Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President spoke from the place where his political career first began in the Illinois State Senate ... [about] the state of American politics":

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 11

1:00 pm ET: NOBEL Women presents Girls, Gigabytes & Gadgets

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Saturday
Feb132016

The Commentariat -- Feb. 14, 2016

Gary Martin & Guillermo Contreras of the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News: "Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said. Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.... A federal official who asked not to be named said there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes." ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Justice Antonin Scalia, whose transformative legal theories, vivid writing and outsize personality made him a leader of a conservative intellectual renaissance in his three decades on the Supreme Court, was found dead on Saturday at a resort in West Texas, according to a statement from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. He was 79.... The cause of death was not immediately released." ...

... CW: My general policy, here & in life, is not to speak ill of the recently dead, out of respect for their families. I do not hold contributors to that standard. This courtesy does not extend to the deceased's philosophical allies, who even now must be conjuring conspiracy theories that place the cause of death upon a certain Kenyan-born emperor who should under no circumstances be allowed to appoint a successor. ...

... Mark Landler & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Within hours of Justice Scalia’s death, both sides began laying the groundwork for what could be a titanic confirmation struggle fueled by ideological interest groups. The surprise opening also jolted the presidential campaign hours before a Republican debate in South Carolina, shifting the conversation toward the priorities each candidate would have in making such a selection."

... The New York Times is running "live updates" of developments related to Justice Scalia's death. They should have thunk up another headline for the page. @8:48 pm ET: "President Obama, in his first public comments after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, announced that he would nominate a replacement, overriding Republicans’ contentions that any nomination should wait until after the next president takes office":

@7:22 pm: "Ben Carson, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, joined other members of his party in arguing that President Obama should not nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia."

     ... Daniel Victor @ 7:11 pm: "The Thurmond Rule — an unwritten rule, not legally binding — holds that a judicial nominee should not be confirmed in the months leading up to an election. It has its origins in June 1968, when Senator Strom Thurmond, Republican of South Carolina, blocked President Lyndon B. Johnson’s appointment of Justice Abe Fortas as chief justice." ...

     ...@ 7:03 pm: "Jeb Bush ... said on Saturday that Justice Antonin Scalia ... 'was my favorite justice'.... Mr. Bush declined to repeat calls made by other Republican candidates, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, for Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court to remain vacant until a new president was sworn into office in 2017.” ...

     ...@ 6:54 pm: "Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader and Democrat of Nevada, urged President Obama to nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia as soon as possible. Mr. Reid released a statement that forcefully pushed back at Republican arguments that the Supreme Court seat should remain vacant until after a new president was elected." ...

     ... @ 6:40 pm: "Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the Senate majority leader, backing the sentiments of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said in a statement that the next president, not President Obama, should appoint a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia." CW: I'd say we have a Constitutional crisis a'coming in our near future. ...

... Robert Barnes writes Justice Scalia's obituary for the Washington Post. ...

... The Washington Post also is running "live updates & reactions" to Justice Scalia's death. @ 8:15 pm ET: "... Hillary Clinton praised Scalia’s service to his country in a statement posted on Twitter, criticizing Republicans who in the hours since Scalia’s death have called for his replacement to be chosen by the next president." ...

     ... @ 8:12 pm: “'The president has said he will send a nominee to the Senate,' Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, told The Post a telephone interview Saturday night." ...

... Robert Barnes: "The death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday plunged the Supreme Court and the nation’s politics into turmoil, and an immediate partisan battle began over whether President Obama should be allowed to nominate his successor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that the Senate controlled by his party should not confirm a replacement for Scalia until after the election.... Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, joined [Minority Leader Harry] Reid [D-Nev.] in saying that the court should not go a year without a full array of justices.... Scalia’s shocking death also creates doubt about the outcome of a Supreme Court term that was filled with some of the most controversial issues facing the nation: abortion, affirmative action, the rights of religious objectors to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s powers on immigration and deportation.

[Justice Scalia] died while on a hunting trip in Texas. The Supreme Court did not reveal the cause of death. The Associated Press reported that Scalia died at a private residence in the Big Bend area of West Texas. The service’s spokeswoman, Donna Sellers, says Scalia had retired for the evening and was found dead Saturday morning after he did not appear for breakfast. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. officially announced Scalia’s death after it was reported by news outlets in Texas. ...

... Tom Goldstein of ScotusBlog has more on "what happens to this [Supreme Court] term's cases.... Votes that the Justice cast in cases that have not been publicly decided are void.  Of course, if Justice Scalia’s vote was not necessary to the outcome – for example, if he was in the dissent or if the majority included more than five Justices – then the case will still be decided, only by an eight-member Court."

... Rick Hasen: "... this is the moment. It is the beginning of the most important civil rights debate of our time." ...

... Steve M.: "... Republicans are largely going to have message discipline. Many of them are going to argue, in all seriousness, that Obama is a lame duck, and therefore not really president, so he should let the next president replace Scalia. They'll say that we're in the midst of a campaign to choose his successor, so even offering up a nominee would be the height of arrogance. The Constitution says nothing of the sort, but these self-styled worshipers of our founding documents will talk as if Obama is betraying American values just by doing his job."

... Benjamin Mullin of Poynter: "How the San Antonio Express-News broke news of Scalia’s death."

Presidential Race

Kevin Drum: The death of Justice Scalia has created what now will be "the most important issue in the presidential campaign. Appointing Supreme Court justices has always been one of the biggest reasons to care about who wins in November, but it's stayed mostly under the radar until now. No longer. Both sides will go ballistic over this, and the Supreme Court will suddenly seem like the most vital presidential power ever. If you thought things were getting nasty before this, just wait. You ain't seen nothing yet."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "The Republican presidential candidates faced off Saturday night in a contentious final debate before next week’s South Carolina primary, sparring about immigration and foreign policy and attacking one another personally in an affair that verged on mean-spirited." CW: Cruz, Trump & Rubio called each other (& George W. Bush) liars -- nice soundbytes for the general election. And of course, they're all right; they are liars. ...

... Ted Cruz is such a good debater, he can rebut Marco Rubio in a language Marco says Ted doesn't speak:

     ... Cruz has said his mastery of Spanish "is lousy."

... Philip Rucker & Jenna Johnson the Washington Post: "The six remaining Republican presidential candidates sparred with ferocity over U.S. foreign policy in a debate here Saturday night, with front-runner Donald Trump savaging former president George W. Bush’s intervention in Iraq, which helped spawn more than a decade of instability in the Middle East."

Alan Rappeport: "The two-hour [Republican] debate airs live on CBS beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern time." Rappeport reports on other ways to see or hear the debate. CW: I'll be damned if I join the virtual audience. ...

     ... CW: Apparently there is so little interest in the debate that none of the major U.S. newspapers is liveblogging it. Here's the Guardian's liveblog.

New York Times: "The Republican presidential candidates face off Saturday in Greenville, S.C., at 9 p.m. Eastern time, one week before the state’s primary. There will be one candidate fewer on stage because Gov. Chris Christie, whose debate performance one week ago blunted the momentum of Senator MarcoRubio, dropped out after the New Hampshire primary. We asked political reporters for The New York Times what they would be looking for in the debate...."

** Today's History Lesson. Ben Fountain of the Guardian on political hucksters Pappy O'Daniel & Joe McCarthy. For some strange reason, the Guardian also posts photos of Donald Trump & Ted Cruz within the text. (The Coen brothers moved O'Daniel to Mississippi & made O'Daniel's opponent the "broom-sweeping reformer"):

Oh, what the hell. Tim Blake Nelson & the Soggy Bottom Boys:



Steven Myers of the New York Times: "The State Department released 551 more emails from the personal server of Hillary Clinton on Saturday, including 84 with some or all of the messages blocked out because they contained information that has now been deemed classified. Three of those are classified 'secret.'” ...

