The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class":

The Ledes

Saturday, January 24, 2015.

Guardian: "The Pentagon and the White House are pushing back on reports that the Obama administration is pausing drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations in Yemen, amidst the abrupt collapse of a critical partner government. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said both 'unilateral and partnered' operations conducted by the US in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 'are not suspended'."

New York Times: "The Japanese government expressed outrage at an image released Saturday that appeared to show the decapitated body of one of two Japanese hostages captured by Islamic State militants, and President Obama condemned what he called a 'brutal murder.' The kidnappers had threatened to kill the men if a Friday deadline passed for a $200 million ransom from Japan. Hours before Mr. Obama’s statement, the United States and Japanese governments said that they were working to authenticate the video containing the image."

NBC News: "President Barack Obama and the First Lady will travel to Saudi Arabia to pay respects following the death of King Abdullah, the White House said early Saturday. Obama will cut short an official trip to India and will fly to Riyadh on Tuesday to meet the new King Salman, spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. Vice President Joe Biden, who had been due to fly to Saudi Arabia, 'will remain in Washington' the statement said."

Goodbye, Mr. Cub. New York Times: "Ernie Banks, the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century and an unconquerable optimist whose sunny disposition never dimmed in 19 seasons with the perennially stumbling Chicago Cubs, died Friday. He was 83." Banks' Chicago Sun-Times obituary is here.

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 25

5:40 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi deliver statements in New Delhi, India

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times on the novels of Robert Stone. Stone died January 10.

Gawker: Apparently Malia Obama -- or someone who looks exactly like her -- has (or borrowed) a T-shirt featuring a hip-hop collective called Pro Era. A teenager into contemporary music!: this is for some reason big Internets news. CW: Old codger that I am, I thought the shirt signified Pro-ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). Now, that would be exceptionally cool.

Washington Post: "In a move that could draw a mass exodus from cable, Dish Network’s Sling TV said it will soon launch a stand-alone streaming service that includes ESPN and other network channels without being tied to a paid TV service."

Anne Karpf, in a New York Times op-ed on "the liberation of growing old": "Age resistance is a futile kind of life resistance: We can’t live outside time, we begin to age the moment we’re born. But the emerging age-acceptance movement neither decries nor denies the aging process. It recognizes that one can remain vital and present, engaged and curious, indeed continue to grow, until one’s dying breath. Then we need only echo the wish of the British psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott: 'May I be alive when I die.'”

Novelist Teddy Wayne, in a New York Times op-ed, laments the days when "we used to receive media cyclically.... Now, with just about every airing of a much greater number of shows obtainable at any moment, there is no excuse for missing one — and, therefore, a more urgent compulsion to catch up, in case you missed it." Thanks to MAG for the link. ...

... CW: This seems a rather silly complaint coming from a person whose chosen art form is available to anyone any time, thru the ages. On-demand media make film, broadcast television & other visual (& audio) events as available as are nonfiction books & novels. It is true that releasing viewers from the strictures of OTO broadcasts & limited-run films may take away some of the sharing of those events with family & friends, but that has been -- until quite recently -- a rather forced sharing, dictated by media suits. And there is nothing stopping people today from having media parties to share their favorite teevee shows or movies.

Bill Moyers announces his retirement. And he means it this time. ...

... Reality Chex contributor Kate Madison on Bill Moyers. (Third comment in the thread.) ...

... Peter Dreier in Common Dreams: "... the end of Moyers' regular presence on television will leave a huge hole in America's broadcast landscape.... No other program has journalistic breadth and depth, as well as the progressive viewpoint, that Moyers' show has provided views for over four decades. Will PBS -- which has been under increasing pressure from Congress and funders to move to the right -- even try to fill that gap?" ...

... ** Paul Farhi of the Washington Post on Moyers' career at PBS: "His work has won more than three dozen Emmys — he doesn’t know the precise number — and nine Peabody awards.... His unalloyed liberalism (“I find it very hard to have intelligent conversations with people on the right wing,” he once said) has made him, to conservatives, a living totem of the news media’s alleged leftward bias, and especially public broadcasting’s." ...

... Here's the final broadcast. If you don't watch it, you may want to read the transcript, especially Moyers' "last words":

"Listen Up, Ladies." Raw Story: "The hosts of Fox & Friends started the New Year on Thursday by telling women that they should 'cater' to their man by stroking his ego, cooking him meals, and massaging his feet."

The New York Times takes "an episode-by-episode look at some of the [British TV series "Downton Abbey's] period details, and how those events have been covered in The New York Times." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link.

Sam Eifling of the New Republic: "For proof that an idea's time has come, look no further than Rush Limbaugh belching fire at it with the caveat, 'I know it's racist to probably even point this out.' In this case, Limbaugh's target was the gentle revelation, from emails churned up in the enormous Sony hack, that a head of the studio has stumped for Idris Elba to play James Bond once Daniel Craig goes out to pasture with Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan. The news riled Limbaugh because Elba is black, and Ian Fleming's Bond 'was white and Scottish. Period.' But it would be simplistic to dismiss this view as the rant of a lone, right-wing loudmouth. On this issue, the only difference between Limbaugh and Hollywood is that he doesn't try to conceal his racial biases.... Truth is, the supposed bastion of liberal values is loath to entrust lead roles in big-budget productions to actors of color, even as audiences are increasingly multiethnic." (Emphasis added.)

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The Commentariat -- Jan. 25, 2015

The Times of India has a "breaking news" banner on its front page which, at least currently, relates to the Obamas' visit to India. ...

