The Ledes

Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

Washington Post: "Overwhelmed by thousands of asylum-seekers, Hungarian authorities Tuesday briefly halted rail traffic from their nation’s main train station, the latest blow to borderless movement in Europe.... The asylum-seekers, many of whom are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, hope to make it onward to Germany, which has promised shelter and sustenance for Syrians. By midday in Budapest, the train station had been reopened, but migrants were being kept away, Hungary’s state-owned news agency reported."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, August 31, 2015.

New York Times: "Former Gov. Marvin Mandel, whose record of modernizing Maryland’s state government was overshadowed by a messy divorce and a fraud conviction for helping associates profit from a racetrack deal, died on Sunday in St. Mary’s County, Md. He was 95." While in office, he left his wife for another woman. Of the other woman, whom Mandel married, his first wife Bootsie asked, “How can she be a first lady when she isn’t a lady first?” ...

     ... The Washington Post obituary is here. The Baltimore Sun's obituary is here.

NBC News: "Dr. Wayne Dyer, the self-help guru whose best-seller 'Your Erroneous Zones' was adopted by millions as a guide to better living, has died at 75, his family and publisher said Sunday."

New York Times: "Wes Craven, a master of horror cinema and a proponent of the slasher genre best known for creating the Freddy Krueger and 'Scream' franchises, died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 76."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

New York Times: "Bloomberg News laid off as many as 90 journalists on Tuesday[, Sept. 1,] in its newsrooms in New York, Washington and across the world, part of a plan to refocus the organization’s coverage on business, finance, economics, technology and politics. The rationale for the dismissals was outlined in a lengthy memo to the staff from Bloomberg’s new editor in chief, John Micklethwait."

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

The Commentariat -- Sept. 2, 2015

David Herszenhorn of the New York Times: "President Obama all but clinched victory for his Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, as two Democratic senators threw crucial support behind the landmark accord. The announcements by the senators, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Chris Coons of Delaware, came a week before the Senate was to formally debate a Republican resolution disapproving the agreement between Iran and six world powers. Mr. Obama would veto any such resolution, and with further announcements of support for the accord expected as soon as Wednesday, any move to override him would almost certainly fail. Mr. Coons’s decision in particular is likely to have resonance with the few remaining undecided Democrats."

Peter Eavis & David Jolly of the New York Times: "Stock markets around the world tumbled again on Tuesday, dashing hopes that financial markets would calm down after two weeks of turbulence. Investors appear to be growing more nervous about the strength of the global economy. China released a weak report on manufacturing on Tuesday, and an influential international policy maker sounded a downbeat note on the outlook for Asian economies."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria as part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said. The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said. Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the terrorist group’s effort to use social media to incite attacks in the United States, the officials said." CW: I guess it isn't secret any more.

President Obama near the Exit Glacier, viewed from Kenai Fjords National Park. AP photo via the Guardian.Issi Lapowsky of Wired: "Over the next few days, the President will be posting photos [on Instagram] of his trip to Alaska — photos we’re told he’s taking himself -- where he’ll be meeting with world leaders to discuss the pressing problem of climate change."

Melinda Deslatte of the AP: "The U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge that Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to oust Planned Parenthood from Louisiana's Medicaid program appears to violate federal law by denying Medicaid patients the right to choose their health care providers. In a court filing, the agency said the Jindal administration hasn't offered 'sufficient reasons' to keep Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge from receiving Medicaid payments. Removing Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program 'without providing any justification related to (the organization's) qualifications to provide medical services would violate Louisiana's obligations under the Medicaid statute's "free choice of provider" provision,' the Justice Department wrote." ...

... Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "With the calls to stop funding for Planned Parenthood, a visit to New Orleans and Baton Rouge suggests that it would not be as easy to do without the nonprofit centers as some Republicans and their anti-abortion allies say. Other states would face similar problems. Louisiana is among a number of states counted as medically underserved: It has a large poor and unhealthy population, with high rates of unintended pregnancies, a shortage of health professionals and too few who will accept Medicaid, as Planned Parenthood does."

Lisa Miller of New York on Pope Francis's letter re: absolution for abortions (story linked yesterday): "... what’s breathtaking about this move is that Francis has chosen abortion, of all things, as the issue on which to stake this vision of mercy.... He singled out abortion, which just so happens to be the most divisive culture-war issue of the past half-century — the issue around which the politically powerful religious right coalesced..., the issue that has won and lost innumerable elections and pitted whole American tribes against one another in red-faced screaming battles of 'values.' He is making a bet that his vision of a compassionate church can overcome all of that.... Francis knows that Catholics have hardly been bystanders in this culture war, but active participants — that is another reason his choice of cause is so stunning.... Francis is not changing doctrine. He has not condoned abortion...."

Presidential Race

Shocking New Video Proves Hillary Clinton Is a Hardened Criminal. Dana Milbank: "Conservative activist James O’Keefe, whose undercover videos brought down ACORN and embarrassed National Public Radio, came to Washington Tuesday to unveil evidence of 'illegal activity conducted by high-level employees within Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.' He then rolled tape of ... a Canadian woman attempting to buy a T-shirt and some campaign pins at a Clinton rally. To O’Keefe, this was evidence of foreign contributions being made to Clinton – an 'illegal activity' with a total value of $75." Then it turns out that the Clinton campaign refused to sell the shirt to the supposed foreigner (O'Keefe couldn't verify that the woman actually was Canadian -- [maybe she kept saying "eh"]), so O'Keefe's videographer bought the shirt for her. "Even in the anything-goes world of the Clinton scandal industry, though, O’Keefe’s latest exercise suggests her accusers are running out of ammunition. O’Keefe’s video did show evidence of law-breaking – by his own organization."

