Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President repeated his call for Republicans in the United States Senate to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and a vote":

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, April 29, 2016.

** New York: "An ISIS-linked hacking group has posted a hit list that includes the names of thousands of New Yorkers. The list, released by the ISIS-related group Caliphate Cyber United, reportedly includes as many as 3,600 names, some of whom are employees at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, but many of whom are average residents. Experts speculate that the list is being used as a scare tactic and that there’s no immediate threat." -- CW

NBC News: "A man infected with Zika virus in Puerto Rico has died from complications of the infection, health officials said Friday.... It's the first death in the United States from Zika virus." -- CW

Washington Post: "North Korea has sentenced a former Virginia man to 10 years in prison with hard labor for subversion, its official news agency said Friday, in the latest case involving an American being detained by Kim Jong Un’s regime." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

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

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

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

"You think old people are weirdos but then you understand that they don't see you and they can't hear you." Reuters: "The Genworth Aging Experience is a traveling show created by Genworth Financial Inc., an insurance company, in partnership with Applied Minds, a design and engineering company, that allows museum visitors to feel first-hand the effects of aging...[with the goal of building] empathy and awareness of the challenges elderly people face in everyday situations." -- LT note: this world could always use a little more empathy.

Washington Post: An archivist found the original patent for the Wright brothers' "Flying Machine" "in a special records storage cave in Lenexa, Kan., where it was sent at some point after it vanished around 1980." Somebody in the National Archives apparently had misfiled it.

New York Times: "A thousand years after the Vikings braved the icy seas from Greenland to the New World in search of timber and plunder, satellite technology has found intriguing evidence of a long-elusive prize in archaeology — a second Norse settlement in North America, further south than ever known. The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960."

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Friday
Apr292016

The Commentariat -- April 30, 2016

The White House Correspondents' Dinner is tonight. CW: C-SPAN begins coverage of the "red carpet" at 6 pm ET, but my recollection is that the President doesn't begin his shtick until about 9 pm ET. ...

... David Litt, "a former White House speechwriter, is the head writer and producer for Funny or Die DC," in a New York Times op-ed on President Obama's approach to comedy: "... this president has a talent for comedy — an impressive sense of timing and audience. His administration combined that talent with an understanding of a changing media landscape and the emergence of viral videos. Jokes became a real tool to move his agenda forward." -- CW ...

... Jessica Taylor of NPR: "Posing as her character C.J. Cregg, who was the press secretary in the ["The West Wing" TV series]..., actress Allison Janney took a surprise turn on the podium to the delight and surprise of the real White House press corps." -- CW:

Michael Shear & Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "President Obama will use the power of his office to try to jump-start long-stalled 'smart-gun' technology that could eventually allow only the owner of a firearm to use it, the White House announced Friday. Over the opposition of gun rights groups, he also vowed to push ahead with a new federal policy giving the F.B.I. access to more mental health records of some Social Security recipients to better flag people who might be banned from buying a gun." -- CW ...

... The Washington Post story, by Juliet Eilperin & Michael Rosenwald, is here. -- CW ...

Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times: "Mistakes by the crew flying an AC-130 gunship, compounded by equipment and procedural failures, led to the devastating attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last year, and 16 American military personnel, including a general officer, have been punished for their roles in the strike, the Defense Department announced on Friday. The punishments for the attack on Oct. 3 in Kunduz, which killed 42 people, will be 'administrative actions' only, and were not more severe because the attack was determined to be unintentional. The punishments include suspension and removal from command as well as letters of reprimand, which can seriously damage a career. But none of the service members being disciplined will face criminal charges." -- CW: BTW, this is your classic Friday afternoon news dump. (Also linked, um, Friday afternoon.) ...

... Gregor Aisch, et al., of the New York Times: "The disciplinary measures were unlikely to satisfy Doctors Without Borders and other rights groups that have said the attack may have constituted a war crime and that have called for an independent criminal investigation. The punishments were “administrative actions” that could include suspension or removal from command." The Times report summarizes the findings of the investigation. -- CW

Rachel Bade of Politico: "The Pentagon is pushing back against the [GOP-led] House Benghazi Committee, saying its repeated requests for documents and interviews are straining the department's resources — and, to make matters worse, many of the queries are speculative or hypothetical. Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger complained in a letter to the committee on Thursday about its continued demands for information, and implied that the panel is grasping to make assertions based on theory rather than facts." -- CW

Richard Wolf in USA Today: The Supreme Court refused Friday to block Texas' photo ID law, the strictest in the nation, from remaining in effect for now, but it left open the possibility of doing so this summer if a lower court challenge remains unresolved. Civil rights groups who say the law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters had argued that it should be blocked because it was struck down by a federal court in 2014 and a three-judge appeals court panel last year. The full appeals court will hear the case next month. -- Akhilleus ... (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

     ... The New York Times story, by Adam Liptak, is here. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "The GOP is poised to permanently lose a generation of voters, and not (only) because of its odious and uncommonly disliked presidential front-runner. New survey data suggest that young people have become increasingly averse to just about every plank in today’s creaky Republican Party platform." -- CW ...

... Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: “Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator and Tea Party firebrand who is now the president of the Heritage Foundation, became the latest in a string of conservatives to admit that restrictive voting laws … are an attempt to help Republicans win elections.... DeMint [said] … Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s move to restore the voting rights of people in the state who had served time for felonies … was 'awfully suspicious' and tied it to what he claimed was a Democratic plan to get votes from 'illegals' and through 'voter fraud.'... 'And so it’s something we’re working on all over the country, because in the states where they do have voter ID laws you’ve seen, actually, elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.'” -- CW ...

... Steve Benen: "It’s one of those classic cases of someone making a mistake by accidentally telling the truth." -- CW

Presidential Race

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Bernie Sanders’ campaign is withdrawing its lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee that alleged the party organization wrongly revoked the campaign’s access to its voter data file. In its statement on Friday announcing the withdrawal, Sanders’ campaign also strongly maintained that it never deliberately stole information." -- CW

Reince as Sister Mary Elephant. Nick Gass of Politico: "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus warned his fellow party members on Friday that they should watch what they say about each other, a day after it was reported that former House Speaker John Boehner referred to Ted Cruz as 'Lucifer in the flesh' and a 'miserable son of a bitch.'" -- CW

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times: "Undeterred by protesters who nearly blocked his way into a California Republican convention, Donald Trump called on the party Friday to unite behind him even as he lashed out at what he portrayed as its corrupt system for picking presidential nominees. Police in riot gear were unable to stop egg-tossing demonstrators who broke through street barricades and rushed to the entrance of the convention hotel near San Francisco International Airport, forcing Trump’s motorcade to pull over on the shoulder of the 101 Freeway. Surrounded by Secret Service agents, the New York developer hopped a concrete barrier and entered the hotel through a back door. 'It felt like I was crossing the border,' Trump joked to hundreds of Republicans at a lunch banquet. The crowd laughed." -- CW ...

... Cindy Carcamo, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "As Donald Trump's presidential campaign moves into California, he's being met by a revitalized, youthful Latino-rights movement playing from a different rule book than its predecessors. Trump faced large and hostile demonstrations outside a rally Thursday night in Costa Mesa and at the Burlingame hotel where he delivered a speech to the California Republican Convention." -- CW

Paul Waldman: "Like so much about Trump, his conception of what it means to be presidential is both curious and disturbing. As near as one can surmise, for Trump, to be presidential means to be polite.... So what does 'presidential' mean to the rest of us? At the simplest level it suggests a combination of dignity and command, someone who holds enormous power and demonstrates him or herself worthy of it....  'Presidential" is less about behavior than about identity: A person doesn't act presidential, a person is presidential.... [Trump] may not realize it, but just by being a 69-year-old rich white guy, in the eyes of his supporters he's as presidential as could be. But in 2016, people who see that as the beginning and end of being presidential are probably in the minority. Just like people who support Donald Trump." -- CW ...

