The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, July 31, 2015.

AP: "Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, defeating the bid from Almaty[,Kazakhstan,] in a surprisingly close vote to become the first city awarded both the winter and summer games."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 31

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing with Energy Secretary Ernest Munoz

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes. ...

     ... UPDATE: Turns out the university's president is biased against the bias-free language guide & he was unaware of its existence until this week. Also, a Republican state legislator is "outraged" & finds the guide a good excuse to cut funding for the state university. Naturally. Thanks to MAG for the lead.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

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Friday
Jul312015

The Commentariat -- August 1, 2015

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations were headed toward failure Friday, with difficult talks on the largest regional trade agreement ever breaking down over protections for pharmaceutical companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific. Negotiators will return to their home countries to obtain high-level signoffs for a small number of final sticking points on the agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with bilateral talks reconvening soon. But the breakdown is a setback for the Obama administration, which had promoted the talks here as the final round ahead of an accord...."

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "The White House and allied groups are preparing a robust campaign to protect President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran during August recess.... As a method of persuasion, organizers are choosing a two-pronged message. The vote, they will argue, is not just a choice between war and peace; it is also a moment that could torpedo careers years after the fact. 'This is comparable to the Iraq War resolution vote,' said Zack Malitz, campaign manager at CREDO Action, echoing the group's message to lawmakers. 'If you vote the wrong way, it will haunt you for the rest of your career.'" (Hillary Clinton.) ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz appeared to break with President Obama on Friday, by denying that congressional Democrats are getting 'squishy' on the nuclear deal with Iran. Instead, Moniz appeared confident the deal would avoid a death knell on Capitol Hill and would go into effect later this year. 'Squishy? I wouldn’t use that term,' Moniz told reporters at the White House."

Burgess Everett & Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "Republicans are rallying behind a bare-knuckle strategy to strip Planned Parenthood’s government support via a must-pass fall spending bill, a momentum shift that dramatically increases the chances of a government shutdown fight this fall. What started out as a push from socially conservative firebrands like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 18 House members on Wednesday, is spreading to include more centrist members of the Senate GOP. On Thursday, Arizona Republican John McCain, who often tacks to the middle in the Senate, not only backed a plan to link Planned Parenthood defunding with spending legislation, he suggested the move was inevitable.... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has scheduled a standalone vote on defunding the organization for next week, but it will fail amid Democratic resistance and may only temporarily satisfy the party’s right flank." ...

... Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fast-tracked a bill to defund Planned Parenthood on Friday because of an undercover video of a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the donation of fetal tissue after abortions. But McConnell was one of many Republicans who voted to lift a ban on fetal tissue donations after abortions in 1993 -- the very move that legalized Planned Parenthood's actions." ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "By they way, McCain supported federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, so this must just be him being all mavericky again." ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "A budget measure that strips funding from [Planned Parenthood] 'is certainly something that would draw a presidential veto,' press secretary Josh Earnest said. 'We have routinely opposed the inclusion of ideologically driven riders' in budget bills, Earnest added." ...

... ** Mark Stern of Slate: "Stem cells hold terrific promise for the treatment — and, eventually, the defeat — of ALS. The most useful stem cells are found in fertilized embryos and fetuses, where they haven’t yet developed into specialized cells.... The first Food and Drug Administration–approved clinical trials to treat ALS with fetal stem cells are already underway. Any treatment derived from fetal tissue is many years away at best, but the early research has been a success.... One of the many discoveries researchers made in preparing for the first trial was that fetal stem cells seemed to be the best stem cells for ALS treatment.... a woman’s decision to donate her aborted fetus to medical research — and Planned Parenthood’s willingness to transfer the fetal material — is deeply commendable." ...

... Dana Milbank: Senate Republicans have a plan to increase the number of abortions. "There already is a ban on federal funding of abortion, with rare exceptions, at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. The federal funds Senate Republicans propose taking away from Planned Parenthood are used largely to provide women with birth control.... If Planned Parenthood were denied funding, this means hundreds of thousands of women, if not millions, would over time lose access to birth control." CW: I find a lot to object to in Milbank's column, but his central point -- that Senate Repubicans' overreaction to the sting videos would result in more abortions -- is accurate. ...

... CW: The thread running through all of this is the insane, depraved disregard for human life -- of women, of their male partners, of their families, & of course of people who suffer from or who will later contract debilitating illnesses that embryonic & fetal cell research & treatment has the potential to mitigate or cure. To what end this appalling reckless indifference? Rand Paul gains a percentage point in the GOP presidential polls? Ted Cruz applies this cause in yet another fundraising letter?

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "The Justice Department said Friday that the juvenile justice system in St. Louis County, Mo., treats black youths far more harshly than whites, and deprives all low-income youths accused of crimes — no matter what race — of their basic constitutional rights. Youths from poorer families who are accused of crimes get little or no chance to challenge their detention, dispute the charges against them, or receive meaningful help from lawyers, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division reported after a 20-month investigation. Its report is based on data on 33,000 cases over three years."

Anne Blythe of the Raleigh News & Observer: "U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder interrupted attorneys numerous times with questions during closing arguments Friday at the North Carolina voting rights trial.... The trial is the first full test of voting measures adopted after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which invalidated Section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The judge asked state attorneys why lawmakers had curbed or ended programs that had been so popular among black voters.... Schroeder told the attorneys he struggled to find a baseline for measuring what registration should be." ...

... CW: Based on his questions outlined in Blythe's report, Schroeder -- a Bush II appointee -- seems like a dimwitted (or sly) ole white boy unless many of his questons were rhetorical. Here's an example: "He turned challenger arguments on their head, asking whether the previous legislative votes that established early voting and same-day registration might have been discriminatory to white voters." Yeah, if you let all the black people vote, that's so unfair to white slackers. Once you're a judge, you can say whatever ignorant, bigoted things pops into your head.

Adam Raymond of New York: "Paul Broun, "the former Republican representative for Georgia’s tenth congressional district and 2014 senatorial candidate not only killed a lion, but he ate it.... In a 2010 Roll Call video ... he takes viewers on a tour of his office, which is decorated like an animal graveyard. Among his trophies are a Kodiak brown bear, eland, water buffalo, and yes, a lion." CW: In the video, Broun says, "Hunting is what started my political activism." That's the best anti-hunting argument I've ever heard. As Raymond reminds us, "... Broun was such an unrepentant nut-job — he once said, 'Evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell'..."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve Benen: The New York Times' bogus Hillary Clinton criminal story is part of a pattern that journalists should recognize by now: "We’ve already documented one recent instance in which the Benghazi committee leaked deceptive information to Politico, which ran an article that had to be corrected. We’ve also reported on several instances in which House Republicans, in the name of congressional oversight, have also leaked information to news organizations that turned out to be deliberately misleading – some related to Benghazi, some not."


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article29703298.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article29703298.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article29703298.html#storylink=cpy

Presidential Race

of the Washington Post: "More than 50 individuals and entities have shelled out at least $1 million apiece to big-money groups backing presidential candidates — with close to half of the big donors giving to a super PAC aligned with former Florida governor Jeb Bush. With 15 months to go before Election Day, donors have already contributed $272.5 million to independent groups supporting the large Republican field, more than four times the $67 million raised through their official campaigns, according to a tally by The Washington Post.... Never before has so much money been donated by such a small number of people so early." ...

... Jeremy Bowers, et al., of the New York Times: "Today is the deadline for the outside groups known as 'super PACs' to file fund-raising reports for the first half of 2015. For the groups that have filed so far, here are the individuals and corporations that have given $1 million or more." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Janell Ross of the Washington Post: Mike Fernandez disagrees with Jeb Bush on the Affordable Care Act & on normalizing relations with Cuba. Maybe that's why Fernandez gave Jeb! only $3 million.

