Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Fourth of July. He honored the individuals who, throughout the history of America, have struggled and sacrificed to make this country a better place, from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in uniform serving at home and overseas":

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador’s embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 3

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today (as of 9:45 am ET).

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

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Saturday
Jul042015

The Commentariat -- July 5, 2015

Linda Greenhouse: "Not that any of the Republicans have asked me for advice, but I’ll give them some anyway: Fomenting backlash [against the Supreme Court] is not a winning strategy.... Stoking public anger against the Supreme Court can’t succeed in a vacuum. Backlash needs to be fed and sustained by fear: fear of crime; fear of a threat to 'our Southern way of life'; fear, in the case of abortion, of a revolution in women’s traditional role in the family and in society. And what, exactly, are people supposed to be afraid of now? A same-sex married couple with affordable health insurance?

Presidential Race

Kevin Hardy of the Des Moines Register: "On the tail end of a three-day Iowa swing, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he's feeling good about his momentum here and across the country. More than 150 supporters marched with Sanders on Saturday in Waukee's Independence Day parade, the last of his eight Iowa stops this week.... Sanders drew both traditional Democrats and conservatives on Saturday. 'This will be the first time I've caucused with the Democrats,' said Michael Tallman, 25, of Des Moines.... Micheal Davenport, 35, of Des Moines said he generally votes conservatively. But he marched in support of Sanders Saturday. Davenport is an anti-abortion Catholic.... But Davenport said Pope Francis' call for tolerance and more moderate rhetoric surrounding social issues has made him rethink some issues." ...

... Annie Karni & Jonathan Topaz of Politico on "Bernie & Hillary's holiday weekend." ...

... Philip Rucker & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: In New Hampshire, the candidates paraded; hecklers heckled. ...

... Jennifer Kasperkevic of the Guardian: "As 2016 presidential candidates flocked to spend Independence Day in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton found herself defending her record on policy and the size of crowds at her events." ...

... Annie Karni: "Hillary Clinton arrived in this liberal New England [-- Hanover, N.H. --] enclave with a message for anyone thinking about voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont: 'I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.'... And at the first stop of her two-day swing through the early-voting state, Clinton highlighted contrasts with her main Democratic rival without mentioning him by name." ...

... Liam Stack of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton offered moral support to a distraught gay youth who shared his anxiety about his future in a viral photograph posted on the Humans of New York Facebook page, telling him on Friday that it would be 'amazing.'” CW: What? No comforting words from Ted Cruz?

Belatedly, Marco Thumps Trump. Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "On Friday, Rubio released a strongly worded statement which said: 'Trump’s comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive.'... On Saturday, speaking on the Fox & Friends morning show, Trump attacked Rubio for being 'very weak on immigration'. He also said the former New York governor George Pataki, who has criticised his remarks, was 'a sad figure' and 'a terrible governor of New York' who had 'zero numbers in the polls'.... Trump said he 'respected' the Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has defended his remarks on immigration.... On Friday, Trump lost the support of another US institution when the chairman of Nascar said the auto-racing series would not host its season-end awards at his Trump National Doral resort in Miami.” ...

... Steve M. is very excited about the Trump-Cruz ticket. ...

... Me-Too Mitt. Cassie Spodak of CNN: "Mitt Romney said Saturday that Donald Trump's comments on Mexico and undocumented immigrants have hurt the Republican Party.... Romney made his remarks during a Fourth of July parade in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, which was also attended by presidential candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Asked if Trump's comments on Mexicans have hurt the Republican Party, Romney replied, 'Yes. I think he made a severe error in saying what he did about Mexican-Americans,' Romney said." CW: Mitt's father George was a Mexican-American.

AP: "In a sudden reversal amid a stinging backlash, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislative leaders said they agreed Saturday to completely remove a part of the proposed state budget that would severely roll back open records laws.... The restrictions, which Republicans on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee slipped into the proposed budget late Thursday, would shield nearly everything created by state and local government officials from Wisconsin's open records law, including drafts of legislation and staff communications. The proposal drew heavy criticism from liberals and conservatives alike, and was the subject of a withering front-page editorial in Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." ...

... Here's the Journal Sentinel editorial. ...

... Mary Spicuzza of the Journal Sentinel: "Walker, speaking with reporters Saturday before participating in the Wauwatosa Independence Day Parade, acknowledged that he had 'a lot of concerns about' the proposals. His comments were echoed by Republican legislative leaders early Saturday, including those who backed the changes just two days earlier. Though he holds one of the most powerful veto pens in the nation ... Walker early Saturday had stopped short of pledging to veto the open records overhaul. But by the end of the day, it became clear he wouldn't have to face that decision, because he and other lawmakers agreed to drop the proposal." CW: In other words, Scottie will get away with as much as he can. ...

... CW: Contributor Nadd2 points us to this video of Scottie's weasling out of muliple questions about his part in the scheme. I thought Scottie was no good at deflecting questions. Turns out he's a master of misdirection, dissemblng & deception. Bottom line: his dirty paws are all over the last-minute insert: 

Friday
Jul032015

The Commentariat -- July 4, 2015

Afternoon Update:

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Another day on the presidential campaign trail, another crowd of eye-popping size for Bernie Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont attracted more than 2,500 people to a convention center [in Council Bluffs, Iowa] on Friday night.... Appearing Friday at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the country's first primary state, [Hillary] Clinton attracted about 850 people."

Yes, Virginia, There Is an Uncle Sam. Maybe. Sam Roberts of the New York Times: "Two centuries ago, in Troy, N.Y..., Samuel Wilson, the upstate New York butcher known locally as Uncle Sam and considered the inspiration for the national symbol..., stamped the meat he delivered to American troops poised to invade Canada during the War of 1812 with the initials 'U.S.,' earning him a permanent spot in the nation’s iconography."

** Claire Moser, in Think Progress: "Just in time for the Fourth of July — when millions of people across the country will visit America’s national parks and other public lands — the Koch brothers are rolling out their latest campaign against these treasured places: pushing for no more national parks. In an op-ed published in Tuesday’s New York Times, Reed Watson, the executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), along with a research associate at the Center, call for no more national parks, citing the backlog in maintenance for existing parks.... PERC has a long history of advocating for the privatization of America’s national parks and other public lands, and has significant ties to the Koch brothers and fossil fuel industries." ...

... In this regard, it is worth re-reading Tim Egan's 2010 essay on the people's parks. ...

... "These Disunited States." Colin Woodard in Politico Magazine: "Long before the Civil War, the United States had been torn between competing visions of what the American experiment was all about, with the northernmost tier of the country emphasizing collective action to build an allegedly stronger, better and more just Union while the southernmost tier championed self-government, the liberties of local rulers and the sanctity of local tradition. The other regions — and there were well more than two — found themselves caught in between. Strikingly little has changed." ...

... Michael Lind in Politico Magazine: "Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand — more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy.... We’d be less violent, more mobile and in general more normal if not for Dixie." ...

... Colbert King of the Washington Post: "The political freedom resulting from the [American Revolution] was earned on battlefields at Lexington and Concord, at the Battle of Bunker Hill and beyond, with the help of black soldiers, both free and enslaved, who fought with the Continental Army. The Revolutionary War victory was every bit theirs, as well.... At the start of the war, George Washington opposed the recruitment of blacks, whether free or slave. Washington had plenty of company. Many slave owners considered the training and arming of slaves akin to inviting insurrection. But they soon found that there weren’t nearly enough white men willing and able to fight the British, so Washington relented." ...

... Contra King, Dylan Matthews writes in Vox, "... Simon Schama writes in Rough Crossings, his history of black loyalism during the Revolution, the war was 'a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery.' Slaves also understood that their odds of liberation were better under British rule than independence. Over the course of the war, about 100,000 African slaves escaped, died, or were killed, and tens of thousands enlisted in the British army, far more than joined the rebels." ...

    ... Remains of the Day. CW: Matthews' post, titled "3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake," is well-worth a read. However, in my own counterfactual, I would argue that Great Britain would soon tire of the American colonies & arrange to leave us mostly to our own devices, perhaps with the sort of autonomy that most of the remains of the Empire enjoy today. Downside: no Independence Day holiday. ...

... Michael Twitty in the Guardian: "... if America is about people creating new worlds based on rebellion against oppression and slavery, then barbecue is the ideal dish: it was made by enslaved Africans with inspiration and contributions from Native Americans struggling to maintain their independence.... Barbecue is laced with the aspiration of freedom, but it was seasoned and flavored by the people who could not enjoy any freedom on Independence Day for almost a century." Thanks to safari for the link.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century."

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Federal and local authorities have found that ... [accused mass murderer Dylann Roof] had been in contact with white supremacists online, although it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre, according to law enforcement officials.... The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported on Thursday that the investigation had widened to include others who may have helped [Dylann] Roof." ...

... Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: Amber Roof, Dylann's sister, who cancelled her wedding -- which had been planned for four days after Dylann (allegedly) massacred nine people -- decided to crowdfund a new wedding & honeymoon. After receiving -- and deleting -- negative comments, Amber took down her GoFundMe page. CW: One can hardly blame the poor dear; there is not a word of guidance in any of the wedding etiquette books on how a disappointed bride should conduct herself in such a circumstance. So she proceeded in the way she thought most tasteful (though even I would have suggested she use the spellcheck).

Dana Milbank: The ascendant populist movement appears to be leaving behind top Democrats like President Obama, Hillary Clitnon [Update: sometimes a typo is just a typo.] & New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On Facebook, actor George Takei issues an appropriate apology for a remark he made about Justice Clarence Thomas. ...

... Jonathan Turley, in a Washington Post op-ed, suggests that "the right to 'dignity,' as Justice Anthony Kennedy repeatedly expressed in his Obergefell decision, is in conflict with First Amendment rights. "Should the right to dignity trump free speech or free exercise?" CW: Worth your consideration. ...