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "The organizers of the next Republican presidential debate have announced changes to debate criteria that mean former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will almost certainly join the rest of the top-tier candidates on the main stage at the Reagan Library on Sept. 16. 'CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August,' the network announced. 'Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10 will be included.'"

Meet the Trump Voters. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump's supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he's a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are. Trump's beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That's less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: Donald "Trump invited Javier Palomarez, president of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to his Manhattan office for a meeting to clear the air. Each were joined by two staff members for a 90-minute meeting that Mr. Palomarez described as surprisingly cordial and productive."

Ed O'Keefe & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Jeb Bush went on the offensive Tuesday against GOP presidential front-runner and frequent antagonist Donald Trump, releasing an attack video portraying the mogul as a closet liberal and signaling that he will attempt to bring Trump down in coming weeks.... Allies of the former Florida governor insist that he had no choice but to adopt a more aggressive posture, elevating his feud with Trump to the marquee contest in the GOP primary contest." ...

... NIce work, Jeb! Your vid makes Trump look pretty good:

Maybe you should have asked Jimmy Kimmel to help you out:

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... while almost all Republicans were upstaged by the bombast of Donald J. Trump in recent months, [Ben] Carson, a retired neurosurgeon whose low-key personality and celebrated medical career are the antithesis of a politician’s usual path, gained ground as few seemed to notice."

Andy Borowitz: "Saying that 'things just didn’t work out,' the billionaire Koch brothers have decided to put Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker up for sale. The Kochs, who earlier had purchased Gov. Walker with great fanfare, announced their plan to sell the politician in a terse statement from Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita." Borotwitz gives no hints of the Koch's next investment. ...

... Joshua Green of Bloomberg: "... standard-issue Republican candidates such as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who have tried to emulate Trump, typically fail and will always fail" because if they were honest & forthcoming, "it upsets the patrons and supporters they depend on for their livelihood (this is another Trump straight-talk point)." ...

... CW: There's the Koch-22: GOP candidates must be devious & evasive to please the Kochs, but to win public support, they must say things that would displease the Kochs. This works out okay if all the candidates follow a phony, evasive party script (think 2012). But an outsider candidacy like Trump's breaks the official GOP liars' code. Remember Mitt's saying that one only talks about wealth inequality "in quiet rooms." What he meant was that he & his billionaire friends might discuss these matters among themselves, but publicly politicians should talk only about realizing the American dream through hard work, innovation, freeedom, blah-blah. ...

... Walker Rule 1(f): When You Say Something Monumentally Stupid (and we're talking 5,500-mile Monument Stupid here), Pretend It Was "Just a Joke." Tierney Sneed of TPM: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Tuesday that things had 'run amok' with reports that he was open to building a wall on the U.S.' northern border and that all the talk was 'just a joke.'"... He said Sunday that building a wall was a 'legitimate issue' to be considered." CW: Every word Walker utters is a lie, including "and" and "the." (Thank you, Mary McCarthy.)

Rick Perry's Iowa staff is down to one paid worker. Don't worry, Iowa pols. Bernie's hiring. ...

... CW: Let's hope the DOJ arrests Bobby Jindal for breaking federal law in his anti-Planned Parenthood pander (story linked above). Otherwise, if Perry leaves the race, there won't be a single GOP candidate left who's currently under indictment. ...

... FINALLY, there's always room for Mitt. Via Paul Waldman.

Beyond the Beltway

Ian Lovett of the New York Times: "California has agreed to an overhaul of its use of solitary confinement in its prisons, including strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates, as part of a landmark legal settlement filed in federal court on Tuesday. The settlement is expected to sharply reduce the number of inmates held in the state’s isolation units, where inmates are often kept alone for more than 22 hours a day inside cells that sometimes have no windows, and cap the length of time prisoners can spend there."

And if [a wife] divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery. -- Jesus, according to the Gospel of Mark 10:12

Marriage is between a woman and a man; and a woman and another man; and a woman and still another man; and a woman and yet another man. But if a man shall lie down with another man and shall marry that man, or if a woman shall lie down with another woman and marry that woman, the whole fornicating lot of them will go straight to burning hell, so sayeth the Lord. -- Jesus's friend Kim, according to the Gospel of Kim 1:1-6 ...

... Welcome to Kentucky! Steven Nelson of US News: "The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times, raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life. The marriages are documented in court records obtained by U.S. News, which show that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis divorced three times, first in 1994, then 2006 and again in 2008. She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. Davis worked at the clerk's office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried." Emphasis added because I couldn't help it. ...

... Clare Galofalo of TPM: "U.S. District Judge David Bunning moved swiftly Tuesday after a lesbian couple asked him to find Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt.... A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday...."

CBS Chicago: "A manhunt is underway in far north [Chicago] suburban Fox Lake, after a police officer was shot and killed while chasing three suspects on foot.... At a late-morning news conference, Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Chris Covelli said, around 7:50 a.m., the officer radioed he was pursuing three suspects, after looking into their 'suspicious activity.'... Shortly after the news conference, Covelli confirmed that the officer died. The officer was identified as Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a 32-year police veteran.... Covelli said police were conducting a ground and air search for three suspects — two white males and a black male."

AP: "Police officers who arrived at the wrong metro Atlanta home after a report of suspicious activity shot the man who lives there, killed his dog and 'likely' shot a fellow officer, leaving him seriously wounded, authorities said Tuesday."

