The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

Reuters: "The ringleader of a beating ritual that led to the death of a Florida college marching band member was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and felony hazing, the first case to go to trial in an incident that drew national attention to hazing abuses. A jury convicted percussionist Dante Martin, 27, for his role in a November 2011 ritual involving the Florida A&M University's celebrated 'Marching 100' band that led to the death of Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major." ...

... CW: Why are these college students so old?

Los Angeles Times: "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, part of a commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, crashed during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson and the FAA. At least one person was killed." MSNBC is saying two were injured as well.

New York Times: "Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public. Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left. The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, 'currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.' The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.” Thanks to James S. for the link.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Friday
Oct312014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 1, 2014

 

I’m not a scientist. — Republicans

I’m not a Republican. — Scientists

Maria Konnikova of the New Yorker takes seriously Jonathan Haidt's assertion that social psychologists are biased against Republicans. CW: What both Konnikova & Haidt seem to overlook is that most of what passes for conservatism today is laughable bullshit. Where it's not cohesive sociopathy, it's incoherent, non-intellectual rationalization based on disproved hypotheses or deceit. So, yeah, I guess the vast majority of social psychologists are "biased" against Republicans/conservatives to the extent they can see through the malarky & discount it -- or study! -- it.

November Elections

All the News Is Bad News. CW: I'll let Nate Silver break it to you.

Jonathan Chait: "The contest to control the Senate is about one thing: whether Obama can confirm judges and staff his administration.... What’s more, if a Supreme Court justice becomes incapacitated or dies, the judicial gridlock could become a Constitutional struggle.... News reports have wildly overstated the legislative importance of Republican Senate control. At the same time, they have understated its importance to the judiciary." ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times Channels Victoria D. (See yesterday's Comments): "... given the universal mythology that a lower deficit is always a good thing, would it kill Democrats to point out that the deficit actually has fallen by more than 50 percent since President Obama took office? None of [the Democratic candidates] mention that the budget is in far better shape largely because taxes went up on the rich, and because health care costs are falling. It’s unusual even to hear that unemployment is down to 5.9 percent, or that 5.5 million jobs have been added since 2009, which is four times more than under all eight years of George W. Bush.... If Democrats lose control of the Senate next week, they may wonder why they ... left out the country’s good news." Read the whole post.

Richard Hasen & Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "This year’s scary election ads will destroy any lingering confidence in the judicial branch....In 39 states, some or all judges must face some kind of election — often a partisan one. These races used to be about as interesting to watch as Bingo night. But now, it’s all Law and Order, and all the time. The ads are scarier than the shows they interrupt. These new judicial attack ads are a consequence of a series of Supreme Court rulings that have allowed judicial elections to get noisier, nastier, and costlier, with no limit on outside spending by groups such as the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity." CW: Thanks again, Supremes!

Kentucky. Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity: "The most mysterious force in Kentucky’s pivotal U.S. Senate race is a ghost that dwells in a hole in a wall. Hunt for the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, and one finds no grassroots army, no canvassing operation, no office or headquarters at all — just a scuffed U.S. Postal Service box nestled inside a suburban shopping plaza about 10 miles from downtown Louisville.... Corporeal or not, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has ... haunt[ed] Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in her increasingly unlikely bid to unseat incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky." Via Charles Pierce.

Maine. Darren Fishell of the Bangor Daily News: "Wondering how to blow $1.2 million in two days? Try a whole lot of TV ads. At least, that’s how seven political action committees spent their $1.2 million over the last two days, according to the latest filings with the Maine Ethics Commission. Most of that spending — about $852,000 — went to benefit the campaign of Democrat Mike Michaud, who is locked in a dead heat against incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, according to a BDN/Ipsos poll released today."

Massachusetts. Fish Story. Nestor Ramos & Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Some of the details of Charlie Baker’s emotional 2009 encounter with a soulful fisherman may have been lost at sea. Baker on Thursday acknowledged that he may have misstated some of the particulars of the story he told tearfully during a debate this week. That, in turn, has complicated efforts to locate the man whose hardships, in Baker’s retelling, produced one of the most remarkable moments in this year’s race for governor.... Despite searches mounted by both campaigns, several media outlets, and various New Bedford fishing industry lifers, no one has been able to find the massive man whose embrace Baker described as 'like hugging a mountain.'” Via Charles Pierce. ...

... Justin Snow of Metro Weekly: "Responding to calls from the National Organization for Marriage for social conservatives to vote for pro-LGBT Democrat Seth Moulton over his openly gay Republican opponent, Richard Tisei, Moulton’s campaign refused such support Thursday." ...

... As Charles Pierce reminded us yesterday, vote for Moulton.

Beyond the Beltway

Sari Horwitz & Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said."

Free to Be My Congressman Again. AP: "Former Florida Congressman Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to cocaine possession, has had his record expunged.... U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman William Miller said Friday that Radel completed all the conditions of his probation and was granted an early termination of it in July. Miller said Radel then asked to have his case dismissed and his record expunged, and prosecutors agreed with the request."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article3498514.html#storylink=cpy
Thursday
Oct302014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 31, 2014

Robert Bukaty of the AP: "Maine health officials obtained a 24-hour court order restricting Kaci Hickox's movement after the nurse repeatedly defied the state's quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients. A judge granted the order Thursday limiting Hickox's travel, banning her from public places and requiring a 3-foot buffer until there's a further decision Friday." ...