... Playing the Men's Card. Dana Milbank: "Trump orchestrated his primary campaign success on the basis of economic and racial resentment. Now he’s building a general-election strategy — against the first woman to lead a major party’s presidential ticket — on gender resentment.... It may be the best card he has to play, with 7 in 10 women regarding him unfavorably. A man who has demagogically divided Americans by race and ethnicity now aims to finish the job by dividing us by views of gender roles." -- CW ...

... Conservopundit Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post: "If Trump were a woman, not only would he not get 5 percent of the vote, but also he would be tarred, feathered, branded and ridden out of town backward on a donkey. Voters male and female would recognize immediately that such a woman was inappropriate, lacking in quality and character, perhaps more than a little crazy — and utterly unqualified to be president of the United States. The only thing Trump’s got going for him, one is tempted to say, is the men’s vote , which is no way to deflect accusations of a GOP war on women." -- CW

Senate Short-Timer "Goes from #NeverTrump to Ready for Trump. Jonathan Chait: "For a brief period of time, '#NeverTrump' was practically Marco Rubio’s presidential-campaign slogan. Rubio made slashing attacks on Trump as a 'con artist.' Rubio’s campaign website sold anti-Trump swag, like a '#Never Trump' bumper sticker. “... Now, appearing on Univision, Rubio sounds ready to rally around Trump.... So maybe a con artist can be the Republican nominee after all. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to the fact that Rubio's campaign page advertising the '#NeverTrump' bumper sticker used the word removable. Twice." -- CW

Even if Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he shouldn’t be using the girls’ restroom. -- Ted Cruz, in Indiana ...

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "As Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seeks every possible edge to stop Donald J. Trump, he has seized on a once-obscure issue with a proven power to inflame conservatives: letting transgender women use women’s bathrooms. Mr. Cruz mentions it constantly in Indiana, a state with many social conservatives that is all but a last stand for him in his fight to deprive Mr. Trump of the Republican presidential nomination." -- CW

Roll the Videotape. Please. CW: Gabriel misunderstands the motivation behind Ted's weird obsession with trans people. According to Cruz & his daughter Caroline, Ted recently dressed up in "this pink boa .. and these, like, big goofy-looking underwear" for a school event. "That was on a videotape the whole time," Caroline reported. Yeah, Ted likes to dress up in women's underwear & frou-frou. So repeatedly bringing up the bathroom thing is Ted's way of getting ahead of the inevitable release of the videotape, which, again according to Caroline, "they're sending out to all the parents." -- CW ...

... BTW, Ted Cruz's daughter Caroline really can't stand him. -- CW

... Gail Collins reflects on recent events in Ted's campaign. Also, she has suggestions for other possible Cruz running-mates, not that Carly isn't great! -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

George Mason Wakes Up, Finds Koch Boys Have Put Dead Justice in His Bed. Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "... the announcement last month that George Mason [University] would rename its law school in honor of Justice Antonin Scalia..., and that it was tied to a $30 million combined gift from the Charles Koch Foundation and an anonymous conservative donor — focused attention for the first time in a serious way on whether the administration and trustees at George Mason had allowed Virginia’s largest public university to become an ideological outpost. The university administration insists that the answer is no. But a drumbeat of public letters, social media posts and campus debates expressing concerns about the gift suggests a vocal group of faculty, students and state legislators are not convinced." -- CW

Meera Jagannathan & Ethan Sacks of the New York Daily News: Actor "Will Ferrell 'is not pursuing' a controversial comedy in which he would have portrayed former president Ronald Reagan in the throes of dementia.... A source close to the actor told the Daily News that a smart satirical script by Mike Rosolio had gotten unfairly politicized after Reagan's children had condemned the project." -- CW

 

Thursday
Apr282016

The Commentariat -- April 29, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Richard Wolf in USA Today: The Supreme Court refused Friday to block Texas' photo ID law, the strictest in the nation, from remaining in effect for now, but it left open the possibility of doing so this summer if a lower court challenge remains unresolved. Civil rights groups who say the law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters had argued that it should be blocked because it was struck down by a federal court in 2014 and a three-judge appeals court panel last year. The full appeals court will hear the case next month. -- Akhilleus ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Adam Liptak, is here. -- CW

Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Timees: "Mistakes by the crew flying an AC-130 gunship, compounded by equipment and procedural failures, led to the devastating attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last year, and 16 American military personnel, including a general officer, have been punished for their roles in the strike, the Defense Department announced on Friday. The punishments for the attack on Oct. 3 in Kunduz, which killed 42 people, will be 'administrative actions' only, and were not more severe because the attack was determined to be unintentional. The punishments include suspension and removal from command as well as letters of reprimand, which can seriously damage a career. But none of the service members being disciplined will face criminal charges." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Greg Sargent: "The Clinton and Sanders camps are now signaling how the Democratic primaries might wind down without too much noise, contentiousness, disruption, and anger." -- CW

Paul Krugman on why the Democratic establishment candidate prevailed & the GOP establishment candidates are home playing golf: "Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con." -- CW ...

... Tim Egan: "With Trump, you can be sure of one thing: He will betray those [working class] people. We know this because he already has. Wage stagnation is the most glaring symptom of a declining middle class. Trump’s solution? He believes that 'wages are too high.'” -- CW

Michael Finnegan, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump put his roughest edges on display Thursday night in Costa Mesa as he opened his California primary campaign with a raw performance highlighting his hard-line views on illegal immigration and torture while trashing an array of rivals.... More than 8,000 supporters erupted in a thunder of cheers as Trump vowed to make Mexico pay for a wall along its border with the United States to keep such criminals from harming Americans." CW ...

... Ruben Vives, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where Donald Trump held a rally Thursday night, stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate." -- CW

Lauren Gamino of the Guardian: "In the 24 hours since her profile of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, appeared in GQ magazine [linked here yesterday], the Russian-American journalist [Julia Ioffe] has received a torrent of antisemitic, vitriolic and threatening messages from supporters of ... [Donald Trump]." CW: Ioffe's profile, as far as I could tell, was negative only insofar as she repeated Donald Trump's own misogynistic remarks. Talk about not being able to handle the truth. ...

... Mike Alesia of the Indianapolis Star: "... on the political stump Wednesday night in Indianapolis, Donald Trump proudly noted [an] endorsement from ... [former boxer] Mike Tyson.... It was [in Indianapolis] where [Tyson] was convicted of raping beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in 1992 — and subsequently spent three years in prison.... Trump was a supporter of Tyson's after the conviction, saying that 'to a large extent' he was 'railroaded.' Trump had a financial interest in the case because Tyson's fights made money for his hotels. In an NBC News interview from Feb. 21, 1992, obtained by Buzzfeed and posted recently, Trump described the case this way: 'You have a young woman that was in his hotel room late in the evening at her own will. You have a young woman seen dancing for the beauty contest — dancing with a big smile on her face, looked happy as can be.'” -- CW ...

I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky. -- Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee

... Eugene Scott of CNN: Bobby Knight, ex-Indiana basketball coach who famously threw a chair across the court during a game and was once arrested for assault, loves him some Trump because he "would drop an A-bomb like Truman." -- LT ...