AP: "A white ex-police chief agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to misconduct in office in the shooting death of an unarmed black man, a far lesser offense than the murder charge that ended in two mistrials. Prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charge against 38-year-old Richard Combs, who is the former police chief of the small town of Eutawville[, South Carolina].... Authorities say Combs shot Walter Bailey in May 2011 as he tried to arrest him on an obstruction of justice charge weeks after he argued about his daughter’s traffic ticket.... When Bailey came to talk to the police chief at Eutawville town hall about the traffic ticket, Combs was not threatened and could have stepped away, but fired his weapon anyway, hitting Bailey three times, prosecutors said."

Way Beyond

Griff Witte & Karla Adam of the Washington Post: "Just 216 Syrian refugees have qualified for the [British] government’s official relocation program, according to data released last week. (Tube trains seat about 300.) British Prime Minister David Cameron has reassured his anxious public that the total number won’t rise above 1,000. As Germany prepares for an expected onslaught of 800,000 asylum applications just this year, the contrast between the two biggest powers in Europe couldn’t be sharper. On a continent that is supposed to be bound together by a common set of rules and values, the impact of this summer’s migrant crisis is being felt disproportionately by a handful of countries while others, such as Britain, have resisted efforts to more equitably share the burden. Britain’s approach helps explain why efforts to forge a unified European asylum policy have failed, and it could become a major obstacle to agreement when top officials gather for an emergency meeting later this month."

Monday
Aug312015

The Commentariat -- Sept. 1, 2015

Breaking! (Okay, it was breaking at 8:36 this morning, but it's still important. Andy Borowitz: "Saying that 'things just didn’t work out,' the billionaire Koch brothers have decided to put Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker up for sale. The Kochs, who earlier had purchased Gov. Walker with great fanfare, announced their plan to sell the politician in a terse statement from Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita." Borotwitz gives no hints of the Koch's next investment.

Ian Lovett of the New York Times: "California has agreed to an overhaul of its use of solitary confinement in its prisons, including strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates, as part of a landmark legal settlement filed in federal court on Tuesday. The settlement is expected to sharply reduce the number of inmates held in the state’s isolation units, where inmates are often kept alone for more than 22 hours a day inside cells that sometimes have no windows, and cap the length of time prisoners can spend there."

*****

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic." ...

... Julie Davis & Steven Myers of the New York Times: "President Obama on Monday issued a global call for urgent action to address climate change, declaring that the United States was partly to blame for what he called the defining challenge of the century and would rally the world to counter it.... The president spoke at the beginning of a three-day Alaska trip choreographed to lend vivid visual justification — in the form of receding glaciers, eroded shorelines and rising seas — to his drive for an international accord to reduce heat-trapping emissions leading up to a United Nations summit meeting in Paris in December.... He offered scathing criticism of those who question the need for such measures or deny the science behind them, making an implicit dig at Republican presidential candidates. 'Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone,' Mr. Obama said. 'They’re on their own shrinking island'”:

... Dana Milbank: President "Obama went to the very top this weekend – to 20,320 feet to be exact – and stripped North America’s highest peak of its official name of the last century, Mt. McKinley, returning it to what Alaskans had called it for centuries: Denali, or Great One. Obama’s opponents immediately condemned him for acting like a dictator, taking unconstitutional action, overstepping his authority, engaging in a partisan stunt and, of course, exhibiting racial animus.... Obama is perfectly within his authority to make the change. If his opponents are really outraged, they can overrule him in Congress or they can elect a president who will change the name back. The problem with both of these is that Alaska, run by Republicans, want the name to be Denali and have been trying to make the change for decades.... There’s also the small matter of conservatives claiming to support local control...; in this case, they’re demanding the federal government to continue to overrule a state’s wishes." ...

I’m not certain he [Obama] has the authority to have done what he did [rename Mount McKinley]; the designation was granted by law of Congress in 1917.* In a more jocular way, the guy ought to be more gracious to the guy who made it possible for him to be President. [Hawaii, Obama’s home state, was annexed under McKinley’s presidency.] -- Karl Rove, who says he just wrote a book about McKinley

A 1947 law gives the secretary [of the Interor] the authority to change names on her own when the board does not act in a reasonable time. -- Gregory Korte of USA Today

... Timothy Cama of the Hill: "Donald Trump promised Monday that he would return the name of North America’s largest mountain to Mount McKinley, undoing President Obama’s decision to call it Denali. [Trump called] Obama’s act a 'great insult to Ohio.'... [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich had tweeted his opposition earlier in the day, saying Obama had overstepped the limits of his authority."

Kimberly Hefling of Politico: "Columbia University President Lee Bollinger caused a stir Monday by reportedly announcing that President Barack Obama will be coming to the New York-based campus in 2017. The Columbia Daily Spectator student newspaper reported that Bollinger made the announcement at convocation.... The university late on Monday clarified that Bollinger was not making a big reveal. 'Lee Bollinger’s comment at Convocation today that he was looking forward to welcoming back Columbia’s most famous alumnus only reiterated the May 12 statement by the Barack Obama Foundation that it 'intends to maintain a presence at Columbia University...' and reflected no further developments concerning President Obama’s plans. White House deputy press secretary Jen Friedman ... [said] in a statement, "The President has long talked about his respect for Columbia University and his desire to continue working with them. However, at this point no decisions have been finalized about his post-Presidency plans.'"

AP: "President Barack Obama said people who attack Jews who support the Iran nuclear deal are like African-Americans who differ with him on policy and then conclude he's 'not black enough.' Obama, in an interview with the Jewish newspaper 'Forward,' was asked whether it hurt him personally when people say he's anti-Semitic." Here's the transcript of the full interview.

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Members of the Black Lives Matter movement have disavowed all political parties after the Democratic establishment adopted a resolution in support of the movement, which has interrupted the party’s frontrunners at several campaign events in recent months. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) unanimously adopted a resolution in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday afternoon during a summer meeting in Minneapolis." ...