... Nobel Laureate Backs Christie. Claude Brodesser-Akner of NJ.com: Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Bruce Beutler "reviewed [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie’s new policy of mandatory quarantine for all health care workers exposed to Ebola, and declared: 'I favor it.'... “It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can’t transmit the disease, because we don’t have the numbers to back that up.... Even if someone is asymptomatic you cannot rely on people to report themselves if they get a fever. You can’t just depend on the goodwill of people to confine the disease like that – even healthcare workers. They behave very irresponsibly,' said Beutler.'” Beutler said of nurse Kaci Hickox, "It doesn’t matter that she was afebrile – she should be quarantined for 21 days.” Beutler said he would be "a little stricter" than Christie's policy requires. ...

... Mark Santora of the New York Times: "New York officials announced on Thursday that they would offer employee protection and financial guarantees for health care workers joining the fight against the Ebola outbreak in three West African nations. The announcement was an effort to alleviate concerns that the state’s mandatory quarantine policy could deter desperately needed workers from traveling overseas." ...

... Dan Mangan of CNBC: "New York City's health department said a doctor being treated for Ebola 'cooperated fully' with officials, dismissing a report that he initially lied about his movements." ...

... Charles Pierce: "I can't be the only one who thinks that the conservative nattering about Ebola is starting to reek of the same reckless pot-stirring that made the Terri Schiavo episode such a highlight of conservative intellectual activism.... And when you think of wanking, you think of the strong and steady hand of "Bobby" Jindal, the governor of Louisiana who, on Thursday, managed to dig up Irony and kill it again by warning people who have worked with Ebola overseas not to come to his state to attend...wait for it...a conference on infectious tropical diseases." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "President Obama is coming under increasing pressure to apologize for a controversial remark that he made on Tuesday, in which he said that the nation’s Ebola policy should be based on facts rather than fear. While the anti-fear tenor of Mr. Obama’s comment was offensive enough to some, the President made matters worse by suggesting that science would play the leading role in guiding the nation’s Ebola protocols...."

Coral Davenport of the New York Times on why Republicans keep saying they're not scientists. "'It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,' said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who has advised House Republicans and conservative political advocacy groups on energy and climate change messaging. 'Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers.'”

Tom McCarthy & Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "The secretary of state, John Kerry, has condemned as 'disgraceful' a description of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, as 'chickenshit', attributed to an unnamed US official. Kerry said on Thursday that the reported comments did not reflect his view or the view of President Barack Obama, adding that the language was 'disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging'."

There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. -- Chief Justice John Roberts ...

... Linda Greenhouse: That's what Roberts wrote "in April of this year. His subject then was the right to spend money in politics, not the right to vote. If people conclude that the current Supreme Court majority cares more about the first than the second — surely a logical inference — the court will have entered a dangerous place. And so — as a conservative justice once realized in another context — will the country." ...

... CW: I don't think you can beat the irony of Roberts' writing in McCutcheon v. F.E.C. (the $$$ case) when contrasted with his decision to allow the Texas voter suppression/poll tax statute to stand this election cycle. Roberts knows what he's doing. His decision on Texas strongly suggests that he believes the "the right to participate in electing our political leaders" extends only to citizens who can pay for it. The Texas case has not come before the Court for a full decision yet, but informed observers don't have high hopes that voters' advocates will prevail. ...

... Messin' with Texas Ain't Over Yet. Richard Hasen in TPM: "The very last sentence ... of the ... opinion issued earlier this month by a federal district court striking down Texas’s strict voter identification law ... may be its most important. The court ended its opinion with a dry statement promising a future hearing on 'plaintiffs’ request for relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.' That hearing ... has the potential to require Texas to get federal approval for any future voting changes for up to the next decade.... It may be much more important than the ruling on the voter ID law itself.... Despite the recent Supreme Court order letting Texas use its voter ID law in this election, the case is far from over, and in fact the most important ruling in the case is yet to come. Voters may get their protection from discriminatory laws yet." Read the whole post. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "Mississippi has poor social outcomes and a threadbare safety net. It also has — and has long had — the largest black population in the country. And it’s where slavery was very lucrative, and Jim Crow most vicious. This is not a coincidence. In Mississippi — as in the rest of the South — white supremacy brought a politics of racist antagonism.... What we see in Mississippi — and, in varying degrees, the country writ large — is what was wrought by white supremacy. A society where the racial caste system is still intact but justified by other means." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... you can’t expect people to look at a place like Mississippi and unsee the threads that tie together generations of white conservatism, and unthink the judgment that once again 'state’s rights' and 'sovereignty' mean powerlessness, poverty, sickness and even an early grave for a big portion of the population."

Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "A libertarian think tank has sued the White House over a video that claimed global warming might be tied to last year’s extreme cold spell, commonly referred to as the 'polar vortex.' The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s lawsuit filed Wednesday says White House Office of Science and Technology director John Holdren was wrong when, in the January video, he cited a 'growing body of evidence' linking the so-called 'polar vortex' to climate change.” ...

... CW: Maybe John Boehner, who is once again looking for a lawyer to sue President Obama for shredding the Constitution or something, should hire the CEI's lawyers, who seem to be able to file the most frivlous of suits against the White House.

Gail Sullivan of the Washington Post lists a number of reasons why Apple CEO Tim Cook's coming out as gay is important. CW: I'll have to admit I thought "meh" when his Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed hit the ether, but Sullivan changes my mind.

Paul Krugman: "... the West has, in fact, fallen into a slump similar to Japan’s — but worse. And that wasn’t supposed to happen. In the 1990s, we assumed that if the United States or Western Europe found themselves facing anything like Japan’s problems, we would respond much more effectively than the Japanese had. But we didn’t, even though we had Japan’s experience to guide us." ...