... Simon Miloy of Salon: "... support for nullification theory tends to rise in the context of civil rights struggles, as the opponents of equal rights claim that the Supreme Court can’t tell their (usually Southern) state what to do.... The important thing to understand with the current gay rights battle is that the proponents of the 'religious freedom' argument aren’t actually talking about 'protecting' religious freedom — they’re talking about expanding the definition of what can be considered an expression of religious faith. When Ted Cruz and Ken Paxton argue that county clerks can refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of the Supreme Court, they’re essentially saying that the act of doing one’s government job is an act of faith and should be protected as such."

... George Rede of the Oregonian: "The owners of a shuttered Gresham[, Oregon,] bakery must pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake, the state's top labor official said Thursday. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay the women for emotional and mental suffering that resulted from the denial of service. The Kleins had cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing to make the cake. Avakian's ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year...."

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "After nearly a decade of recession, Puerto Rico’s government says it cannot pay its $73 billion debt much longer. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla warns that more austerity is on the way, a necessity for an island now working feverishly to rescue itself. With so many bracing for another slide toward the bottom, the sense of despair grows more palpable by the day."

Griff Witte & Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "Dueling rallies of tens of thousands of people apiece took over central Athens on Friday evening, with demonstrators making their final push before a referendum on Sunday that has passionately divided this flailing nation between those terrified Greece will lose its place in Europe and others determined to transform the continent at all costs." ...

... Suzanne Daley of the New York Times: "On Friday, a day of dueling yes and no rallies, when a top Greek court swept aside a constitutional challenge to the referendum, the role of the news media emerged as one of the most contentious issues. Ads predicting doomsday scenarios and long newspaper articles on the plight of retirees have been coming fast and furious from Greece’s oligarch-dominated news organizations, which critics say are all in on the yes side. ...

... Paul Taylor of Reuters: "Euro zone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece's debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday. The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece's public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Greece isn’t going to cut, or reform, or grow it’s way to debt sustainability. Either it will default on virtually all of its loans and adopt a new currency, or it will need debt forgiveness of the sort that Germany enjoyed after the Second World War, when more than half of its loans were written off. That’s the reality." ...

... Noah Feldman in Bloomberg: "Greece is doing democracy wrong.... In a crisis, effective democracy requires an elected leader to do what he or she thinks is right -- and take the consequences later, when elections are called. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s failure to do this isn’t democratic -- it’s irresponsible hedging in the hopes of maintaining popularity even after a change in the policies that elected him."

Presidential Race

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney is hosting  [N.J. Gov. Chris] Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, at his waterfront compound on picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee on Friday night.... Fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and his wife, Jeanette, also joined the Romneys for Friday night's slumber party.... On Saturday morning, the Christies and Rubios will also be marching  in Wolfeboro's celebrated Fourth of July parade." CW: Aw, shucks, I have to clean out my car & do some laundry, so I won't be able to make it. ...

... Steve M.: "Romney seemed to be deferring to Jeb when he decided not to run for president this year, but I'm starting to wonder whether he's looking for a way to help Jeb's rivals at Jeb's expense.... Jeb, by the way, is holding "two intimate campaign events" (a dinner and a staff briefing) in Kennebunkport this weekend, according to theNew York Post's Page Six." ...

... BUT, Philip Rucker: "Romney and his wife, Ann, plan to meet this coming week with former Florida governor Jeb Bush for lunch at Walker's Point, the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.... In past years, the Romneys have visited with the Bushes at Walker's Point." The summer residences are about a 50-mile drive from each other.

"A Lesson in Inequality." Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times: New York City, under the Bloomberg administration, paid Donald Trump $127 million (& tax breaks) to build & operate a public golf course in the Bronx. "A stretch of housing projects borders the links and so does a tightly packed cemetery, St. Raymond’s...." The city was supposed to equip a free public park that is next to the grounds, but the "equipment" is nothing but a slide. ...

... Missed this, but it's worth noting. Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg (July 1): Donald Trump "was quoted as saying in an interview with the Golf Channel that he’s received 'tremendous support' from those in the golf world because 'they all know I’m right' [about Mexican immigrants].... The U.S. PGA Tour, the PGA of America, the U.S. Golf Association and the LPGA Tour said Wednesday in a joint statement that Trump’s remarks don’t reflect the views of those organizations.... 'While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,'” they said.

... Last week Lindsay Abrams of Salon interviewed Anthony Baxter, who made a documentary, "You've Been Trumped" about Donald Trump's golf course project in Scotland. "Trump’s no less loathed in Scotland. There, however, the problem is less about what Trump says, and more about what he’s actually done — run roughshod over protected dunes to build an elite golf course, attack an offshore wind energy project because it “ruined” his view, cajole politicians into supporting his every whim. He’s also run into trouble for the promises he’s failed to keep...." Also, of course, his 18 golf courses for the elite -- especially the courses in deserts -- are environmental disasters. ...

