Iowa Rep. Steve King likes to stir the pot, Mitt Romney likes to shift the blame, and Fox News likes to stir the shift. Without the ‘f’. (More)

Squirrels put news in nutshells long before humans discovered that format. One of my first news stories was a nutshell piece headlined “Yummy!” That was also the lead. In fact, that was the whole story. I didn’t use a byline because restaurant reviews are anonymous. Well, and because the squirrel who buried the nut didn’t know he was opening a restaurant. But I digress.

The point is, squirrels put news in nutshells because trees provide our homes and our favorite foods so we don’t want to cut them down to make paper. Plus it’s hard to write if your stomach is growling, but if you have an empty nutshell then you just ate. Unless you’re reading one of my restaurant reviews. And speaking of nuts….

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Over at Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur has a long profile on Rep. Steve King (R-IA). The gist is that Rep. King is a very calculating political troll. He knows his outlandish comments will evoke outrage – in the media and even among his party leaders – and he uses that outrage to hijack the political debate:

King concedes that the one hundred-to-one claim [about drug-mule Dreamers with “cantaloupe calves” outnumbering valedictorians] was an “estimate,” but with a mischievous smile, he points out that he succeeded at shifting the immigration debate. He fueled the conservative antagonism that killed the Senate bill in the House. “I’d suggest that we have now more objectively characterized Dreamers,” he snarks, “and [Durbin] hasn’t yet said thank you.”

Brent Siegrist, former Republican Iowa House Speaker who served with King in the legislature, is familiar with these tactics. “I’ll say this about Steve: Most of his controversial comments are the kind that you might say are off the cuff. They’re not. He’s a bright guy,” he says. “He knows what he’s doing when he’s stirring the pot. And he likes that.”

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At Mother Jones, David Corn notes that Mitt Romney has concocted yet another excuse for his 47% remarks. Romney now says “it was an attempt to placate a rambling supporter who was saying that Obama voters were essentially deadbeats.”

But Corn reviewed the video:

That supporter was not rambling. Here’s what he asked: “For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.’ How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?” That was a straightforward query, succinctly put, not rambling at all. It was Romney who took the point to the next level and proclaimed that a specific number of Americans were lazy freeloaders who could not and would not fend for themselves.

If you’re curious, the guest who said “you’ve got to take care of yourself” paid $50,000 to have dinner with a candidate who campaigned on cutting taxes for rich people and raising taxes for everyone else. I guess that’s one definition of “take care of yourself.”

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And at Media Matters for America, Eric Boehlert contrasts the Fox News coverage of a workplace murder in Oklahoma with their non-coverage of a domestic terrorist in Pennsylvania.

See, the guy in Oklahoma was black. And Muslim. And he beheaded one of his victims. So that must be terrorism, even though the FBI have found no evidence that this was a terrorist attack and witnesses say the man was angry about being fired.

Fox News has been all over the Oklahoma story, but they’ve largely ignored the white Pennsylvania man – a doomsday survivalist who hates the federal government – who has threatened mass murder, ambushed and killed one state trooper, wounded a second, and is now hiding in the woods.

Boehlert summarizes the contrast in Fox News’ coverage:

In other words, on Fox News a Muslim who killed a co-worker in Oklahoma and who remains in police custody represents a much bigger story than a suspected anti-government assassin who killed a cop and remains on the run, eluding hundreds of law enforcement officials while terrorizing a Pennsylvania community.

That pretty much covers it … in a nutshell.

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Good day and good nuts