Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes":

The Wires

CW: Looks as if the Google News & stock market widgets are kaput & the Reuters widget is intermittent. We'll see what happens over the next few days with these.

The Ledes

Thursday, November 20, 2014.

New York Times: "Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday. He was 83." CW Note: as of 7:40 am ET, the Times had not yet published Nichols' obituary but will do so at this link....

 

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
November 21

7:30 am ET: Vice President Biden and President Poroshenko of Ukraine deliver joint statements in Kyiv, Ukraine (audio only)

8:30 am ET: Vice President Biden attends a roundtable discussion on anti-corruption & reform efforts in Kyiv (audio only)
3:55 pm ET:President Obama speaks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

Washington Post: "They have spawned parodies from 'Ellen' to 'South Park' to 'Saturday Night Live,' but Lincoln is laughing all the way to the bank thanks to its commercials starring Matthew McConaughey. There was more from the Hollywood Reporter: 'Lincoln announced that its overall sales were up 25 percent last month, the strongest October for the beleaguered marque since 2007.'" ...

... Here's one of the McConaughey ads:

Jim Carrey nails it in an SNL skit:

... AND Ellen Degeneres takes the bull by the horns in another:

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Friday
Nov212014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 22, 2014

Charles Pierce linked to this video of CBS News's early coverage of President Kennedy's assassination.  Audio bulletins repeatedly break into the "regularly scheduled program" -- the banal "As the World Turns" & its commercials. The news video feed doesn't come in till about 30 minutes in:

Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "President Obama opened up a campaign for his executive actions on immigration on Friday as he told an audience of mostly Latino students at a high school rally [in Las Vegas, Nevada,] that Congress had to revamp what he called the nation’s broken immigration system.... The president said that he had urged Mr. Boehner to let the Senate bill come to a vote on the floor of the House, but to no avail. 'I cajoled and I called and I met,' Mr. Obama said. 'I told John Boehner: "I’ll wash your car. I’ll walk your dog. Whatever you needed to do. Just call the bill." And he didn’t do it.'... Around the country, Mr. Obama’s critics began searching for ways to block his action.”

... Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.) have introduced legislation to prohibit funding to implement President Obama's executive action on immigration. Their bill, titled The Separation of Powers Act, would block the use of funds for deferring deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally or providing work permits." ...

... Liberal Professor Encourages Tea Party Radical"s. Law Prof. Peter Schuck, in a New York Times op-ed: "... the pro-impeachment Republicans are right: There is a plausible case for ... impeachment..., [which] is a political accusation and initiates a political remedy, not a legal one. It is pretty much up to Congress to define and apply 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' and no court would second-guess it. The next Congress could find that the president had violated his oath to 'faithfully execute' the laws.... But even if Congress has constitutional authority to impeach the president, that doesn’t mean it should.... However truculent Mr. Obama’s defiance may be on this issue, Congress has other ways to stymie it — for example, barring the action by statute. Such tactics are within the normal give-and-take of interbranch disputes." ...

... CW: Thanks, Pete. I'm sure those "pro-impeachment Republicans" will appreciate your "on-the-other-hand" nuance, there. Excellent work. At least President Biden may think so. ...

... Sen. Ron Johnson (RDumb-Wisc.) & Jonathan Turley (who characterizes himself as "a liberal academic," failing to mention his Fox "News" gig & alluding in only the most oblique way [a link to another article] to his new job as lawyer for House Republicans suing the President), in a Washington Post op-ed: "Now is the time for members of Congress and the judiciary to affirm their oaths to 'support and defend the Constitution' and to work to re-establish our delicate constitutional balance. It will not be easy, but the costs of inaction are far higher. We need to look beyond this administration — and ourselves — to act not like politicians but the statesmen that the framers hoped we could be." CW: In the "Annals of 'Journalism'" department, the Post itself does not bother to mention Turley's outside interests, either. And of course the link will not appear in the print edition. ...

... Hey, Let's See What the Most Interesting Man in Politics Thinks. Daniel Strauss of TPM: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) likened President Barack Obama's decision to take executive action on immigration to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order authorizing putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. '... there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious,' Paul said. 'Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people 'we're going to put you in a camp. We're going to take away all your rights and liberties and we're going to intern you in a camp. We shouldn't allow that much power to gravitate to one individual. We need to separate the power.'" ...

     ... CW: Yes, Randy, because granting reprieves & imprisonment are pretty much the same thing. Also, never mind that Roosevelt received "considerable pressure" to intern ethnic Japanese from, um, members of Congress and that Congress gave authority to the military to decide whom should be interned (Public Law 503 of the 77th Congress) And never mind that in a series of cases, the Supreme Court upheld the actions of the President, the Congress & the military in regard to interning Japanese-Americans. Yup, "separating the power" was really, really important when it came to this brand of "ethnically cleansing" the West Coast. Let me put it another way: Rand Paul, you don't know WTF you're talking about. Maybe you should start plagiarizing again, so you can get some facts right. ...

... Your Louie Gohmert Weekly Reader. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "In an interview yesterday with Dan Cofall, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused President Obama of using immigration and the Ferguson case to provoke violence."

 

     (... CW: Here's something I did learn from Louie: "If you look at the conservative gatherings, we even pick up our own trash." A brief Google exploratilon reveals this particular perfect-us-v.-them point is a conservative meme. So, libruls, start picking up after yourselves. Seriously. ...)