... Here's the film, which has received rave reviews:

Thursday
Jul022015

The Commentariat -- July 3, 2015

Michael Schmidt & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "... this Fourth of July weekend has spawned particularly strong warnings about a potential [terrorist] attack as the federal authorities and national security experts say the United States is more susceptible now because of tactics chosen for recent terrorist strikes by the Islamic State. Officials cite an increased effort by the Islamic State to galvanize its sympathizers in the United States and elsewhere since Memorial Day and during this Ramadan season to carry out acts of violence on their own -- so-called lone-wolf attacks. Those potential plots by individuals are harder for the authorities to detect and disrupt, senior American officials say, and have led the F.B.I. to put more Americans under investigation for suspected ties to terrorist groups than at any point since Sept. 11."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has begun a profound shift in its enforcement of the nation's immigration laws, aiming to hasten the integration of long-term illegal immigrants into society rather than targeting them for deportation, according to documents and federal officials. In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to ensure that the majority of America's 11.3 million undocumented immigrants can stay in this country, with agents narrowing enforcement efforts to three groups of illegal migrants: convicted criminals, terrorism threats or those who recently crossed the border." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama came to [La Crosse, Wisconsin,] on the Mississippi on Thursday and launched a frontal assault on Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who filed papers earlier in the day that moved him closer to joining a crowded Republican presidential field. ...

... Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans in the state where the GOP governor was preparing to enter the vast 2016 presidential field. 'They're good people,' Obama said of Republicans. 'It's just their ideas are bad.' Obama leveled some of his sharpest criticism of Republicans, who disagree with him on most matters, on the issue of health care....'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

I've lost count how many Republicans are running for this job. They'll have enough for an actual 'Hunger Games.' -- President Obama, in La Crosse

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "In the second quarter of 2015, Democrats regained an advantage over Republicans in terms of Americans' party affiliation. A total of 46% of Americans identified as Democrats (30%) or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party (16%), while 41% identified as Republicans (25%) or leaned Republican (16%)."

Terry Gross of NPR interviews Adam Liptak of the New York Times on this past Supreme Court term. CW: Watch out for Liptak's claims about how "liberal" the term was. (I haven't listened, so I might be wrong.) Thanks to Haley S. for the lead:

Julia O'Donaghue of the Times-Picayune: "Following a court ruling ordering it to do so, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration agreed Thursday (July 2) afternoon to allow the state Department of Vital Records in downtown New Orleans to issue the marriage licenses. Every other marriage license office in the state began doing so earlier this week." ...

... Matt Volz of the AP: "A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife. Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy ... but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.... Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he ... expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week. 'I think he deserves an answer,' Gillen said, but added his review is finding that 'the law simply doesn't provide for that yet.'"

Tim Egan: "The current heat [in Washington state] is a precursor, an early peek at a scary tomorrow. [Sen. Jim] Inhofe's ignorance could have a direct effect on the place we leave our grandchildren."

AP: "Greece' finance minister says an agreement with the country's creditors 'is more or less done' as European officials have put forward 'very decent proposals' to the Greek government his week. Yanis Varoufakis has told Ireland's RTE radio Friday that this 'has not been a dead week in terms of negotiations' despite European officials stating publicly that there would be no further talks until after Sunday's referendum." ...

... ** Phillip Inman, et al., of the Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has electrified the referendum debate in Greece after it conceded that the crisis-ridden country needs up to €60bn (£42bn) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create 'a breathing space' and stabilise the economy.... With days to go before Sunday's knife-edge referendum that the country's creditors have cast as a vote on whether it wants to keep the euro, the IMF revealed a deep split with Europe as it warned that Greece's debts were 'unsustainable'." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... if it weren't for the nightmare in southern Europe, the troubles facing the Finnish economy might well be seen as an epic disaster. And Finland isn't alone. It's part of an arc of economic decline that extends across northern Europe through Denmark -- which isn't on the euro, but is managing its money as if it were -- to the Netherlands.... What all of these economies have in common ... is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straitjacket." P.S. to Greeks -- Vote "No." ...

... According to the AP, polling shows the vote is close.

Presidential Race

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, bringing his antiwar credentials to the field in what many consider a long-shot campaign for the presidency. Mr. Webb's announcement caught some political observers by surprise -- the politician was the first to form a presidential exploratory committee among both Democrats and Republicans, but he has been barely visible ever since." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Washington Post story, by Rachel Weiner, is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's Webb's announcement statement. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "In a different era's Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination.... As surprising as Bernie Sanders's rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does.... Webb's statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "In a pretty clear indication that he doesn't care much for the advice of people like me, former Senator Jim Webb leapt into the 2016 presidential race without further clarifying his rather anachronistic views on the display of Confederate emblems, or for that matter, doing much of anything else in preparation."

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Bernie Sanders has more than halved the gap with Hillary Clinton in the early-voting state of Iowa, according to a new poll which shows the leftwing insurgent building on his recent record-breaking public appearances with growing support among key Democratic voters.... The latest survey in Iowa, carried out by Quinnipiac University, shows him trailing her by 33 to 52 percentage points among likely Democratic participants in the state caucuses on 1 February. This compares with Clinton's 60-15 point lead, more than twice as large, in the last Quinnipiac poll on 7 May...." ...

