hands up, don't shoot" posture adopted by protesters in Ferguson.

    The official county autopsy and the private autopsies conducted on behalf of the families do not disagree on the number or wounds or their location. For example, both reports say that a shot to the top of Brown's head was likely fatal, but witnesses do not agree on whether he charging toward Wilson or was already on his way to the ground when he was hit. (A second story published in the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday says Wilson claims Brown kept charging him.)

    This interpretation of the report seems to coincide with other reports about Wilson's statements to investigators and his testimony before the grand jury, which was recounted in The New York Times last Friday. The feeling among many observers of the case, including The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery, and The Root's Eric Guster, is that these recent leaks are meant to prime the public for an inevitable result: a grand jury investigation that ends with no charges being filed against Wilson.

    Police officers are generally given the right to respond with lethal force once they feel their life is in danger, and the Times added the federal officials think a civil rights charge against Wilson is also unlikely, given the high standards needed to file one. No matter the reason, the leaks are bound to raise tension in Ferguson once again, which continues to see protests more than 70 days since Brown's shooting.

    David Carr: Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

    Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

    Civilians, normal people who don’t think the toppling of a sitting American president with newspaper articles is one of humankind’s lasting achievements, will read encomiums to Ben Bradlee like this one and wonder: What’s the big deal?

    After all, he didn’t report the Watergate story for his Washington Post, he picked the reporters. He didn’t write the articles, he edited them. But journalists are people who will go where they are pointed, and Mr. Bradlee generally pointed to important, consequential things. People who worked for him would go through walls to bring back those stories, some of which revealed the true course of American history and some of which actually altered it.

    The newspaper business can be a grand endeavor, but most of the people who commit journalism would never be mistaken for larger than life. Journalists are bystanders who chronicle the exploits of people who actually do things.

    But Ben Bradlee did things. He went to war, loved early and often, befriended and took on presidents, swore like a sailor, and partied like a movie star. Now that he is gone — he died Tuesday at the age of 93 at his home in Georgetown — it is tough to imagine a newspaperman ever playing the kind of outsize role that he once did in Washington. Newspapers, and people’s regard for them, have shrunk since he ran The Post.

    He took over an also-ran newspaper and turned it into a battleship like the one on which he served in World War II. Once the newspaper he ran gained steam, there was only the relentless effort to beat the competition, to find and woo talent, to afflict those that The Post deemed worthy.

    In the more than quarter-century he helped lead the newsroom, from 1965 to 1991, he doubled its staff and circulation, and multiplied its ambitions. He would have been a terrible newspaperman in the current context — buyouts, reduced print schedules, timidity about offending advertisers — but he was a perfect one for his time.

    “I had a good seat,” he said to Alicia C. Shepard in a 1995 interview with The American Journalism Review. “I came along at the right time with the right job and I didn’t screw it up.”

    Mr. Bradlee had the attention span of a gnat — stories of him walking away from a conversation he ceased to find interesting were common — but he was completely hypnotized by the chase of a good story.


    By some estimations, including his own, his most enduring accomplishment had nothing to do with the Pentagon Papers or Watergate. After he became editor of the Post, he watched with envy as The New York Herald Tribune and magazines like Esquire and Playboy were using a different vocabulary, a so-called New Journalism, to expand the ways in which stories were told.

    In 1969, he conjured Style, a hip, cheeky section of the newspaper that reflected the tumult of the times in a city where fashion and discourse were rived with a maddening sameness. The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar. He expanded the vernacular of newspapering, enabling real, actual writers to shake off the shackles of the hack and generate daily discourse that made people laugh, spill their coffee or throw The Post down in disgust.

    He had nothing of the commoner about him, hosting and grilling much of the world’s elite at the Georgetown home he shared with Sally Quinn, a Post party reporter who became his third wife. But although he grew up in Boston, not even knowing anyone who was black, he managed to make a credible newspaper in a majority-black city. His efforts to cover the black community in deeper ways led to the returned Pulitzer Prize in the Janet Cooke affair, a big dent in a very shiny run.

    Mr. Bradlee could be almost cartoonishly ambitious. Asked by Katharine Graham, the Post’s publisher, about his interest in the top job at the paper, he immediately replied that he would “give his left one” for the opportunity. He probably would have gotten along fine on the remaining testosterone.