... ** Charles Pierce: "There is no greater mystery in politics right now than the continued employment of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.... I'm damned if I can see what she's accomplished as a national chairperson.... If, as it appears, as national chairman of the president's party, she actively campaigned against a measure designed to show the support of the president's party for a monumentally important White House policy initiative, then she should have been fired from that post yesterday."

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: Last week, on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Glenn Beck held an "All Lives Matter" rally in Birmingham, Alabama. Twenty thousand people showed up, but the media largely ignored it.

Schoolhouse Rock, Tea Party-Style. Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic: "U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon's [RTP] Friday civics lesson to second- and third-graders at a Gilbert charter school took a dark turn, veering into nuclear warfare and suicide bombers. Some parents complained it left the children frightened and confused. Salmon's office said the congressman's remarks weren't any more shocking than the local news.... 'It should have probably just been a good civics lesson for kids who initially were excited to meet their congressman,' parent Scott Campbell told [KPHO-TV]. But when Salmon brought up the United States' negotiations with Iran, Campbell said the congressman asked, "'Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?"'" CW: Baggers are not just crazy; they're scary-crazy. Keep out of reach of children.

Dick Cheney Still a Dick. David of Crooks & Liars: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney embraced his Darth Vader persona in a recent interview with CBS, arguing that politicians with 'warmth and friendliness and so forth' could not protect the country." Also said waterboarding works & the Iraq War was "the right thing to do." ...

... ** Jonathan Chait: "The overarching theme of Cheney’s op-ed [in the Wall Street Journal] is that world peace has been maintained because presidents of both parties, from Harry Truman through the guy who was president before Barack Obama, believed in American goodness and strength. Now it has all been ruined by Barack Obama.... Measured by results, rather than sound bites, Cheney was the greatest thing that happened to the radical regime in Iran since it took power.... Why were sanctions [against Iran] so weak under Bush, and so much stronger under Obama? Because the Obama administration used the promise of negotiations to build strong support for sanctions.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow a county clerk in Kentucky who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds to continue to deny marriage licenses to all couples, gay or straight." ...

     ... So What? Chas Danner of New York: "Today, that same woman, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, remains defiant, citing 'God’s authority' over any other, according to the Associated Press. When her office opened this morning, Davis once again refused to issue marriage licenses to two same-sex couples, and when one couple who had been denied a license for the fifth time objected, she asked them to leave her office."

Robert Barnes & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell will avoid prison while the Supreme Court decides whether to review his conviction on corruption charges, the justices decided Monday. The one-paragraph order was a dramatic — perhaps unprecedented — reprieve for the Republican former governor, who lost a lower-court appeal and who would have had to begin serving a two-year prison sentence without the Supreme Court’s intervention. As is customary in granting a stay, the court did not explain its reasoning; none of the justices signaled disagreement."

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope. Adam Liptak: "Employers do not need to provide insurance coverage for contraception even if their objections are moral rather than religious..., Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ... ruled on Monday. The case concerned a group called March for Life, which was formed after the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. The group, Monday’s decision said, 'is a nonprofit, nonreligious pro-life organization.'... The government is likely to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.” ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Judge Richard Leon is a George W. Bush appointee with a history of handing down conservative opinions. His opinion in March for Life v. Burwell is no exception.... Leon’s reasoning on this issue is, frankly, hard to follow.... In essence, however, Leon appears to object to the government’s decision to exempt churches and other inherently religious organizations from the birth control rules without also extending this exemption to secular employers because such a rule discriminates against secular employers. The problem with this argument is that the Supreme Court has explicitly held that when the government 'acts with the proper purpose of lifting a regulation that burdens the exercise of religion' there is 'no reason to require that the exemption come packaged with benefits to secular entities.'”

Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the midst of spending $1 billion to raise employees’ wages and give them extra training, has been cutting the number of hours some of them work in a bid to keep costs in check. Regional executives told store managers at the retailer’s annual holiday planning meeting this month to rein in expenses by cutting worker hours they’ve added beyond those allocated to them based on sales projections." ...

... The New York Times Editors point to some other ways retailers manipulate schedules to shaft workers. CW: But by highlighting these unfair practices, aren't the editors destroying capitalism & jobs & all that is good?

Monica Davey & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines.... Rivalries among organized street gangs, often over drug turf, and the availability of guns are cited as major factors in some cities, including Chicago. But more commonly, many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes."

Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian (August 29): "An assistant professor in the law department of the US military academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a 'treasonous' fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants. In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten 'Islamic holy sites' as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, 'even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage'.” His paper "appeared in the most recent issue of the National Security Law Journal, a student-run publication at the George Mason School of Law.... The National Security Law Journal’s editor-in-chief has called the article’s publication a 'mistake' and an 'egregious breach of professional decorum'.” Bradford's academic creds are fake & his career checkered. CW: Congrats on a great hire, West Point. ...

     ... Via Charles Pierce: "This is just the kind of guy you want teaching young people who one day may be commanding heavy weapons platoons."

Best Year to Confess to Abortion: 2016. Sarah Bailey & Michael Boorstein of the Washington Post: "In a letter, Pope Francis said he would allow all priests to formally forgive women who have had abortions and seek absolution during the Roman Catholic Church’s upcoming Holy Year."

Presidential Race

** Anne Tompkins in a USA Today op-ed: "Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently compared the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of State with former CIA director David Petraeus’ federal conviction for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. As the former U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, I oversaw the prosecution of Gen. Petraeus, and I can say, based on the known facts, this comparison has no merit. The key element that distinguishes Secretary Clinton’s email retention practices from Petraeus’ sharing of classified information is that Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct, and that was the basis of his criminal liability." Read the whole essay. ...

... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "The State Department released another tranche of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server late Monday. The release – which contained 7,000 pages of emails sent and received from 2009-2010, about topics ranging from Middle East policy to a controversial Rolling Stone cover story about American general Stanley McChrystal – is the latest monthly instalment of messages that Clinton turned over to the State Department from her private 'homebrew' server." ...

... Peter Baker & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "The [State] department initially said it had redacted information from roughly 150 emails because they contained sensitive information, then reduced that estimate to 125.The information was deleted because 'confidential' materials — the lowest classification of government intelligence — had been discovered in the correspondence. None of the documents were [sic!] marked classified at the time they were sent, said Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department. ...

... Shock! David Brooks is largely correct about Hillary Clinton. CW: I'd add this: when people vote for president, they take it personally. They're voting for their own futures as much as for the nations'. Hillary nearly won the Democratic primary in 2008 because her very candidacy suggested a hope for a country which more fully embraced women's equality. Supporters were passionate about Hillary because she was a woman, not because she was Hillary Clinton. That moment has passed. Her near-win showed Americans that on the Democratic side gender equality was a given. Hillary's agenda, as far as she has articulated, is fine with many Democrats & independents. A "fine" agenda is okay for candidates for lower offices. For president, it is not enough.

Bern-Storming. Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: Bernie Sanders has expanded his campaign staff in Iowa & elsewhere. The Iowa organization "now has 53 people on staff, with a 'robust hiring plan' made possible by Mr. Sanders’s fund-raising success with small donors, according to his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. This past weekend alone, he said, the campaign’s 1,700 volunteers marched out of 15 campaign offices throughout the state to knock on 17,000 doors and make 10,000 phone calls. They call it Bern-Storming."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "For years, Republicans have run for office on promises of cutting taxes and bolstering business to stimulate economic growth, pledging allegiance to a Reaganesque model of conservatism that has largely become the party’s orthodoxy. But this election cycle..., [Donald Trump] is taking a different approach, and it is jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.... In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has suggested he would increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States." ...

... Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "Critics, including many leading conservative economists in Washington, call Trump’s plans 'nativist,' 'protectionist' and incompatible with the party’s core pro-market beliefs. They also worry Trump’s ideas could spread to other GOP contenders." Tankerley cites a number of winger economists who are all upset that Trump isn't sticking to the party line on "free-market" economics & exploiting cheap labor in other countries.

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied for the lead of Republican presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Monday. The survey found Trump and Carson taking 23 percent support each.... Former business executive Carly Fiorina is in third place in the poll with 10 percent support, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 9 percent support." CW: So the top three candidates are not politicians, & the fourth is an anti-Washington loudmouth. Iowa Republicans really don't like professional pols.

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump released a chilling video Monday attacking opponent Jeb Bush for once suggesting that undocumented immigrants entered the United States as 'an act of love.'... Trump posted [the video] to Instagram and Twitter...":

... The Wimpiness of the Doofus. Jonathan Chait: "The ad juxtaposes Bush with images of undocumented immigrants who committed murder.... Bush hits back at Trump by calling him … liberal.... So the only response to this kind of crude, dishonest nativism is to get to your opponent’s right?"

Gene Robinson makes fun of Scott Canadian Wall, Chris Fedex Bobby Invasion, not to mention Donald Deportation. "... as long as other candidates are competing to sound tougher-than-thou, as long as the conversation is about how high to build new walls and blame is ascribed to immigrants for not assimilating quickly enough, the GOP is digging itself a hole that will be hard to escape." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney is not amused by the Walker Wall. Scottie, as he always does, is trying to backpedal, this time blaming unnamed "people" in "law enforcement" for "expressed" "security concerns." ...

... Dana Liebelson of the Huffington Post: "Canada responded on Monday to GOP presidential contender Scott Walker's controversial comments about building a northern border wall by pointing out that the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks had U.S. visas." ...

... CW: By his own account, Scottie has been to Canada "a million times." Earlier this year, he went on a taxpayer-funded jaunt trade mission to Quebec, where he says he'd never been before. Maybe the Frenchiness of Quebec made him suddenly realize that the Canada he thought he knew so well was actually a dangerous foreign country full of radical sovereignists. At the same time, if your aim is to drum up Canadian business for your state, building a wall between Canada & said state would seem a bit counterproductive.

Your government might have grown too large if they have 48 federal SWAT teams. The Department of Education has a SWAT team. They arrested a man and handcuffed him for six hours for nonpayment of student debt. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his student debt. Turns out it was his girlfriend’s student debt. The Department of Agriculture has a SWAT team. You know what they arrested somebody for not too long ago? Selling milk directly from the cow. We’ve gone crazy. — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), speech in Alaska, Aug. 25, 2015

Paul’s description of federal agencies with law enforcement officers, the DOE case and the raw milk cases was inaccurate on almost all fronts. The federal government does not have 48 SWAT teams; it has one, with the FBI. There are dozens of agencies with specialized forces, or armed agents to carry out the agency’s criminal enforcement — which is not the same thing as a SWAT team. The DOE case he described was debunked after the original local report.... His second story also is inaccurate. The FDA (which he called USDA) does not have a SWAT team. The two sellers prosecuted in the case were not just penalized for selling unpasteurized milk.... The California store owner did not obtain proper licenses, and the Pennsylvania farmer was prosecuted for interstate commerce, which is illegal. -- Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

Everything Is Obama's Fault, Ctd. Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested President Obama bore some of the blame for Friday’s fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston, Texas. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Cruz ... said. "And I do think we’re seeing the manifestation of the rhetoric and vilification of law enforcement, of police, that is coming from the president of the United States and it’s coming from senior officials.'... Local authorities, including Harris County Sherriff Ron Hickman, believe [Darren] Goforth 'was a target because he wore a uniform.' Cruz suggested President Obama’s condemnation of the fatal shootings of unarmed black teenagers in cities including Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland helped to inflame anti-cop sentiment.” ...

