Posts Tagged ‘change

02
Jun
14

Elections Matter

Obama Wins

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Washington Post: Obama Judges Tip Appeals Court To Democrats

When President Bush II left the White House in 2009, the 13 U.S. courts of appeal were firmly under Republican appointees’ control. Ten appeals courts had majority GOP judges, two were evenly split and only one had a majority of Democrats. President Obama’s 49 appeals court appointees have dramatically altered the landscape. As of the Senate’s recess on May 23, nine of those courts had majority Democratic appointees and four had Republican majorities.

(There are 10 vacancies in the circuit courts. One Obama nominee is awaiting a Senate vote and three nominees pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.) The change, much feared by Republicans, is not necessarily shocking. But the transformation, in just 5 1/2 years, said University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur D. Hellman, an authority on the federal circuit courts, marks ”a huge shift in a very short period of time.” And it means that Democratic appointed judges “have the ability to control every important case if they wish to” in those nine circuits, he said.

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Timothy B. Lee: Obama Has Secured Democratic Majorities On Most Federal Appeals Courts

A president’s Supreme Court nominees get a lot of attention, but presidents shape less visible parts of the judiciary too. Barack Obama is no exception. The Washington Post has a chart showing how the president has changed the composition of the nation’s appeals courts over the last five and a half years: Now, it’s important to say that courts are not supposed to be partisan institutions.

Still, Democratic judicial nominees tend to be more liberal than Republican nominees. And so the growing number of Democrat-appointed judges in our appeals courts will push American jurisprudence to the left on a wide range of issues. And because Obama’s nominees will stay on the bench long after Obama leaves office, these nominations will be one of his most durable legacies.

More here

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Change Is

22
May
14

When it gets to be too much

 

Yesterday, the House voted to provide subsidies for summertime children’s lunches only to “rural areas”. That wasn’t even a dog whistle, it was an out and out statement of racism.

A few days ago, a New Hampshire police commissioner not only called President Barack Obama a “n***er”, but defended his statement, saying that the President fit his definition for one. He refused to resign until just a couple of days ago.

Today, Mark Cuban admitted to “biases”. He could cross the street—in what I’m sure is a gated, nearly all-white community—if he saw a young black man in a hoodie coming towards him. Of course, if that young black man in a hoodie had a 42-inch vertical leap, I’m sure he’d take the time to sign him to a contract.

It seems as if the past few weeks have seen an explosion of insanity. As Pres. Obama succeeds in the face of unparalleled obstruction—Obamacare, the economy, isolating Russia—certain sectors of this country have decided on a scorched earth policy. If they can’t exercise untrammeled power, if the country elects and re-elects Pres. Obama, then burn everything, like Russians retreating before Napoleon.

It can be forgiven if one gets to feel downtrodden. The forces arrayed against progress are not minor. They have almost unlimited funding. They drive media narratives. They more or less own five Justices on the Supreme Court. The scenario would prove daunting and depressive to even the hardiest souls.

Continue reading ‘When it gets to be too much’

08
Feb
14

Change Has Come To America

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TPM: Justice Department To Launch Push For Full Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.

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On Monday, the Justice Department will issue a policy memo to its employees instructing them to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law. After the Supreme Court decision last June, the Treasury Department and the IRS said that all legally married gay couples may file joint federal tax returns, even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. The Defense Department said it would grant military spousal benefits to same-sex couples. The Health and Human Services Department said the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer a bar to states recognizing same-sex marriages under state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said it is now able to extend benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees and annuitants.

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21
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

9:0 PM EDT: President Obama delivers remarks at the CBC Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards; First Lady Michelle Obama attends.

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Sunday:

5:0 PM EDT: President Obama Speaks at the Memorial for Victims of the Navy Yard Shooting

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The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President and First Lady will travel to New York City for the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. They will remain overnight in New York City.

Tuesday: The President will deliver remarks to the U.N. General Assembly. The First Lady will attend. Later in the day, the President will attend the Clinton Global Initiative, where he and President Clinton will engage in a conversation about the benefits and future of health care reform in America and access to quality health care around the globe. In the evening, the President will attend an event for the DNC before returning with the First Lady to the White House.

Wednesday and Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

Friday: The President will welcome Prime Minister Singh of India to the White House for a bilateral meeting.

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President Obama waves to the crowd after speaking to workers during a visit to the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant on September 20, in Liberty, Missouri

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USA Today Editorial: ObamaCare foes taking hostages: Our view

Republicans’ obsession with overturning ObamaCare is getting sillier and more dangerous at the same time. Now that they’ve failed to kill the law every way the rules allow — in Congress, the Supreme Court and in a presidential election — the opponents are taking hostages and, in effect, threatening to shoot them if they don’t get their way.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the hostages are the federal government and the U.S. economy.