... Another Great (Semi-) Endorsement for Trump. Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Former Boston Red Sox player Curt Schilling said out of the remaining presidential candidates, he would back front-runner Donald Trump — under one condition.... 'The caveat to that is, I need him to start acting like a leader.'... Schilling said he wanted to hear less of what Trump will do and more of how he'll accomplish those goals." CW: See also Other News & Views for more on my continuing coverage of the Red Sox star Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley never heard of.

... Gideon Resnick of The Daily Beast: "Rush Limbaugh has a prescription for America’s sexual frustration that’s better than Viagra: Donald Trump. 'If Trump’s the nominee, and if he does unload on Hillary Clinton, as he’s promising to do,' said the gasbag radio host, 'let me just tell you something, you do not know how many gazillion Americans are going to be delirious and orgasmic with delight.'" --safari

Peter Beinhart of the Atlantic: "[I]n evaluating Trump’s incoherence [in his foreign policy address], it’s worth remembering that the more “serious” Republican foreign policy candidates whom he toppled—men like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham—were incoherent too. Trump’s just incoherent in a different way." --safari

**Franklin Foer of Slate has a long piece on Paul ManafortTrump's pseudo campaign manager, and his career of making tyrants electable. It's scary. "He has a particular knack for taking autocrats and presenting them as defenders of democracy. If he could convince the respectable world that thugs like Savimbi and Marcos are friends of America, then why not do the same for Trump? One of his friends told me, 'He wanted to do his thing on home turf. He wanted one last shot at the big prize.'" --safari

Colleen Long & Michael Balsamo of the AP: "An envelope containing a suspicious white powdery substance caused a scare when it was opened at a campaign office of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but it later was deemed to be harmless. The envelope was mailed to Manhattan's Trump Tower, near Central Park, police said. A campaign staffer opened the envelope Thursday night and immediately called police." -- CW

Michael Bender & Mark Niquette of Bloomberg: "The race [in Indiana] is shaping up to be a last stand not just for [Ted] Cruz, but also for the 'stop Trump' movement, an unlikely confederation of activists and party donors. But, from members of the donor class in Indianapolis unwilling to back Cruz to blue-collar voters in Elkhart outraged by the collaboration, the movement is not coalescing, and is even backfiring. 'People who were supporting [John] Kasich have been coming into the office to pick up Trump signs,” said Laura Campbell, Republican chairwoman of Hamilton County...." -- CW  

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: The "alliance" between Ted Cruz & John Kasich has hit a new low. "... taking the stage at a convention hall [in Indiana], Mr. Cruz told voters that Mr. Kasich had no path to victory. 'John Kasich has pulled out,' he said, omitting any further context. 'He’s withdrawn from the state of Indiana.'... But as Mr. Cruz spoke, Mr. Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, tapped out a semicryptic message on Twitter: 'I can’t stand liars'.” -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

"America First." Donald Trump is set to assure us that once-intended irony will become his foreign policy. Thanks to Patrick:

... Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Where, exactly, Trump would take America’s nuclear policy is anyone’s guess. But it’s one area where Trump’s unpredictability is [not] entertaining." -- CW

...the rest of the world is not entertained either: Adrienne Varkiani of Think Progress: The rise of Trump in the presidential race has certainly surprised many in the United States, but it’s also come as a shock to much of the rest of the world... [T]he media in other countries has taken a humorous, and critical, look at his candidacy. -- LT

I thought you were going to ask about basketball rings. -- President Obama, to a student journalist from Indiana (see April 27 Comments for context)

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "At a town hall Wednesday at Stanford University, [former House Speaker John] Boehner called [Ted] Cruz 'Lucifer in the flesh.'... I've never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,' he added. Boehner even suggested he would vote for Donald Trump, but not Cruz." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Ted Cruz fired back at former speaker John Boehner on Thursday, accusing him of allowing 'his inner Trump to come out.'... He tethered Boehner to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump over and over again." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Anna North of the New York Times reprises some of the ways politicians have described Ted Cruz. In public. -- CW 

Other News & Views

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology — an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Claire Landsbaum of New York: "The problem with journalism, [President] Obama said [to student reporters], is that it focuses on bad news instead of good. 'It is very hard to get good stories placed,' he said. 'People will assign you stories about what’s not working. It’s very hard for you to write a story about, "Wow, this thing really works good."'" CW: I thought this was dumb when Nancy Reagan said it, & I think it's dumb when President Obama says it.

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The Senate confirmed President Obama's nominee to be the ambassador to Mexico on Thursday night, breaking a months-long stalemate. Senators confirmed Roberta Jacobson, currently the assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, by a voice vote before leaving town for a week-long recess. The post has been vacant since her predecessor, Anthony Wayne, retired in July." -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The chief executive of Volkswagen said on Thursday that he personally apologized to President Obama this week for cheating on vehicle emissions tests, while making what amounted to a plea for mercy as the German carmaker negotiates penalties with United States officials." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "In an unannounced visit shrouded in secrecy, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. came to Iraq on Thursday for the first time in almost five years, hoping to help a weak prime minister and bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State. The intense security and clandestine nature of the trip reflected the challenges Iraq still faces 13 years after the United States-led invasion. Mr. Biden arrived for the visit, which was under discussion for months, at a moment when the country’s political leadership is mired in yet another crisis." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. New York Times Editors: "As its profits show, McDonald’s makes a lot of money on fast food." But "workers and citizens [don't get] ... fair share of such profits through decent pay and robust corporate taxes.... Taxpayers continue to pick up the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive. An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at McDonald’s." -- CW ...

... Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "Pay disparities between men and women start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened for young workers in the past year, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79 percent as large as those of their  male peers, the think tank found — a serious drop from 84 percent last year." -- CW

The Washington Post has a searchable map by Zip code that compares housing prices in 2004 to today's values. -- CW

John Cox of the Washington Post: "The military has filed new criminal charges against Marine Maj. Mark Thompson, a former U.S. Naval Academy instructor who insisted that he had been unfairly convicted of sexual misconduct with two female midshipmen. After revelations about his case in The Washington Post, the military has now charged Thompson with making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." -- CW

Amara Grautski of the New York Daily News: "Curt Schilling says he isn’t racist — or homophobic or transphobic — but he can’t say the same of his former coworkers. 'Some of the most racist things I’ve ever heard have come out of people that are on the air at ESPN,' Schilling said, according to Newsday. 'They’re some of the biggest racists in sports commentating.'... The former ace pitcher ... was fired last week for sharing an insenstive Facebook post about transgender people. Schilling, a proud conservative, had been in hot water at ESPN for other social media posts in the past." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Rupert Neate of the Guardian: "Mark Thompson, the chief executive of the New York Times and former director-general of the BBC, is facing a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that he introduced a culture of 'deplorable discrimination' based on age, race and gender at the newspaper. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two black female employees in their sixties in New York on Thursday, claims that under Thompson’s leadership the US paper of record has 'become an environment rife with discrimination'.” Thompson has a history of age & gender discrimination at the BBC. -- CW

Matt Ford of the Atlantic: "The U.S. Supreme Court approved a new rule Thursday allowing federal judges to issue warrants that target computers outside their jurisdiction, setting the stage for a major expansion of surveillance and hacking powers by federal law-enforcement agencies...Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat and longtime critic of federal surveillance programs,...criticized the proposed changes as a 'sprawling expansion of government surveillance.' 'These amendments will have significant consequences for Americans’ privacy and the scope of the government’s powers to conduct remote surveillance and searches of electronic devices." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