... Brian Mahoney of Politico: "In a memo this week to state, central and area divisions of the labor federation..., the AFL-CIO chief [Richard Trumka] reminded the groups that its bylaws don't permit them to 'endorse a presidential candidate' or 'introduce, consider, debate, or pass resolutions or statements that indicate a preference for one candidate over another.'... The memo comes amid signs of a growing split between national union leaders ... and local officials and rank and file, who are increasingly drawn to the Democratic Party's growing progressive wing, for whom [Sen. Bernie] Sanders is the latest standard-bearer. The South Carolina and Vermont AFL-CIOs have passed resolutions supporting Sanders, and some local AFL-CIO leaders in Iowa want to introduce a resolution at their August convention backing the independent senator from Vermont."

Nick Gass of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will officially announce his bid for the White House on July 13 in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha."

Matea Gold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country's more prominent politicians. Tax returns disclosed this week by the Republican's presidential campaign revealed that the business not only made him rich but also provided a steady income for his wife and one of his sons.... The returns show that the company set up a generous and well-funded pension plan now rare in corporate America, allowing Bush to take large tax deductions while he and his wife built up their retirement portfolio."

Ben Brody of Bloomberg: "Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry accused his party of trading its 'moral legitimacy' for political pragmatism in abandoning the cause of African Americans and, along with it, the black vote. 'We found that we did need it to win,' the former Texas governor said. 'But when we gave up trying to win the support of African Americans we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln, the party of equal opportunity for all.'... Perry also ... [said Donald] Trump's recent disparaging comments about Mexico and Mexican immigrants do not 'reflect the Republican Party.'" ...

... digby: "I'll just point out that Rick Perry lost all moral legitimacy with the human race when he blithely signed more death warrants than any governor in history.... Also too: African Americans comprise only 12% of the population of Texas, but they comprise 39.8% of death row inmates." ...

... CW: Even if Perry had not signed a single death warrant, he has "lost all moral legitimacy" by his policies that so often are aimed to hurt racial minorities (& other vulnerable people, like seniors, gays & women): his economic policies & proposals such as a flat tax & opposition to minimum wage laws; his opposition to the ACA, to the point of refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion; his opposition to Social Security; his successful efforts to close clinics that perform abortions; his advocacy for voter suppression (successful here, too!) -- look at his record & you'll probably find plenty of other policy positions he supports that negatively affect minorities more than they do wealthy white guys. Sorry, Rick, platitudes don't trump policies.

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. -- Donald Trump, presidential candidacy announcement

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "... it's worth noting the two hallmarks of classic Donald Trump that emerged from his response [to the furor his [remarks caused]. First, he unfailingly stood by the comments.... And second, he's wrong. On CNN on Wednesday night, he offered a defense to anchor Don Lemon. 'If you look at the statistics, of people coming ... I didn't say about Mexico, I say the illegal immigrants -- if you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything, coming in illegally to the country, they're mind-boggling,' he told Lemon. Every part of that is incorrect. He did say his comments about Mexico -- explicitly. And data show that new immigrants -- including illegal immigrants -- are actually less likely to commit crime, not more." (Emphasis added.) Read the whole post. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "... just because Trump is an unqualified vanity candidate doesn't mean he's unimportant in the story of the 2016 GOP presidential primary....While Trump was out-of-bounds of mainstream conversation, he was well in the bounds of Republican Party politics and the kinds of rhetoric used there about Mexican and Latin American immigrants.... His rhetoric -- a revanchist stew of foreign policy belligerence, small government ideology, anti-elite agitation, and raw bigotry -- reflects and appeals to a meaningful part of the Republican electorate." ...

... OR, as digby puts it, "They love him for saying what they all believe."

Beyond the Beltway

CW, via the Raw Story: If you're a white guy who organizes a plot to massacre members of a Muslim community -- gathering guns, ammo & "recruits" -- you might not be a terrorist; you might just be mentally ill or drunk or something. The federal judge, who ruled that prosecutors had to produce evidence that defendant Robert Doggart was "a true threat," is a Clinton appointee. And he's black. Here's the Chattanoogan story.

Tania Eiserer of WFAA Dallas-Fort Worth: "The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned. Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.... Schaffer ... said the securities fraud allegations involve amounts well in excess of $100,000." ...

... CW: This is the same Ken Paxton who last week was fighting the Obergefell decision with everything he had & calling the decision "lawless."

Bethania Markus of the Raw Story: "Chaos broke out in a Brooklyn, New York park when an anarchist group burned both the Confederate and American flags. Bystanders and counter-protesters angered by the event showed up to defend the stars and stripes."

Whatever Happened to Scott Brown? The last we heard, the once-and-former-handsomest-man-in-the-Senate was working an unpaid job learning to change a bicycle tire since changing a car tire was way beyond his skill level. Now he has a -- presumably -- paying job as a salesman for what is probably a phony, reportedly dangerous, "weight-loss" dietary supplement. Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast has the story. Brown is apparently unsure how long he's been taking the supplement: either it's a few months or ten years. Something like that. But look out, Maine, your native son is now really fit to run for Senate.

News Ledes

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande's office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador's embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States' biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

Wednesday
Jul012015

The Commentariat -- July 2, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans in the state where the GOP governor was preparing to enter the vast 2016 presidential field. 'They're good people,' Obama said.... 'It's just their ideas are bad.' Obama leveled some of his sharpest criticism of Republicans, who disagree with him on most matters, on the issue of health care....'"