Ken Dilanian & Lisa Lerer of the AP: "Dozens of emails that traversed Hillary Clinton's private, unsecure home server contain national security information now deemed too sensitive to make public, according to the latest batch of records released Friday. In 2,206 pages of emails, the government censored passages to protect national security at least 64 times in 37 messages, including instances when the same information was blacked-out multiple times. Clinton has said she never sent classified information from her private email server.... There were no obviously stunning revelations in the emails released Friday.... Some of the documents could reflect favorably on Clinton.... There was no indication from emails released so far that Clinton's home computer system used encryption software.... Current and former intelligence officials have said they assume the emails were intercepted by foreign intelligence services." ...

... Dan Roberts of the Guardian : "A third of Hillary Clinton’s top backers made their money from the financial services industry, according to Guardian analysis of new campaign finance disclosures released on Friday.... Separately, Clinton disclosed on Friday evening that she and her husband earned $28m in personal income last year and have paid nearly $44m in federal taxes since 2007." ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign released a letter from her doctor on Friday attesting to her health and fitness for office, on a day marked by a deluge of other disclosures about her finances and a new batch of emails from her time as secretary of state." The letter is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton on Friday called out her Republican rivals for approaching foreign policy 'through an outdated cold war lens'. In a speech that advocated for greater diplomatic engagement with Latin America, the Democratic presidential frontrunner also called on Congress to lift the 50-year US embargo on Cuba.... On Friday, Clinton publicly argued her case in detail for the first time in Miami – the original home of the Cuban exile community and the backyard of two of her chief Republican opponents, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and US senator Marco Rubio." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dave Weigel, et al., of the Washington Post: "Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton took a swipe at Republican rival Jeb Bush [in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,] Friday before a mostly African American crowd.... Speaking ahead of Bush, Clinton delivered a speech in which she invoked the Black Lives Matter movement, cited Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and others whose deaths set off controversies. Clinton went after Bush without naming him, saying his policies would not help people trying to improve their lives. 'I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare,' she said. 'People can’t rise when they can’t afford health care.' 'Right to Rise' is the name of the pro-Bush super PAC operated by his top allies." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: Clinton's remarks caught Jeb! off-guard, & he didn't rebut them when he spoke about an hour later. "Mr. Bush’s aides, however, could barely hide their disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, which they spoke of, bitterly, as uncivil and uncalled-for.... Despite the broadsides from Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Bush’s speech was well received.... The conference Friday had offered a chance for Senator Bernie Sanders ...  to appeal more directly to black voters. But his speech highlighted just how much work he still has to do." ...

... Annie Karni & Eli Stokols of Politico on why Jeb! didn't need to hit back at Clinton. Also, it would have been stupid to do so before the Urban League.

... Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "The State Department concluded this year that Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s closest aides, was overpaid by nearly $10,000 because of violations of rules governing vacation and sick leave during her tenure as an official in the department. The finding — which Abedin has formally contested — emerged publicly Friday after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and others seeking more information about an investigation into possible 'criminal' conduct by Abedin concerning her pay."

Jennifer Senior of New York theorizes that Americans don't really want "authenticity" in a president: "... what voters truly want are candidates ... with a polished public persona, who actually believe their performing selves, to the point that they play those people even in private." Ergo, the steady slide of Rand Paul, "the most interesting man in politics." Senior predicts Donald Trump won't survive the primaries, either: "... he's a pathological personality, yanked straight from the pages of the DSM-5. He always speaks his mind, but the things he says are inappropriate in any context — public, private, on the moon. He may speak to a certain portion of the GOP primary base, but in time, he too will combust ... because the electorate can tolerate screwball, unpredictable behavior for only so long." ...

... Mike Levine of ABC News: "Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants a prominent chef to pay $10 million in damages after the food star bailed on plans to open a new restaurant inside Trump’s latest project in the nation’s capital. A group owned by Trump — Trump Post Office LLC — filed a lawsuit today in federal court.... After Trump made controversial remarks in June suggesting illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals and 'rapists,' [chef Jose] Andres backed out.... 'Mr. Andres’ offense is curious in light of the fact that Mr. Trump’s publicly shared views on immigration have remained consistent for many years, and Mr. Trump’s willingness to frankly share his opinions is widely known,' the lawsuit states." CW: Hmmm. Apparently, that's an accurate point. Read on. ...

... ** Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Long before [Donald] Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination..., he had proved himself in New York as an expert political provocateur with an instinct for racially charged rhetoric." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Jeremy Borden of the Washington Post: "The man accused of gunning down nine African Americans inside a historic black church known as 'Mother Emanuel' has told his lawyers that he currently plans to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges, attorney David Bruck told a federal judge Friday. However, Bruck said that because federal officials have not decided whether to seek a death sentence for some of these charges, he did not want to enter a guilty plea yet. As a result, the judge said he would enter a not guilty plea." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "Two officers who witnessed the shooting of unarmed 43-year-old Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati will not face criminal charges, despite seemingly corroborating a false claim that DuBose’s vehicle dragged officer Ray Tensing before he was fatally shot.... On Friday [county prosecutor Joseph] Deters’ office announced that a grand jury had declined to bring any charges against the other two officers, after hearing testimony from both of them.... Deters said on Friday he was in full agreement with the decision." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Anne Saker of the Cincinnati Enquirer: "The union representing the University of Cincinnati police force has filed a grievance on behalf of Raymond Tensing demanding that he get his job back as an officer because the university fired him this week without due process, a union official said Friday.... [Union rep Thomas] Fehr said that Tensing was notified that the union was filing the grievance on his behalf. 'He wanted it done,' Fehr said." ...

... Yesterday Akhilleus asked, "What in the hell are University police officers doing making traffic stops in the first place?" I wondered that, too. So here's the answer: Jason Williams of the Cincinatti Enquirer (July 29): "According to UC's agreement with the city, university police officers have the authority to investigate minor traffic offenses that occur outside the boundaries of the campuses.... [BUT NOW] University of Cincinnati police officers are no longer allowed to patrol off-campus streets – fallout from this week's officer-involved fatal shooting several blocks from the main campus. President Santa Ono and other UC leaders ... said they also are reviewing an agreement between university police and Cincinnati police regarding how the departments patrol streets near UC's campuses." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: "And I say 'No, no, no' to this Cincinnati Enquirer article on how Officer Ray Tensing, the UC cop that shot and killed Sam DuBose, is such a nice guy."

Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: "A federal judge ruled Friday that Virginia can stop issuing specialty license plates that show the Confederate flag, following a recent Supreme Court decision that said such a ban does not violate the 1st Amendment. U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser said he will issue a written order to address whether the nearly 1,700 Confederate license plates currently in use in Virginia may be recalled by the state." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell should lose his pension because of his felony conviction, the state’s attorney general said Tuesday. In an advisory opinion sought by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said that under a law McDonnell signed in 2011, the ex-governor must relinquish his benefits because he was convicted of a felony related to on-the-job conduct."

AP: "A federal judge said he would dismiss a lawsuit filed by a pregnant prisoner who sought an abortion after the woman told him during a hearing on Friday she had changed her mind and now wants to deliver the child, a reversal called 'highly suspicious' by one of her lawyers. The woman’s change of heart came as a prosecutor said separately the state was shelving an effort to strip her of parental rights over the fetus and delaying prosecution on two drug-related charges while the woman enters in-patient addiction treatment at a state-certified facility."

Thursday
Jul302015

The Commentariat -- July 31, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign released a letter from her doctor on Friday attesting to her health and fitness for office, on a day marked by a deluge of other disclosures about her finances and a new batch of emails from her time as secretary of state." The letter is here. ...

... Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton on Friday called out her Republican rivals for approaching foreign policy 'through an outdated cold war lens'. In a speech that advocated for greater diplomatic engagement with Latin America, the Democratic presidential frontrunner also called on Congress to lift the 50-year US embargo on Cuba.... On Friday, Clinton publicly argued her case in detail for the first time in Miami – the original home of the Cuban exile community and the backyard of two of her chief Republican opponents, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and US senator Marco Rubio."

