The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

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 2

2:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

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Thursday
Jul022015

The Commentariat -- July 3, 2015

Michael Schmidt & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "... this Fourth of July weekend has spawned particularly strong warnings about a potential [terrorist] attack as the federal authorities and national security experts say the United States is more susceptible now because of tactics chosen for recent terrorist strikes by the Islamic State. Officials cite an increased effort by the Islamic State to galvanize its sympathizers in the United States and elsewhere since Memorial Day and during this Ramadan season to carry out acts of violence on their own — so-called lone-wolf attacks. Those potential plots by individuals are harder for the authorities to detect and disrupt, senior American officials say, and have led the F.B.I. to put more Americans under investigation for suspected ties to terrorist groups than at any point since Sept. 11."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has begun a profound shift in its enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, aiming to hasten the integration of long-term illegal immigrants into society rather than targeting them for deportation, according to documents and federal officials. In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to ensure that the majority of America’s 11.3 million undocumented immigrants can stay in this country, with agents narrowing enforcement efforts to three groups of illegal migrants: convicted criminals, terrorism threats or those who recently crossed the border." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama came to [La Crosse, Wisconsin,] on the Mississippi on Thursday and launched a frontal assault on Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who filed papers earlier in the day that moved him closer to joining a crowded Republican presidential field. ...

... Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans in the state where the GOP governor was preparing to enter the vast 2016 presidential field. 'They're good people,' Obama said of Republicans. 'It's just their ideas are bad.' Obama leveled some of his sharpest criticism of Republicans, who disagree with him on most matters, on the issue of health care....'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

I've lost count how many Republicans are running for this job. They'll have enough for an actual 'Hunger Games.' -- President Obama, in La Crosse

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "In the second quarter of 2015, Democrats regained an advantage over Republicans in terms of Americans' party affiliation. A total of 46% of Americans identified as Democrats (30%) or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party (16%), while 41% identified as Republicans (25%) or leaned Republican (16%)."

Julia O'Donaghue of the Times-Picayune: "Following a court ruling ordering it to do so, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration agreed Thursday (July 2) afternoon to allow the state Department of Vital Records in downtown New Orleans to issue the marriage licenses. Every other marriage license office in the state began doing so earlier this week." ...

... Matt Volz of the AP: "A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife. Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy ... but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.... Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he ... expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week. 'I think he deserves an answer,' Gillen said, but added his review is finding that 'the law simply doesn't provide for that yet.'"

Tim Egan: "The current heat [in Washington state] is a precursor, an early peek at a scary tomorrow. [Sen. Jim] Inhofe’s ignorance could have a direct effect on the place we leave our grandchildren."

AP: "Greece' finance minister says an agreement with the country's creditors 'is more or less done' as European officials have put forward 'very decent proposals' to the Greek government his week. Yanis Varoufakis has told Ireland's RTE radio Friday that this 'has not been a dead week in terms of negotiations' despite European officials stating publicly that there would be no further talks until after Sunday's referendum." ...

... ** Phillip Inman, et al., of the Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has electrified the referendum debate in Greece after it conceded that the crisis-ridden country needs up to €60bn (£42bn) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create “a breathing space” and stabilise the economy.... With days to go before Sunday’s knife-edge referendum that the country’s creditors have cast as a vote on whether it wants to keep the euro, the IMF revealed a deep split with Europe as it warned that Greece’s debts were 'unsustainable'.” ...

... Paul Krugman: "... if it weren’t for the nightmare in southern Europe, the troubles facing the Finnish economy might well be seen as an epic disaster. And Finland isn’t alone. It’s part of an arc of economic decline that extends across northern Europe through Denmark — which isn’t on the euro, but is managing its money as if it were — to the Netherlands.... What all of these economies have in common ... is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straitjacket." P.S. to Greeks -- Vote "No." ...

... According to the AP, polling shows the vote is close.

Presidential Race

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, bringing his antiwar credentials to the field in what many consider a long-shot campaign for the presidency. Mr. Webb’s announcement caught some political observers by surprise — the politician was the first to form a presidential exploratory committee among both Democrats and Republicans, but he has been barely visible ever since." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Washington Post story, by Rachel Weiner, is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's Webb's announcement statement. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "In a different era’s Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination.... As surprising as Bernie Sanders’s rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does.... Webb’s statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "In a pretty clear indication that he doesn’t care much for the advice of people like me, former Senator Jim Webb leapt into the 2016 presidential race without further clarifying his rather anachronistic views on the display of Confederate emblems, or for that matter, doing much of anything else in preparation."

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Bernie Sanders has more than halved the gap with Hillary Clinton in the early-voting state of Iowa, according to a new poll which shows the leftwing insurgent building on his recent record-breaking public appearances with growing support among key Democratic voters.... The latest survey in Iowa, carried out by Quinnipiac University, shows him trailing her by 33 to 52 percentage points among likely Democratic participants in the state caucuses on 1 February. This compares with Clinton’s 60-15 point lead, more than twice as large, in the last Quinnipiac poll on 7 May...."

Matea Gold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians. Tax returns disclosed this week by the Republican’s presidential campaign revealed that the business not only made him rich but also provided a steady income for his wife and one of his sons.... The returns show that the company set up a generous and well-funded pension plan now rare in corporate America, allowing Bush to take large tax deductions while he and his wife built up their retirement portfolio."

Ben Brody of Bloomberg: "Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry accused his party of trading its 'moral legitimacy' for political pragmatism in abandoning the cause of African Americans and, along with it, the black vote. 'We found that we did need it to win,' the former Texas governor said. 'But when we gave up trying to win the support of African Americans we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln, the party of equal opportunity for all.'... Perry also ... [said Donald] Trump's recent disparaging comments about Mexico and Mexican immigrants do not 'reflect the Republican Party.'" ...

... digby: "I'll just point out that Rick Perry lost all moral legitimacy with the human race when he blithely signed more death warrants than any governor in history.... Also too: African Americans comprise only 12% of the population of Texas, but they comprise 39.8% of death row inmates."

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. -- Donald Trump, presidential candidacy announcement

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "... it's worth noting the two hallmarks of classic Donald Trump that emerged from his response [to the furor his [remarks caused]. First, he unfailingly stood by the comments.... And second, he's wrong. On CNN on Wednesday night, he offered a defense to anchor Don Lemon. 'If you look at the statistics, of people coming ... I didn't say about Mexico, I say the illegal immigrants —if you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything, coming in illegally to the country, they're mind-boggling,' he told Lemon. Every part of that is incorrect. He did say his comments about Mexico — explicitly. And data show that new immigrants —  including illegal immigrants — are actually less likely to commit crime, not more." (Emphasis added.) Read the whole post. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "... just because Trump is an unqualified vanity candidate doesn’t mean he’s unimportant in the story of the 2016 GOP presidential primary....While Trump was out-of-bounds of mainstream conversation, he was well in the bounds of Republican Party politics and the kinds of rhetoric used there about Mexican and Latin American immigrants.... His rhetoric — a revanchist stew of foreign policy belligerence, small government ideology, anti-elite agitation, and raw bigotry — reflects and appeals to a meaningful part of the Republican electorate." ...

... OR, as digby puts it, "They love him for saying what they all believe."

Beyond the Beltway

Tania Eiserer of WFAA Dallas-Fort Worth: "The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned. Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.... Schaffer ... said the securities fraud allegations involve amounts well in excess of $100,000." ...

... CW: This is the same Ken Paxton who last week was fighting the Obergefell decision with everything he had & calling the decision "lawless."