... ** Maureen Dowd: "The interesting thing about the spectacle of older women trying to shame younger ones on behalf of Hillary is that Hillary and Bill killed the integrity of institutional feminism back in the ’90s — with the help of Albright and Steinem.... Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?... [Feminists have made an] ugly Faustian bargain with the Clintons, not only on the sex cover-ups but the money grabs: You can have our bright public service side as long as you accept our dark sketchy side. Young women today, though, are playing by a different set of rules. And they don’t like the Clintons setting themselves above the rules." ...

... CW: As any math-challenged cynic might say, I agree with Dowd A THOUSAND PERCENT!!!! It was not only Bill Clinton who betrayed feminists in the Lewinsky affair; it was also the powerful women, including his wife, who defended him.

Politics Makes Asses of the Finest People. The Very Finest Apologize. Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "John Lewis, the influential congressman who this week appeared to dismiss Bernie Sanders’ credentials on civil rights issues, has sought to soften the ensuing controversy over his remarks.... On Saturday, he said he had not meant to express doubt 'that Senator Sanders participated in the civil rights movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism'.... As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders was involved in the Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), of which Lewis was chairman. Sanders was also arrested while protesting.... Lewis also clarified a comment made on Thursday in which he said he had known Bill and Hillary Clinton in the civil rights era. Lewis said he 'did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s'.”

Friday
Feb122016

The Commentariat -- Feb. 13, 2016

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply.... The causes are still being investigated, but public health researchers say that deep declines in smoking among the affluent and educated may partly explain the difference.... Limited access to health care accounts for surprisingly few premature deaths in America, researchers have found.... The growing longevity gap means that benefits like Social Security are paid out even more disproportionately to the better-off, because they are around for more years to collect them." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Hiroko Tabuchi & Danielle Ivory of the New York Times: "As the safety crisis surrounding Takata’s airbags that are prone to rupture has mushroomed, the Japanese auto supplier has insisted that the propellant in its airbags is safe. But on Friday, testimony in a Florida court showed that Takata’s own engineers discarded evidence that may have shown otherwise as long as 16 years ago. As early as 2000, around the time the propellant, which includes a compound called ammonium nitrate, was introduced into Takata models, failures occurred during internal testing. But Takata altered its test data to hide the failures from its biggest customer, Honda, and a senior Takata executive ordered some of the evidence be discarded, the testimony said."

Presidential Race

No More Mrs. Nice Clinton. Jonathan Martin & Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: In South Carolina, "Hillary Clinton forcefully attacked Senator Bernie Sanders before a heavily black audience Friday, highlighting his criticism of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act and for what she suggested was a single-minded focus on economic fairness at the expense of racial justice.... Mrs. Clinton made clear that she intends to run in this state’s primary by effectively seeking Mr. Obama’s third term — and claiming Mr. Sanders would be a threat to the first black president’s accomplishments.... Separately, the 'super PAC' supporting her, Priorities USA, said it would begin running ads that Mrs. Clinton is the true heir to Mr. Obama’s legacy when it comes to helping blacks." ...

... Matea Gold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting [Hillary] Clinton, unleashed a $5 million infusion of spending on her behalf, upending plans to hold its fire until the general election. The move calls attention to growing concern within the party’s leadership that her campaign may be in trouble, and it underscores how crucial several upcoming contests have become in Clinton’s battle with [Bernie] Sanders.... In addition, the Democratic National Committee announced that it had rolled back restrictions introduced by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees. Both actions offer the potential for financial benefit for Clinton. But both also could backfire." ...

... CW: But remember, Hillary Clinton is not part of the establishment, because she's a woman. ...

... Madeleine Albright, in a New York Times op-ed: Dear Ditzy Girls, I'm a little bit sorry I told you to go to hell for supporting Bernie Sanders or any other male candidate for president, but you don't know what I've been through. P.S. For you Hillary-loving ladies, "there will always be a special place of honor." ...

... CW: Sorry, Madame Secretary, as apologies go, that was not an apology anyone but Ted Cruz would recognize. ...

... By her own account, Hillary Clinton & Henry Kissinger were best buds, & she relied on him for policy advice. Amy Chosick of the New York Times reports. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Dan Froomkin of the Intercept writes a shortcourse on the nefarious exploits of Henry Kissinger. Froomkin asserts that Hillary Clinton & the GOP candidates are "picking [foreign policy advisors] from essentially the same pool." ...

     ... CW: Froomkin writes one thing, to illustrate a point, that amused me: "Imagine two types of people: those who would schmooze with Kissinger at a cocktail party, and those who would spit in his eye. The elite Washington media is almost without exception in that first category." I once went to a small cocktail party where Kissinger was also a guest. Ergo, I can tell Froomkin from personal experience that there are at least three kinds of people at those cocktails parties: the ones like me who go out of their way to avoid Kissinger. But then at that particular party, which a European head-of-state also attended, I was on my good behavior. ...

... The Tampa Bay Times Editors endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. ...

... Dana Milbank: "Much of Hillary Clinton’s difficulty in this campaign stems from a single, unalterable fact: She is a woman." ...

... Yo, Dana, here's another example. Fashion Statement? Judy Kurtz of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton apparently sported the same mustard-colored yellow jacket to Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that she wore while photographed in 2014 next to the CEO of Goldman Sachs." CW: So how many times do you suppose a male politician has been criticized for wearing the same suit or tie to a lobbyist's event & a political event? Zero, you say?

... Charles Pierce: "The most heartbreaking part of the entire week was what happened when John Lewis, who happens to be the bravest living American, jumped into the increasingly pointless rhetorical slanging match that is the Democratic presidential nominating campaign. Lewis is a staunch supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton and good on him for that.  In voicing that support, however, he seemed to cast doubt on the veracity of Bernie Sanders's claim to have been involved in the civil rights movement back in the day.... He 'didn't see' Sanders at events? So what? I don't think Dr. King ever met Viola Liuzzo or James Chaney either."

Eric Levitz of New York: "Black Lives Matter was once a 'problem' for Bernie Sanders. Now the movement is Sanders’s strongest base of support in the African-American community.... [Hillary] Clinton has produced a series of endorsements from African-American leaders, including (most of) the Congressional Black Caucus. Sanders has gone virtually without endorsements from national Democrats of any color. But the protest candidate has fared far better among the leaders of the African-American community’s most vital protest movement." Even as Erica Garner, Eric Garner's daughter endorsed Sanders, her grandmother endorsed Hillary Clinton. "The split in the Garner family is representative of the generational divide in many Democratic groups":

... OR NOT. Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "A warm, welcoming African-American crowd [in Minneapolis] grew increasingly frustrated with Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday evening, complaining that he’s too scared to talk about specifically black issues.... The crowd and the panel grew lukewarm on Sanders, saying his focus on economic inequality looks past the entrenched problems they face as African-Americans." ...

... CW: By contrast, see Steven Shepard's Politico report on Hillary Clinton's speech to a largely-African-American audience in Denmark, South Carolina (an event also reported in the New York Times, linked above). It's pretty clear that Clinton knows how to tailor her speeches to her audience, while Sanders does not. Sanders' critics, including Clinton, are right. A rising tide does not lift all boats; women, minorities, the undereducated of all persuasions, get pushed into the leaky craft, where we must keep on bailing. Sanders says he knows that, & I believe he does, but he thinks he can get away with rushing through a few audience-friendly lines before launching into a standard stump speech that he feels covers all bases. It doesn't. The best way to deal with a hostile audience, BTW, is often to hear them out. Listening isn't Bernie's strong suit, either.


