"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Romney to fight firefighters with firings: The Romney campaign has refused to “provide any clarification on the record of what else Romney might have meant to say” when he criticized President Obama for wanting to hire more firefighters, other than that he wants to fire some, despite being “asked repeatedly for elaboration” by reporters.
When the campaign has spoken on the record, it has suggested that Romney would indeed seek to lower the number of firefighters, as top surrogate John Sununu did on MSNBC yesterday.
Teachers too: Rival-turned-surrogate Newt Gingrich said last night on CNN that Romney would go after teachers too. “Does that mean there will be fewer teachers? The honest answer is yes,” he said. Romney has previously suggested bigger class sizes would be an acceptable way to cut education spending.
Indeed, the New York Times notes today while Romney is extremely careful to avoid the word “voucher,” “Nonetheless, as president, Mr. Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government’s largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system. Students would be free to use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose — public, charter, online or private — a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.”
Romney chief fundraiser double dips: “Few advisers are as close to Romney” as Romney campaign National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick, “the 32- year-old aide who’s spent nearly all of his professional life working for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.”
Zwick has raised millions for Romney, but also made millions for himself off of his connection to the candidate. Bloomberg Businessweek reports: “[Zwick’s] fundraising consulting firm, SJZ LLC, has collected nearly $7.5 million from Romney’s presidential bid, making it the campaign’s third highest paid vendor. In April, the company received $900,000 from the campaign, 7.16% of the total expenditures. In addition to that firm, Zwick in 2008 began meeting with major campaign donors about a month after Romney ended his first White House quest to raise money for a private equity fund Zwick was starting with Romney’s son, Tagg. Two of the early $10- million-dollar investors were Romney and his wife, Ann.”
Giffords seat up for grabs: Voters head to the polls today in Arizona for a special election to decide who will replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned to focus on her recovery from last year’s shooting. We have a preview here.
Back to the 1990s: New data from Fed finds that “the recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity.” “Families’ income also continued to decline, a trend that predated the crisis but accelerated over the same period,” the New York Times reports. And while the recession temporarily reduced income inequality, the data found that the wealthy’s assets grew faster than those of the middle class over the past 20 years.
Salon’s Steve Kornacki writes that the data may explain why some voters haven’t turned on the president.
Jeb Bush commits GOP treason: Says Reagan and his father, George H.W. Bush, would have no place in today’s Republican Party. Kornacki has more.
House to take biggest swipe at Holder pinata: No Obama administration official has received more criticism and concerted attacks from the right than Attorney General Eric Holder. After years of keeping the “Fast and Furious” scandal simmering, House Republicans will finally get a chance to fire with the vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress in coming days.
While the vote will mean little and these types of things are almost entirely political (Republicans would still have to sue Holder in federal court, which would take years to resolve itself), it has nonetheless amped up conservatives and Fox News, which went all in with breathless coverage of the upcoming vote.
Dimon heads into the rough: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon will testify before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow, which is looking for answers into the bank’s recent $3 billion trading loss. Really, though, it will likely devolve into a grilling and very public shaming of the banker on Wall Street practices way beyond the trading loss. If they can’t go to jail, at least make them squirm a bit.
Obama says he was too busy to help in Wisconsin: President Obama told a local TV news station in Green Bay that he was just so gosh darn swamped before last week’s gubernatorial recall election in the state and couldn’t make it. “The truth of the matter is that as president of the United States, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” he told WBAY, before defending his level of involvement in the race. He “did 13 fundraisers in the two weeks before the recall election — nine in the four days prior.”
The least cool cellphone thing since ringback tones: The FEC took a break from doing absolutely nothing to do something of little value, voting unanimously to allow campaigns to raise money via text messages, up to a maximum of $50. Still, some campaign finance reform advocates say it will make it easier for Americans of modest means to participate in politics.
Voters voting in Virginia: Former Republican Sen. George Allen is hoping to coast through today’s GOP Senate primary in Virginia, where he faces a small handful of other candidates. Allen is of course best known for calling a Democratic tracker a racial slur.
The cutest thing since … ever? 91-year-old actress Betty White visited the White House yesterday, where she spent some QT with Bo, the dog.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.More Alex Seitz-Wald.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)