... Ed Kilgore: "There you have it: express concern about the police shooting black people without cause and you are inciting cop-killers. Yet in the same breath Cruz accuses of Obama of inflaming 'racial divisions.'”

Beyond the Beltway

Guardian: "A federal appeals court considering whether California’s death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays focused on Monday mainly on procedural issues over whether a killer’s novel legal theory had been addressed by the state supreme court. In the case of a Los Angeles rapist and murderer on death row for more than two decades, three judges on the ninth US circuit court of appeals wanted to know if all appeals were exhausted in state court before a federal judge ruled last year that the death penalty was dysfunctional because of unpredictable delays that have seldom led to executions."

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "The man charged with killing a sheriff’s deputy at a suburban gas station Friday emptied his 15-round handgun into the back and the back of the head of the deputy, as witnesses watched in horror and surveillance cameras captured the shooting, prosecutors said Monday. The man, Shannon Jaruay Miles, 30, walked into a courtroom crowded with sheriff’s deputies and police officers for his first court appearance [in Houston, Texas,] Monday morning...." ...

... Guardian: "The man accused of shooting and killing a suburban Houston officer has a history of mental illness and once lived in a homeless shelter, authorities said on Monday." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Over the past several weeks, a number of police officers in a number of places have been killed. Goforth's murder, however, coming on the heels of the slaughter of the Virginia news crew last week, has assumed a very large place in the national spotlight and, as such, is being used as a rally point for the unmistakable beginnings of a national backlash. It began with the very first press conference in the aftermath of Goforth's murder.​" ...

... CBS/AP: "After a white Houston sheriff's deputy was ambushed and fatally shot by a black man at a gas station, the sheriff linked the killing to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police, citing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement.... 'We've heard Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Well, cops' lives matter, too,' [Harris County Sheriff Ron] Hickman said Saturday." ...

... CW: Can a mentally-ill, serially-criminal black person murder a white cop in cold blood (with a gun he should not be allowed to own) -- and not be part of a political movement? Although Texas does not require prosecutors to show motive to prove their case, local law enforcement officials are working mighty hard to discover Miles' motive. ...

... CW: Well, this doesn't help. Nicole Norfleet of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The president of the St. Paul police union has sharply criticized some protesters at Saturday’s Black Lives Matter march to the Minnesota State Fair for what he calls a 'disgusting' chant.... Some demonstrators shouted chants criticizing police as they were being escorted by officers who cleared the way for the demonstration, said David Titus, head of the St. Paul Police Federation.... A short video posted on Twitter shows that at one point in the march, at least several protesters were at the front carrying a banner and shouting, 'Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!' as the camera pans to show police on bikes, squad cars and a utility vehicle. 'Quite simply — that promotes death to cops,' Titus said in a statement posted on the union’s Facebook page." ...

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "During a segment on the Black Lives Matter movement on Monday morning, 'Fox and Friends' host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested that the organization be labeled a hate group. Fox brought on conservative African-American writer Kevin Jackson to discuss the Saturday Black Lives Matter protest at the Minnesota State Fair and the Friday shooting of a Texas sheriff's deputy.... 'Well they should do it, but unfortunately it’s being financed by the leftists,' Jackson said in response."

Ciara McCarthy of the Guardian: "The death of a man at a jail in Texas earlier this month was caused in part by sheriff’s deputies restraining him and one placing his knee on the man’s back and throat, authorities in Dallas said on Monday. Joseph Hutcheson, who suffered from a heart condition and had consumed illegal drugs, died on 1 August of a homicide, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office."

Manny Fernandez & Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The fatal shooting of a Texas man by sheriff’s deputies in San Antonio last week was captured on video that appears to show he had his hands up when the officers fired. The Bexar County Sheriff’s department identified the man on Monday as Gilbert Flores, 41."

John Eligon of the New York Times: "A white supremacist was convicted of capital murder on Monday in the shooting deaths of three people a year ago at a Jewish community center and an assisted living facility in suburban Kansas City. After a weeklong trial, jurors deliberated for about two hours before convicting Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 74, a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of racist and anti-Semitic actions. Proceedings to determine Mr. Miller’s punishment were scheduled to start Tuesday morning. Mr. Miller could receive the death penalty."

Monday
Aug312015

The Commentariat -- August 31, 2015

Elections Matter. Noam Scheiber of the New York Times: "With little fanfare, the Obama administration has been pursuing an aggressive campaign to restore protections for workers that have been eroded by business activism, conservative governance and the evolution of the economy in recent decades. In the last two months alone, the administration has introduced a series of regulatory changes. Among them: a rule that would make millions more Americans eligible for extra overtime pay, and a guidance suggesting that many employers are misclassifying workers as contractors and therefore depriving them of basic workplace protections.... A little more than a week ago, a federal appeals panel affirmed an earlier regulation granting nearly 2 million previously exempted home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections. And on Thursday, President Obama's appointees to the National Labor Relations Board issued an important ruling that makes it easier for employees of contractors and franchises to bargain collectively with the corporations that have sway over their operations."

Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "President Obama in Anchorage on Monday will announce the renaming of Mount McKinley, honoring the 25th president, to Mount Denali, an Athabascan name used by generations of Alaska Natives that means 'the great one.' The White House said Obama would rename the continent's tallest peak in order to improve relations with Native Americans. As a central part of the Athabascan creation story, Denali carries cultural importance to many Alaska Natives."...