... Dave Weigel, et al., of the Washington Post: "Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton took a swipe at Republican rival Jeb Bush [in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,] Friday before a mostly African American crowd.... Speaking ahead of Bush, Clinton delivered a speech in which she invoked the Black Lives Matter movement, cited Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and others whose deaths set off controversies. Clinton went after Bush without naming him, saying his policies would not help people trying to improve their lives. 'I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare,' she said. 'People can’t rise when they can’t afford health care.' 'Right to Rise' is the name of the pro-Bush super PAC operated by his top allies."

** Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Long before [Donald] Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination..., he had proved himself in New York as an expert political provocateur with an instinct for racially charged rhetoric."

Jeremy Bowers, et al., of the New York Times: "Today is the deadline for the outside groups known as 'super PACs' to file fund-raising reports for the first half of 2015. For the groups that have filed so far, here are the individuals and corporations that have given $1 million or more."

Jeremy Borden of the Washington Post: "The man accused of gunning down nine African Americans inside a historic black church known as 'Mother Emanuel' has told his lawyers that he currently plans to plead guilty to federal hate crime charges, attorney David Bruck told a federal judge Friday. However, Bruck said that because federal officials have not decided whether to seek a death sentence for some of these charges, he did not want to enter a guilty plea yet. As a result, the judge said he would enter a not guilty plea."

Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "Two officers who witnessed the shooting of unarmed 43-year-old Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati will not face criminal charges, despite seemingly corroborating a false claim that DuBose’s vehicle dragged officer Ray Tensing before he was fatally shot.... On Friday [county prosecutor Joseph] Deters’ office announced that a grand jury had declined to bring any charges against the other two officers, after hearing testimony from both of them.... Deters said on Friday he was in full agreement with the decision."

Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: "A federal judge ruled Friday that Virginia can stop issuing specialty license plates that show the Confederate flag, following a recent Supreme Court decision that said such a ban does not violate the 1st Amendment. U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser said he will issue a written order to address whether the nearly 1,700 Confederate license plates currently in use in Virginia may be recalled by the state."

There are also a couple of new opinion pieces linked under "Annals of 'Journalism,'" Ctd. below.

*****

Keith Laing of the Hill: "The Senate on Thursday approved an $8 billion extension of federal transportation funding, sending it to President Obama's desk with just one day to go before the nation's road and transit spending expires. The bill, which extends infrastructure spending until Oct. 29, passed in a 91-4 vote, pushing the debate into the fall. Obama, who has advocated for long-term extension of highway funding, is expected to sign the patch to prevent an interruption in funding during the busy summer construction season. The vote Thursday came after the Senate passed its preferred fix, a six-year highway bill negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). House Republicans refused to take up that bill and left town on Wednesday, forcing the Senate to accept the three-month stopgap."

Christine Armario of the AP: "A temporary restraining order has been issued preventing an anti-abortion group from releasing any video of leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers. The group is the same one that previously shot viral covert video of a Planned Parenthood leader discussing the sale of aborted fetuses for research. ...

... Tailgunner Ted Finds Another Excuse to Shut Down the Government. Burgess Everett of Politico: "Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a 'legislative show vote,' GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall.... On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they 'cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.'” ...

... Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: "The anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress released a fourth 'sting' video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing tissue collection from aborted fetuses. The video comes as the White House and top Planned Parenthood officials defend against Republican politicians’ attempts to defund the women’s health care clinics." ...

... Steve M. thinks the video campaign could have an impact on the 2016 elections including on the presidential race, especially since Hillary Clinton is now officially "disturbed" about them. Also, expect more of this from Republican governors:

     ... Kelli Kennedy of the AP: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered state health officials to inspect Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions, saying he is troubled by videos describing the organization's procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research."

The New Kochs. Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "After two elections in which Democrats and liberals sought to cast them as the secretive, benighted face of the Republican Party, the Kochs are seeking to remake public perceptions of their family, their business and their politics, unsettling a corporate culture deeply allergic to the spotlight. Even as their donor network prepares to spend extravagantly to defeat Democrats during the 2016 campaign, the Kochs have made cause with prominent liberals to change federal sentencing rules, which disproportionately affect African-Americans, while a Koch-backed nonprofit, the Libre Initiative, offers driving lessons and tax preparation services to Latinos.... Democrats, in the meantime, are preparing to spend millions of their own to paint the Kochs’ political efforts as cynical and self-interested."

Tim Egan: "The South is the most violent region in the United States, and also the place with the highest rate of gun ownership.... Most of the states with tighter gun laws have fewer gun deaths.... One America, the slightly safer one..., includes government gun-screened zones like airports, courthouses and many high schools. But more significantly, it also covers property used by our most popular obsession, pro football — the free market at work. The other America is an open-fire zone, backed by politicians who think it should be even more crowded with average people parading around with lethal weapons.... What we’re moving toward ... are regions that are safer than others, and public spaces that are safer than others, led by private enterprise, shunning the gun crazies who want everyone armed. The new reality comes with the inconvenience and hassle of screening and pat-downs similar to the routines at airports — enforced gun-free zones, not mere suggestions."

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "The 49-cent stamp has eight more months of life until the U.S. Postal Service has to roll the price back, the effect of a ruling that allows the post office to collect $1.1 billion to cover its recession-related losses. Wednesday’s ruling by postal regulators should be the last word in a long legal dispute between the Postal Service and the mailing industry over the largest rate increase for first-class letters in 11 years."

James Risen of the New York Times: "The board of the American Psychological Association plans to recommend tough ethics rules that would prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, potentially creating a new obstacle to the Obama administration’s efforts to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects outside of the traditional criminal justice system."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "... the emerging details of [Mullah Mohammad] Omar’s death may ... help explain the extent to which his ability to remain both influential and invisible was a reflection of the competing and often hidden agendas in the counterterrorism partnership between the United States and Pakistan."

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter will allow more U.S. troops to be armed while stateside and called for other security measures to be put in place following the attack in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed five service members. The decision was outlined in a two-page memo released at the Pentagon on Thursday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jonathan Chait on the glaring inconsistencies in confederates' position on the Iran deal. "This double-minded quality allows the Iran hawks to demand the Obama administration ramp up confrontation with Russia right now, even while demanding he hold on to Russian support for Iran sanctions." They argue that somehow, even tho President Obama is totally "feckless," confederates are sure he can bend Vladimir Putin to abandon Russia's interests. Hey, as long as these guys can shout, "We win!" they don't have to make a whit of sense or show any concern for our own national interests.

Paul Krugman: "... China’s remarkable success over the past 25 years notwithstanding, the nation’s rulers have no idea what they’re doing." Why, they're as clueless as Jeb!

Jef Rouner, in the Houston Chronicle, tries to explain to ignoramuses the difference between fact & opinion. CW: It's my opinion that Rouner's explanation has zero probability of having a positive educational impact on his target audience. Last year, in a related & perhaps more helpful post, Rouner suggested the best way to deal with Snopes-deniers.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

** Jonathan Allen of Vox publishes a letter from Hillary Clinton's communications director Jennifer Palmieri to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet re: the fake "criminal referral" story. Palmieri sent the letter Tuesday. It adds significantly to what we know about how the Times reported & published this report. CW: Palmieri -- correctly, IMHO, schools the editor of perhaps the most prominent daily newspaper in the world on "standard journalistic practices." She wrote, in part,

Not only did the Times fail to engage in a proper discussion with the campaign ahead of publication; given the exceedingly short window of time between when the Times received the tip and rushed to publish, it hardly seems possible that the Times conducted sufficient deliberations within its own ranks before going ahead with the story....

In our conversations with the Times reporters, it was clear that they had not personally reviewed the IG’s referral that they falsely described as both criminal and focused on Hillary Clinton. Instead, they relied on unnamed sources that characterized the referral as such. However, it is not at all clear that those sources had directly seen the referral, either.

