The Ledes

Monday, May 30, 2016.

USA Today: "Six people died and at least two others were missing Sunday after heavy rains in Texas and Kansas caused severe flooding. In one case near Austin, which received nine inches of rain this week, a vehicle with two people was swept off a flooded roadway. Threats of floods prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of prisoners near Houston, and inmates in another prison on Saturday fought with correctional officers after flooding caused a power outage." -- CW 

AP: "Mexican police have rescued kidnapped soccer player Alan Pulido, who appeared with a bandaged hand at a brief press conference Monday to declare that he was fine. Police and other officials said Pulido, a 25-year-old forward with Greek soccer club Olympiakos, was freed in a security operation Sunday shortly before midnight in the northeast border state of Tamaulipas. Pulido had been seized by gunmen as he left a party Saturday night." -- CW 

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, May 29, 2016.

New York Times: "Jane Fawcett, who was a reluctant London debutante when she went to work at Bletchley Park, the home of British code-breaking during World War II, and was credited with identifying a message that led to a great Allied naval success, the sinking of the battleship Bismarck, died on May 21 at her home in Oxford, England. She was 95." -- CW 

New York Times: Hedy "Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who spoke widely about the persecution of the Jews in Germany, and who spent most of her adult life working for a broad range of social justice movements, died on Thursday at her home in St. Louis. She was 91.” Epstein made international headlines when she was arrested in St. Louis in 2014 for protesting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's actions in the aftermath of the Michael Brown police killing case. -- CW 

Washington Post: "Cassandra Q. Butts, who was President Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School and a longtime member of the president’s inner circle who advised him throughout his political career and served as a deputy White House counsel, died May 25 at her home in Washington. She was 50." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (May 22): "An outbreak of a life-threatening illness that has been linked to foods packaged by a processing plant in Washington State has prompted a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names. The scale of the recall reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness, listeria, and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have “trickled down” into other products, said Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." -- CW

Washington Post: "After an epic duel of word masters, an 11-year-old Texan and a 13-year-old New Yorker tied Thursday night [May 26] in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the third year in a row two victors shared the championship trophy."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

... Washington Post: The White House goes Scandinavian for a state dinner for the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

New York Times: "Morley Safer, the longest-serving correspondent on '60 Minutes' who was known as much for his hard-hitting reporting as the quirky stories he covered, will formally retire this week after a career in broadcast news that lasted more than 50 years, CBS said on Wednesday. Mr. Safer, 84, served on '60 Minutes' for all but two of its 48 seasons. He started scaling back his appearances on the show after he turned 80; his last segment, a profile of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, aired in March.... An hourlong program on Sunday, “Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life,” will, among other highlights, recall an investigation by Mr. Safer that resulted in the freedom of Lenell Geter, a black man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas. In an appearance on the special, Mr. Geter credited Mr. Safer with saving his life."

U.K. Telegraph: "A Canadian schoolboy appears to have discovered a lost Mayan city hidden deep in the jungles of Mexico using a new method of matching stars to the location of temples on earth....In hundreds of years of scholarship, no other scientist had ever found such a correlation.... Studying 22 different constellations, [William Gadoury] found that they matched the location of 117 Mayan cities scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. When he applied his theory to a 23rd constellation, he found that two of the stars already had cities linked to them but that the third star was unmatched. William took to Google Maps and projected that there must be another city hidden deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The Canadian Space Agency agreed to train its satellite telescopes on the spot and returned with striking pictures: what appears to be an ancient Mayan pyramid and dozens of smaller structures around it."

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

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Sunday
May292016

The Commentariat -- May 30, 2016

"Martyrs of the Race Course," Charleston, South Carolina,1865, an early "Decoration Day." Art by Owen Freeman for the New York Times.AP: "Memorials to veterans in a Los Angeles neighborhood and a town in Kentucky, as well as a Civil War veterans cemetery in Virginia, were damaged as the nation prepares to mark Memorial Day, officials said." ...

... Juan Cole: "On Memorial Day, it is as well to remember that US troops are still at war. Afghanistan is our nation’s longest such military engagement. But although there are only about 3,000 troops in Iraq and just a couple hundred in Syria, they are at the front lines in confronting the most dangerous terrorist groups...A former US military officer has said that US troops are actively engaged in fighting at both major remaining fronts against Daesh, al-Raqqa an Mosul." --safari...

... "Era Endless War/Era of Chickenhawks." Ben Fountain of the Guardian: "Just two of this season’s presidential candidates – Bernie Sanders and Rand Paulseriously questioned the the hard-military tactics of the past 15 years. Everybody else seems to be running around in a 2002 time warp, back when deploying the world’s most powerful military was supposed to bring peace and democracy to a maddeningly conflicted region. Gas on the fire. It failed, and a lot of people died. In this, the fourth presidential election of the Era of the AUMF [Authorization to Use MIlitary Force], the debate hasn’t been about war per se – whether it’s necessary, whether it’s an effective means to an end – but rather, a difference of degree: will we have more of the same, or much, much more of the same? The times are such that fantasy war-mongering is solidly mainstream." -- CW ...