Gail Collins: "The run-up to this weekend’s Republican debate was greatly enlivened by the news that Amy Lindsay, an alum of 'Animal Lust' and 'Whose Thong Is It Anyway?,' was starring in a Cruz campaign ad.... When the official action begins, Marco Rubio will be careful to avoid repeating himself. But maybe we could have a little chime that rings every time he mentions that his parents were hard-working immigrants.... Jeb (“I am my own man”) Bush has been surrounding himself with so much family you’d think he was a von Trapp.... Donald Trump’s son Eric recently defended his father’s enthusiasm for waterboarding by saying it 'frankly is no different than what happens on college campuses in frat houses every day.'”

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The anti-tax group Club for Growth is beginning a $1.5 million advertising buy against Donald J. Trump in South Carolina, with a kitchen-sink-style spot that describes the real estate developer as a fake" (Also linked yesterday afternoon):

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "Donald Trump supporters have filed a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of ... Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to run for president. The lawsuit, filed Feb. 3 at a district court in Alabama, seeks a judgment 'declaring that Rafael Edward Cruz is ineligible to qualify/run/seek and be elected to the Office of the President of the United States of America' due to his Canadian birth." ...

... Eugene Scott of CNN: "Donald Trump on Friday threatened to sue Ted Cruz for 'not being a natural born citizen' if the Texas senator 'doesn't clean up his act' and stop running negative ads against him."

Screenshot from the first "Dumb & Doofus" bro flick. Doofus, played to type by Jeb!, is pictured on the left."Dumb & Doofus, Together Again." Watch Another Side-Splitting Performance When the Prodigal Returns. Philip Rucker & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "The 2016 campaign has bewildered and captivated George W. Bush.... In private and among friends, Bush and his wife, Laura, express amazement at an election season that has been hijacked by Donald Trump.... On Monday — Presidents’ Day — Bush ... is stepping back into the arena for an evening rally in North Charleston with his brother.... Monday’s rally will be [George] Bush’s first public appearance of this campaign.... If past is prologue, Trump will use Bush’s appearance as ammunition to torment Jeb. Last week in New Hampshire, Trump mocked Jeb for campaigning with his 90-year-old mother, Barbara Bush...."

Well, this is going to create unprecedented turmoil in the Republic presidential race: Jim Gilmore just suspended his campaign. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Senate Race

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday pressed Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) to drop his Senate bid amid scrutiny surrounding his hedge fund, according to a statement provided to The Hill. Reid challenged Grayson’s progressive credentials and criticized the Florida congressman’s 'moral compass' based on the recent reports about his fund." CW: I'm with Harry.

Beyond the Beltway

Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian: "The final four holdouts in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge appeared one by one in federal court Friday afternoon, a day after they surrendered to end a 41-day occupation of the federal bird sanctuary.... David Fry, 27, the last of the occupiers, was led into court wearing a thick full-length anti-suicide smock.... All pleaded not guilty to federal indictments charging each with one count of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their work at the wildlife sanctuary."

Way Beyond

Nick Miroff & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis landed [in Havana, Cuba,] Friday for an unprecedented encounter with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a meeting that bridged a nearly 1,000-year rift in Christianity but whose focus was expected to be the current turmoil in the Middle East. The brief talks between the pontiff and Patriarch Kirill — as they crossed paths at Havana’s airport — marked the first meeting between the religious leaders of the Vatican and Moscow since an 11th century Christian schism over papal authority and other disputes." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Thursday
Feb112016

The Commentariat -- Feb. 12, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Well, this is going to create unprecedented turmoil in the Republic presidential race: Jim Gilmore just suspended his campaign.

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply.... The causes are still being investigated, but public health researchers say that deep declines in smoking among the affluent and educated may partly explain the difference.... Limited access to health care accounts for surprisingly few premature deaths in America, researchers have found.... The growing longevity gap means that benefits like Social Security are paid out even more disproportionately to the better-off, because they are around for more years to collect them."

By her own account, Hillary Clinton & Henry Kissinger were best buds, & she relied on him for policy advice. Amy Chosick of the New York Times reports.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The anti-tax group Club for Growth is beginning a $1.5 million advertising buy against Donald J. Trump in South Carolina, with a kitchen-sink-style spot that describes the real estate developer as a fake":

Nick Miroff & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis landed [in Havana, Cuba,] Friday for an unprecedented encounter with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a meeting that bridged a nearly 1,000-year rift in Christianity but whose focus was expected to be the current turmoil in the Middle East. The brief talks between the pontiff and Patriarch Kirill — as they crossed paths at Havana’s airport — marked the first meeting between the religious leaders of the Vatican and Moscow since an 11th century Christian schism over papal authority and other disputes."

Presidential Race

When Debbie Was Right & I Was Wrong. ...

... The Bickersons. Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton ... repeatedly challenged the trillion-dollar policy plans of Bernie Sanders at their presidential debate on Thursday night and portrayed him as a big talker who needed to 'level' with voters about the difficulty of accomplishing his agenda.... Mrs. Clinton pounced from the start, after Mr. Sanders demurred in saying how much his proposals would increase the size of the federal government." ...

... Obama Obama Obama. Evan Halper & Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "Hillary Clinton sought to reboot her candidacy in a nationally televised Democratic debate Thursday night by closely aligning herself with President Obama and charging that her opponent is running on a one-note agenda. A calm, measured Clinton mentioned Obama's name 21 times during the two-hour debate. She chastised Sen. Bernie Sanders for criticizing Obama in language she said a Republican might use. And she tried to move past the Wall Street ties that have become the albatross of her campaign by warning voters that cleaning up campaign finance alone won't fix the country." ...

... Brian Beutler: "... in the debate’s closing moments, Hillary Clinton sharpened one of her most promising — yet fraught — appeals to the Democratic base. Clinton frequently portrays herself as President Obama’s natural heir. On Thursday night, for the first time, she effectively portrayed Bernie Sanders as one of President Obama’s most inconstant allies." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Time and again across a long, and occasionally tetchy, evening, Clinton sought to use the President as a shield to guard against Sanders’s blows, and as a sword with which to try and wound her opponent. At one point, she even accused Sanders of echoing Republican attacks on Obama — a claim that prompted Sanders to reply, Madame Secretary, that is a low blow.' Indeed it was. But these are low days for the Clinton campaign — and the race is now headed to Nevada and South Carolina, two states with a lot of minority voters, a group that thinks very highly of Obama." ...

... Jim Newell of Slate: "I am right now listening to the CNN post-debate commentary, and analyst Gloria Borger is describing this tactic as one the Clinton campaign considers 'helpful for South Carolina.' Oh? What she’s trying to say is: The Clinton campaign is talking so much about how great Obama is, and how mean Sanders is to Obama, because there are a lot of black voters in South Carolina. It is the most amusingly obvious campaign tactic since, say, Wednesday morning, when Sanders for whatever reason decided to meet with Al Sharpton in Harlem the day after the New Hampshire primary." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: “Henry Kissinger ... was the subject of the biggest fireworks of Thursday night’s debate in Milwaukee, which came after some 75 minutes of a mostly earnest, dry debate.... 'I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend,” Sanders declared, referring to Clinton’s praise for the former secretary of state during the last debate. Suddenly, all hell broke loose. In a surreal spectacle, Clinton — a child of the 1960s campus left and a leader of the nation’s liberal party — defended Kissinger, once a bogeyman to the Democratic Party. She tried to turn the argument back on Sanders, noting that he hadn’t managed to name who his own foreign-policy advisers are. He was ready: 'It ain’t Henry Kissinger,' he replied." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "There is no question, Clinton jumps hoops over Sanders when it comes to foreign policy. Where he is eloquent on most other subjects, he’s clearly sweating when the debates turn to the world outside our borders. Hence his constant retreat to the 2002 vote on Iraq and now her presumed guilt by association for secret decisions made between 1969 and 1972. Nonetheless, Clinton really should stop quoting the likes of Kissinger...." ...

... Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Facing off against Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday night, Hillary Clinton did not comport herself like someone who had just suffered a landslide loss in New Hampshire. She did not raise her voice or express anger. She did not demonize Mr. Sanders or suggest he would be a dangerous choice for Democrats. She remained calm as he pungently sought to highlight their differences." ...

     ... CW: I agree. I didn't watch much of the debate, but I did get the impression that in her delivery, Hillary followed the advice of Reality Chex contributors. Now let's see if we can get Bernie to modulate the volume. Drop the Howard Beale impression, Bernie. Remember, the Beale character was crazy. We've heard you speak in a conversational tone. We know you can do it. And we can hear you when you do.

... Jim Newell: During the debate, Hillary Clinton claimed she had nothing to do with & no knowledge of the superPACs that support her, & she repeatedly mentioned that superPACs supported our beloved President Obama, too. "The idea that there was Hillary Clinton just settin' up the ol' presidential campaign when along came this super PAC, unbeknownst to her, that decided to collect money on her behalf just for its own sake is risible. Support from Priorities USA, among other super PACs, was very much an effort on behalf of Clinton's team to get her elected. Clinton has even helped solicit donations for Priorities." ...

... Greg Sargent: At last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton opened a new front of sorts against Bernie Sanders when she made this closing argument." Sargent points to the strategic implications of Clinton's argument. CW: I don't think anyone, including Sanders, would disagree that many of the country's systemic problems have little or nothing to do with big banks & fatcats.

A Democratic presidential debate will begin at 9 pm ET Thursday. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times has details on where you can access it live on PBS, CNN & NPR. ...

... The New York Times liveblog is here.

Manu Raju & Ted Barrett of CNN: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Democratic race for president could drag on for months -- and possibly to the Democratic National Convention in July.... 'These races go on for a long long time,' Reid said. When asked if that included a brokered convention, he responded 'Sure, seriously some of the old conventions produced some good people.' Reid also said, 'It would be kind of fun.'" Raju's interview of Reid, which accompanies the story, is fun. Harry Reid is Harry Reid.

Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "Members of the Congressional Black Caucus launched a multi-pronged attack Thursday on Sen. Bernie Sanders as a false revolutionary who lacks strong ties to the black community. The influential African American elected officials are seeking to use their clout to boost Hillary Clinton.... They officially endorsed the former first lady inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington (though it was deemed an 'unofficial' event) and pledged to vigorously campaign for her in upcoming contests.... One key South Carolina Democrat did not attend the CBC PAC’s news conference. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the No. 3 House Democrat, has not endorsed a candidate.... Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a member of the CBC, accused the group Thursday of excluding him from its endorsement process." ...

... Lee Fang of the Intercept: "... the Congressional Black Caucus PAC [which endorsed Clinton Thursday] is not the same thing as the Congressional Black Caucus, which is made up of 46 members of Congress.... Ben Branch, the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, told The Intercept that his group made the decision after a vote from its 20-member board. The board includes 11 lobbyists, seven elected officials, and two officials who work for the PAC. Branch confirmed that the lobbyists were involved in the endorsement...." Read on.

... Hillary's War on Math: 80 = 60. John Ralston of the Ralston Report: “Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told NBC's Chuck Todd..., 'There’s an important Hispanic element to the Democratic caucus in Nevada. But it’s still a state that is 80 percent white voters....' 80 percent white? What? This canard was later repeated Wednesday by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.... And it was then repeated on a conference call.... I understand the desire of Team Clinton to lower expectations in Nevada.... But both Mook and Fallon know that 80 percent figure is ludicrous, and the attempt to make Nevada seem like Iowa and New Hampshire is a spin too far.... Nevada's Hispanic population is about 27 percent. African-Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders make up almost 10 percent each. That is, nearly half of the state's population is made up of minorities. The Democratic caucus population was 35 percent minority in 2008, according to exit polls, and is expected to be as high as 40 percent in 2016, according to local Democratic sources.” ...

... Tom Hamburger & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "Investigators with the State Department issued a subpoena to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation last fall seeking documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state, according to people familiar with the subpoena and written correspondence about it. The subpoena also asked for records related to Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who for six months in 2012 was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons." CW: The issuance of a subpoena suggests Hillary Clinton was not fully cooperating with investigators although it's possible the subpoena was a formality designed to absolve the Clintons of responsibility for turning over docs.

Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg: "Bernie Sanders’ pitch to Democrats is that all the new voters he'll energize will compel Congress to support the transformative programs they want.... The first tests are in, and the signs of a revolution at the ballot box are scant. Rather than a surge of the previously disaffected, Democratic turnout was down in the first two states to hold contests in the nomination race — by 28 percent in Iowa and 13 percent in New Hampshire."

... Driftglass says Bernie's ad producer "deserves a massive raise."

Steve M. learns that Confederate Democrat Jim Webb will not be running an independent race for the presidency. Steve thinks that's too bad, because Webb, although nominally a Democrat, would surely take more votes from the Republican candidate than from the Democratic nominee. CW: I don't know that Webb would have been a factor at all, tho as a former Virginia senator, he might have garnered enough votes in that important swing state to alter the outcome.


Tim Egan:
"... the most likely Republican nominees have left a precise guide of what they would do on Day One in office. From violating the Geneva Convention on war crimes and torture, to becoming a renegade nation on climate change and trade, to kicking millions of people off health care, it’s a hefty list of first-day promises."

Marco's "War on Math." Jonathan Chait: "The Tax Policy Center released on Thursday its analysis of Marco Rubio's ginormous-tax-cut plan. The figures are pretty staggering. Once fully in effect, Rubio’s plan would increase the budget deficit by almost a trillion dollars a year. Rubio’s tax cuts would overwhelmingly accrue to the rich. The highest-earning one percent would take home 40 percent of the benefit. The lowest-earning two-fifths of the country would see its income rise just over one percent from the Rubio tax cuts, while the richest one percent would see its income rise by almost 9 percent.... Naturally, Rubio’s campaign is disputing the validity of these numbers.... In total, Rubio promises an enormous tax cut, higher defense spending, no changes to Medicare or Social Security over the next decade, and a balanced budget.... But because these promises are so impossible, he can’t accept the legitimacy of standard budget accounting and must rely on fantasy promises of massive economic growth." ...

... Jordan Weissmann of Slate: "At this point, a Republican tax plan would not be a Republican tax plan if it weren’t a morally and mathematically risible giveaway to America’s wealthy. The latest reminder of this fact comes to us from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which Thursday released an assessment of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s especially plutocrat-friendly proposal."

How to Get the Catholic Vote. Alan Rappeport: "Donald J. Trump has a message for Pope Francis ahead of the pope’s trip to pray with migrants along the Mexican border: You don’t get it.... In an interview with the Fox Business Network on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate, who has proposed building a wall along the United States’s southern border, suggested that Francis was serving as a pawn of the Mexican government. 'I think that the pope is a very political person,' Mr. Trump said.... 'I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.'”

It’s $8 billion.… And of the 2,000 [miles], we don’t need 2,000, we need 1,000 because we have natural barriers, et cetera, et cetera, and I’m taking it price per square foot and a price per square, you know, per mile, and it’s a very simple calculation. I’m talking about precasts going up probably 35 to 40 feet up in the air. That’s high; that’s a real wall. -- Donald Trump, on the cost of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border (Feb. 9) 

... based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post: In 2002 (or thereabouts) Donald Trump "wanted to develop a weekly drama series based on his own life. The show, titled 'The Tower,' was to feature the adventures of a New York City developer who makes big deals, loves to win, and has set out to construct the tallest building in the world. Producers hired a Hollywood TV writer, Gay Walch, to create a pilot script for 'The Tower.'... Network executives said the script, like the overwhelming majority of pilots, never made it to TV because it wasn’t a compelling story." Embedded with the story is "a scene from NBC's pilot script, read ... by actors." CW: So the nightmare thru which Trump is now putting the country is little more than material for a more "compelling" story about an egomaniacal sociopath who runs for president.