... NEW. Brian Stelter of CNN (& for a long time, an NYT reporter): "The campaign had wanted the newspaper to publish the roughly 2,000-word critique, at least online. But the paper declined to do so, according to Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon. Instead, the campaign decided to publish it on its own website, ensuring it would receive widespread attention. Fallon said the campaign had sent no other letters of the sort to other news outlets in the past." ...

     ... See also the tweets by Michael Cohen, which Margaret Hartmann republishes here. ...

... NEW. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Had Baquet & Co. properly accounted for their failures in [Times public editor Margaret] Sullivan’s post earlier this week, they perhaps could have killed the issue and watched the Beltway move on to more deserving stories. But no — they shrugged, exonerated and excusified to the point that the Clinton campaign would have looked silly if it hadn’t sent a letter of this stature."

Catherine Thompson of TPM catches Mark Halperin & John Heilemann of Bloomberg News making up "news," according to one of their so-called "Trump supporters": "Bloomberg Politics' 'With All Due Respect' won the morning Thursday with a boffo focus group of New Hampshire Trump supporters singing The Donald's praises as a "classy" commander-in-chief in waiting who is definitely 'one of us.'.... But one of the voters [Jessica DeBurro] featured ... in the focus group told TPM that she's not a Trump supporter at all. And the same went for most of the other participants in the panel, according to the voter....  DeBurro further alleged that interviewer Heilemann, Halperin's co-host, pumped them to think of positive things to say about Trump which could then be edited together into a Trump fawn-a-thon." ...

... CW: Since everybody knows Halperin & Heilemann are hacks, not journalists, there won't be much fallout from their made-for-Bloomberg-TV fake news.

Presidential Race

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he will not run for president as an Independent if he falls short in his bid to secure the Democratic 2016 nomination. Speaking at the Newseum in Washington on Thursday, Sanders said that if he ran a third-party campaign, it would draw support away from the Democratic nominee, potentially handing Republicans the White House. 'I would not want to be responsible for electing some right-wing Republican president,' Sanders said."

Docudump Day. Billy House & Ben Brody of Bloomberg: "The State Department is set Friday to post online its next batch of e-mails that Hillary Clinton sent and received on a personal account while she was secretary of state." ...

... Marisa Taylor, et al., of McClatchy News: "The classified emails stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server contained information from five U.S. intelligence agencies.... Two inspectors general have indicated that five emails they have reviewed were not marked classified at the time they were stored on her private server but that the contents were in fact 'secret.'... '... the fact that classified information was identified within the emails is exactly why use of private emails ... is not supposed to be allowed,' said Bradley Moss, a Washington attorney who specializes in national security matters. 'Both she and her team made a serious management mistake that no one should ever repeat.'” ...


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article29519419.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article29519419.html#storylink=cpy

... Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Fresh off a meeting with national labor leaders, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday spoke favorably about legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, tacitly dismissing proposals by her two leading Democratic competitors who have called for a bigger increase. Speaking with reporters, Mrs. Clinton singled out legislation proposed by Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, that would establish a $12-an-hour minimum nationwide.... As she has in the past, Mrs. Clinton did not explicitly offer a figure she would like to see adopted, but implied that certain measures, like Ms. Murray’s, were more realistic than others: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Mrs. Clinton’s rivals in the Democratic field, both support raising the minimum to $15 an hour."

Ed Kilgore: "... you might think [Erick Erickson] just an inflated bloviater whose chosen style is the bullyboy threat of a political commissar. But the thing is he’s going to be the impresario of the Republican presidential cattle call next weekend (the Red State Gathering, in Atlanta) that will come immediately after the first candidate debate, with ten candidates currently confirmed: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, and yes, even Donald Trump." Erickson is currently demanding that GOP legislators to shut down the government to stop Planned PArenthood from "killing living children who have already been born, cutting them up, and harvesting their organs."

Gabrel Sherman of New York: "The Fox News GOP Debate Could Draw the Biggest Audience in Cable News History — and Roger Ailes Is Making All the Rules." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Whither Marco? James Downie of the Washington Post: "While it would be tempting to pick one big cause, Rubio’s stumble is probably due to a combination of factors: his stumbling answer on the Iraq war, his continued moderation on immigration (an anathema to many GOP voters) and, most recently, [Donald] Trump’s entrance into the race. Perhaps the biggest problem is that while he is acceptable to many parts of the GOP base, he is none of those parts’ first choice.... Unless things change soon, the one-time GOP front-runner will be a mere footnote in the 2016 campaign." CW: If the winner doesn't tap Marco for the veep spot, which is where I would expect him to go unless Jeb! wins the nomination.

Greg Sargent: "Well, it was bound to happen eventually: Donald Trump has finally made a genuinely useful contribution to the public debate. In an interview with CNN, Trump went farther than I’ve seen any Republican presidential candidate go on immigration, explicitly pledging to carry out the mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants." ...

... Dara Lind of Vox: "... if mass deportation is so popular among Republican voters, why hasn't any Republican presidential candidate — or policymaker — embraced it before now? Simple: It is a totally impractical proposal.... Let's start with cost. It's huge." Also, too, what about the U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants? "If [other GOP candidates] disagree with Trump, they'll pit themselves against the Republican base — and face pressure to explain what they'd do instead. If they agree with Trump, they'll be making a policy promise that will be very difficult to keep." ...

... Ed Kilgore: speculates on the logistics of Trump's "plan": "... it’s just a management problem, and any tycoon worth his salt can figure out a way via universal hourly traffic stops and police raids on workplaces and maybe house-to-house searches to 'find them,' and then it’s just a matter of setting up a few thousand transit camps and deploying a few hundreds of thousands of cattle cars to round ‘em up and 'get them out... It’s time for us all to ask him and other Republicans who won’t endorse a path to legalization exactly how much they are willing to spend in money and in lost civil liberties to implement their plans. No sense weaseling around and dog-whistling this issue any more.” ...

... CW: One has to wonder about what the Donald's plan is for undocumented immigrants who come from countries other than Mexico. Mexico accounts for nearly 60 percent of the unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., but that leaves more than 40 percent, who come primarily from Central & South America & from Asia. I suppose for Central & South Americans, he could engineer a massive Trump Trail of Tears. What about Asians? Slow boats to China? BTW, according to the Center for American Progress, "In 2012, 4.7 million undocumented adults were parents of minor children, including 3.8 million whose children were U.S. citizens." Will we have thousands of Trump Orphanages? And, not to be too selfish here, but what about the economic contributions undocumented workers make to the U.S.? Esther Lee of Think Progress: "The center-right organization American Action Forum (AAF) found that ... without the 11 million undocumented immigrants, the U.S. labor force would shrink and real GDP would be reduced by $1.6 trillion." As to the cost of rounding them up, as Kilgore facetiously suggests, AAF estimates the cost would be between $400BB & $600BB. To put it into language Trump would understand, his deportation plan is a "huge loser."

... TrumpCare. In his CNN interview, Trump also talked about replacing ObamaCare with "something terrific." Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg: "Trump's Obamacare Replacement Plan Sounds Quite a Bit Like Obamacare... Trump proposed: competing private plans (which Obamacare exchanges provide for); protecting hospitals from catastrophic events (which Obamacare deals with by requiring people to get insurance so they don't pass on their emergency care costs), and government plans for low-income people who get sick and lack options (which Obamacare does by expanding Medicaid). ...

... Representing the center-right wing of the Villagers, Michael Gerson of the Washington Post: "... the success of Trump would be the downfall of the GOP. Any party captured by rage and resentment will fail, and deserve it. Republicans should stand for responsible reform, not reckless populism." ...

... On that note, Marcy Wheeler, in Salon: "Trump’s candidacy has proven to be a far bigger problem for the Republican Party than establishment figures ever expected. In coping with such a colossal headache, the Party seems to be following the Kübler-Ross model of grief – the model frequently used to describe how people come to grips with the death of a loved one." CW: Gerson there provides a good example of Step 4 -- depression, which Wheeler suggests is where the GOP is now on Kübler-Ross path.

