Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can Harry Reid Pull the Rabbit Out of the Hat Before Sarah Palin Throws Hers In?

On one side of the capitol, House Speaker John Boehner was telling his Republican caucus to "Get your ass in line."

On the other side, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was predicting, "Magic things can happen here in Congress in a very short period of time under the right circumstan­ces."

Meanwhile Sarah Palin is tweeting the Freshmen Tea Party Republicans, "This new wave of public servants may recall that they were sent to D.C. for such a time as this." I think that means, "get your ass out of line."

I will note that the July 26 deadline for filing lawsuits in Alaska against the former governor has come and gone without notice. Many thought this was the final hurdle Sarah Palin wanted to clear before announcing for President. Of course, getting Sarah Palin to throw her hat in the ring over the debt ceiling increase may be just the magic trick that Harry Reid has up his sleeve.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Herman Cain Iowa Bus Tour Winds Its Way to Ames Straw Poll

Herman Cain has scheduled a 7-day bus tour of Iowa that ends August 13 in Ames, just in time for the Ames Straw Poll. With 19 scheduled stops, there can be little doubt of his intention to recruit supporters to attend the Ames Straw Poll to make a strong showing on his behalf.

Still, the bus route is a little strange, at 1770 miles according to Google, the length of 4 RAGBRAIs, the bike ride across Iowa that is happening this week. I am trying to find the common sense in the bus tour Cain has named 'Common Sense Solutions'.

View Larger Map

Who, for example, who would schedule bus rides from West Des Moines to Sioux City (194 miles), Council Bluffs to Davenport (296 miles), and Okoboji to Ames (173 miles) without making any campaign stops in between? Someone who plans to send his staff by bus and take a corporate jet would be my guess.

Cain is spending a third of his time with 2 stops each in Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Ames. That's going for the low hanging fruit, voters within a 45 minute drive of the straw poll site.

Cain's bus odyssey also misses 3 of the 4 corners of the state of Iowa. Of course, it would be harder to convince people in the corner counties to drive all the way to Ames and back for the straw poll. Still, the corner counties vote on caucus night in January.

That, of course, is the point. The Republican voting bloc is in the rural Iowa counties but the GOP establishment tries to control the party from the urban cities. Still, Herman Cain's strategy seems sound, look for him to place 3rd or better at the Ames Straw Poll.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Iowa's Immutable Steve King Claims There Is No Right to Marry

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says, "Traditional marriage is a sacred institution and serves as the cornerstone of our society." I agree.

I agree that "civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing."

I would also agree that the courts in some states have gone too far. It is one thing to grant gay couples the right to enter civil unions and give those unions rights that are the same or similar to marriage. It is another thing to call it marriage, in the face of a public that might accept gay civil unions but has repeatedly rejected gay marriage at the ballot box.

I am of two minds on the gay marriage debate. I recognize that gay men and women can enter long-term relationships with partners of the same sex that are similar in many respects to traditional marriage unions. I don't buy the argument that not giving gays the various purported tax and insurance benefits of marriage makes them second class citizens. I am middle-aged and single so I don't get those benefits either - should I feel like a second class citizen?

But what does two gay people wanting to join together in union have to do with me? Where is the actual harm to traditional marriage? I understand the values we want to encourage in traditional marriage, but I don't understand exactly how gay unions undermine the institution.

Steve King supports keeping DOMA, the Clinton-era federal law that defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." And he makes a slippery slope argument:

"The other side argues that 'you can't choose who you love' and that a union between two men or two women is equal to that of one man and one woman. But these are the same arguments that could be used to promote marriage between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or even polygamous relationships."
That tells gay people that their relationships are like incest. But the true analogy would be gay marriage between fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters. Incest is illegal. Homosexuality was once illegal, but no longer is.