If you look at the conservative gatherings, we even pick up our own trash. - See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/louie-gohmert-claims-obama-and-liberal-attack-people-want-violence-and-mayhem#sthash.5w8Zexry.dpuf

 

... Jonathan Chait: "Immediately after the election, when John Boehner asked Obama to hold off on unilateral action, reporters asked if he would promise to bring an immigration bill to the House floor. He refused. A senior administration official pinpointed this as the moment when any chance of delay ended.... There are no serious legal questions about the administration’s plan.... After years of legislative muddle, [President Obama] was able to detach himself completely from Congress and articulate his own values." Read the whole post. ...

... Juan Cole: Obama "punked ... the party of skinheads." ...

... Ezra Klein: "Instead of coming up with their own immigration policy, [Republicans have] been able to just unite against Obama's. But fury isn't a policy.... One way or another, Republicans need to decide what to do with the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country now.... They are, arguably, the governing party — they will soon control the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, most state legislatures, and more governorships. And the governing party needs to solve — or at least propose solutions — to the nation's problems.... Republicans don't seem to want to do anything except stop Obama from solving the problem." ...

... Steve Benen: "There’s a striking asymmetry, not just between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to presenting policy solutions, but between Republican responsibilities and Republican intentions – they’re a post-policy party with an aversion to governing, which is a problem for a party that has been given broad authority by voters to shape policy and govern." ...

... Even Politico Notices the GOP's Got Nuthin'. Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim: "The lack of a unified response from the GOP risks further fracturing the party just as Republicans prepare to take over Capitol Hill and attempt to prove themselves a responsible governing majority. And Obama’s nationwide tour pitching his plan threatens to blunt Republicans’ momentum and messaging heading into a long holiday recess, exposing frustrations by both conservatives at a lack of direction on how to respond to Obama’s moves and of party elders who worry the GOP’s right flank will overreact to the immigration action with talk of impeachment and government shutdowns. Republicans, for now, have offered little other than rhetorical criticisms and a variety of suggestions not yet endorsed by GOP leaders...." CW: You can, of course, forget that part about "prove themselves a responsible governing majority." That was never a GOP goal. ...

... CW: There's an excellent, if discouraging, discussion in yesterday's Comments of the media's coverage of President Obama's immigration order & the GOP's reaction toward it. Apparently, the MSM, en masse, is more impressed with cries of imperialism than with granting reprieves -- apparently legally -- to millions of undocumented residents.

Ashley Parker: "House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president’s executive authority." ...

... Paul Waldman: "The actual complaints in the suit were always strange — they’re suing Obama for delaying the employer mandate, a provision they despise. If they won, he’d be forced to speed up implementation of the mandate, even as Republicans are pressing to eliminate it altogether. And by the time the suit wends its way through the courts, the issue will probably be moot.... As for the other of the suit’s complaints, on cost-sharing subsidies, if Republicans are successful in killing them it would mean that poor people would have to pay more in copays and deductibles.... So apart from the satisfaction some Republicans might receive from making life harder for the working poor, even if they win this lawsuit they won’t have dealt the ACA a serious blow. Legal experts who have looked at this suit haven’t found much merit in it...." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View: "The suit is likely to fail. The first issue is 'standing.' To get into court, the House would have to prove that it was damaged by the way the administration carried out the ACA, and courts have consistently rejected that idea. Beyond that, it’s far from clear that the administration’s actions ... were beyond the normal discretion the executive branch has to carry out laws. Just because some Republicans want to pretend that before January 2009 presidential power had been limited to pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys doesn’t mean they are right. And if Republicans win, it would be terrible for Congress.... In effect, it says that the courts, not Congress, should have the last word when there’s a dispute between branches." ...

...

... Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "In a clearly coordinated campaign against what Republicans have labeled as Obama’s 'imperial presidency,' Boehner announced the filing of the lawsuit minutes after he publicly denounced Obama’s executive action on immigration. And later in the day, the first legislative hearing on the immigration order was scheduled." CW: The report also covers Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's speech at the Heritage Foundation. ...

... Ave, Imperator! Jeff Sessions, in a USA Today op-ed: "Apparently, America now has its first emperor." Blah-blah-blah. (Paraphrase.) ...

... CW: I forgot "Mean Girls" pre-splained today's GOP. Via Susie Madrak:

Mark Mazzetti & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "President Obama signed a secret order in recent weeks authorizing a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year. Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year...."

Ali Watkins, et al., of the Huffington Post: "The White House's briefing [by Chief of Staff Denis McDonough] to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate's classified torture report, Senate sources told The Huffington Post. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America's post-9/11 torture program." ...

... "Time Is Running Out." David Firestone of the New York Times: "Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush-Cheney Administration.... The incoming chairman of the committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, thinks the report amounts to a political hit job on the Bush years. Mr. Burr has said the report is full of unspecified inaccuracies. He not only opposes its release, but also all public hearings of the Intelligence Committee.... [Jay] Rockefeller [D-W.Va.] said he feared any senator who tried [to read the report on the Senate floor] would be 'grabbed' and hauled away. Presumably he’s referring to the exceptions in the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, which says members can’t be arrested while speaking in either chamber, except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace. But someone — possibly Mark Udall, who will not be returning as a senator from Colorado — should consider testing that clause. Is it treason to inform the public how government officials broke international law and permanently stained the country’s moral reputation?"

Your Friday Afternoon Docudump. "House Intel Panel Debunks Many Benghazi Theories." Ken Dilanian of the AP: "A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.... Many of [the report's] findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May." ...

... CW: I don't believe Fox "News" will be going big with this one. Wonder if the report covers the fake hacking of Sharyl Atkisson's computers. However, Politico did manage to take a gulp & report the committee's findings. ...

... Lauren French of Politico: "Some Republicans in Congress have continued to cling to initial reports that surfaced after Ambassador Chris Stevens and two others were killed in the attacks.... But Rogers’ committee has long said its investigation would disproved those myths. The report, released quietly on a Friday night, dismisses the bulk of the most damning critics against the administration." ...