Bethania Markus of the Raw Story: "Chaos broke out in a Brooklyn, New York park when an anarchist group burned both the Confederate and American flags. Bystanders and counter-protesters angered by the event showed up to defend the stars and stripes."

Wednesday
Jul012015

The Commentariat -- July 2, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans in the state where the GOP governor was preparing to enter the vast 2016 presidential field. 'They're good people,' Obama said of Republicans. 'It's just their ideas are bad.' Obama leveled some of his sharpest criticism of Republicans, who disagree with him on most matters, on the issue of health care....'"

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jim Webb, the former Virginia senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, bringing his antiwar credentials to the field in what many consider a long-shot campaign for the presidency. Mr. Webb’s announcement caught some political observers by surprise — the politician was the first to form a presidential exploratory committee among both Democrats and Republicans, but he has been barely visible ever since." ...

... The Washington Post story, by Rachel Weiner, is here.

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has begun a profound shift in its enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, aiming to hasten the integration of long-term illegal immigrants into society rather than targeting them for deportation, according to documents and federal officials. In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to ensure that the majority of America’s 11.3 million undocumented immigrants can stay in this country, with agents narrowing enforcement efforts to three groups of illegal migrants: convicted criminals, terrorism threats or those who recently crossed the border."

*****

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department announced Thursday an $18.7 billion agreement in principle with BP to settle outstanding claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico--the worst oil spill in U.S. history."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday announced his plans to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba this month, declaring that the two nations were ready to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals and to start a 'new chapter' of engagement after more than a half-century of estrangement":

... Dana Milbank: "In the space of just over a week, [President] Obama’s tired tenure came back to life." CW: Milbank is overstating the case. The President has been working -- and producing -- ever since the 2014 elections.

John Harwood of CNBC: "... don't expect Nancy Pelosi to line up behind Elizabeth Warren and demand President Barack Obama get tougher on Wall Street. 'There may have been a couple of people who say that, but that is not the consensus in our party,' Pelosi said in a 45-minute interview. On the charge that the administration has been 'too soft' on Wall Street, she added: 'The financial industry doesn't agree with that.' Her comment was a reminder that, as the leader of House Democrats, Pelosi outranks Warren despite all the attention the Massachusetts senator has attracted lately...."

Drew Harwell, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department is investigating whether some of America’s biggest airlines have colluded to keep airfares high, striking at an industry that has posted record profits recently while limiting routes and affordable seats, officials familiar with the matter said Wednesday."

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "A federal appeals court [Fifth District] on Wednesday afternoon directed the district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to issue final orders ending enforcement of the states’ respective bans on same-sex couples’ marriages.... In the Louisiana case, in which the trial court had upheld the ban, the appeals court, in a second opinion by Judge [Jerry] Smith, wrote that 'the judgment appealed from is REVERSED, and this matter is REMANDED for entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.' Notably, Smith added: 'The district court must act expeditiously on remand, especially in view of the declining health of plaintiff Robert Welles,' a plaintiff in the case.... Nothing yet from U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, who upheld Louisiana’s marriage ban...." CW: Feldman is a singular winger. ...

... CW: As contributor David Feldman (no relation -- maybe) points out, that Marty Feldman is not this Marty Feldman:

Steve Benen: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy "Moore and his lawyer are under the impression that the United States is a theocracy. It’s this assumption that leads them to believe public officials – judges, governors, county clerks, et al – are obligated to follow religious dictates, as defined by Moore and his lawyer’s interpretation of Scripture."

AP: "Episcopalians have voted to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. The vote came Wednesday in Salt Lake City at the denomination's national assembly. The measure passed by an overwhelming margin in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay people at the meeting. The day before, the House of Bishops had approved the resolution, 129-26 with five abstaining.... Many dioceses have allowed priests to perform civil same-sex weddings."

Dana Hedgpeth of the Washington Post: "The White House said Wednesday it is lifting its longstanding ban on cameras and taking photos on its public tours." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

James Loewen, in a Washington Post op-ed: "We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that [Neo-Confederates] spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.... Neo-Confederates also managed to rename the war, calling it 'the War Between the States.' Nevermind that while it was going on, no one called it that.... Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded for states’ rights. When each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights [claimed by Northern states].... Publishers [of grade-school textbooks] mystify secession because they don’t want to offend Southern school districts and thereby lose sales." ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "The endorsement of the Klan not only underscores the long affiliation of the [confederate] flag with racist terrorism; it also makes plain why debates about symbols have real-world consequences.... As Charleston mass murderer Dylann Roof’s comments about black rapists should remind us, [the Klan's] toxic brew of racism and chivalry is still an essential part of white supremacy."

Jessica Derschowitz of Entertainment Weekly: TV Land has pulled reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard off its schedule, a spokesperson for the network confirmed to EW on Wednesday. The network did not comment further or say why the episodes were removed, but the news comes as the show became part of the growing national debate over use of the Confederate flag, which is displayed on the roof of the Duke boys’ car. Last week, Warner Bros. Consumer Products said it would no longer license toys or models of the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger...." CW: What a shame. Now I'll never get to watch this examplar of the vast American television wasteland (or so I would suspect, based on no direct knowledge of what I would assume were the tritest of plotlines, writ in service of stock-character rednecks racing around in souped-up cars). ...

... So then the stars of "The Dukes of Hazzard" speak out in defense of the show (and their residuals). ...

... Now, let us contemplate Greek history & philosophy. (Life is a glorious cycle of non sequiturs.) ...

... What Thucydides Said about the Greek Financial Crisis. Robert Zaretsky, in a New York Times op-ed: "When Thucydides declared his work was 'a possession for all time,' he meant that its relevance was as fixed and unchanging as was human behavior. Like his friend, the tragedian Sophocles, he would not be surprised that the blindness and hubris that undid ancient Athens remain with us today, and that the noble and humanist aims that once animated the European project have given way to unbending technocratic impulses.... Looming behind the euro has been the blunt fact of Germany’s strict monetary and economic policies, the edginess of a European Central Bank preoccupied by the specter of inflation and the eagerness of the European Union’s Council of Ministers to make policy in what is the near-total absence of democratic process." ...

... Jennifer Rankin of the Guardian: "Germany has dismissed a last-ditch compromise plan from Greece that bowed to some key demands of its creditors. In an address to the Bundestag, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, reiterated her stance that there was no point in having talks with the government of Alexis Tsipras before a referendum in Greece on an EU bailout plan. 'The door to talks with the Greek government has always been, and remains, open,' she said, but added that talks could not take place before Sunday’s poll." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the financial crisis.

Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: German Chancellor Angela "Merkel’s conversation with an unidentified adviser, along with another document from the chancellor’s top aide for European affairs and a list of 69 telephone numbers said to belong to members of the German government and their aides, were made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The files seem to contain little new information, but if authentic, they would appear to be the first solid evidence that the N.S.A. eavesdropped on Ms. Merkel, after allegations in 2013 that were based on lists of telephone numbers revealed by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden." ...

... CW: Hmmm, is Snowden passing material to Wikileaks? Or is a journalist-recipient of his files the culprit? It's possible the Wikileaks source is someone completely unrelated to the Snowden "team" or others who had access to the journalists' materials. But if my suspicions are correct, this (fairly harmless and unsurprising) leak is an indication of exactly the kind of threat that I've warned Snowden & his "sharing" methods pose to U.S. security. Snowden fans, take pause.

David Sanger & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: A major sticking point in the Iran nuclear deal is whether or not Iran will allow International Atomic Energy Agency officials to interview Iranian scientists & others who have worked on the country's nuclear program.