Nick Gass of Politico: "Ted Cruz's campaign pulled a recent ad after it was discovered that one of the actresses featured in it has also appeared in softcore porn films. The 30-second ad..., which launched Thursday, is set during a group therapy session in which conservative voters talk about being double-crossed by Marco Rubio. The video was pulled from YouTube on Thursday evening. 'Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time,' the woman played by Amy Lindsay tells another group member. Lindsay's filmography includes titles such as 'Animal Lust,' 'Co-Ed Confidential' and 'Carnal Wishes.'" CW: Probably Driftglass wouldn't give Ted's adman "a massive raise." ...

     ... Andrew Kaczynski & Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed have embedded the Cruz ad. ...

... MEANWHILE. M.J. Lee of CNN: "Ted Cruz will launch his most forceful attack yet against Donald Trump in a TV ad that accuses Trump of buying political influence 'in a pattern of sleaze stretching back decades.' The 60-second spot, shared first with CNN, is part of a six-figure ad buy that will hit voters' TV screens across South Carolina starting as early as Thursday":

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: Just before Cruz started airing negative ads against Trump in South Carolina, the Trump campaign "abruptly" pulled an attack ad against Cruz. "Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, had made the decision to go with all positive spots beginning on Thursday." ...

He's watching you.... Cruz Control. The Creepiness of Ted Will Go to Your Head. Michael Biesecker & Julie Bykowicz of the AP: "Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has campaigned against government spying on law-abiding citizens, but his campaign is testing the limits with personal data from his supporters. His 'Cruz Crew' mobile app is designed to gather detailed information from users' phones — tracking their physical movements and mining contact information of friends. That information is fed into a database containing details about nearly every adult in the U.S. to build psychological profiles that target individual voters with uncanny accuracy. Data-mining to help candidates win elections has been increasingly used by both Republicans and Democrats. But The Associated Press found the Cruz campaign's app goes furthest to glean personal data."

Joanna Walters of the Guardian on John Kasich: "... behind the unassuming image is a track record in his home state of Ohio, where he is a second-term governor, that puts him a big step to the right of what many Americans would consider moderate. Within hours of his success in New Hampshire, fresh legislation was passed in Ohio that will further restrict access to abortion in a state where Kasich has signed every one of a series of anti-choice measures that has ever reached his desk. Across the state he has made an enemy of public sector unions, teachers and environmentalists with attacks on collective bargaining, cuts to funding of public schools alongside scandals in the charter school education sector, and enthusiastic support for oil and gas production via fracking – even though that has not brought as much prosperity to the state as some think." CW: And this doesn't even speak to his ignorance of sound federal fiscal policy. ...

It looks ... as if we’re still living in the economic era we entered in 2008 — an era of persistent weakness, in which deflation and depression, not inflation and deficits, are the key challenges. So how well do we think the various presidential wannabes would deal with those challenges? Well, on the Republican side, the answer is basically, God help us. Economic views on that side of the aisle range from fairly crazy to utterly crazy."

Other News

** David Sanger of the New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced that they had agreed on the delivery over the next few days of desperately needed aid to besieged Syrian cities, to be followed by a cease-fire that is supposed to clear the way for renewed peace talks. 'We have agreed to implement a nationwide cessation of hostilities in one week’s time,' Mr. Kerry said. 'That is ambitious.'”

Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading. The designation was requested by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who for a decade has sought to protect land that wasn't included in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. That measure covered nearly 7.6 million acres, elevated Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status and created the Mojave National Preserve."

Martha Mendoza of the AP: "A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law that has failed to keep products of forced and child labor out of America. An expose by The Associated Press last year found Thai companies ship seafood to the U.S. that was caught and processed by trapped and enslaved workers. AP tracked fish and shrimp from people locked in cages and factories to supply chains of top retailers and restaurants, from supermarket chains like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods to restaurants including Red Lobster."

Les Zaitz of the Oregonian describes the end of the siege of the Malheur Refuge. ...

... Here's an account by Carissa Wolf & others of the Washington Post: "After repeatedly threatening to shoot himself, complaining that he couldn’t get marijuana, and ranting about UFOs, drone strikes in Pakistan, leaking nuclear plants and the government 'chemically mutating people,' the last occupier, David Fry, 27, lit a cigarette, shouted 'Hallelujah' and walked out of his barricaded encampment into FBI custody." CW: Apparently there is a Constiutional right to free cannibis. ...

... The Oregonian is running a liveblog of developments at the Malheur Refuge stand-off. At 12:15 pm ET, it appears the married couple -- Sean & Sandy Anderson -- is surrendering; they have to walk about a half-mile from their hideyhole to the check-point. The page also has an embedded livefeed from KGW-TV. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update: "The four remaining occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered Thursday morning, bringing an end to the standoff on its 41st day. Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson and David Fry were taken into FBI custody. Fry was the last to surrender, finally emerging after an extended phone dialogue with supporters who tried for over an hour after the others left to get him to walk out." ...

... The New York Times story, by

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Matthew Lee of the AP: "The Obama administration opened a two-front campaign on Syria on Thursday with a push to end one war there and step up another. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scrambled in Germany to negotiate the timing and conditions for a cease-fire between the Syrian government and moderate rebels, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Belgium trying to rally new support for the fight against the Islamic State group. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia traded allegations over the bombing of civilian areas around the besieged city of Aleppo as fighting there intensified, further fueling fears of a mass exodus of refugees." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "An Iranian official said 'Republican rivals of the current US administration' attempted to stall last month's Iranian-U.S. prisoner swap until the eve of the U.S. presidential election, Tasnim News Agency reported.... The prisoner swap ... included Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and three other U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran, who were freed in exchange for the release of seven Iranians." CW: That's a pretty devastating charge.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: I know many Reality Chex readers are fans of Charles Pierce, & I admire the way he can often bring snark to a high art form. Moreover, the points of the snark are usually well-taken. BUT. I objected when he laughed off sexual abuse, to no avail, & I don't like it when he uses ethnic slurs to characterize minorities. Last week I would have linked one of his posts deriding Marco Rubio but again Pierce called Rubio "greasy," so I took a pass. Yesterday he went over the top: "The Rubio people should be selling this from in front of an abandoned gas station, along with boiled peanuts and a picture of Elvis on velvet." I doubt Pierce would acknowledge his bigotry; he probably isn't aware of it. He's one more guy who came up in an age when white men thought demeaning everybody else was funny, & he never outgrew it.

Senate Race

Why Can't We Get Better Politicians? Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "... emails and marketing documents obtained by The New York Times show the extent to which [Rep. Alan] Grayson’s [D.-Fla.] roles as a hedge fund manager and a member of Congress were intertwined, and how he promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business." Grayson is running for the Senate seat Marco Rubio is vacating. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Grayson's shenanigans.  (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Roll Call lists Grayson as the 12th-wealthiest member of Congress. The list includes both senators & representatives. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Alice Walton, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Nearly four months of environmental contamination and civic disruption in Porter Ranch came close to an end Thursday when work crews pierced the underground casing of the damaged Aliso Canyon gas well and started injecting it with a mud-like compound. 'The well is no longer leaking,' said Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity for Southern California Gas Co. The final step is for concrete to be pumped into the well, a process that could begin as soon as Friday, and for state regulatory officials to declare that the leak has ceased."