... Update. Charles Pierce "interrupt[s] your regularly scheduled weekend with this special report.... A few things should happen now, though I do not believe all of them will.... Sharyl Atkisson's newly minted career as a martyred truth-teller should experience something of a downturn although, rising to her defense, the burble caucus has retrenched on Fast And Furious, which is an even deader parrot. The Sunday Showz should apologize to America for wasting time on this thing.  And, please god, Chris Stevens and the other people who died at the consulate finally can rest in peace. And to that, all say amen."

Fulfilling Today's Gossip Quota. Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Administration and congressional officials have argued that the transgressions of [Harry Reid's top aide David] Krone — publicly challenging the president, betraying the Oval Office code of silence and acting more like a senator than a staff member to one — have damaged Democratic unity at a time when the party can least afford it, as its numbers in Congress dwindle and the president sorely needs discipline in his ranks to advance what is left of his agenda.... Aides in Speaker John A. Boehner’s office, who avoid emailing Mr. Krone because of an earlier breach, said that the aide has 'burned both sides of the aisle.'... One person who did not seem bothered at all was Mr. Reid.” Krone is married to "Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former West Wing staff member who is extremely close to the president.... In an interview, Mr. Krone acknowledged that his battles with the White House and his recent speaking out had put his wife 'in a tough spot.' Ms. Mastromonaco, who declined to comment, this week announced that she had taken a job at Vice, the Brooklyn-based media company...."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd. New York Times Editors: "Richard Nixon was president when Albert Woodfox landed in solitary confinement, along with another inmate, both convicted of the 1972 murder of a Louisiana prison guard named Brent Miller. He is still there. Mr. Woodfox, now 67 years old, has maintained his innocence of the murder from the start. He has been held in isolation longer than any prisoner in the United States, and perhaps in the nation’s history." CW: This is unconscionable. Whether he is guilty or not, Woodfox should be removed from Bobby Jindal's jurisdiction.

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has expressed concerns privately to Missouri officials this week about their recent actions in advance of a grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case. A top aide to Holder called the office of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) earlier this week to express Holder’s displeasure and 'frustration' that the governor had declared a state of emergency at a news conference and activated the National Guard in advance of the grand jury decision in the Ferguson shooting, expected to be announced in the next few days, according to a Justice Department official. 'Instead of de-escalating the situation, the governor escalated it,' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.... 'He sent the wrong message. The tone of the press conference was counterproductive.'” ...

... Josh Margolin of ABC News: "The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown. In addition to the FBI, other federal agencies have also mobilized staffers to get to St. Louis today, sources told ABC News. A decision by the grand jury is expected soon, but St. Louis authorities said today that the grand jury is still meeting." ...

... Daniel Wallis of Reuters: "Prosecutors made preparations to announce the eventual decision by a grand jury on whether to charge a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager and some local schools said on Friday they would close next week in anticipation of unrest."

Loose Lips Sink Contracts. Mark Binker of WRAL Raleigh: North Carolina "State Auditor Beth Wood has terminated a contract with MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber after the health care policy expert came under fire for controversial comments involving how the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.... The same comments that have caused a firestorm among conservatives prompted Wood, a Democrat, to dismiss Gruber on Wednesday."

Sarah Larimer & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "The death toll from a monster blizzard is still rising in western New York, where structural damage from the heavy snowis making roofs creak and officials in and around Buffalo are bracing for possible flooding, according to reports.... The extreme lake-effect storm, which has dumped as much as 85 inches of snow on the area, has claimed 13 victims so far. Most of them, the [Buffalo] News reported, were killed by 'cardiac issues when victims attempted to shovel snow or push vehicles.'” ...

... "Jet Stream Weirdness." Chris Mooney of the Washington Post: "There's growing evidence that global warming is driving crazy winters."

Nick Madigan & Lorne Manly of the New York Times: "The uproar over allegations that Bill Cosby had molested or assaulted several women, in some cases years ago, was almost nowhere in evidence on Friday night during a sold-out performance by the 77-year-old comedian on a college campus [in Melbourne, Florida].... Outside the theater, however, three protesters held signs criticizing 'victim shaming,' while another sign said, 'Rape is no joke.' The protesters were kept more than ​2​00 yards ​from the theater and next to a main road, on orders from the police. Earlier on Friday, three women — Renita Chaney Hill, Angela Leslie and Kristina Ruehli — were the latest to publicly detail their experiences with Mr. Cosby, all telling similar stories of being given drugs or alcohol before being sexually assaulted."

CW: Maybe the real reason there are so many nonviolent drug offenders in jail is that nonviolent drug offenders are fucking stupid. Jessica Roy of New York: "Two doofuses in Worcester, Massachusetts, thought they were being super slick by staging their drug deal outside in broad daylight.... A Fox 25 anchor was reporting on a local snowstorm when two dummies walked up behind him, did a couple of sketchy maneuvers that could really only be interpreted as a drug-and-cash swap, then casually parted — all while the cameras were rolling.... The anchors back in the studio couldn't stop laughing":

 

Presidential Election

Michael Kazin of the New Republic: "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, I think Sherrod Brown should run for president. I know that, barring a debilitating health problem or a horrible scandal, Hillary Clinton is likely to capture the Democratic nomination. I realize too that Brown, the senior senator from Ohio, has never hinted that he may be tempted to challenge her.... Yet, for progressive Democrats, Brown would be a nearly perfect nominee. During his two decades in the House and Senate, he has taken strong and articulate stands on every issue which matters to the party’s broad, if currently dispirited, liberal base." CW: I share Kazin's pipedream.