Maria La Ganga of the Los Angeles Times on Kivalina, Alaska: "This is what climate change looks like, up close and personal. In this town of 403 residents 83 miles above the Arctic Circle, beaches are disappearing, ice is melting, temperatures are rising, and the barrier reef Kivalina calls home gets smaller and smaller with every storm. There is no space left to build homes for the living. The dead are now flown to the mainland so the ocean won't encroach upon their graves. Most here agree that the town should be relocated; where, when and who will pay for it are the big questions. The Army Corps of Engineers figures Kivalina will be underwater in the next decade or so."

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "Dozens of former members of Congress want lawmakers on the job to know they sympathize with the stress they feel over the Iran nuclear deal, but that they should vote for it anyway. The message is contained in the latest in a slew of letters being sent to Congress by both opponents and supporters of the nuclear deal ahead of the mid-September vote. It warns that the risks of scuttling the agreement 'include the increased likelihood of a military confrontation.'... Notable signatories include former Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a Republican who has long been active in promoting nuclear non-proliferation, and former Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, a Democrat who served as a special envoy to the Middle East."

Nick Gass of Politico: "Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley on Sunday announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal, becoming the 31st Democratic senator to back President Barack Obama on the issue. Just two Senate Democrats have come out against the deal -- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez. Just three more senators are needed in the Senate to sustain any veto of a resolution of disapproval." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "The father of one of the journalists murdered live on the air in southwest Virginia is pledging to keep up a sustained fight to enact new gun restrictions. 'I am going to be working on this for a long time,' Andy Parker, whose 24-year-old daughter Alison, was shot to death last week while reporting on camera, said on CNN's 'State of the Union.'"

Steve M. notices that two NYT columnists -- Ross Douthat & Maureen Dowd -- look at Donald Trump and see "a reflection of themselves! Funny how that works." CW: It's also evidence of brilliant politics. Voters looked at Barack Obama the same way. Sadly, it took him five or six years to give more than a hint of the guy I thought he was. He wasted all of his first term making nice with the scum on Capitol Hill, & he's still being pretty damned nice to the dirty rats of Wall Street. ...

Presidential Race

** Paul Krugman: "... those predicting Mr. Trump's imminent political demise are ignoring the lessons of recent history, which tell us that poseurs [like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker & Bobby Jindal] with a knack for public relations can con the public for a very long time. Someday The Donald will have his Katrina moment, when voters see him for who he really is. But don't count on it happening any time soon."

George Packer's "Comment" in this week's New Yorker compares & contrasts the populism of Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders. CW: I don't think Packer gets what populism is. How can it be "populist" to pit one large segment of the population against another? Populism must have broad appeal, & that's what Sanders offers; moreover, he has workable ideas on how to achieve some of the public's goals. He is not ashamed to be a politician & he believes popular leaders can undo the influence of wealthy elites on political hacks. Although Trump has some achievable goals -- likely fairly taxing hedge funds -- his appeal is in reinforcing the fears & bigotry of poor & middle-class white people. Trump actually wants to eradicate (deport) one huge group of people. For the most part, he is as naive in his own way as Obama was when he ascended to the presidency & thought he could "reason" with Republicans. Both Trump & Obama think/thought they could persuade kept politicians to repudiate their elite owners. ...

... Paul Rosenberg in Salon (August 16), does a better job, IMO, of describing the ideological differences between Sanders & Trump: where Sanders is a true populist, Rosenberg argues, Trump bends toward fascism.

Niall Stanage of the Hill: "Donald Trump tops The Hill's rankings of 2016 GOP candidates for the first time, as the race cranks up to a new level of intensity with debate season underway. Trump has utterly transformed the race, challenging conventional wisdom every step of the way. The Hill did not even rank Trump when we first assessed the field in May, and he came in eighth in our most recent version in early July. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has also risen sharply, from tenth place to third. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have all slid downward."

Like Democrats in 2007 who looked for their savior in Barack Obama, Republicans in 2015 seem to be looking for their savior in Trump. -- Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register

That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the difference between Democratic & Republican voters. -- Constant Weader

Peter Beinart of the Atlantic (August 28): "Calling Trump a bigot misses the point. It implies that he has genuine convictions. He's an opportunist using bigotry to feed his megalomania." CW: This rings true. It's why it is not a contradiction for Trump to say he'll "deport all the illegals" & at the same time claim, "I love Mexicans." It's why he could simultaneously embrace the ridiculous, racist birther movement & tout his "good relationship with the blacks." In Trump's view, everybody is a pawn to be gamed. If he has to lose some pawns to win his game, so be it.

Once we've secured the border, once we've proven we can do this, once we've stopped the Obama administration's policy of releasing 104,000 violent criminal illegal aliens in one year. -- Sen. Ted Cruz, interview on Fox News, Aug. 25

Cruz is combining two other statistics: convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, and deportable aliens released under the administration's guidelines for 'prosecutorial discretion.'... [Cruz's numbers] add up to slightly more than 104,000, but it also mixes up two years.... Cruz's statistic falls apart with the emphasis on 'violent criminals.' The percentage of violent criminals among the 68,000 who were released is unclear, but said to be relatively small. The detailed list of 30,000 released from detention turns up relatively few who actually were charged with violent crimes. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Whatever Happened to Scottie? Dan Balz & Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: Scott "Walker's backers see a campaign discombobulated by Trump's booming popularity and by his provocative language on immigration, China and other issues. They see in Walker a candidate who -- in contrast to the discipline he showed in state races -- continues to commit unforced errors, either out of lack of preparation or in an attempt to grab for part of the flamboyant businessman's following. These supporters say ... there also needs to be a clear acknowledgment inside the campaign that the governor has yet to put to rest questions about his readiness to handle the problems and unexpected challenges that confront every president." CW: Maybe these "backers" should also acknowledge that their candidate is a dunce & a nasty piece of work. ...