And as far as polygamous relationships, I hate to break this to Steve, but the DOMA language fails to prohibit it. When a man takes a second wife in societies that permit polygamy, it's still a marriage between one man and one woman. The two wives aren't married to each other. Laws against polygamy prevent an individual from entering multiple marriages at the same time. That can be prohibited for gay marriage too.

Steve King also gets a little fuzzy on civil rights:

Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act says protection for 'race, color, religion, sex, national origin'. Those, except for the Constitutional protection of religion, are immutable characteristics. Those characteristics that are immutable should be injected in the discussion.
That last sentence of Steve's is a bit inscrutable. But let's inject that into the discussion, being gay is an immutable characteristic. Does Steve not believe that?

Steve King is the kind of Republican who says we should regulate something because we want to encourage it:

"A marriage license is offered because that's a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal. It's not a right to get married; that's why states regulate it by licensing. They want to encourage marriage."
Where is the love in calling marriage "a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal"? That's not even true. Heterosexual couples live together without getting married. Nothing illegal about that. And there is nothing illegal anymore about gay couples living together either. Gosh, honey, I'm thinking of doing something illegal, let's get married.

Steve needs to be schooled that there is a right to get married. That's one of those rights that the Ninth Amendment says don't have to be spelled out in the Constitution. Yes, states can put reasonable restrictions on that right through licensing requirements and marriage laws. But you just try to take that right away.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Never a Generic Republican Around When You Need One

A new Rasmussen poll illustrates a small problem for Republicans and some big ones for Barack Obama.

The generic Republican leads Obama by 6%:

Generic Republican47%
Barack Obama41%

Mitt Romney, an actual Republican, leads by only 1%:

Mitt Romney43%
Barack Obama42%

In April, Mitt Romney was trailing Obama by 5%:

Mitt Romney40%
Barack Obama45%

A generic Republican candidate would soundly beat Barack Obama if the 2012 election were held today. However, once you put in the name of an actual Republican, such as Mitt Romney, the race gets a lot closer with Obama beating many of the potential candidates.

Voters seem to like Republicanism more than they like actual Republicans, enough more that it might actually cost Republicans the Presidential election.

Roughly 40-41% seems to be the baseline support for President Obama. He's got the bigger problem. Unless he can attract votes outide his base, he can't win. But the attempt to broaden his appeal may alienate the base and cost him the election.

The good news for Romney is that his support is growing. If the trend continues and he wins the Republican nomination, he could beat Barack Obama by a wide margin.

Here's the real dilemma for Obama. A face off with Romney win or lose would be the best chance to preserve some form of ObamaCare, much as the 2004 faceoff with John Kerry instead of Howard Dean was the best chance for George W. Bush to preserve his war aims in Iraq. But pushing Romney aside to face a Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or Herman Cain would be the best but by no means certain chance for Obama to win the election.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anatomy of a Phishing Expedition

So close but yet so far:

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 4:28 AM
Subject: Wire transfer id XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The outgoing Wire fund transfer that you placed 13.06.2011, was not processed by an intermediary or beneficiary bank.
Please click here to view report
This service is provided to you by the Federal Reserve Board. Visit us on the web at
Some indicia of bona fides:

(1) NACHA is the Electronic Payments Association which manages the electronic payments network.

(2) Valid link to the Federal Reserve Board.

(3) Email text uses pretty good grammar with no obvious misspellings.

(4) A transaction from June I may have forgotten about.
But how many telltale discrepancies can you find:

(1) The word they were going for was "denied" in the email address

(2) In communications to consumers, agencies in the U.S. do not write June 13, 2011 as 13.06.2011.

(3) There shouldn't be a comma after 13.06.2011.

(4) The click here hyperlink had bogus written all over it: That hyphen after reports means you are not going to the federal reserve website and that .exe after the .pdf means you are likely installing some vicious virus.
Note: Please don't try the link at home. I tampered with it slightly for those of you with the irresistable urge to cut and paste.