Thursday
Nov202014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 21, 2014

Margaret Hartmann of New York gathers up reactions to President Obama's speech from politicians U.S. leaders. Apparently you can now embed videos in your tweets (which sort of undermines the 140-character-beauty-of-brevity purpose of Twitter). Hartmann's intro to Tailgunner Ted's tweet: "Senator Ted Cruz shared this video of himself rehearsing a blistering speech in his bathroom mirror" ...

... Charles Pierce: "This was the second time in two days that they had to put the pinch on somebody exercising Second Amendment freedoms inappropriately in the vicinity of the president's house. (The other one was R.J. Kapheim, the designated liaison between the administration and Someone In Iowa.) Maybe it's time for someone in authority over such matters to tell the more excitable conservatives in the Congress, and on the electric teevee box, ix-nay on the yrrany-tay for a while." ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM summarizes the components & the impact of the President's executive action. ...

     ... Here's the transcript. ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker parses the President's remarks. ...

... "It's Legal." Walter Dellinger, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Clinton, in Slate: "he idea that the immigration plan just announced by President Obama is a lawless power grab is absurd. As the Justice Department legal analysis [linked below] that was just released amply demonstrates, much of the advance criticism of the president’s action has been uninformed and unwarranted. The opinion is well-reasoned and at times even conservative. The president is not acting unilaterally, but pursuant to his statutory authority. Wide discretion over deportation priorities has long been conferred on the executive branch by Congress, and it is being exercised in this case consistent with policies such as family unification that have been endorsed by Congress.... No one has been granted 'amnesty,' either literally or functionally.... The president is ... acting on the basis of specific statutory authority from the Immigration and Nationality Act." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... today’s immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behavior, as my grandparents were — people seeking a better life, and by and large finding it. That’s why I enthusiastically support President Obama’s new immigration initiative. It’s a simple matter of human decency." ...

... Carrie Brown, et al., of Politico: Over a nine-month period, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh "Johnson worked, largely in secret on the grand plan that finally became public this week, convening a small group of former Capitol Hill aides with expertise on immigration to work with Homeland Security officials to draft a policy that all expected would provoke not only fierce opposition from conservatives but from liberals who thought Obama should go further. It was a consuming task: in all, sources said, the immigration issue ate up fully half of the Homeland Security secretary’s time in recent months, with Johnson — a high-powered corporate attorney in his previous life — writing the final presidential memorandum himself." ...

... David Nakamura, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration will begin accepting applications this spring from illegal immigrants who are seeking deferred deportations under President Obama’s new executive action program, and those who qualify will be granted protections for three years, administration officials said.... According to prepared excerpts, Obama plans to say that mass deportation of the nation’s more than 11 million illegal immigrants 'would be both impossible and contrary to our character.' But he will also argue that his plans do not amount to 'amnesty' but rather increased 'accountability' for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants.... The administration will release an opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel fully explaining the legal underpinnings of the action after the announcement." ...

     ... Here's the opinion (pdf). ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama would veto any Republican attempts to undermine the executive action he’s unveiling Thursday night in a primetime address, a senior administration official said Thursday.
The official said the White House expects Republicans would 'spend a lot of creative energy making up ways to try and stop us either through funding bills or other' and could 'cook up some riders.' But, the official said, that ultimately was 'all an irrelevant point' because the president would veto any such effort." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Republicans on Thursday vowed a swift and forceful response to the executive action on immigration that President Obama is to announce in a prime-time address, accusing the president of exceeding the power of his office and promising a legislative fight when they take full control of Congress next year." CW: They just don't seem to have any idea what that "forceful response" might be, althought I suppose calliing immigrants "illiterate" is one form of "forceful." ...

     ... Story was updated following the President's speech. New lede: "President Obama chose confrontation over conciliation on Thursday as he asserted the powers of the Oval Office to reshape the nation’s immigration system and dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions on behalf of millions of immigrants." ...

...

... OR THIS. David McCabe of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ... took to the floor of the Senate and delivered a speech that included one of Cicero’s most famous addresses, subbing in Obama's name. 'When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now?” he said, using the beginning of Cicero’s First Oration Against Catiline. By substituting Obama's name for Catiline's, Cruz compared the president to a figure who sought to violently overthrow the Roman republic." ...

... Lisa Mascaro & Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "Republican leaders who had hoped to focus on corporate tax reform, fast-track trade pacts, repealing the president's healthcare law and loosening environmental restrictions on coal are instead being dragged into an immigration skirmish that they've tried studiously to avoid for most of the last year. That's largely because the question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. bitterly divides Republicans, and the party has been unable to agree on an alternative to the president's plan." ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "For Republicans the roiling debate over the president’s decision is not only a fight with the White House, but a test of whether they can contain some of the unhelpful passions among their swelling majorities in both chambers. The task is keeping on-message and away from the controversial and sometimes offensive comments that have traditionally hindered attempts to bolster support for the party among Hispanics." ...

... The Post is liveblogging events ahead of the speech. At 5:27 pm ET (Thursday), we learn that Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will don the gray uniform to speak at the Heritage Foundation to "address the grave concerns about the President’s action – and how to save the country from it." CW: One for the ages, I'm sure. ...

... Esther Lee of Think Progress: "Even now that Republicans will control both houses of Congress, Boehner refused to guarantee a House floor vote on immigration reform — even if the president doesn’t take executive action. And so now, as President Obama announces his executive action tonight, here are some of the many other government programs Republicans are threatening to sabotage in retribution: Threatening to shut down the government..., to selectively defund parts of the budget they don’t like..., to block confirmation of nominees to any and all vacancies..., not to pass any immigration legislation..., to impeach Obama..., to sue the President." ...