... Carlos Lozada, the Washington Post's non-fiction book editor binge-read "the collected works of Donald Trump.... Is there a single word that combines revulsion, amusement, respect and confusion? That is how it feels ... to binge on Trump’s writings. Over the course of 2,212 pages, I encountered a world where bragging is breathing and insulting is talking, where repetition and contradiction come standard, where vengefulness and insecurity erupt at random. Elsewhere, such qualities might get in the way of the story. With Trump, they are the story. There is little else."

Emily Flitter of Reuters: Scott "Walker has made [Harley-Davidson] ... a centerpiece of his campaign kick-off tour this month, visiting four dealerships and sometimes showing off his own 2003 Harley Road King as he seeks to harness its appeal to older white male voters. But ... Harley ... is a leading example of a successful company that has a strong relationship with labor unions.... Some of the people who build Harleys - more than a thousand of whom are unionized workers in Wisconsin - are fuming over Walker's prominent use of the bikes in his campaign. 'He's trying to make a name for himself by saying "I took on 100,000 union workers" - and he's on our bikes,' said Andy Voelzke, 57, who works at Harley's plant just outside Milwaukee and is a member of the United Steelworkers union."

Beyond the Beltway

... The Oregonian is liveblogging developments. 5:48 pm PT Thursday: "Police boats are clearing a lane for the MSV Fennica to move down the Willamette River toward the Columbia River. 5:40 pm: "The MSV Fennica has stopped short of the St. Johns Bridge; kayakers continue to block the ship's route out of Portland. 5:55 pm: The MSV Fennica passes under the St. Johns Bridge and past the protesters who have dangled from the bridges frame for more than 40 hours." ...

     ... Update. Steven DuBois & Dan Joling of the AP: "A Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker that was the target of environmental protesters left Portland, Oregon, on Thursday bound for an Arctic drilling operation after a tense standoff ended with kayakers and activists who had dangled from a bridge to block its path. The Fennica left dry dock and made its way down the Willamette River toward the Pacific Ocean soon after authorities forced the demonstrators from the river and the St. Johns Bridge. Several protesters in kayaks moved toward the center of the river as the ship began its trip, but authorities in boats and personal watercraft cleared a narrow pathway for the Fennica."

... Ellen Brait of the Guardian: "A federal judge in Alaska has ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a fine of $2,500 for every hour that protesters continue to block a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland, Oregon, for the Arctic.... The activists have been hanging from the bridge since Wednesday at approximately 3am PT, delaying the departure of the oil company’s 380ft Fennica icebreaker."

Justin Fenton & Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun: "Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he will immediately shut down the decrepit Baltimore City Detention Center, moving inmates to nearby facilities and ending a longstanding 'black eye' for the state. The Republican governor said the Civil War-era jail — which is run by the state — could be torn down, and there are no plans to build a new facility. Baltimore's jail population has dipped in recent years, making room elsewhere for the inmates from the detention center. The move is expected to save taxpayers $10 to $15 million annually."

Ryan Felton & Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "Two police officers who corroborated a seemingly false account of the fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati were previously implicated in the death of an unarmed, hospitalised and mentally ill black man who died after he was 'rushed' by a group of seven University of Cincinnati police officers. Kelly Brinson, a 45-year-old mental health patient at Cincinnati’s University hospital, suffered a psychotic episode on 20 January 2010 and was placed inside a seclusion room at the hospital by UC officers. He was then shocked with a Taser three times by an officer and placed in restraints.... [Brinson] then suffered a respiratory cardiac arrest and died three days later." ...

... Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A judge set bail at $1 million on Thursday for the former University of Cincinnati police officer who shot and killed a motorist, after a traffic stop over a missing license plate." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update by Sheryl Gay Stolberg & Perez-Pena: "Two University of Cincinnati police officers who were present when a colleague shot and killed a motorist were placed on paid leave, a university spokesman said Thursday, while a judge set bail of $1 million for the officer at the center of the case. That officer, Ray Tensing, appeared briefly in a Hamilton County court in Cincinnati, in gray-and-black striped jail garb, handcuffed behind his back, as his lawyer, William S. Mathews II, entered a plea of not guilty for him. Mr. Tensing, who has been fired by the university, was released from jail on bond later Thursday."

Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald: Maine "House Speaker Mark Eves filed a civil lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday, alleging that LePage used taxpayer money and the power of his office to prevent Eves from being hired by a private school in Fairfield. That action violated several of Eves’ constitutional and other rights, according to the 27-page complaint.... The lawsuit, filed Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Portland, has been anticipated since the board of directors at Good Will-Hinckley voted to rescind its offer to pay Eves $150,000 a year in salary and benefits to become the organization’s next president. The Democrat said the board told him before his contract was terminated that LePage, a Republican, threatened to eliminate $530,000 in annual state funding for the school unless it removed him from the job."

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post: "Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has tapped someone to [the] state’s Board of Education who never attended public schools, publicly declared that his children never will either, and actively supported a successful effort to defeat a vote on a school tax in a divisive campaign in his home county".

Farai Mutsaka of the AP: "Zimbabwe intends to seek the extradition of an American dentist who killed a lion that was lured out of a national park and shot with a bow and a gun, and the process has already begun, a Cabinet minister said Friday.... There is an extradition treaty between Zimbabwe and the United States."

Wednesday
Jul292015

The Commentariat -- July 30, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Calling Dr. Palmer. The "Hunter" Becomes the Hunted. Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: "The American dentist who admitted to killing Cecil the lion has not responded to attempts at contact, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service official said on Thursday. 'The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of "Cecil the lion,’” Edward Grace, the agency’s deputy chief of law enforcement, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. 'That investigation will take us wherever the facts lead. At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Dr. Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Dr. Palmer or his representative contact us immediately.'” CW: Wherever Palmer is in hiding, at least he's not likely limping along with arrows in his side.

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter will allow more U.S. troops to be armed while stateside and called for other security measures to be put in place following the attack in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed five service members. The decision was outlined in a two-page memo released at the Pentagon on Thursday."

Gabrel Sherman of New York: "The Fox News GOP Debate Could Draw the Biggest Audience in Cable News History — and Roger Ailes Is Making All the Rules."

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A judge set bail at $1 million on Thursday for the former University of Cincinnati police officer who shot and killed a motorist, after a traffic stop over a missing license plate."

*****

Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post: "It was 50 years ago Thursday that President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation that created Medicare, dramatically altering life for America's seniors. But as debate over the program rages on, its conservative critics have learned to be more crafty about what alternatives they propose -- and how to justify them."

We Win! -- Lindsey Graham ...

     ... Steve Benen.: "... while that may be the end of the conversation for Graham, responsible policymakers have to wonder: 'win' at what cost? What are the security implications of the U.S. launching yet another Middle Eastern war? How long would the war last and with how many casualties? What happens after our 'victory'?" CW: Remember, this guy is likely the best candidate the GOP is fielding in the presidential race. He's the only one who's not an ignoramus or a doofus or a kook or some combination thereof. And he thinks "we win" in a war with Iran is a great rationale to opt for unleashing untold carnage. This freak show isn't comical; it's scary. ...

Relieving the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran diplomatically is superior than trying to do that militarily. -- Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a Senate hearing yesterday

... Helene Cooper & Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "While the nuclear agreement with Iran will not stop it from funding organizations the United States considers to be terrorist groups, the pact reduces the chances of a near-term military conflict between the two countries, the top American military leader, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told Congress on Wednesday.... General Dempsey answered a barrage of questions from Republican senators that appeared intended to make him criticize the pact." CW: Yo, Lindsey, even the military thinks your bellicose approach is nuts.

CW: Adele Stan, in the American Prospect, makes the point that I made more clumsily over in Infotainment: "Among the most daunting obstacles to racial equality is the white liberal who thinks he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Because we all do.... Until white progressives are willing to take a cold, hard look at why our movement is viewed with suspicion by those who feel shut out, a truly progressive future will be a promise unfulfilled." ...

