The Ledes

Friday, April 29, 2016.

Washington Post: "North Korea has sentenced a former Virginia man to 10 years in prison with hard labor for subversion, its official news agency said Friday, in the latest case involving an American being detained by Kim Jong Un’s regime." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, April 28, 2016.

NBC News: "The county sheriff investigating the death of Prince is asking for help from the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal law enforcement officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The officials say prescription painkillers were found in his possession when he died and in his house in Minneapolis, though officials have yet to say what role, if any, those medications may have played in his death."

Washington Post: "Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo destroyed a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders, the aid group said Thursday, killing at least 14 patients and staff in the latest attacks that have all but unraveled a cease-fire accord." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

"You think old people are weirdos but then you understand that they don't see you and they can't hear you." Reuters: "The Genworth Aging Experience is a traveling show created by Genworth Financial Inc., an insurance company, in partnership with Applied Minds, a design and engineering company, that allows museum visitors to feel first-hand the effects of aging...[with the goal of building] empathy and awareness of the challenges elderly people face in everyday situations." -- LT note: this world could always use a little more empathy.

Washington Post: An archivist found the original patent for the Wright brothers' "Flying Machine" "in a special records storage cave in Lenexa, Kan., where it was sent at some point after it vanished around 1980." Somebody in the National Archives apparently had misfiled it.

New York Times: "A thousand years after the Vikings braved the icy seas from Greenland to the New World in search of timber and plunder, satellite technology has found intriguing evidence of a long-elusive prize in archaeology — a second Norse settlement in North America, further south than ever known. The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960."

Washington Post: "Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk unveiled his newest creation, the Model 3, late Thursday, a sporty four-door sedan that represents his company's first effort to bring an electric car to the masses."

I Believe in Unicorns. Guardian: "An extinct creature sometimes described as a 'Siberian unicorn' roamed the Earth for much longer than scientists previously thought, and may have lived alongside humans, according to a study in the American Journal of Applied Science. Scientists believed Elasmotherium sibiricum went extinct 350,000 years ago. But the discovery of a skull in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan provides evidence that they only died out about 29,000 years ago."

Greggers Gets a Job. New York Times: "David Gregory, who endured a long and difficult exit from his perch as the host of NBC’s 'Meet the Press,' is returning to a regular role on television as a political analyst on CNN, the network announced on Monday[, March 28]."

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Thursday
Apr282016

The Commentariat -- April 29, 2016

Presidential Race

Greg Sargent: "The Clinton and Sanders camps are now signaling how the Democratic primaries might wind down without too much noise, contentiousness, disruption, and anger." -- CW

Paul Krugman on why the Democratic establishment candidate prevailed & the GOP establishment candidates are home playing golf: "Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con." -- CW ...

... Tim Egan: "With Trump, you can be sure of one thing: He will betray those [working class] people. We know this because he already has. Wage stagnation is the most glaring symptom of a declining middle class. Trump’s solution? He believes that 'wages are too high.'” -- CW

Michael Finnegan, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump put his roughest edges on display Thursday night in Costa Mesa as he opened his California primary campaign with a raw performance highlighting his hard-line views on illegal immigration and torture while trashing an array of rivals.... More than 8,000 supporters erupted in a thunder of cheers as Trump vowed to make Mexico pay for a wall along its border with the United States to keep such criminals from harming Americans." CW ...

... Ruben Vives, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where Donald Trump held a rally Thursday night, stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate." -- CW

Lauren Gamino of the Guardian: "In the 24 hours since her profile of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, appeared in GQ magazine [linked here yesterday], the Russian-American journalist [Julia Ioffe] has received a torrent of antisemitic, vitriolic and threatening messages from supporters of ... [Donald Trump]." CW: Ioffe's profile, as far as I could tell, was negative only insofar as she repeated Donald Trump's own misogynistic remarks. Talk about not being able to handle the truth. ...

... Mike Alesia of the Indianapolis Star: "... on the political stump Wednesday night in Indianapolis, Donald Trump proudly noted [an] endorsement from ... [former boxer] Mike Tyson.... It was [in Indianapolis] where [Tyson] was convicted of raping beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in 1992 — and subsequently spent three years in prison.... Trump was a supporter of Tyson's after the conviction, saying that 'to a large extent' he was 'railroaded.' Trump had a financial interest in the case because Tyson's fights made money for his hotels. In an NBC News interview from Feb. 21, 1992, obtained by Buzzfeed and posted recently, Trump described the case this way: 'You have a young woman that was in his hotel room late in the evening at her own will. You have a young woman seen dancing for the beauty contest — dancing with a big smile on her face, looked happy as can be.'” -- CW ...

I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky. -- Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee

Michael Bender & Mark Niquette of Bloomberg: "The race [in Indiana] is shaping up to be a last stand not just for [Ted] Cruz, but also for the 'stop Trump' movement, an unlikely confederation of activists and party donors. But, from members of the donor class in Indianapolis unwilling to back Cruz to blue-collar voters in Elkhart outraged by the collaboration, the movement is not coalescing, and is even backfiring. 'People who were supporting [John] Kasich have been coming into the office to pick up Trump signs,” said Laura Campbell, Republican chairwoman of Hamilton County...." -- CW  

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: The "alliance" between Ted Cruz & John Kasich has hit a new low. "... taking the stage at a convention hall [in Indiana], Mr. Cruz told voters that Mr. Kasich had no path to victory. 'John Kasich has pulled out,' he said, omitting any further context. 'He’s withdrawn from the state of Indiana.'... But as Mr. Cruz spoke, Mr. Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, tapped out a semicryptic message on Twitter: 'I can’t stand liars'.” -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

I thought you were going to ask about basketball rings. -- President Obama, to a student journalist from Indiana (see April 27 Comments for context)

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "At a town hall Wednesday at Stanford University, [former House Speaker John] Boehner called [Ted] Cruz 'Lucifer in the flesh.'... I've never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,' he added. Boehner even suggested he would vote for Donald Trump, but not Cruz." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Ted Cruz fired back at former speaker John Boehner on Thursday, accusing him of allowing 'his inner Trump to come out.'... He tethered Boehner to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump over and over again." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Anna North of the New York Times reprises some of the ways politicians have described Ted Cruz. In public. -- CW 

Eugene Scott of CNN: Bobby Knight, ex-Indiana basketball coach who famously threw a chair across the court during a game and was once arrested for assault, loves him some Trump because he "would drop an A-bomb like Truman." -- LT 

Other News & Views

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology — an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The chief executive of Volkswagen said on Thursday that he personally apologized to President Obama this week for cheating on vehicle emissions tests, while making what amounted to a plea for mercy as the German carmaker negotiates penalties with United States officials." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

...Andreas Cremer of Reuters: "Germany is set to launch a new incentive scheme worth about 1 billion euros ($1 billion) to get more consumers buying electric cars...[the incentives] are to be shared equally between the government and automakers...Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW." -- unwashed

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "In an unannounced visit shrouded in secrecy, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. came to Iraq on Thursday for the first time in almost five years, hoping to help a weak prime minister and bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State. The intense security and clandestine nature of the trip reflected the challenges Iraq still faces 13 years after the United States-led invasion. Mr. Biden arrived for the visit, which was under discussion for months, at a moment when the country’s political leadership is mired in yet another crisis." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. New York Times Editors: "As its profits show, McDonald’s makes a lot of money on fast food." But "workers and citizens [don't get] ... fair share of such profits through decent pay and robust corporate taxes.... Taxpayers continue to pick up the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive. An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at McDonald’s." -- CW ...

... Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "Pay disparities between men and women start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened for young workers in the past year, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79 percent as large as those of their  male peers, the think tank found — a serious drop from 84 percent last year." -- CW

The Washington Post has a searchable map by Zip code that compares housing prices in 2004 to today's values. -- CW

John Cox of the Washington Post: "The military has filed new criminal charges against Marine Maj. Mark Thompson, a former U.S. Naval Academy instructor who insisted that he had been unfairly convicted of sexual misconduct with two female midshipmen. After revelations about his case in The Washington Post, the military has now charged Thompson with making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Rupert Neate of the Guardian: "Mark Thompson, the chief executive of the New York Times and former director-general of the BBC, is facing a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that he introduced a culture of 'deplorable discrimination' based on age, race and gender at the newspaper. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two black female employees in their sixties in New York on Thursday, claims that under Thompson’s leadership the US paper of record has 'become an environment rife with discrimination'.” Thompson has a history of age & gender discrimination at the BBC. -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Richard Winton, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Federal agents arrested three people, including the older brother of San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, on charges of marriage fraud and lying to federal investigators on Thursday morning, authorities said. Syed Raheel Farook, his wife, Tatiana Farook, and her sister Mariya Chernykh are charged in a five-count indictment filed in federal court alleging that Chernykh entered into a fraudulent marriage with Enrique Marquez Jr., who has been accused of providing weapons used in the deadly Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center." -- CW

Jack Healy of the New York Times: Colorado is "flirting with a radical transformation: whether to abandon President Obama’s health care policy and instead create a new, taxpayer-financed public health system that guarantees coverage for everyone. The estimated $38-billion-a-year proposal, which will go before Colorado voters in November, will test whether people have an appetite for a new system that goes further than the Affordable Care Act. That question is also in play in the Democratic presidential primaries." -- CW

Wednesday
Apr272016

The Commentariat -- April 28, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology — an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against." -- CW

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "In an unannounced visit shrouded in secrecy, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. came to Iraq on Thursday for the first time in almost five years, hoping to help a weak prime minister and bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State. The intense security and clandestine nature of the trip reflected the challenges Iraq still faces 13 years after the United States-led invasion. Mr. Biden arrived for the visit, which was under discussion for months, at a moment when the country’s political leadership is mired in yet another crisis." -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The chief executive of Volkswagen said on Thursday that he personally apologized to President Obama this week for cheating on vehicle emissions tests, while making what amounted to a plea for mercy as the German carmaker negotiates penalties with United States officials." -- CW

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: The "alliance" between Ted Cruz & John Kasich has hit a new low. "... taking the stage at a convention hall [in Indiana], Mr. Cruz told voters that Mr. Kasich had no path to victory. 'John Kasich has pulled out,' he said, omitting any further context. 'He’s withdrawn from the state of Indiana.'... But as Mr. Cruz spoke, Mr. Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, tapped out a semicryptic message on Twitter: 'I can’t stand liars'.” -- CW

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "At a town hall Wednesday at Stanford University, [former House Speaker John] Boehner called [Ted] Cruz 'Lucifer in the flesh.'... I've never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,' he added. Boehner even suggested he would vote for Donald Trump, but not Cruz." -- CW ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Ted Cruz fired back at former speaker John Boehner on Thursday, accusing him of allowing 'his inner Trump to come out.'... He tethered Boehner to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump over and over again." -- CW

*****

Jessica Firger of Newsweek: "The number of teenagers in the U.S. giving birth is at an all-time low, ...In recent years, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have provided resources for local communities to implement programs that provide evidence-based sex education and offer access to free birth control," which appear to be working, especially the long-acting and reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. Abstinence programs, not so much. -- LT

Presidential Race

Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "... Bernie Sanders is planning to lay off hundreds of campaign staffers across the country and focus much of his remaining effort on winning the June 7 California primary.... Despite the changes, Mr. Sanders said he would remain in the race through the party’s summer convention and stressed that he hoped to bring staff members back on board if his political fortunes improved."

... Cartoon by Clay Jones: Didn’t Ted Cruz lose FIVE primaries Tuesday night?... Cruz announcing his veep selection is like bringing office decorations to your job interview. If he loses Indiana next week is he going to start appointing ambassadors?" Via LT. ...

... Jonathan Martin, et al., of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, desperate to alter the course of a presidential primary fight in which Donald J. Trump is closing in on victory, announced Wednesday that Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he won the Republican nomination." -- CW

... "That Face!" Nick Gass of Politico: "Picking Carly Fiorina to be his running mate would be a bad choice on the part of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump opined Wednesday, remarking that the former Republican presidential candidate 'did not resonate' and that it would further hurt the Texas senator's case." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Well, this could get awkward: Remembering the time Carly Fiorina stated that Ted Cruz cannot possible beat Hillary Clinton... --safari

... Paul Waldman: "If you tuned in to their event, you saw Fiorina, a former corporate CEO who got a golden parachute worth $40 million after nearly driving her company into the ground and laying off tens of thousands of people, talking about how money and power are concentrated in too few hands in America today. Inspiring! -- CW ...

... CW: You may not forgive me for this, tho the part near the beginning, where Fiorina seems to forget Ted Cruz's name, is a bright spot. The rest should creep you out. It reminds me of those horror movies where the evil babysitter is about to murder the children. As the video plays out, it's easy to picture Fiorina slowly walking up the stairs of the Cruzes' darkened mansion, weapon in hand, while the pretty little girls lie sleeping in their beds:

Julia Azari of 538: "... as much as Cruz’s move defies campaign convention, it fits perfectly into a brief but depressing tradition: choosing a female running mate as a desperation move." -- CW

Together, they form the most loathsome pair in America. -- Dawn Laguens, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, on the Cruz-Fiorina ticket -- CW 

... Charles Pierce: "Cruzorina! Feel the galvanic energy of a torrent of complete flopsweat." -- CW ...

... Shakezula of LG&$: "Oh yes. I predict this will be the most successful decision in the history of decision making since Sen. John McCain looked up the number of Alaska’s governor." -- CW

... Steve M.: "Whatever Trump says about Fiorina will reinforce Hillary Clinton's message that a vote for Trump is a vote for misogyny. Cruz and Fiorina, in other words, are setting up to Trump to provide embarrassing Trump footage for Clinton attack ads." -- CW

Nick Gass: "Donald Trump laid out his broad vision for what American foreign policy would look like with him in the White House, vowing to chart a different course than the post-Cold War order that has 'lacked a coherent policy.' Trump's speech on Wednesday offered little in the way of policy details, instead riffing on a series of his past comments about temporarily banning Muslim refugees, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State and make allies pay their fair share. He also rebuked President Barack Obama and laced into Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly becoming the target of his barbs as he starts to focus on the general election." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The New York Times story, by Mark Landler & Ashley Parker, is here. -- CW ...

... Michael Crowley of Politico: "... across the ideological spectrum, and even among natural allies, Trump's speech received a failing grade for coherence and drew snickering and scorn from foreign policy insiders who remain unconvinced that Trump is up to the job.... He declared that 'America First' would be the 'major and overriding' theme of his presidency moments before hailing America's role in World War II — which was opposed by the isolationist America First movement of the early 1940s...." -- CW

... New York Times Editors: "No one’s fears are likely to be allayed by [Trump's] speech, which was clearly worked up by his new campaign advisers and read from a teleprompter. It did not exhibit much grasp of the complexity of the world, understanding of the balance or exercise of power, or even a careful reading of history.... Mr. Trump repeatedly states outright falsehoods, often based on wrong assumptions.... Mr. Trump did not display any willingness to learn or to correct his past errors. For someone who claims he is ready to lead the free world, that is inexcusable." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: Donald "Trump's foreign policy caters to an underserved market, one that rejects the long-standing bipartisan consensus on matters of immigration, trade, and military intervention. Trump speaks to an American middle class that is less concerned with the details of his counterterrorism strategy than with the overriding sense that their government puts the interests of foreigners ahead of their own.... And then there was his plan for defeating ISIS, which reads like a book report from a sixth-grader who didn't do the reading." --safari ...

...Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "Randy who? [T]he ongoing Republican primary presents GOP voters with a choice between Trumpism and the vision expressed in [Randy] Barnett’s new book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People....Barnett and Trump both share a deep disdain for America’s longstanding democratic norms....while Barnett is nowhere near the household name that Donald Trump is, his vision is likely to be a much greater threat to America’s democratic norms than the orange-haired presidential contender." -- LT

... Dana Milbank: "Trump, who routinely mocks President Obama and Hillary Clinton for using a teleprompter and who said that presidential candidates 'should not be allowed to use a teleprompter,' used a teleprompter. He carefully read a speech somebody else had written, demonstrated both by his lack of familiarity with the content — he pronounced Tanzania as 'Tan-ZANY-uh' — and by its un-Trumpian phrases such as 'the false song of globalism' and 'the clear lens of American interests.'” -- CW ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Donald Trump’s 'major foreign policy address' on Wednesday (...) may stand as the most senseless, self-contradicting foreign policy speech by any major party’s presidential nominee in modern history." --safari

Their Best Ever? Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Donald Trump has passed Mitt Romney’s popular vote total from four years ago and is on a trajectory that could land him more Republican votes than any presidential candidate in modern history – by a lot...That presents an uncomfortable reality for anti-Trump forces: they’re attempting to thwart the candidate who is likely to win more Republican primary votes than any GOP contender in at least the last 36 years, and maybe ever." --safari

Peter Stone of the Guardian: "For almost four decades, Donald Trump’s newly installed senior campaign adviser, Paul Manafort, has managed to juggle two different worlds: well-known during US election season as a shrewd and tough political operative, he also boasts a hefty résumé as a consultant to or lobbyist for controversial foreign leaders and oligarchs with unsavory reputations. But some former US State Department officials familiar with Manafort say his track record as an international adviser may create new headaches for a campaign that has already been criticized for its weak foreign policy credentials." --safari

E.J. Dionne: "On his most glorious night so far, [Donald Trump] again showed Republicans why choosing him would produce an avalanche of Democratic votes from American women — and from many men who respect women more than Trump seems to.... Trump has yet to kick his habit of reinforcing for all but his most loyal supporters how unsuitable he would be as a nominee." CW: Oh, E.J., how can you say that? ...

... Gail Collins discusses Trump's accusing Hillary Clinton of "playing the woman's card," whatever that is. -- CW ...

... Julie Ioffe has a long profile of Melania Trump in GQ. -- CW. This was Paul Waldman's favorite part:

To the twice-divorced Donald, Melania is terrific. He’s never heard her fart or make doodie, as he once told Howard Stern. (Melania has said the key to the success of her marriage is separate bathrooms.) He can trust her to take her birth control every day, he boasted to Stern.... She has the perfect proportions — five feet eleven, 125 pounds — and great boobs.... Stern once asked Trump what he would do if Melania were in a terrible car accident, God forbid, and lost the use of her left arm, developed an oozing red splotch near her eye, and mangled her left foot. Would Donald stay with her? 'How do the breasts look?' Trump asked. 'The breasts are okay,' Stern replied. Then, yeah, of course Trump stays. 'Because that’s important.' ...

... Adele Stan of the American Prospect can't help note the irony that the Misogynist-in-Chief "could lose the biggest game of his life — to a woman." -- CW

Frank Rich on the Republican race. -- CW

Senate Races

Charles Pierce: "Tuesday night was a terrific night for two prominent Democratic politicians: the president and Senator Chuck Schumer. In two vital Democratic senatorial primaries, in Pennsylvania and Maryland, their preferred candidates held off what were supposed to be very strong challenges from candidates located various distances to their left." -- CW

Other News & Views

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "The White House on Wednesday said that President Obama would travel to Flint, Mich., next week to hear from residents affected by the water crisis there and get a briefing on federal response efforts." -- CW

CW: I was going to link this big ole feature currently on the front page of today's online NYT, even though it was by that self-important, three-named Andrew Ross Sorkin, but when I read the first self-important line, I stopped: "Two months ago, across an assembly-room table in a factory in Jacksonville, Fla., President Barack Obama was talking to me about the problem of political capital." That really should be Andrew Ross Sorkin III.

Robert Barnes & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed highly skeptical of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell’s 2014 corruption conviction for actions he took on behalf of a businessman who provided his family with more than $175,000 in benefits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law used to convict McDonnell might be unconstitutionally vague. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he worried about prosecutors having too much power in deciding when politicians cross the line from political favors to criminal acts, even if it 'will leave some corrupt behavior unprosecuted.'” -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had a surprisingly strong outing at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, as the majority of the court appeared to lean in the direction of overturning the corruption convictions a jury returned against him two years ago." --safari ...

... Dahlia Lithwick: "Two big themes emerge on Wednesday in McDonnell v. United States, the appeal of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell of his felony public corruption conviction. The first is that if lawyers across ideological lines agree that McDonnell was wrongly convicted under a vague and unfair ethics statute, they must be correct.... The other big theme: It seems obvious to the justices that public corruption and ethics rules are adorable, antiquated, and unenforceable because everybody does it." -- CW

Linda Greenhouse discusses the U.S. v. Texas, where "the issue ... is whether the Obama administration has the authority to defer deporting the millions of unauthorized immigrants who are parents of American citizens and of children with permanent resident status.... I now think the case stands or falls on whether the court concludes that DAPA changed the law." -- CW

Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: "J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation’s most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago. Mr. Hastert, 74, who made an unlikely rise from beloved small-town wrestling coach in Illinois to speaker of the House in Washington, sat in a wheelchair in a federal courtroom here as a judge announced his fate." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... New Rules for Hastert. Matt Ford in the Atlantic: "Describing the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House as a 'serial child molester,' a federal judge in Chicago sentenced Dennis Hastert to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations as part of a scheme to cover up decades-old sexual abuse. Judge Thomas Durkin also imposed two years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and attendance in a sex-offender treatment program."  (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: Old Hastert Rule: Democracy is only for Republicans. New Hastert Rule: Orange jump suits are for lying pederasts. ... 

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "The events that led to Hastert's election as speaker overlapped with the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. That impeachment centered on Clinton's own sexual misconduct -- albeit legal conduct with an adult.... On Dec. 18, 1998, Hastert -- a month away from taking the gavel as speaker -- rose to address the topic.... Hastert's reference to his 'conscience' and scolding remarks about abuse of the public trust..., knowing that Hastert had in his past ignored his conscience to abuse trust in a more significant way, the speech is jarring in its hypocrisy." -- CW

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Alexandra Stevenson & Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times: "It is a time of turbulence for the hedge fund industry, where some of the biggest names have reported double-digit losses.... That so many hedge funds remained bullish on Valeant [Pharmaceuticals] despite months of turmoil — as questions were raised repeatedly about its accounting practices — reflects the difficulty managers sometimes have with changing course." CW: Don't worry, folks. I'm sure they mostly just lost other people's money.

Lauren Fox of Talking Points Memo: "OOPS! GOP Rep's Gotcha Amendment On Drafting Women Actually Passed. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is deeply opposed to women in combat so he introduced an amendment requiring women [to] register for the draft.  Unfortunately for Hunter, a lot of Members on the [House Armed Services Committee] thought requiring women to sign up for the draft was a pretty good step forward on the equality front." --LT

Beyond the Beltway

Noah Remnick of the New York Times: "Despite decades of fervent student protests that reached a peak last fall, the president of Yale announced on Wednesday that the university would keep the name of a residential college honoring the 19th-century politician and white supremacist John C. Calhoun. The president, Peter Salovey, also said the university would name its two new residential colleges for Anna Pauline Murray and Benjamin Franklin. The selection of Ms. Murray, a legal scholar and civil rights activist who graduated from Yale Law School in 1965, represents the first time the school has honored either an African-American or a woman with the naming of a college." -- CW ...

... Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Alabama is currently celebrating Confederate Heritage Month.... This week..., Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill lamented recent calls to remove Confederate symbols from government buildings. 'The next question that has to be asked is so what’s the next thing you are going to do,' he asked, 'are you going to take a bulldozer to the monument and forget what people fought for to preserve a way of life that makes us special and unique?'” -- CW

Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Robert Durst, the one-time fugitive New York real estate heir who faces a murder charge in California, was sentenced Wednesday in New Orleans to seven years and one month in prison under a plea deal on a firearms charge." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

Juan Cole splashes some very cold water on Saudi Arabia's recently announced economic transition. "So it seems to me that the Vision for 2030 is mostly smoke and mirrors. It has been a great party since the 1940s; it is going to be a hell of a hangover." --safari

Tuesday
Apr262016

The Commentariat -- April 27, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Ted Cruz will announce Wednesday that Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential nominee if he's the Republican Party's pick for president, according to two sources with knowledge of the announcement." -- CW ...

... "That Face!" Nick Gass of Politico: "Picking Carly Fiorina to be his running mate would be a bad choice on the part of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump opined Wednesday, remarking that the former Republican presidential candidate 'did not resonate' and that it would further hurt the Texas senator's case." -- CW

Nick Gass: "Donald Trump laid out his broad vision for what American foreign policy would look like with him in the White House, vowing to chart a different course than the post-Cold War order that has 'lacked a coherent policy.' Trump's speech on Wednesday offered little in the way of policy details, instead riffing on a series of his past comments about temporarily banning Muslim refugees, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State and make allies pay their fair share. He also rebuked President Barack Obama and laced into Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly becoming the target of his barbs as he starts to focus on the general election." -- CW

Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: "J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation's most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago. Mr. Hastert, 74, who made an unlikely rise from beloved small-town wrestling coach in Illinois to speaker of the House in Washington, sat in a wheelchair in a federal courtroom here as a judge announced his fate." -- CW ...

New Rules for Hastert. Matt Ford in the Atlantic: "Describing the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House as a 'serial child molester,' a federal judge in Chicago sentenced Dennis Hastert to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations as part of a scheme to cover up decades-old sexual abuse. Judge Thomas Durkin also imposed two years' supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and attendance in a sex-offender treatment program." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Old Hastert Rule: Democracy is only for Republicans. New Hastert Rule: Orange jump suits are for lying pederasts.

Robert Barnes & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed highly skeptical of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell's 2014 corruption conviction for actions he took on behalf of a businessman who provided his family with more than $175,000 in benefits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law used to convict McDonnell might be unconstitutionally vague. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he worried about prosecutors having too much power in deciding when politicians cross the line from political favors to criminal acts, even if it 'will leave some corrupt behavior unprosecuted.'" -- CW

Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Robert Durst, the one-time fugitive New York real estate heir who faces a murder charge in California, was sentenced Wednesday in New Orleans to seven years and one month in prison under a plea deal on a firearms charge." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Feelin' the Heroicism of the Bern. Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed Tuesday night to go all the way to the Democratic National Convention this summer despite losing four of five contests in the April 26 primaries. But he signaled that his focus would shift from winning the nomination -- an all-but-impossible task given Hillary Clinton's nearly insurmountable delegate lead -- to influencing the platform of the Democratic Party. In a statement issued after Clinton sealed wins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania while losing Rhode Island, Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victories and said he looked forward to 'issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come.'" -- CW

Jose DelReal & Dan Gearan of the Washington Post: "While celebrating sweeping victories in five primaries Tuesday night, Donald Trump mocked the qualifications of ... Hillary Clinton and suggested she was playing 'the women's card' to her advantage in the presidential race. 'Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the women's card,' Trump said during a press conference at Trump Tower. 'And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her.' New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's wife, Mary Pat, who was standing behind Trump, appeared to react negatively as he made the comments." CW: I dunno; Mary Pat looks as happy as her husband. Looking forward to a sexist general election.

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "But among women, Clinton is still much more popular than Trump." -- CW ...

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: No, Donald, it won't be "easy" to "beat Hillary." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "If there is one thing that should alarm Republicans the most, it's that Trump has already 'pivoted,' to use the well-worn cliche -- that is, from trying to appear restrained and presidential (as his aides suggested he was doing) to renewing his determination to do everything possible to alienate female voters in the showdown against Clinton." CW: Well, at least that's the Real Donald Trump. ...