... Don't Drink the Water. American Bridge: "... Republicans are adamant that when Obama announces his immigration reform executive action tonight, he will be 'poisoning the well.'... Why, it seems every time the President takes a position, according to Republicans, he’s 'poisoning the well.' When President Obama tried to pass background checks on gun sales after Newtown — a policy supported by 9 in 10 voters — Lindsey Graham accused him of poisoning the well. And when Obama signed legislation reforming a broken health care system — ... John McCain said he had poisoned the well. Jeff Flake said that if Obama took any credit for the immigration reform principles in the bipartisan Senate bill, he would be poisoning the well. According to Marco Rubio, policy to protect DREAMers poisoned the well. To other Republicans it was the president’s refusal to cave to their demands during their government shutdown that poisoned the well, or criticizing Paul Ryan’s draconian budget, or passing a stimulus package, or repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell." ...

... David Atkins, in Hullabaloo on "poisoning the well": "Two things stand out about it. The first is that a simple google search shows that the phrase was almost never used to describe George W. Bush's presidency. Somehow, no matter how outrageous and vindictive the Bush Administration became, nothing they did ever seemed to eliminate the possibility of some sort of cooperation between the Administration and Democrats.... The second is that it's a thinly veiled indication that Republicans cannot control their own caucus at all.... In essence, the GOP leadership is telling the President that if he does anything at all to help people, the crazies that make up the majority of the GOP caucus will get out of line and do crazy things, and that would be bad." ...

... Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "It would be 'impossible' to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration through a government spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee said Thursday. In a statement released by Committee Chairman Hal Rogers's (R-Ky.) office hours before Obama's scheduled national address, the committee said the primary agency responsible for implementing Obama's actions is funded entirely by user fees. As a result, the committee said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) agency would be able to continue to collect fees and carry out its operations even if the government shut down." ...

... Rebecca Shabad: "Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Thursday rebutted claims by the House Appropriations Committee that President Obama’s executive order on immigration could not be defunded in legislation to avoid a government shutdown. 'The American people’s Congress has the power and every right to deny funding for unworthy activities. It is a routine and constitutional application of congressional power. There is no question that Congress has the power to block this expenditure and no doubt that it can be done,' Sessions said in a statement." ...

... The Word from Kansas. Ahiza Garcia of TPM: "Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Sunday warned that President Obama's executive actions and general 'lawlessness' on immigration could lead to 'ethnic cleansing.' Kobach, a vocal advocate of the anti-immigrant movement, claimed during his radio talk show that there was a strategy to replace American voters with Hispanic ones who favored socialism."

Jamie Crawford of CNN: "China and 'probably one or two other' countries have the capacity to shut down the [United States'] power grid and other critical infrastructure through a cyber attack, the head of the National Security Agency [Adm. Michael Rogers] told a Congressional panel Thursday."

Alex Wayne of Bloomberg News: "The Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million.... The error was brought to light by Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

White House: "President Obama delivers remarks at the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation awards ceremony":

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

Johana Bhuiyan of BuzzFeed: "Uber has in recent weeks sought to hire opposition researchers to 'weaponize facts' to use against its taxi industry competition, according to a confidential recruiting document obtained by BuzzFeed News and confirmed by the company.... The new role of director of research and rapid response appears to be part of Uber’s effort to bring the aggressive tactics of American presidential politics to its city-by-city trench wars with existing car companies. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in May that the company has no choice but to 'throw mud' at taxi companies and the associations that represent the taxi industry, and in August brought former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to the company to lead a campaign-like effort that now includes both Uber’s communications shop and the new opposition research role."

One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers. Paying high wages is behind the prosperity of this country. -- Henry Ford ...

... Here's Something for the Party of Nothing. Nelson Schwartz & Patricia Cohen of the New York Times: "Pressured by temporary hiring practices and a sharp decrease in salaries in the auto parts sector, real wages for manufacturing workers fell by 4.4 percent from 2003 to 2013..., nearly three times the decline for workers as a whole. Despite that widening gap, Washington still paints the manufacturing sector as a gateway to the middle class, even if the gate is closing."


Rebecca Traister
of the New Republic: "No one wanted to talk about Bill Cosby's alleged crimes because he made white America feel good about race." ...

... Amanda Marcotte of AlterNet, in Salon: "The real turning point [in popular views of acquaintance rape] appears to be the crisis over the sexual assault of a high school girl in Steubenville, Ohio.... The past couple of years have also seen increased attention, aided by a White House initiative, to the problem of on-campus rape." ...

... Actually, Bill Cosby has long thought drugging girls was a hilriaous way to seduce them:

Beyond the Beltway

Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "With two Justices [Scalia & Thomas] dissenting, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to delay same-sex marriages in South Carolina, leaving intact a federal judge’s order that goes into effect at noon and strikes down the state’s ban.  Neither the Court nor the dissenters gave any explanation.... However, because Thursday’s Supreme Court order in the South Carolina case was confined solely to declining to postpone the federal judge’s order, and was not a ruling on the validity of that order, that issue could come up again if the Court agrees in coming weeks to review any case raising the basic question of state power to ban same-sex marriages."

Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: "Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson ... is in the final stages of negotiations with city officials to resign, according to people close to the talks. Wilson maintains he hasn't done anything wrong, and the resignation talks have hinged on whether a grand jury returns an indictment against him in the death of [Michael] Brown.... Wilson has told associates he would resign as a way to help ease pressure and protect his fellow officers. Wilson has expressed concern about resigning while the grand jury was hearing evidence for fear it would appear he was admitting fault."