... E.J. Dionne: President "Obama is constantly being criticized for 'apologizing' for the United States when he is in fact attempting to hold us to the very standards that make the United States the 'exceptional' nation his critics extol. Judging ourselves by our own standards is the best way to prove that our commitment to them is real." -- CW 

David Savage of the Los Angeles Times: "The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers. At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation. 'This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,' said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court. Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014. As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s 'plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,'...  with the union." The Court ruled for the Trump & Icahn. -- CW 

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court is trying hard to reach common ground in the wake of the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. But some justices are trying harder than others.... The recent run of rulings, accounting for more than a quarter of all decisions in argued cases so far this term, tells the story. The court’s most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — wrote eight concurrences or dissents. Its two most liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — wrote four." -- CW 

Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "A number of companies in the United States are training foreign law enforcement and intelligence officials to code their own surveillance tools. In many cases these tools are able to circumvent security measures like encryption. Some countries are using them to watch dissidents. Others are using them to aggressively silence and punish their critics, inside and outside their borders." -- CW 

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Margaret Sullivan, now with the Washington Post: "... when a vindictive billionaire [Peter Thiel] can muscle his way into a lawsuit with the intention of putting a media company [Gawker] out of business, there’s reason to worry.... Ken Paulson, director of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, told me that congressional meddling in Facebook’s editorial practices would be 'dangerous, frightening and wrong.' He sees this as a case of government trying to police ideas." -- CW 

CW: Excellent discussion in yesterday's Comments thread.

Presidential Race

Julie Dolan, in a Washington Post interview by Janell Ross: Hillary "Clinton is the most experienced candidate in the field, but campaign rivals Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are leveling attacks against her that she’s not qualified for the job. In doing so, they're playing into a long-standing narrative that women lack what it takes to succeed in the male-dominated world of politics. The fact that two less-experienced male candidates are leveling this attack against her is telling. Neither Trump nor Sanders feels compelled to shore up their own credentials or justify their own relative lack of experience because they don’t need to; they benefit from a gendered double standard where men are automatically presumed qualified for public office and women are not.: -- CW 

What about Bill? Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on Hillary Clinton's "Bill problem," which Donald Trump so enjoys raising & which actually concerns many voters. -- CW 

Paul Krugman: "So far, election commentary has been even worse than I imagined it would be. It’s not just the focus on the horse race at the expense of substance; much of the horse-race coverage has been bang-your-head-on-the-desk awful, too.... Mrs. Clinton is clearly ahead, both in general election polls and in Electoral College projections based on state polls." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Martin, et al., of the New York Times: "With Donald J. Trump pulling even or ahead of Hillary Clinton in a series of recent national polls, the once unthinkable has become at least plausible. But if he is to be elected the 45th president, he must compete on a political map that, for now, looks forbidding." -- CW 

Biker Boy. Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Donald Trump addressed "a gathering at the 29th annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle run, a vast event over Memorial Day weekend that is dedicated to accounting for military members taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action." -- CW ...

...Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Speaking to a crowd that spilled down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, [Donald Trump] was received as a conquering hero...Trump repeatedly claimed – falsely – that hundreds of thousands were trying to attend the event, at one point claiming there were '600,000 people trying to get in'...'I thought this would be like Dr Martin Luther King,' he said, in a reference to the 1963 March on Washington, a key event in the civil rights movement." --safari

Whiner-in-Chief, Ctd. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour.... Trump went after an odd and seemingly random group of people — Democrats and Republicans, famous and obscure. There seemed little to gain politically from the attacks, and his targets were linked by just one thing: Trump felt they had all done him wrong. So he blasted Republicans who have yet to endorse him, including Jeb Bush, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Mitt Romney. He declared that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton doesn’t look presidential, and he went after her allies, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom Trump continues to call 'Pocahontas' even after being told the nickname is offensive. He mocked those protesting him and slammed reporters covering his candidacy.... Trump also went after people who were probably unknown to his supporters until he brought them up: Barbara Res, a former employee quoted in an article about his treatment of women, and U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is assigned to hear a fraud case against now-defunct Trump University." -- CW 

Ignoramus-in-Chief, Ctd. Washington Post Editors: "LAST WEEK’S Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that voters think Donald Trump would handle the economy better than would Hillary Clinton. But from his destructive tax proposals to the illogical energy plan he detailed on Thursday, there is little basis for that belief.... Mr. Trump’s plan is dangerous as well as incoherent. Mr. Trump’s plan would lead to dirtier air and water — and to a massive blow to the global fight against climate change." -- CW

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: Marco Rubio revealed "on Sunday morning’s State of the Union that he would be releasing his delegates to the Republican convention, casting his tepid support for Donald Trump as a lesser evil than voting for Hillary Clinton, and reflecting on his own failed campaign." Also, too, Marco is not too upset about Trump's overt racism. -- CW ...

... digby: "It's not a game and it isn't about ideology. It's about the fact that this loon is unfit. There are a few Republicans who are willing to say this out loud. But most are like Lil' Marco --- selling out whatever is left of their integrity for a favor from The Donald. This is the litmus test of litmus tests. Did you speak up when the party nominates someone who is manifestly unqualified or not?" -- CW...

...Tom Boggioni of RawStory: "Appearing on CNN, an opinion page editor from the Wall Street Journal [Bret Stevens] left no doubt how he feels about presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying not only will he not vote for him, but that Trump needs to be crushed in the November election as a lesson to Republicans." --safari...