Give Peas a Chance? Uh-uh. Alan Rappeport on the Compelling Controvery of the Day: "President Obama and Jeb Bush have found something they agree on: Peas in guacamole are a no-no. The meeting of the taste buds came after The New York Times posted a recipe suggestion on Twitter that adding peas was a good idea. The recipe, which started a debate on Twitter so raucous that Mr. Obama was asked about it, suggests that 'the peas add intense sweetness and a chunky texture to the dip, making it more substantial on the chip.'”

Presidential Race

Gail Collins has an interactive Fourth of July quiz that's all about the presidential candidates. CW: I'm happy to say I'm back to my average of missing one. A person can know too much.

E. J. Dionne: "Will any [Republican candidates] have the temerity to appeal to their party’s many working-class supporters by making the point that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other Democrats are sure to advance: that reinforcing our 'conservative' values about the honor of work often requires what are usually seen as 'progressive' measures by government to keep workers from being short-changed?"

Bernie Sanders at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday evening.AP: "The Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders touted his progressive credentials before his largest crowd to date on Wednesday night as he pushed his campaign into Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s backyard. Sanders packed the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, filling its 10,000 seats to show his bid to snatch the Democratic nomination from front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t a longshot. 'Tonight we have made a little bit of history,' the white-haired Sanders said at a podium positioned between Wisconsin and United States flags at the outset of his hourlong speech before a boisterous crowd. 'Tonight we have more people at any meeting for a candidate of president of the United States than any other candidate.'”

Obama 2008. See comments for context.

Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The House Select Committee on Benghazi is a 'charade,' Hillary Clinton’s campaign charges in a new video blasting the committee for wasting taxpayer money on politics":

... Adam Lerner of Politico has more of the details of the recently-released Clinton e-mails. ...

     ... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Could there possibly be a bigger 'move along, nothing to see here' moment on the giant scandal of Hillary Clinton's email than a Politico article headlined 'The 12 Hillary Clinton emails you must read' in which all 12 are [silly]? ...

... Daniel Schulman of Mother Jones: "... some of the more intriguing exchanges involved the media — how her team sought to shape the news, the journalists they considered receptive to their message, and the close degree to which Clinton monitored how she was covered." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times sees the e-mails as revealing Clinton's difficulty in "finding her place" in an administration headed by the guy who beat her in the race for the presidential nomination. ...

... Amanda Becker & Emily Stephenson of Reuters: "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has raised about $45 million since she entered the 2016 race in April, her campaign said on Wednesday. More than 90 percent of Clinton's donations were in amounts of $100 or less, a campaign aide said, emphasizing the Democratic front-runner's broad-based grassroots support. The campaign did not release the total number of donors so far." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "For Democrats, Donald Trump amounts to a kind of divine intervention. With the Republican Party on an urgent mission to woo Latino voters, one of its leading presidential candidates has been enmeshed for two weeks in a nasty feud over his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.... Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats, meanwhile, are eager to make Trump the face of the Republican Party, which is momentarily leaderless with a disparate presidential field and no clear front-runner." ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a statement today that the city is reviewing all of Trump’s contracts with the city due to his 'disgusting and offensive' remarks." ...

... Phil Mickelson of the Golf Channel: "When it comes to the employees at his own private [golf] clubs and resorts, Trump is not worried about repercussions. 'I have Mexicans and South Americans working for me all over the country and believe me, they love me and I love them,' Trump told [Tim] Rosaforte [of the Golf Channel]. 'I think they’re great. I’ve had great support and I haven’t heard one negative thing and frankly I don’t expect to.' Both the PGA Tour and PGA of America declined comment...."

... Robin Givhan of the Washington Post: "More than 728,000 people signed a Moveon.org petition calling on Macy’s to ditch the Donald — to sever its ties with Donald Trump, the real estate mogul-turned-celebrity designer-turned-Republican presidential candidate. And Wednesday morning, national department store chain announced that it was doing just that.... Trump responded with his own statement, suggesting that he was breaking up with them first anyway.... Once the Trump-branded merchandise is gone from the stores, that’s it. Collectors can still purchase his menswear — on sale! — via the Macy’s website. The decision does not effect the Ivanka Trump collection, which Macy’s also sells." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Simon Miloy of Salon: "... not one Republican has stood up and done literally the easiest, least controversial, most politically buzzy thing one could do in this situation: denounce Donald Trump."

Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: Chris Christie "canceled a morning event in New Hampshire, the state on which he is staking his campaign, and headed to Portland, Me., to pick up the endorsement of its deeply embattled governor, Paul R. LePage — a man who is gripped in a veto-and-override standoff with a hostile Legislature, has exhausted many fellow Maine Republicans and is being threatened with impeachment by Democrats and independents. Say this for Mr. LePage, though: He makes Mr. Christie’s problems in his home state look puny." ...

Scenes from a Diner. Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dumber (see MAG's comment below):

... Margaret Hartmann: Like all GOP presidential candidates, Chris Christie disagrees with the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision. However, he says of governors & all state employees, "'You took the job and you took the oath.... When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it.' Christie did note that there are some 'individual circumstances that might merit some examination,' but his position puts him at odds with many of his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination, who have argued that religious exemptions should be allowed. Looks like Christie's Straight Talk Express has officially left the garage! Let's see if it makes it down the block."

Ed Kilgore thinks Ted Cruz won the post-SCOTUS sweepstakes because his ill-advised proposal to subject U.S. Supreme Court justices to retention elections dovetails with ultra-conservative Iowans' own partially-successful efforts to recall state supreme court justices who voted in 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage. Kilgore does acknowledge that the Obergefell decision gave "Scott Walker an excuse for changing his own position on same-sex marriage; he now embraces a constitutional amendment to overturn SCOTUS" & this burnish his creds with folks who thump the Bible rather than read it.

Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: To some Republican bigwigs -- and the Koch boys! -- Scott Walker's abrupt shifts rightward increasingly suggest he is "willing to lose the general election to win the primary."

Beyond the Beltway

Equal Rights, a State at a Time. Laura Nahmias of Capital New York: "... a year after [New York] Governor Andrew Cuomo made it a focal point of his re-election campaign, the majority of a women’s equality-centric legislative package that proved hugely controversial in last year’s session sailed through. That legislation, the Women’s Equality Act, was a ten-part group of bills aimed at advancing women’s rights.... All but one of the Women’s Equality Act bills quietly passed the Legislature. One has already been signed. Eight more are awaiting Cuomo’s signature." The part that didn't pass in the GOP-dominated legislature related to abortion rights. Via  of New York.

Steve Mistler of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: "The [Maine] Legislature’s watchdog committee voted unanimously Wednesday to investigate Gov. Paul LePage’s threat to withhold state funds from a school for at-risk children unless it withdrew a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves. The probe will focus on how state funding is sent to Good Will-Hinckley, a private school in Fairfield, and the effects of the Republican governor’s threat on a political foe, which rocked the State House last week and led some Democrats to call for the Republican governor’s impeachment.... The unanimous vote [cam] after the governor's attorney tells the agency that will investigate that it doesn't have jurisdiction over LePage.... 'They can’t investigate me,' [LePage] said. 'It’s in the Constitution.'” At least one independent legal expert disagreed, in part, with the governor & his attorney.

Gretel Kauffman of the Christian Science Monitor: "An escaped murderer that was captured 22 days after breaking out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., is claiming that he and his partner in crime used only hacksaw blades to cut through steel cell block walls." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

How to Make Your Anti-Gay Storefront Signs More Polite. Jaime Fuller of New York: "On Monday, a few days after last week's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Jeff Amyx put a sign that said 'No Gays Allowed' on the door of his hardware store in Tennessee. On Tuesday night, he amended the sign slightly. It now reads, 'We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.' He told WATE 6 in Knoxville, 'People told me I ought to do it a little bit more, make it a little nicer because I’m a very blunt person.'" CW: Ah, much better. ...