Richard Winton, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Federal agents arrested three people, including the older brother of San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, on charges of marriage fraud and lying to federal investigators on Thursday morning, authorities said. Syed Raheel Farook, his wife, Tatiana Farook, and her sister Mariya Chernykh are charged in a five-count indictment filed in federal court alleging that Chernykh entered into a fraudulent marriage with Enrique Marquez Jr., who has been accused of providing weapons used in the deadly Dec. 2 attack at the Inland Regional Center." -- CW

Jack Healy of the New York Times: Colorado is "flirting with a radical transformation: whether to abandon President Obama’s health care policy and instead create a new, taxpayer-financed public health system that guarantees coverage for everyone. The estimated $38-billion-a-year proposal, which will go before Colorado voters in November, will test whether people have an appetite for a new system that goes further than the Affordable Care Act. That question is also in play in the Democratic presidential primaries." -- CW

Lisa Leff of the AP: "The chancellor of the University of California's Davis campus was put on paid leave Wednesday amid an uproar over her service on corporate boards and the school's hiring of consultants to improve its image online, following the widely criticized pepper-spraying of protesters by campus police, the university's president announced. UC President Janet Napolitano plans to appoint an independent investigator to examine the "serious and troubling" questions raised by the actions of Chancellor Linda Katehi and to determine if they violated any university policies, Napolitano's office announced in a statement." -- CW

Way Beyond

Andreas Cremer of Reuters: "Germany is set to launch a new incentive scheme worth about 1 billion euros ($1 billion) to get more consumers buying electric cars...[the incentives] are to be shared equally between the government and automakers...Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW." -- unwashed

What a world. Alastair Jamieson of NBC: "Belgium is to issue iodine tablets to its entire population as part of a revised nuclear emergency plan, a measure unveiled just months after it emerged that ISIS-linked bombers spied on a top scientist and hoped to build a 'dirty bomb.'" --safari

Wednesday
Apr272016

The Commentariat -- April 28, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology -- an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against." -- CW

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "In an unannounced visit shrouded in secrecy, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. came to Iraq on Thursday for the first time in almost five years, hoping to help a weak prime minister and bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State. The intense security and clandestine nature of the trip reflected the challenges Iraq still faces 13 years after the United States-led invasion. Mr. Biden arrived for the visit, which was under discussion for months, at a moment when the country's political leadership is mired in yet another crisis." -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The chief executive of Volkswagen said on Thursday that he personally apologized to President Obama this week for cheating on vehicle emissions tests, while making what amounted to a plea for mercy as the German carmaker negotiates penalties with United States officials." -- CW

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: The "alliance" between Ted Cruz & John Kasich has hit a new low. "... taking the stage at a convention hall [in Indiana], Mr. Cruz told voters that Mr. Kasich had no path to victory. 'John Kasich has pulled out,' he said, omitting any further context. 'He's withdrawn from the state of Indiana.'... But as Mr. Cruz spoke, Mr. Kasich's chief strategist, John Weaver, tapped out a semicryptic message on Twitter: 'I can't stand liars'." -- CW

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "At a town hall Wednesday at Stanford University, [former House Speaker John] Boehner called [Ted] Cruz 'Lucifer in the flesh.'... I've never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,' he added. Boehner even suggested he would vote for Donald Trump, but not Cruz." -- CW ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Ted Cruz fired back at former speaker John Boehner on Thursday, accusing him of allowing 'his inner Trump to come out.'... He tethered Boehner to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump over and over again." -- CW

*****

Jessica Firger of Newsweek: "The number of teenagers in the U.S. giving birth is at an all-time low, ... In recent years, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have provided resources for local communities to implement programs that provide evidence-based sex education and offer access to free birth control," which appear to be working, especially the long-acting and reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. Abstinence programs, not so much. -- LT

Presidential Race

Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "... Bernie Sanders is planning to lay off hundreds of campaign staffers across the country and focus much of his remaining effort on winning the June 7 California primary.... Despite the changes, Mr. Sanders said he would remain in the race through the party's summer convention and stressed that he hoped to bring staff members back on board if his political fortunes improved."

... Cartoon by Clay Jones: Didn't Ted Cruz lose FIVE primaries Tuesday night?... Cruz announcing his veep selection is like bringing office decorations to your job interview. If he loses Indiana next week is he going to start appointing ambassadors?" Via LT. ...

... Jonathan Martin, et al., of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, desperate to alter the course of a presidential primary fight in which Donald J. Trump is closing in on victory, announced Wednesday that Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he won the Republican nomination." -- CW

... "That Face!" Nick Gass of Politico: "Picking Carly Fiorina to be his running mate would be a bad choice on the part of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump opined Wednesday, remarking that the former Republican presidential candidate 'did not resonate' and that it would further hurt the Texas senator's case." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Well, this could get awkward: Remembering the time Carly Fiorina stated that Ted Cruz cannot possible beat Hillary Clinton... --safari

... Paul Waldman: "If you tuned in to their event, you saw Fiorina, a former corporate CEO who got a golden parachute worth $40 million after nearly driving her company into the ground and laying off tens of thousands of people, talking about how money and power are concentrated in too few hands in America today. Inspiring! -- CW ...

... CW: You may not forgive me for this, tho the part near the beginning, where Fiorina seems to forget Ted Cruz's name, is a bright spot. The rest should creep you out. It reminds me of those horror movies where the evil babysitter is about to murder the children. As the video plays out, it's easy to picture Fiorina slowly walking up the stairs of the Cruzes' darkened mansion, weapon in hand, while the pretty little girls lie sleeping in their beds:

Julia Azari of 538: "... as much as Cruz's move defies campaign convention, it fits perfectly into a brief but depressing tradition: choosing a female running mate as a desperation move." -- CW

Together, they form the most loathsome pair in America. -- Dawn Laguens, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, on the Cruz-Fiorina ticket -- CW

... Charles Pierce: "Cruzorina! Feel the galvanic energy of a torrent of complete flopsweat." -- CW ...

... Shakezula of LG&$: "Oh yes. I predict this will be the most successful decision in the history of decision making since Sen. John McCain looked up the number of Alaska's governor." -- CW

... Steve M.: "Whatever Trump says about Fiorina will reinforce Hillary Clinton's message that a vote for Trump is a vote for misogyny. Cruz and Fiorina, in other words, are setting up to Trump to provide embarrassing Trump footage for Clinton attack ads." -- CW

Nick Gass: "Donald Trump laid out his broad vision for what American foreign policy would look like with him in the White House, vowing to chart a different course than the post-Cold War order that has 'lacked a coherent policy.' Trump's speech on Wednesday offered little in the way of policy details, instead riffing on a series of his past comments about temporarily banning Muslim refugees, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State and make allies pay their fair share. He also rebuked President Barack Obama and laced into Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly becoming the target of his barbs as he starts to focus on the general election." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The New York Times story, by Mark Landler & Ashley Parker, is here. -- CW ...

