Friday Afternoon News Dump. Andrew Restuccia & Darren Goode of Politico: "The Obama administration says it is indefinitely extending its long-awaited review of the Keystone XL pipeline — providing a Good Friday jolt to one of the president’s most wrenching environmental decisions. The move could easily push President Barack Obama’s final decision past the November election."
Amanda Holpuch of the Guardian: "People charged with the murders of almost 100 people can be linked to a single far-right website, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The White Nationalist web forum Stormfront.org says it promotes values of 'the embattled white minority,' and its users include Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a 2011 massacre in Norway, and Wade Michael Page, who shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.... The report was released a month early after white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, was accused of killing three people at a Jewish center in Kansas City on Sunday." The report is here (pdf).
Oligarchy by Any Other Name. John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that ... the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.... The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto." ...
... CW: This research could help explain why gay rights have advanced with lightning speed, while racial civil rights remain problematic after centuries. The rich are gay or they have gay friends, & they want the same freedoms straight people have. Few of the rich, however, are black or have close black friends. That civil rights have advanced as much as they have could be a result of capitalists realizing that black people constitute, you know, an undertapped market. Besides, when the rich want cheap help, there are always those undocumented workers ("I'm running for president, for Pete's sake!"). ...
... AND, Speaking of Mitt, He's Back. Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. He may not direct a high-powered political action committee or hold a formal position, but with the two living former Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — shying away from campaign politics, Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority." ...
... "One-Take Romney." Here's an ad Not-President Romney cut in Not-the-Oval Office for Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who's facing a Tea Party challenge:
Jill Lepore, Evan Osnos & Dorothy Wickenden of the New Yorker discuss the influence & imact of Sen. Elizabeth Warren:
Washington Post staffers pick out the most interesting stuff from the latest Clinton Library docudump. ...
... Digby on press reaction to Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy: "I don't recall anyone wondering if old Mitt might need to spend so much time with his grandkids that he wouldn't have time for the presidency...."
Can we talk about the human drama that is Grandma Clinton? I don't want to be cynical and I'm not suggesting anyone's having a baby for election purposes, but — [panel groans]. It's gonna change the dynamic of the campaign. -- NYT Columnist Andrew Sorkin on "Morning Joe"
... Here's the publisher's blurb for Hillary Clinton's latest book, Hard Choices. ...
... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Although the book is technically an 'inside account of the crises, choices and challenges' she faced as secretary of state ... this isn’t just an exercise in self-expression. It’s a billboard, and for now it says, 'I’m thinking about it.' But with room for deniability, of course."
In yesterday's Comments, Whyte O. recommended George W. Bush's speech at the commemoration of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Whyte noted, Bush's speech would make him a loser in a Republican primary. The speech is remarkable in a number of ways, not the least of which is its defense of the federal government, which Bush says must step in when states fail in their duties. The speech centers on equal access to educational opportunities. For me, the speech also suggests that brother Jeb -- whose main policy (and business) focus has been education, albeit a relentlyess drive to shift public funds to private educational institutions -- will run for president. Anyway, as Whyte wrote, "Worth a listen." Really:
Travis Bruner & Greta Anderson of the Western Watersheds Project, in Salon, on the real harm Cliven Bundy & his ilk are doing to public lands, as well as to actual taxpayers: "... the American public is woefully misinformed about the entrenchment, expense, and ecological harm of this land use. Make no mistake, Bundy isn’t the only rancher ripping off the American public. Every public lands livestock permittee is banking on federally-funded range infrastructure like solar wells and fences and benefitting from federally-funded wildlife killing that targets native predators like wolves and coyotes for the sake of livestock safety. Many permittees benefit from drought payments and disaster payments, seek handouts for 'restoration projects' that are really just reseeding the forage species their cows stripped in the first place. And most livestock operations occur at the peril of endangered species...."
Journalist Sally Denton says Franklin Roosevelt faced even more virulent conservative opposition than President Obama does; there was even a "Wall Street Putsch," a plot to take over the government by force, leaving FDR as a mere figurehead while the Street men ran the show. Joshua Holland of BillMoyers.com interviews Denton; the piece is republished in Salon.
Bryce Covert of Think Progress: "The 70 people who work at Treehouse, an online education company that teaches people about technology, only work four days a week at the same full salary as other tech workers. Yet the company’s revenue has grown 120 percent, it generates more than $10 million a year in sales, and it responds to more than 70,000 customers, according to a post in Quartz by CEO Ryan Carson." CW: Read the post to see some of the employer advantages to the shorter work week. Yes, that's employer, not employee.
I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could. -- James Mitchell, the psychologist credited with developing the CIA's "enhanced interrogation methods" -- waterboarding, sleep deprivation, etc.
... Jason Leopold of the Guardian interviews Mitchell. ...
... Charles Pierce: "Mitchell should be facing a tribunal for war crimes, not whining about an unflattering Senate committee report.... The man has worms in his soul."
CW: Now I see why Ed Snowden was upset by reaction to his "surprise interview" of Vladimir Putin. Underwhelmed bloggers like Driftglass write stuff like this: "... Russian President Vladimir Putin needs something sharp and pointy and very public with which to poke President Obama in the eye. Cue Uncle Vlad allowing Ed Snowden to 'interview' him on Russian state teevee! And by 'interview' I mean he was permitted one softball question with no follow up. Eerily similar to the way David Gregory 'interviews' every Republican who has ever been on on Meet the Press ... except, of course, Greggers* is not living under the surveillance and protection of the person he is questioning -- a person who has a long record of locking up or killing dissidents and journalists and is middle of the slow-motion military invasion of a neighboring country. Mr. Snowden's sock-puppet question was introduced by one of the programs co-hosts...."
John Hanna of ABC News: "Departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not considering running for the U.S. Senate, a spokeswoman said Friday." ...
... Gail Collins: "Maybe Kathleen Sebelius should reconsider that Senate thing." Collins explains why. Funny.
Beyond the Beltway
Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Earlier this month, the [Wisconsin Republican] party's Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party 'supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin's right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.' ... Gov. Scott Walker, the leader of the state party, distanced himself from the resolution last week." ...
... Dana Milbank: Walker "has in mind being president of the United States, and that ambition could be frustrated if his state were no longer part of the union."
Katie McDonough of Salon: "Residents of Latta, S.C., are raising questions about the sudden firing of the town’s first female and openly gay police chief.... Many Latta residents have rallied around Moore.... South Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay."