The Ledes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said.The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

White House Live Video
November 24

11:30 am ET: President Obama & President Francois Hollande of France hold a joint press conference

5:00 pm ET: President Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Go to


Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

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The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2015

Hugh Naylor & Andrew Roth of the Washington Post: "NATO faced being thrust into a new Middle Eastern crisis on Tuesday after warplanes from member state Turkey shot down a Russian jet that Turkish officials said had violated their country’s airspace on the border with Syria. The incident marked a serious escalation in the Syrian conflict that is likely to further strain relations between Russia and the NATO alliance.... Russia’s Defense Ministry said one of at least two pilots probably died during the incident, and a marine also was killed by apparent Syrian insurgent fire during a helicopter rescue operation to retrieve the downed airmen.... Turkey called for an emergency NATO session to discuss the incident but has not invoked alliance provisions that would involve other members in its defense." ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on the need to reduce tensions after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane flying near the country's border with Syria, the White House said Tuesday. Obama voiced support "for Turkey’s right to defend its sovereignty" during a phone call with Erdogan, according to a White House statement." ...

... Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "The immediate reactions by Turkey and Russia suggest the potential for escalation [after Turkey downed a Russian jet].... So will this business get out of control? Obviously, it could — but I don’t believe it will.... Russia and Turkey are sufficiently interdependent that a serious heightening of tensions would severely impair both countries.... As strategically reckless as Vladimir Putin has been, I suspect he would not want to escalate this conflict. Doing so would involve NATO...." ...

... ** Max Fisher of Vox: "This is not the start of World War III. And I say that as someone who has voiced real concern about other ways in which Russia and the US could be dragged into an unintended escalation to war. But those conditions are not present here.... The stakes are just too low. The things at issue here are Russia's bombing of anti-Assad rebels in Syria, the sanctity of Turkish airspace, and the life of one (or possibly two) Russian pilot.... Because the Syria-Turkish border is so far from Russia or from central Europe, there is just zero risk that either side could misperceive this as the start of something bigger.... Neither Russia nor NATO could possibly believe that the other side is about to launch an invasion." ...

... Joshua Keating of Slate: "Whatever post-Paris unity there might have been in the fractious coalition of nations fighting ISIS in Syria crashed and burned on the Syria-Turkey border on Tuesday as Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian SU-24 fighter.... After Tuesday, Russia is unlikely to build on cooperation with NATO forces in Syria.... All in all, this was a good day for the Assad regime and for ISIS." ...

... Steve M.: "I'm not the one you want to turn to for expert geopolitical analysis of all this. But I'm recalling that American conservatives regard Vladimir Putin as an omnipotent demigod, a strongman able to walk into any situation and enforce his will against lesser, weaker men.... If those shot-down aircraft were American, right-wing pundits would be proclaiming (triumphantly) that Barack Obama looks fatally weak at this moment. But they won't say it about Putin -- because love is blind."

... Juliet Eilperin & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama called Tuesday for the West and its allies to stay united to destroy Islamic State and not allow fear of terrorism to undermine freedoms and values. After meeting with French President François Hollande at the White House, Obama declared 'total solidarity' with France, saying his planned trip next week to Paris for a climate change summit is a 'powerful rebuke' to terrorism. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "Crises bring out the best and worst in people, as has been demonstrated vividly this past week by the behavior of President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Obama showed his best face in Tuesday’s news conference with visiting French President François Hollande.... [Trump] appears to be inflaming the situation deliberately, to advance his presidential campaign. It’s rare that we see this level of demagoguery in U.S. politics, but it’s frightening. His divisive comments play so directly into the polarizing strategies of our terrorist adversaries — who want to foment Western-Muslim hatred — that a case can be made that he has put the country at greater risk.... It's hard to imagine that someone would put the country at greater risk for personal political benefit. But that’s exactly what Trump has been doing. It’s outrageous behavior, and responsible Republicans must insist that it stop." ...

... MEANWHILE, Dana Milbank thinks President Obama should sound more like a warmonger to, you know, motivate the nation. CW: Really, Dana? ...

... Washington Post Editors: "Bigotry has a long history in the United States, and it may come as only a mild surprise that it showed its snarling face in Fredericksburg[, Virginia,] last week, just four days after the Nov. 13 slaughter in Paris. But even mild surprise is unwarranted given the toxic rhetoric of presidential candidates and governors, mainly Republicans, who have vilified Muslims since that terrorist attack.  When Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others suggest it is all right to discriminate against Muslims or Muslim refugees, the signal is widely received." ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post responds to anonymous attacks directed at her because she is Jewish. CW: Good for her. These are precisely the sort of attacks that Donald Trump & Ben Carson provoke for personal political gain. First they came for the Muslims; then they came for the Jews.

Joseph Goldstein & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "The American airstrike that destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz last month was the result of human errors, failures in procedure and technical malfunctions, according to military officials who have been briefed on the military's internal investigation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science." CW: Calling Smith a "climate change skeptic" is like describing yourself as a "unicorn skeptic." ...

... David Roberts of Vox (Nov. 22): "Republican chair Lamar Smith has escalated his war with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists; he is now openly accusing them of scientific fraud.... The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) has called Smith’s investigation a 'partisan witch hunt.'”

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday not to allow a monthlong delay that could jeopardize the justices' issuing a ruling this term on whether to lift an injunction blocking a key part of President Barack Obama's immigration legacy: his plan to offer quasi-legal status and work permits to millions more illegal immigrants. In a letter to the high court's clerk, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. urged the court to reject a request Monday from Texas and 25 other states for a 30-day filing extension. Such extensions are routinely granted by the court, but doing so in this case would push arguments in the case from this year to next under normal procedures — leaving a major part of Obama's immigration policy in limbo until around the time he is set to leave office."

David Sanger & Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "Four months after a historic accord with Tehran to limit its atomic ambitions, American officials and private security groups say they see a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Juliet Eilperin: "President Obama on Tuesday awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor to 17 Americans, including Hollywood stars, a prominent Republican environmentalist, two baseball legends and several civil rights pioneers":

Presidential Race

AP: "Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that her use of the term 'illegal immigrants' was a 'poor choice of words' and she pledged not to use it anymore, responding to criticism from immigration activists. The Democratic presidential frontrunner was asked about her use of the term to describe people who are in the US illegally during a question-and-answer session on Facebook held by Telemundo. The question came from Jose Antonio Vargas, a filmmaker and journalist whose organisation, Define American, has said the terminology is offensive and asked all presidential candidates to stop using it.... During a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire earlier this month, Clinton said she voted 'numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.'”

Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Democratic presidential contender Martin O’Malley unveiled a healthcare plan on Tuesday that emphasized strengthening Obamacare but avoided any mention of the single-payer healthcare plan championed by rival Bernie Sanders."

A Noun, a Verb & 9/11. Also, Trump Has SuperVision. Brendan O'Connor of Gawker: "On Monday, Donald Trump claimed to have watched people jump to their deaths from the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001: 'Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view — a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center.'... Trump Tower is just over four miles away from the World Trade Center." ...

... More from Jeremy Diamond of CNN. Includes video report. ...

... Reality Is a Massive Conspiracy. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "In an interview today with Breitbart News, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended his candidate’s bogus claim that he saw on TV 'thousands and thousands' of Muslim Americans in New Jersey holding celebrations on 9/11 to applaud the attacks. No footage or reports of such an event exist, and initial press reports about small 'rooftop celebrations' were later declared to be 'unfounded.' However, Lewandowski said that reports of the (nonexistent) celebration do in fact exist and that the Trump campaign provided that material to media outlets which, according to Lewandowski, have refused to air it as part of a massive anti-Trump conspiracy." ...