...We could use some more of this on mainstream media: --safari

...Tim Wise, an antiracism educator, and journalist W. Kalau Bell on Trump and racism: --safari

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "What Trump and his allies really hope is that they can hoodwink first-time voters or people who weren’t paying close attention back in the 1990s into believing known lies. Only the media can prevent this — but with Trump as GOP nominee, and party leaders rallying behind him, the media suddenly faces fresh incentives not to intervene, and they will become harder to resist over time.... Unless a critical mass of media figures agrees to treat the things Trump exhumes from the fever swamps of the 1990s with the appropriate contempt, Trump will enjoy the benefit of the doubt most major-party nominees expect." -- CW 

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "The Libertarian party on Sunday selected Gary Johnson as its nominee for president, on a second ballot.... The selection of a vice-presidential candidate, in which Johnson is hoping to be joined by the former Massachusetts governor William Weld, was not so swiftly concluded. Weld, seen by many Libertarians as 'Republican-lite', struggled for support before sealing the nomination early on Sunday evening." -- CW 

Congressonal Race

James Hohmann of the Washington Post: Tim Canova, "a little-known law professor" who is challenging Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in the primary, "finds himself in the right place at the right time. Wasserman Schultz, 49, has become increasingly unpopular within the liberal base of the party — and among [Sen. Bernie] Sanders’s supporters in particular. Though she claims to be neutral in the presidential nominating contest, many Berniecrats believe that she has tipped the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor." Sanders has endorsed Canova. -- CW

Louis Gohmert (he's so special, sometimes he deserves his own section)

Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "There have been a lot of justifications for continued discrimination against LGBT people...But in a speech on the House floor this week, Congressman Louis Gohmert took things to the next level. Gohmert argued that we need to discriminate against LGBT people now or the future of humanity is in danger... At some point, a giant asteroid may start barreling toward earth, putting the future of humanity in doubt. We will then need to prepare a special spaceship and send a group of people to colonize Mars...If we can’t discriminate against LGBT people, Gohmert reminds us, all of the people on the special spaceship might end up being same-sex couples." --safari

Way Beyond the Beltway

Jim Yardley & Gaia Pianigiani of the New York Times: "Three days and three sunken ships are again confronting Europe with the horrors of its refugee crisis, as desperate people trying to reach the Continent keep dying at sea. At least 700 people from the three boats are believed to have drowned, the United Nations refugee agency announced on Sunday, in one of the deadliest weeks in the Mediterranean in recent memory." -- CW

Emma Graham-Harrison of the Guardian: "Iraqi army-led units have started an operation to storm the Isis-held city of Falluja, the latest phase in the week-long operation to capture the militant’s stronghold near Baghdad...A spokesman for Iraq’s elite counter-terrorisn service said troops entered the city from three directions. Explosions and gunfire could be heard in the southern Naimiya district as a military unit advanced." --safari

Saturday
May282016

The Commentariat -- May 29, 2016

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick, et al., of the New York Times: "While she enjoys many demographic advantages heading into the fall, key Democrats say they are growing worried that [Hillary Clinton's] campaign has not determined how to combat her unpredictable, often wily Republican rival, to whom criticism seldom sticks and rules of decorum seem not to apply. Mrs. Clinton is pressing ahead with a conventional campaign.... But Mr. Trump is running a jarringly different crusade: accusing her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of rape; proposing that the country conduct brutal methods of torture; and suggesting that South Korea and Japan be permitted to develop nuclear arms. Prominent Democrats say a more provocative approach is needed." -- CW 

Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times: "... Hillary Clinton has jumped into the dispute over whether Norwegian Air International is competing fairly against its U.S.-based rivals — and she is taking a position critical of the Obama administration. Norwegian Air, a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, one of Europe's biggest low-cost carriers, has been accused by U.S.-based carriers and their unions of skirting U.S. and European labor laws by establishing a base in Ireland but hiring pilots out of Asia to save money.... Sen. Bernie Sanders also called on the federal government to deny Norwegian's permit." -- CW

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is moving to head off a burgeoning controversy sparked by a federal probe that could have consequences for his close friend and political ally, Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe has launched a media blitz insisting the FBI will not find any wrongdoing in its investigation of contributions to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign. The governor said in a TV interview he is 'baffled' by the inquiry, which reportedly began last year. In a separate radio interview, he lashed out at Department of Justice and FBI after news of the investigation leaked to the press." -- CW 

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is seeking to bar allies of Hillary Clinton from leading the powerful rules and platform committees of the Democratic National Convention in July, escalating his battle with party leaders. In a letter sent on Friday to party officials, lawyers for Mr. Sanders said that the appointments of Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut violated party rules. Mr. Frank is to co-lead the rules committee, and Mr. Malloy the platform committee. In the letter, Mr. Sanders’s lawyer Brad Deutsch said that both men have been 'harsh, vocal critics of Senator Sanders, and equally active supporters of his challenger, Hillary Clinton.' Mr. Frank has called Mr. Sanders 'outrageously McCarthyite' for his suggesting that Mrs. Clinton would be influenced by her speaking fees from Wall Street; Mr. Malloy has led efforts among Clinton allies to attack Mr. Sanders’s record on gun control." -- CW ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: Senior Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials have rejected a request from Bernie Sanders’s campaign to change the leadership of two crucial committees at the convention." -- CW 

Richard Marosi & Debbi Baker of the Los Angeles Times: "San Diego police arrested 35 people Friday during protests that followed Donald Trump’s rally here, drawing praise from the presidential candidate on Twitter. 'Fantastic job on handling the thugs who tried to disrupt our very peaceful and well attended rally. Greatly appreciated!' Trump wrote." -- CW ...