    ... CW Update: Be sure to see Steve Van Nest's additional reporting & commetary on the story in today's Comments.

Tuesday
Jun302015

The Commentariat -- July 1, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Amanda Becker & Emily Stephenson of Reuters: "Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has raised about $45 million since she entered the 2016 race in April, her campaign said on Wednesday. More than 90 percent of Clinton's donations were in amounts of $100 or less, a campaign aide said, emphasizing the Democratic front-runner's broad-based grassroots support. The campaign did not release the total number of donors so far."

Robin Givhan of the Washington Post: "More than 728,000 people signed a Moveon.org petition calling on Macy’s to ditch the Donald — to sever its ties with Donald Trump, the real estate mogul-turned-celebrity designer-turned-Republican presidential candidate. And Wednesday morning, national department store chain announced that it was doing just that.... Trump responded with his own statement, suggesting that he was breaking up with them first anyway.... Once the Trump-branded merchandise is gone from the stores, that’s it. Collectors can still purchase his menswear — on sale! — via the Macy’s website. The decision does not effect the Ivanka Trump collection, which Macy’s also sells."

Gretel Kauffman of the Christian Science Monitor: "An escaped murderer that was captured 22 days after breaking out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., is claiming that he and his partner in crime used only hacksaw blades to cut through steel cell block walls." ...

Dana Hedgpeth of the Washington Post: "The White House said Wednesday it is lifting its longstanding ban on cameras and taking photos on its public tours." ...

*****

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "Obamacare is the law of the land, President Barack Obama says, and it’s time for Republicans who oppose it to move on. That’s the message Obama intends to send during a visit to Tennessee on Wednesday, as he takes a victory lap just six days after the Supreme Court upheld the legislation that created Obamacare...."

Gregory Korte of USA Today: "The United States and Cuba will announce an agreement Wednesday to open embassies in each other's capitals, formally re-establish diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, senior administration officials said Tuesday. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make the announcement Wednesday morning, said the three officials...."

Jared Bernstein, in a Washington Post op-ed: "By significantly increasing the salary threshold below which salaried workers get overtime pay, President Obama just took a big step toward updating a critical labor standard with the potential to boost the paychecks of millions of middle-wage workers, many of whom should be getting overtime but are not.... You’d be very hard pressed to come up with a rule change or executive order — i.e., non-legislation — to lift the pay of this many middle-wage workers. That’s important, because we live in a time when the bargaining power of many who depend on their paychecks is much diminished relative to the clout and power of those whose income derives from their wealth portfolios."

Mint Press photo.Wesley Lowery, et al., of the Washington Post: "Nationwide, police have shot and killed 124 people this year who ... were in the throes of mental or emotional crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis. The dead account for a quarter of the 462 people shot to death by police in the first six months of 2015. The vast majority were armed, but in most cases, the police officers who shot them were not responding to reports of a crime. More often, the police officers were called by relatives, neighbors or other bystanders.... More than 50 people were explicitly suicidal. More than half the killings involved police agencies that have not provided their officers with state-of-the-art training to deal with the mentally ill. And in many cases, officers responded with tactics that quickly made a volatile situation even more dangerous." CW: Also, too, remember that cops are selected for stupid.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The stunning series of liberal decisions* delivered by the Supreme Court this term was the product of discipline on the left side of the court and disarray on the right. In case after case, including blockbusters on same-sex marriage and President Obama’s health care law, the court’s four-member liberal wing, all appointed by Democratic presidents, managed to pick off one or more votes from the court’s five conservative justices, all appointed by Republicans.... The court’s conservatives ... were often splintered, issuing separate opinions even when they agreed on the outcome." ...

... * See previous commentary & links on just how "liberal" these decisions were. ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Reports of the Supreme Court’s leftward turn have been greatly exaggerated. Liberals still giddy over a series of major victories at the Supreme Court last week got a bracing reality check Monday, as conservatives carried the day on key cases involving the death penalty and President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda. Progressives got another signal that any momentum they were experiencing at the high court could be short-lived: the justices announced they will address the thorny issue of affirmative action next term, taking up for the second time a case challenging the University of Texas’s use of race in its admissions process." ...

... ** Remember the Supremes! (TM: Kate Madison) Michael Tomasky of Daily Beast: "As we saw yesterday with the court’s death-penalty and EPA rulings, it’s still a long way from being a liberal court.... People should remember that if a Republican is elected president next year and has the chance to replace Kennedy and/or Ruth Bader Ginsburg with another Samuel Alito, the Obamacare and same-sex marriage standings could easily be reversed." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "If you look at the totality of [Chief Justice John] Roberts's career, and his decade as a Supreme Court justice, two trends emerge: Roberts is exceedingly business friendly (he described the issue at stake in King as 'a question of deep economic and political significance'); and is deeply animated by a set of issues — limiting affirmative action, voting rights, campaign finance regulations, abortion — that by pure luck seems not to include universal health insurance. The Roberts Court has already done lasting damage on several of these fronts.... This judicial threat to liberalism won’t subside, either, until a future Democratic president replaces one of the Court’s existing conservatives with a liberal. The Roberts Court would give way to the Kagan Court, and the right would devote fewer resources to pursuing their agenda through the judicial system." ...

... Lydia Wheeler of the Hill: "The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear another redistricting case out of Arizona, a day after the justices ruled that it is constitutional for states to use independent commissions to draw congressional districts. The new case, Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, now looks at the constitutionality of legislative districts that were drawn up by the state's independent commission. The case was brought by a group of Republican Arizona voters who charged that the redistricting commission packed white GOP voters into over-populated districts to give minorities an advantage in Democratic districts. They claim the redistricting violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s one-person, one-vote principle." ...

... Jennifer Agiesta of CNN: "Most Americans say they support each of the two major Supreme Court rulings issued late last week, and nearly four in 10 now say they view the Court as too liberal. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court's ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges. Slightly fewer, 59%, say they back the ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. Support for each ruling is sharply divided by party, with most Democrats and independents behind both, and most Republicans opposed to both." CW: Good news for Democratic candidates. ...

... Good Catch. Ed Kilgore points out that the question the poll asked asked does not identify the decision as supporting "ObamaCare." "So the numbers CNN/ORC is showing represent another confirmation that the ideas incorporated in Obamacare are a lot more popular than the name, especially among those who are not necessarily responding to partisan cues." ...

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republicans appear to be closing the door on gutting the filibuster, brushing aside calls from GOP presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to consider lowering the 60-vote threshold for repealing ObamaCare. Sources close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) say there’s virtually no chance he will go along with abolishing the filibuster...."

Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday to 'squeeze every last ounce of progress' out of his remaining time in the White House, as his poll ratings reached a two-year high following what political commentators said was the best week of his presidency." Video of the press conference, a joint one with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, is here.

Michael Grunwald of Politico: "Politico has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam.... The draft chapter will provide ammunition for critics who have warned that TPP’s protections for pharmaceutical companies could dump trillions of dollars of additional health care costs on patients, businesses and governments around the Pacific Rim. The ... document, cluttered with objections from other TPP nations, shows that U.S. negotiators have fought aggressively and, at least until Guam, successfully on behalf of Big Pharma."

Josh Gerstein: "The State Department on Monday turned over to the House Benghazi Committee another 3,600 pages of Libya-related documents involving three top officials under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a spokesman for the panel’s Democrats. Included in the newly-provided records are emails to or from former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, former Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan and Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, the spokesman said." ...