... Jim Dwyer of the New York Times turns to John Farmer, then attorney general of New Jersey & later a member of the 9/11 Commission, to "definitively debunk" Trump's claim of Muslims dancing in New Jersey streets on 9/11/2001: “'We followed up on that report [of 9/11 celebrations] instantly because of its implications,' he [said]. 'The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.'” ...

... Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Welcome to the most combustible presidential campaign in recent memory. [Donald Trump's] angry rhetoric — on subjects like undocumented Mexican immigrants, political correctness and 'thugs' in Baltimore — has made his run a magnet for disaffected supporters and for identity politics protesters determined to steal the spotlight and disrupt his events. Trump's relish for confrontation, where other politicians would seek to minimize it, has only fueled the fire. 'Isn't a Trump rally much more exciting than these other ones?' Trump said on Wednesday as police escorted a protester yelling, 'Trump’s a racist' from a rally in Worcester, Massachusetts. ;That kind of stuff only adds to the excitement.'...” ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The super PACs going after Donald Trump are making a 'bad, bad decision,' the candidate's special counsel and adviser [Michael Cohen] warned Tuesday morning, saying that if the reports are true, 'it changes everything.'... Trump has repeatedly held the threat of running as an independent candidate over the Republican Party throughout the course of the campaign, remarking as recently as Sunday that he would not rule out a third-party bid despite having signed the pledge and announcing it with a press conference at Trump Tower in September. 'I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,' he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on 'This Week.'" ...

... In a new campaign ad, John Kasich attacks Donald Trump's racist hate campaign:


... Caitlin Yilek of the Hill: "Jeb Bush on Tuesday criticized front-runner Donald Trump's comments about Black Lives Matter protesters and Muslim-Americans, accusing the billionaire of trying to 'create a grievous kind of culture.'... The former Florida governor slammed Trump for claiming that thousands of Muslim-Americans in New Jersey cheered as the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001, and said the roughing up of a Black Lives Matter protestor would never happen at one of his events."

Ben Jacobs: "Without ever leading in a single poll, Ted Cruz has become the frontrunner in Iowa. The Texas senator and conservative firebrand has closed the gap on real-estate mogul Donald Trump and is now trailing Trump by only a margin of 25% to 23% in the Hawkeye State, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University. But, more than that, Cruz has been notching up key endorsements in Iowa and positioning himself to win the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on 1 February." CW: Those Iowa Republicans sure know how to pick a president: first Trump, then Carson, now Cruz. Not that their choice in 2012 -- Rick Santorum, by a nose -- wasn't excellent. ...

... Shane Goldmacher of Politico: "The political operative behind the nonprofit that just began attacking Ted Cruz in Iowa is a Marco Rubio backer who served as a co-host of a fundraiser for the Florida senator last week.... The new anti-Cruz ad hits the Texas senator for his support of the USA Freedom Act, which restricted the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone metadata.... Rubio has attacked Cruz for the same vote." CW: Just a coincidence, I'm sure. Because it would be wrong unlawful for Marco to coordinate with a 501C nonprofit that -- coincidentally, again -- supports his candidacy.

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Global intelligence officials’ failure to detect this month’s deadly attacks across Paris may be in part due to increased scrutiny on government spying, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) claimed on Tuesday. 'It’s not a coincidence that this happened in the aftermath of restricting these programs and, remember, also demoralizing the intelligence community,' the Republican presidential contender said in a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.... Christie appeared to cast blame for the failure on both a global aversion to government surveillance following the 2013 leaks from government whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the Senate’s controversial report last year blasting the CIA’s past use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'” Because it upset intelligence operatives so much they couldn't do their jobs or something. CW: Maybe Christie should read the NYT report by Andrew Higgins, linked under Way Beyond below. Belgian officials knew how dangerous some of these perps were; they just didn't do anything about it. Not that Christie isn't a big expert on international affairs, which, BTW, he says he is. Because 9/11.

Beyond the Beltway

John Eligon & Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Two men were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the overnight shootings of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station, the Minneapolis Police Department said. One suspect, a 23-year-old white man, was arrested in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis, at about 11:20 a.m., the police said in a statement. The other, a 32-year-old Hispanic man, was arrested about 45 minutes later while in his vehicle in South Minneapolis." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... New Lede: "As the police arrested three people on Tuesday in connection with the shooting of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police precinct here, demonstrators returned to the street with renewed vigor, vowing not to cower in fear of what one organizer called 'an act of terrorism.'”

Alex Johnson of NBC News: "A few hundred protesters closed a major Chicago intersection Tuesday night after authorities released a 'disturbing' dashcam video of the moment a cop shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times last year." ...

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old last year, authorities said Tuesday. The charges were announced a day before the city plans to release a video that captured the shooting, footage that officials worry could lead to intense protests." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. NBC Chicago: "Chicago officials on Tuesday released 'graphic' and 'chilling' video showing an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. The footage has been described as something that 'will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.'... In the moments before the video was made public, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy called for peace and calm." Includes video.

New York Times Editors: "Student protesters at Princeton performed a valuable public service last week when they demanded that the administration acknowledge the toxic legacy of Woodrow Wilson, who served as university president and New Jersey governor before being elected to the White House. He was an unapologetic racist whose administration rolled back the gains that African-Americans achieved just after the Civil War, purged black workers from influential jobs and transformed the government into an instrument of white supremacy.... The overwhelming weight of the evidence argues for rescinding the honor that the university bestowed decades ago on an unrepentant racist." ...

... ** Gordon Davis, in a New York Times op-ed: Woodrow Wilson was "an avowed racist. And unlike many of his predecessors and successors in the White House, he put that racism into action through public policy. Most notably, his administration oversaw the segregation of the federal government, destroying the careers of thousands of talented and accomplished black civil servants — including John Abraham Davis, my paternal grandfather." ...

... Here's more compelling testimony from NYT readers.

Alexandra Samuels in USA Today: "Following alleged social media threats against students of color, Western Washington University, located in Bellingham, Wash., announced classes on all of Western’s campuses are suspended Tuesday, effectively canceling classes through the Thanksgiving break.... A law enforcement investigation is underway."

Reuters: "Amazon on Monday agreed to pull advertisements for a new television show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery from New York City’s subway system, hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the company to do so. The advertisements for The Man in the High Castle completely wrap the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the busy shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central terminal in midtown Manhattan.... An MTA official ... said Amazon had asked for the shuttle train advertisements, but not the posters, to be removed.... Frank Spotnitz, the show’s creator and executive producer, told Entertainment Weekly he agreed with critics that the advertisements could be seen as offensive.... 'If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it.'” (See also yesterday's Commentariat.)

Way Beyond

Worse than Washington. Andrew Higgins of the New York Times: "As Brussels remained locked down for a fourth day, facing what the authorities say is its own imminent terrorist threat, the failure to stop two brothers clearly flagged as extremists before the Paris carnage highlighted the tribal squabbles of a country that holds the unenviable distinction of going without a functioning government for 541 days. Flemish nationalists, ever eager to show that Belgium in its current form does not work, have jumped on the mess, with Karl Vanlouwe, a member of the Belgian Senate, writing in the newspaper Le Soir on Tuesday that '20 years of laxity' by the French-speaking Socialist Party had turned Brussels into a 'rear base of Islamic barbarity.'”

Eric Cunningham of the Washington Post: "A powerful explosion tore through a bus carrying elite security guards for Tunisia's president in the heart of the capital, Tunis, authorities said Tuesday, killing at least 11 people in what appeared to be the latest militant attack in the North African country." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


The Commentariat -- Nov. 24, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Joseph Goldstein & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "The American airstrike that destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz last month was the result of human errors, failures in procedure and technical malfunctions, according to military officials who have been briefed on the military's internal investigation."