... Rory Carroll & Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "There were protests at almost every stop of ... [Donald Trump's] western swing this week, veering from a carnival-like vibe to violence." -- CW 

Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "A federal judge has ordered the release of internal Trump University documents in an ongoing lawsuit against the company, including 'playbooks' that advised sales personnel how to market high-priced courses on getting rich through real estate. The Friday ruling, in which Judge Gonzalo Curiel cited heightened public interest in ... Donald Trump, was issued in response to a request by The Washington Post. The ruling was a setback for Trump.... Curiel’s order came the same day that Trump..., who previously questioned whether Curiel’s Hispanic heritage made him biased due to Trump’s support for building a wall on the Mexican border, said ... Curiel 'happens to be, we believe, Mexican.' Trump called the judge a 'hater of Donald Trump' who had 'railroaded' him in the case.railed against the judge at a boisterous San Diego rally for his handling of the case, in which students have alleged they were misled and defrauded. The trial is set for November." ...

... Reid Epstein of the Wall Street Journal: "In one of his most personal attacks against an apolitical figure since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump delivered an extended tirade [at his San Diego rally] about the federal judge overseeing the civil litigation against his defunct education program.... Mr. Trump ... devoted 12 minutes of a 58-minute address to the litigation, which is scheduled to go to trial in San Diego federal court Nov. 28." -- CW ...

... CW: For the record, Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, a geopolitical area which very few Americans are stupid enough to place in Mexico. ...

... digby: "President Whining Bigot at your service.... I swear to God this campaign is the whiniest campaign I've ever heard.  Everything is so unfaaaiiir. So I have a right to act like a baby and whine and whine and throw tantrums and hold my breath until I turn blue because those meanies are being sooooo mean!!! Boo fucking hoo." -- CW ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Just hours after Trump used a campaign speech at a San Diego convention center to unleash a remarkable verbal fusillade against U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge — who also happens to be based in the same southern California city — acknowledged a much more measured fashion of the criticism Trump has aimed at the court. 'Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue,' Curiel said in an order unsealing a series of internal Trump University documents that Trump's lawyers asked be kept from the public." -- CW 

Kristen East of Politico: "Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to defend his personal management style and his campaign’s structure after a New York Times report outlined challenges facing the presumptive Republican nominee and his staffers as they pivot to the general election.... Maggie Haberman, one of the story's two authors, responded to Trump’s criticisms on Twitter by saying he had confirmed the report — that he has a small campaign staff.... About an hour later, Trump then tweeted: 'Don't believe the biased and phony media quoting people who work for my campaign. The only quote that matters is a quote from me!'" -- CW 

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump’s campaign has engendered impassioned debate about the nature of his appeal and warnings from critics on the left and the right about the potential rise of fascism in the United States.... The discussion comes as questions are surfacing around the globe about a revival of fascism, generally defined as a governmental system that asserts complete power and emphasizes aggressive nationalism and often racism.... Mr. Trump has provided plenty of ammunition for critics. He was slow to denounce the white supremacist David Duke and talked approvingly of beating up protesters. He has praised Mr. Putin and promised to be friends. He would not condemn supporters who launched anti-Semitic blasts at journalists. At one point, Mr. Trump retweeted a Mussolini quote: 'It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.'" -- CW 

Sean Sullivan & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "For the past two months, Donald Trump has presided over a political team riddled with turf wars, staff reshuffling and dueling power centers.... The tensions ... illustrate how Trump likes to run an organization.... Interviews with current and former Trump associates reveal an executive who is fond of promoting rivalries among subordinates, wary of delegating major decisions, scornful of convention and fiercely insistent on a culture of loyalty around him.... Trump’s style offers a glimpse of the polarizing management techniques he would carry into the White House." -- CW ...

... Chas Danner of New York: "The Trump campaign has told some high-level GOP staffers that it wont have a lot of money to defend itself from attacks over the next few months, according to the Washington Examiner.... Trump's shift to RNC money is of course a huge departure from his stance during the GOP primaries, when he repeatedly boasted about how he was self funding his campaign, in large part to avoid being beholden to the very Republican establishment on which his campaign will apparently now rely.... Trump could try to blame the Republican Party for the loss, rather than take responsibility for what may end up being one of the most poorly-run presidential campaigns in history." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Fortunately, many of the same qualities that would make Trump epically dangerous in the presidency — his impulsive ignorance, blustering arrogance, and contempt for data — also make him unlikely to obtain it." -- CW 

...unless voters listen to their stone-age brains:  Bill Moyers interviews Rick Shenkman, editor and publisher of  History News Network, author of Political Animals: How Our Stone-age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics. "We think the voters want the truth. The voters don’t want the truth any more than you and I want the truth. You and I don’t want to be told some truth that makes us uncomfortable about ourselves. The voters don’t want to be told some truth that makes them uncomfortable about their choices."--LT

Matt Viser of the Boston Globe: The Trump Shuttle failed partly because of a softening economy but also because Donald Trump didn't know what he was doing. “'The shuttle was a clear example of how the exaggerated value accorded his name led Donald into a purchase whose foolishness was apparent almost immediately,' John O’Donnell, a former Trump official, wrote in his tell-all book 'Trumped!' 'But he was acting more impulsively than ever, giving less and less thought to the consequences of everything he did.'” -- CW 

Ralph Benko of Forbes: Make America Great Again by minimizing the power of the Presidency and yielding power to a Prime Minister? "If Donald Trump authentically promised, and then fulfilled the promise, of making Paul Ryan the moral equivalent of his prime minister this could be a marriage made in heaven. It could fuse Trump’s intuitive grasp of economic growth with justice with Ryan’s policy mastery. This recipe could make Trump “the greatest jobs president that God every created” and Ryan an historic Speaker and possible successor to the presidency." -- LT

Friday
May272016

The Commentariat -- May 28, 2016

Sometimes a Great Story. Christine Hauser of the New York Times: "Since he invented the Heimlich maneuver, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich had spent decades demonstrating the lifesaving technique on people willing to play the role of a choking victim. But this week, Dr. Heimlich, 96, said he got to do the real thing. He used the abdomen-squeezing maneuver on Monday night on an 87-year-old woman who was choking at their senior residence community in Cincinnati, popping a morsel of meat out of her mouth." CW: Previous reports of Dr. Heimlich's using the maneuver have been "murky." I love this story. If it proves to be untrue, I'll choke myself. (And, no, that's not a promise.)

** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times on how billionaires are using various methods to control the news media, often in secretive ways. -- CW

Presidential Race

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "The Obama administration is trying to prevent former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from being deposed in an ongoing open records case connected to her use of a private email server. Late Thursday evening, the Justice Department filed a court motion opposing the Clinton deposition request from conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch, claiming that the organization was trying to dramatically expand the scope of the lawsuit." -- CW ...

... Lisa Lerer & Catherine Lucey of the AP: "Over the months, Hillary Clinton misstated key facts about her use of private email and her own server for her work as secretary of state, the department's inspector general reported this week. According to the findings, she claimed approval she didn't have and declined to be interviewed for the report despite saying 'I'm more than ready to talk to anybody anytime.' Scrutiny of her unusual email practices appeared to be unwelcome, despite her contention those practices were well known and 'fully above board.'" ...

     ... CW: No one can predict the future, but we can state with some certainty that the next POTUS will be an inveterate liar & an arrogant imperialist. The crucial difference, of course, is that one candidate will be just an irritating, common-variety fibber whose cover-ups & prevarication are reality-based lapses while the other would be a megalomaniacal danger to the entire world. ...

... Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider: "Chuck Todd grilled Hillary Clinton over the scathing inspector general's report released on Wednesday that determined she 'did not comply' with State Department rules in using a personal email address to conduct government business." -- CW ...

... Stonewall Clinton. Dana Milbank: "The report on Hillary Clinton’s email by the State Department’s inspector general this week was devastating — not because of how she handled email but because of how she handled investigators.... The Office of the Inspector General said it 'interviewed Secretary Kerry and former Secretaries Albright, Powell, and Rice. Through her counsel, Secretary Clinton declined OIG’s request for an interview.... In addition to Secretary Clinton, eight former Department employees [most of them Clinton aides] declined OIG requests for interviews.... OIG sent 26 questionnaires to Secretary Clinton’s staff and received 5 responses.'” -- CW 

As the Worm Turns. Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "A technology investment company has offered to put up the $10 million for charity that Donald Trump said on Thursday would be needed to hold a debate with Bernie Sanders.[Update at 4:38 p.m.: Shortly after the publication of this report, Trump’s campaign released a statement that he would not be participating in a debate with Sanders.]" -- CW ...

... Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Friday rejected an offer to debate Bernie Sanders before the June 7 California primary, saying, 'It seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher' in the Democratic nominating contest." CW: This is the fourth stance Trump has taken on the proposed debate in less than 48 hours. Everything he says is fake. ...

I heard that he was going to debate me and then I heard that he was not going to debate me…. Mr. Trump is known to change his mind many times in a day. Trump goes around he’s a bully, he’s a big tough guy. Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of? -- Bernie Sanders, in response to Trump's pronouncement that he would not debate Sanders after all

Michael Finnegan & Kurtis Lee of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump waded into California’s perennial water wars Friday, taking the side of agriculture and vowing to boost the state’s farmers even if it means cutting back environmental protections." -- CW 

You two wouldn’t know how to write a good story about me if you tried — dream on. -- Donald Trump, in a "more presidential" e-mail to NYT reporters Ashley Parker & Maggie Haberman when they asked him for comment ...

... Ashley Parker & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "A constant stream of changes and scuffles are roiling Donald J. Trump’s campaign team, including the abrupt dismissal this week of his national political director. A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices in New York may be bugged. And there is confusion among his donors, who want to give money to a 'super PAC' supporting Mr. Trump, but have received conflicting signals from top aides about which one to support.... Two months after assurances that the candidate would become 'more presidential'..., Mr. Trump continues to act as if the primary is still underway. His team has struggled to fill top positions, such as communications director, and Mr. Trump has made clear he still sees himself as his own chief adviser." -- CW ...

... digby: "Trump is firing seasoned presidential campaign operatives in favor of the little friends he made during the primaries and is telling everyone that he doesn't think he needs a ground operation and has no intention of spending 500 million on the general election campaign. This is the businessman who's supposedly going to 'make America great again.' I guess if you think bankrupt casinos is a definition of greatness, he's your man." -- CW 

** David Roberts of Vox: "Pretty much everything [Donald Trump's energy speech] revealed was terrifying." Read why. CW: It's part hilarious & 100 percent scary.

Drew Griffin, et al., of CNN Money: "... a CNN investigation finds that [Donald] Trump and others involved in ["Trump University"] admitted under oath that some promises made to students just didn't happen. In Trump's own deposition this past December, Trump failed to recognize the name of a single presenter or teacher at his real estate seminars. He also confirmed he had nothing to do with the selection process of instructors ... or mentors.... A review of Trump University presenters and so-called real estate experts found many with questionable credentials and inflated resumes. Court documents show background-checks conducted during the hiring process could not determine whether some instructors even graduated high school."  CW: Because everything about Trump is fake. 