Larry Summers Takes One to Know One on the Winklevoss Twins

Larry Summers interviewed on the Winklevoss Twins:

Q: So was that scene in The Social Network true?

A: I've heard it said that I can be arrogant. If that's true I surely was on that occassion. One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they're an asshole. This was the latter case. Rarely, have I encountered such swagger, and I tried to respond in kind.

Michele Bachmann Gets Pushy in South Carolina

Apparently the First Amendment means you can chase women through parking lots taunting them about their menopause symptoms. (News flash: Michele Bachmann gets migraines.)

At least that's my take on Michael Crowley's reaction to what happened to ABC reporter Brian Ross.

The more pertinent question may have to do with Bachmann’s Brian Ross's preparedness for the campaign circus. Running for President Covering a Presidential candidate, at least in its early retail stage, requires a willingness to answer inconvenient ask questions in settings more chaotic and unpredictable than the cable- network television interviews to which she he is accustomed. The trail is a messy place where reporters will swarm you can't always be distingished from crazies. It's definitely not always fun — and can be enough to give even a seasoned candidate reporter a migraine few bruises. The question raised this afternoon is whether Bachmann Brian Ross is ready for it.
Just who is Brian Ross? I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup. To me he'd just be random stalker, and I'm sure the Congresswoman's private security guards didn't recognoze him either. Perhaps the "Crowley rule" should be reconsidered in that light:

"It's a handy rule of thumb that when Brian Ross is around, you have a problem."
Here's another rule of thumb: Don't chase women through parking lots.

Borders Flips from Chapter 11 Back to Chapter 7

The Borders retail chain that specialized in books, music, and latte's has been struggling. Efforts to reorganize in bankruptcy have failed, no buyer could be found and now the chain plans to liquidate.

Headlines focus on the 10,700 jobs that will be lost across the country as the remaining 399 stores close. However, the total job loss is higher as in 2010 the company had 19,500 employees. which had zero employees when it was founded in 1994 now has around 34,000. Retail rival Barnes and Noble had around 40,000 employees as of May 1, 2010. Both of those companies are moving to ebooks, with the Kindle and the Nook.

This is what creative destruction in a capitalist economy is all about. The many small indepedent bookstores squeezed out by the big box stores may think turnabout is fair play. I have to say that I loved Borders in the mid-1980s when it was an independent on State Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was never much enamored with the Borders chain stores.

Update: Borders is saying that it will complete the liquidation under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, rather than actually switching to Chapter 7.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can Republicans Break Through the Debt Ceiling?

It's time for my bimonthly count of Facebook friends for Republicans getting in line to take on Barack Obama. I almost didn't notice, with the debt ceiling debate going on in Washington and none of these would-be contenders having a seat at that table.

The Democrats added over 1.6 million friends in the last 2 months, while all Republicans combined added only .9 million. If you take out Sarah Palin's 3.2 million friends and the 1.7 million friends for candidates from Mike Huckabee to Jeb Bush on the cross-out list, Facebook friends of Obama-Biden outnumber friends of the Republican field 7.7 to 1. With them, they are still outnumbered 2.8 to 1.