Oh, Darkies, How My Heart Grows Weary, Far from de Old Folks at Home." Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R), who the assembly’s Republican caucus selected as their choice to be its next speaker earlier this month, has a long history of racist, sexist and homophobic statements chronicled in a long list published by the Reno News Review. Among other things, as part of a broader statement of support for school vouchers, Hansen claimed that '[t]he relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.' Indeed, according to the News Review, Hansen keeps a Confederate battle flag on his wall, which he says that he flies 'proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause.' He also 'tends to use the term ‘Negro’ and often does not capitalize it.'” ...

... CW: Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I'm not foreseeing a lot of bipartisan-y stuff happening in Nevada. ...

... Zandar, in Balloon Juice: "Remember kids, racism is a barbarous old relic of the past that is no longer applicable in American politics, therefore political remedies for racism like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act are equally as outdated.... Nevada’s newly minted Republican majority in the State Assembly had no reservations whatsoever about putting a guy who used the word 'darkies' as their Speaker."

Aleksander Chan of Gawker: "A Bullitt County, Ken. sheriff's deputy was responding to a car accident this past September when his body camera recorded county fire chief Julius Hatfield making a racist remark. In the body camera footage obtained by WDRB, the officer can be heard saying, 'Well, I've got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with.' You can then hear Hatfield respond, 'We ain't taking no niggers here.'" What with this being a post-racial society, Gawker readers are way shocked to learn a white Kentucky official is a racist:

     ... Thanks to safari for the lead. CW: Here's what the county can do to mitigate Hatfield's attitude: nothing. Fire his ass. Rescind any public contribution to his pension. Public servants are required to serve all of the public. Obviously, Hatfield hasn't been doing that. ...

... Here is something that actually could mitigate unequal treatment in police stops. ...

... Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "The protests in Ferguson — which may return in force when a grand jury decides whether to indict the police officer — may yet help rewrite the relationship between the police and communities there and in other cities. But what quietly played out in Durham[, North Carolina,] may provide another model for activists: using stop and search data collected by an increasing number of cities and states to galvanize supporters and pressure departments to change policies.... The use of statistics is gaining traction not only in North Carolina, where data on police stops is collected under a 15-year-old law, but in other cities around the country."

Wednesday
Nov192014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 20, 2014

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "President Obama's impending executive action on immigration is unleashing the fury of Republican governors who now control a clear majority of the nation's statehouses.... The new legal protections that the president is poised to bestow on five million illegal immigrants Thursday will immediately thrust the issue back into the states, forcing dozens of governors who vigorously oppose the move to contemplate a raft of vexing new legal questions of their own, like whether to issue driver's licenses or grant in-state college tuition to such people." See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... New York Times Editors: "Only Congress can create an immigration system that rescues workers and families from unjust laws and creates legal pathways to citizenship. The best Mr. Obama can offer is a reprieve to people trapped by Congress's failures -- temporary permission to live and work without fear.... It has been the immigration system's retreat from sanity, of course, that made Mr. Obama's new plan necessary. Years were wasted, and countless families broken, while Mr. Obama clung to a futile strategy of luring Republicans toward a legislative deal. He has been his own worst enemy -- over the years he stressed his executive impotence, telling advocates that he could not change the system on his own." ...

King Barack to sign royal edict allowing some foreign subjects to live in his kingdom under his protection. Ted Cruz, former subject of Queen Elizabeth, current Prince of a former principality of Spain, France & Mexico, is planning a revolt against the monarchy.... Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Politico Magazine: "... unilaterally decreed ... undermine ... rule of law ... founders repeatedly warned ... dangers ... unlimited power ... executive amnesty ... lawless ... unconstitutional ... defiant and angry ... executive diktat ... monarch ... framers ... dangers ... monarchy ... abuses of power ... monarch ... decrees, dictates ... rules ... fiat power ... monarch ... stop it ... voice of the people ... subverting rule of law ... usurps ... defies ... lawless ... lawless ... President Obama will ... threaten a shutdown ... unilaterally defy the law ... presidential temper tantrum ... lawless President ... amnesty." ...

... CW: I couldn't decide which part of Sen. Cruz's Politico piece was the very most important, so I copied the whole thing & just ellipsodized some small, superfluous words to save space.

Paul Waldman: "... we may be seeing the front end of an evolution in [Republicans'] thinking, not just from 'Shutting down the government would be bad for us' to 'We could shut down the government and be just fine,' but from there all the way to 'Shutting down the government would be genius.' Just you wait." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The Republican Party has had some bad ideas, but it has never come up with a political tactic as obviously stupid as shutting down the federal government to protest President Obama's immigration policies. It is almost a masterpiece of self-sabotage, harnessing the party's most self-destructive short-term political maneuver to its most dangerous long-term demographic liability." ...

... Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg View: "President Barack Obama initially tried to avoid the immigration action that he now seems determined to take. He let the Senate pass its own bill, and quietly waited for months on end for Speaker of the House John Boehner to muster something. When Boehner failed, he rewarded Obama's patience by explaining that Republicans can't pass immigration legislation because the president is untrustworthy, and that the president can't act unilaterally because such action would . . . prevent the House from passing legislation." ...

... Simon Rosenberg in a US News op-ed: "The president’s impending executive actions on immigration will be a winner for him politically if the country comes to believe these steps were taken to advance the national interest and not his party's political fortunes. And I think he has a strong case to make. If news accounts are accurate, the coming actions will grow the U.S. economy, strengthen public safety and improve the border and immigration enforcement system." Via Greg Sargent ...

... Here's Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.), pretty much following Rosenberg's advice on how to make the case for the President's impending action on immigration reform:

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "President Obama's announcement Thursday night of his plans to overhaul the nation's immigration system is scheduled to happen at an opportune time -- at least if the White House is hoping to reach a captive audience of Hispanic television viewers. Obama's 8 p.m. Eastern time announcement will come at the start of the second hour of the 15th annual Latin Grammys, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday on Spanish-language TV network Univision. At least 9.8 million viewers tuned in to all or part of last year's telecast, meaning Univision defeated CBS, Fox and NBC that night." ...

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "The White House is exasperated with the major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- for skipping out on President Barack Obama's Thursday primetime address on his executive actions on immigration. 'In 2006, Bush gave a 17 minute speech that was televised by all three networks that was about deploying 6000 national guard troops to the border. Obama is making a 10 minute speech that will have a vastly greater impact on the issue. And none of the networks are doing it. We can't believe they were aggrieved that we announced this on Facebook,' a senior administration official told Politico." ...

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "A little-known provision of the Patriot Act, overlooked by lawmakers and administration officials alike, appears to give President Obama a possible way to keep the National Security Agency's bulk phone records program going indefinitely -- even if Congress allows the law on which it is based to expire next year." ...

... ** Ken Dilanian of the AP: "Dissenters within the National Security Agency, led by a senior agency executive, warned in 2009 that the program to secretly collect American phone records wasn't providing enough intelligence to justify the backlash it would cause if revealed, current and former intelligence officials say. The NSA took the concerns seriously, and many senior officials shared them. But after an internal debate that has not been previously reported, NSA leaders, White House officials and key lawmakers opted to continue the collection and storage of American calling records, a domestic surveillance program without parallel in the agency's recent history."

Gail Collins on sex, penguins & Mitch McConnell.

Benedict Carey of the New York Times: "The case of a Navy medical officer who refused to force-feed prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prompted the country's largest nursing organization on Wednesday to petition the Defense Department for leniency, citing professional ethical guidelines that support the officer's decision. The officer is a nurse and 18-year Navy veteran whose commander has called for an internal inquiry into the refusal, his lawyer said."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "CIA Director John Brennan is considering sweeping organizational changes that could include breaking up the separate spying and analysis divisions that have been in place for decades to create hybrid units focused on individual regions and threats to U.S. security, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. The proposal would essentially replicate the structure of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and other similar entities in the agency -- an idea that reflects the CTC's expanded role and influence since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd. Boer Deng & Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "At every turn, it seems that some system failed [Scott] Panetti, whether it was the mental health system, the courts, the prison system, or the political branches. It is almost incomprehensible that Texas is about to go through with the execution, but the failures, feints, technicalities, and errors chronicled below have created a situation in which a man with three decades of profound mental illness will be sent to the death chamber" on December 3.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

Nathaniel Popper & Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "A two-year Senate-led investigation is throwing back the curtain on the outsize and sometimes hidden sway that Wall Street banks have gained over the markets for essential commodities like oil, aluminum and coal. The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase assumed a role of such significance in the commodities markets that it became possible for the banks to influence the prices that consumers pay while also securing inside information about the markets that could be used by the banks' own traders."

I don't think anyone should question our motives or what we are attempting to accomplish. -- William Dudley, President of the New York Federal Reserve ...

... Jessica Silver-Greenberg, et al., of the New York Times: The revolving door between big banks, particularly Goldman-Sachs, & the New York Fed "has long fostered a culture of coziness that, even without direct evidence of impropriety, generated a public perception that regulators and bankers form unholy alliances. But the new accounts of a regulator and a banker actually sharing confidential documents -- violating a cardinal rule of the regulatory world -- suggest that those impressions may no longer be purely hypothetical. The leak strikes at the heart of questions about the ability of the New York Fed -- the public's eyes and ears on Wall Street -- to maintain its independence from the banks it regulates. It also comes as a popular image of Goldman as a bank that puts profit above all has begun to fade."

** Nick Hanauer in Politico Magazine: "... what's changed since the 1960s and '70s? Overtime pay, in part.... It turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.... And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all. In my defense, I'm only playing by the rules -- rules written by and for wealthy capitalists like me. But the main point is this: These are rules that President Barack Obama has the power to change with the stroke of a pen, and with no prior congressional approval." ...

... The Hanauer piece via Charles Pierce, who -- like me -- thinks Hanauer has a great idea (even if it does come via Politico): "The screams of the market fundamentalists, and of the oligarchs who pay their honoraria, would be audible on Neptune, but this would be a genuine populist act for the president to take. Again, we say -- go big or go home."


Dana Milbank
: "What is [Sen. Cory] Booker afraid of?... He could use his star power to do most anything, yet he is acting like a conventional pol." ...

... CW: Cory Booker is a conventional pol.

E. J. Dionne wants Jeb Bush to save the Republican party from itself. ...

... Sorry, E.J., but Bush, too, is a conventional pol. "Practical" politicians who want to be president (e.g., Jeb, Hillary, Cory) are not crusaders for truth, justice & a new American way.

Presidential Election

Ed Kilgore lets some conservatives assess Gov. Scott Walker's (RTP-Wis.) 2016 presidential prospects.

Tuesday
Nov182014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 19, 2014

Coral Davenport & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Senate Democrats, by a single vote, stopped legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the most fractious and expensive environmental battles of the Obama presidency.... Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who is facing a runoff election Dec. 6, had pleaded with her colleagues throughout the day, leading to a rare suspense-filled roll call in the Senate.... The bill was defeated with 59 votes in favor and 41 against, with Ms. Landrieu needing 60 votes to proceed. The vote was also a reflection of how a once-obscure pipeline blew up into an expensive national political battle between environmentalists and the oil industry. Although TransCanada proposed the pipeline in 2005, it generated so little attention that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was poised to approve it in 2011 with little fanfare."

Mitch Is Watching You. Charlie Savage & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans' phone calls in bulk. Democrats and a handful of Republicans who supported the measure fell two votes short of the 60 votes they needed to take up the legislation, which sponsors named the U.S.A. Freedom Act. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, worked hard to defeat the bill, which had the support of the Obama administration and a coalition of technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo."

Emmarie Heutteman of the New York Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California was chosen [by House Democrats] to serve as minority leader for another two years despite quiet dissent within the party resulting from the net loss of an additional 12 seats in the Republican-controlled House.... But another challenge to Ms. Pelosi's authority remained, as the House Democratic Caucus was expected to vote Wednesday on the next senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Representative Anna G. Eshoo of California, a friend and the preferred pick of Ms. Pelosi, and Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, a member with more seniority, are vying for the post vacated by retiring Representative Henry A. Waxman."

Court of Public Opinion? Lauren French of Politico: "House Republicans have hired ... noted constitutional lawyer [Jonathan Turley] to oversee a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for alleged executive overreach.... This is Republicans' third lawyer since the suit was initially passed in July. Two previous lawyers dropped the case and the House has yet to file the lawsuit in federal court. 'Even for $500-per-hour in taxpayer dollars, Speaker Boehner has had to scour Washington to find a lawyer willing to file this meritless lawsuit against the president,' said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Minority Leader Pelosi. 'Now, he's hired a TV personality for this latest episode of his distraction and dysfunction.'" Thanks to Haley S. for giving us the heads-up on this very early yesterday.

** Jamelle Bouie of Slate: Republicans keep pushing a liberal agenda. You read that right (or left!). Thanks, Mitch. ...

... ** Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "What's coming will be painful, frustrating, and dangerous -- and it will illustrate a constitutional malfunction unforeseen in 1787. The country will survive, and it's possible it can even make progress -- but at tremendous cost in polarization and missed opportunity.... So we might profitably put a six-month moratorium on paeans to the wisdom of the Framers. The problem of divided government is a bug, not a feature, and the Constitution itself provides no guidance on how to work around it.... I don't think any of [the Framers] anticipated that the two branches would ever clash over which represented the will of the voters.' The voters weren't all that important in their design. The House was the only branch directly elected by voters." ...

... Steve M. notes that "The editorial board of The Washington Post is appalled" that President Obama plans to unilaterally relax the enforcement of immigration laws. So Steve wonders why it is nobody seemed "appalled" when Mitt Romney made central to his campaign a pledge to unilaterally gut ObamaCare "on Day One" and "on Day Two," he planned to totally repeal the ACA with a party-line Congressional "reconciliation" vote. "... no 'mantle of bipartisanship there. And no mainstream chatterer expressed the slightest bit of outrage."

GruberGate, Ctd. CW: If readers would like to know why I seldom link anything Steve Rattner has written, even when he writes something useful, here's a good example. If Gruber is a blowhard who makes up shit to make himself appear more important, Rattner is a BLOWHARD WHO MAKES UP SHIT SO HE CAN KEEP BEING ON THE TEEVEE. ...

...Aaron Sharockman of PolitiFact: "Since Nov. 10, Fox News Channel has referenced Gruber at least 779 times on air, while MSNBC has referred to Gruber 79 times. CNN has mentioned Gruber just 27 times over the same period."

... Let's give Jonathan Cohn the Last Word on Gruber (till we have to add some more words). Cohn provides an honest & accurate portrayal of Gruber's input into the ACA.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.
(Because There's No Bounty on Dirtbags)

Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times: "Success appears to have bred arrogance and vindictiveness at Uber. That is the only conclusion to draw from the news that a senior executive [Emil Michael] at the company said it planned to uncover and spread personal information about journalists who wrote critical articles.... on Tuesday, the chief executive of Uber, Travis Kalanick, apologized for Mr. Michael's statements but said he would not be fired for them." ...

Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily: Uber "is way worse than anyone on our team could have expected." Lacy reprises some of the stories her site's reporters have written about Uber. Here's a good one: "... CEO Travis Kalanick ... calls the company 'boober' because of all the tail he gets since running it."

Katie Benner of Bloomberg View: "The rideshare company Uber ... is dealing with a public-relations nightmare of cartoonish proportions.... Venture investors, who often double as directors, generally don't care in the slightest about the public perception of startups or bad behavior within their portfolio companies so long as there's a chance that a profitable exit can be secured..... Companies potentially destined for Facebook-like success, including Uber, tend to become impervious to sour press."

Kara Swisher of Vanity Fair profiles Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: "One of Uber's earliest investors explains Kalanick's pugnacious reputation in more matter-of-fact terms: 'It's hard to be a disrupter and not be an asshole.'"

Max Read of Gawker: "If Uber has an 'asshole problem,' so does all of capitalism.... Insofar as it's considered spying on an oppositional journalist, Uber is acting exactly like a major company. Like, say, Hewlett-Packard.... Or Wal-Mart.... Or Fox News."

News Ledes

USA Today: "A 41-year-old Iowa man was arrested near the White House Wednesday after the Secret Service recovered a shotgun, ammunition and a knife from his vehicle, officials said. R.J. Kapheim of Davenport allegedly initiated a conversation with a uniformed Secret Service officer near the White House, saying that 'someone in Iowa' had directed him to drive to D.C., Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said."

New York Times: "President Obama will speak to the nation in a prime-time address on Thursday, asserting his authority to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, the White House said, and setting in motion an immediate confrontation with Republicans about the limits of a president's executive powers."..

.. New York Times: "Millions of undocumented immigrants who are set to be granted a form of legal status by President Obama as early as this week will not receive one key benefit: government subsidies for health care available under the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama is preparing to use his executive authority to provide work permits for up to five million people who are in the United States illegally, and to shield them from deportation."