Sarah Nir of the New York Times: "A New York City police officer was convicted of manslaughter on Thursday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn for killing an unarmed man who was hit by a ricocheting bullet fired from the officer’s gun in the stairwell of a housing project. The officer, Peter Liang, and his partner were conducting a so-called vertical patrol on Nov. 20, 2014, inside the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn. At one point, Officer Liang opened a door into an unlighted stairwell and his gun went off. The bullet glanced off a wall and hit Akai Gurley, 28, who was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend, piercing his heart."

Wednesday
Feb102016

The Commentariat -- Feb. 11, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Matthew Lee of the AP: "The Obama administration opened a two-front campaign on Syria on Thursday with a push to end one war there and step up another. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scrambled in Germany to negotiate the timing and conditions for a cease-fire between the Syrian government and moderate rebels, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Belgium trying to rally new support for the fight against the Islamic State group. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia traded allegations over the bombing of civilian areas around the besieged city of Aleppo as fighting there intensified, further fueling fears of a mass exodus of refugees."

Michael Virtanen of the AP: "Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2 billion in a settlement over bank practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, including misrepresentations about the value of mortgage-backed securities, authorities announced Thursday. The nationwide settlement, negotiated by the working group appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012, says the bank acknowledges that it increased the acceptable risk levels for mortgage loans pooled and sold to investors without telling them. Loans with material defects were included, packaged into the securities and sold."

The Oregonian is running a liveblog of developments at the Malheur Refuge stand-off. At 12:15 pm ET, it appears the married couple -- Sean & Sandy Anderson -- is surrendering; they have to walk about a half-mile from their hideyhole to the check-point. The page also has an embedded livefeed from KGW-TV.

Why Can't We Get Better Politicians? Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "... emails and marketing documents obtained by The New York Times show the extent to which [Rep. Alan] Grayson's [D.-Fla.] roles as a hedge fund manager and a member of Congress were intertwined, and how he promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business." Grayson is running for the Senate seat Marco Rubio is vacating. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Grayson's shenanigans. ...

... Roll Call lists Grayson as the 12th-wealthiest member of Congress. The list includes both senators & representatives.

*****

AP: "President Barack Obama returned Wednesday to the Illinois capital where he launched his national political career and appealed for help ridding politics of 'polarization and meanness' that discourage participation in civic life. In an address to the Illinois General Assembly, Obama said he regretted his failure to apply to Washington politics the lessons he had learned about working across the political aisle as a state senator. Changing the tone is possible, he said, but it 'requires citizenship and a sense that we are one." (Also linked yesterday afternoon):

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on North Korea, in a bid aimed at forcing the international community to retaliate more strongly against the rogue nation after a series of worrisome moves."

Michael Schmidt & Sewell Chan of the New York Times: "NATO will deploy ships to the Aegean Sea in an attempt to stop smugglers moving migrants from Turkey to Greece, the military alliance's secretary general said on Thursday. The alliance will also enhance its surveillance of the Turkey-Syria border to monitor more closely the flow of migrants and the activities of smugglers, the secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said. Officials emphasized that the patrols would focus on deterring human trafficking, not on stopping refugees from trying to make the journey."

The Feds Have Had Enough of Your Crap

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "The Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday, less than a day after the city rejected an agreement to overhaul its beleaguered criminal justice system and address allegations of widespread abuses by its police department. 'Their decision leaves us no further choice,' Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said at a news conference announcing the suit.... In announcing the Justice Department's move, Ms. Lynch, who has a reputation for delivering impassive and guarded public remarks, was as animated as she has been in nearly a year as attorney general. 'The City of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they've turned backwards,' she said. 'They've chosen to live in the past.'"

Les Zaitz of the Oregonian: "Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch. Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m. He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer.... He also faces weapons charges." Bundy had intended to go to Burns, Oregon. ...

... Les Zaitz: "The FBI on Wednesday evening moved in on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, apparently placing armored vehicles around their camp. A friend of occupier David Fry was streaming on YouTube through an open phone line with the occupiers as authorities made what appeared to be a final push to end the 40-day old occupation. Besides David Fry, 27, of Ohio, the encampment includes Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada, and Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho." ...

     ... Update 10 pm PT: "The live stream that broadcast online what appears to be the last stage of the refuge occupation stopped after more than five hours. The phone feed ended as the occupiers headed to their night camp, preparing to surrender Thursday morning. They said they have a promise that the encircling FBI agents would leave them alone overnight." ...

... There's a rebroadcast of yesterday's livefeed here. And this seems like a different, earlier, portion of the livefeed. CW: Listening to a bit of it is riveting, in a sickening way. ...

... Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: "Negotiations were continuing into the evening, the F.B.I. said in a statement, and no shots, they said, had been fired. But in a live phone feed that was streaming on YouTube, with more than 20,000 listener/viewers, the occupiers said they believed the government agents had closed in to kill them. They said that they would not fire their weapons first, but that tear gas would be considered an attack that would justify shooting back."

Presidential Race

PBS is hosting a Democratic debate at 9:00 pm ET. Moderators will be Gwen Ifill & Judy Woodruff. The livestream will be here; the feed will begin at 8:30 pm ET.

Frank Rich on the New Hampshire primaries: "My guess is that these same [establishment] types -- including the opportunistic [Bill] Kristol, no doubt -- will start to shift back into Neville Chamberlain mode and look at the bright side of Trump again." Entertaining. ...

... Charles Pierce has fun reflecting upon the outcomes of the primaries. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: "... after Mrs. Clinton's overwhelming defeat in New Hampshire by Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday..., Nevada is looming as a turning point in their increasingly competitive contest, offering critical tests of the two candidates' strengths." ...

... Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "The race for the Democratic presidential nomination turned sharply Wednesday into a battle for Hispanic and African American voters, who are expected to play a decisive role in a long list of upcoming contests in Southern and Western states.... Making clear how crucial minority support will be, Sanders's first stop after leaving New Hampshire was in Harlem, where he met Wednesday morning with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Benjamin Jealous, the former head of the NAACP.... With a blast of announcements about endorsements, travel plans and more, the Clinton campaign sought to turn to subjects -- gun control, criminal justice, the water crisis in Flint, Mich. -- that speak to African American and blue-collar voters in the states that vote next." ...

... Susan Davis of NPR: "The morning after his New Hampshire primary victory, Bernie Sanders made a highly publicized visit to Harlem to dine with Al Sharpton, one of America's most prominent civil rights activists and media personalities. The two dined at Sylvia's, the same New York City restaurant where Sharpton huddled with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign." ...

... CW: Let us not forget this landmark dining moment at Sylvia's. Andrew Ironside of Media Matters (September 2007): "Discussing his recent dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, Bill O'Reilly reported that he 'couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.' O'Reilly added: 'There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."'" With video. I myself have enjoyed Sylvia's fried chicken, served by Sylvia herself, & I completely forgot to scream, "Motherfucker, I want more iced tea." Just shows how white I am. Bernie is from New York. Maybe he better handled the imagined O'Reilly protocol. ...

... "Stop Bernie-splaining to Black Voters." Charles Blow: "Tucked among all [the] Bernie-splaining by some supporters, it appears to me, is a not-so-subtle, not-so-innocuous savior syndrome and paternalistic patronage that I find so grossly offensive that it boggles the mind that such language should emanate from the mouths -- or keyboards -- of supposed progressives. But then I am reminded that the idea that black folks are infantile and must be told what to do and what to think is not confined by ideological barriers. The ideological difference is that one side prefers punishment and the other pity, and neither is a thing in which most black folks delight." ...