Real Donald Trump Identity Crisis. Tara Golshan of Vox: Donald "Trump ... fielded multiple questions Tuesday on how he will act after winning the Republican nomination. First he said he would never change.... Then he said change is good and necessary for leading the country." But for sure, for sure, he's going to make America great again, says He, Whoever He Is. -- CW

Primary Results

Patrick Healy & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump crushed his Republican opponents in Pennsylvania, Maryland and three other states on Tuesday, a sweep that put him considerably closer to capturing the party's presidential nomination outright, while Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware and was battling to amass enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination as early as mid-May. Though Mr. Trump was widely expected to dominate the primaries, his margins of victory represented a breakthrough: He received 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote in some states, after months of winning many primaries with less than a majority." -- CW

The New York Times liveblog is here. Occasionally humorous.

Democrats:

Connecticut: With 71 percent of the vote counted, the state is too close to call. Hillary Clinton has 50 percent of the vote, Bernie Sanders 49 percent. With 85 percent counted, the AP has called the state for Clinton; current count: Clinton 51 percent, Sanders 47.

Delaware: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Clinton won with 60 percent of the vote. Sanders received 39 percent.


Maryland
: With 46 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is prevailing with 63 percent of the vote. Sanders has 33 percent.


Pennsylvania
: With 65 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is winning with 56 percent of precincts reporting. Sanders has 43 percent.

Rhode Island: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Sanders won with 55 percent of the vote. Clinton garnered 43 percent.


Republicans:

I consider myself the presumptive nominee. -- Donald Trump

Connecticut: Donald Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 62 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 59 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 27 percent & Ted Cruz with 12.

Delaware: Allow me to repeat myself: Trump won by a wide majority. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 61 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 20 percent & Cruz with 16.

Maryland: Ditto. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 37 percent of the vote counted, the AP has called the race for Trump, who now has with 56 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 22 percent & Cruz with 19.

Pennsylvania: Ted's on top. Of the losers, that is. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 68 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 58 percent of the vote, followed by Cruz with 22 percent & Kasich with 18.

Rhode Island: What I said. Trump won by a wide majority. With 97 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 64 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 24 percent & Cruz with 10.


And You Thought Bernie Bros were Bad? Neetzan Zimmerman
of the Hill: "Multiple Facebook pages supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were abruptly removed from the social media network late [Monday] night following a cyberattack. The pro-Sanders pages ... were collectively followed by over a quarter-million supporters of the Vermont senator, and many had been operating continuously since Sanders launched his campaign last year.... According to eyewitness reports, the pages were flooded with pornographic images in what appeared to be coordinated fashion and then flagged for obscene content, prompting Facebook to remove them.... At least one Facebook user linked to the pro-Hillary Clinton group Bros 4 Hillary was reported to have participated in the attacks.... The attack began around 9 p.m. EDT and lasted until just after midnight, when most of the pages recovered their accounts." CW: Good thing the pseudo-hackers didn't load Clinton's e-mail account with porn. ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "The attack came days after a Hillary Clinton super-pac announced that it had spent $1 million on a digital task force called Barrier Breakers 2016, a group of elite Twitter users who plan to fight the patriarchy by spamming 'BernieBros' with pro-Clinton memes." But maybe Trump/Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone was behind the attack! Or a plain ole bug. CW: Add your conspiracy theory below.

Jayne Mayer of the New Yorker: No, the Koch brothers are not going to support Hillary Clinton. -- CW

Anh Do & Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times: "Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump clashed at Anaheim City Hall on Tuesday as the City Council considers a resolution denouncing the GOP presidential candidate. The skirmish started outside before the meeting, when witnesses said both sides were screaming obscenities at each other. At some point, protesters on either side fired pepper spray at each other, and an ambulance arrived to provide care for two young girls as well as a woman who were hit by pepper spray." No word on the vote results. -- CW

Conor Skelding of Politico: "A state judge said she won't grant summary judgment to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office as it pursues its fraud case against Donald Trump. Both sides quickly claimed victory: Trump's lawyer said a trial in front of a jury would work in his favor, while Schneiderman subsequently issued a statement indicating that his office would call on Trump to testify, saying that the businessman would be an 'essential witness.'" -- CW

"Trump's Biggest Con." When Whining Pays. Ed Kilgore: "... Donald Trump's campaign has relied on a lot of small 'cons' -- transparently cynical efforts to exploit a lack of public knowledge about the details of issues, compounded by mistrust of Establishment fact-checkers and naysayers.... Still, Trump's most important con is his biggest and best: the claim that anything that stands between him and the presidential nomination is itself a con job and the product of a 'rigged system.' And the con has boosted his standing as the final primaries approach, while giving him an excellent backup plan if he falls short of the 1,237 bound delegates needed to guarantee him the nomination. What makes Trump's ploy devilishly clever is that he's turning a campaign failure -- the inability to keep up with Ted Cruz in the delegate-selection process that runs parallel to the primaries -- into a grievance and then a strength...." -- CW

... CW: If you missed Andy Kroll's investigative piece on Trump & the military, which LT linked yesterday, take the time to read it today.

Saul Hubbard of the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard: "John Kasich ... isn't featured in Oregon's voters' pamphlet for the May primary election -- an embarrassing blunder for any major campaign. The state said the Kasich campaign failed to submit information by the March 10 deadline. It's up to candidates to get their photos and statements into the pamphlet, which is one of the most cost-effective political advertising tools in the state." The campaigns of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders all managed to get candidates' info into the pamphlet. -- CW

Other Primary Races

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen won a hard-fought Senate primary that exposed racial and gender divisions within the Maryland Democratic Party, defeating Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the nomination. He will compete in November for a rare open Senate seat -- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) is retiring after serving 30 years. African American turnout reached record levels, exceeding 2008 when President Obama first ran and outnumbering white voters, according to exit polls. Yet the candidate who would have been Maryland's first black senator and the second black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate fell short.... Van Hollen ultimately won a third of the black electorate, which, combined with his strength among white, wealthier, older and more-educated voters catapulted him to the lead." -- CW

Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown made a comeback Tuesday night, winning the Democratic primary to replace outgoing Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Brown disappointed national Democrats when he lost the 2014 gubernatorial race in the deeply Democratic state to Republican Larry Hogan, a contest many had expected to be an easy win in an otherwise GOP wave year." -- CW

Bill Turque of the Washington Post: "State Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (Montgomery), outspent 6-to-1 by a wealthy Potomac wine retailer who poured more than $12 million of his own into his candidacy, won Maryland's 8th Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday. Raskin, 53, a constitutional law professor, led with slightly more than one-third of the vote. He ran ahead of David Trone, who became the biggest self-funding House candidate ever." CW: See Patrick's commentary in today's thread.