    A player of favorites and an admirer of bravado, he famously vetoed the hiring of a reporter who had already been vetted and all but hired, because “nothing clanks when he walks.”

    Ben Bradlee clanked when he walked.

    Hot new liberal strategy: just download the GOP hive mind!

    senate race 2014 cartoon

    This year's hot new liberal strategy: just download the GOP hive mind!

    jeb lund

    Jeb Lund

    If Democratic candidates refuse to stand up for their own party's ideas, maybe these people don't deserve to win

    The Republican party has, reliably, been going more crazy for nearly a quarter century. So it’s been fairly easy for Democrats to guarantee a chunk of votes simply by standing still or inching rightward, while pointing at the loons and saying, “That’s not me.” Which is fine as a principle, but the only person Not Me will be dragging to the polls on a boring midterm election, is Billy from the Family Circus.

    However, the closer Democrats get toward said crazy at which they’re pointing, the less saying “That’s not me” means to anyone – because it clearly doesn’t mean much to the candidates either.

    Nothing brought home the depressing similarities quite like the final Florida gubernatorial debate between sitting Republican governor Rick Scott and Democratic candidate (and former governor) Charlie Crist on Tuesday night. Scott lied in his first statement, mischaracterizing something Crist had said – not on the trail, but literally seconds before, on the stage, in front of the audience. Both men made accusations and counter-promises like a couple of student body presidential candidates saying, “My opponent promised to take seniors to Big Kahuna’s Water Park for graduation and failed. I’ll take us to Six Flags.” The whole slapfight had less dignity than the Batley Townswomen’s Guild’s reenactment of Pearl Harbor.

    pat roberts kansas illustration

    It’s tempting to depict Florida as some crazy otherworldly place – mostly because lazy journalists do this all the time – but Kansas isn’t doing any better. The Democrats completely tanked their chance to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Republican Pat Roberts, and instead are throwing in with a wealthy independent investor candidate with ties to Wall Street, despite no guarantee he would even caucus with them if he won. Part of their reasoning was certainly that their actual candidate already shared so many views with the Wall Street guy. The Democrats have struggled in Kansas for years, but rather than encouraging voters to the polls with a strong alternative candidate, they took a “moderate Kansas Democrat” – which should set off alarm bells from the get-go – and then ditched him in the hopes that they could recruit by some rich guy if he gets elected. Only the Democratic party could solve the problem of not offering much of an alternative by getting not much of an alternative.

    NYTIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: The Democratic Panic

    The Democratic Panic

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kay Hagan and Other Candidates Avoid Obama

    After a few days of trying to ignore the question, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Georgia, acknowledged on Friday that she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. By this year’s standards, that’s pretty forthright, especially compared with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat running for the Senate in Kentucky, who refuses to discuss her presidential vote.

    Only one Democratic Senate candidate this cycle has been willing to appear with the president on the stump: Gary Peters in Michigan. The others have spent months keeping their distance from Mr. Obama and some of his best policies. Even Ms. Nunn just started running a television ad complaining that an attack ad by her Republican opponent, David Perdue, featured a misleading photo of her and Mr. Obama. The photo was actually taken at an event honoring President George H.W. Bush, she said.

    The panicky Democratic flight away from President Obama — and from some of the party’s most important positions — is not a surprise. Mr. Obama remains highly unpopular among white voters, particularly in Southern states where candidates like Ms. Nunn, Ms. Grimes and several others are struggling to establish leads. But one of the reasons for his unpopularity is that nervous members of his own party have done a poor job of defending his policies over the nearly six years of his presidency, allowing a Republican narrative of failure to take hold.

    Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. Not a word of it is spoken on the campaign trail, where little credit is also given to the White House for months of promising economic news.

    Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it. Though none support the Republican position of repeal, most talk about the need to “fix” the health law, as if it were a wreck alongside the road rather than a vehicle providing millions of people with health coverage.

    “When I think about the health care law, frustrated, disappointed, you can put a lot of words toward it, but every day I work to try to fix it,” said Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, in a radio ad. (Mr. Begich voted for the law.) In a recent debate, Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat of North Carolina, talked mostly about the “common-sense fixes” she wants to make to the law.