CandidateFriends on 1/16/2011Friends on 3/16/2011Friends on 5/16/2011Friends on 7/16/2011
Barack Obama17,822,15218,632,33120,413,24522,038,067
Joe Biden271,971274,670282,433299,388
Sarah Palin2,606,5862,777,5092,957,6273,191,711
Mitt Romney751,391814,705899,0551,041,454
Michele Bachmann150,467187,433258,370
Ron Paul307,493307,495356,452
Herman Cain42,28955,72090,146149,820
Jim DeMint127,177129,848133,363
Newt Gingrich100,489113,269131,779
Gary Johnson-110,466114,000129,275
Tim Pawlenty69,98573,13586,907
Rick Perry51,45552,18052,85470,425
Allen West--64,05767,330
Scott Walker-61,52763,12964,621
Mike Pence45,92347,71248,54248,893
Rick Santorum12,21113,25216,22123,482
Thaddeus McCotter--9,90911,812
Peter King--11,23211,525
Jon Huntsman-1,5552,2809,347
Jimmy McMillan-8,3628,6759,141
Roy Moore--708,235
John Bolton5,1705,6586,0566,354
Rudy Giuliani1,8912,1942,5353,211
Fred Karger6818261,4582,117
Buddy Roemer-5701,4961,806
Jon Greenspon581584583583
Andy Martin--560570
Jonathon Sharkey--159170
Mike Huckabee522,079541,409586,020
Donald Trump146,866184,512272,108300,401
Scott Brown--237,462239,086
Rand Paul-105,001117,287137,580
Bobby Jindal121,977122,353125,614
Paul Ryan50,90856,49671,923
John Thune74,75474,83775,21175,442
Mitch Daniels39,41344,52849,90850,614
Chris Christie29,38833,99036,53642,563
Mike Bloomberg29,86230,34431,31632,879
Haley Barbour16,85417,45918,16818,604
Jeb Bush4,8415,0275,3005,556
Total Obama-Biden Friends18,094,123
Total Republican Friends5,310,731

I have crossed out a number of candidates who have been insisting they are not running despite speculation to the contrary. It's time to take them at their word. But I haven't closed the field to only those who have declared since we are still waiting to hear from Sarah Palin.

Michele Bachman has moved past Ron Paul into second place among declared candidates, and joins Mitt Romney in the shadow of The Undeclared Sarah Palin.

Herman Cain has moved up three spots and now leads the chase pack. Tim Pawlenty has fallen solidly into last place in the chase pack. Still we can't taken any of these guys seriously until they collect more friends than Joe Biden to cross the Biden line.

Thadeous McCotter moved up a notch on the strength of his official announcement, but not high enough to want us to start calling him Thad.

Jon "The Other Mormon" Huntsman has just barely crossed the Jimmy "The Rent is Too Damn High" McMillan Line. Alabama Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore is just below it. That tells you all you need to know about all three of these fringe candidates.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who's Got an Endgame on the Debt Ceiling?

There has been some strong rhetoric this week on the debt ceiling talks.

For the Democrats:

President Barack Obama - "I cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) - "We continue to oppose benefit cuts in Social Security and Medicare. These pillars of economic and health security should not be used as a piggybank to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) - "I will not touch Medicare and Medicaid for some simple little deal. I'm only willing to take a look at Medicare and Medicaid if there is a grand bargain."

For the Republicans:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) "Let me be crystal clear on this -- at no time, ever, during this discussion did I agree to let taxes go up. I haven't spent 20 years here fighting tax increases just to throw it all away in one moment."

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) - "After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable. I was one of those who had hoped we could do something big for the country. But in my view the president has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes or default."

The Democrats endgame is simple, dangle trillions in budget cuts in return for comparatively modest tax increases. The striking thing is that the Republicans don't seem to have a viable endgame.

McConnell, who by all rules of personal honor should feel compelled to run for President himself after his statement about a real solution being unattainable under the current President, has put forth a proposal to push the problem over to the President. In response, he has been eviscerated by many on the Republican side.

Today McConnell opened a new front, "The time has come for a Balanced Budget Amendment that forces Washington to balance its books." Constitutional amendments for tax hikes is a good endgame. However, balanced budget is only a start, I would also be asking for line item veto and spending overrides only by popular vote.

Update: In an interview on the Laura Ingraham Show today, McConnell laid down his hand:

"The reason default is no better idea today than when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995 is it destroys your brand and gives the President a reason to blame Republicans for a bad economy."
"I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy."
"If we go into default, he will say that Republicans are making the economy worse and try to convince the public -- maybe with some merit, if people stop getting their Social Security checks and military families start getting letters saying service people overseas don’t get paid. It's an argument he could have a good chance of winning, and all of the sudden we have co-ownership of a bad economy. That is very bad positioning going into an election."
Those phrases "destroys your brand," "maybe with some merit" and "an argument he could have a good chance of winning" are an interesting choice of words.