... Contributor D. C. Clark reminds us of Phil Ochs' take on liberals, which half a century hence is still right on point:

Do-Nothing House Takes a Break. Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "The House adjourned Wednesday evening for its five-week August recess and won’t have votes again until Tuesday, Sept. 8. Wednesday capped a July session dominated by Republican divides on highway funding, a controversy over displaying the Confederate flag, and a last-minute effort from a conservative rebel to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)." ...

... Dana Milbank: "For the first time in 105 years, a speaker of the House is the target of what parliamentarians call a .motion to vacate the chair'.... But, in a sense, the office of the speaker already is pretty much vacant. [John] Boehner is in charge, but only nominally. He is unable to move legislation, rendered powerless by his struggles to placate about 50 conservative holdouts.... If Boehner were instead to try a more bipartisan approach, he would further infuriate the Meadows crowd, but he would get things done. And Democrats have previously indicated they would help Boehner keep the speakership if conservatives were to stage a coup." ...

... Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Asked about [Mark] Meadows's [R-NC] gambit [to unseat House Speaker John Boehner], Republicans across the ideological spectrum reacted coolly Wednesday...." ...

... Scott Wong of the Hill: "Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told his colleagues on Wednesday he would resign from the conservative House Freedom Caucus board of directors, just a day after he offered a resolution to oust Ohio Republican John Boehner as Speaker of the House. His offer came during a Wednesday morning closed-door Freedom Caucus meeting that was called to discuss his actions...." But then he took it back.

Chris Brennan & Jeremy Roebuck of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah [D] and four associates were indicted Wednesday on racketeering conspiracy charges stemming from several alleged schemes to misuse campaign funds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money to further their political and financial interests. The five schemes include accepting a $1 million illegal loan for Fattah's failed 2007 mayoral campaign from a 'wealthy supporter' and then repaying some of it using "charitable and federal grant funds" that passed through a nonprofit founded and controlled by Fattah, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said at a news conference." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Robert Schmidt of Bloomberg: "Representative Scott Garrett [R-NJ], who heads an influential House subcommittee overseeing the U.S. capital markets, is facing a revolt by corporate and Wall Street donors after he reportedly made anti-gay remarks at a private meeting of Republican lawmakers. Earlier this month..., the Big 4 accounting firms and their trade association abruptly canceled a fundraising event for the New Jersey Republican. In addition, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has decided to stop making political action committee donations to Garrett.... Other firms are likely to follow suit.... The Financial Services’ capital markets subcommittee is informally known in Washington fundraising circles as the ATM -- a seat almost guarantees endless streams of cash from the financial firms that have business before the panel."

Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today: "Top Pentagon officials plan to meet Monday to lay out the road map for allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military, a Defense Department official said Wednesday. Meantime, on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter sent a memo to top military brass and civilians formally outlining his plan that would protect transgender troops from being discharged and directs officials to develop a plan within six months to incorporate those troops into the ranks."

Alam Fram of the AP: "Under fire for its role in providing fetal tissue for research, Planned Parenthood asked the government's top health scientists Wednesday to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine. Planned Parenthood's request to the National Institutes of Health came as Senate Republicans pressed their fight to bar the organization from receiving federal aid. ...

... Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, in a Washington Post op-ed: "... extremists created a fake business, made apparently misleading corporate filings and then used false government identifications to gain access to Planned Parenthood’s medical and research staff with the agenda of secretly filming without consent — then heavily edited the footage to make false and absurd assertions about our standards and services. They spent three years doing everything they could — not to uncover wrongdoing, but rather to create it. They failed.... Attacking [federal] funding [of Planned Parenthood] is attacking women who need preventive health care, including women who need cancer screenings and contraception." ...

... Anna North of the New York Times: "Long before the current 'baby body parts' effort, anti-abortion groups were accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from abortions, as though performing an incredibly stigmatized procedure, one that puts providers at risk of cyberattacks, harassment and murder, were a great way to make some easy cash.... Lawmakers now clamoring to take away Planned Parenthood’s financial support should be ashamed of their participation in this scam."

... Kevin Drum: "So far, the worst anyone has come up with from these [three] videos is that some of the Planned Parenthood folks caught on tape used a 'tone' that was unfortunate. Give me a break. This is the way any doctor talks among other health care professionals." ...

... CW: This all has me so riled I decided to make what for me is a substantial donation to Planned Parenthood. This is what I got. ...

     ... Update: Just discovered I could donate here. So I did.

Obama Is a Idiot. Let's Do What He Did. Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "... one of the prime objectives [of the Koch brothers network] could have a direct impact on Election Day 2016: to create a permanent ground force powered by a vast trove of data, replicating the kind of infrastructure that helped President Obama win reelection."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "Will Dana, the managing editor of Rolling Stone, will leave the magazine, just months after a controversial article about a supposed gang rape at the University of Virginia was retracted.... When asked if the departure was linked to the controversy over the discredited article, Rolling Stone’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, said, via a spokeswoman, that 'many factors go into a decision like this.'... The magazine has since been the target of lawsuits from an assistant dean at the university and by three members of the fraternity at the center of the article, who filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday."

Déjà vu All Over Again

I was wrong because my sources were wrong. — Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, 2005, on her reports on Iraq's weapons capabilities

We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong. -- New York Times Deputy Executive Editor Matt Purdy, 2015, on the paper's story about a supposed criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account to discuss classified information

... Eric Boehlert of Media Matters has more in this piece republished in Salon.

Something is not a secret just because you don't know about it. -- Jon Stewart

Presidential Race

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Hillary Clinton plans to urge Congress to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba during a speech on Friday at Florida International University in Miami. Clinton, according to her presidential campaign, will say that Republican arguments in opposition to more engagement with Cuba represent the 'failed policies of the past.'... Clinton is said to have been pushing to lift the embargo for years.”

Liz Kruetz of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton has staunchly defended Planned Parenthood in the wake of recently released videos that an anti-abortion group claims to show employees with the organization discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue. But, in a new interview, she calls the graphic videos 'disturbing' and says there should be a national investigation into that practice. 'I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,' the Democratic presidential candidate told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday..., which were released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress. 'Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions.' Clinton, however, did not waiver in her overall support of the organization....” ...

... CW: The Union Leader is an ultra-conservative paper. Hillary massaged her answer to appease her listeners. ...

... Rachel Bade of Politico: "An irritated federal judge Thursday put the Hillary Clinton email scandal into stark terms, grilling the State Department on a pattern of delayed document releases that has turned a possible bureaucratic logjam into a major problem for the leading Democratic presidential contender. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, known for his blunt manner, said he simply did not understand why the State Department has dragged its feet on responses for emails in requests to the Freedom of Information Act." Leon is a Bush II appointee. ...

     ... As of 10:45 pm Wednesday, the New York Times is going with the AP story. ...

... Rachel Bade: "Long-time Hillary Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines handed the State Department 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account, State officials said Wednesday, calling into question the extent to which top aides to the former secretary of state also engaged in controversial email practices." ...

... Niall Stanage of the Hill: "Even Democrats who are not Sanders partisans are concerned about Clinton’s sometimes-opaque comments on the campaign trail.... Keystone is far from the only issue on which Clinton has bobbed and weaved."

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders spoke to supporters at more than 3,500 parties around the country Wednesday night, trying to harness the enthusiasm of the large crowds he has been drawing and bolster his insurgent campaign organization."

Quinnipiac Univesity: "... Donald Trump is the clear leader in the crowded Republican presidential primary field, but he trails any of three leading Democratic contenders by wide margins in general election matchups, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. Trump's 20 percent is the largest tally for a Republican contender in any national poll by the independent Quinnipiac University. Behind Trump are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 13 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 10 percent. No other Republican tops 6 percent and 12 percent are undecided. Trump also tops the 'no way' list as 30 percent of Republican voters say they would definitely not support him. New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is next at 15 percent with Bush at 14 percent."