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "When Donald Trump publicly floated the idea of running for president in 1999, his ex-wife Marla Maples made it clear she would spill the beans on her ex-husband if he were to make it to the general election. 'If he is really serious about being president and runs in the general election next year, I will not be silent,' Maples told London Telegraph. 'I will feel it is my duty as an American citizen to tell the people what he is really like.' The reaction from Trump and his attorney was swift and brutal. They launched a full-court effort in the press to discredit Maples and withheld an alimony payment to 'send a message.' The episode illustrates how Trump uses character assassination and threats to quash any opposition. Maples has largely remained silent on Trump’s 2016 candidacy." -- CW 

** Jonathan Weisman, in a New York Times op-ed, on some of the shocking anti-Semitic, extremist tweets he has received from Donald Trump supporters since he tweeted about "an essay by Robert Kagan on the emergence of fascism in the United States." Here's one: "a photo of my disembodied head held aloft, long Orthodox hair locks called payot photoshopped on my sideburns and a skullcap placed as a crown." Another: "the image of a smiling Mr. Trump in Nazi uniform flicking the switch on a gas chamber containing my Photoshopped face.... Julia Ioffe was served up on social media in concentration camp garb and worse after Trump supporters took umbrage with her profile of Melania Trump in GQ magazine. The would-be first lady later told an interviewer that Ms. Ioffe had provoked it." ...

... CW: If, like me, you don't care for Hillary Clinton, bear in mind that her base is nothing like the scum who support Donald Trump & whom Donald refuses to denounce & Melania Trump excuses.

Senate Race

Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald: "on Thursday, [Sen. Marco] Rubio acknowledged that GOP colleagues in the Senate and some Florida activists have prodded him in previous days to run [for re-election]. It’s part of a last-ditch, coordinated effort from Republicans worried they could lose Rubio’s seat — and perhaps Senate control.... Rubio left himself a tiny opening, saying Thursday he might consider re-election if his friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, weren’t running for his seat." The filing deadline is June 24. -- CW ...

... Marco, Man of Principles. Ledyard King of USA Today: "In March, Marco Rubio dismissed Donald Trump as a 'con artist' and 'the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency.' This past week, the Florida senator told reporters he’ll not only vote for Trump, he'd be willing to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. And he didn’t rule out the possibility of serving in a Trump administration." -- CW ...

... Ed Kilgore: Marco is an experienced flip-flopper. -- CW 

Beyond the Beltway

Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state Legislature had failed to equitably fund public schools, once again giving the state until June 30 to fix its financing system or face a court-ordered shutdown of schools. The ruling was the latest volley in a long battle over public education in Kansas. A lawsuit from a coalition of school districts led the Kansas Supreme Court to order the Legislature in 2014 to increase funding to poorer districts." -- CW 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article80427517.html#storylink=cp"

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article80427517.html#storylink=cpy
Thursday
May262016

The Commentariat -- May 27, 2016

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on Friday, telling an audience that included survivors of America's atomic bombing in 1945 that technology as devastating as nuclear arms 'requires a moral revolution.'" -- CW ...

... MSNBC coverage, which includes the full speech, is here. ...

... The New York Times is updating events surrounding President Obama's visit. They include excerpts of his speech.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama's public disparagement Thursday of Donald Trump ... during a news conference in Ise City, Japan, obliterated the now-quaint political convention that partisanship stops at the water's edge. It also revealed a stark truth: The world is worried about Trump." -- CW ...

Rachel Bade & John Bresnahan of Politico: "House conservatives on Thursday blocked passage of a relatively uncontroversial energy and water spending measure after Democrats attached an amendment that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The appropriations bill failed 305-112, with a majority of Republicans opposed because of the gay rights provision.... Democrats also heavily voted against it over objections to other GOP-sponsored add-ons, including one related to immigration.... The breakdown of the appropriations process started earlier in the day when Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) opened the weekly GOP conference meeting with a prayer about the LGBT issue, prior to the vote. He read a passage from the Bible and questioned whether members would violate their religious principles if they supported the bill. Moderate Republicans were stunned by Allen's remarks, and some walked out of the meeting in protest, according to GOP lawmakers." CW: If you were wondering why the do-nothing Congress can't do nothin', this is a prime example: both sides tack controversial amendments onto run-of-the-mill bills.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a Washington Post op-ed: "Three years ago, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing at the height of a contentious debate about sexual assault in the military, one of our nation's highest-ranking military officials -- the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- ... in an effort to defend the status quo, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr..., told the Senate about 93 sexual assault cases ... in which civilian prosecutors 'refused' to prosecute and commanders 'insisted' on prosecuting the cases. For many of my colleagues, including former senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee at that time, it was a compelling argument, which they repeated on the floor of the Senate while successfully filibustering our reform. It was also verifiably false...." -- CW

The Die Is Precast. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hasn't yet met with Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland.... But Hatch already wrote an op-ed, accidentally published in the Deseret News, claiming, "Like many of my Senate colleagues, I recently met with Chief Judge Merrick Garland.... Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle." The paper later removed the op-ed. "Paul Edwards, the executive editor of the Deseret News, on Thursday described the piece as a draft that was 'awaiting edits from the Senator following his meeting with Judge Garland' and was published inadvertently." -- CW ...