... Michael Sauga in Der Spiegel elaborates on Krugman's theme: "... the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death." An excellent piece (4 pp.); thanks to Unwashed for the link. ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Shaun King of Daily Kos: "When Don Surber, editorial columnist for Charleston's Daily Mail, called [Ferguson, Mo. police shooting victim] Mike Brown an 'animal' who deserved to 'be put down,' and referred to protestors as 'packs of racists,' [in a Facebook post] he crossed a line.... Today Surber was fired by the Daily Mail for his incendiary comments...." Brad McElhinny, editor & publisher of the Daily Mail, announced Surber's dismissal in a blogpost on the paper's site.

Charles Pierce remembers Tom Menino, Boston's longest-serving mayor, who died Thursday: "Menino was a puzzlement only to those delicate souls who mistake syntax for intelligence. He became mayor just as Boston was emerging from the very last vestiges of its parochial past -- insular neighborhoods which did not welcome outsiders, which might simply mean someone who moved there from another parish in Dorchester." ...

... President Obama remembers Tom Menino.

Jon Stewart welcomes a new advertiser to the "Daily Show":

November Elections

Alexandria Times.

...

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again. In 2010, the polls underestimated the Democrats in every competitive Senate race by an average of 3.1 percentage points, based on data from The Huffington Post’s Pollster model. In 2012, pre-election polls underestimated President Obama in nine of the 10 battleground states by an average of 2 percentage points."

Nate Cohn: "Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states. More than 20 percent of the nearly three million votes already tabulated in Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa have come from people who did not vote in the last midterm election, according to an analysis of early-voting data by The Upshot." ...

... CW: Want to help? Make Tuesday "Take a Lazy Democrat to Lunch Day." And swing by her polling place on the way to the restaurant.

Brian Beutler: Democrats have known since their big wins in 2008 that 2014 would be a tough year for Senate Democrats, so stop blaming President Obama. "... even a good, well executed campaign strategy usually can't overwhelm the basic nature of the electorate."

Mike Dorning & Lorraine Woellert of Bloomberg News: "The U.S. economy has posted its strongest six months of growth since 2003, news that usually would be a boon to the party in power heading into congressional elections. Yet President Barack Obama and Democrats haven’t been able to take credit for the gains. On Election Day, they’re at risk of losing control of the Senate, though it is the Republicans who have blocked measures aimed at strengthening growth. That’s because Americans say they don’t feel the progress in their daily lives and they blame both parties for the political deadlock in Washington. The U.S. government’s failure to address the economy’s main weakness -- stagnant middle-class earnings -- damages Democrats the most."

... See also this piece by Emily Mahaney of Glamour magazine, where this video -- produced in support of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund's Women Are Watching campaign -- first appeared.

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "If you've ever wondered where the endless font of gun-nut paranoia comes from, try the National Rifle Association's magazine, America's 1st Freedom. In a special election issue headlined 'Chaos at Our Door? A Dangerous World Is Closing In' and illustrated with an Islamic State fighter, NRA chief fearmongerer Wayne LaPierre writes a column warning Americans to 'Vote Your Guns in November.'... 'On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, we will defend our right to defend ourselves because we have no other choice. We will voteour guns! We will vote our freedom! And we will prevail!" That might be the scariest idea of all." ...

... Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones lists seven "big gun fights to watch on election day.... The National Rifle Association, continuing a long-running strategy of campaign spending, earmarked over $11 million for this year's elections — but for the first time in decades the nation's leading gun lobby is facing some truly formidable opposition."

Margaret Hartmann: "After days of constant campaigning, Senator Elizabeth Warren has mixed up Vermont and New Hampshire, Michelle Obama has called Representative Bruce Braley "Bruce Bailey," and now Mitt Romney has flubbed the position of North Carolina's Republican Senate nominee. While introducing Thom Tillis on Wednesday, Romney described him as 'a man who as secretary of state has demonstrated what he can do to make things happen for the people of this great state.' Tillis is actually the state House speaker." CW: Good thing nobody's paying attention to the midterms.

Red States/Blue States. Monica Davey of the New York Times: "... Republicans are hoping to add Iowa and Arkansas to the states entirely under their control as well as to break the Democrats’ lock on power in places like Colorado and here in Minnesota. Democrats view the governors’ races in Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan as among their best hopes of defeating a Republican incumbent and regaining at least some voice in those Republican-held state capitals, and are pouring energy and money into final efforts to get out the vote. The trend toward one-party control of statehouses has made the states a testing ground for party policies in an era of gridlock in Washington."

Colorado. Why I Hate Polls. Quinnipiac University: "With strong support from men, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, leads U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, 46 - 39 percent among likely voters, with 7 percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 7 percent are undecided." ...

... Denver Post: "A poll conducted this week shows Gardner [R-Personhood] at 46 percent and Udall [Uterus (D)] at 44 percent — a narrow edge within the four-percentage-point margin-of-error. ...

... PPP: "Mark Udall and Cory Gardner are both getting 48% of the vote, with just 4% of voters remaining undecided."

Kentucky.

Mitch McConnell’s going to go to the wire, because he is vehement about not standing for anything. And he has a good long track record about not standing for much other than keeping the campaign dollars flowing. And that is not inspiring to ordinary Americans, to conservatives, even to base Republicans. -- Ken Cuccinelli (RTP), former Virginia attorney general

Louisiana. Chuck Todd & Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu said Thursday that the issue of race is a major reason that President Barack Obama has struggled politically in Southern states.... Noting that the South is 'more of a conservative place,' she added that women have also faced challenges in 'presenting ourselves.'... The comment prompted a fiery response from Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called it 'remarkably divisive.' 'She appears to be living in a different century,' he said in a statement." CW: Bobby Jindal appears to be living in a different world a/k/a Right Wing World, where reality is too inconvenient to credit. "The issue of race," as Landrieu delicately puts it, is a major reason for everything in the South. See Jamelle Bouie's post above. ...