     ... Update: The "breaking news" banner is gone, but the paper now has a liveblog of the Obamas' visit.

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi say they have achieved a breakthrough understanding to free up U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. The two countries had been at an impasse over U.S. insistence on tracking fissile material it supplies to India and over Indian liability provisions that have discouraged U.S. firms from capitalizing on a 2008 civil nuclear agreement between the U.S. and India." ...

... CW: My favorite part of the press conference was near the end, where President Obama, in describing the ties between the U.S. & India, noted that we were "two former colonies."

Times of India photo.... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "When President Obama walked off Air Force One here Sunday morning, he was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who walked up to Obama and gave him a big hug. The airport meeting, a break from tradition, and embrace comes as the two countries are looking to reinvigorate a relationship that had stagnated in recent years -- and one that both men hope will benefit from a personal rapport they developed last year."

Reality Strikes Back against GOP Ideology. Adam Nagourney & Shaila Dewan of the New York Times: "Republican governors across the nation are proposing tax increases — and backing off pledges to cut taxes — as they strike a decidedly un-Republican pose in the face of budget shortfalls and pent-up demands from constituents after years of budget cuts."

Michael Strain of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute argues in a Washington Post op-ed that it's okay if people die as a result of losing access to health insurance via the ACA. Because, um, the government makes these tradeoffs all the time: e.g., if states lowered the speed limit to 10 mph fewer people would die in road accidents. ...

... Competing with Strain for weekend's worst op-ed, Maureen Dowd writes another column about how awful Obama is. ...

... He's No Krugman. Bill Curry writes a sensible column in Salon questioning the sincerity of President Obama's sudden bout of populism. CW: I do think Curry has glossed over Obama's longstanding advocacy for the poor & middle class. The difference now, as I see it, is that the proposals in his SOTU speech were more robust than those he's made in the past, when he put forward policy proposals that he thought might have a shot at getting through Congress, even if further watered down. Still, Curry's reminder of Obama's mixed signals is important to keep in mind.

** Salon publishes an excerpt from Julian Zelizer's book The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress & the Battle for the Great Society. CW: If you can't see the parallels between then & now, you haven't been paying attention these past six years. Read the whole excerpt. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:

At 4 a.m. on November 23, 1963, the day after Kennedy’s assassination gave him the presidency, [Lydon] Johnson reclined on his bed, his top advisers arrayed around him for an impromptu meeting.... The new president told Jack Valenti, Bill Moyers, and Cliff Carter, with 'relish and resolve,' according to Valenti, 'I’m going to get Kennedy’s tax cut out of the Senate Finance Committee, and we’re going to get this economy humming again. Then I’m going to pass Kennedy’s civil rights bill, which has been hung up too long in the Congress. And I’m going to pass it without changing a single comma or a word. After that we’ll pass legislation that allows everyone anywhere in this country to vote, with all the barriers down. And that’s not all. We’re going to get a law that says every boy and girl in this country, no matter how poor, or the color of their skin, or the region they come from, is going to be able to get all the education they can take by loan, scholarship, or grant, right from the federal government.... And I aim to pass Harry Truman’s medical insurance bill that got nowhere before.'

Joanna Rothkopf of Salon reminds us of McDonald's outstanding history of dickishness.

Emily Satchell of WRIC Richmond: "The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has stripped former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell of his law license. The Virginia State Bar said in a release that McDonnell’s license to practice law in the Commonwealth is suspended, effective January 29, based on his conviction on 11 public corruption charges. 8News legal expert Russ Stone says that, 'If he wanted to obtain it again once he is out of prison, he would have to apply with the bar to have his license re-instated.'" CW: Said Bob, once a likely presidential contendah, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Des Moines." ...

Presidential Race

Ashley Parker & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "A crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates scrapped for the hearts of the party’s conservative base [in Des Moines, Iowa] on Saturday, implicitly rejecting more moderate choices like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, who did not attend." ...

... Jon Ward of Yahoo! News: "The tone, from the outset, was gloomy. America is 'mired in darkness,' said David Bossie, a conservative filmmaker and activist who organized the event. Conservative talk show host Jan Mickelson opened the event by saying, 'Nobody from Iowa cares a sliver about immigration. All of us came from somewhere. What we do care about is illegal gate crashers.' Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called President Barack Obama 'an overgrown little boy' for his executive action last year on immigration. And television personality Donald Trump criticized [Jeb] Bush for saying last year that some illegal immigrants come to the United States as an 'act of love' to provide for their families. 'Remember,' Trump said, in a gross mischaracterization of undocumented immigrants, 'half of them are criminals.'” ...

... Fore more detail, we go to our friends at Politico, whose little hearts must be throbbing:

... Ben Schreckinger: "Chris Christie on Saturday made the case to the Republican base that he embodied a strain of true conservatism that can succeed nationally. The New Jersey governor, who is considering running for president, was the most prominent establishment-backed 2016 contender to appear at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit...." ...

... Jonathan Topaz: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Saturday hailed his record as a conservative leader, previewing his likely 2016 presidential pitch as an outsider and a fighter for bold reform. The potential presidential candidate spent the majority of his address at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines highlighting his accomplishments as governor and contrasting them with the broken ways of Washington." ...

... Schreckinger: "Sen. Ted Cruz called on Republican voters to hold presidential candidates accountable for their conservative credentials Saturday in a speech to the party’s grassroots faithful at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit." CW: I guess Ted couldn't "highlight his accomplishments" the way Walker did because "read the kids a bedtime story written by a leftist on national teevee" is not nearly as impressive as "whacked a lot of public employees, especially those nasty teachers." ...