… If there’s a comic aspect to all this, it’s how much the extremism is being driven by schoolyard taunting between House and Senate Republicans about who hates ObamaCare the most.

But the potential impacts of their strategy, if that’s what you can call something destined to fail, are distinctly un-funny.

More here

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Spandan (The People’s View): CBO Report is Damning for Ideologues – Right and Left

The Congressional Budget Office released its 2013 long term budget outlook on Tuesday. The document is the most significant vindication of President Obama’s economic policies to date, both enacted and proposed, and it is the most damning thing to the president’s economic critics, both Left and Right. The CBO reports that thanks to the president’s strong leadership in investing in America’s future and raising taxes on the wealthy, by 2015, the deficit will have been cut by 80%  relative to the size of the economy from when President Obama took office.

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Paul Krugman: The Crazy Party

Early this year, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, made headlines by telling his fellow Republicans that they needed to stop being the “stupid party.” Unfortunately, Mr. Jindal failed to offer any constructive suggestions about how they might do that. And, in the months that followed, he himself proceeded to say and do a number of things that were, shall we say, not especially smart.

Nonetheless, Republicans did follow his advice. In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.

I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past.

It helps, I think, to understand just how unprecedented today’s political climate really is.

More here

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ThinkProgress: What You Need To Know About The Funding Extension That Just Passed The House

The House of Representatives has passed a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through Dec. 15 and withhold funding for the Affordable Care Act. The 230-189 vote comes just 10 days before a possible shutdown and includes instructions authorizing the Treasury “to pay some bills and not others in the event that no deal is reached in October on increasing the debt limit.” Rep. Scott Rigel (VA) was the only Republican to vote against the measure, while just two Democrats — Reps. Jim Matheson (UT) and Mike McIntyre (NC) voted for it.

As the resolution now moves to the Senate, here is what you have to know about the fight ahead…

More here

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Steve Benen: Warren Buffett and Obamacare: A case study

Rep. Jim Jordan, a far-right Ohio Republican, told reporters this week that the anti-healthcare forces have the wind at their backs. “All the momentum is in our direction,” he said. “Warren Buffett said yesterday, ‘Scrap the bill.'”

…. did the Sage of Omaha actually say “Scrap the bill” this week? Wouldn’t that have been a pretty big story?

…. the quote was taken out of context from something Buffett said in 2010. In fact, he actually supports Obamacare with a fair amount of enthusiasm. He said what Americans “have now is untenable” three years ago in reference to the health care system before the Affordable Care Act.

But wait, it gets funnier…..

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Washington Post: Shutting down the government won’t stop Obamacare. It might even help it.

There’s a cold logic behind the willingness of some conservatives to risk everything to stop Obamacare. But it’s not that Obamacare will fail. After all, if the law will just be a debacle, Republicans should let it take effect, ride the catastrophe to overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, and then use their massive congressional majorities to repeal it.

Rather, as EJ Dionne writes, the real fear is that the law will succeed. Once Obamacare begins delivering health insurance to millions of Americans it will become effectively impossible to repeal. That’s what’s happened in every other country that’s introduced a national health-care system. That’s why the right needs to stop Obamacare before it begins.

The irony of their strategy, though, is that shutting down the federal government won’t stop Obamacare. It might even help it….

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Complete Guide To The GOP’s Three-Year Campaign To Shut Down The Government

As the nation races toward another budgetary crisis next month, Republican leaders are using the prospect of a government shutdown and the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling as leverage points to undermine the Affordable Care Act — just days before uninsured Americans are expected to sign up for health care coverage — and extract additional cuts to government programs.

Past Congresses have used the debt ceiling as a “vehicle for other legislative matters” or nongermane amendments, but as the timeline below demonstrates, the Republicans that came to power after the 2010 midterm elections demanded something entirely different: they threatened to push the nation into default and shut down the government unless Congress approves deep structural budget cuts during a period of economic recession.

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Washington Post: House Republicans voted to cut food stamps by $39 billion. Here’s how.

The House just voted 217 to 210 to approve a GOP bill to cut food-stamp spending by $39 billion over the next ten years. That’s roughly a 5 percent cut compared with current law.

The House legislation isn’t expected to get past the Senate, but it’s worth a closer look. The bill would spend $725 billion on food stamps over the next ten years, compared with about $760 billion in the Senate farm bill.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a long analysis looking at how, specifically, the House GOP would rein in food-stamp spending through a variety of restrictions on eligibility. About half the savings come from new curbs on aid to unemployed, childless adults between the ages of 18 and 50. Here’s the full rundown of cuts….