    Several Democratic candidates, including Ms. Hagan, Ms. Nunn, and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, quickly adopted the right-wing talking point that President Obama needs to impose a travel ban on all residents of African countries with Ebola cases, even though most public-health experts say such a ban would be ineffective and could make the situation worse.

    Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has fought loudly against the president’s energy policies, has scurried so far to the right that she even opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, though her leading Republican opponent supports it.

    Many of these candidates are running in difficult political environments and are being careful about what they say or don’t say in hopes of preserving Democratic control of the Senate. They run the risk, though, of alienating important constituencies who prefer a party with a spine, especially black voters, who remain very supportive of Mr. Obama. By not standing firmly for their own policies, Democrats send a message to voters that the unending Republican criticism of the president is legitimate. There is much that is going right in this country, and there is still time for Democrats to say so.

    Jeb Bush’s tax problem

    Jeb Bush is pictured. | AP Photo

    Jeb Bush’s tax problem


    Jeb Bush has a tax problem.

    The former Florida governor has said he could accept tax increases in a hypothetical deficit-cutting deal. Never mind that he added that would come only in exchange for major federal spending cuts, or that he repeatedly cut taxes as governor.

    Tax hikes are still apostasy in Republican circles, and the stance could be a big problem for Bush if he decides to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

    Bush’s views are already pitting him against one of his party’s most influential activists, Grover Norquist, the high priest of anti-tax orthodoxy who’s convinced nearly every elected Republican to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

    “Mind-boggling,” Norquist said of Bush.

    It’s the very issue that helped bring down Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, who lost his bid for a second term after famously reneging on a “no new taxes” pledge.

    “If my father had thrown away a perfectly good presidency by raising taxes, I think one of the things in life that I would learn is, ‘Don’t do that,’” Norquist said. “But here you have Jeb Bush going, ‘I learned nothing from my father’s self-immolation.”

    Read Article

    Scott Brown gains on Shaheen in N.H.

    Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen are pictured in this composite. | John Shinkle/POLITICO

    Scott Brown gains on Shaheen in N.H.


    Can Scott Brown get lucky again?

    The former Massachusetts Republican senator captured the late Ted Kennedy’s seat thanks to a combination of good timing, a weak rival, a nationally sour mood for Democrats and a perception that he was truly authentic.

    Had he stayed in Massachusetts, he would have had a good shot at becoming the next governor, given the performance of his one-time rival, Attorney General Martha Coakley, in a gubernatorial race that Republican candidate Charlie Baker has made competitive. But the office didn’t appeal to Brown, according to friends.

    So he relocated to New Hampshire to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a well-liked and well-defined former governor serving in a quirky state with more of the white, independent swing voters whom both sides are making a play for. Though Shaheen is the favorite, the race has become close enough that Republicans insist there’s a chance for an upset in a national climate that has soured on the Democratic president.

    “If this were being held in a presidential year turnout, Shaheen would win [handily],” said Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who is advising a number of Senate campaigns. “But the prevailing political environment and the electoral arithmetic gives Brown a chance to make it close.”

    Shaheen and Brown will face off Tuesday night in their second debate, an event that both sides sought to spin hours ahead of time.

    “Voters Question Scott Brown’s Motives,” read a pre-debate memo that Shaheen’s campaign sent to reporters. “Tonight, New Hampshire voters will be rightfully questioning why Scott Brown is even at the debate. Brown’s flirting with running for office in Massachusetts — for both Governor and Senator — and later testing the Presidential waters in Iowa showed voters that he’s solely interested in getting back into office. That’s why polls consistently show New Hampshire voters don’t trust him.”

    Brown, in a radio interview hours before the debate, referenced Obama’s quote a day earlier that Democratic senators who have avoided campaigning with him have all voted for his agenda — a remark that made White House supporters cringe.

    Read Article

    How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

    How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

    By Peter Nicholas

    The ex-White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton nearly sank his presidency has emerged from seclusion and is tweeting, writing and delivering speeches. On Monday, she joined Twitter (@MonicaLewinsky) and put out her first 140-character message: “#HereWeGo.” A day later she had nearly 64,000 followers.