... Josh Gerstein: "In her early months in office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in contact with unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal more often and on a wider range of topics than was previously known, a set of about 3,000 Clinton emails released Tuesday night by the State Department revealed. While Blumenthal’s role as a provider of off-the-books intelligence reports on Libya has stirred controversy, the newly disclosed emails show he also acted as an intermediary with officials involved in the Northern Ireland peace process and shared advice with Clinton on issues from Iran to British politics to how to blame China for the breakdown of global climate talks." ...

... Margaret Hartmann picks out "the juiciest revelations" from the State Department's release of a batch of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Sample: couldn't figure out how to use eFax. What an idiot! I still have trouble with call-waiting -- hey, it's only been around for about three decades.

Do-Nothing Congress Dooms Puerto Rico. Danny Vinik of Politico: "With Puerto Rico spiraling toward financial disaster, [White House] spokesman Josh Earnest ... yesterday ... reiterated the White House's support for an idea to help the troubled island: Let its public corporations to go through a structured bankruptcy, the same way they can in the 50 states. In an April campaign stop, Jeb Bush said much the same thing: 'Puerto Rico should be given the same rights as the states.' With both [President] Obama and [Gov.] Bush behind the same plan, you might expect it to have decent odds on Capitol Hill. You'd be wrong. Puerto Rico’s non-voting delegate, Pedro Pierluisi, introduced such a bill in the last Congress, but it never even received a vote in committee."

The Greek government has signaled to its creditors that it is willing to accept many of the terms of a bailout package that it had earlier rejected, if they are part of a broader deal to address the country’s funding needs for the next two years, officials said on Wednesday. The development raised the prospect of progress in resolving a financial crisis that has sent shudders through global markets and deeply strained European unity." ...

... Finally Feeling His Inner Krugman. Julie Davis & Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "President Obama said Tuesday that he was trying to prod European leaders to salvage a deal to keep Greece in the eurozone, even as his government was bracing for the possible consequences of a once unimaginable divorce. 'It is an issue of substantial concern,' Mr. Obama said just hours before Greece missed a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund of 1.5 billion euros, or about $1.72 billion. 'I’ve spoken to my European counterparts, encouraging them to find a path towards a resolution.'... Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew spoke by telephone Tuesday with the finance ministers of three important eurozone countries — the Netherlands, Italy and France — as part of the administration’s push to soften Europe’s stance.” ...

... Here's the Guardian's liveblog of developments.

Presidential Race

Silver-Tongued Serpent. Tom Moran, editorial-page editor of the Star-Ledger, who has covered Chris Christie for 14 years: "Don't believe a word the man says.... My personal favorite:... [In] the 2009 campaign..., the public workers unions asked him if he intended to cut their benefits. He told them their pensions were 'sacred' to him. 'The notion that I would eliminate, change, or alter your pension is not only a lie, but cannot be further from the truth,' he wrote them. 'Your pension and benefits will be protected when I am elected governor.' He then proceeded to make cutting those benefits the centerpiece of his first year in office.... In February, Christie claimed that he was a personal friend of the King of Jordan, which would allow him to accept gifts without limit.... Christie and his clan ran up a hotel bill [in Jordan] of $30,000. He had met the king once, at a political dinner.... He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent's." ...

... New York Times Editors: "On his new website, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey portrays himself as a guy who gets attacked for 'telling it like it is,' but that’s what his mom told him to do from her deathbed.... There are lines between brash and belligerent, between open and obnoxious, and, most important, between 'telling it like it is' and not telling the truth. Mr. Christie crosses those lines all the time.... Just three weeks ago, Mr. Christie bragged that his pension reforms had won a major court victory, when in fact the court ruled them unconstitutional.... Mr. Christie said in announcing his candidacy on Tuesday that he would provide 'growth and opportunity for every American.' But as governor he has increased the tax burden on the working poor while vetoing a bill to raise the minimum wage to a paltry $8.50.... [His] own constituents say by an overwhelming majority that he has done a bad job, should not run for the White House and would make a bad president." ...

... Elspeth Reeve of the New Republic: " how can the New Jersey governor run on this real-talk-from-a-loud-jerk platform when Donald Trump has already been performing a wonderful sendup of it for weeks? The parody is supposed to follow the real thing, not preempt it.... This is the problem when style is your substance. An actual television star can swoop in and do your bit better than you can." ...

... Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: "As Chris Christie announces his bid for the White House, he's expected to lean heavily on the support and network of Ken Langone, a billionaire Republican donor and one of Christie's most visible and vocal backers. But in an interview with National Journal on the eve of Christie's launch, Langone, a cofounder of Home Depot with a Forbes-estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, said he would not be dipping into his personal fortune to write the kind of massive, eight-figure check to Christie's super PAC that would instantly change the complexion of the 2016 race."

Gerry Mullany of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush ... and his wife, Columba, reported adjusted gross income of $7.3 million on his 2013 tax return, the last of 33 years of returns he released on Tuesday. The return showed that he paid $2.9 million in federal taxes on that income.... The effective tax rate of 40 percent that Mr. Bush paid compares with the 13.9 percent rate that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, reported paying in 2010, a figure that drew widespread criticism." ...

... Ed O'Keefe & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "Jeb Bush has made more than $29 million since he left the Florida governor’s office in 2007 — vastly increasing his personal wealth through a combination of speaking fees, lucrative seats on corporate boards, investments and a consulting contract with a global bank that paid $2 million per year.... Bush did not release his tax returns from 2014, or the personal financial disclosure required of presidential candidates, that would show his current assets.... On Tuesday, Bush wrote an online message that sought to cast his income as evidence of his deep experience in business — and to cast his tax payments as evidence of problems in the U.S. tax code.... [Whine Alert!] 'I think I speak for everyone, no matter your tax rate: We need to get more money back in your pocket and less in the federal kitty,' he wrote in a message explaining the release of his tax returns.... [Also, IRS forms are too hard to complete.] On average, Bush gave 1.47 percent of his gross adjusted income each since leaving office to charity." ...

... "Jeb's Wealth to Riches Story." Eli Stokols of Politico: "While acknowledging his 'good fortune,' Bush focused his written explanation of his tax returns on what he sees as a broken system in which he had to fork over much of his income over several decades to Uncle Sam.... The tax rant and voluminous disclosure gives Bush a chance to talk about his wealth ... on his own terms, while delivering a dig at [Hillary] Clinton, who is still under fire for her exclusive use of a personal email account while serving as secretary of state.... The staging and packaging of this document dump was a sleight of hand aiming to distract from the disclosures themselves — the fact that Bush is very much a one-percenter who has aggressively monetized his family connections to amass significant wealth amid a recession — and from several bad business dealings with questionable associates that have already been well-chronicled." ...

     ... CW: Stokols' account is remarkably anti-Bush, especially for Politico, the GOP's BFF.

Paul Waldman: "In a field that has grown to 16 Republican presidential candidates (once Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich make their candidacies official), [Donald] Trump is now in second place pretty much wherever you look.... There’s a genuine danger for the GOP in his presence that goes beyond the simple fact that he makes the party look silly (which he certainly does). More than any other candidate, Trump is telling Latinos that the Republican Party doesn’t like them.... ([He] will almost certainly be included in the upcoming debates, by the way).... Trump may be a comical buffoon who stands almost no chance of getting the nomination, but by the time he’s done, the bile he spews could get his fellow Republicans dirty as well. ...