The problem: McConnell and Boehner have already marched Republicans into a position where they have co-ownership of the bad economy. With the Paulson bailout that became necessary under President Bush's watch, they've always had ownership. A tactical retreat does not necessarily march them out. The Tea Party knows this, Boehner and other Republicans know this, even if McConnell does not.

Update from Ann Coulter: "McConnell's deal cleanly takes the debt ceiling issue off the Republicans' back and puts it on the president's back. Either the Democrats tell us what they'll cut or they'll have to admit: 'We will never cut anything. Everything Ann Coulter says about us is true!'"

Update: On Friday, House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor laid down their cards by introducing legislation for a $2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase matched with $2.4 trillion in cuts. They will also hold a vote on a balanced budget amendment.

We know Nancy Pelosi has nothing. Harry Reid has signaled he may sign on to the McConnell plan. The President hasn't shown his hand. Instead he is playing Monty Hall on let's make a deal:

Door #1: $3 trillion in budget cuts coupled with $1 trillion in tax increases.

Door #2: $2 trillion in budget cuts coupled with $400 billion in tax increases.

Door #3: $1.5 trillion in budget cuts with no tax increases.

Personally I'd take the $3 trillion in budget cuts behind Door #1 with the $400 billion in tax increases behind Door #2. Because $3 trillion in budget cuts should not be passed up and 13 cents on the dollar is a good deal.

Michele Bachmann Approves This Message for Iowa

Five bio points:
  • Descendant of generations of Iowans
  • Born and raised in Waterloo
  • Mom of five, foster parent
  • Former tax lawyer
  • Small business job creator
Three policy points:
  • We can't keep spending money we don't have
  • Against the wasteful bailout, against the stimulus
  • Will not vote to increase the debt ceiling

Monday, July 11, 2011

News of the World Says Thank You and Goodbye

The British Newspaper News of the World, a flagship in the News Corp. empire that in the U.S. includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, has closed its doors after 168 years.

The official cause of death is a scandal involving investigators for the paper hacking into phone calls and phone records. That sort of thing was considered funny when it caught Britain's Prince Charles telling his then-mistress now-wife Camilla that he wanted to be her "tampon." It became considerably less funny when it was divulged that phone hacking had extended to ordinary subjects of British news stories:

We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards.

Quite simply, we lost our way.

Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry.

There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing.

No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history.

Yet when this outrage has been atoned, we hope history will eventually judge us on all our years.
It the realm of screw-ups it is pretty bad enough to get yourself fired. To screw up so bad that you get all of your colleagues fired is spectacular. One is used to that from accounting firms (Arthur Anderson) and financial firms (Lehman Brothers). This is new for a media outlet.

Yet there is something that doesn't quite ring true here. The behavior giving rise the paper's demise happened over 5 years ago. While new details have emerged, the outline of the scandal was previously known. In this age of declining newspaper profits, one has to wonder.

News Corp., the parent company of News of the World, is trying to buy British pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB. Approval of that deal has been delayed due to the public outrage directed at News Corp. from the News of the World scandal. Is News Corp. sacrificing a money draining newspaper to gain a more lucrative broadcast property?

Update 7/13/2011: News Corp. has for now withdrawn its bid for BSkyB. News of the World remains closed.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ann Coulter Has a Great Idea That Will Never Pay

Ann Coulter has a great idea:

From repeat domestic violence calls to Los Angeles car chases, hit-and-run drivers and the balloon-boy hoax, worthless louts consume vastly more law enforcement resources than the rest of us. Cops in any town will tell you all the domestic violence calls come from the exact same homes, over and over again.