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, bringing his antiwar credentials to the field in what many consider a long-shot campaign for the presidency. Mr. Webb's announcement caught some political observers by surprise -- the politician was the first to form a presidential exploratory committee among both Democrats and Republicans, but he has been barely visible ever since." ...

... The Washington Post story, by Rachel Weiner, is here.

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has begun a profound shift in its enforcement of the nation's immigration laws, aiming to hasten the integration of long-term illegal immigrants into society rather than targeting them for deportation, according to documents and federal officials. In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to ensure that the majority of America's 11.3 million undocumented immigrants can stay in this country, with agents narrowing enforcement efforts to three groups of illegal migrants: convicted criminals, terrorism threats or those who recently crossed the border."

*****

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department announced Thursday an $18.7 billion agreement in principle with BP to settle outstanding claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico--the worst oil spill in U.S. history."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday announced his plans to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba this month, declaring that the two nations were ready to reopen embassies in each other's capitals and to start a 'new chapter' of engagement after more than a half-century of estrangement":

... Dana Milbank: "In the space of just over a week, [President] Obama's tired tenure came back to life." CW: Milbank is overstating the case. The President has been working -- and producing -- ever since the 2014 elections.

John Harwood of CNBC: "... don't expect Nancy Pelosi to line up behind Elizabeth Warren and demand President Barack Obama get tougher on Wall Street. 'There may have been a couple of people who say that, but that is not the consensus in our party,' Pelosi said in a 45-minute interview. On the charge that the administration has been 'too soft' on Wall Street, she added: 'The financial industry doesn't agree with that.' Her comment was a reminder that, as the leader of House Democrats, Pelosi outranks Warren despite all the attention the Massachusetts senator has attracted lately...."

Drew Harwell, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department is investigating whether some of America's biggest airlines have colluded to keep airfares high, striking at an industry that has posted record profits recently while limiting routes and affordable seats, officials familiar with the matter said Wednesday."

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "A federal appeals court [Fifth District] on Wednesday afternoon directed the district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to issue final orders ending enforcement of the states' respective bans on same-sex couples' marriages.... In the Louisiana case, in which the trial court had upheld the ban, the appeals court, in a second opinion by Judge [Jerry] Smith, wrote that 'the judgment appealed from is REVERSED, and this matter is REMANDED for entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.' Notably, Smith added: 'The district court must act expeditiously on remand, especially in view of the declining health of plaintiff Robert Welles,' a plaintiff in the case.... Nothing yet from U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, who upheld Louisiana's marriage ban...." CW: Feldman is a singular winger. ...

... CW: As contributor David Feldman (no relation -- maybe) points out, that Marty Feldman is not this Marty Feldman:

Steve Benen: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy "Moore and his lawyer are under the impression that the United States is a theocracy. It's this assumption that leads them to believe public officials -- judges, governors, county clerks, et al -- are obligated to follow religious dictates, as defined by Moore and his lawyer's interpretation of Scripture."

AP: "Episcopalians have voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. The vote came Wednesday in Salt Lake City at the denomination's national assembly. The measure passed by an overwhelming margin in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay people at the meeting. The day before, the House of Bishops had approved the resolution, 129-26 with five abstaining.... Many dioceses have allowed priests to perform civil same-sex weddings."

Dana Hedgpeth of the Washington Post: "The White House said Wednesday it is lifting its longstanding ban on cameras and taking photos on its public tours." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

James Loewen, in a Washington Post op-ed: "We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that [Neo-Confederates] spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.... Neo-Confederates also managed to rename the war, calling it 'the War Between the States.' Nevermind that while it was going on, no one called it that.... Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded for states' rights. When each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states' rights [claimed by Northern states].... Publishers [of grade-school textbooks] mystify secession because they don't want to offend Southern school districts and thereby lose sales." ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "The endorsement of the Klan not only underscores the long affiliation of the [confederate] flag with racist terrorism; it also makes plain why debates about symbols have real-world consequences.... As Charleston mass murderer Dylann Roof's comments about black rapists should remind us, [the Klan's] toxic brew of racism and chivalry is still an essential part of white supremacy."

Jessica Derschowitz of Entertainment Weekly: TV Land has pulled reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard off its schedule, a spokesperson for the network confirmed to EW on Wednesday. The network did not comment further or say why the episodes were removed, but the news comes as the show became part of the growing national debate over use of the Confederate flag, which is displayed on the roof of the Duke boys' car. Last week, Warner Bros. Consumer Products said it would no longer license toys or models of the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger...." CW: What a shame. Now I'll never get to watch this exemplar of the vast American television wasteland (or so I would suspect, based on no direct knowledge of what I would assume were the tritest of plotlines, writ in service of stock-character rednecks racing around in souped-up cars). ...

... So then the stars of "The Dukes of Hazzard" speak out in defense of the show (and their residuals). ...

... Now, let us contemplate Greek history & philosophy. (Life is a glorious cycle of non sequiturs.) ...