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "Donald Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision on Tuesday for breach of contract and defamation, making good on last week's promise to punish the network for reneging on what he described as an 'iron-clad' $13.5-million contract for broadcast rights to Trump's Miss Universe Organization pageants." CW: Most likely that "ironclad" contract contains a morals clause, & it will be easy to argue that Trump violated it by besmirching the network's viewers & some participants in the pageant itself. Morals clauses typically include language forbidding either party "to shock, insult or offend the community."

Today's Clown Prince. Riley Snyder of the AP: "Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul met with southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Monday during a question-and-answer session in the town of Mesquite with about 50 supporters and activists interested in land rights.... 'I think almost all land use issues and animal issues, endangered species issues, ought to be handled at the state level,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press.... Bundy told the AP: 'In general, I think [Paul & I are] in tune with each other.' He added: 'I don't think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It's our land.'" CW: Li'l Randy is more unhinged than I thought. ...

... Adam Lerner of Politico: "Rand Paul met privately with Cliven Bundy on Monday, the Nevada rancher and anti-government activist told Politico. The encounter came after Bundy attended an event for the Kentucky senator’s presidential campaign at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. When the larger group dispersed, Bundy said, he was escorted by Paul’s aides to a back room where he and the Republican 2016 contender spoke for approximately 45 minutes." ...

... CW: So Paul -- who is running for president of the United States, thought it would be a good idea to initiate a meeting -- and presumably curry favor -- with Bundy, a local leader of the "state soverignty" movement, a deadbeat rancher who refuses to pay the federal government more than $1MM in grazing fees, & who has said, "I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing." It's just mindboggling how far these wingers will go. Unfortunately, Li'l Randy & Big Ron have a history of advocating for these anti-American wackadoodle causes. ...

... Karoli of Crooks & Liars has more on the connections between Bundy -- and of course, now, Rand Paul -- & terrorism. "Rand Paul, sit down. You now are disqualified not only for the office of President, but also Senator. Go join your daddy at the lunatics' table."

... Bethania MarKus of the Raw Story: Paul "had thrown his support behind the rancher in 2013, calling the federal government’s actions 'overreach.' But he withdrew it after the New York Times reported Bundy made racist remarks about blacks.... But Paul seemed ready to court him again on Monday." ...

... Charles Pierce: "We're all supposed to be hiding under our beds this week because of 'increased chatter' about ISIL that is 'more intense than any time since 9/11,' but Rand Paul gets to meet with a guy who summoned armed resistance to legitimate authority because he wants to freeload on government land.... I know the folks I'm most worried about."

McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed interviews Ted Cruz. Cruz may not be doing all that well in GOP presidential polls, but he's a social media phenom. And he'll tell you so. ...

... Also, he's a quick study. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, in an e-mail to TPM: "He came by for this long interview with McKay and then [producer Emily Anderson] kidnapped him for 10 minutes and somehow persuaded him to do this [Simpsons video, below].... He did these impressions like it was his job... He very briefly prepped with his staff and then just killed it." ...

... Forget the Green Eggs; Ted's All Ham. Sam Weiner, et al., of BuzzFeed: "With voice actor Harry Shearer leaving the show, we got Sen. [Ted] Cruz to audition for popular characters like Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns." CW: Fucking hilarious. Really:

Beyond the Beltway

Jeffrey Collins of the AP: "An African-American church in South Carolina that was burned down by the Ku Klux Klan in 1995 caught fire again Tuesday night, though authorities said it was too soon to say what caused the latest blaze, which broke out on a night of frequent storms. No one was believed to be inside at the time. The fire at the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal church in Greeleyville broke out at a time when federal authorities are investigating conflagrations at several other predominantly black churches — including one Friday at a church near Aiken, South Carolina — but so far the fires don't appear to be related." ...

... ** Sarah Kaplan & Justin Moyer of the Washington Post: "The reason black churches remain a target: Because black churches have always remained a symbol of hope in the darkness." A brief history of white supremacist animosity toward black churches.

CBS-Atlanta/AP: "One man has been arrested after a fight over the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. The brawl started about 7:15 p.m. Monday when about a dozen vehicles with Confederate flag supporters pulled up in front of the Statehouse and stopped in the middle of the street... About 10 of the flag supporters clashed with about 30 people who were on the Statehouse grounds protesting the flag...."

Tracy Seipel & Jessica Calefati of the Contra Costa Times: "In a historic decision that could reverberate nationwide, [California] Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill mandating that almost all California schoolchildren be fully vaccinated, regardless of their parents' personal or religious beliefs. By signing Senate Bill 277 into law, Brown pushed the Golden State -- long a bastion of liberal vaccine exemptions -- into an odd political alliance with two conservative states, Mississippi and West Virginia."

NEW. MacKenzie Elmer of the Des Moines Register: "For the price of a $5 raffle ticket, Van Meter[, a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa,] is offering its residents a chance to use a police Taser on a city official. City Hall is selling the tickets as part of a public safety fundraiser. The raffle winner will get the chance to use a Taser on City Administrator Jake Anderson or Councilman Bob Lacy at the Van Meter Fire Association Street Dance on July 18." ...

     ... Via Charles Pierce: "In their infinite wisdom, or out of their indomitable lassitude, the American people have given the state of Iowa the right of prima nocte in the selection of our presidents.... Holy hell!"

Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post: The Girl Scouts of Western Washington (state) received a $100,000 donation -- which would cover about a third of their operating budget -- but it came with the stipulation that the donation not support transgender girls. So the Scouts sent the money back. This week, they get up an Indiegogo page, & they've already recouped the $100K. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: "The head of Alabama’s court system, an employee of notoriously anti-gay Chief Justice Roy Moore, has sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley and other state elected officials urging them to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling or else 'become complicit in the takeover by the wicked,' reports AL.com."

 

Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) over a religious freedom executive order that he says protects opponents of same-sex marriage from government pressure."

 

How to Set up a False Equivalency -- and a Whiney, Fake "Grievance." Susanna Kim of ABC News: "A man in Louisiana is asking for an explanation from Walmart after his request for a Confederate flag cake at one of its bakeries was rejected, but a design with the ISIS flag was accepted.... Chuck Netzhammer said he ordered the image of the Confederate flag on a cake with the words, 'Heritage Not Hate,' on Thursday at a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. But the bakery denied his request, he said. At some point later, he ordered the image of the ISIS flag that represents the terrorist group.... A spokesman for Walmart told ABC News, 'An associate in a local store did not know what the design meant and made a mistake. The cake should not have been made and we apologize.'" ...

... CW: I follow the news, & I had no idea what the ISIS flag looked like, other than not-a-dildo. I certainly wouldn't expect a WalMart baker to recognize it or be able to read Arabic. Netzhammer set up the Baker; he should be ashamed of himself for tricking a hapless, underpaid WalMart employee, not "asking for an explanation." Asshole. ...

... Seems WalMart agrees. In their statement, they said, ""It’s unfortunate that one customer sought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the flag or its meaning." CW P.S. I see in the photo accompanying the linked Al Jazeera story that Netzhammer has hand-painted on his Kawasaki bike, "Team Redneck." 

Monday
Jun292015

The Commentariat -- June 30, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post: The Girl Scouts of Western Washington (state) received a $100,000 donation -- which would cover about a third of their operating budget -- but it came with the stipulation that the donation not support transgender girls. So the Scouts sent the money back. This week, they get up an Indiegogo page, & they've already recouped the $100K. ...

 

Illustration by DonkeyHotey.

This Can't Be Good. Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will consider next term whether the rights of government workers are violated when they are compelled to pay fees to unions they do not want to join."

Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court barred Texas on Monday from implementing a law that would have forced more than half the state's 19 abortion clinics to close their doors later this week. The law, which was to take effect Wednesday, would require clinics to adhere to strict new physical standards and the doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The court granted the reprieve after abortion rights groups requested an emergency stay, having unsuccessfully sought to have the law overturned."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take a second look at the use of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas at Austin, reviving a potent challenge to affirmative action in higher education. The move, which supporters of race-conscious admissions programs called baffling and ominous, signaled that the court may limit or even end such affirmative action." CW: Yeah, the boys in black are liberal, all right.

Pick Your Poison. Forget the Eighth Amendment. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: Justice Samuel Alito's "Glossip v. Gross is a crushing blow to opponents of the death penalty.... It effectively enlists death row inmates' attorneys to become agents of their clients' demise. And it elevates the death penalty to a kind of super-legal status that renders it impervious to many constitutional challenges.... [The] key paragraph in Alito's opinion is a declaration that, no matter what happens, there must always be a way to execute inmates." ...

... "So Sick." digby: "I'm going to guess that the only hope for this lies in some application of 'religious liberty' in the future in which anyone who isn't a total cretin, from the corporate reps to the lawyers to the public officials, will claim that it violates their religious beliefs to participate in the premeditated killing of a human being who is in custody and presents no threat to them." ...

... CW: It's pretty remarkable that the four other confederate justices, including the Chief, signed onto this sick opinion. ...

... Arit John of Bloomberg: "While Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote the dissent to Samuel Alito's majority opinion [in the case re: Oklahoma's use of midazolan in executions], [Stephen] Breyer used his dissent to consider a different question...: 'whether the death penalty violates the Constitution.'... He argued that it's 'highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment.'" ...

... Adam Lerner of Politico: "... Breyer, in his dissent in Glossip v. Gross, recognized that while the issue of the death penalty, in and of itself, perhaps could be viewed as a legislative matter, 'the matters I have discussed, such as lack of reliability, the arbitrary application of a serious and irreversible punishment, individual suffering caused by long delays, and lack of penological purpose are quintessentially judicial matters.' He concluded, 'At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question' of the death penalty." You can read Alito's opinion, Scalia's & Thomas's concurrences, Breyer's (Ginsburg joining) & Sotomayor's (Breyer, Ginsburg, & Kagan joining) dissents here. Breyer's dissent begins on page 51 of the pdf, Sotomayor's on page 97.

Erik Eckholm & Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "The country's last major pockets of resistance to same-sex marriage were rapidly shrinking on Monday as officials in states across the South, citing the rule of law, softened their defiance and began offering marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.... Louisiana was the last holdout.... By the end of the day, a majority of the state's parishes ... had ... begun issuing licenses to same-sex couples, according to Forum for Equality.... Marriages in Mississippi, which had been temporarily halted on Friday by an order from Attorney General Jim Hood, resumed in some cities on Monday after Mr. Hood clarified his statement and gave county clerks the right to make their own decisions.... In Alabama ... marriage licenses were being issued in most of the major population centers, although a few county probate judges stopped issuing any kind of marriage licenses, saying they did not want to violate their religious beliefs.... Still..., Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama court, said ... county officials should not be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses for 25 days." Then there's Texas. ...

... Juan Cole schools wingers on the Biblical prescriptions for marriage. It's rather difficult to understand how Preacher Huckabee & Altar Boy Santorum missed all the passages Cole cites.

CW: The other day, I suggested that maybe Chief Justice Roberts was just getting sick of frivolous lawsuits & that's why he agreed to take the King case, then wrote the opinion against it. Ian Millhiser, who doesn't mention this possibility, does however demonstrate (he gets into the weeds) how both Roberts' majority opinion on King and his dissent in Obergefell convey his disgust with the growing ultra-conservative trend to make stuff up that they have decided is implied by the Constitution. This doesn't make Roberts a liberal; it just means that he's not a rabid flamethrower. Unlike me, Millhiser knows what's he's writing about, so despite his deep dive into the details, his post is worth a read. ...

... Shorter Millhiser: Charles Pierce pegs Roberts. CW: Other than his failure to wish Sadistic Sam a happy, carefree summer vacation on the Jersey Shore, I can't find any fault with Pierce's post. ...

... Lincoln Caplan of the New Yorker makes the case that CJ Roberts is working on the "rebuilding of the Supreme Court's reputation." CW: Frankly, Roberts can't do that as long as Scalia, Thomas & Alito are on the Court, & in the case of Alito, that is likely to be a long time. Besides their abhorrent philosophies, one cannot ignore Scalia's offensive mockery, which he inserts in every dissent. On Breyer's dissent, which Caplan cites, Scalia writes, "A vocal minority of the Court, waving over their heads a ream of the most recent abolitionist studies (a superabundant genre) as though they have discovered the lost folios of Shakespeare, insist that now, at long last, the death penalty must be abolished for good." If Roberts has tried to restrain Scalia, it hasn't worked. And it won't: Scalia loves the public attention. He loves to belittle his colleagues. He's a bully. When he can't win -- and even when he does -- he exits right, scorning.

Mark Dorning of Bloomberg: "The Obama administration plans to raise the wages of millions of Americans who work more than 40 hours a week by requiring their employers to pay them overtime. Workers who earn as much as $970 a week would have to be paid overtime even if they're classified as a manager or professional, based on draft rules to be announced as soon as Tuesday, said an administration official." ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New York Times: "The administration has the power to issue the regulation, which would restore the overtime salary threshold to roughly where it stood in 1975 in terms of purchasing power, without congressional approval.... 'The president said he wanted to go big here and he did,' said Jared Bernstein, a former White House economist who co-wrote an influential report on the benefits of expanding overtime pay after leaving the administration in 2011. 'I can't think of any other rule change or executive order that would lift more middle-class workers.'" CW: If I were Obama, I would have followed Bernstein's advice the Friday before the 2012 election. He's a better person than I. ...

... President Obama, in a Huffington Post opinion essay: "Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year -- no matter how many hours they work.... In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America."

Elections Matter. Jonathan Chait: If Republicans win control of the House, Senate & presidency in 2016, Senate Republicans plan to eliminate the filibuster in order to end the ACA, among other GOP priorities, like deregulating the financial industry.

The Blue Nation Review publishes activist Bree Newsome's statement about her reasons for taking down the confederate flag flying on the South Carolina state capitol grounds: "I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015...." CW: So, Newsome is part of the international anti-white supremacy movement. The kind of "lone wolf" & civil disobedience the world needs. Read her essay. ...

... Caroline Bankoff of New York has more on Newsome. ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post profiles South Carolina state Sen. Paul Thurmond, son of rabid segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. ...

... NEW. Adam Lerner: "The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan's Pelham, North Carolina, chapter have reserved the Statehouse Grounds in South Carolina for a rally next month. James Spears, the Great Titan of the chapter, said the group would be rallying to protest 'the Confederate flag being took down for all the wrong reasons. It's part of white people's culture,'..."

Paul Krugman: "... yes, Greece was overspending [in the 2000s], but not by all that much. It was over indebted, but again not by all that much. How did this turn into a catastrophe that among other things saw debt soar to 170 percent of GDP despite savage austerity? The euro straitjacket, plus inadequately expansionary monetary policy within the eurozone, are the obvious culprits.... If Europe as currently organized can turn medium-sized fiscal failings into this kind of nightmare, the system is fundamentally unworkable."