... Matea Gold & John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bernie Sanders took a few moments in his victory speech Tuesday night to make a small request of his supporters: 'Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it's 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks,' he said. The response was so overwhelming that his website buckled under the traffic. Between the close of polls and mid-afternoon Wednesday, his campaign brought in a record $5.2 million. Sanders is barreling out of New Hampshire in a position few anticipated when he first entered the 2016 White House contest: financially competitive with Hillary Clinton." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates, the award-winning writer who has become one of the nation's most influential voices on cultural and political issues, particularly touching on race relations, said Wednesday that he would be voting for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The decision by Mr. Coates, the recipient of a MacArthur 'genius grant' and ... winner of the National Book Award, came as something of a surprise: Last month, Mr. Coates, author of a widely read 2014 Atlantic essay, 'The Case for Reparations,' wrote two articles sharply criticizing Mr. Sanders over his opposition to reparations for slavery." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: Washington Post Editors criticize Sanders for supposedly proposing a policy they made up out of thin air: "We think forcing working people to subsidize, through their taxes, the college tuition of wealthier Americans is not a progressive policy...." Really? Sanders' free-tuition (for public universities) proposal, which he repeats ad nauseum, & which appears on his Website, "... is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago." No wonder the WashPo editors don't like Sanders; I don't like the policies they pretend he's proposed, either. They should issue a correction, but they won't. ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "President Barack Obama will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary, but there is no doubt where he is leaning, according to former White House press secretary Jay Carney. 'I think the president has signaled while still remaining neutral that he supports Secretary Clinton's candidacy and who prefer to see her as the nominee,' Carney said on CNN Wednesday following coverage of the president's speech to the Illinois state Senate in Springfield." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Annie Karni of Politico: "As she looks toward the more diverse March states, [Hillary] Clinton is putting a new focus on race. The first salvo came Wednesday, when African-American elected officials and civil rights leaders supporting her campaign participated in a conference call to raise questions about Sanders' record on gun violence and criminal justice reform.... On a conference call with African-American surrogates for Hillary Clinton, civil rights leader and former NAACP president Hazel Dukes dismissed the significance of Bernie Sanders' participation in the March on Washington in 1963.... New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters on the call that ... 'When you match up the record of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, there simply is no comparison.... She's been at the dance from the beginning of her career.' In contrast, 'Sanders has been missing in action on issues of importance to the African American community,' Jeffries said, characterizing him as 'a new arrival to the dance ... at the twilight of his career.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "On Thursday morning, the [Congressional Black Caucus's] leaders said they will appear at a club adjacent to the Democratic National Committee to formally endorse Clinton for president, through the CBC political action committee. The group will then disperse its African-American lawmakers to states where black voters are crucial, particularly in South Carolina's Democratic primary on Feb. 27." ...

... Susan Page of USA Today: "Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most influential Democratic officeholder in South Carolina, says he'll 'huddle' with his family to decide this weekend whether to make an endorsement in the presidential race -- a move that could help shape the race in a state Hillary Clinton's campaign views as a crucial firewall." Page's interview of Clyburn, which accompanies the story, is worth hearing. He's a mightily talented politician. ...

Contributor Nancy points to a post Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wrote last week in which he asserts that Bill & Hillary Clinton have gone over to "the other side of the ropeline"; that is, they're one with Wall Street. Taibbi backs up his assertion with anecdotal evidence.

... ** Michelle Alexander of the Nation: "... Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote. From the crime bill to welfare reform, policies Bill Clinton enacted -- and Hillary Clinton supported -- decimated black America.... [President Bill Clinton] capitulated entirely to the right-wing backlash against the civil-rights movement and embraced former president Ronald Reagan's agenda on race, crime, welfare, and taxes -- ultimately doing more harm to black communities than Reagan ever did.... By the end of Clinton's presidency, more than half of working-age African-American men in many large urban areas were saddled with criminal records and subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and basic public benefits -- relegated to a permanent second-class status eerily reminiscent of Jim Crow....If you listen closely here, you'll notice that Hillary Clinton is still singing the same old tune in a slightly different key." CW: I think Anderson somewhat overstates her case, but it is nonetheless a strong case. ...

... Gail Collins: "If the younger voters who are flocking to Bernie Sanders don't share their elders' intense feelings about needing to elect a woman president right now, it's partly because Hillary Clinton helped create a different world. So no matter what comes next, everybody's a winner." ...

... CW: Steve Kornacki of MSNBC is too polite to say so, but in his comparison of the demographics of the 2008 & 2016 New Hampshire Democratic primaries, one can see how Democrats vote when their racism isn't showing. We had a brief discussion in yesterday's Comments about whether or not Sanders' Jewish heritage could be a factor in a general election. I thought maybe not so much, but the New Hampshire results make me think that the nearly-even Clinton/Sanders split in the Iowa Democratic caucuses did indeed reflect a religious/ethnic bias. In the Iowa exit poll interviews, Clinton beat Sanders as the candidate who most closely "shared my values." That certainly sounds like code for "Christian!" ...

     ... P.S. It occurs to me that religion may play a role in the minority vote, too: both black & Latino voters have, on the whole, strong Christian affiliations. As Greg Sargent points out this morning, "... the Clinton campaign is aggressively pursuing a strategy that depends in part on the support of influential black pastors, an approach Bill Clinton relied on in 1992." ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker: "... in New Hampshire, the rare demographic group [Clinton] won was those with incomes of more than two hundred thousand dollars a year. For now, at least, Clinton has become the wine-track candidate." CW: If that's how the cookie crumbles as the campaigns move forward, Clinton would be going into the general election as the candidate of the rich; obviously that's ironic in view of the policies of whoever her opponent might be. ...

... ** Robert Parry of Common Dreams provides a very useful shortcourse on the history of Democratic primary battles. Bottom line, especially when read alongside Martin Longman's post, linked below: we the people are screwed. ...

... The Establishment's Votes Count Way More than Yours. Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly gets real: "As of right now, with 92% of the vote reporting, Bernie Sanders is projected to have won 13 delegates from New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton is projected to have won nine. There are still two delegates left to be allocated.... But ... even winning 60% of the vote, he barely scratched the surface of Clinton's lead, which thanks to superdelegates currently stands at 394-42. The same proportional rules that make it impossible for Clinton to put Sanders away also make it nearly impossible for Sanders to overcome a 350 delegate deficit."

Anthony Gaughan, in the Raw Story: "Above all, the fact that a socialist won the New Hampshire Democratic primary and a billionaire won the GOP primary demonstrates that the two parties are headed in profoundly different directions. Polarization is shaping the 2016 presidential campaign in unpredictable ways as Americans grow ever more divided."

Ed O'Keefe, et al., of the Washington Post: South Carolina, "a state known for its nasty political brawls, is about to host an epic one, pitting a foul-mouthed celebrity billionaire against a band of senators and governors scrapping to challenge him. The Republican presidential candidates arrived here Wednesday ready for 10 days of combat.... Since Tuesday's New Hampshire primary failed to deliver much certainty, the Palmetto State's GOP primary on Feb. 20 could prove determinative for a trio of candidates vying to become the GOP establishment's consensus alternative to front-runner Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas." ...

... Digby, in Salon: "... it's a good bet that the GOP race is going to come down to either an authoritarian white nationalist or a far-right zealot. And the authoritarian white nationalist, the man who has convinced over two thirds of Republicans in New Hampshire that we need to ban Muslims from America, is the most likely winner. This is no longer a bizarre spectacle. It's a horror movie." ...