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In case you missed it:

The Sterling Road: My Name Is Jason, I’m A 35-Yr-Old White Male Combat Veteran…And I’m On Food Stamps

My name is Jason. I turned 35 less than a week ago. My first job was maintenance work at a public pool when I was 17. I worked 40-hours a week while I was in college. I’ve never gone longer than six months without employment in my life and I just spent the last three years in the military, one of which consisted of a combat tour of Afghanistan.

Oh, and I’m now on food stamps. Since June, as a matter of fact.

Why am I on food stamps?

The same reason everyone on food stamps is on food stamps: because I would very much enjoy not starving.

I mean, if that’s okay with you:

… Mr. or Mrs. Republican congressman…..

More here

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Jeffrey Goldberg: From Iran to Syria, Obama’s Toughness Is Paying Off

There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The reason: President Barack Obama’s toughness.

Yes, I know. Toughness isn’t a quality lately ascribed to the president. But hear me out.

More here

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Media Matters: Syria And The Beltway Media Crackup

On the night of September 10, hours before President Obama addressed the nation about developments surrounding the crisis in Syria, NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams huddled with Meet The Press host David Gregory to analyze the day’s top story.

Events were moving quickly. After weeks of Obama threatening to use military strikes against Syria in the wake of President Bashar Al-Assad being accused of gassing his own people with chemical weapons as part of a “massive attack,” a sudden diplomatic opening had appeared. Rather than bombing Syria, the United States might be able to work with Russia and get Syria to voluntarily hand over its chemical weapons.

Good news? Not necessarily according to Williams and Gregory….

….. The Syria coverage represents a clear case of the press adopting style over substance, as well as channeling Republican spin. Of treating foreign policy as if it were a domestic political campaign and insisting that a story unfolding half-a-world away was really all about Obama and how it affected (and/or damaged) his political fortunes….

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Michael Tomasky: The Great GOP Mental-Health Hypocrisy

Since the D.C. shooting, Republicans care about mental health! Yet they opposed—and want to defund—the law that does more to advance the cause than any in history.

So now we’re being treated to the charming spectacle of Republicans, or a few of them anyway, purporting to care about mental-health treatment in the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. How touching. This doesn’t mean, of course, that they care about mental health. They’re just coming up with something to say in the wake of the tragedy that sounds to the willfully credulous like action and that won’t offend the National Rifle Association.

Meanwhile, they have devastated mental-health funding since you-know-who became president. And more important than that, they voted against, and are now preparing to vote en bloc to defund or delay, the law that will do more to address mental health and give society at least a chance that future Aaron Alexises will get treatment that could prevent them going on shooting sprees since … well, pretty much since ever.

More here

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On This Day:

Sept. 21, 2011: “The First Lady reacts to something the President whispered to her at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in between events related to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City” (Pete Souza)

Sept. 21, 2010: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk along the Colonnade of the White House (Pete Souza)

Sept. 21, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden during a tour of the Studio Museum in Harlem, in New York (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning! And huuuuuuuuge thanks again to UT for all of yesterday’s posts – and to the Toon Master, Amk.

And thanks to the mighty blog tyrants, it’s been an amazing week at TOD, around 100,000 hits since last weekend – lots of them for Zizi’s post on PBO’s foreign policy, LL on Chuck Todd and Co, and UT’s newsie round-ups. Thank you, legends!

We’ll try and put all the visits to good use in the days ahead by doing lots of features on Obamacare.

Meanwhile, Happy Saturday!

20
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama participates in a high level meeting on Libya at the United Nations in New York, N.Y., Sept. 20, 2011. Pictured with the President, from left, are: Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11AM: VP Biden delivers remarks highlighting the launch of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue at the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs.

11:30AM: VP Biden attends the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue.

12:20PM: Pres. Obama arrives in Kansas City, Mo

1PM: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a luncheon at the White House in honor of the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards.

1:50PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks at the Ford Stamping Plant.

2:55PM: Pres. Obama departs Kansas City, Mo., enroute to Washington.

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NYT: Administration Presses Ahead With Limits On Emissions From Power Plants

A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies.

The proposed regulations, to be announced at the National Press Club by Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, are an aggressive move by Mr. Obama to bypass Congress on climate change with executive actions he promised in his inaugural addressthis year.  In her speech, Ms. McCarthy will unveil the agency’s proposal to limit new gas-fired power plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour and new coal plants to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to administration officials who were briefed on the agency’s plans. Industry officials say the average advanced coal plant currently emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour.