Ted Cruz feels the need to be as disruptive as Donald Trump, so Trump becomes Mitch McConnell’s problem. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Daniel Strauss: "New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, raised more than $11 million between April 20 and June 30 of this year.... Specifically, New Day for America raised $11,130,730.32 from 166 reportable contributions.... Of those donations, 34 were of $100,000 or more."

Dave Weigel & Ben Terris of the Washington Post: New Hampshire Republicans aren't very interested in the Most Interesting Man in Politics. ...

     ... CW: Oh, and there's this: Paul's moves to party orthodoxy "... have alienated the libertarian base that has always been seen as Paul’s stronghold in the crowd. Paul’s high-profile attacks on the tax code and Planned Parenthood are designed to make up for that." Excellent calculation, Li'l Randy. I don't know what the loud-mouthed freeedom libertarian boyz think about girls -- or if they even know any girls -- but I know some prominent adult libertarians, and they strongly support Planned Parenthood & abortion rights. Because freeedom is for girls, too. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "No White House for you, Rand Paul. All happy campaigns are alike, but each unhappy campaign is unhappy in its own way. Those unique experiences of campaign failure provide some of the best entertainment of the long and arduous journey, and the pain is compounded by the observed scientific reality that a political corpse is capable of continuing to trudge forward well after its viability has expired. We begin our study of failure with Rand Paul."

Eliza Collins of Politico: "According to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is essentially financing terrorism. And he’s not backing down after the president called his comments 'outrageous.' 'If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,' Cruz said during a round table Tuesday."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "James S. Gilmore III, the former governor of Virginia, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday to enter the crowded field of Republican presidential contestants. He becomes the 17th prominent candidate to seek the party’s nomination."

AND Chris Christie blames a New Jersey university pollster for his own unpopularity.

Beyond the Beltway

Lisa Cornwell & Dan Sewell of the AP: "A University of Cincinnati police officer who shot a motorist after stopping him over a missing front license plate pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter." ...

... Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month. In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing 'purposely killed' Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper. The death of Mr. DuBose, who was black, at the hands of Officer Tensing, who is white, joined a string of recent episodes ... that have raised hard questions about law enforcement use of force, and the role of race in policing." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Jeremy Stahl of Slate: If not for the video, Tensing would have got away with (alleged) murder because his fellow officers backed up his concocted story. "As for what happens next for officers ...  who supported Tensing’s false account, [County Prosecutor Joe] Deters said the city was 'looking at the issue' at the urging of the Dubose family." ...

... Charles Blow: "What is happening between police officers and people of color in this country is a structural issue and must be deconstructed as such. Cameras won’t change basic character.... Police and criminal justice reform has to be a priority in our political actions now, and into the future."

Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "Alabama officials are currently seeking to prevent a pregnant prison inmate from obtaining a legal abortion by stripping her of her parental rights, in a case where a lawyer has been appointed to represent the interests of her fetus."

Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post: "While the world mourned Cecil, the 13-year-old lion that was allegedly shot by an American hunter in Zimbabwe, an even more devastating poaching incident was quietly carried out in Kenya. Poachers killed five elephants in Tsavo West National Park on Monday night..... While the killing of the lion in Zimbabwe has attracted the world’s attention, the death of the five elephants has received almost no coverage, even though elephants are under a far greater threat from poachers than lions. Their tusks can be sold in Asia for more than $1,000 per pound." ...

... Ryan Broderick & Tammera Griffin of BuzzFeed: "Here’s what the internet does when it thinks you killed a lion." ...

... Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "What Walter Palmer did wasn't hunting."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The commander of a group of Syrian fighters trained by the United States has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, his group said in a statement Thursday. The commander, Nadeem Hassan, and seven of his fighters were taken by the Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State in Syria, as they were returning from a meeting in Turkey."

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

Tuesday
Jul282015

The Commentariat -- July 29, 2015

Afternoon News:

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month. In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing 'purposely killed' Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper. The death of Mr. DuBose, who was black, at the hands of Officer Tensing, who is white, joined a string of recent episodes ... that have raised hard questions about law enforcement use of force, and the role of race in policing."

Chris Brennan & Jeremy Roebuck of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah [D] and four associates were indicted Wednesday on racketeering conspiracy charges stemming from several alleged schemes to misuse campaign funds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money to further their political and financial interests. The five schemes include accepting a $1 million illegal loan for Fattah's failed 2007 mayoral campaign from a 'wealthy supporter' and then repaying some of it using "charitable and federal grant funds" that passed through a nonprofit founded and controlled by Fattah, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said at a news conference."

*****

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has decided to give states more time to comply with proposed regulations that will require dramatic cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution from power plants, people familiar with the plans said Tuesday. The Environmental Protection Agency will give states an additional two years -- until 2022 -- to begin phasing in pollution cuts, even as the agency toughens the standards that many states will ultimately have to meet."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Jonathan J. Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November after 30 years in prison, a government panel decided on Tuesday. Mr. Pollard's lawyers announced the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon, and officials at the Department of Justice confirmed that Mr. Pollard had been granted parole." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday defended the Iran nuclear agreement as a 'strong deal' before skeptical members of Congress who expressed concern that it will eventually give Iran the freedom to build nuclear weapons and finance mayhem in the region. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry told lawmakers that it is a 'fantasy' to think that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons should it choose to do is." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... William Saletan of Slate presents arguments on why Kerry should STFU. Kerry is revealing way too much, Saletan says. ...

... Eugene Scott, et al., of CNN: "The longest-serving Jewish member currently in Congress announced Tuesday that he'll back the Iran nuclear deal, saying it is the best way to protect Israel. 'I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the Agreement is the best way to achieve that,' said Democratic Rep. Sandy Levin in a statement. The support of a veteran Jewish representative, who has served Michigan for 33 years, could be significant in building momentum for Democratic backing of the deal." ...

... CW: Levin's statement ends with a poignant remembrance:

Each Member of Congress will bring both private and public life experiences to address this difficult issue. I along with my brother and late sister when we were in our teens experienced with our parents great personal joy when President Truman announced U.S. recognition of Israel. It was something that we could take hold of amidst the unfolding horrors of the years before. Israel's security has and always will be of critical importance to me and our country. I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the Agreement is the best way to achieve that. In my view, the only anchors in public life are to dig deeply into the facts and consult broadly and then to say what you believe.

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "A Republican congressman has filed a request to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in a new and unusual challenge to his leadership from the GOP's right flank. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Tuesday evening filed a 'motion to vacate the chair,' which, if successful, would force the election of a new speaker. Such a challenge has never before succeeded in the House, and only once before -- 105 years ago -- has it been attempted."

Ted-o-thon Cut Short. Dana Milbank: "Finally, Senate Republicans are standing up to the bully who terrorized them the past two and a half years.... In a broader sense, Republican senators seem to be growing in confidence that they can defy what remains of the tea party and affiliated conservative groups...."

** Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine on the "Republican activists who have systematically dismantled" the Voting Rights Act. CW: Thanks again, Supremes.

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: More than 167,000 people petitioned the White House, arguing that Edward Snowden was "a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free and absolute pardon." In a statement, the White House said no, thank you.

Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "A new undercover video released by opponents of Planned Parenthood on Tuesday includes graphic depictions of a technician sorting through the tissue collected after an abortion.... 'This video really shows such extremely disturbing violations of patient privacy and dignity,' Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said on a call with reporters. A new Hart Research survey released by the group showed voters don't support congressional defunding efforts.... The Obama administration's top health official, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, on Tuesday deferred questions on the investigations to DOJ and suggested her department is not conducting its own review of Planned Parenthood." ...

... Jennifer Haberkorn & Anna Palmer of Politico: "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this week called to halt Planned Parenthood's federal funding while Congress investigates whether the organization broke a federal ban on profiting from fetal tissue donation. The Senate plans to hold a vote on a defunding amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and others that is likely to fail." ...

... CW: If you're not a friend of Planned Parenthood, you're not a friend of women. It's that simple.