... Michael Crowley of Politico: "... across the ideological spectrum, and even among natural allies, Trump's speech received a failing grade for coherence and drew snickering and scorn from foreign policy insiders who remain unconvinced that Trump is up to the job.... He declared that 'America First' would be the 'major and overriding' theme of his presidency moments before hailing America's role in World War II -- which was opposed by the isolationist America First movement of the early 1940s...." -- CW

... New York Times Editors: "No one's fears are likely to be allayed by [Trump's] speech, which was clearly worked up by his new campaign advisers and read from a teleprompter. It did not exhibit much grasp of the complexity of the world, understanding of the balance or exercise of power, or even a careful reading of history.... Mr. Trump repeatedly states outright falsehoods, often based on wrong assumptions.... Mr. Trump did not display any willingness to learn or to correct his past errors. For someone who claims he is ready to lead the free world, that is inexcusable." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: Donald "Trump's foreign policy caters to an underserved market, one that rejects the long-standing bipartisan consensus on matters of immigration, trade, and military intervention. Trump speaks to an American middle class that is less concerned with the details of his counterterrorism strategy than with the overriding sense that their government puts the interests of foreigners ahead of their own.... And then there was his plan for defeating ISIS, which reads like a book report from a sixth-grader who didn't do the reading." --safari ...

...Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "Randy who? [T]he ongoing Republican primary presents GOP voters with a choice between Trumpism and the vision expressed in [Randy] Barnett's new book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People....Barnett and Trump both share a deep disdain for America's longstanding democratic norms....while Barnett is nowhere near the household name that Donald Trump is, his vision is likely to be a much greater threat to America's democratic norms than the orange-haired presidential contender." -- LT

... Dana Milbank: "Trump, who routinely mocks President Obama and Hillary Clinton for using a teleprompter and who said that presidential candidates 'should not be allowed to use a teleprompter,' used a teleprompter. He carefully read a speech somebody else had written, demonstrated both by his lack of familiarity with the content -- he pronounced Tanzania as 'Tan-ZANY-uh' -- and by its un-Trumpian phrases such as 'the false song of globalism' and 'the clear lens of American interests.'" -- CW ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Donald Trump's 'major foreign policy address' on Wednesday (...) may stand as the most senseless, self-contradicting foreign policy speech by any major party's presidential nominee in modern history." --safari

Their Best Ever? Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Donald Trump has passed Mitt Romney's popular vote total from four years ago and is on a trajectory that could land him more Republican votes than any presidential candidate in modern history -- by a lot.... That presents an uncomfortable reality for anti-Trump forces: they're attempting to thwart the candidate who is likely to win more Republican primary votes than any GOP contender in at least the last 36 years, and maybe ever." --safari

Peter Stone of the Guardian: "For almost four decades, Donald Trump's newly installed senior campaign adviser, Paul Manafort, has managed to juggle two different worlds: well-known during US election season as a shrewd and tough political operative, he also boasts a hefty résumé as a consultant to or lobbyist for controversial foreign leaders and oligarchs with unsavory reputations. But some former US State Department officials familiar with Manafort say his track record as an international adviser may create new headaches for a campaign that has already been criticized for its weak foreign policy credentials." --safari

E.J. Dionne: "On his most glorious night so far, [Donald Trump] again showed Republicans why choosing him would produce an avalanche of Democratic votes from American women -- and from many men who respect women more than Trump seems to.... Trump has yet to kick his habit of reinforcing for all but his most loyal supporters how unsuitable he would be as a nominee." CW: Oh, E.J., how can you say that? ...

... Gail Collins discusses Trump's accusing Hillary Clinton of "playing the woman's card," whatever that is. -- CW ...

... Julie Ioffe has a long profile of Melania Trump in GQ. --

CW:This was Paul Waldman's favorite part:

To the twice-divorced Donald, Melania is terrific. He's never heard her fart or make doodie, as he once told Howard Stern. (Melania has said the key to the success of her marriage is separate bathrooms.) He can trust her to take her birth control every day, he boasted to Stern.... She has the perfect proportions -- five feet eleven, 125 pounds -- and great boobs.... Stern once asked Trump what he would do if Melania were in a terrible car accident, God forbid, and lost the use of her left arm, developed an oozing red splotch near her eye, and mangled her left foot. Would Donald stay with her? 'How do the breasts look?' Trump asked. 'The breasts are okay,' Stern replied. Then, yeah, of course Trump stays. 'Because that's important.' ...

... Adele Stan of the American Prospect can't help note the irony that the Misogynist-in-Chief "could lose the biggest game of his life -- to a woman." -- CW

Frank Rich on the Republican race. -- CW

Senate Races

Charles Pierce: "Tuesday night was a terrific night for two prominent Democratic politicians: the president and Senator Chuck Schumer. In two vital Democratic senatorial primaries, in Pennsylvania and Maryland, their preferred candidates held off what were supposed to be very strong challenges from candidates located various distances to their left." -- CW

Other News & Views

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "The White House on Wednesday said that President Obama would travel to Flint, Mich., next week to hear from residents affected by the water crisis there and get a briefing on federal response efforts." -- CW

CW: I was going to link this big ole feature currently on the front page of today's online NYT, even though it was by that self-important, three-named Andrew Ross Sorkin, but when I read the first self-important line, I stopped: "Two months ago, across an assembly-room table in a factory in Jacksonville, Fla., President Barack Obama was talking to me about the problem of political capital." That really should be Andrew Ross Sorkin III.

Robert Barnes & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed highly skeptical of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell's 2014 corruption conviction for actions he took on behalf of a businessman who provided his family with more than $175,000 in benefits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law used to convict McDonnell might be unconstitutionally vague. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he worried about prosecutors having too much power in deciding when politicians cross the line from political favors to criminal acts, even if it 'will leave some corrupt behavior unprosecuted.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had a surprisingly strong outing at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, as the majority of the court appeared to lean in the direction of overturning the corruption convictions a jury returned against him two years ago." --safari ...

... Dahlia Lithwick: "Two big themes emerge on Wednesday in McDonnell v. United States, the appeal of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell of his felony public corruption conviction. The first is that if lawyers across ideological lines agree that McDonnell was wrongly convicted under a vague and unfair ethics statute, they must be correct.... The other big theme: It seems obvious to the justices that public corruption and ethics rules are adorable, antiquated, and unenforceable because everybody does it." -- CW

Linda Greenhouse discusses the U.S. v. Texas, where "the issue ... is whether the Obama administration has the authority to defer deporting the millions of unauthorized immigrants who are parents of American citizens and of children with permanent resident status.... I now think the case stands or falls on whether the court concludes that DAPA changed the law." -- CW

Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: "J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation's most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago. Mr. Hastert, 74, who made an unlikely rise from beloved small-town wrestling coach in Illinois to speaker of the House in Washington, sat in a wheelchair in a federal courtroom here as a judge announced his fate." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... New Rules for Hastert. Matt Ford in the Atlantic: "Describing the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House as a 'serial child molester,' a federal judge in Chicago sentenced Dennis Hastert to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations as part of a scheme to cover up decades-old sexual abuse. Judge Thomas Durkin also imposed two years' supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and attendance in a sex-offender treatment program." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: Old Hastert Rule: Democracy is only for Republicans. New Hastert Rule: Orange jump suits are for lying pederasts. ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "The events that led to Hastert's election as speaker overlapped with the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. That impeachment centered on Clinton's own sexual misconduct -- albeit legal conduct with an adult.... On Dec. 18, 1998, Hastert -- a month away from taking the gavel as speaker -- rose to address the topic.... Hastert's reference to his 'conscience' and scolding remarks about abuse of the public trust..., knowing that Hastert had in his past ignored his conscience to abuse trust in a more significant way, the speech is jarring in its hypocrisy." -- CW

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Alexandra Stevenson & Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times: "It is a time of turbulence for the hedge fund industry, where some of the biggest names have reported double-digit losses.... That so many hedge funds remained bullish on Valeant [Pharmaceuticals] despite months of turmoil -- as questions were raised repeatedly about its accounting practices -- reflects the difficulty managers sometimes have with changing course." CW: Don't worry, folks. I'm sure they mostly just lost other people's money.

Lauren Fox of Talking Points Memo: "OOPS! GOP Rep's Gotcha Amendment On Drafting Women Actually Passed. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is deeply opposed to women in combat so he introduced an amendment requiring women [to] register for the draft. Unfortunately for Hunter, a lot of Members on the [House Armed Services Committee] thought requiring women to sign up for the draft was a pretty good step forward on the equality front." --LT

Beyond the Beltway

Noah Remnick of the New York Times: "Despite decades of fervent student protests that reached a peak last fall, the president of Yale announced on Wednesday that the university would keep the name of a residential college honoring the 19th-century politician and white supremacist John C. Calhoun. The president, Peter Salovey, also said the university would name its two new residential colleges for Anna Pauline Murray and Benjamin Franklin. The selection of Ms. Murray, a legal scholar and civil rights activist who graduated from Yale Law School in 1965, represents the first time the school has honored either an African-American or a woman with the naming of a college." -- CW ...

... Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Alabama is currently celebrating Confederate Heritage Month.... This week..., Alabama's Secretary of State John Merrill lamented recent calls to remove Confederate symbols from government buildings. 'The next question that has to be asked is so what's the next thing you are going to do,' he asked, 'are you going to take a bulldozer to the monument and forget what people fought for to preserve a way of life that makes us special and unique?'" -- CW

Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Robert Durst, the one-time fugitive New York real estate heir who faces a murder charge in California, was sentenced Wednesday in New Orleans to seven years and one month in prison under a plea deal on a firearms charge." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

Juan Cole splashes some very cold water on Saudi Arabia's recently announced economic transition. "So it seems to me that the Vision for 2030 is mostly smoke and mirrors. It has been a great party since the 1940s; it is going to be a hell of a hangover." --safari

News Ledes

NBC News: "The county sheriff investigating the death of Prince is asking for help from the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal law enforcement officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The officials say prescription painkillers were found in his possession when he died and in his house in Minneapolis, though officials have yet to say what role, if any, those medications may have played in his death."

Washington Post: "Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo destroyed a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders, the aid group said Thursday, killing at least 14 patients and staff in the latest attacks that have all but unraveled a cease-fire accord." -- CW

Tuesday
Apr262016

The Commentariat -- April 27, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Ted Cruz will announce Wednesday that Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential nominee if he's the Republican Party's pick for president, according to two sources with knowledge of the announcement." -- CW ...

... "That Face!" Nick Gass of Politico: "Picking Carly Fiorina to be his running mate would be a bad choice on the part of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump opined Wednesday, remarking that the former Republican presidential candidate 'did not resonate' and that it would further hurt the Texas senator's case." -- CW

Nick Gass: "Donald Trump laid out his broad vision for what American foreign policy would look like with him in the White House, vowing to chart a different course than the post-Cold War order that has 'lacked a coherent policy.' Trump's speech on Wednesday offered little in the way of policy details, instead riffing on a series of his past comments about temporarily banning Muslim refugees, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State and make allies pay their fair share. He also rebuked President Barack Obama and laced into Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly becoming the target of his barbs as he starts to focus on the general election." -- CW

Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: "J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation's most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago. Mr. Hastert, 74, who made an unlikely rise from beloved small-town wrestling coach in Illinois to speaker of the House in Washington, sat in a wheelchair in a federal courtroom here as a judge announced his fate." -- CW ...

New Rules for Hastert. Matt Ford in the Atlantic: "Describing the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House as a 'serial child molester,' a federal judge in Chicago sentenced Dennis Hastert to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations as part of a scheme to cover up decades-old sexual abuse. Judge Thomas Durkin also imposed two years' supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and attendance in a sex-offender treatment program." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Old Hastert Rule: Democracy is only for Republicans. New Hastert Rule: Orange jump suits are for lying pederasts.

Robert Barnes & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed highly skeptical of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell's 2014 corruption conviction for actions he took on behalf of a businessman who provided his family with more than $175,000 in benefits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law used to convict McDonnell might be unconstitutionally vague. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he worried about prosecutors having too much power in deciding when politicians cross the line from political favors to criminal acts, even if it 'will leave some corrupt behavior unprosecuted.'" -- CW

Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Robert Durst, the one-time fugitive New York real estate heir who faces a murder charge in California, was sentenced Wednesday in New Orleans to seven years and one month in prison under a plea deal on a firearms charge." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Feelin' the Heroicism of the Bern. Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed Tuesday night to go all the way to the Democratic National Convention this summer despite losing four of five contests in the April 26 primaries. But he signaled that his focus would shift from winning the nomination -- an all-but-impossible task given Hillary Clinton's nearly insurmountable delegate lead -- to influencing the platform of the Democratic Party. In a statement issued after Clinton sealed wins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania while losing Rhode Island, Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victories and said he looked forward to 'issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come.'" -- CW

Jose DelReal & Dan Gearan of the Washington Post: "While celebrating sweeping victories in five primaries Tuesday night, Donald Trump mocked the qualifications of ... Hillary Clinton and suggested she was playing 'the women's card' to her advantage in the presidential race. 'Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the women's card,' Trump said during a press conference at Trump Tower. 'And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her.' New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's wife, Mary Pat, who was standing behind Trump, appeared to react negatively as he made the comments." CW: I dunno; Mary Pat looks as happy as her husband. Looking forward to a sexist general election.

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "But among women, Clinton is still much more popular than Trump." -- CW ...

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: No, Donald, it won't be "easy" to "beat Hillary." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "If there is one thing that should alarm Republicans the most, it's that Trump has already 'pivoted,' to use the well-worn cliche -- that is, from trying to appear restrained and presidential (as his aides suggested he was doing) to renewing his determination to do everything possible to alienate female voters in the showdown against Clinton." CW: Well, at least that's the Real Donald Trump. ...

Real Donald Trump Identity Crisis. Tara Golshan of Vox: Donald "Trump ... fielded multiple questions Tuesday on how he will act after winning the Republican nomination. First he said he would never change.... Then he said change is good and necessary for leading the country." But for sure, for sure, he's going to make America great again, says He, Whoever He Is. -- CW

Primary Results

Patrick Healy & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump crushed his Republican opponents in Pennsylvania, Maryland and three other states on Tuesday, a sweep that put him considerably closer to capturing the party's presidential nomination outright, while Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware and was battling to amass enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination as early as mid-May. Though Mr. Trump was widely expected to dominate the primaries, his margins of victory represented a breakthrough: He received 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote in some states, after months of winning many primaries with less than a majority." -- CW

The New York Times liveblog is here. Occasionally humorous.

Democrats:

Connecticut: With 71 percent of the vote counted, the state is too close to call. Hillary Clinton has 50 percent of the vote, Bernie Sanders 49 percent. With 85 percent counted, the AP has called the state for Clinton; current count: Clinton 51 percent, Sanders 47.

Delaware: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Clinton won with 60 percent of the vote. Sanders received 39 percent.


Maryland
: With 46 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is prevailing with 63 percent of the vote. Sanders has 33 percent.


Pennsylvania
: With 65 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is winning with 56 percent of precincts reporting. Sanders has 43 percent.

Rhode Island: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Sanders won with 55 percent of the vote. Clinton garnered 43 percent.


Republicans:

I consider myself the presumptive nominee. -- Donald Trump

Connecticut: Donald Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 62 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 59 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 27 percent & Ted Cruz with 12.

Delaware: Allow me to repeat myself: Trump won by a wide majority. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 61 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 20 percent & Cruz with 16.

Maryland: Ditto. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 37 percent of the vote counted, the AP has called the race for Trump, who now has with 56 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 22 percent & Cruz with 19.

Pennsylvania: Ted's on top. Of the losers, that is. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 68 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 58 percent of the vote, followed by Cruz with 22 percent & Kasich with 18.

Rhode Island: What I said. Trump won by a wide majority. With 97 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 64 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 24 percent & Cruz with 10.


And You Thought Bernie Bros were Bad? Neetzan Zimmerman
of the Hill: "Multiple Facebook pages supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were abruptly removed from the social media network late [Monday] night following a cyberattack. The pro-Sanders pages ... were collectively followed by over a quarter-million supporters of the Vermont senator, and many had been operating continuously since Sanders launched his campaign last year.... According to eyewitness reports, the pages were flooded with pornographic images in what appeared to be coordinated fashion and then flagged for obscene content, prompting Facebook to remove them.... At least one Facebook user linked to the pro-Hillary Clinton group Bros 4 Hillary was reported to have participated in the attacks.... The attack began around 9 p.m. EDT and lasted until just after midnight, when most of the pages recovered their accounts." CW: Good thing the pseudo-hackers didn't load Clinton's e-mail account with porn. ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "The attack came days after a Hillary Clinton super-pac announced that it had spent $1 million on a digital task force called Barrier Breakers 2016, a group of elite Twitter users who plan to fight the patriarchy by spamming 'BernieBros' with pro-Clinton memes." But maybe Trump/Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone was behind the attack! Or a plain ole bug. CW: Add your conspiracy theory below.

Jayne Mayer of the New Yorker: No, the Koch brothers are not going to support Hillary Clinton. -- CW

Anh Do & Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times: "Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump clashed at Anaheim City Hall on Tuesday as the City Council considers a resolution denouncing the GOP presidential candidate. The skirmish started outside before the meeting, when witnesses said both sides were screaming obscenities at each other. At some point, protesters on either side fired pepper spray at each other, and an ambulance arrived to provide care for two young girls as well as a woman who were hit by pepper spray." No word on the vote results. -- CW

Conor Skelding of Politico: "A state judge said she won't grant summary judgment to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office as it pursues its fraud case against Donald Trump. Both sides quickly claimed victory: Trump's lawyer said a trial in front of a jury would work in his favor, while Schneiderman subsequently issued a statement indicating that his office would call on Trump to testify, saying that the businessman would be an 'essential witness.'" -- CW

"Trump's Biggest Con." When Whining Pays. Ed Kilgore: "... Donald Trump's campaign has relied on a lot of small 'cons' -- transparently cynical efforts to exploit a lack of public knowledge about the details of issues, compounded by mistrust of Establishment fact-checkers and naysayers.... Still, Trump's most important con is his biggest and best: the claim that anything that stands between him and the presidential nomination is itself a con job and the product of a 'rigged system.' And the con has boosted his standing as the final primaries approach, while giving him an excellent backup plan if he falls short of the 1,237 bound delegates needed to guarantee him the nomination. What makes Trump's ploy devilishly clever is that he's turning a campaign failure -- the inability to keep up with Ted Cruz in the delegate-selection process that runs parallel to the primaries -- into a grievance and then a strength...." -- CW

... CW: If you missed Andy Kroll's investigative piece on Trump & the military, which LT linked yesterday, take the time to read it today.

Saul Hubbard of the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard: "John Kasich ... isn't featured in Oregon's voters' pamphlet for the May primary election -- an embarrassing blunder for any major campaign. The state said the Kasich campaign failed to submit information by the March 10 deadline. It's up to candidates to get their photos and statements into the pamphlet, which is one of the most cost-effective political advertising tools in the state." The campaigns of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders all managed to get candidates' info into the pamphlet. -- CW

Other Primary Races

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen won a hard-fought Senate primary that exposed racial and gender divisions within the Maryland Democratic Party, defeating Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the nomination. He will compete in November for a rare open Senate seat -- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) is retiring after serving 30 years. African American turnout reached record levels, exceeding 2008 when President Obama first ran and outnumbering white voters, according to exit polls. Yet the candidate who would have been Maryland's first black senator and the second black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate fell short.... Van Hollen ultimately won a third of the black electorate, which, combined with his strength among white, wealthier, older and more-educated voters catapulted him to the lead." -- CW

Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown made a comeback Tuesday night, winning the Democratic primary to replace outgoing Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Brown disappointed national Democrats when he lost the 2014 gubernatorial race in the deeply Democratic state to Republican Larry Hogan, a contest many had expected to be an easy win in an otherwise GOP wave year." -- CW

Bill Turque of the Washington Post: "State Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (Montgomery), outspent 6-to-1 by a wealthy Potomac wine retailer who poured more than $12 million of his own into his candidacy, won Maryland's 8th Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday. Raskin, 53, a constitutional law professor, led with slightly more than one-third of the vote. He ran ahead of David Trone, who became the biggest self-funding House candidate ever." CW: See Patrick's commentary in today's thread.

Jonathan Tamari, et al., of philly.com: "Katie McGinty won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday night, beating Joe Sestak with a late surge fueled by millions of dollars and high profile party support from Washington.... McGinty's win was a victory for the Democratic establishment, whose endorsements and spending elevated a candidate with deep party roots but who had never won an election and lagged in polls until the final stretch. The results set up a matchup with the incumbent Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, in a race with national implications - both parties see it as one of a handful that will decide control of the Senate." -- CW

Chris Brennan of philly.com: "Chaka Fattah, a fixture in Philadelphia politics for three decades, was ousted by State Rep. Dwight Evans from the Second Congressional District seat in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Fattah's fall came 20 days before the start of his federal criminal trial, an impending peril Fattah tried to push off as he campaigned for a 12th term." -- CW

Laura McCrystal of philly.com: "Republican John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro easily won their respective primaries late Tuesday, according to unofficial results. The men are vying to replace Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who chose not to seek reelection as she prepares for a criminal trial this year....Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County board of commissioners, faced attacks for his lack of prosecutorial experience. But he gathered big-name endorsements, from President Obama, Gov. [Tom] Wolf, and U.S. Sen.Bob Casey Jr." -- CW

Other News & Views

Rich, Powerful & Selectively Liberal. Thomas Edsall of the New York Times: "This self-segregation of a privileged fifth of the population is changing the American social order and the American political system, creating a self-perpetuating class at the top, which is ever more difficult to break into." -- CW

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: Supreme Court "justices, in a 6-to-2 decision, said it was unconstitutional to demote a police officer based on the mistaken assumption that he had engaged in political activity." Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the decision. CW: I'll let you guess who the two dissenters were. Let's just say that neither they, nor the lower court, which ruled for the employer, make any sense at all. The decision & dissent are here.

New York Times Editors: "Republicans have admitted that they do better when fewer people vote, and that voter-identification laws and other restrictions are intended to deter Democratic-leaning voters from getting to the polls. That's the reality, and Judge [Thomas] Schroeder ... a George W. Bush appointee ... was wrong to disregard it [in letting stand the North Carolina voter suppression law]. His decision will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which should waste no time in knocking down this latest obstacle so that all North Carolinians can exercise their voting rights in November." -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has dropped from roughly 2,000 a month down to 200 within the past year, according to the Pentagon, which says the waning numbers are further proof of the Islamic State's declining stature. The declining number of fighters is a direct result of strikes that have targeted the terror group's infrastructure, Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, said Tuesday." -- CW

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that religious communities can play a role in achieving foreign policy goals around the world. Invoking religion in an unusually direct manner, Kerry said understanding the importance of faith is essential in diplomacy and working with religious leaders can help solve complex problems in foreign countries." -- CW

... Peter Schroeder of the Hill: House Speaker "Paul Ryan ... is pressing his conference to back legislation providing debt relief for Puerto Rico, but it's not clear the Wisconsin Republican can muster a majority of his members. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sidestepped a question Tuesday on whether a bill would come to the floor only if a majority of Republicans back it.... [CW: That would be the so-called "Hastert rule," & by gum, this is a great time to defer to the legacy of that scumbag.] Conservatives are grumbling about helping the territory rework a massive debt burden built over decades, while rank-and-file members were spooked by outside ads lambasting the package as a 'bailout' for the island. The Center for Individual Freedom is behind the ads and not required to disclose its donors. But many believe hedge funds that stand to gain from not passing the bill are involved in the ads...."

... CW: Thanks, Stephen. Now I have to apologize for completely skipping all of the stories about the "Lemonade," because I erroneously assumed it was just some substance-free pop culture thing. Wrong. So here's one, by Hilton Als of the New Yorker, who places the work in its artistic & cultural context.

Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post: "Just Not Sports videotaped [sportswriters Sarah] Spain and [Julie] DiCaro sitting across from sports fans who were asked to read some of the online messages the women get every day. First of all, these poor guys. They didn't know what they were in for. -- CW ...

Dahlia Lithwick: "Brigham Young University made national headlines this month when it was revealed that female students who reported being raped could be suspended or expelled for violating the school's onerous honor code. The details of the case are infuriating. Whether or not the school is technically in violation of Title IX remains to be seen, but the school is clearly violating the spirit of the law in a way that does untold damage to rape survivors and makes future rapes more likely." -- CW

Capitalism Is Occasionally Awesome. Make Mine Chobani. Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The 2,000 full-time employees of the yogurt company Chobani were handed quite the surprise on Tuesday: an ownership stake that could make some of them millionaires. Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, told workers at the company's plant here in upstate New York that he would be giving them shares worth up to 10 percent of the company when it goes public or is sold. The goal, he said, is to pass along the wealth they have helped build in the decade since the company started. Chobani is now widely considered to be worth several billion dollars.... The number of shares given to each person is based on tenure, so the longer an employee has been at the company, the bigger the stake." P.S. Screw TPG Capital, a private equity firm. -- CW

How Nice. Claire Landsbaum of New York: Valeant Pharmaceutical's ex-CEO Michael Pearson will tell a Senate panel "He’s Really, Really Sorry for Raising the Price of Life-Saving Heart Drugs 700 Percent.... His testimony comes as Valeant is facing multiple investigations into its drug pricing and accounting practices by U.S. prosecutors. The company is also about $30 billion in debt, its stock is down 90 percent, and its earnings releases have been delayed as it struggles to factor in just how much money it lost in 2016." -- CW

Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post: "Apple reported its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003 in what investors worry is the end of a remarkable period of growth that had catapulted the computer maker into the most valuable company in the world. Shares fell sharply, as the Cupertino company said sales of its flagship iPhones dropped for the first time since their debut in 2007. That, more than any other statistic, likely drove the stock down 8 percent in after-hours trading." -- CW

Bundy Agonistes. Maxine Berstein of the Oregonian: "Ammon Bundy's lawyers intend to argue that the federal government doesn't have the authority to prosecute protesters who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that the federal government lacks control of the land." The essence of their argument is that once Oregon became a state, it lost the right to own or control anything in that state, despite a 1935 Supreme Court ruling very much to the contrary. ...

     ... Akhilleus: Bundy's lawyers who seem to have gone to the same school as he did (the one where students make up their own history and law) demanded more time from the judge for Bundy to prepare for his assault on legal issues settled since Bruno Hauptmann was on trial for the Lindbergh baby murder. The judge said fuggedaboutit. Maybe Hauptmann should have had lawyers like Bundy's. They would have told the court it had no right to try him because Constitution, something, something, founders, something, something...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

** "Anger Is a Business." Jeffrey M. Berry & Sarah Sobieraj in Vox: Many news outlets' business models now depend on stoking anger. This exacerbates the political system's polarization and dysfunction.... At the core of the business model is telling the audience that no one in government or politics can be trusted. The subtext, of course, is that you need to tune into outrage networks and programs if you're to hear the truth." -- CW ...

     ... CW P.S.: If you don't like Fox "News" & Rush Limbaugh, you can thank Bill Clinton & Newt Gingrich for their dominance of the airwaves. One of the few Members of Congress to vote against the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which Bill Clinton signed "with great fanfare": Rep. Bernie Sanders. Not surprisingly, "... of all the presidential candidates running in 2016, the Big Media lobby has chosen to back Hillary Clinton."

CW: It's super-great to win a Pulitzer Prize -- just ask Maureen Dowd -- but before you start judging people by the medals on their mantles, read this Gawker post by Brian Burghart on how the Washington Post got its Pultizer "for its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be." Actually, no, it was two tiny news outfits, whose previous data collection the Post used (and has credited in its news stories but not in its Pulitzer application). Also, too, the Guardian's database, which also relied on data from one of the small outlets -- Fatal Encounters -- is more comprehensive than the Post's.

Peter Sterne of Politico: "Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith resigned from the paper on Tuesday, after the paper prevented him from writing about casino owners Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, whose family owns the Review-Journal.... Smith was first told not to write about Adelson on Jan. 28, a person with knowledge of the situation told Politico. That's the same day that Craig Moon was named publisher of the paper and that the R-J eliminated its standing disclosure about Adelson's ownership." -- CW

     ... Here's Las Vegas institution Jon Ralston's take. -- CW

Charles Pierce: "At 6:41 p.m. Monday night, a column appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website. It was written by Jim VandeHei, one of the founding geniuses of Tiger Beat On The Potomac. The column was about how the good real white Americans of the author's hometown in the Midwest are hungering for a third-party presidential disruption, possibly by Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg. It took less than an hour for political Twitter to eat VandeHei's column, bones and all. You rarely see a single piece disemboweled so completely and so immediately, and from so many directions.... And, not for nothing, but the scorn blizzard was richly deserved." ...

     ... CW: My question: does VanderHei now know what a complete ass he is? Almost certain answer: nah. Also too, does presumptive-Politico-party-nominee & boy billionaire Zuckerberg need Bloomberg's money? ...

... Steve Benen: "... VandeHei seems to consider 'Normal America' small, rural towns that are overwhelmingly white. Given that most Americans live in cities, it's unclear why we should perceive urban areas any less 'normal.'... So what 'Normal America' longs for -- and desperately needs -- are billionaires capable of 'disruption' and a willingness to 'exploit the fear factor.'... What's striking is VandeHei's lack of self-awareness. His thesis is warmed over No Labels pabulum peddled by Joe Lieberman in D.C. ballrooms.... While his argument claims to take aim at Establishment America, it ends up reflecting Establishment America's worst instincts. He's not disrupting a stagnant inside-the-Beltway worldview so much as he's reinforcing it."

Way Beyond the Beltway

James McAuley of the Washington Post: "Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, was handed over to French authorities Wednesday, where he is slated to stand trial in the coming months, Belgium's federal prosecutor said." -- CW