... Michael Virtanen of TPM: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday that having only eight high court justices isn't good, resulting in some 4-4 splits this year that denied litigants an opinion." -- CW

Lena Sun & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could signal 'the end of the road' for antibiotics.... The authors wrote that the discovery 'heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.'" --safari

Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic: "On Tuesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced she would seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof. It has not been a year since Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and murdered nine black people as they worshipped.... [K]illing Roof does absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions that brought him into being in the first place. The hammer of criminal justice is the preferred tool of a society that has run out of ideas. In this sense, Roof is little more than a human sacrifice to The Gods of Doing Nothing." --safari

Annals of Journalism. Katie Rogers & Michael de la Merced of the New York Times: "A day after Peter Thiel explained why he had given about $10 million to fund multiple lawsuits against Gawker Media, the site's founder [Nick Denton] published an open letter [in Gawker] to the Silicon Valley billionaire, calling him 'thin-skinned' and a 'comic book villain' and challenging him to a public debate about the role of journalism in society.... Mr. Denton harshly criticized what he said was a lengthy, unnecessary vendetta Mr. Thiel waged against not only Gawker Media but also individual journalists." -- CW ...

... Katie Rogers & John Hermann of the New York Times: "The story of Gawker versus Hulk Hogan -- or, perhaps more accurately, Peter Thiel -- has some asking whether press freedom in the United States is in peril if a scorned billionaire can help deliver a crippling blow to a media company." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Kelsey Sutton & Peter Sterne of Politico write a "pre-eulogy" for Salon.com. -- CW

Presidential Race

Thomas Kaplan & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "... Hillary Clinton on Thursday played down a report from the State Department's inspector general that criticized her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. In an interview with ABC News, Mrs. Clinton repeated her concession that using the private email server was a mistake. But she suggested that voters had more important issues to consider when making up their minds between her and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. 'As I've said many times, if I could go back, I would do it differently,' Mrs. Clinton said." -- CW ...

C-SPAN: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ... says he plans to pursue what he calls 'discrepancies' in the wake of the audit, saying, 'Secretary Clinton and some State Department officials have not been truthful.'" Video. CW: Thanks, Chuck. I'm sure you'll do a totally nonpartisan, professional job & get your "report" out right around Hallowe'en. Maybe you could dress it up with a Photoshopped cover pic of Hillary in a witch's costume. P.S. OR, you could follow Sen. Hatch's example & tell us now what's in that "report" before you do that "inquiry."

... Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "State Department officials took pains to accommodate Hillary Clinton's email practices as secretary, according to newly released testimony by a career agency official. Clinton was offered a 'stand-alone' computer near her office that would let her access the Internet without entering a password or logging into the department's network as other employees are required to do, the official said. The official, Lewis A. Lukens..., said he was told the proposal was declined because Clinton was 'not adept or not used to checking her emails on a desktop.'" -- CW ...

... Chuck Todd, et al., of NBC News: Wednesday's "stinging State Department inspector general report on Hillary Clinton's email practices should have produced one of the worst 24 hours for Clinton's campaign. Instead, it's been a political flesh wound.... Why? Because almost all of Hillary Clinton's weaknesses are overshadowed by Trump's." Via Paul Waldman. CW: Hard to believe Chuck wrote this balanced report; I'll bet his coauthors, Mark Murray & Carrie Dann, are the "real" writers.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "I count myself among the many silent liberals who have largely kept their feelings on Bernie versus Hillary to themselves -- partly because each speaks to me in different ways.... That said, I have been taken up short by the number of comments and scoldings I have faced, from close friends and casual acquaintances alike, for voicing even a hint of support for one or the other in recent months.... If we are treating our friends and allies like we treat our enemies, we are not really a movement so much as a collective of grievances." --safari

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "A new count of Kentucky's ballots from the May 17 Democratic primary found no discrepancies, confirming ... Hillary Clinton's narrow victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders. It was Sanders who asked for the canvass just two days ago...." -- CW

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Bernie Sanders's campaign manager says 'back-channel conversations' are underway with Donald Trump's staff about setting up a bipartisan debate between the two presidential candidates." -- CW ...

... Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "For some Democrats, Bernie Sanders' latest gambit -- challenging Donald Trump to a debate to cap all debates -- is the last straw.... Lawmakers reacted with puzzlement, sarcasm and barely veiled anger as Sanders' campaign and Trump himself played up an event that would exclude Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.... A minority of Democratic lawmakers, though, said they'd be fine with Sanders going toe-to-toe with Trump on TV, if only to unmask the Republican nominee as a false advocate for working people." -- CW ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump on Thursday said he would 'love' to debate Bernie Sanders and raise $10 million to $15 million in the process, even if the Democratic challenger is not well positioned to be his general election foe.... 'What we'll do is raise maybe for, maybe women's health issues or something, if we can raise $10 million or $15 million for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount. I understand the television business very well.' The event would 'get high ratings' and 'should be in a big arena somewhere,' Trump said." -- CW

I will give you everything.... I'm the only one. -- Donald Trump, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Thursday

** Ignoramus-in-Chief. Ashley Parker & Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump traveled Thursday to the heart of America's oil and gas boom, where he called for more fossil fuel drilling and fewer environmental regulations while vowing to 'cancel the Paris climate agreement,' the 2015 accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to curb climate change.... But experts remain skeptical of Mr. Trump's command of the complexities of the global energy economy. And he made claims, such as a promise to restore jobs lost in coal mining, that essentially defy free-market forces.... In his speech, he complained, inaccurately: '[The Paris] agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use on our land, in our country. No way.'... 'Under my presidency, we will accomplish complete American energy independence,' he said.... But experts say that such remarks display a basic ignorance of the workings of the global oil markets." -- CW ...

... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Donald Trump pledged to cancel the Paris climate agreement, endorsed drilling off the Atlantic coast and said he would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built in return for 'a big piece of the profits' for the American people." --safari...