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "... New Hampshire’s failure to sweep away the also-rans dramatically increases the odds that the Republican nomination process will end with Trump as the G.O.P. nominee.... No Republican candidate who has won a gold and a silver in the first two states has ever lost the G.O.P. nomination.... As long as Cruz, Kasich, Bush, and Rubio stay in, they will divide a sizable chunk of the vote that could be consolidated against Trump, and Trump will be able to collect delegates with his thirty- to forty-per-cent share." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Among those shocked by Donald Trump's runaway victory in the New Hampshire primary was Eric Cantor, who had just a few weeks before made a bet that Trump would fail to win a single primary. The experience of being shocked should not come as a shock to Cantor. In 2010, Cantor invested some $15,000 in a fund that bet on higher inflation, which was widely predicted by conservatives at the time but utterly failed to come about. In 2014, he lost his primary despite internal polling that showed him 34 points ahead, and admitted he was 'absolutely' shocked by the defeat.... People who want to bet their money on Cantor's ability to see the future" can find him at his investment firm, advising wealthy people on what the future holds. CW: Love the accompanying photo of Cantor, adjusting his glasses in such a way as to remind potential investors that he is (a) a very smart guy (b) who can see into the future. My dart board would be a better advisor on picking stocks & bonds. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Steve Peoples of the AP: "The best hope of the Republican establishment just a week ago, Marco Rubio suddenly faces a path to his party's presidential nomination that could require a brokered national convention. That's according to Rubio's campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, who told The Associated Press that this week's disappointing performance in New Hampshire will extend the Republican nomination fight for another three months, if not longer." ...

... Marco Marco Marco Knew Christie Was on the Attack. Jeremy Peters & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Mr. Christie had not just telegraphed the coming attack, he directly forewarned Mr. Rubio backstage on Saturday night as the two men waited for their names to be called by the ABC News moderators. 'I understand I am going to have a hard time tonight,' Mr. Rubio playfully told Mr. Christie. 'Yes, you are,' Mr. Christie replied, according to three people to whom he recounted the conversation. Todd Harris, a senior Rubio adviser, called the conversation 'completely fabricated.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... BUT Now Marco Marco Marco Is "Funny, Unscripted & Human." Jeremy Peters: "Senator Marco Rubio of Florida ... took questions from reporters aboard his charter flight to South Carolina for nearly 45 minutes.... As he spoke, he made it clear that he was entering a new phase of his campaign, one less burdened by the caution and message discipline that have made him seem mechanical and scripted at times." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... "Control-Alt-Delete." Michael Crowley of Politico: "... the freewheeling Rubio who appeared for reporters on his campaign plane was gone once he disembarked and walked in front of voters in South Carolina. Rubio stuck to his standard script at two events. (He skipped a third event to return to Washington for a Senate vote on North Korea sanctions and, he said, to catch up on classified briefings.)... It was unclear whether the charge that Rubio is robotic would dog him here (although two young men in cardboard 'Marco Roboto' costumes posed for photos outside his first event)."

CW: Dana Milbank makes a point I mentioned yesterday: Jeb!'s prospects aren't necessarily dead: "Only in the bizarre world of politics would Bush's fourth-place finish in New Hampshire be considered good news: His millions of dollars got him only 31,160 votes, or 11 percent of the total. But considering that Bush was ready for embalming before Tuesday night, the notion that Jeb is not dead is noteworthy. At the very least, he lives to be awkward another day.... Republicans, at least until the age of Trump, have shown a tendency to select the most obvious candidate after exhausting all other possibilities. For better or worse, that would be Jeb." Milbank writes that Bush is now totally energized & suddenly comfortable in his [WASPy white establishment] skin. ...

... David Korn of Mother Jones: "South Carolina has a history of below-the-belt politics, and the Bush family has been part of that. (See the 2000 GOP primary campaign, when the George W. Bush camp slimed John McCain to defeat.) The Bush clan knows how to get dirty in South Carolina. Regardless of what happens with Trump and Cruz, a Bush-Kasich brawl could well be the main event."

Alexander Burns & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a once-commanding figure in the Republican Party who struggled to attract support for his presidential campaign but unsettled the race with his strident attacks on Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, ended his run for the White House on Wednesday. The decision came a day after Mr. Christie came in sixth in the New Hampshire primary, an embarrassing result after he had focused the bulk of his campaign's efforts on the state. He was also facing the prospect of being left out of the group that will take the stage at the Republican debate on Saturday because of his poor showings in the Iowa caucuses last week and in New Hampshire on Tuesday." ...

... Matt Arco & Claude Brodesser-Akner of the Star-Ledger list "25 reasons Chris Christie's presidential campaign tanked." CW: P.S. Welcome home, Gov. Chrisco. ...

...Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "... Donald Trump says fellow GOP primary candidate Chris Christie called him after Tuesday night's New Hampshire primary to have a 'long talk.' Asked whether he would seek Christie's endorsement if the New Jersey governor drops out of the race, Trump praised Christie for his performance at last week's GOP primary debate. 'I think that Chris did an amazing job in terms of the debate, as a prosecutor, and he's a friend of mine, Trump said early Wednesday on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.'" ...

... Anne Laurie of Balloon Juice: "Fortunately, by shivving Rubio so effectively, [Christie] should've guaranteed himself a nice cushy schedule of private planes and high-dollar hotel rooms while backing up either Trump or Jeb for the next few months." CW: As you may recall, Christie has a long history of partaking of luxury travel & accommodations paid for by others (including taxpayers). He'd be in his element in one of Trump's 24-karat-gold-plated private jet(s):

     ... Given all that, I don't see how poor Jeb!, with his cheesy rent-a-planes has a shot at a Christie endorsement.

     ... P.S. When our lovely hostess tour guide refers to a "dive-in," she means "divan" (dəˈvan).

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "... Carly Fiorina dropped out of the 2016 [presidential] contest on Wednesday, ending a campaign that failed to enlist enough support despite Republican voters' clear preference for a Washington outsider this cycle. I've said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I'm not going to start now,' the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said in a statement. 'While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.'" CW: With any luck, the media won't cover her travels & fights. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Driftglass Welcomes Michael Bloomberg: "... who better to step in out of the Beltway pundit's magic Centrist unicorn dreams and into the race... Who better to dump another shit-ton of money into a race already choking on the fumes of burning piles of cash...Who better to grab both the unruly anti-Wall Street Democrats and the unhinged, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant wingnut rabble by the scruff of the neck and tell them all to STFU and fall in line... than yet another New York billionaire!" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Donna St. George, et al., of the Washington Post: "An investigation into child pornography at a Prince George's County[, Maryland,] school broadened Wednesday as officials interviewed more than two dozen families, placed the principal on leave and examined whether any policies on reporting child abuse were breached. But officials offered few new details about how an unpaid library volunteer in suburban Maryland allegedly managed to make videos of children performing sex acts on school grounds during school hours.... Deonte Carraway, 22, of Glenarden has been charged with 10 counts of felony child pornography and related charges. He has admitted creating the videos, in which he sometimes can be seen or heard directing children between 9 and 13 years old to perform various sexual acts, police said." CW: Words fail me.

Marcus Gilmer of Mashable: "The City of Cleveland has filed a claim against the estate of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014. It asks for for $500 to cover 'ambulance advance life support' and other medical expenses, including mileage, related to Rice's ride to the hospital the day he was shot."

Tony Barboza & Dan Weikel of the Los Angeles Times: "The California Coastal Commission fired its executive director Wednesday -- a decision made despite an overwhelming show of public support for the land use agency's top official. The panel disclosed that it voted 7 to 5 in a private session to dismiss Charles Lester, touching off an emotional scene unique in the agency's 44-year history."

News Lede

AP: "Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole Wednesday for fatally shooting Robert F. Kennedy after a confidante of the slain senator who was shot in the head forgave him and repeatedly apologized for not doing more to win his release. Paul Schrade's voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony on his efforts to untangle mysteries about the events of June 5, 1968. The 91-year-old former labor leader said he believed Sirhan shot him but that a second unidentified shooter felled Kennedy."