    So, there’s an audience for what Ms. Lewinsky has to say.

    Is this trouble for the Clintons? Could it complicate Hillary Clinton‘s likely presidential bid?

    Yes — though not for reasons you might think.

    It’s doubtful Ms. Lewinsky has salacious new stories to share about her dalliance with the ex-president in the mid-1990s. The Starr report covered that ground in unsparing detail.

    But there’s another consideration. Ms. Lewinsky’s reappearance is a reminder of a deeply polarizing period in American politics. And that does Mrs. Clinton no favors as she girds for a possible campaign.

    Polls already suggest Mrs. Clinton isn’t a unifying figure who can bridge the partisan divide that has bedeviled President Barack Obama.

    Since stepping down as secretary of state last year, her approval ratings have fallen steadily. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that only 43% had a positive view of Mrs. Clinton, down 15 points from the end of her tenure at State. As of last month, only 14% of Republicans viewed her favorably compared with 72% of Democrats.

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    Kansas and Georgia Change the Equation on Senate-Majority Math

    Kansas and Georgia Change the Equation on Senate-Majority Math

     By Charlie Cook

    The prospects remain very tough for Democrats to hold onto their majority in the Senate, but there is a new scenario emerging—albeit still unlikely—that is turning the majority math a bit on its head.

    As I have said previously, Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take the majority. The question has generally been whether Republicans just need to knock off six Democratic seats to get to 51, or if they will need to gross seven seats in order to net six. Now there appears to be a real question as to whether Republicans may need to gross eight seats in order to net six, covering for the potential loss of not just Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas but an open seat in Georgia as well.

    Though things don't look quite as hopeless for Roberts as they did a few weeks ago, the incumbent's poll numbers are said to be awful. Kansas voters face a dilemma: They can either throw out a senator whom they see as having all but completely lost touch with the state, or they can risk electing an independent who may very well choose to side with Democrats and President Obama in a state where neither is popular.

    Republicans are also getting heartburn from the race for the open Senate seat in Georgia. Though the computer models have long given the GOP a huge advantage in the state—one was giving Republicans over a 99 percent chance just a week or two ago—this was always likely to be a very, very competitive race, which is why The Cook Political Report has rated it as a 'Toss Up' since March.

    Early on, it appeared quite possible, if not likely, that Republicans would nominate an "exotic" candidate for the race, such as Rep. Paul Broun or Rep. Phil Gingrey—either of whom could easily have lost the seat for the GOP. Meanwhile, Democrats were clearly headed toward nominating the very electable Michelle Nunn, CEO of a nonprofit and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. Even after former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue won a hard-fought GOP runoff against Rep. Jack Kingston, his name recognition remained surprisingly low. Perdue had not yet consolidated the Republican vote by mid-September, and thus Nunn still had a lead, albeit a small one at that point. Gradually, Perdue began to pull things together and eased ahead of Nunn with a lead that was admittedly not large, but seemed to be durable. One Perdue advantage is that Georgia still votes more like a Southern state, having not yet transitioned into a purple, competitive state, as other states like Virginia have.

    The hammer has since come down on the Perdue campaign. Democrats have attacked Perdue's business record and his affinity for outsourcing jobs—something that is often necessary in today's business world, but remains very unpopular during a fragile recovery, where the median real family income hasn't improved since 2000. Now, Nunn is in a very close race with Perdue, whose campaign is in something of a tailspin.

    Against this backdrop, Republicans still have open Democratic seats in Montana and West Virginia in the bag. While Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota is giving the GOP a case of acid reflux on a number of levels, in the end the party appears likely to pick up that seat as well. Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), and Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) are all locked in uphill contests. While none should be considered politically dead in the water, each faces ugly headwinds. Landrieu's last stand is likely to be in a December 6 runoff election with Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Republican who is most certain to emerge from the state's novel "jungle" primary.

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    Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

    Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

    By Michael Tomasky

    Hundreds of millions of untraceable donations are flowing to candidates, and at some point soon untraceable ‘dark money’ will likely overtake the system.