Eric Cunningham of the Washington Post: "A powerful explosion tore through a bus carrying elite security guards for Tunisia's president in the heart of the capital, Tunis, authorities said Tuesday, killing at least 11 people in what appeared to be the latest militant attack in the North African country."

John Eligon & Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Two men were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the overnight shootings of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station, the Minneapolis Police Department said. One suspect, a 23-year-old white man, was arrested in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis, at about 11:20 a.m., the police said in a statement. The other, a 32-year-old Hispanic man, was arrested about 45 minutes later while in his vehicle in South Minneapolis." (See related stories linked under Beyond the Beltway.)

Juliet Eilperin & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama called Tuesday for the West and its allies to stay united to destroy Islamic State and not allow fear of terrorism to undermine freedoms and values. After meeting with French President François Hollande at the White House, Obama declared 'total solidarity' with France, saying his planned trip next week to Paris for a climate change summit is a 'powerful rebuke' to terrorism.

David Sanger & Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "Four months after a historic accord with Tehran to limit its atomic ambitions, American officials and private security groups say they see a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month."

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old last year, authorities said Tuesday. The charges were announced a day before the city plans to release a video that captured the shooting, footage that officials worry could lead to intense protests." See link to related story under Beyond the Beltway. ...


"Worldwide Travel Alert." U. S. State Department: "The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016." ...

... Alan Gomez of USA Today: "The U.S. State Department issued a rare worldwide travel alert on Monday, warning American travelers about the widespread threats posed by members of the Islamic State or copycat bombers.... The alert comes as millions of Americans prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, and organizers of major events like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade bolster their security preparations."

Julie Pace & Kathleen Hennessey of the AP: "President Barack Obama will stand in solidarity with French President Francois Hollande at the White House Tuesday, 11 days after the Paris attacks, in a visit complicated by Turkey's shoot-down of a Russian warplane." See also related stories linked under Way Beyond the Beltway.

The Good Fight. Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "Why is [President] Obama picking a fight on an issue that, according to The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, is a 'political winner' for the GOP? Because of the way he interprets American history.... Obama tells the story ... as America overcoming the evil within itself.... It's a theme that recurs in Obama's speeches.... He sees American history as a series of moral struggles pitting Americans seeking equal opportunity and full citizenship against Americans who defend an unjust or bigoted status quo. Obama clearly sees the current nativist, bigotry-laden, hysteria as such a struggle. He knows he may not win. But he wants future historians to know exactly where he stood. They will. And as a result, I suspect, they'll record the Syrian refugee battle among his finest hours."

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "A federal appeals court ruled in a decision unsealed on Monday that the Justice Department could continue to conceal internal documents related to targeted killings in the fight against Al Qaeda. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit forced the Obama administration last year to reveal a secret memo that authorized the killing of the American-born terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki. But the new ruling, handed down in October, makes it unlikely that the suit will yield much else in the way of public disclosures."

AP: "A lawsuit is challenging the Indiana governor's [Mike Pence (R)] decision to stop state agencies from helping resettle Syrian refugees, saying the action wrongly targets the refugees based on their nationality. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the federal lawsuit Monday night on behalf of Indianapolis-based nonprofit Exodus Refugee Immigration."

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Planned Parenthood sued Texas officials in federal court in Austin on Monday, seeking to block the state from cutting off its Medicaid funding, the latest in a series of lawsuits it has filed against Republican-led states after the controversy over its use of fetal tissue."

Ari Melber of MSNBC: "A former investigator for the House Benghazi Committee filed a federal lawsuit against the committee Monday.... Last month, Brad Podliska, an Air Force Reserve major, alleged the Benghazi committee terminated him based on his military obligations and his refusal to advance an agenda targeting Hillary Clinton. Now, Podliska is detailing those charges in court in a new filing that alleges Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy broke the law by defaming him in their public battle over Podliska's firing."

Dennis Overbye of the New York Times: A hundred years ago tomorrow, Albert Einstein set down his theory of relativity, a rule that "transformed our understanding of space and time."

Presidential Race

Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) currently leads online polling for Time magazine's 2015 Person of the Year, with less than two weeks to go before voting ends.... The magazine's editors pick the Person of the Year, though anyone can weigh in online." CW: If you can figure out how to do it, you can vote here; you have to "authenticate" your vote by signing in with Facebook or Twitter. I think I voted for Bernie but can't be sure. My bet is that Time will pick Trump. ...

     ... Trump naturally thinks he should be the guy but says, "... there's no way they give it to me. They can't. Because, mentally, they can't. They just can't. They can't do it."

Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would ... in a heartbeat ... And I would approve more than that. Don't kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn't work.... Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing. It works. -- Donald Trump, at a rally in Columbus, Ohio yesterday

Dylan Matthews of Vox: "The media has [sic!] no idea how to deal with Donald Trump's constant lying." Matthews runs down Trump's performance on "This Week" Sunday. In sum, "A careful viewer, paying close attention to all of Stephanopoulos's rebuttals, would come away thinking (correctly) that Trump spent the entire interview reiterating falsehoods. But a casual viewer could very well come away thinking that a) thousands of Arabs celebrated 9/11 in the streets of New Jersey, b) the Obama administration is planning on bringing in up to 250,000 Syrian refugees, most of them young men primed to be radicalized by ISIS or other terror groups, and c) it's currently illegal for people on terrorism watch lists to get guns. None of those things are [sic!] true." But media outlets keep booking him because (a) he's the GOP frontrunner, & (b) ratings. ...

... Greg Sargent: To Trump supporters, his lies don't matter: "Trump's supporters have been persuaded that he will be a 'strong leader.' Once that decision has been made, any liberal media fact-checking of Trump's statements, particularly criticisms that seem 'politically correct,' only confirm that original impression." ...

Jon Greenberg of PolitiFact: "A day after a black activist was kicked and punched by voters at a Donald Trump rally in Alabama, Trump tweeted an image packed with racially loaded and incorrect murder statistics..., including that blacks kill 81 percent of white homicide victims. Almost every number in the image is wrong. The statistics on white victims are exaggerated five-fold. The police-related deaths are off as well."

Judd Legum of Think Progress: "In an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump defended tweeting a series of fabricated murder statistics designed to perpetuate racist stereotypes. 'I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert and it was also a radio show,' Trump said. Trump actually copy-and-pasted a tweet from @SeanSean252, an anonymous Twitter user. @SeanSean252's bio does not indicate that he is an expert in crime statistics or any other kind of expert.... The graphic actually originated from a neo-Nazi on Twitter.... 'It came from sources that are very credible, what can I tell you,' Trump [said]."

I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering" as the World Trade Center collapsed. -- Donald Trump, November 21, in comments during a speech

Trump's recollection of events in New Jersey in the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks flies in the face of all the evidence we could find. We rate this statement Pants on Fire. -- Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact

Trump ... is already demanding apologizes from all the critics and fact checkers who have been pointing out he is Completely Making Shit Up on this one. -- Hunter of Daily Kos

I want an apology. Many people have tweeted that I am right. -- Donald Trump, in a tweet

... Kevin Drum: "It's hard to figure out what this episode says about Trump. Is he delusional? Is he merely unable to admit any error?... Or is Trump consciously making stuff up to play to nativist GOP voters? As two GOP strategists working against Trump noted in a recent memo, 'Trump voters are exceedingly low-information voters. They do not read The Washington Post or Politico or even conservative blogs. They do not watch cable news rigorously.' To put it less politely, Trump voters are susceptible to his BS that reinforces their own assumptions and biases.... He routinely says crazy crap that isn't true and doubles or triples down when challenged. And sorry, fact-checkers, but so far none of this appears to register with his 'low-information' fans. This fabulist remains the Republican front-runner." ...