... The Cluelessness of the Chuck. Charles Pierce: "Notice, however, that my man Chuck Todd then follows up with a question designed to take the sting out of Landrieu's outburst of inconvenient truth. 'What's interesting there is other Democratic folks that I've talked to in the Senate they use different language,' Chuck Todd said on Thursday's broadcast of NBC's Nightly News. 'Mark Pryor told me the president just doesn't understand rural America.' Let's all chip in and buy my man Chuck Todd an Enigma machine."

Maine. Jim Fallows on the three-way gubernatorial race. Fallows is the classiest of fellows. Really.

Nebraska. Serial Killer Endorses GOP Candidate. Allisa Skelton of the Omaha World-Herald: "Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins endorsed U.S. Rep. Lee Terry during a court appearance Wednesday. His shackles clanked as he waltzed to his seat and said: 'Vote for Lee Terry, guys. Best Republican ever.'... Terry has linked his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Brad Ashford, to Jenkins’ release from prison and his killing spree.”

New Hampshire. Tim Buckland of the New Hampshire Union Leader: "U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown got in the last punches in what was the final round of their debates before Tuesday's election." ...

... Where in New Hampshire Is Sullivan County? Scott Brown isn't sure. But ObamaCare:

     ... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The exchange gave the impression that Brown didn't know where Sullivan County was, which is particularly bad since there are only ten counties in the state. However, Pindell apologized after the debate upon learning that Brown was right, sort of. Sullivan County is both north and west of Concord, and Mount Sunapee is partially located there (though the ski area is in Merrimack County). ...

... CW: When you contrast Brown's response to the question with Shaheen's, it's obvious that Shaheen knows her New Hampshire geography intimately & knows the various regional issues. Brown, on the other hand, said he's "been there," where "been there" seems to mean "skiied Mount Sunapee which is right close to Sullivan County."

Presidential Election

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post writes a terrific column on Hillary Clinton's attachment to big banks. "In the winter of 1932-1933, as President-elect Franklin Roosevelt was assembling his Cabinet, he was lobbied to appoint a leader of the J.P. Morgan investment bank, then headquartered at 23 Wall St., to a top post at Treasury. Roosevelt refused — categorically. 'We simply cannot go along with 23,' he told an aide. Roosevelt’s refusal should become a standard to which Democratic activists hold all their presidential candidates."

Ted Cruz: Republicans Must Nominate a Wacko-Bird. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday took a thinly veiled shot at Jeb Bush, saying that Republicans will ensure a Hillary Clinton presidency if they run a more moderate candidate in 2016.  Appearing on CNBC, the Texas Republican and tea party favorite was asked about Bush and said that presidential candidates from the party’s establishment wing — like Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012 — consistently fail to turn out millions of voters.... A Washington Post/ABC News poll earlier this month showed Bush leading a crowded GOP primary field, with Cruz finishing in ninth." CW: Cruz also noted that no GOP presidential nominee named Ted Cruz had ever lost the presidency.

Paul Waldman on Chris Christie's "persona": "... you know where you don't get too many chances to show what a tough guy you are? Iowa. Campaigning for the caucuses is an interminable process of trooping from living room to senior center to VFW hall, meeting people in small groups, looking them in the eye and asking them for their votes.... Being tough just isn't part of that show, and if the biggest part of Christie's appeal is that he can talk like an extra from Goodfellas when somebody challenges him, he isn't going to get very far." ...

... CW: In Iowa, New Hampshire, wherever, Christie will be viewed as an outsider. If he roughs up the locals -- even the dimwitted locals -- the neighbors will take it personally. In New Jersey, Christie may be a jerk, "but he's our jerk." That won't be the case when he moves out-of-state. If Christie can't control himself -- and neither Waldman nor I thinks he can -- his presidential aspirations will be toast. Also fun to watch: the debates (which the Republican National Committee is planning to limit). Will Chris Christie order Ted Cruz to "sit down & shut up"? Will he punch out Marco Rubio? Will he grab Rand Paul by the hair?

Beyond the Beltway

Stephen Deere of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "If a behind-the-scenes effort is afoot to force out Chief Thomas Jackson and disband his police force, neither he nor his department is going quietly — nor quickly.... On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for 'wholesale changes' within the Ferguson Police Department, while speaking at a public forum in Washington. He declined to offer any specific recommendations, noting that Ferguson police were still under a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.... Jackson called it 'irresponsible' for Holder to comment about conclusions Justice Department investigators analyzing his department have made while their investigation is ongoing, especially while 'he is telling others to "shut up" about leaks.'”

Wednesday
Oct292014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 30, 2014

NEW. Hah! Josh Gerstein & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "House Speaker John Boehner’s still-unfiled lawsuit against President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional power is in more trouble. For the second time in two months, a major law firm has ceased work on the lawsuit, sources say." ...

     ... NEW. Paul Waldman: Congressional Republicans wave the white flag. Again & again.

NEW. As Victoria D. points out in today's Comments, "And in other news, Chris Christie is still a complete and utter dick." ...