    There is something obscene in looking at the raw numbers, is there not? More than $500 million being spent on House races, and north of $300 million on Senate contests. A half-billion dollars! In the House! Where, as of yesterday, the Cook Political Report was counting a mere 17 contests as toss-ups, with 19 others as vaguely competitive. [This paragraph originally said $300 billion, which was incorrect.]

    But the gross (double entendre intended) amounts aren’t the money story of this campaign. The money story of this campaign is that undisclosed money is starting to overtake the system and overtake our politics, and that at the heart of this corruption sits a lie peddled to us by the Supreme Court when it handed down the Citizens United decision. Whether it did so naively or cynically, I honestly do not know. But let’s just say that if it was naïve, it was almost too naïve to believe, Steve.

    Here’s the situation. Outside spending—that is, the spending not by candidates’ own committees—may possibly surpass total candidate spending, at least in the competitive races, for the first time. And of that outside spending, an increasing amount is the category they call “dark” money, which is money whose sources and donors don’t have to be disclosed. I mean, don’t have to be disclosed. At all. That’s because these aren’t SuperPACs, which at least do have to disclose their donor lists, but are 501c4 “social welfare” (!) groups that don’t have to file anything with the Federal Elections Commission.

    You’ve heard a lot about how bad SuperPACs are, and they are, but they’re not even the main problem these days. Most SuperPAC money has to be disclosed. But social welfare money does not. This recent study by the Brennan Center tells the tale. It totaled up the outside money being spent in the nine most competitive Senate races and found that 33 percent of these outside dollars weren’t subject to disclosure requirements. This includes the aforementioned social welfare organizations along with trade associations, the 501c6’s, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is one of 2014’s biggest spenders, possibly spending more this cycle than it did even in the presidential year of 2012.

    A further 23 percent is subject only to partial disclosure. So more than half of this outside money is now spread around behind either partial or total secrecy. That percentage is assuredly going to grow. Almost all of the Koch Brothers’ money—they earlier announced a goal of spending $300 million on these elections, just $100 million less than they spent in the presidential year of 2012—is dark, and if they succeed, others will surely follow their example.

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    Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

    Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

    So much for polls: “Walmart moms” in two states with hard-fought Senate elections say they’ll make up their minds the night before Election Day.

    Senate races remain stubbornly tight in key states with a number of voters unable to make up their minds at least in ways that pollsters can measure. But two all-female focus groups in North Carolina and Louisiana offered clues about what voters are thinking far away from the D.C. bubble.

    The women gathered around a table Monday night in Charlotte and in New Orleans are registered voters, but this election they’ve pretty much tuned out politics. It’s just too depressing when all the candidates do is bash each other. And world affairs are no comfort either, with Ebola surfacing as the latest scary thing.  

    Better to put on blinders, they say, and focus on home and family.

    The fact that Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana are women doesn’t much impress these voters, dubbed Walmart Moms for their shopping habits and having at least one child under 18 at home. When asked whether they would vote for Hagan or her challenger, Republican Thom Tillis, they resisted siding with either candidate. Asked if Hagan deserves reelection, not a single hand went up -- which is the same thing that happened when asked if she didn’t deserve reelection.

    “All those ads and you don’t know one way or another?” the moderator pressed. Many millions have been spent on television ads in North Carolina, as groups on the right and left try to sway the electorate. 

    When would they decide? “When it gets closer to the time,” one woman said. How would they decide? “Google it,” said another. When? “Probably the night before.”

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    Operation Moonlight: “no legal or procedural justification”

    Watchdog: 'No justification' for Operation Moonlight

    By Susan Crabtree

    An internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that the Secret Service erred in diverting members of a special White House unit to protect the assistant of the agency’s director at her home in La Plata, Md.

    DHS Inspector General John Roth led an investigation into the agents' diversion, an assignment known within the Secret Service as Operation Moonlight, and found “no legal or procedural justification” for it and said the diversion amounted to a “serious lapse in judgment” on the part of top agency officials who ordered it.

    An unnamed top official at the Secret Service ordered the members of the Secret Service’s Prowler unit, which is responsible for patrolling the White House perimeter, to leave their posts and travel to the southern Maryland town, a 50-minute drive from Washington.

    Read Article

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