Presidential Race

The Platitudes Race. Jeffrey Frank of the New Yorker: "... seventeen months before the general election, and despite the welcome offstage diversions of those Supreme Court decisions..., the language of the 2016 race has been unnervingly free of thought.... What is so dispiriting this year is listening to candidates ... who sound less like people eager to understand the world and lead a diverse nation and more like human-resource counselors, offering sympathy and help they can't deliver to a fretful, underpaid workforce."

** Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "Over the last two weeks, Republican presidential candidates have repeatedly missed opportunities to demonstrate that they care about communities outside of their traditional base."

Robert Costa & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Chris Christie ... told supporters Tuesday that he is running for president. Christie -- who broke the news in a morning conference call -- enters a crowded field as an underdog, wagering his retail political skills and brash style will propel him into serious competition for his party's nod." ...

... You can watch live on the WashPo front page (at 11:20 am ET). ...

... Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose meteoric rise as a national Republican in his first term was matched only by his spectacular loss of stature at home in his second, is set to enter the 2016 presidential race on Tuesday morning bearing little resemblance to the candidate he once expected to be.... With two pillars of his presidential run -- his record and his judgment -- looking wobblier than ever, Mr. Christie must build a campaign around his most raw and prodigious asset: his personality."

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Nearly two weeks after canceling a campaign event scheduled the morning after the deadly attack on a South Carolina church, Jeb Bush on Monday called the Confederate battle flag a 'racist' symbol, reflecting the new Republican normal in a Southern primary state vastly altered by the racially motivated killings. The flag was one of 'the symbols that have divided the South in many ways, the symbols that were used in most recent modern history, perhaps not at the beginning of the time, but the symbols were racist,' Mr. Bush told an interracial crowd" in South Carolina. ...

... CW: Actually racist since the beginning of its time, Jeb!

Stardust. Tom Hamburger & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "How Marco Rubio turned political star power into a soaring personal income.... During nine years in Tallahassee, as Rubio rose in prominence and ascended to the state House speakership, he became increasingly well compensated as he walked a narrow line between his work as a lawmaker and an employee of outside firms with interests before the state government.... Rubio's annual income grew from about $72,000 when he was elected to the state House in 2000 to $414,000 in 2008, when his two-year speakership ended."

NEW. The Distinguished Gentleman from Texas. Manu Raju of Politico: "Ted Cruz's campaign against his Republican colleagues -- especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- is getting increasingly personal.... [In a new book,] Cruz accuses McConnell and GOP leadership of maneuvering to dry up his fundraising and plant hit pieces in the press aimed at hurting him politically. He says GOP leaders cowered from joining him in big fights over the debt ceiling, Obamacare and gun control, accusing his colleagues of 'mendacity' and capitulating to Democrats to avoid bad headlines.... And he accuses a GOP rival, Rand Paul of Kentucky, of parroting McConnell's talking points by seeking to 'undermine' his efforts to defund Obamacare during the 2013 fight that led to the government shutdown." ...

... CrazyCruz Urges States to Ignore Marriage Equality Ruling. Adam Lerner of Politico: "'Those who are not parties to the suit are not bound by it,' [Sen. Ted Cruz] told NPR News' Steve Inskeep in an interview published on Monday. Since only suits against the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky were specifically considered in the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which was handed down last Friday, Cruz ... believes that other states with gay marriage bans need not comply, absent a judicial order." ...

... CW: By Cruz's logic, school boards can provide "separate but equal" education every place but Topeka, Kansas. In fact, what Cruz is suggesting is among the many tactics Southern officials used to avoid racially integrating public schools. Remember that Ted is a former law clerk to the U.S. Chief Justice, a deputy U.S. attorney general, Texas solicitor general, a "constitutional scholar" & of course a U.S. senator; that is, one of the country's most prominent Constitutional experts. This "suggestion" of Cruz's puts him right up there with George Wallace & Orval Faubus -- oh, & with William Renquist, the CJ for whom Cruz clerked & who once wrote that the Supremes should have upheld the "separate but equal" ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday bashed 'elites' on the Supreme Court for imposing their will on America's heartland in its decision to legalize same-sex marriage. 'You've got nine lawyers, they are all from Harvard or Yale -- there are no Protestants on the court, there are no evangelicals on the court,' the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said on NBC's 'Today,' echoing criticism from Justice Antonin Scalia's dissenting opinion. 'The elites on the court look at much of this country as flyover country; they think that our views are simply parochial and don’t deserve to be respected.'" CW: Maybe we should mention here that Cruz was graduated from Princeton & Harvard Law School.

NBC to Trump: "You're Fired." Maria Puente of USA Today: "NBC dumped [Donald Trump's] beauty pageants and reiterated he will not be in The Apprentice anymore. The network, which has been under pressure to fire Trump since last week when Univision announced it would not air Trump's Miss USA pageant in Spanish, said in a statement..., 'Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.'... 'To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC. In addition, as Mr. Trump has already indicated, he will not be participating in The Apprentice on NBC,' because he is an announced Republican candidate for president." ...

... Charles Arbogast of Entertainment Weekly: "Donald Trump slammed his longtime partner NBC on Monday after the broadcaster announced it was cutting ties with him. 'Mr. Trump stands by his statements on illegal immigration, which are accurate,' read a statement from his office.... 'NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct -- that is why our country is in serious trouble....' Moreover, Trump is threatening to sue NBC for announcing they would no longer air his beauty pageants.... 'Furthermore, they will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.'" Trump said.

Beyond the Beltway

Justin Carissimo of the (U.K.) Independent: "The Missouri franchise owner of Dixie Outfitters, a store specialising in 'Southern Heritage' clothing, was revealed to have family ties to the Ku Klux Klan. 'It has nothing to do with slavery, which the media always want to bring in,' Anna Robb said, defending the sales of Confederate flags during an interview with the Springfield Missouri News-Leader. Just days following the News-Leader's initial interview with Ms Robb, readers alerted the news outlet and it was discovered that her husband Nathan, co-owner of Dixie Outfitters, was the 'den-commander' of the KKK's Arkansas chapter."

The Emigrants. Andy Newman of the New York Times: "The escaped killers David Sweat and Richard W. Matt had intended to go to Mexico before their plan unraveled when a prison worker accused of helping them did not show up with her car, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday. Mr. Cuomo said that Mr. Sweat, who is hospitalized for gunshot wounds sustained during his capture on Sunday, had 'relayed some information' to investigators."

When the U.S. sends its people to Mexico, they're not sending the best. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're bringing murderers who dismember their victims. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people. -- Constant Weader, with a hat-tip to the Donald

... Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times: "... on Monday, a day after Mr. Sweat was shot and taken into custody by a state trooper in a freshly cut hayfield and three days after Mr. Matt was killed by a federal agent, new details surfaced about the three-week manhunt.... It was a history of hesitation and interagency conflict, and also of lucky breaks for law enforcement officers...." CW: Remember, people, cops are selected for dumb. ...

... William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albany has opened a corruption inquiry focusing on employees and inmates at the maximum-security prison in northern New York State where two convicted killers escaped this month, one official with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.... News of the federal inquiry also came one day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, reiterated that the state's inspector general, Catherine Leahy Scott, was conducting a full investigation into the policies and procedures at the prison and the circumstances that led to the escape."

News Ledes

New York Times: "With just hours to go before Greece hits a deadline for a debt payment it cannot afford, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday asked the other nations that use the euro to extend another bailout and buy Athens time to renegotiate its crippling debt load." ...

     ... New Lede: "The International Monetary Fund said shortly after midnight Wednesday that Greece had missed a crucial debt payment to the fund."

New York Times: "The Iranian foreign minister rejoined the nuclear talks [in Vienna, Austria,] Tuesday morning as the United States looked for signs that he had arrived with more flexible negotiating instructions."