More here

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Working America Blog: Actual Accountability: CFPB Fines JP Morgan Chase For Fraud

Great news from the Consumer Financial Protection Board today. JP Morgan Chase, a major credit card issuer, has been hit with a $309 million fine for defrauding customers. More than 2 million customers will get refunds for unfair fees imposed by JP Morgan Chase. In addition, JP Morgan Chase will be required to audit its own procedures and present evidence to the CFPB that it has stopped the practices that led to the fine—specifically, billing customers for services they weren’t being provided.

This is precisely why the CFPB exists. JP Morgan Chase was breaking the law and getting away with it. The amount of money being taken through these fees was small enough to not be worth suing over individually, but in the aggregate, it represented a big transfer of money—illegally!—from customers to their credit card company. There was a time when, even if they noticed it happening, customers wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.

More here

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Jonathan Bernstein: No More Magical Thinking About The Presidency

It’s an annual ritual: we get to late summer, something goes wrong for Barack Obama, and the press piles on. This time it’s Syria — Obama is getting widely criticized for vacillation and changes of course. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you want to criticize Obama’s handling of process, then make sure you do it right. Don’t turn process criticisms into an excuse for mind-reading or magical versions of the presidency.

Another problem arises when analysts get process completely wrong. See, for example, a Politico article called “What’s Wrong With President Obama?” We get process criticism on Syria and on the Fed chair choice with a bald assertion that if only Obama was tougher, something would have been better (it’s not clear exactly what, or how).

For another example of getting process wrong, see Matt Miller’s column yesterday. Miller is explicit about some of his policy preferences: for gun control; against the Bush tax cuts; for a jobs bill. But he manages to attack not the opponents of those policies (that would be mainly Republicans in Congress) but Obama for “blinking” and “losing his nerve” in trying to get them done. But it’s nonsense to claim gun safety legislation failed in the Senate because Obama lost his nerve. It lost because the votes weren’t there. This is just magical presidency thinking, where it’s assumed that any president can get any policy he wants simply by wanting it enough.

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Greg Sargent: Really?

Another key finding from this week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll: Do you think the Republican leaders in Congress are doing too much, too little, or about the right amount to compromise with Obama on important issues? Too much: 10. Too little: 64. About the right amount: 23. An astonishing 72 percent of independents say Republican leaders are doing too little to compromise.

Does anyone imagine Republicans won’t be seen as the unreasonable party here? Things will probably look even worse after the government shutdown fight. But then we’ll only be gearing up for another one in which the threat to the economy is far more serious, and the demands even crazier. Really? This is how it’s going to go? Okay.

More here

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Rob Capriccioso: Obama Nominates Native American Woman To Federal Bench

The president announced September 19 that Diane J. Humetewa is a nominee for the U.S. District Court for Arizona. She is a Hopi citizen, and from 2002 to 2007 she served as an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court. Obama has previously nominated one tribal citizen to serve on the federal bench, Arvo Mikkanen, of the Kiowa Tribe, but Republican senators successfully blocked that nomination during the president’s first term.

If Humetewa can pass muster with the Senate Judicial Committee and Arizona’s senators, then she will have the distinction of being the first Native American appointed and confirmed to the federal bench by Obama.

More here

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President Barack Obama participates in the CNBC Town Hall Discussion on Jobs with John Harwood at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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21
Aug
13

This and That

Statement from the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden:

Yesterday our son Beau underwent a successful procedure. He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks.

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Steve Benen: The registry the NRA warned against

A few months ago, conservative senators felt the need to kill a popular, bipartisan proposal on firearm background checks, and relied primarily on a single talking point: the proposal might lead to a firearm database. The very idea of some kind of national gun registry was so offensive to the right that the legislation had to die at the hands of a Republican filibuster.

It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill had no such database. It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill explicitly made the creation of such a registry a felony. All that mattered was that conservatives had a lie they liked, and which they used to great effect.

Four months later, Steve Friess reports that a massive, secret database of gun owners exists after all. But it wasn’t built by the Justice Department or the Department of Homeland Security; it was compiled without gun owners’ consent by the National Rifle Association.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Worst Thing In That Maureen Dowd Column Isn’t Actually Her Misquote Of Bill DeBlasio’s Wife

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is taking a lot of very justified heat for a column about New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, in which she appears to have distorted a quotation of McCray’s to imply that McCray is impugning rival Democratic candidate Christine Quinn for being a lesbian.

…. Dowd is now suggesting that a noisy coffee shop obscured her audio recording, and she ended up relying on what turn out to have been bad-quality notes for the quotation….

…. as bad as Dowd’s quoting malpractice is, and as frivolous as the overall column is, these problems aren’t actually the worst part of the column. That would be the way Dowd describes McCray’s sexual orientation, and places it in a context of Sexuality and the New York Mayoral Race….

More here

More at NYMag and, well, Charles Pierce says it all

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Continue reading ‘This and That’




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