... Bada Bing! This has always been the fatal flaw of Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. I’ve been through a few presidential races, and I’ve got to tell you, every day is filled with aggravations and provocations, and if that’s the way he’s going to react, he has no future in this. I think he thinks that this kind of ‘Sopranos’ approach to politics marks him as a strong leader. I think it marks him as an angry man. -- David Axelrod, today on "Morning Joe"

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "An upbeat Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the economic recovery was chugging along and that it would end its latest-bond buying campaign on schedule at the end of the month. The Fed, in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, said the bond-buying program had served its purpose by contributing to stronger job growth. The Fed also upgraded its appraisal of labor market conditions, saying that 'underutilization of labor market resources is gradually diminishing.'” ...

... Janie Boschma of the National Journal: "A new study shows that the U.S. economy would expand by $2.1 trillion in gross domestic product if racial minorities had equal access and opportunities in the job market. The report, 'The Equity Solution,' was released last week by PolicyLink and the University of Southern California's Program for Environmental and Regional Equity." CW: I couldn't have put a number on it, but the study's finding is obvious. This is just one more way Republicans -- who consistently dog-whistle minority oppression -- hurt the economy.

The Real Reason the GOP Hates ObamaCare. Kevin Quealy & Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times: "The data shows [sic!] that the [ACA] has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas.... Each of these trends is going in the opposite direction of larger economic patterns." ...

... Sarah Varney in Politico Magazine: How Mississippi's Tea party politicians stopped the "invasion" of ObamaCare & ensured that Mississippians would remain the sickest in the nation. ...

... "Jim Crow All Over Again." Greg Palast of Al Jazeera America: "Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America. At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison."

     ... Via Juan Cole.

Recidivists on the Street. Ben Protess & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: "Wall Street has committed the corporate equivalent of a parole violation: Just two years after avoiding prosecution for a variety of crimes, some of the world’s biggest banks are suspected of having broken their promises to behave. Those broken promises, a mixture of new crimes and lingering problems, could violate earlier settlements that imposed reforms and fines on the banks but stopped short of criminal charges, according to lawyers briefed on the cases. Prosecutors are exploring whether to strengthen the earlier deals, the lawyers said, or scrap them altogether and force the banks to plead guilty to a crime."

NEW. Jess Bidgood & Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "A nurse who cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone defied Maine officials on Thursday morning, leaving her house for a short bicycle ride and setting up a legal fight over a 21-day quarantine ordered by the state. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, left her house on the edge of Fort Kent just after 9 a.m., biking with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, down a quiet paved road, followed closely by two police cars and a caravan of reporters." NBC News has video here. ...

... Aaron Katersky of ABC News: "Maine's governor indicated today that he would abandon his demand that nurse Kaci Hickox remain under quarantine after treating Ebola patients if she would agree to take a blood test for the lethal virus. Gov. Paul LePage made his comment to ABC News today as Hickox defiantly challenged demands that she remain quarantined by leaving her home this morning for a bike ride with her boyfriend." ...

... Eric Bradner of CNN: "President Barack Obama took more thinly-veiled shots at governors like New Jersey's Chris Christie on Wednesday, saying the mandatory quarantine policies some states have imposed amount to 'hiding under the covers' from Ebola. After visiting a group of health care workers who'd recently returned from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- some still within the virus's 21-day incubation period, but showing no symptoms -- Obama said policies like states requiring three-week quarantines of doctors and nurses who treated Ebola patients could harm U.S. efforts to stop its spread":

... Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, 33, who was confined first by New Jersey when she came back to the United States and then by Maine, did a blitz on morning television challenging her confinement by Maine officials and saying that she would not continue to obey the restrictions." ...

... Gail Sullivan & Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post: "Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is looking for ways to force a nurse released from mandatory Ebola isolation in New Jersey to abide by a similar 21-day quarantine in Maine." ...

... Kaitlyn Chana & Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Two state police cars were stationed Wednesday outside the rural home of [Kaci Hickox's] boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, in Fort Kent where she has been living, WLBZ-TV reports." ...

... Danny Vinik explains why quarantining the military is different from quarantining private medical personnel. CW: I'd add this: many of the military troops we're sending to Ebola-stricken countries are not medical professionals (though some are), while most of the private American citizens working in these countries are specialists in contagious diseases. It is likely (though hardly guaranteed) that the trained healthcare workers will be better at self-monitoring & otherwise acting prudently. ...

... Here's more on the same subject from David Alexander of Reuters.

Marina Koren of the National Journal: "Press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday afternoon that the Obama administration does not think that Netanyahu ... is in fact a 'chickenshit.'" CW: Darn. Just yesterday, that was the official off-the-record epithet for Bibi.

Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally. I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not. It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on. -- Speaker John Boehner ...

It’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the Speaker of the House. -- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (via New York)

Danny Vinik of the New Republic: President Obama is a much better crisis manager than the media report. CW: I agree. If, for instance, you compare President Obama's speech yesterday -- embedded above -- on Ebola caregivers with Christie's crude treatment of Kaci Hickox, you cannot help but be grateful for Obama's leadership & shudder at the thought of any GOP president. Now let's see if Obama can successfully maneuver the chickenshit crisis.

Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: "Congressional progressives are calling on President Barack Obama to allow them to view secret videotapes depicting graphic forced tube feedings for Guantánamo Bay detainees. In a letter to be sent to the White House on Thursday, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus [Raul Grijalva (D-Az.) & Keith Ellison (Minn.)] request the administration provide legislators with videotapes showing the force-feedings of detainees Abu Wa’el Dhiab and Imad Abdullah Hassan, which they call 'contrary to American laws or values'."

** Dana Milbank on Ben Bradlee's funeral:

... NEW. Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post: "If the funeral of Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee marked the end of an era in Washington journalism, the invitation-only funeral reception marked the end of another kind: A last hurrah for the A-list gatherings hosted by the legendary Washington Post editor and his personal life of the party, Sally Quinn."