... What Thucydides Said about the Greek Financial Crisis. Robert Zaretsky, in a New York Times op-ed: "When Thucydides declared his work was 'a possession for all time,' he meant that its relevance was as fixed and unchanging as was human behavior. Like his friend, the tragedian Sophocles, he would not be surprised that the blindness and hubris that undid ancient Athens remain with us today, and that the noble and humanist aims that once animated the European project have given way to unbending technocratic impulses.... Looming behind the euro has been the blunt fact of Germany's strict monetary and economic policies, the edginess of a European Central Bank preoccupied by the specter of inflation and the eagerness of the European Union's Council of Ministers to make policy in what is the near-total absence of democratic process." ...

... Jennifer Rankin of the Guardian: "Germany has dismissed a last-ditch compromise plan from Greece that bowed to some key demands of its creditors. In an address to the Bundestag, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, reiterated her stance that there was no point in having talks with the government of Alexis Tsipras before a referendum in Greece on an EU bailout plan. 'The door to talks with the Greek government has always been, and remains, open,' she said, but added that talks could not take place before Sunday's poll." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the financial crisis.

Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: German Chancellor Angela "Merkel's conversation with an unidentified adviser, along with another document from the chancellor's top aide for European affairs and a list of 69 telephone numbers said to belong to members of the German government and their aides, were made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The files seem to contain little new information, but if authentic, they would appear to be the first solid evidence that the N.S.A. eavesdropped on Ms. Merkel, after allegations in 2013 that were based on lists of telephone numbers revealed by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden." ...

... CW: Hmmm, is Snowden passing material to Wikileaks? Or is a journalist-recipient of his files the culprit? It's possible the Wikileaks source is someone completely unrelated to the Snowden "team" or others who had access to the journalists' materials. But if my suspicions are correct, this (fairly harmless and unsurprising) leak is an indication of exactly the kind of threat that I've warned Snowden & his "sharing" methods pose to U.S. security. Snowden fans, take pause.

David Sanger & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: A major sticking point in the Iran nuclear deal is whether or not Iran will allow International Atomic Energy Agency officials to interview Iranian scientists & others who have worked on the country's nuclear program.

Give Peas a Chance? Uh-uh. Alan Rappeport on the Compelling Controvery of the Day: "President Obama and Jeb Bush have found something they agree on: Peas in guacamole are a no-no. The meeting of the taste buds came after The New York Times posted a recipe suggestion on Twitter that adding peas was a good idea. The recipe, which started a debate on Twitter so raucous that Mr. Obama was asked about it, suggests that 'the peas add intense sweetness and a chunky texture to the dip, making it more substantial on the chip.'"

Presidential Race

Gail Collins has an interactive Fourth of July quiz that's all about the presidential candidates. CW: I'm happy to say I'm back to my average of missing one. A person can know too much.

E. J. Dionne: "Will any [Republican candidates] have the temerity to appeal to their party's many working-class supporters by making the point that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other Democrats are sure to advance: that reinforcing our 'conservative' values about the honor of work often requires what are usually seen as 'progressive' measures by government to keep workers from being short-changed?"

Bernie Sanders at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday evening.AP: "The Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders touted his progressive credentials before his largest crowd to date on Wednesday night as he pushed his campaign into Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's backyard. Sanders packed the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, filling its 10,000 seats to show his bid to snatch the Democratic nomination from front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't a longshot. 'Tonight we have made a little bit of history,' the white-haired Sanders said at a podium positioned between Wisconsin and United States flags at the outset of his hourlong speech before a boisterous crowd. 'Tonight we have more people at any meeting for a candidate of president of the United States than any other candidate.'"

Obama 2008. See comments for context.

Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The House Select Committee on Benghazi is a 'charade,' Hillary Clinton's campaign charges in a new video blasting the committee for wasting taxpayer money on politics":

... Adam Lerner of Politico has more of the details of the recently-released Clinton e-mails. ...

     ... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Could there possibly be a bigger 'move along, nothing to see here' moment on the giant scandal of Hillary Clinton's email than a Politico article headlined 'The 12 Hillary Clinton emails you must read' in which all 12 are [silly]? ...

... Daniel Schulman of Mother Jones: "... some of the more intriguing exchanges involved the media -- how her team sought to shape the news, the journalists they considered receptive to their message, and the close degree to which Clinton monitored how she was covered." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times sees the e-mails as revealing Clinton's difficulty in "finding her place" in an administration headed by the guy who beat her in the race for the presidential nomination. ...

... Amanda Becker & Emily Stephenson of Reuters: "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has raised about $45 million since she entered the 2016 race in April, her campaign said on Wednesday. More than 90 percent of Clinton's donations were in amounts of $100 or less, a campaign aide said, emphasizing the Democratic front-runner's broad-based grassroots support. The campaign did not release the total number of donors so far." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "For Democrats, Donald Trump amounts to a kind of divine intervention. With the Republican Party on an urgent mission to woo Latino voters, one of its leading presidential candidates has been enmeshed for two weeks in a nasty feud over his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.... Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats, meanwhile, are eager to make Trump the face of the Republican Party, which is momentarily leaderless with a disparate presidential field and no clear front-runner." ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a statement today that the city is reviewing all of Trump's contracts with the city due to his 'disgusting and offensive' remarks." ...