... Schreckinger: "Rick Perry touted his economic record as governor of Texas Saturday." CW: Also won the award for candidate who killed the most death row inmates ever, including at least one innocent man. ...

... Schreckinger: "Mike Huckabee mocked the notion that climate change is a major threat to Americans in a speech to conservative activists Saturday. 'A beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn,' cracked Huckabee, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and its tactic of beheading its enemies. The line drew laughter and applause from the grassroots faithful...." CW: Hilarious. Idiots. ...

... Schreckinger: "Rick Santorum laid out a populist vision for grassroots Republicans on Saturday, saying the party needs to be pro-growth but also pro-worker." CW: What if you had a meeting & the most sensible guy in the room was Rick Santorum? Impossible? No, I think it just happened. ...

... Topaz: "Ben Carson on Saturday delivered a forceful defense of conservatism, arguing for dramatically scaling back the federal government and saying that he wouldn’t support Obamacare even if it worked. Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has become a darling among grassroots conservatives, drew raucous applause from the crowd at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines." CW: These people are so not racists. ...

... Topaz: "Donald Trump on Saturday slammed Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush as potential 2016 presidential candidates — a move that delighted the crowd of Iowa conservatives and demonstrated the two candidates’ potential liabilities in a GOP primary." ...

     ... Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "In a sit-down interview with The Des Moines Register, [Trump] said the two presumed GOP frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, are doomed to lose — and he expressed regret that he hadn't run himself in 2012. Trump said he should be in the White House right now. 'I was leading in every poll. ... I regret that I didn't stay in,' he said.... 'I would've won the race against (President Barack) Obama. He would've been easy. Hillary (Clinton) is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable.'"

... AND Let Us Not Forget the Lovely Host. Topaz: "Rep. Steve King, at the opening of his Iowa Freedom Summit, took another jab at so-called DREAMers, saying they come from a different 'planet.'... “We’re a great people. We have a vitality that’s unequaled on the planet. We come from every possible planet, uh, every possible continent,' King said, to laughter from the crowd. After a brief pause, the congressman referenced the DREAM Action Coalition, an immigration advocacy group protesting the event in Des Moines. 'They’re across the street, those people that come from the other planet,' he said, prompting more laughs and applause from the audience." CW: As I said, these people are so not racists. Never mind that they deem young people from Central America to be not human. ...

... Roger Simon: "The Republican Party’s clown car has become a clown van.... At the Freedom Summit [in Des Moines] Saturday, two dozen speakers ground through 10 hours of speeches in front of more than 1,000 far-right Republicans.... Sarah Palin, who has been teasing the press with hints she might actually run for president, appeared to end much hope of that Saturday by delivering a 33-minute speech of such incoherence that even veteran Palin-watchers were puzzled.... I would provide some context, but there wasn’t any. It is possible she was improperly inflated." CW: Really sexist, Roger, but I don't care. ...

... MEANWHILE, in the Brainland. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Jeb Bush previewed the ideas at the heart of his likely presidential campaign, delivering a sweeping address [in San Francisco] Friday about the economy, foreign affairs and energy exploration, and challenging the country to question 'every aspect of how government works.' In his first major speech since stepping into the 2016 presidential sweepstakes in December, the Republican former Florida governor spoke confidently and in significant detail about the broad range of issues beginning to shape the campaign for the White House." ...

Our national identity is not based on race or some kind of exclusionary belief. Historically, the unwritten contract has been: Come legally to this country, embrace our values, learn English, work, and you can be as American as anybody else. Immigrants are an engine of economic vitality. -- Jeb Bush, Friday

God News

Richard Dawkins reads his fan mail. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link. These God-fearing folks sure use a lot of dirty words. Also, they seem absolutely obsessed with gay sex:

Dennis Augustine, a former Pentecostal minister, fires God. Via Helmant Mehta.

Way Beyond the Beltway
And Way Beyond Stupid

Ed Vulliamy of the Guardian: "Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS. The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: 'Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.'... Allseas is owned by a Dutchman, Edward Heerema, who is the son of Pieter Schelte Heerema.”


The Commentariat -- Jan. 24, 2015

Times of Israel: "The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had 'spat' in President Barack Obama’s face.... Haaretz reported that Obama had personally demanded that Netanyahu tone down his pro-sanctions rhetoric in a phone call between the two last week. The Washington Post reported that Netanyahu’s apparent disrespect for the US leadership was particularly offensive to Secretary of State John Kerry...." ...

... Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) surprise invitation to have Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress in March was 'inappropriate,' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged Thursday. The California Democrat said that, not only did Boehner break congressional protocol by not consulting Democratic leaders about the invitation, but the timing of the speech – coming just a few weeks ahead of Israel's contentious national elections – hints that politics are at play." ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "Netanyahu's office has tried to paper over the confrontation by calling the congressional invitation bipartisan. But Democrats were quick to note that is not true. Even American Jewish groups who seldom allow any daylight between themselves and the Israeli government appear shocked by Netanyahu's move and are having difficulty defended it."

Gail Collins on the sinking of the House's showboat anti-abortion bill. "'I’m going to need your help to find a way out of this definitional problem with rape,' Senator Lindsey Graham told the anti-abortion marchers. This was four days after Graham announced that he was considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination. It’s very possible that the phrase 'this definitional problem with rape' will last longer than his candidacy." CW: Yes, indeedy, Brother Lindsey is nudging his way into "legitimate rape" territory. Still, as Collins writes, "If you truly believe that human life begins the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg, you can’t admit any exceptions. The only real debate is whether you get to impose your religious beliefs on the entire country."