Forget "Human Exceptionalism." Jerry Coyne argues in the New Republic that Pope Francis's views on evolution & the Big Bang theory "make no sense.... The Catholic Church is in a tough spot, straddling an equipoise between modern science and antiscientific medieval theology. When it jettisons the idea of the soul, of God’s intervention in the Big Bang and human evolution, and the notion of Adam and Eve as our historical ancestors, then Catholicism will be compatible with evolution. But then it would not be Catholicism."

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in Bloomberg: "I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."

Gail Collins looks to the future when we have a Republican Senate. Ferinstance, "... the Environment Committee could wind up being led by James Inhofe, the author of 'The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.'”

November Elections

A New Generation of Stoopid? Ron Fournier of the National Journal: "In a stunning turnaround, likely voters in the so-called millennial generation prefer a Republican-led Congress after next week's elections, and young Hispanics are turning sharply against President Obama. A new national poll of 18-to-29-year-olds by Harvard's Institute of Politics shows that young Americans are leaving the new Democratic coalition that twice elected Obama. The news is little better for the GOP: These voters, who more than any other voting bloc represent the future of the American electorate, generally hold Republicans in the lowest regard." ...

... Steve M.: "Millennials overall: pro-Democrat by 7 points. The subset of definite voters: pro-Republican by 4. That just means millennials are becoming like their elders.... They don't vote in midterms.... They're growing up to be typical American left and centrist voters -- disinclined to support the Republican agenda but not informed or motivated enough to oppose electing Republicans. Mission accomplished, GOP."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation — to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington. The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression.... The effort is being led by national Democrats and their state party organizations...."

Margaret Hartmann of New York has another great post on "interesting things" that happened yesterday in the midterm campaigns.

Maine. Randy Billings of the Portland Press Herald: "Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King on Wednesday announced his support for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the Maine governor’s race. King previously endorsed independent Eliot Cutler, who in turn used the endorsement in television ads. However, Cutler said at a news conference Wednesday that he is a long shot to win on Nov. 4 and urged his supporters to 'vote their conscience.'” ...

... Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: " This was surely not an easy concession for Cutler (and secondarily King) to make, but they deserve credit for acknowledging, if somewhat belatedly, where things were heading. Politics is about real people, and in the case of Maine, starkly so. Tens of thousands of low-income Maine residents are far more likely to get a lot more economic security as a result of what happened on this one day."

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "The police department overseeing the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old has spent tens of thousands of dollars replenishing their stocks of teargas, 'less lethal' ammunition and riot gear in advance of a potential revival in demonstrations. St Louis County police made the purchases amid concerns that hundreds of demonstrators will return to the streets if Darren Wilson, the officer who shot dead Michael Brown in August, is not indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury currently considering the case."

A Weasel Doesn't Change Its Spots. Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has faced intense scrutiny in recent months, including an investigation by federal prosecutors, over his management of a commission that he created to root out corruption in New York politics, but prevented from examining his administration’s conduct and then prematurely shut down. An analysis of Mr. Cuomo’s handling of an earlier investigative commission, which highlighted the failures of electric companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, reveals some of the same hallmarks: interference, efforts to shield his administration’s role and a sense that the governor had a clear idea at the outset of what the commission should conclude."

Right Wing World
Just Got a Little Crazier

Jonathan Chait: "The Obama era has seen a resurgence of conservative constitutional fetishism — the belief that the Constitution not only requires the Republican domestic agenda, but is figuratively or even literally divine. Fox News columnist and television personality Dr. Keith Ablow has ... applied [this premise] toward American foreign policy. The result is a remarkable column calling for what he calls 'American Jihad.' 'Our Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth.... An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place.' Note that Ablow ... is endorsing a campaign of conquest aimed at literally every other country on Earth."

Tuesday
Oct282014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 29, 2014

ABC News: "Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital despite exhibiting no Ebola symptoms after arriving from West Africa, won't follow the quarantine imposed by Maine officials, her attorney said [Tuesday] night.... Hickox will abide by all the self-monitoring requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Maine, [her attorney Steven] Hyman said.... Maine requires that health care workers such as Hickox who return to the state from West Africa will remain under a 21-day home quarantine, with their condition actively monitored, Gov. Paul R. LePage said in a statement." ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama said Tuesday his administration would only adopt Ebola policies that would not jeopardize the ongoing effort to contain Ebola in West Africa.'We don't just react based on our fears. We react based on facts and judgment and making smart decisions,' he said in remarks Tuesday afternoon just before boarding Air Force One":

We want stricter things than what they have been willing to (propose) and now they're incrementally ... moving toward our position. This is because they [CDC doctors] don't want to admit we're right and they're wrong. -- Gov. Dr. Chris Christie on the "Today" show yesterday ...

I think when she has time to reflect she will understand that as well. -- Dr. Christie, Sunday, explaining that Ebola-asymptomatic nurse/New Jersery prisoner Kaci Hickox will agree will come to appreciate her imprisonment when she gets over her hysteria or whatever ...

Whatever. Get in line. I've been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I'm happy to take it on. -- Dr. Christie, Tuesday, daring Hickox to sue him

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "For Christie, there is no contradiction that can't be resolved with combativeness and condescension.... [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo's shift came more quietly, with evasiveness and obfuscation (as the Times noted, his aides distributed an inaccurate transcript of his press conference with Christie Friday) and a note of unearned vanity."

Maya Rhodan of Time: "Twelve winners of the Nobel Peace Prize asked President Barack Obama late Sunday to make sure that a Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency's use of harsh interrogation tactics is released so the U.S. can put an end to a practice condemned by many as torture.... Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is among the laureates behind the letter, which also calls for the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay."

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Hackers thought to be working for the Russian government breached the unclassified White House computer networks in recent weeks, sources said, resulting in temporary disruptions to some services while cybersecurity teams worked to contain the intrusion. White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity..., said that the intruders did not damage any of the systems and that, to date, there is no evidence the classified network was hacked." CW: President Obama should punch President Putin in the nose. ...

He's grinning ear-to-ear, he's looking him in the eye the better to see his soul, but he's thinking, "I could smash that little bastard's face in right now with one left-hook."When you look at this chaos that's going on, does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds. -- Speaker & international statesman John Boehner

... Dana Milbank: "The real problem with Obama is not overreach but his tendency to be hands-off." CW: I guess that means he won't punch Putin in the nose. Ah, well. ...

... How about name-calling? Is that tough enough? Luke Brinker of Salon: "Amid mounting tensions between the United States and Israel over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran's nuclear program, Obama administration officials are bluntly expressing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assailing Netanyahu as a 'chickenshit' and a 'coward.' Those jibes come in a new piece by Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, who concludes that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is in a perilous position. Goldberg points to 'the comatose peace process' and Netanyahu's strident opposition to a U.S. deal with Iran over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.... A 'senior Obama administration official' told Goldberg, 'The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit.'" CW: Well, okay, off-the-record name-calling is sort of, um, chickenshit.

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "Attorneys general are now the object of aggressive pursuit by lobbyists and lawyers who use campaign contributions, personal appeals at lavish corporate-sponsored conferences and other means to push them to drop investigations, change policies, negotiate favorable settlements or pressure federal regulators, an investigation by The New York Times has found."

"Freedom Summer, 2015." Jeff Toobin: "... there seems little chance that a majority of the current Court will rein in [voter-suppression law] in any significant way. In courtrooms around the country, it's been made clear that these Republican initiatives have been designed and implemented to disenfranchise Democrats (again, usually of color). But the Supreme Court doesn't care. It's a depressing spectacle, but not a hopeless one.... In light of the changes in the state laws, it's difficult but not impossible to register voters and make sure that they get to cast their ballots.... Voter-registration efforts need people -- individuals willing to do the tedious work of persuading their fellow-citizens to make the effort to register and vote." ...

... BUT. It might not do much good. See Georgia in November Elections below.

I'd Rather Be in Denmark. Liz Alderman & Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times compare fast-food chains in Denmark -- where employees earn a living wage & excellent benefits -- to those in the U.S. -- where "half of the nation's fast-food workers rely on some form of public assistance." Yeah, the Danish restaurants are less profitable, & the burgers cost a little more, but as one Danish fast-food exec said, "We don't want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don't want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed." Exactly. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Charles Pierce: A "real, if unspoken difference between Denmark and the United States is that the members of the Danish corporate class are not trained from their adolescence to become public sociopaths. This is not a minor distinction." ...

... CW: This story, of course, brings to mind one of our top public sociopaths, Scott Walker, who said of the minimum wage, way last week or so, "I don't think it serves a purpose." So this is why ...

... Jonathan Stempel of Reuters: "A labor group in Wisconsin on Monday said it is suing Gov. Scott Walker to force him to raise the state's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The group, Wisconsin Jobs Now, said the rate is too low, citing a state law requiring that workers be paid a 'living wage,' or an amount with which they can pay for basic needs." CW: That, Scottie, is a purpose. Our society, as the Dane suggests, has failed, thanks to nasty little runts like you.

James Ball of the Guardian: "British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time. GCHQ's secret 'arrangements' for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year."

Charles Pierce takes on Thomas Frank's comparison of Presidents Obama & Carter. This is a more serious post than Pierce's usual takes on the stoopid. Pierce, as have others, notes that Frank doesn't seem aware of that thing called Congress, & he goes into the history of Carter's relationship with Congressional Democrats.

Pope Francis lets on that the creation story is nonsense:

When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so. The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve. -- Pope Francis, Monday

It's not about sex, so maybe Ross Doo-thought can handle it. -- Constant Weader

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Benghaaazi! CW: My teevee reception sometimes goes down; over the years I've had bad phone connections & my current phone rings every time I hang it up; I am always having computer problems. Ergo, a federal agency must be bugging me. So far, the only media that seem to be taking right-wing & former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson's story seriously are Erik Wemple, the media reporter for the WashPo & the usual suspects: Breitbart & Fox "News." Who knows? She could be right. Maybe the feds were bugging her electronic devices (like the teevee, where maybe she watched "Homefront" & Fox "News") while she was writing about Benghaazi. ...

     ... Update. Tom Kludt of TPM: "When reached by TPM on Tuesday, CBS News declined to comment. The network confirmed last year that a security firm determined that Attkisson's computer had been 'accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012.'"

The Seattle Times-Bureau. Mike Carter of the Seattle Times: "The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Lacey's Timberline High School in 2007, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.... The revelation brought a sharp response from the newspaper. 'We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,' said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best. 'Not only does that cross a line, it erases it,' she said."