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... Facebook, already a major player in past cycles, has been working to expand its digital dominance in the political realm. Facebook -- which has 189 million monthly users in the United States -- has pitched its tools and services to every presidential campaign in the 2016 race, not to mention down-ballot races, to showcase new features as candidates seek to reach and recruit new supporters and potential donors.... Facebook has rolled out several tools since the last presidential election to help campaigns reach voters more efficiently and effectively." CW: You must find the "tools" the campaigns are using to be invasions of privacy.

A Marine Corps lieutenant colonel is relieved of her commend, & the Marine Corps Gazette subsequently decides not to publish her essay criticizing the Corps' treatment of female Marines. C. J. Chivers of the New York Times has the backstory, & publishes the essay. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Anne Barnard of the New York Times: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip "Erdogan's stance [against Kurdish militants] presents a complication for the United States and other NATO allies. Under alliance rules, they are bound to protect Turkey from threats, and they have long listed the Kurdish militant group that fought a long insurgency in Turkey, the P.K.K., as a terrorist organization. But they are eager not to let the Kurdish issue overshadow the international fight against Islamic State militants who have seized much of Syria and Iraq and sought to inspire attacks around the world."

** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. The New York Times' "Very Good Sources." Norm Ornstein in the Atlantic: "... the huge embarrassment over the story claiming a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton for her emails -- leading the webpage, prominent on the front page, before being corrected in the usual, cringeworthy fashion of journalists who stonewall any alleged errors and then downplay the real ones -- is a direct challenge to its fundamental credibility. And the paper's response since the initial huge error was uncovered has not been adequate or acceptable.... Someone should be held accountable here, with suspension or other action that fits the gravity of the offense." Ornstein suggests that the government leakers, whoever they might be (Trey Gowdy), had been shopping around the criminal investigation story & the reason the Times scooped the others is that the Times didn't check its facts. ...

... Jonathan Allen of Vox has more. The Times story, he says, results from "a bureaucratic turf war between the [state] department and the intelligence community" as to what is classified or "senstive" & what is not, a disagreement which the IGs asked the DOJ to mitigate, not litigate; in other words, a boring story.

Presidential Race

Zaid Jilani of AlterNet: "Of all the arguments the Democratic establishment has thrown out against Bernie Sanders' candidacy, perhaps the most recurring one revolves around electability. 'Sure, you agree with him,' they argue, 'but he can't win.' A just released CNN poll finds Sanders out-polling all of the GOP's major candidates, though pretty much tied with Jeb Bush." ...

... Also, Too. Tuck Chodd & Mark Murray of NBC News: " The Unpopularity Contest: The numbers inside the new NBC-Marist poll tell a story beyond the horesraces in Iowa and New Hampshire. They underscore how most of the top presidential candidates are unpopular right now with the general-election audience in both states. And that's especially true for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and (not much surprise here) Donald Trump. The one exception? Bernie Sanders."

AP: "Hillary Clinton says she will not take a position on the Keystone XL pipeline until she becomes president, citing her work on the issue as secretary of state. Clinton told voters in New Hampshire on Tuesday that she will not 'second-guess' Barack Obama's pending decision on the pipeline. She said that would not be the 'right thing to do' because the government's review of the project started during her tenure at the State Department." ...

... Alexa Corse & Shane Harris of the Daily Beast: "There is a two-month gap in Hillary Clinton's emails that coincides with violence in Libya and the employment status of a top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.... 'There are gaps of months and months and months,' Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a March 8 interview.... In a statement to reporters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill noted, 'More emails are slated to be released by the State Department next week, and we hope that release is as inclusive as possible.'"

Jim Newell of Salon plays “If I Were A Conservative Voter." Turns out I would love Ted Cruz who always tells me that the Bible & the Constitution justify my righteous anger at Washington RINO sellouts, & I would not be fond of elitist snob Jeb! who hangs with CEOs & regards me as a hapless rube who needs civilizing.

Mike Allen of Politico: "Fox News is opening its 5 p.m. debate to all the announced Republican candidates who fail to make the cut for the Aug. 6 prime-time event, removing a requirement that participants reach at least 1 percent in polling. The change amounts to an insurance policy for candidates who were in danger of being disqualified from the vital first debate ... -- Carly Fiorina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).... The 9 p.m. debate will include the 10 candidates with the highest average in national polls, as determined by Fox News. The 5 p.m. forum will now include all the rest." ...

... CW: If I had to vote in the GOP primary, I'd vote for Lindsey Graham, & not just because he represents my last chance to be FLOTUS. Knowing as I do that Lindsey would love to lead us into World War III, I still think he's the best-qualified GOP presidential candidate & the only one who meets the minimum IQ threshold (as it appears in Article II of the Constitution:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years and who shall not have attained an Intelligence Quotient of at least One hundred, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.)

Erik Wemple updates Donald Trump's media strategy in the wake of his consigliere's threats against a Daily Beast reporter. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... almost immediately, (a) Ivana Trump came to her ex-husband's defense, hinting that she might have exaggerated..., and saying he'd be a great president, blah blah blah; and (b) some Trump spox disclaims any association with [gangster lawyer Michael] Cohen's comments to the Beastly duo. For dessert, somebody discovered an old tweet with Cohen posing between two 'great Americans,' Hillary Clinton and Patrick Kennedy, and [Donald] Trump fans are beginning to speculate that he tried to sabotage Trump on Hillary's behalf! So ... it gets turned into a story ... about one a them gold-digging women who make up rape allegations they later abandon, and the lyin' liberal loser journalists -- perhaps in league with Hillary! -- who use that to smear The Donald." ...

... ** McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "Was this really the best goon money could buy? Cohen's outburst was, in fact, emblematic of the loyalists who have long populated The Donald's inner circle. Trump's key lieutenants tend to fit the same consumer profile as his discount luxury-brand targets: They are men with middle- and working-class roots; lacking in elite credentials; mesmerized by made-for-TV displays of lavish wealth." CW: Entertaining reading that incidentally backs up my assessment [offered a few days back] of the source of Trump's popularity. ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker is sticking with his earlier prediction: "Sooner or later, Trump's act will start to seem old, even to G.O.P. voters."

Rebecca Berg in Real Clear Politics: "Scott Walker has insisted he will be able to 'compete anywhere in the country' ... but, at a private event in St. Louis on Sunday, Walker said he does not plan to compete in Florida, contradicting his own public assertions that he would not skip that primary." Via Paul Waldman.

Alex Isenstadt of Politico autopsies Rand Paul's campaign. CW: Don't worry, Li'l Randy. I'm sure you'll pick up a lot of votes with your effort to defund Planned Parenthood. BTW, there's a reason your supporters are overwhelmingly male. What's up next? A move to repeal of the 19th Amendment?

Terrence Dopp of Bloomberg: "Residents in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana should toke up while they still can, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said. 'If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,' Christie, a Republican campaigning for the 2016 presidential nomination, said Tuesday during a town-hall meeting at the Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire. 'As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.'" ...

... EXCEPT, digby points out, Christie now is also a states' rights guy. Also a God guy. CW: I'm a little confused about whether or not Christie thinks God backs the Second Amendment. I could look it up, but I don't care much about Chris Christie's theological musings. ...

... CW BTW: I found out the other day that some confederates -- like the chair of Oklahoma's Republican party -- object to the pledge of allegiance because of the "one nation, indivisible" part. I supposed the "United" part of "United States" rankles these patriots, too. Confederates are also Pre-Constitutionalists.

Mika Brzezinski is often pretty silly & shallow. Not this time:

... ** Unsurprisingly, Israelis are offended, too. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Reuters: "Los Angeles city council has voted unanimously to ban the possession of large-capacity gun magazines, following San Francisco to become the second major city in California to take that step. The law prohibits Los Angeles residents from possessing a handgun or rifle magazine that fits more than 10 rounds."

Jesse McKinley of the New York Times on how & why prison worker Joyce Mitchell helped two murderers escape from an upstate New York prison.

News Ledes

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero -- where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis -- but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu ... has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El -- built on private Palestinian land without permits -- should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu's opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)