Alec MacGillis of Slate: "Now that Republicans are in control of both chambers of Congress, the push to slay Obamacare by a thousand cuts is officially underway. But if the first stab is any indication, Republicans are going to need some sharper knives. On Thursday, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the new chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, convened a hearing on one of the measures Republicans have been championing as a means to undermine the Affordable Care Act: changing the way it defines full-time work." It didn't go well. “'This,' said [Patty] Murray [Wash.], the committee’s top Democrat, 'was a very good hearing.'” Read the whole post.

Jonathan Chait: "The Republican Party confidently and forthrightly rejects the firm conclusions of science on a major public-policy question. Isn’t that a completely disqualifying position?... Even if you agreed with everything else the Republicans stood for, how could a party so obviously unhinged be entrusted with power?" ...

... CW: The problem is that science doesn't comport with Republican objectives and beliefs. For instance, in Slate, Kathryn Kolbert cites a Texas case in which four of five of the state's "expert" witnesses had to recant their testimony when the judge discovered "their" reports were produced by a notorious anti-abortion junk scientist. The witnesses themselves were unfamiliar with the works they cited in their own testimony. Initially, both they & the state lied to cover up the involvement of the discredited "scientist." This is the same phenomenon we see in Republicans' rejection of mainstream economic research. It isn't that Republicans are too stupid to understand climate science or economics or any sort of empirical evidence (though of course some are); it's that they are so commited to serving their own -- and their donors' -- interests, that they feel no compunction about lying through their teeth, sometimes even to themselves.

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: Jorge Ramos, "the Walter Cronkite of Latino television," turns his critical attention from President Obama to Congressional Republicans over "deportation, deportation, deportation."

Adam Liptak & Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide a case on the constitutionality of the new combinations of lethal injection drugs that some states are using to execute prisoners and which critics say cause intense suffering."

Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: "The coming presidential contest is ushering in an epochal shift: the arrival of candidate-specific nonprofits, personalized vehicles for a politician's supporters to raise and spend unlimited cash — completely clandestinely. It is poised to yield a campaign season more dominated by secret money than any election since Watergate.... By raising money through 'social welfare' nonprofits, these not-yet-candidates [-- Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal & John Kasich] are avoiding disclosure of both their financiers and what, exactly, they are financing.... In other words, for the first time in a generation, there will be a clear avenue for America's richest to secretly spend an unchecked sum to choose their party's nominee for the White House." CW: Thanks, Supremes! ...

That these five justices persist in invalidating [campaign finance] regulations under a perverse and unwarranted interpretation of the First Amendment is, to be blunt, a travesty. These decisions will come to be counted as among the worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. -- Constitutional scholar Geoffrey Stone

... Sean McElwee & Liz Kennedy, in Salon, show another major way in which Citizens United has eroded democracy: "... Americans have very little voice in democracy, and increasingly feel that their government is not responsive. Low voting rates, particularly among the poor (far below average among OECD countries), are a symptom of our crisis of democracy. A recent poll finds that 54 percent of Americans who don’t vote say they don’t pay attention to politics because the political system is too corrupt."

Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Top Senate Republicans are considering gutting the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees — a move that could yield big rewards for whichever party controls the White House and Senate after 2016. The move, still in its early stages, reflects growing GOP confidence in its electoral prospects next year. But it could also have a major immediate impact if a justice such as 81-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down, making it far easier for President Barack Obama to get a replacement confirmed. The proposed change would expand on the dramatic move Democrats made in 2013, when they killed the 60-vote hurdle for executive branch nominations and almost all judicial nominees."

Dan Merida & Cassie Spodak of CNN: "Hillary Clinton did not have 65 Secret Service agents protecting her in Canada on Wednesday, a Secret Service source told CNN, despite a report from a Canadian radio station to the contrary." Drudge, the Weekly Standard & other conservative media picked up the false story.

Orrin Hatch -- Hypocrite of the Week. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is one of six Republican senators who joined an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to gut one of the core provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Yet the central claim of that brief — and, indeed, of the entire lawsuit — was rejected during the debate over the law by none other than Sen. Orrin Hatch.... In his brief..., Hatch claims that the law 'provides that premium subsidies are available only through an exchange established by a State'.... Yet..., back in 2010, Hatch co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed [in which he wrote,]

A third constitutional defect in this ObamaCare legislation is its command that states establish such things as benefit exchanges.... This is not a condition for receiving federal funds, which would still leave some kind of choice to the states.

... CW: Hatch's about-face is related to the GOP's general rejection of science. If what was once a fact becomes inconvenient, it's A-okay to pretend that a counterfact is accurate. As Krugman says, "Facts have a liberal bias." Ergo, for conservatives, objective facts can be so inconvenient they must be denied. Right Wing World is necessarily surreal. ...

     ... Update: Contributor Jack M. cites another good example of this phenomenon in today's comments: "See Frist, Bill in the matter of Terri Schiavo."

Presidential Race

All You Need to Know about the Republican Party in One Sentence. Take it Away, Benjy: Steve King "now stands to play a major role vetting the party’s next nominee." CW: It's official. The inmates have taken over the asylum.


Via Mediaite.When asked whether or not she would consider a run for president, the woman in the photo above said, "It doesn't have to be myself, but yes ... happy to drive that competition, because competition will make everyone better and produce more and be more candid regarding their solutions they will offer this country. I am very interested in that competitive process and, again, not necessarily me.” Palin will speak at Steve King's lovely get-together. With video. ...

... Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: "As you can see, the men are holding up a poster that reads 'FUC_ YOU, MICHAEL MOORE' with crosshairs replacing the Os, and the 'K' strangely missing from the first word (Why bother censoring yourself when you’re already going all-out?). She also autographed the poster.... For those curious, the man to the left is Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who also posted another picture of the same moment to his Facebook, asking fans to make it go viral." CW: Way to show you're "honorable," Dakota. I'm waiting for Jeb Bush to complain about the coarsening of the GOP nomination race.

Beyond the Beltway

German Lopez of Vox: "Protesters around the country are once again speaking out against racial disparities in police use of force in response to a video that shows two Bridgeton, New Jersey, officers shooting and killing a black man as he held his hands up. A dashboard camera recorded the encounter, including the moments police pulled over a car and shot and killed the passenger, 36-year-old Jerame Reid.... Between 2012 and 2014, [Officer Roger] Worley[, who is white] was involved in 23 uses of force and [Officer Braheme] Days[, who is black] in 11, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. Other officers in the Bridgeton Police Department were involved in more incidents of use of force. The Associated Press found Days and Worley were also the subjects of multiple complaints alleging abuses of power over the past two years, but all the complaints were dismissed."

Whazza Matta wid Hizzonor? Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: New York City "Mayor Bill de Blasio is not wavering in his support for Sheldon Silver. Asked by reporters at a gathering of mayors in Washington on Friday about his belief in the integrity of Mr. Silver, the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly who was arrested Thursday on corruption charges, Mr. de Blasio characterized his fellow Democrat as a staunch ally who had 'followed through on every commitment that he made' in pursuit of the mayor’s legislative agenda for New York City." CW: Yo, Bill. He's still a crook. Alleged, that is. Alleged.

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana was a bad idea, the state’s governor said Friday. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed the 2012 decision by voters to make pot legal, said the state still doesn’t fully know what the unintended consequences of the move will be."


Gripe o'the Day

How Not to Write a Comment

Marie, why haven't you posted articles that show that the family farm of Senator Ernst received almost a half million dollars in subsidies. I wonder if she hypocritically is against food stamps too. -- A Reality Chex Commenter

Make your comment to a Reality Chex post that is two days old and has nothing to do with the issue you're raising. That way, almost no one will read it. (I saw it only because Squarespace e-mailed it to me.)

Complain I'm not doing my job by failing to post something that is of interest to you.

Don't bother to share a link to the article or story you think I should have linked.

Don't bother to read the comment of a contributor who did have the decency to provide a link to a story you complain I didn't highlight.

Don't bother to read my response to the commenter, wherein I explained why I didn't think the story was helpful.

Don't bother to respond to me when I write you a personal e-mail detailing why I thought your comment was off-base.

Suggest that somebody else should find the answer to something you're "wondering" about when a one-stop Google search would answer your question.

Don't bother to apologize to the commenter who did post the link you wanted to see on Reality Chex.

Just be an all-around dick in two short sentences.

BTW, I see that Snopes has subsequently posted a rebuttal to the Ernst-Is-a-Farm-Subsidy-Freeloader meme. The Snopes writer agrees with me in toto.


The Commentariat -- Jan. 23, 2015

Tim Egan: "... if you look beyond capital gasbags, and consider the big ideas in Obama's [SOTU] speech, you can see the inevitability of his philosophy.... Eventually, if Obama's finish matches the flourish of the last two months, the United States will resemble the country he envisioned on Tuesday night. Long odds make for better endings." ...

... Greg Sargent: "To hear Republicans and conservatives tell it, the only two elections that mattered in the last decade were those that took place in 2010 and 2014. Thus, when President Obama, in his State of the Union address, took the extraordinarily brazen step of using the high-profile occasion to outline a series of proposals he and his party support, Republicans widely treated it as proof that Obama is ignoring What America Really Wants, which was supposedly laid out for all to see in the last election. Fortunately, this morning Gallup posted a piece recapping what its polling shows about what the American people actually think of the proposals Obama outlined. The key economic proposals, it turns out, have broad support."

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Senate on Thursday again voted to reject two measures related to the Keystone XL pipeline that declared that humans are a cause of climate change -- the second set of votes on the issue in two days. Senators are using the Keystone debate to argue over climate issues. The Democrats want to force their Republican colleagues to come out one way or another on whether they believe humans have a role in changes to the climate and the rise of global temperatures. Republicans telegraphed their intent to attack President Obama's climate policy agenda. Mr. Obama is expected to veto the underlying bill that would force federal approval of the Keystone pipeline and allow construction to begin. Still, the debate has led to the first Senate floor votes in eight years on climate change measures."

Week one, we had a Speaker election that didn't go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we spent a lot of time talking about deporting children, a conversation a lot of us didn't want to have. Week three, we're debating reportable rape and incest -- again, not an issue a lot of us wanted to have a conversation about. I just can't wait for week four. -- Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "Tens of thousands of Americans descended on Washington for the annual March For Life on Thursday only to see House Republicans melt down over their signature issue: abortion." ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "House Republicans struggled on Thursday to mend another unwelcome rift that threatens to tarnish their party's image with women and younger voters, shelving a contentious bill that would outlaw most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Party leaders, facing a revolt from Republican women members who objected that the legislation did not do enough to accommodate victims of rape, instead called a vote on a separate but more limited measure to forbid the use of taxpayer money for abortions. It passed 239 to 179, with only one Republican voting no. But the vote tally masked a divide so deep that some conservatives left the Capitol saying they did not know when Congress could take up the issue again, despite pledges from leaders in both chambers to do so now that Republicans controlled the House and the Senate." ...

... Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post: "Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said the [modified] legislation is 'nonsense' for many reasons, including its tax hike on small businesses. The bill 'penalizes small businesses that offer comprehensive health coverage to female employees,' Pingree said. 'It's just outrageous.'" CW: Who says Republicans won't raises taxes? ...

... Steve King Had the Perfect Solution! Ed Kilgore: "Remember when you hear that this fiasco was produced by a 'revolt of moderate Republicans' that Marsha Blackburn -- not a 'moderate' by any measurement -- was in the middle of it. Maybe she can have a discussion of the mess with Iowa's Steve King, whose Iowa Freedom Summit she is attending this weekend along with half the 2016 presidential field. King offered a way out of the 'reported rape' problem yesterday: 'I would not make exceptions for rape and incest, and then the reporting requirement would not be necessary.'" ...

... Gene Robinson: "There they go again. Given control of Congress and the chance to frame an economic agenda for the middle class, the first thing Republicans do is tie themselves in knots over ... abortion and rape.... It's important to understand that the 'Pain-Capable' bill was never anything more than an act of political fantasy. The only purpose of the planned vote was to create an 'event' that the annual antiabortion March for Life, held Thursday in Washington, could celebrate.... There is no generally accepted scientific basis for the premise of the 'Pain-Capable' bill. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said there is no legitimate research supporting the idea that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks."

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "... much press has been given to the notion that the women in the GOP caucus were afraid of the optics of this kind of bill being passed so early in congress, but I think the real reason they are balking is because it is a very extreme bill that is completely unnecessary, and folks who actually have and use their ladyparts might have a different idea how awful this bill is than some southern male godbothering jackass." ...

... Erin Ryan of Jezebel: "Today, on the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade, let's take a moment to pause, reflect, and thank our lucky fucking stars that we have men like Lindsey Graham in Washington to bloviate about what's best for women's bodies." ...

... Scott Lemieux, in LGM, explains Roe v. Wade to the risible right. ...

... The White Man's Party, Ctd. James Downie of the Washington Post: During this week's SOTU address, & "Not for the first time, President Obama called for legislation 'that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.' Last year, when the president made the same call, both parties applauded. This year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and many Republicans stayed firmly in their seats.... It's tough to avoid the conclusion that many Republicans, including Boehner, simply care about female voters so little that they won't even go through the motions anymore of expressing 'support' for women. Already, though, the GOP is seeing the damage of ignoring women in its own caucus.... What should have been a smooth coordination with Thursday's big pro-life march in Washington collapsed into shambles.... If the party doesn't change its attitude, it will see the same disaster play out on a grander scale with female voters." ...

... Quit complaining, all you whiney-babies. The ladies are the problem. Ali Weinberg of ABC News: "Republican women candidates must fight the perception that they are more moderate than male primary opponents simply because they are female, a group of pollsters and Republican leaders said Wednesday morning. One of the most effective ways women can do this is to downplay attributes typically associated with females, including a penchant for compromise, they said."

Fernando Espuelas of Univision in a Hill opinion piece: "It's difficult to imagine how Republicans can be competitive in 2016 with a 'defend the wealthy and push down the middle class' message. As one prominent conservative thinker recently wrote, 'Republicans are likely to lose the 2016 presidential election" if the GOP is once again positioned as the water carrier for its wealthy donors and doesn't embrace a pro-middle class set of policies that addresses the serious drop in middle-class spending power that has occurred since President Reagan first experimented with trickle-down policies in the 1980s.'" ...

... CW: Wait, wait, Fernando. They get it. At least some in the GOP now know they have to pay lip service to the evils of growing inequality:

... Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Someone up the GOP food chain seems to have decided that inequality and poor people now belong in everyone's talking points, class warfare be damned.... For the 'compassionate conservatism' reboot to be convincing and guilt-alleviating this time around, though, Republicans need to offer strong anti-poverty proposals of their own. So far -- with the exception of Paul Ryan's plan last year -- we've mostly heard more of the same tax-cutting, deregulating shtick, whose relevance to inequality and poverty is tenuous at best." ...

... CW: Actually, Catherine, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) has a plan to help some poor people, especially minorities: lower the minimum wage. (I think maybe McClintock stole this excellent idea from advocate-for-the-poor Michele Bachmann):

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock said on Thursday that the minimum wage should not be raised because low pay was necessary for minorities and other unskilled workers who were not worth more than $7 an hour." CW: Edwards somewhat twists McClintock's words, but I don't see how you can read the sense of McClintock's remarks in any other way. He admits that $7/hour is not a living wage. But, hey, it's okay for minorities &, say, divorced women with children who have never worked outside the home before. Let 'em starve. ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Seriously, [McClintock] just swept 'minorities' into the hopper with teenagers and people who've never had a job as people who cannot possibly expect to be paid enough to raise a family and would be rendered 'permanently unemployable' if for some insane reason the government were to require companies to pay them family-supporting money." ...