Tom Kludt of TPM: "On Saturday, Don Surber, the [Charleston, West Virginia,] Daily Mail's lone editorial columnist, took to his personal blog to offer his thoughts on 'police brutality' and the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. 'This summer I had an epiphany as I watched packs of racists riot in Ferguson, Missouri, in support of a gigantic thug who was higher than a kite when he attacked Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who unfortunately had to put this animal down,' Surber wrote.... [Daily Mail editor & publisher Brad] McElhinny told TPM he was grateful when we noted up front that the post appeared on Surber's blog, home to gags about Hillary Clinton's age and commentaries on the

November Elections

"The Momentum Mirage." Harry Enten & Nate Silver of 538: "You might be hearing that Democrats or Republicans have 'momentum' heading into the final week of the 2014 campaign. On Tuesday, for example, a Washington Post headline asserted 'Midterm momentum belongs to GOP.' That was based on a generic ballot poll showing a 6 percentage point Republican lead. But later in the day, a Fox News generic ballot poll came out showing Democrats up by 1 point instead -- Fox had previously shown Republicans ahead.... A lot of what looks like momentum in the polls is really just random noise."

AP: "President Barack Obama is kicking off a weeklong, six-state campaign spree with a visit to Wisconsin. Obama will attend a rally at a Milwaukee high school Tuesday for Mary Burke, the Democrat trying to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Defeating Walker, a potential 2016 presidential contender, would be a major coup for Democrats. The president has been a rare sight on the campaign trail this year, where his low approval ratings make him a potential liability for his party." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "At 51 percent, Obama's favorability rating is about 10 points higher in Wisconsin than in the rest of the country, and he addressed a mostly African-American crowd in a Milwaukee ward where he won 99 percent of the vote in 2012." Hartmann's full report contains some other interesting or odd campaign tidbits in other races. (Brief clip of President Obama's Milwaukee rally under Wisconsin below.

** Charles Pierce explains the Democrats' real electoral problem: "... because of the effective campaign of vandalism run by the Republican congress, and because of the complete inability of the Democratic party to craft a consistent economic message that doesn't sound like warmed-over DLC hash, and (yes, dear friends) because the twice-elected Democratic president didn't choose to hold completely responsible the grifters and thieves who rigged the system in the first place, there is absolutely no way at the moment for any Democratic politician -- including [Elizabeth Warren] -- to take full advantage of the success of her message. People want what Senator Professor Warren is selling. They just don't want to buy it from Democrats." CW: Read the whole post. There are consequences to hiring Geither & Summers, Ltd. & trying to sell that government "belt-tightening" message Obama repeatedly delivered during his first term. AND it isn't as if no experts mentioned this timely (Paul Krugman, ad nauseum, Joe Stiglitz).

Mark Leibovich in the New York Times Magazine: "... countless candidates seem determined to tout their fitness for these enormous challenges by trying to out-bumpkin one another.... Skilled politicians have a proud tradition of conveying utter contempt for their profession, especially when they're running to keep their jobs. This is, to some degree, rooted in our history.... The apotheosis of the modern bumpkin mode has been embodied by Sarah Palin...."

Georgia. Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "On Tuesday, Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from civil rights advocates to force Georgia's Secretary of State to process an estimated 40,000 voter registrations that have gone missing from the public database. Though early voting is well underway in the state, Judge Brasher called the lawsuit 'premature,' and said it was based on 'merely set out suspicions and fears that the [state officials] will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.' Dr. Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP, who represented the 40 thousand voters in the court, called the ruling 'outrageous.'... 'All in all -- a republican appointed judge has backed the republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African American and Latino population,' Johnson wrote in a press release.' Civil rights lawyer Marsha "Burrofsky said the people she registered in Dunwoody, Georgia, a more affluent and conservative community, did show up in the system, while those in more diverse and low-income communities in DeKalb County mysteriously disappeared."

Kentucky. Jonathan Chait: Mitch McConnell is afraid to vote to repeal ObummerCare. He said as much on Fox "News." Because reality. ...

... Greg Sargent: This "ad ticked off the McConnell campaign, which ... is trying to get TV stations to stop running the ad. I've checked in with Kentucky stations, and most declined to reveal their plans for the spot, though an official at one -- Fox affiliate WDRB -- told me: 'We reinstated the spot, finding the assertions factual.'" ...

... Getting Democracy Backwards. Steve Benen: "With time running out in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell decided to remind the state that he wanted to effectively eliminate the popular and effective Social Security system. Indeed, it's been part of McConnell's governing vision for many, many years. When local reporter Joe Sonka asked McConnell whether voters should expect the senator to push Social Security privatization after the midterms, McConnell replied, 'I'm not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.'" CW: Because telling voters you're going to screw them is not the best campaign strategy. So what we know about the GOP-led Senate is that it has a secret agenda. Just trust them. Read Benen's whole post.

Iowa. Iowa City Press-Citizen Editors endorse Democrat Bruce Braley for Senate because Tea party balls-butcher Joni Ernst has crazy ideas & won't show up to speak to editorial boards about them. Via Paul Waldman.

Wisconsin. Katie McDonough of Salon: "Scott Walker knows the best way to support equal pay is to repeal equal pay laws. A new ad from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker features his lieutenant governor celebrating his apparent support for equal pay for women.... Gender-based employment discrimination is illegal in Wisconsin under the state's Fair Employment Act. But in 2012, Walker quietly repealed the state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which gave the existing equal pay law more teeth."

Presidential Race

Heaven Help Us. Tim Alberta & Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: Ted Cruz & Mike Huckabee, among others, are already working the crowds in the "evangelical primary." "Social conservatives are desperate to settle on a single candidate earlier than ever to avoid another 'moderate' as the GOP nominee." They like Mike.

Beyond the Beltway

Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: "The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, is expected to step down as part of the effort by city officials to reform the police department, according to government officials familiar with the ongoing discussions between local, state and federal officials. But Chief Thomas Jackson and the city's mayor say the reports aren't true. Under the proposed plan, after Jackson leaves, city leadership would ask the St. Louis County police chief to take over management of Ferguson's police force."

News Lede

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."