As long as we're looking for new revenue streams, how about billing these white trash low-lifes for their massive consumption of police resources? The dregs of society need to be assessed a fee for their abuse of government services and thrown in debtors prison in the unlikely event that they can't pay.
Unfortunately, it won't pay. The dregs of society are also deadbeats and "the unlikely event that they can't pay" is actually the likely event. And those family memebers who have been calling the cops on them aren't likely to pay either. Debtors prisons are a money loser with little likelihood of collecting any significant revenue.

I will say that if Ann Coulter had a plan to throw people likely to have some money or have people who care about them with some money, debtors prisons would work just great. Based on the experience of a cousin of mine in a foreign country that still has the equivalent of debtors prison, there are no long incarcerations to pay for in that situation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Could DSK Just Be Guilty of Incredibly Bad Manners?

At the time of his arrest on rape charges in May, the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn looked strong.

Now there are problems with the victim's credibility. She allegedly lied about being gang raped when she lived in Guinea on her asylum application. Money has been deposited in her bank account she can't fully explain. But the real problem for prosecutors may be that the timeline of her story has changed.

The new timeline is that after the alleged rape but before she reported the crime, she went back to DSK's room. Yes, she was a hotel maid and that was her job, but it's still odd. DSK's story has flip-flopped too, but lately he has been saying the sex was consensual.

The new timeline suggests the possibility that she made up the charges out of remorse, only after she went back to the room and saw that DSK had checked out, possibly crushing her expectations she would see him again.

DSK faces possible charges in France from writer Tristane Banon over a February 2003 incident. However, the victim in that case did not report the alleged crime to the police at the time. She did make it the subject of her 2006 book, in fictionalized form in her 2006 novel Trap├ęziste (Trapeze Artist). That raises the possibility she wants to sell more books.

DSK's story there is that he had several conversations with her mother after the alleged event. In one of those conversations he is said to have admitted he behaved boorishly.

In any event, the Banon book is the second writer to come to light featuring DSK's overactive sex drive. The first was Spanish poet Carmen Llera.

Has Dominique Strauss-Kahn just been guilty of applying the old socialist principle "to each according to his needs" a little too liberally? Even if NYC prosecutors drop the criminal charges, he may still face a civil lawsuit. That may give opportunity for application of the other old socialist principle, "from each according to his ability."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July from Bedford, Iowa

Friday, July 1, 2011

Glenn Beck Gives Fox News the Big Kiss Off

Did he jump or was he pushed? Glenn Beck says he jumped. Some highlights:

"This show has become a movement. It doesn't belong on television. It belongs in your homes, in your neighborhoods - not on TV."

"You will pray for the time I was only on the air for one hour every day."

"I'm overcome with the feeling, 'If you don't leave now, you will never leave with your soul.'"

"From New York, goodnight America."

A goodnight is not a goodbye. There is definitely an audience for Glenn Beck. That audience may not be the wine-drinking Hitchcock crowd in Bryant Park (someone tell Ann Coulter that one woman with a wine glass does not constitute a mob).

Mark Halperin Was Kind of a Dick Yesterday

MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin let it slip out on Morning Joe yesterday:

Here are the obligatory statements:

Statement from MSNBC:
Mark Halperin's comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable.  We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.

Statement from Mark Halperin:
I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate.

Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.
A few things to note:

(1) Mark Halperin's "indefinite" suspension begins the day before the Thursday before the long Fourth of July Weekend. I'll bet its over by Labor Day. Which means it's just a long summer vacation.

(2) Mark Halperin "completely" agrees his supension is "totally" appropriate. Sounds like a confession at one of Stalin's show trials.

(3) Mark Halperin is suspended from "his role as an analyst" which means what? He can still perform another role behind the scenes? And what is this "role" business? Does MSNBC just call central casting for another analyst?

(4) Mark Halperin apologizes to his MSNBC colleagues, MSNBC apologizes to The White House. Both apologize to the President and to viewers. Why does "The White House" get an apology?