... safari note: Not only would Drumpf shred our own social fabric, but he would literally melt the planet. The irresponsibility of the GOP on climate change has become absolutely pathological. ...

... "A Walk in the Dead Woods." Tim Egan: "While the world burns and gasps, Trump is now leading the only major political party in the advanced world to deny climate change." -- CW

Paul Krugman: "... the idea that Donald Trump, of all people, knows how to run the U.S. economy is ludicrous." -- CW

No, You Lying Sack of Rat Droppings, Elizabeth Warren Is Not a House-Flipper. Annie Linskey of the Boston Globe: "... Donald Trump opened a new line of attack against Elizabeth Warren Wednesday, accusing the Democratic Massachusetts senator of being a 'total hypocrite' because she 'bought foreclosed housing and made a quick killing.' Trump, pointing to stories that have been circulating in the right-wing media for years, focused on a practice from Warren's past in which she bought or helped finance two dozen properties in Oklahoma for various family members over about two decades.... Trump's accusation ... implies that Warren's family made a fast sale to realize a speedy profit.... The average amount of time that Warren or her family held on to a property was about 7½ years, property records show." ...

... CW: I don't suppose Donald Trump has provided financial help to any of his relatives -- like his children who work for him at no doubt fabulous salaries.

James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "Rick Wiley, hired with great fanfare in mid-April, lasted only six weeks as Donald Trump's national political director. The Trump campaign released a statement late [Wednesday] night saying that it has parted ways with Scott Walker's former campaign manager.... Here's what that says about him and his campaign.... There is a raging internal turf war between the old guard and the new guard.... Trump does not think he actually needs to run a modern campaign to win.... Trump is not playing nice with the consultants favored by the establishment.... Trump's shop is beginning to feel more and more like Hillary Clinton's operation ... circa 2008! That's when a revolving coterie of staffers fell in and out of favor, bickered publicly and contributed to the disarray in her campaign.... But, but, but: Trump is still more decisive than Clinton." -- CW

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Donald Trump is a wildly promiscuous liar.... His contempt for objective truth is the rejection of democratic accountability, an implicit demand that his supporters place undying faith in him. Because the only measure of truth he accepts is what he claims at any given moment, the power his supporters vest in him is unlimited.... Where he has broken truly unique ground is in his lies about relatively small, routine matters." --safari

That's All, Folks. Stephen Ohlemacher & Jill Colvin of the AP: Donald Trump "shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

** Marc Tracy of the New York Times: "Kenneth W. Starr, the former independent counsel who delivered a report that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, was removed as president of Baylor University on Thursday after an investigation found the university mishandled accusations of sexual assault against football players. The university also fired the football coach, Art Briles, whose ascendant program brought in millions of dollars in revenue but was dogged by accusations of sexual assault committed by its players -- an increasingly familiar combination in big-time college sports. Mr. Starr was stripped of his title as university president but will remain Baylor's chancellor and a professor at the law school. The chancellor position is 'centered around development and religious liberty,' a regent said on a conference call Thursday afternoon, adding that Mr. Starr's 'operational responsibilities have been removed.'" -- CW ...

Adam Kilgore & Nick Anderson of the Washington Post: Baylor's" Board of Regents apologized to the school community for the findings of an outside investigation it commissioned in the fall. A damning 13-page report, prepared by law firm Pepper Hamilton, revealed a football team allowed to run amok by university administrators and law enforcement officials.... 'We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,' Richard Willis, the chair of the Board of Regents, said in a news release. 'This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students. The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us.'... The investigation exposed a football program under [Art] Briles that was allowed to operate under its own rules, which led to intimidation of alleged victims, concealment of sexual assault charges and risk for future attacks." -- CW

Shootin' Squirrels & Drinkin' Beer. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Rick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times: Portland, Oregon, police chief Larry "O'Dea, 53, appointed chief last year, has ... been placed on paid administrative leave while Oregon State Police investigate the shooting [of a fellow hunter] and the sheriff's version of what happened in Harney County." -- CW ...

... Mistakes Were Made. Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian: "Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward is the first to acknowledge significant holes in his deputy's investigation of the April 21 hunting accident near Fields that has sidelined Portland's police chief and snared Portland's mayor in the fallout.... [The deputy, Chris] Nisbet, never identified which weapon discharged or seized any of the guns for further examination, according to his summary report. He made field observations that most in the group seemed drunk, but didn't follow up with field sobriety tests.... The deputy didn't pursue inconsistencies in some of the statements....

     "[The men] were sitting in a line on lawn chairs, shooting ground squirrels while drinking beer, the deputy's report said. [Larry] O'Dea was on the left of his friend, Robert Dempsey, 54, who was shot. During the interview, the deputy noted that O'Dea was shaking and had glassy and bloodshot eyes. O'Dea told the deputy that he believed his friend had shot himself accidentally while trying to put his pistol back in a shoulder holster and that O'Dea's own rifle wasn't in his hand at the time.... O'Dea sometime later ... called Dempsey and admitted to his friend that he had shot him when he picked up his rifle after grabbing a drink, the sheriff's records show.... O'Dea has never told the Harney County Sheriff's Office that he was responsible, Ward said." CW: I still maintain this is one of the best "Today in Responsible Gun Ownership" stories ever. And it just keeps getting, well, squirrelier.

Way Beyond

Shame on Australia. Michael Slezak of the Guardian: "Every reference to Australia was scrubbed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, objecting that the information could harm tourism. Guardian Australia can reveal the report 'World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate', which Unesco jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests." --safari