... Phil Mickelson of the Golf Channel: "When it comes to the employees at his own private [golf] clubs and resorts, Trump is not worried about repercussions. 'I have Mexicans and South Americans working for me all over the country and believe me, they love me and I love them,' Trump told [Tim] Rosaforte [of the Golf Channel]. 'I think they're great. I've had great support and I haven't heard one negative thing and frankly I don't expect to.' Both the PGA Tour and PGA of America declined comment...."

... Robin Givhan of the Washington Post: "More than 728,000 people signed a Moveon.org petition calling on Macy's to ditch the Donald -- to sever its ties with Donald Trump, the real estate mogul-turned-celebrity designer-turned-Republican presidential candidate. And Wednesday morning, national department store chain announced that it was doing just that.... Trump responded with his own statement, suggesting that he was breaking up with them first anyway.... Once the Trump-branded merchandise is gone from the stores, that's it. Collectors can still purchase his menswear -- on sale! -- via the Macy's website. The decision does not effect the Ivanka Trump collection, which Macy's also sells." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Simon Miloy of Salon: "... not one Republican has stood up and done literally the easiest, least controversial, most politically buzzy thing one could do in this situation: denounce Donald Trump."

Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: Chris Christie "canceled a morning event in New Hampshire, the state on which he is staking his campaign, and headed to Portland, Me., to pick up the endorsement of its deeply embattled governor, Paul R. LePage -- a man who is gripped in a veto-and-override standoff with a hostile Legislature, has exhausted many fellow Maine Republicans and is being threatened with impeachment by Democrats and independents. Say this for Mr. LePage, though: He makes Mr. Christie's problems in his home state look puny." ...

Scenes from a Diner. Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dumber (see MAG's comment below):

... Margaret Hartmann: Like all GOP presidential candidates, Chris Christie disagrees with the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision. However, he says of governors & all state employees, "'You took the job and you took the oath.... When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn't give you an out. You have to do it.' Christie did note that there are some 'individual circumstances that might merit some examination,' but his position puts him at odds with many of his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination, who have argued that religious exemptions should be allowed. Looks like Christie's Straight Talk Express has officially left the garage! Let's see if it makes it down the block."

Ed Kilgore thinks Ted Cruz won the post-SCOTUS sweepstakes because his ill-advised proposal to subject U.S. Supreme Court justices to retention elections dovetails with ultra-conservative Iowans' own partially-successful efforts to recall state supreme court justices who voted in 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage. Kilgore does acknowledge that the Obergefell decision gave "Scott Walker an excuse for changing his own position on same-sex marriage; he now embraces a constitutional amendment to overturn SCOTUS" & this burnish his creds with folks who thump the Bible rather than read it.

Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: To some Republican bigwigs -- and the Koch boys! -- Scott Walker's abrupt shifts rightward increasingly suggest he is "willing to lose the general election to win the primary."

Beyond the Beltway

Equal Rights, a State at a Time. Laura Nahmias of Capital New York: "... a year after [New York] Governor Andrew Cuomo made it a focal point of his re-election campaign, the majority of a women's equality-centric legislative package that proved hugely controversial in last year's session sailed through. That legislation, the Women's Equality Act, was a ten-part group of bills aimed at advancing women's rights.... All but one of the Women's Equality Act bills quietly passed the Legislature. One has already been signed. Eight more are awaiting Cuomo's signature." The part that didn't pass in the GOP-dominated legislature related to abortion rights. Via Erica Schwiegershausen of New York.

Steve Mistler of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: "The [Maine] Legislature's watchdog committee voted unanimously Wednesday to investigate Gov. Paul LePage's threat to withhold state funds from a school for at-risk children unless it withdrew a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves. The probe will focus on how state funding is sent to Good Will-Hinckley, a private school in Fairfield, and the effects of the Republican governor's threat on a political foe, which rocked the State House last week and led some Democrats to call for the Republican governor's impeachment.... The unanimous vote [cam] after the governor's attorney tells the agency that will investigate that it doesn't have jurisdiction over LePage.... 'They can't investigate me,' [LePage] said. 'It's in the Constitution.'" At least one independent legal expert disagreed, in part, with the governor & his attorney.

Gretel Kauffman of the Christian Science Monitor: "An escaped murderer that was captured 22 days after breaking out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., is claiming that he and his partner in crime used only hacksaw blades to cut through steel cell block walls." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

How to Make Your Anti-Gay Storefront Signs More Polite. Jaime Fuller of New York: "On Monday, a few days after last week's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Jeff Amyx put a sign that said 'No Gays Allowed' on the door of his hardware store in Tennessee. On Tuesday night, he amended the sign slightly. It now reads, 'We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.' He told WATE 6 in Knoxville, 'People told me I ought to do it a little bit more, make it a little nicer because I'm a very blunt person.'" CW: Ah, much better. ...

     ... CW Update: Be sure to see Steve Van Nest's additional reporting & commentary on the story in today's Comments.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'" ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile -- a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ... ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."