... CW: Don't know why Clawson is so outraged. Why, at some lousy minimum wages jobs -- like the ones at a Virginia McDonald's franchise -- minorities allegedly can't get jobs at all. Because they don't "fit the profile" of these fine eateries:

... McRacist? Bruce Horovitz of USA Today: "Ten former McDonald's workers on Thursday filed a civil rights lawsuit against the fast-food giant -- alleging racism and sexual harassment -- in a case almost certain to test just how responsible McDonald's is for the actions of its franchisees. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges that the company last May simultaneously fired more than a dozen black workers who 'didn't fit the profile' desired at its restaurants. In the lawsuit, nine African-American workers and one Hispanic worker claim they were subjected to 'rampant racial and sexual harassment' by supervisors at three restaurants run by McDonald's franchisee Michael Simon, who operates Soweva Co. The workers also are claiming wrongful termination."

Rick Rojas of the New York Times: "A federal judge has decided to make permanent an injunction overturning Arizona's ban on issuing driver's licenses to young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and spared from deportation by President Obama in 2012. Judge David G. Campbell of Federal District Court issued the permanent injunction on Thursday, citing the 'irreparable harm' caused to the young immigrants by not being able to have a license under an executive order issued by former Gov. Jan Brewer. Ms. Brewer, a Republican who left office this month, argued that President Obama did not have the authority to act unilaterally in deferring deportations." ...

... CW: Looks like a mean-spirited governor "did not have the authority" to decide the Constitutional limits of presidential power. Funny that. The decision is very good news. Campbell is a Bush II appointee. As ACLU lawyer Dan Pochoda said (cited in Rojas' story), "I think it's effectively the end." It should never have begun. Let's hope Campbell's ruling discourages other governors & legislatures from punishing DREAMers.

** Roberts' Dilemma. Greg Sargent interviews Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe on King v. Burwell, the case before the Supreme Court in which the plaintiffs pretend that the ACA dictates that health insurance subsidies are available only to residents of states which have established their own insurance exchanges. Tribe: "There is a fundamental legal principle about not tricking and pulling the rug out from under states. The fact that there might be chaos in the insurance markets, as well as a serious disappointment of justified expectations on the part of states, all fit into a legal construct the Chief Justice believes in." ...

... Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times: "The people who could lose their health insurance as a result of a Supreme Court decision this year are predominantly white, Southern, employed and middle-aged, according to an Urban Institute analysis." CW: Um, in other words, the Republican base. Yet the GOP leadership is cheering the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, on the theory that if King wins, the Congress can repeal & replace the ACA with a big nothingburger. If the Supremes rule for King, I think the GOP has a problem, not an "opportunity," as Senate Leader McConnell claims.

John Bresnahan & Jake Sherman of Politico: "A liberal watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint against Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert alleging that he improperly used campaign funds to cover his expenses from a recent trip to London. In a filing with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) claims that Gohmert may have violated House rules by charging nearly $6,300 to his campaign account for the late November trip. Members are barred from using campaign funds to cover personal expenses.... Anne Weismann, CREW's interim executive director, [said,] 'I would note that [Federal Election Commission] rules might have permitted it, but House rules do not. The real issue here is who paid for it. Campaign funds were used for a trip that under no stretch of the imagination can you say is campaign related.'"

Paul Krugman: "... Europe's economy was wrecked in the name of responsibility. True, there have been times when being tough meant reducing deficits and resisting the temptation to print money. In a depressed economy, however, a balanced-budget fetish and a hard-money obsession are deeply irresponsible. Not only do they hurt the economy in the short run, they can -- and in Europe, have -- inflict long-run harm, damaging the economy's potential and driving it into a deflationary trap that's very hard to escape." Somebody e-mail this to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, please (see yesterday's Commentariat).

Dear U.S. Congressional Ignoramuses: Please, please, please, please give diplomacy with Iran a chance. Yours truly, Laurent Fabius, Philip Hammond, Frank-Walter Steinmeier & Federica Mogherini , the foreign ministers of France, Great Britain, Germany & the E.U., respectively, in a Washington Post op-ed ...

... Byron Tau of the Wall Street Journal: "Citing the need to remain neutral in the upcoming Israeli elections, the White House said President Barack Obama won't meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits in March. 'As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,' said ... a spokeswoman for the National Security Council." See also today's comments. ...

... Calev Ben-David of Bloomberg: "Israeli opposition lawmakers criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, calling it a blatant political move at the height of Israel's general election campaign.... The opposition Meretz Party said it would file a complaint with the Central Elections Committee demanding that it prohibit Israeli television and radio stations from broadcasting Netanyahu's congressional address. 'This is a blatant violation of campaign laws,' Meretz spokeswoman Aya Mizrachi said by phone." ...

... Charles Pierce: "This whole thing is a mess, a ludicrous misuse of the institutions of American government to throw sand in the gears of a policy initiative of which Netanyahu disapproves being formulated by a president of whom Boehner disapproves, and one that is placing a very large thumb on the scales of an Israeli election.... What Boehner's doing is an embarrassment to diplomacy and to the political processes both here and in Israel. Allies don't do this stuff."

... Paul Waldman gets real about the "unwavering" partnership of the U.S. & Israel: "For years we've had one party (the Republicans) that is fervently committed to the right-wing Likud's vision for Israel, and another party (the Democrats) that is much more committed to the Israeli Labor party's vision. When each holds the White House, they put those beliefs into policy. But both will say only that we all have a bipartisan commitment to 'support' the Jewish state, as though what 'support' means is always simple and clear."

Shahan Mufti, in the New Republic, doesn't say so, but he does show that Mohandas Gandhi & Pope Francis were on the same page. A thoughtful essay.