Jonathan Tamari, et al., of philly.com: "Katie McGinty won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday night, beating Joe Sestak with a late surge fueled by millions of dollars and high profile party support from Washington.... McGinty's win was a victory for the Democratic establishment, whose endorsements and spending elevated a candidate with deep party roots but who had never won an election and lagged in polls until the final stretch. The results set up a matchup with the incumbent Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, in a race with national implications - both parties see it as one of a handful that will decide control of the Senate." -- CW

Chris Brennan of philly.com: "Chaka Fattah, a fixture in Philadelphia politics for three decades, was ousted by State Rep. Dwight Evans from the Second Congressional District seat in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Fattah's fall came 20 days before the start of his federal criminal trial, an impending peril Fattah tried to push off as he campaigned for a 12th term." -- CW

Laura McCrystal of philly.com: "Republican John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro easily won their respective primaries late Tuesday, according to unofficial results. The men are vying to replace Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who chose not to seek reelection as she prepares for a criminal trial this year....Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County board of commissioners, faced attacks for his lack of prosecutorial experience. But he gathered big-name endorsements, from President Obama, Gov. [Tom] Wolf, and U.S. Sen.Bob Casey Jr." -- CW

Other News & Views

Rich, Powerful & Selectively Liberal. Thomas Edsall of the New York Times: "This self-segregation of a privileged fifth of the population is changing the American social order and the American political system, creating a self-perpetuating class at the top, which is ever more difficult to break into." -- CW

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: Supreme Court "justices, in a 6-to-2 decision, said it was unconstitutional to demote a police officer based on the mistaken assumption that he had engaged in political activity." Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the decision. CW: I'll let you guess who the two dissenters were. Let's just say that neither they, nor the lower court, which ruled for the employer, make any sense at all. The decision & dissent are here.

New York Times Editors: "Republicans have admitted that they do better when fewer people vote, and that voter-identification laws and other restrictions are intended to deter Democratic-leaning voters from getting to the polls. That's the reality, and Judge [Thomas] Schroeder ... a George W. Bush appointee ... was wrong to disregard it [in letting stand the North Carolina voter suppression law]. His decision will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which should waste no time in knocking down this latest obstacle so that all North Carolinians can exercise their voting rights in November." -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has dropped from roughly 2,000 a month down to 200 within the past year, according to the Pentagon, which says the waning numbers are further proof of the Islamic State's declining stature. The declining number of fighters is a direct result of strikes that have targeted the terror group's infrastructure, Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, said Tuesday." -- CW

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that religious communities can play a role in achieving foreign policy goals around the world. Invoking religion in an unusually direct manner, Kerry said understanding the importance of faith is essential in diplomacy and working with religious leaders can help solve complex problems in foreign countries." -- CW

... Peter Schroeder of the Hill: House Speaker "Paul Ryan ... is pressing his conference to back legislation providing debt relief for Puerto Rico, but it's not clear the Wisconsin Republican can muster a majority of his members. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sidestepped a question Tuesday on whether a bill would come to the floor only if a majority of Republicans back it.... [CW: That would be the so-called "Hastert rule," & by gum, this is a great time to defer to the legacy of that scumbag.] Conservatives are grumbling about helping the territory rework a massive debt burden built over decades, while rank-and-file members were spooked by outside ads lambasting the package as a 'bailout' for the island. The Center for Individual Freedom is behind the ads and not required to disclose its donors. But many believe hedge funds that stand to gain from not passing the bill are involved in the ads...."

... CW: Thanks, Stephen. Now I have to apologize for completely skipping all of the stories about the "Lemonade," because I erroneously assumed it was just some substance-free pop culture thing. Wrong. So here's one, by Hilton Als of the New Yorker, who places the work in its artistic & cultural context.

Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post: "Just Not Sports videotaped [sportswriters Sarah] Spain and [Julie] DiCaro sitting across from sports fans who were asked to read some of the online messages the women get every day. First of all, these poor guys. They didn't know what they were in for. -- CW ...

Dahlia Lithwick: "Brigham Young University made national headlines this month when it was revealed that female students who reported being raped could be suspended or expelled for violating the school's onerous honor code. The details of the case are infuriating. Whether or not the school is technically in violation of Title IX remains to be seen, but the school is clearly violating the spirit of the law in a way that does untold damage to rape survivors and makes future rapes more likely." -- CW

Capitalism Is Occasionally Awesome. Make Mine Chobani. Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The 2,000 full-time employees of the yogurt company Chobani were handed quite the surprise on Tuesday: an ownership stake that could make some of them millionaires. Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, told workers at the company's plant here in upstate New York that he would be giving them shares worth up to 10 percent of the company when it goes public or is sold. The goal, he said, is to pass along the wealth they have helped build in the decade since the company started. Chobani is now widely considered to be worth several billion dollars.... The number of shares given to each person is based on tenure, so the longer an employee has been at the company, the bigger the stake." P.S. Screw TPG Capital, a private equity firm. -- CW

How Nice. Claire Landsbaum of New York: Valeant Pharmaceutical's ex-CEO Michael Pearson will tell a Senate panel "He’s Really, Really Sorry for Raising the Price of Life-Saving Heart Drugs 700 Percent.... His testimony comes as Valeant is facing multiple investigations into its drug pricing and accounting practices by U.S. prosecutors. The company is also about $30 billion in debt, its stock is down 90 percent, and its earnings releases have been delayed as it struggles to factor in just how much money it lost in 2016." -- CW

Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post: "Apple reported its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003 in what investors worry is the end of a remarkable period of growth that had catapulted the computer maker into the most valuable company in the world. Shares fell sharply, as the Cupertino company said sales of its flagship iPhones dropped for the first time since their debut in 2007. That, more than any other statistic, likely drove the stock down 8 percent in after-hours trading." -- CW

Bundy Agonistes. Maxine Berstein of the Oregonian: "Ammon Bundy's lawyers intend to argue that the federal government doesn't have the authority to prosecute protesters who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that the federal government lacks control of the land." The essence of their argument is that once Oregon became a state, it lost the right to own or control anything in that state, despite a 1935 Supreme Court ruling very much to the contrary. ...

     ... Akhilleus: Bundy's lawyers who seem to have gone to the same school as he did (the one where students make up their own history and law) demanded more time from the judge for Bundy to prepare for his assault on legal issues settled since Bruno Hauptmann was on trial for the Lindbergh baby murder. The judge said fuggedaboutit. Maybe Hauptmann should have had lawyers like Bundy's. They would have told the court it had no right to try him because Constitution, something, something, founders, something, something...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

** "Anger Is a Business." Jeffrey M. Berry & Sarah Sobieraj in Vox: Many news outlets' business models now depend on stoking anger. This exacerbates the political system's polarization and dysfunction.... At the core of the business model is telling the audience that no one in government or politics can be trusted. The subtext, of course, is that you need to tune into outrage networks and programs if you're to hear the truth." -- CW ...

     ... CW P.S.: If you don't like Fox "News" & Rush Limbaugh, you can thank Bill Clinton & Newt Gingrich for their dominance of the airwaves. One of the few Members of Congress to vote against the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which Bill Clinton signed "with great fanfare": Rep. Bernie Sanders. Not surprisingly, "... of all the presidential candidates running in 2016, the Big Media lobby has chosen to back Hillary Clinton."

CW: It's super-great to win a Pulitzer Prize -- just ask Maureen Dowd -- but before you start judging people by the medals on their mantles, read this Gawker post by Brian Burghart on how the Washington Post got its Pultizer "for its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be." Actually, no, it was two tiny news outfits, whose previous data collection the Post used (and has credited in its news stories but not in its Pulitzer application). Also, too, the Guardian's database, which also relied on data from one of the small outlets -- Fatal Encounters -- is more comprehensive than the Post's.

Peter Sterne of Politico: "Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith resigned from the paper on Tuesday, after the paper prevented him from writing about casino owners Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, whose family owns the Review-Journal.... Smith was first told not to write about Adelson on Jan. 28, a person with knowledge of the situation told Politico. That's the same day that Craig Moon was named publisher of the paper and that the R-J eliminated its standing disclosure about Adelson's ownership." -- CW

     ... Here's Las Vegas institution Jon Ralston's take. -- CW

Charles Pierce: "At 6:41 p.m. Monday night, a column appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website. It was written by Jim VandeHei, one of the founding geniuses of Tiger Beat On The Potomac. The column was about how the good real white Americans of the author's hometown in the Midwest are hungering for a third-party presidential disruption, possibly by Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg. It took less than an hour for political Twitter to eat VandeHei's column, bones and all. You rarely see a single piece disemboweled so completely and so immediately, and from so many directions.... And, not for nothing, but the scorn blizzard was richly deserved." ...

     ... CW: My question: does VanderHei now know what a complete ass he is? Almost certain answer: nah. Also too, does presumptive-Politico-party-nominee & boy billionaire Zuckerberg need Bloomberg's money? ...

... Steve Benen: "... VandeHei seems to consider 'Normal America' small, rural towns that are overwhelmingly white. Given that most Americans live in cities, it's unclear why we should perceive urban areas any less 'normal.'... So what 'Normal America' longs for -- and desperately needs -- are billionaires capable of 'disruption' and a willingness to 'exploit the fear factor.'... What's striking is VandeHei's lack of self-awareness. His thesis is warmed over No Labels pabulum peddled by Joe Lieberman in D.C. ballrooms.... While his argument claims to take aim at Establishment America, it ends up reflecting Establishment America's worst instincts. He's not disrupting a stagnant inside-the-Beltway worldview so much as he's reinforcing it."

Way Beyond the Beltway

James McAuley of the Washington Post: "Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, was handed over to French authorities Wednesday, where he is slated to stand trial in the coming months, Belgium's federal prosecutor said." -- CW

Monday
Apr252016

The Commentariat -- April 26, 2016

Presidential Race

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania & Rhode Island hold presidential primaries today. See also Down-Ballot Races below.

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton said Monday said if she's elected president, women would make up half of her Cabinet."

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), at a Hillary Clinton campaign rally in Delaware, demonstrates how to sign off-key in every way:

... CW: So how hard did Clinton work for those big corporate speaking fees, which she then deposited in one of her tax-evasion Delaware corporations? (See yesterday's Commentariat.)

Get Over It, People. Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... the level of fretting over Sanders's swipes at Clinton has been completely out of proportion to the actual damage done.... Compared to the 2008 Democratic primary -- and, more proximately, to the ongoing Republican primary -- Democratic infighting this year has been beanbag.... Clinton was far harder on Obama than Sanders is being on Clinton.... Even so, held up against the way Donald Trump is ingesting the writhing Republican Party in 2016, the 2008 Democratic primary was a model of civility." -- CW

Steve M. on the Koch announcement: "... they believe that if they can push a lot of economic and regulatory decisions down to the state and local levels, they'll win, because Kochite Republicans have done extraordinarily well in gubernatorial and legislative elections in the Obama years. The Kochs have accepted that they're not going to get a favorite into the White House in 2016, and yes, they might not be sad if they have Hillary Clinton as president -- because they intend to use her as a foil. If you want to know how they expect that to work, read the news from 2009." -- safari ...

... Andy Borowitz: "Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spent decades acquiring a world-class collection of Republicans, revealed over the weekend that they are considering purchasing their first Democrat.... 'It can't be worse than Scott Walker,' [Charles Koch] said." CW: See Sunday's Commentariat for context.

Teddy's & Johnny's Report Cards Revealed -- "Plays Well with Others: F." Alexander Burns, et al., of the New York Times: "The temporary alliance between Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, formed to deny Donald J. Trump the Republican presidential nomination, was already in danger of fraying to the point of irrelevance on Monday, only hours after it was announced to great fanfare." -- CW ...

Gail Collins & Arthur Brooks have a "Conversation." Collins explains the Cruz-Kasich "alliance": "Yeah, the barbarian hordes are galloping down the mountain and the two towns at the bottom agree to work together on improved streetlights." -- CW

Lauren Fox of TPM: "Ted Cruz has no way to win the Republican nomination without a contested convention, but he's already busy scouting out his running mate. According to a report from the Weekly Standard, the Cruz campaign is vetting former Republican presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for vice president." -- CW

Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress: "At a rally Monday in Rhode Island..., Donald Trump went after the governor of Virginia for signing an executive order that restores the voting rights of more than 200,000 ex-felons. 'That's crooked politics,' he told the booing crowd. 'They're giving 200,000 people that have been convicted of heinous crimes, horrible crimes, the worst crimes, the right to vote because, you know what? They know they're gonna vote Democrat. They're gonna vote Democrat and that could be the swing. That's how disgusting and dishonest our political system is.'" -- safari

Kenneth Vogel and Eli Stokols of Politico: "Donald Trump is bristling at efforts to implement a more conventional presidential campaign strategy, and has expressed misgivings about the political guru behind them, Paul Manafort, for overstepping his bounds...Now Trump is taking steps to return some authority to Manafort's chief internal rival, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski." --safari

Andy Kroll of Huffington Post: "Trump at War: Trump's pronouncements on foreign policy, combined with his years of broadsides, have set off a very real fear within military circles about what might happen were he to become president.... Never before, they say, has a candidate gotten so close to the White House with such little respect for the military." -- LT

Wherein Donald Trump Complains that John Kasich Has "Disgusting" Table Manners. Did you see him? He has the news conference all the time when he's eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion. This guy takes a pancake and he shoves it in his mouth. It is disgusting. Did you want that for your president? I don't think so. -- Donald Trump, in Rhode Island Monday

Wherein Trump Demonstrates the Meaning of "Projection." Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Donald Trump on Monday evening likened ... John Kasich to a 'spoiled brat' for staying in the GOP race on the eve of voting in five states." -- CW

Brad DeLong drunkblogs Jim Vandehei's wail for a third-party candidate -- like Mark Zuckerberg. There's a typo in the title, but that's what you get for drunkblogging. It is hard to be more shallow than Vandehei, who is about to leave Politico because it isn't fulfilling enough or something. To be fair to Vandehei, we should consider the possibility that he was drunkopinionating. -- CW

Down-Ballot Races

Burgess Everett & Rachel Bade of Politico: Democratic Senate primaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania are hotly-contested. -- CW

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: President "Obama has presided over a greater loss of electoral power for his party than any two-term president since World War II. And 2016 represents one last opportunity for him to reverse that trend.... The first big tests of the rebuilding efforts comes Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where Obama is taking the unusual step of wading into two ontested Democratic primaries, endorsing Senate hopeful Katie McGinty and Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County official and early supporter of his who is hoping to become state attorney general." -- CW

The REDMAP ratfuck. David Daley of New York: "As written in the Constitution, every state redraws all of its lines every ten years. That means elections in 'zero years' matter more than others. Jankowski [a GOP tactician] realized it would be possible to target states where the legislature is in charge of redistricting, flip as many chambers as possible, take control of the process, and redraw the lines. Boom. Just like that -- if Republicans could pull it off -- the GOP would go from demographically challenged to the catbird seat for a decade. At least." Read on. --safari

Other News & Views

Michael Shear of the New York Times: During his European visit, President Obama, "recognizing the limitations [of foreign policy] aspirations, spoke in ... measured tones as he gently urged allies to do more to defend themselves and solve their own problems." -- CW

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder ... Monday upheld North Carolina's controversial new voting law, dealing a blow to critics who said the state's rules will discourage minorities from casting ballots during this fall's presidential election. The voting law, passed by North Carolina's legislature in 2013, is among the strictest in the country.... Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine, said Monday night that the case will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit...." CW: Schroeder is a Bush II appointee.