... Lie or False Memory? Max Ehrenfreud of the Washington Post: "Trump's assertion might not be a bald-faced lie. Psychologists suggest that people unconsciously fabricate memories all the time, and that Trump might have done the same." ...

... James Downie of the Washington Post describes Trump as the leader of "21st-century McCarthyism." ...

... "Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump's Polls." Nate Silver: "Lately, pundits and punters seem bullish on Donald Trump, whose chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination recently inched above 20 percent for the first time at the betting market Betfair.... I'd still say a 20 percent chance is substantially too high.... Right now, he has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That's something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.)... If past nomination races are any guide, the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven't made up their minds yet. ...

... Nicole Rojas of International Business Times: "Senior managers from five of the major news networks in the US have joined forces to lay out demands from Donald Trump's presidential campaign after the Republican's campaign officials threatened to 'blacklist' journalists during rallies last week. Representatives from ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox and NBC News met on 23 November to discuss their responses to behaviour deemed restrictive by Trump's managers including top aide Corey Lewandowski. According to The Washington Post, Lewandowski threatened to pull credentials of CNN reporter Noah Gray during Trump's campaign in Worcester, Massachusetts. Gray, who has covered Trump for months, attempted to leave the press pen when he recorded Lewandoski threatening to 'blacklist' him from future events." ...

... Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "After Donald J. Trump hosted 'Saturday Night Live' this month, several of his Republican rivals filed complaints about receiving equal airtime. So NBC has granted the campaigns of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Mike Huckabee, James Gilmore and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina their specific equal-airtime requests. This does not mean that a coming 'S.N.L.' episode will be hosted by any of the candidates.... What it does entail will be the use of commercial and promotional airtime in prime time this weekend, including during 'Saturday Night Live,' when a re-run will be broadcast. Still at the negotiating table is George E. Pataki...."

Profiles in Cowardice. Dana Milbank: "Trump gets ever more base in his bigotry -- and yet, with few and intermittent exceptions, rival candidates, party leaders and GOP lawmakers decline to call him out. So he continues to rise, benefiting from tacit acceptance of his intolerance.... The longer Republican leaders take to find their anti-Trump voices, the more their quiescence becomes an endorsement." ...

... Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC News: "... John Kasich is not holding back. He's launched an all-out offensive against fellow Republican Donald Trump. On the day that Trump is holding a rally in Kasich's state, the Ohio governor is hosting two conference calls challenging Trump and his electability. The conference calls are just one component of a larger effort over the past several days to damage the Republican front-runner's credibility among voters. Kasich is attacking Trump more fiercely than any other Republican in the field." ...

... Emily Fritter of Reuters: "Nearly a dozen big Republican donors backing different presidential candidates are coming together to help fund an advertising campaign attacking front-runner Donald Trump, who faced sharp criticism from rivals this week for his inflammatory comments about Muslims." ...

... Steve M.: What these rich donors are doing is recycling stuff that was supposed to bring down Trump when the news first hit. "This is one more reason we ought to raise taxes on the rich: because when it comes to spending money on politics, the rich have no damn sense. We need to save them from themselves." CW: What all these ad campaigns do is redistribute money from various business moguls to media moguls.

First He Saw It, Then He Didn't. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "... on Monday, one of Mr. Trump's chief rivals for the Republican presidential nomination said that he, too, saw American Muslims celebrate as the twin towers fell. 'I saw the film of it,' Ben Carson ... said. But later on Monday, Mr. Carson said that he was mistaken in saying that he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey. According to ABC News he said he was thinking about protests he saw in the Middle East. Accounts of such an behavior in the United States have largely been considered folklore in the years since the attacks, and New Jersey lawmakers and officials say they cannot remember such celebrations occurring."

Jonathan Chait: "Marco Rubio opposes the legal right to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. This extreme position would pose a significant liability in a general election. But since Rubio still has to win the nomination, he can't wriggle out of it yet. Instead he is obfuscating." He's a sneaky sniveling misogynist with Mr. Spock ears.

Jason Noble of PolitiFact: President "Obama is so unwilling to work with Senate Republicans, [Jeb] Bush alleges, that he didn't even invite one to dine at the White House until his fifth year in office.... Based on our review of visitor logs, there are a handful of instances in which Republican U.S. senators visited the White House residence between 2009 and 2012, including a 2011 dinner attended by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. There's also that high-profile 2010 case in which Obama invited two Republican senators to dinner -- the famous Slurpee Summit -- only to be publicly snubbed. And it's worth noting, too, that the records indicate that Obama hasn't dined privately with Democratic senators all that often either...."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Tulay Karadeniz & Maria Kiselyova of Reuters: "Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday after repeated warnings over air space violations, but Moscow said it could prove the jet had not left Syrian air space. It was the first time a NATO member's armed forces have downed a Russian or Soviet military aircraft since the 1950s and Russian and Turkish assets fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies. A Kremlin spokesman said it was a 'very serious incident' but that it was too early to draw conclusions." ...

... The Washington Post story, by Hugh Naylor & others, is here. "The downing underscores a scenario feared for months by the Pentagon and its partners: a potential conflict arising from overlapping air missions over Syria -- with Russia backing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes the Islamic State."

Rosemary Barton of Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) News: "The [Canadian] federal government's much-anticipated Syrian refugee plan will limit those accepted into Canada to women, children and families only, CBC News has learned. Sources tell CBC News that to deal with some ongoing concerns around security, unaccompanied men seeking asylum will not be part of the program. The details of the plan will be announced Tuesday, but already Canadian officials have been working on the ground to process people."

Loveday Morris & Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "Belgian authorities charged an additional suspect Monday in connection with this month's deadly Paris attacks, as Belgium entered the workweek with shuttered schools and offices in an effort to disrupt a suspected similar plot. The suspect, whose name was not released, was one of 21 people detained in 29 raids in the capital and the southern cities of Liege and Charleroi, a sweep that ended Monday morning."

Beyond the Beltway

Karen Zamora of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Police are searching for three white men who allegedly fired into a crowd protesting near the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct Monday night, wounding five people.... Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said 'a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.' One of the three counter-demonstrators wore a mask, said Dana Jaehnert, who had been at the protest site since early evening. When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they 'opened fire on about six protesters,' hitting five of them." ...

     ... Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The victims were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, the police said.... Ms. Noor said one of the victims was shot in the stomach and underwent surgery early Tuesday."

Don Babwin & Michael Tarm of the AP: "A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times was expected to be charged with murder Tuesday, just a day ahead of a deadline for the city to release a squad-car video of the shooting. Veteran officer Jason Van Dyke is expected to be indicted in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an official close to the investigation told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt an announcement of the charge."

What an Excellent Ad Stunt! Erik Baard in the Gothamist: "Seats on 42nd Street subway Shuttle cars are wrapped with symbols from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, intended to carry commuters into the alternate history of the Amazon TV series, The Man in the High Castle, in which the Axis Powers were victorious.... Evan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League's New York regional director, says the ads fail to provide riders with enough context to accompany the Nazi imagery." CW: Since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos likes to run his distribution factories like WWII Axis prisoner-of-war camps, maybe this ad campaign is appropriate. Still, New Yorkers should not have to view these horrid symbols on their crosstown hop.