Presidential Race

Gary Langer of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton's potential place in history and her husband's tenure in the White House boost her presidential prospects, while Jeb Bush's political legacy and Mitt Romney's 2012 run for the office are negatives, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds. Clinton leads both in hypothetical head-to-head matchups at this early stage -- as well as Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee alike." ...

... Amie Parnes of the Hill: "Major donors are ready to announce huge financial commitments to Hillary Clinton as soon as she announces a second run for the White House, according to Clinton allies and Democratic fundraisers. The Clinton team wants to build excitement about her campaign launch, which is expected in March or April. The money blitz would be a show of Clinton's strength meant to scare away potential primary rivals."

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney did not emerge from a Salt Lake City meeting on Thursday with a proposal about how to reconcile their competing plans to run for the White House next year, advisers to both men indicated after the talk.... The meeting was cordial...." ...

... Guess I'll Have to Get out the Old Flip-Flops. Michelle Price of the AP: "Mitt Romney says one of the biggest challenges facing the country is climate change and that global solutions are needed to combat it." ...

... Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: "For Romney, this is his second about-face on climate change." ...

... Steve M.: "Mitt Romney's 2016 presidential campaign is now pretty much over.... He's a Republican with presidential ambitions, so I don't know what the hell's gotten into him.... Romney simply can't get the 2016 Republican nomination if he's saying that climate change is a problem that needs to be dealt with.... Maybe he'll flip-flop again on the climate. (Would you put that past him?) He'll have to, because this is going to be a litmus test in the 2016 primaries. And he's failing it." ...

... Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: "took one day for the party of climate change denial to rediscover science -- a few of them, anyway. Mitt Romney ... told a Utah audience, 'I'm one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that.'.... Then, 15 Republican senators voted in favor of a conservative climate amendment that said 'human activity contributes to climate change.' One of those senators was Rand Paul.... The 2016 GOP primary won't feature the climate-change debate that the country needs, but it step in the right direction -- away from ignorance, toward reason."

Jonathan Karl of ABC News: "Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned."

Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "The team that is building Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's political organization for a possible presidential campaign has brought on a GOP strategist with Iowa ties: David Polyansky..... Walker will be in Iowa Saturday as one of a couple dozen Republicans who will speak at U.S. Rep. Steve King's all-day Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines. [Mike] Huckabee and several other presidential-maybes are among the featured speakers." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Ed Kilgore is really looking forward to "the Steve King/Citizens United Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend in Des Moines." He borrows an analysis from the Iowa Republican on what each candidate needs to do at the summit to "ignite the passions" of attendees.

Senate Race

Christopher Cadelago of the Sacramento Bee: "Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said Thursday he will not be a candidate to succeed U.S. Senate Barbara Boxer and instead will continue his focus on helping fellow Democrats and working to reverse the effects of global climate change.... Steyer came to his decision after watching President Barack Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown give recent speeches in which they made protecting the environment a top priority. Steyer's exit from the field shifts attention to a possible run for governor in 2018, and more immediately to other potential Boxer successors such as former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has indicated he is looking closely at the Senate seat."

Beyond the Beltway

Shaila Dewan & Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "... interviews and recently released video and police records show how a series of miscommunications, tactical errors and institutional failures by the Cleveland police cascaded into one irreversible mistake": the shooting death of Tamir Rice by a young policeman.

Charles Pierce: Lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "released the answers from 1373 potential jurors who'd filled out questionnaires at the request of federal judge George O'Toole, who apparently is determined to hang onto this case with his teeth, if necessary. They found that nearly 70 percent of the respondents already believed Tsarnaev to be guilty of the offenses with which he is charged, offenses that could send him to the federal death house.... What this case needs is justice, reached in as cool and rational a manner as possible, and that is plainly impossible in Boston. What this case needs is a jury, which it is evidently impossible to seat in Boston."

** New York Times Editors: "As astonishing as it was to see Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York Assembly, surrender to the F.B.I. on corruption charges Thursday morning, it is even more incredible that he can choose to go on serving in his job while he defends himself against bribery and kickback charges involving millions of dollars."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Obama administration has been forced to suspend counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that abruptly eases pressure on al-Qaeda's most dangerous franchise.... U.S. officials said that the Yemeni security services that provided much of the intelligence that sustained [the] U.S. air campaign are now controlled by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized control of much of the capital."

AP: "Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine rejected a previously signed peace deal Friday and launched a new multipronged offensive against Ukrainian government troops, upending recent European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting." ...

... New York Times: "Unexpectedly, at the height of the Ukrainian winter, war has exploded anew on a half-dozen battered fronts across eastern Ukraine, accompanied by increasing evidence that Russian troops and Russian equipment have been pouring into the region again."

Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia's new king joined in prayers Friday before the simple burial of the country's late ruler, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, even as attention shifted to the new map of royal succession that puts a younger generation closer to the throne. King Salman acted quickly to clarify the top tier of the Saudi hierarchy, seeking to project stability and resolve at a time when the country faces challenges on multiple fronts, including threats from Islamist militants and a political breakdown in neighboring Yemen."

Washington Post: "In separate news conferences after [U.S. & Cuban officials met], at the end of their first round of talks Thursday, both sides pronounced it 'productive,' respectful and positive. But both acknowledged that 'profound differences' remain."

Wired: "Barrett Brown, who became a cause célèbre after he was charged with crimes related to the 2011 Stratfor hack, will not go free as his supporters hoped. He was sentenced [Thursday] in Texas to five years and three months in prison. Brown was facing a possible eight-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to two charges related to aiding-and-abetting and obstruction of justice and a separate charge involving threats he made to an FBI agent."