... Nelson Schwartz & Quoctrung Bui of the New York Times: "... research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation's bitter political divide.... The researchers found that areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.... Voters in congressional districts hardest hit by Chinese imports tended to choose more ideologically extreme lawmakers." -- CW

No Bribes Required. Rick Hasen, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, on how politicians' dialing-for-dollars affects their policies. "When you spend hours every day interacting with those wealthy enough to make four-, five-, six- and even seven-figure donations, you can't but help to have your priorities influenced by their concerns.... Money has influence even before it is donated.... Every senator from New York, including [Hillary] Clinton from 2001 to 2009, knows that staking out positions against Wall Street can close wallets or send money streaming to their opponents. This is a deeply troubling campaign finance system, one which is slipping dangerously toward plutocracy. But it doesn't take a bribe for money to matter, a lot." -- CW

Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-Az.] in The Nation: '"Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention' [by the ACLU] analyzes previously unpublished death reviews and demonstrates how egregious violations of medical standards by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) played a significant role in nearly half of the deaths for which the organizations were able to review documents. In three-quarters of deaths attributed to substandard medical care, the victims were held in for-profit prisons. Their deaths are tragic proof that profit motives have perverse and harmful effects on our judicial system."--safari

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "As the [U.S. Supreme Court] justices are set to review ... former Virginia governor [Bob McDonnell]'s [R] conviction this week, other politicians will be watching for a decision on when a favor crosses the line into an 'official act,' an area that has become increasingly blurry in the world of campaign contributions." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "A man who says J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House, molested him decades ago when the man was 14 filed a lawsuit against Mr. Hastert on Monday, saying he was owed $1.8 million of the money he had been promised as compensation for the abuse." -- CW ...

... Digby in Salon: "Dennis Hastert has one man to thank for his career as speaker: former Texas congressman Tom DeLay, the Republican hatchet man who rammed the impeachment of Bill Clinton through the House and out-lasted Newt Gingrich in the GOP leadership...DeLay was the power behind Hastert's throne, the whip known as 'the Hammer' who preached and perfected the brand of take-no-prisoners politics currently practiced by the Tea Party and House Freedom Caucus. He was the man who made Ted Cruz possible." --safari

Sam Thielman of the Guardian: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is letting the third-largest cable company in the US buy the second-largest: chairman Tom Wheeler has recommended that the body approve TV and internet distribution giant Charter's plan to purchase Time Warner as well as the smaller Bright House Networks, so long as the new company abides by several conditions." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

American "Justice," Ctd. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: Muskogee County, "Oklahoma police took $53,000 from a Christian band raising money for an orphanage. A Texas man who is a refugee from Burma was carrying the cash -- most of it from ticket sales for the band he managed -- in his car when officers stopped him and seized the money under the state's forfeiture law.... Oklahoma has some of the most permissive forfeiture laws in the nation, according to a 2015 report by the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Update. Sometimes Shaming Works. Samantha Vicent of the Tulsa World: "More than $50,000 seized by Muskogee County deputies in a traffic stop will be returned to a Dallas man and others who said the money was intended for a Thai orphanage and a Christian school in Myanmar. Eh Wah, who lives in Dallas and is originally from Myanmar, was pulled over on U.S. 69 for having a broken brake light about 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27. Authorities seized $53,000 they found in his car and indicated that it would not be returned. The Washington Post reported on the issue ahead of a press release issued by the man's attorneys Monday." CW: Hey, I wonder what would have happened if the money was collected for Muslim orphans.

Richard Fausset of the New York Times: North Carolina's "bathroom" "law, and the backlash against it, have introduced a ... volatile energy to state politics here, roiling a governor's race that could be the nation's most competitive. It is also affecting other crucial contests, including that of Senator Richard Burr, who hopes to fend off a vigorous Democratic challenge from Deborah K. Ross, a former State House member and former state director of the American Civil Liberties Union." -- CW

Roxana Hegemon of TPM: "Voting rolls in Kansas are in "chaos" because of the state's proof-of-citizenship requirements, the American Civil Liberties Union has argued in a court document, noting that about two-thirds of new voter registration applications submitted during a three-week period in February are on hold." --safari ...

... Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "... Gov. Sam Brownback (R[-Kansas]) came to Washington on Wednesday to discuss his poverty policies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. At one point, the embattled governor justified his policy of forcing people off of food stamps if they can't find a job by likening low-income and jobless people to lazy college students.... Brownback was the first of several governors to decide to reinstate a hard and fast 20-hours-per-week work requirement for able-bodied adults with no dependents." -- CW

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Joey Meek, a friend of the man accused of killing nine parishioners in Charleston, S.C., last year, intends to plead guilty to two charges related to the massacre, according to a court document filed Monday. Meek was indicted in September on counts of making false statements to the FBI and 'misprision of a felony,' which meant that he allegedly concealed his knowledge of the crimes. He had pleaded not guilty to these counts, which carry up to eight years in prison." -- CW

Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whose fatal shooting by the Cleveland police in 2014 prompted national outrage, is set to receive $6 million from the city in a settlement announced Monday in federal court records." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jeremy Stahl of Slate: "The head of Cleveland's police union used the occasion of the city's $6 million settlement with the family of Tamir Rice to blame the 12-year-old for his shooting death at the hands of police and to tell the victim's loved ones how to spend the money." -- CW

Larry Neumeister of the Boston Globe: "New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game 'Deflategate' suspension imposed by the NFL, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AP: "A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Bill Cosby's attempt to throw out his criminal case because of what he called a decade-old deal not to prosecute him. The mid-level state superior court ruled Monday that the criminal sex assault case against Cosby can proceed, prompting the district attorney to press for a preliminary hearing date." -- CW

Way Beyond

Kirk Semple of the New York Times: "... an international panel of investigators ... ha[s] been examining the ... [disappearance of] 43 students ... in the city of Iguala[, Mexico] one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances.... The reason for the students' abduction remains a mystery. Despite apparent stonewalling by the Mexican government in recent months, the panel's two reports on the case, the most recent of which was released on Sunday, provide the fullest accounting of the events surrounding the students' disappearance, which also left six other people dead, including three students, and scores wounded." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)