"Them ... Niggers Gotta Learn How to Read." Good Intentions Gone Ever So Slightly Awry. David Edwards of the Raw Story: "A newly sworn in police chief in Farrel, Pennsylvania said that he planned to make a public apology on Monday after he was caught using the N-word during a book drive fundraiser. WICU reported that the email was discovered just days after Thomas Burke was sworn by the City of Farrell as the new police chief last Monday. He is scheduled to begin the job in January. 'Good morning,' the email begins. 'Please click and review. Even $1.00 will be greatly appreciated. Them [Town of] Sharon n****s gotta learn how to read.'... City of Farrell Councilwoman Stephanie Sheffield ... said that Burke explained [to her,] 'that he does use the N-word very often because that's just the way that it is here our area.'... Farrell Mayor Olive McKeithan, who is black, stood up for Burke's character."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said. The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."


The Commentariat -- Nov. 23, 2015

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "ISIL's still not the varsity team, President Barack Obama said Sunday, but if Republicans running for president and in Congress continue to respond to attacks by playing off fears, they're doing the terrorist' work for them. A Republican reaction that's tried to block refugees from entering the country -- and members of the media whom he blamed for lacking perspective in coverage over the past week -- give in to fear as the terrorists want, help them recruit and let a group of people who'd have no hope of actually defeating American forces on the battlefield win anyway." ...

... Elena Mazneva of Bloomberg: "U.S. actions in the Middle East helped Islamic State to gain influence, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, according to Interfax. The strengthening of Islamic State 'became possible partly due to irresponsible U.S. politics' that focused on fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad instead of joining efforts to root out terrorism, Medvedev was cited as saying in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. President Barack Obama earlier on Sunday said that Russia is facing a strategic choice as Assad can't stay. The Obama administration declined to comment Sunday on Medvedev's statement."

** Josh Zeitz in Politico: "... language commonly invoked in opposition to admitting Syrian refugees bears striking similarity to arguments against providing safe harbor to Jewish refugees in the late 1930s. Then as now, skepticism of religious and ethnic minorities and concerns that refugees might pose a threat to national security deeply influenced the debate over American immigration policy. For conservatives, this likeness is an inconvenient truth." Read the whole essay.

CW: If you want to know what's the matter with the U.S.A., read Alec MacGillis's essay, linked Saturday, David Dayen's post, linked yesterday & Diane's comment at the end of yesterday's thread. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I'm sure I did not understand that saying yesterday morning as well as I do today. Thank you, Diane.

Paul Schroeder & Tim Devaney of the Hill: "The fight over blocking refugees from Syria and Iraq has emerged as one of the biggest hurdles to Congress completing work on a year-long spending bill and preventing a government shutdown. Lawmakers will return from their Thanksgiving break with just two weeks to reach a deal before a Dec. 11 deadline." CW: Nothing makes us look better in the eyes of the world than shutting down our own government because we're skeert of accepting a few refugees fleeing terrorists.

"To Protect & Serve." Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week. Cops can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime -- yes, really! -- through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture." With caveats.

Nasser Karimi of the AP: "Iran has sentenced detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian state TV reported Sunday. Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, the spokesman for Iran's judiciary, announced the punishment in a statement on the TV station's website."

David Remnick of the New Yorker on life in Raqqa under the control of (Assad) & ISIS. "When you say 'Raqqa,' the first thing people think of is ISIS. They forget hundreds of thousands of civilians, normal people like us. I am not a terrorist. There are so many people, normal people, who want to live in a free, democratic Syria." -- a journalist from Raqqa

Paul Krugman: "... Obamacare has hit a few rough patches lately. But they're much less significant than a lot of the reporting, let alone the right-wing reaction, would have you believe. Health reform is still a huge success story. ...

... Justin McCarthy of Gallup: "U.S. adults are slightly more likely to say it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure all Americans have health insurance coverage (51%) than to say it is not the government's responsibility (47%). The percentage who believe the government has that obligation is up six percentage points from 2014. This year marks the first time since 2008 that a majority of Americans say the government is responsible for making sure all citizens have health insurance."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Bo-tox, Lo-tax. AP: "Pfizer and Allergan are joining in the biggest buyout of the year, a $160 billion stock deal that will create the world's largest drugmaker. It's also the largest so-called inversion, where an American corporation combines with a company headquartered in a country with a lower corporate tax rate, saving potentially millions each year in U.S. taxes. Pfizer, which makes the cholesterol fighter Lipitor, will keep its global operational headquarters in New York. But the drugmaker will combine with Botox-maker Allergan as a company that will be called Pfizer Plc. That company would have its legal domicile and principal executive offices in Ireland."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. offered reflections on one of his predecessors [-- Charles Evans Hughes --] Friday night, and in the process he illuminated his own place on a Supreme Court that he said had grown both more and less political."

Jerry Markon the the Washington Post: "... the reality [of space travel] is less glamorous [than it's presented in the movies], with journeys into deep space posing serious dangers to astronauts that include inadequate food, radiation exposure and heightened risks of developing cancer and other maladies. And NASA is not yet ready to handle those dangers as it moves ahead with plans to send the first human mission to Mars by the 2030s, according to a recent audit." CW: Not sure why Markon thinks getting stuck on Mars with no food & water is "glamorous." But Matt Damon, I guess.

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "At rallies these days, [Hillary] Clinton criticizes the Republican presidential candidates for their economic policies ('Our economy does better with a Democrat in the White House'); she knocks their foreign policy approaches and says their positions on immigration and women's issues would set the country 'backwards instead of forwards.' What she does not do is mention her main Democratic primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "For Trump, American greatness comes from defeating foes, which might mean doing some previously 'unthinkable' things to Muslim Americans. For Sanders and Clinton, America's greatness comes from its pluralism and rejection of bigotry. Which vision of America will win out is quite possibly the highest stake in the 2016 election."

Trump's Hate Campaign:

Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. -- Donald Trump, in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday

They Were Arabs. There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations.... It was well covered at the time, George. -- Donald Trump, to George Stephanopoulos, Sunday

Trump says that he saw this with his own eyes on television and that it was well covered. But an extensive examination of news clips from that period turns up nothing.... Now Trump has defamed the Muslim communities of New Jersey. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

... Trump & His Magic Teevee. Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "'I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,' he told a crowd in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday. 'And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.' No news reports exist of people cheering in the streets, and both police officials and the mayor of Jersey City have said that it did not happen. An Internet rumor about people cheering in the streets, which said it was in Paterson, not Jersey City, has been denied numerous times by city and police officials. But when pressed on Sunday by George Stephanopoulos in an interview, Mr. Trump emphatically stuck to his story. 'It did happen, I saw it,' Mr. Trump said. 'It was on television. I saw it.'" ...

... CW: Apparently Trump can't tell the difference between the West Bank of the Jordan River (where celebration of 9/11 did occur) & the West Bank of the Hudson River. An easy mistake to make. To Trump, Jersey City is a foreign place -- a place far, far away where "those people" live. Also, "Jordan" & "Hudson" have the same number of letters & syllables. ...

... Donald J. Thug. Nick Corasaniti: "Donald J. Trump said on Sunday he was in favor of the actions of his supporters who reportedly punched and kicked a protester from the Black Lives Matter movement who interrupted Mr. Trump's campaign rally the previous day in Birmingham, Ala." ...

... Jenna Johnson & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "'Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,' Trump said on the Fox News Channel on Sunday morning.... That was a change in tone from just a month ago, when Trump would regularly tell his audiences not to harm the protesters who often infiltrate his rallies." ...

... Jeet Heer: "Donald Trump embraces open racism. Going back to at least Barry Goldwater's 'constitutional' opposition to civil rights and the strident 'law and order rhetoric' of the early 1960s, the Republican Party has specialized in racist dog whistles. But Republican front-runner Donald Trump doesn't do dog whistles. He specializes in train whistles. Consider the tweet he just sent out with bogus statistics on crime. According to the tweet, 81 percent of murdered whites are killed by blacks. In fact, that's the reverse of the truth. Most people are killed by members of their own race because crime is motivated by proximity and opportunity. As the Huffington Post notes, 'According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics, 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.'... The source of information cited in the tweet -- the 'Crime Statistics Bureau' of San Francisco -- doesn't seem to exist." ...

     ... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs found the source of Trump's tweet: a neo-Nazi fan of Hitler's. "I hope you're not surprised that a guy like Donald Trump, who continually spouts fascist rhetoric, is attracted to fascist memes posted by neo-Nazis. This is where the right wing has ended up in 2015." ...

... Kevin Drum: "Having already played the hate card against Mexicans and Muslims -- and getting crackerjack results -- Donald Trump has apparently decided to move on to African-Americans." ...

... Steve M.: "If you're the kind of person who receives and retransmits this sort of undigested, unverified alarmist nonsense on a daily basis, then of course you're going to feel especially alienated by your country. Look at all those murderous, white-hating black people! Look at all those defiant Muslims dancing for joy right under our noses in our own country while real Americans suffer! Donald Trump is exactly like everyone's email-forwarding racist uncle. No wonder everyone's email-forwarding racist uncle plans to vote for him." ...

... Dara Lind of Vox on Trump's recent history of condoning racist violence. ...

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Donald Trump and Ben Carson ... have both indicated they would bring back waterboarding and other forms of 'enhanced interrogation' that were dropped by the US government, having widely been denounced as a form of torture." CW: Carson equates a failure to torture with "political correctness." ...

... Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Ben Carson laid out his plans to deal with the threat of terror and the Syrian refugee crisis in an exclusive interview with The Hill, separating himself from GOP front-runner Donald Trump on hot-button issues pertaining to surveillance and databases for Muslims. Carson said Sunday he is against that kind of blanket surveillance Trump has advocated, arguing that domestic spying should only be initiated if intelligence indicates a specific threat." ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Ben Carson said in an interview broadcast late Sunday that Donald Trump endlessly attacks his character because Carson threatens Trump's chances of winning the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination.... 'Trying to tear someone else down is not part of the character for me. I'm going to stick to my characters and my principles and talk about the things that are really important,'" [Carson said]. CW: So when he called President Obama a psychopath and a liar, that was, like, the other Ben Carson or something.

Pam Belluck & Steve Eder of the New York Times: "As a surgeon, [Ben Carson] was praised for his dedication, unassuming demeanor and attention to detail. As a candidate, he has sometimes seemed imprecise or ill-informed, as when he said China had intervened in Syria, and prone to odd assertions like his belief that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Some articles have questioned the accuracy of parts of 'Gifted Hands.' His comments doubting evolution and the medically recommended schedule of vaccines have baffled people in science and medicine." ...

... Doc Ben's Fractured History. Fred Barbash of the Washington Post: "Ben Carson, author of book about the Constitution, incorrectly states that Thomas Jefferson crafted it.... In a C-Span interview Sunday [Ben Carson praised Thomas Jefferson] as one of the most impressive of the Founding Fathers because he 'tried to craft our constitution in a way that it would control peoples' natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.'" Jefferson did not attend the Constitutional Conventional because he was serving as the minister to France. ...

... CW Note: While it's true that Jefferson did not "craft our constitution," he had considerable before- and after-the-fact input. It's also true that Jefferson believed in a limited federal government & chose to interpret the Constitution in those terms. Tenthers are fond of Jefferson for this reason. I'd give Carson a C on this, not an F. HIs history GPA is low enough already.

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker profiles Marco Rubio in an long piece titled "The Opportunist." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "By successfully adopting a more measured, less inciting form of rhetoric, but refusing to condemn Trump's bigotry, Rubio has unintentionally outflanked Trump -- on the right.... Trump's plan, which would at least provide immigrants the means of returning to their countries of origin, and the opportunity to return legally, is sensible and humane by comparison [to Rubio's "plan" to leave undocumented people in limbo for 10 or 12 years].... [Regarding Muslims living in the U.S.,] Rubio instead simply promised to shutter more and different mainstays of Muslim communities than Trump did." ...

... "A Civilizational Struggle." Nick Corasaniti: "Marco Rubio's campaign is hitting the airwaves, releasing its first television ad on Sunday.... Mr. Rubio's first ad focuses exclusively on the Paris attacks and the issue of national security.... The context of the ad is a binary choice of 'us or them.'" Marco will save you! Ad embedded in story. ...

     ... CW: I don't like to make comments about a person's appearance, but I was just wondering, "Is the handsomest boy candidate wearing Mr. Spock ears?" I apologize to Mr. Rubio & his entire family. ...

... New York Times Editors: "Of all the abuses involving hidden political money sloshing through the presidential race, one of the most brazen is being perpetrated by campaigners for Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate who has been rising lately in opinion polls. Until last month, virtually all of the senator's television ads were financed by deep-pocketed donors operating secretly through a tax-exempt 'social welfare' organization that claims independence from the senator while blatantly operating as an auxiliary of the Rubio electioneering machine.... Meanwhile, regulators at the Internal Revenue Service and the notoriously toothless Federal Election Commission are looking the other way.... Someone in the next debate should ask him who has been paying for his TV spots."

Charles Pierce goes to a Des Moines, Iowa, forum for seven GOP candidates. "... this campaign is nowhere near as ugly as it's going to get. It changed over the last two weeks, and all of the well-dressed friends of Jesus at the Thanksgiving table there on stage have declared themselves along for the whole damn ride."

Beyond the Beltway

Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. Jed Lipinski of the Times-Picayune: Sixteen people were injured Sunday night (Nov. 22) after gunfire erupted during a block party at Bunny Friend Park in the Upper 9th Ward, New Orleans Police Department officials said.... Speaking at the scene, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said he believed multiple people had fired into the crowd of more than 300. NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble later confirmed that all victims are in stable condition."

Way Beyond

Joshua Partlow & Irene Caselli of the Washington Post: "Mauricio Macri, the wealthy Buenos Aires mayor who catapulted to prominence on a wave of discontent over government scandals, a feeble economy and combative nationalism, was elected president of Argentina on Sunday, according to preliminary results.... the stunning opposition victory marks a major shift in Latin American politics, ending a dozen years of leftist rule, first by Nestor Kirchner and then his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a tenure marked by increasingly fiery anti-American rhetoric and protectionist policies that isolated Argentina and diminished its influence in the hemisphere."

Andrew Higgins & Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "After a dramatic security sweep late Sunday marked by the deployment of soldiers in the historic center of the Belgian capital, the authorities [in Brussels] announced early Monday that 16 people had been arrested in a joint police and military operation to try to head off what the prime minister earlier described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of a Paris-style terrorist assault." ...

     ... Update. Lorne Cooke & Sylvie Corbet of the AP: "Belgian police launched more raids in Brussels and beyond early Monday, detaining five more people as they continued their hunt for a fugitive suspect in the Paris attacks. In Paris, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will ask for parliamentary approval for the U.K. to join airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Syria. The raids began late Sunday, capping a tense weekend that saw hundreds of troops patrolling and authorities hunting for one or more suspected extremists including Salah Abdeslam, a fugitive since being named a suspect in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. Between Sunday night and midday Monday, 21 people were detained." ...

     ... Update. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "The capital of Belgium entered the third day of a siegelike lockdown on Monday: Schools, shopping malls, public transit and food markets remained closed, and hotels and bars were desolate, as the total number of arrests in a sweeping counterterrorism operation rose to 21. The authorities searched five homes in the Brussels area and two in the Liège region overnight, seized 26,000 euros, or about $27,600, and arrested five people, in addition to the 16 who were detained on Sunday, according to Eric Van der Sijpt, a magistrate and a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office."


The Commentariat -- Nov. 22, 2015

Douglas McCollam of the Washington Post: "Completing a longshot bid that ran counter to the conservative tide sweeping the Southern states, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana on Saturday, defeating his Republican rival, U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Edwards was the top vote-getter in the state's open primary, building a lead over Vitter that he never surrendered.... In meetings with small groups in rural parishes, [Edwards] touted his opposition to abortion and strong support for gun ownership." CW: Not my kind of Democrat. But not David Vitter. ...

... CW: This was a rout: "Mr. Edwards won 56 percent of the vote with virtually all of the ballots counted." ...

... Julia Donoghue of the Times-Picayune: "State Rep. John Bel Edwards, a relatively unknown Democrat from a rural Amite, will be the state's next governor after toppling Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., in one of the biggest political upsets in the state's history.... An Edwards administration is expected to be a marked shift from Gov. Bobby Jindal's approach to public policy over the past eight years. The Democrat is expected to bring Medicaid expansion to Louisiana shortly after taking office, meaning thousands of more Louisiana residents could have access to health insurance in a couple of months. Teachers unions and other organized labor groups will also have more of a voice with Edwards than they ever had with Jindal." ...

... Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: "Edwards has pledged to sign an executive order authorizing the expansion of the [Medicaid portion of the Affordable Care Act] on his first day in office. That's a really big deal. Such a move would provide coverage to about 225,000 residents in one of the poorest states in the nation." ...

... All election results updates below from the Times-Picayune:

9:31 pm CT: "Vitter concession speech bombshell: He won't run for re-election for the U.S. Senate. "I've reached my personal term limit," he tells supporters."

9:15 pm CT: "Jeff Landry [R] has unseated incumbent Buddy Caldwell [R] in the race for Louisiana Lieutenant Governor."

9:10 pm CT: "It's pretty much official now, as the Associated Press joins the chorus calling the gubernatorial election for John Bel Edwards. Read our full story here."

8:40 pm CT: "With 553 of 3,945 precincts (14%) counted, the gubernatorial gap widens a bit: Edwards 59% - Vitter 41%."

... 8:20 pm CT: WWL-TV has called the lieutenant governor race for [Republican] Billy Nungesser. Official results show Nungesser ahead 57-43% over [Democrat] Kip Holden with just 13 precincts reporting."


David Atkins in the Washington Monthly on Alec MacGillis's New York Times op-ed, linked here yesterday (CW: read it if you haven't, tho Atkins provides a good overview): "... if voters are willing to give away tax breaks to Wall Street while intentionally voting for policies that will throw their friends and neighbors into the street and deny them lifesaving medical care, there's not much you can do. These mostly suburban and rural communities are infused with a Calvinist ethic that attributes success to moral virtue and failure to moral weakness. The cultural and psychological pull of that doctrine is incredibly powerful and buoyed by hucksters preaching the prosperity gospel that God will make you rich if you are faithful enough and want it badly enough. This toxic stew creates an instinct to push down the person below them rather than up against the person above them, and transcends simple racism and cultural resentment at this point. From a communications standpoint, one approach Democrats can and should take is to strongly promote policies that not only help those who have fallen through the cracks, but also those who have middle-class jobs as well. Many of those policies already exist, but are hidden from voters in the form of tax credits rather than direct transfers."

John Parkinson & Alexander Mallin of ABC News: "'We do not succumb to fear,' [President] Obama said during a news conference closing out the final leg of his nine-day, three-nation trip overseas. 'The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid. To not elevate them and to somehow buy into their fantasy that they're doing something important.' Speaking on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, the president sought to reassure allies that the U.S. will continue as an effective leader of the global coalition to destroy ISIS." ...

Matt Apuzzo, et al., of the New York Times: "When Islamic State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts' superiors made significant changes. Such changes are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military's failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America's role in the conflict than was warranted." Now the Pentagon's inspector general is investigating claims that had previously been made anonymously to the New York Times. ...

... CW: A Reuters photo accompanying the story supposedly shows Iraqi security forces in training under U.S. direction. The men's weapons are raised as if sweeping the area for signs of ISIS insurgents. A reasonable person just might wonder if the photo was staged. The pictured trainees are dressed in uniforms that look as if they just came out of the box, clean & neatly ironed, & their boots don't look scuffed. If the Pentagon must try to "Wag the Dog," they had better get a real Hollywood director to create some verissimilitude.

AP: "William McRaven, the former US navy admiral who is credited with coordinating the 2011 special forces operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, has said the US and its allies should prioritize fighting Islamic extremists, or else the American people 'should not be surprised when the barbarians are at our gate'." ...

... David Gilbert of International Business Times: "Anonymous, the loose collective of online activists, said Saturday it has uncovered information about Islamic State group attacks in Paris as well as at locations in the U.S., Indonesia, Italy and Lebanon, all apparently set for Sunday." Anonymous later posted a tweet saying, "We did not spread any rumors about possible future ISIS attacks, and frankly, we do not know where the rumors come from." ...

     ... Raw Story Update: Anonymous has since posted a tweet saying "The FBI says the plot to attack the wrestling event in Atlanta is not credible."

Maria Garcia of the Washington Post: "... despite our reputation as a haven for the oppressed, those admissions have always been controversial. There is one way the Syrian refugees are different, though: They, and others who have arrived after 9/11, are among the most carefully vetted in American history.... It took three years to pass the 1948 Displaced Persons Act, which brought in more than 200,000 Europeans (mostly ethnic Germans) over the next two years. The law discriminated against Jewish and Catholic refugees, and [President Harry] Truman was tempted to veto it because it was 'wholly inconsistent with the American sense of justice.' Still, the law officially launched U.S. refugee policy.... Subsequent groups faced similar backlashes." ...

... Rachel Zoll of the AP: "In rare agreement across faith and ideological lines, leaders of major American religious groups have condemned proposed bans on Syrian refugees, contending a legitimate debate over security has been overtaken by irrational fear and prejudice. Top organizations representing evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Jews and liberal Protestants say close vetting of asylum seekers is a critical part of forming policy on refugees. But these religious leaders say such concerns, heightened after the Paris attacks a week ago, do not warrant blocking those fleeing violence in the Middle East."

Nicholas Kristof: "The vote by the House of Representatives effectively to slam the door on Syrian refugees was the crassest kind of political grandstanding, scapegoating some of the world's most vulnerable people to score political points.... Republican leaders say they simply want to tighten security to keep America safe. That's an echo of what American officials claimed in the late 1930s and early 1940s as they blocked the entry of Jewish refugees." ...

... Beenish Ahmed of Think Progress: "Michigan Governor Rick Snyder [R] was the first of more than 30 primarily Republican governors who are attempting to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees. When asked about his specific concerns regarding the two-year screening process for refugees seeking to enter the U.S., however, Snyder was unable to point to a single problem with the current system.... None of the attackers, at least in Paris, were refugees. Conversely, most of them were citizens of countries in Western Europe and could have entered the U.S. very quickly without any sort of vetting process." ...

... Scott Keys of Think Progress: "Rather than escaping a bloody civil war, a United States congressman [Mo Brooks (RTP-Alabama] suggested that Syrian refugees are coming to the U.S. for free vacations."

"The GOP-ISIS Coalition." Andrew O'Hehir of Salon: "... the Islamist militants of ISIS and the anti-Islamic Western right have reached the same conclusion. To put it more bluntly, every major Republican presidential candidate (excepting one or two of Jeb Bush's multiple personalities) largely subscribes to the political and philosophical worldview of ISIS, except when it comes to final eschatological questions about who ends up in Paradise." Read the whole essay.

He decided to pick a fight and stand up for ISIS and stand up against the side of freedom and to pick a fight with not just Republicans, but Democrats, over this refugee issue. -- Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), on President Obama

What could be more statesmanlike than claiming the POTUS is a terrorist sympathizer? But then Wagner always has been a class act. (And, yes, I know it must be true because I read it in the Daily Mail.)-- Constant Weader

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is making a bull rush at the conservatives running for president who are withholding support from an ObamaCare repeal package that they feel doesn't go far enough."

Presidential Race

Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Hillary Clinton is moving aggressively to put the Democratic nomination out of reach for her rivals. From increased travel to the states voting in March to a reinvigorated push to reach $100 million in funds raised by year-end, the front-runner's team is eager to capitalize on her recent climb in the polls to knock Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley out of the race quickly." ...

Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "If elected president, Democrat Hillary Clinton says she can create enough green energy to power every home in America by the end of her second term.... The Democratic presidential front-runner said her plan to subsidize alternative sources of energy would not entail a middle-class tax hike. In fact, Clinton said she would reduce taxes for working-class families." CW: Looks as if Hillary is planning on a two-term presidency. ...

... Patrick Healy of the New York Times: Hillary "Clinton's windfalls from Wall Street banks and other financial services firms -- $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions over the years -- have become a major vulnerability in states with early nomination contests. Some party officials who remain undecided in the 2016 presidential race see her as overly cozy with big banks and other special interests. At a time when liberals are ascendant in the party, many Democrats believe her merely having 'represented Wall Street as a senator from New York,' as Mrs. Clinton reminded viewers in an October debate, is bad enough."

Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday called for Republicans to abandon the corrupting influence of the Koch brothers and other wealthy energy magnates. 'This is a party that rejects science and refuses to understand that climate change is real,' he said of GOP during the annual Blue Jamboree in North Charleston, S.C. 'I understand if you stand up to the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry, that you'll lose your campaign contributions,' the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate added. '[Climate change] is already causing devastating problems all over this world. To hell with the fossil fuel industry. Worry more about your children and your grandchildren than your campaign contributions.'"

Young Ross Douthat thinks what the country needs now is another Richard Nixon. But not the Hillary Clinton kind of Richard Nixon! who "might offer Nixon's weaknesses without his strengths: All the seaminess and paranoia, but none of the actual achievements." And on the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, Ross seizes the opportunity to make a swipe at the former president. Thanks, New York Times!

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "One by one, seven Republican presidential candidates took turns bashing Obama [in Des Moines, Iowa,] Friday night, largely over foreign policy and national security, issues at the forefront of the public consciousness in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris. Seated at the same table at a Christian conservative forum..., the GOP contenders collectively lashed out at the president instead of taking on each other."

David Mark & Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "Donald Trump is ratcheting up his rhetoric about American Muslims, saying there's precedent for monitoring some mosques amid the recent terror wave. At a Birmingham, Alabama, rally on Saturday -- which included a physical altercation between a black protester and several white Trump backers -- the 2016 Republican front-runner suggested law enforcement keep an eye on certain Islamic houses of worship which, in his view, could pose terrorist threats." Includes video. ...

... Carol Robinson of "The Black Lives Matter protester attacked during Donald's Trump's Birmingham rally said he was punched, kicked and called "n****r" while a group of eight or nine people were on top of him. Mercutio Southall Jr., a well-known activist who said he has been tased at least 30 times and just recently marched heavily -- armed through a Birmingham neighborhood to teach people about gun rights, said he is sore after today's pummeling but doesn't think he was seriously injured.... Trump ... had Southall thrown out. Secret Service agents and Birmingham police escorted Southall from the room.... In the video posted to Twitter by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond, Trump can be heard speaking in the background saying, 'Get him the hell out of here.'" Southall & a companion had been videotaping the rally when Trump supporters attacked him, according to Southall. ...

... Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "After two days of confusion over whether or not Donald Trump wants to set up a database of Muslims living in the United States, the candidate explained his stance during a political rally on Saturday morning. 'I will absolutely take database on the people coming in from Syria,' Trump said, adding that such a database would not be needed in a Trump administration, as he would kick all Syrian refugees out of the country, regardless of their religion, and allow no more to enter. 'If I win, they're going back. They're going back. We can't have them.' Trump called for heavy surveillance of Syrians, Muslims and anyone with possible ties to the Islamic State. He urged the audience members to be vigilant and report anything suspicious they see to the police." Emphasis added. ...

... CW: I believe this was exactly what the Nazis told the "good Germans" to do. Don't think Donald's rat-on-the-neighbors program would long be limited to Muslims. If you are not a Muslim but have Muslim guests or guests who might in a stretch pass for Middle Easterners, that nasty, nosy neighbor will see fit to call the cops & finger your as the leader of a terrorist cell. I'm not kidding here. Trump is a dangerous guy, & Constitutional restraints won't stop him any more than they stopped Dick Cheney. ...

... Stories like this are the tip of the iceberg. Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Southwest Airlines has become the subject of criticism over reports that it singled out Muslim or Middle Eastern passengers on two flights this week, after fellow fliers said they feared for their safety if those passengers were allowed to fly.... Comments made by a number of Republican candidates for the presidency -- including poll frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson -- have stoked such fears." Emphasis added. ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "... Marco Rubio, the leading establishment candidate? Well, after seeing Donald Trump threaten to create (wildly unconstitutional) national registries of Muslims in the United States, Rubio decided to up the ante by pushing for unconstitutional government spying measures in order to shut down any locations where muslims might gather, from mosques to diners. At a time when the anti-establishment GOP candidates are saying increasingly outlandish and terrifying things that, at the risk of fulfilling Godwin's Law, can only be described as proto-fascist, the leading establishment candidate isn't pushing back but rather doubling down on the crazy.... The GOP is Donald Trump's party now."

Bill Barrow & Julie Pace of the AP: "... Ben Carson said Saturday that he wants to expand the government's surveillance operations aimed at potential terrorist threats, even beyond tracking American Muslims as rival Donald Trump has suggested.... 'What I have said is that I would be in favor of monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American,' Carson told reporters during an appearance ... forum in South Carolina. He did not expound on just how an administration would determine what constitutes 'radicalization' or 'anti-American.'"

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Across the state [of Iowa] and at a major gathering of politically active evangelicals on Friday night, foreign policy was top-of-mind for the voters and state lawmakers once considered natural constituents for [Ben] Carson. But after a week of confused comments from the former neurosurgeon and a dismissive critique by his own advisors, Iowans are now consistently voicing doubt about Carson's credentials to be commander-in-chief. Indeed, they said the terrorist attacks have reordered the candidates in their mind, lifting [Sen. Ted] Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio and, for many, making Carson an afterthought."

Senate Race

Kevin Robillard of Politico: "After a big loss in a damaging gubernatorial race, [David] Vitter's decision to step aside increases Republicans' chances of holding his Senate seat."

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "A troubled student whose disappearance prompted the weeklong closure of the Washington College campus in Maryland was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Saturday in Pennsylvania, police said. Jacob Marberger, 19, was a sophomore at the small college in Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The school was closed Monday after his parents reported that he had a gun and they were unable to reach him."