... Scott Walker says he's "looking 'em [-- voters, that is --] in the eye & telling 'em what I'm going to do" because that's the kind of "leadership' "Americans want." So it's a little hard to understand why he's too skeert to give a straight "leadership" answer on birthright citizenship. ...

Crazy Immigration Idea o' the Day. Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is open to the idea of building a wall along America's northern border with Canada, he said on Sunday. Given that the northern border poses a potential risk for terrorists to bleed into the U.S., the Republican presidential candidate said that he would not rule out a wall to increase security there. 'That is a legitimate issue for us to look at,' Walker said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" CW: Hey, at least it would create a honking-big jobs stimulus for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, can't we just immediately incarcerate anyone who speaks with a suspected Quebecois accent? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Crazy Clinton Slam o' the Day. Mark Hensch of the Hill: "With Hillary Clinton, it just seems to be one scandal after another,' [Bobby Jindal] told host Martha Raddatz on ABC's 'This Week.' 'She's literally one email away from going to jail,' Jindal said. 'What I fear is that maybe we'll have to go to the Chinese and the Russians to actually see her emails.'" CW: Literally one email? I think it must be that one where she did a blast-mailing of the nuclear codes.

Standard-Issue Clinton Slam: Mark Hensch: Chris "Christie argued on Sunday that [Hillary] Clinton's actions as secretary of State flaunted her disregard for the laws governing transparency and national security. He added that she is now presenting a haughty attitude.... 'The worst part about this is her arrogance,' Christie said.... 'This is not royalty in the United States,' he said, referring to Clinton as 'queen.' 'This is not a familial ascendancy.' 'She's wiped away tens of thousands of emails that have relevant information because she feels entitled to do that,' Christie added." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the popular Democrat from New Hampshire and the first woman to be elected senator and governor in the state, will publicly endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton next Saturday, Mrs. Clinton's campaign said."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The roiling controversy over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state looks likely to intensify Monday with the State Department set to release the largest batch of her messages made public thus far."

Julian Hattem: "Sen. Bernie Sanders is arguing that his record makes him the best qualified presidential candidate to push through new limits on guns. Despite criticism that the independent Vermonter has been to the right of many liberals on gun rules, Sanders said on CNN's 'State of the Union' that he is best positioned to negotiate new restrictions preventing mentally ill people from acquiring weapons.... 'In fact, coming from a rural state that has almost no gun control, I think I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other and come up with real constructive gun control legislation which, most significantly, gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,' he said."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Former Gov. Marvin Mandel, whose record of modernizing Maryland's state government was overshadowed by a messy divorce and a fraud conviction for helping associates profit from a racetrack deal, died on Sunday in St. Mary's County, Md. He was 95." While in office, he left his wife for another woman. Of the other woman, whom Mandel married, his first wife Bootsie asked, "How can she be a first lady when she isn't a lady first?" ...

     ... The Washington Post obituary is here. The Baltimore Sun's obituary is here.

NBC News: "Dr. Wayne Dyer, the self-help guru whose best-seller 'Your Erroneous Zones' was adopted by millions as a guide to better living, has died at 75, his family and publisher said Sunday."

New York Times: "Wes Craven, a master of horror cinema and a proponent of the slasher genre best known for creating the Freddy Krueger and 'Scream' franchises, died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles."

Saturday
Aug292015

The Commentariat -- August 30, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Nick Gass of Politico: "Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley on Sunday announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal, becoming the 31st Democratic senator to back President Barack Obama on the issue. Just two Senate Democrats have come out against the deal -- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez. Just three more senators are needed in the Senate to sustain any veto of a resolution of disapproval."

Crazy Immigration Idea o' the Day. Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is open to the idea of building a wall along America's northern border with Canada, he said on Sunday. Given that the northern border poses a potential risk for terrorists to bleed into the U.S., the Republican presidential candidate said that he would not rule out a wall to increase security there. 'That is a legitimate issue for us to look at,' Walker said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" CW: Hey, at least it would create a honking-big jobs stimulus for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, can't we just immediately incarcerate anyone who speaks with a suspected Quebecois accent?

Crazy Clinton Slam o' the Day. Mark Hensch of the Hill: "'With Hillary Clinton, it just seems to be one scandal after another,' [Bobby Jindal] told host Martha Raddatz on ABC's 'This Week.' 'She's literally one email away from going to jail,' Jindal said. 'What I fear is that maybe we'll have to go to the Chinese and the Russians to actually see her emails.'" CW: Literally one email? I think it must be that one where she did a blast-mailing of the nuclear codes.

Standard-Issue Clinton Slam: Mark Hensch: Chris "Christie argued on Sunday that [Hillary] Clinton's actions as secretary of State flaunted her disregard for the laws governing transparency and national security. He added that she is now presenting a haughty attitude.... 'The worst part about this is her arrogance,' Christie said.... 'This is not royalty in the United States,' he said, referring to Clinton as 'queen.' 'This is not a familial ascendancy.' 'She's wiped away tens of thousands of emails that have relevant information because she feels entitled to do that,' Christie added."

 

*****

Dan Balz & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party's summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.... As a fallback, James Zogby, the co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, led a move to prepare a letter of support for the president and the Iran agreement that eventually gained signatures from a sizable majority of the members of the national committee."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Four years after nearly collapsing amid the financial crisis, Amalgamated [Bank] has aggressively carved out a position as the left's private banker, leveraging deep connections with the Democratic establishment to expand rapidly in a niche long dominated by larger but less nimble financial institutions. The bank's rise has been driven not only by the pace and complexity of modern campaigns, which demand increasingly specialized financial services, but by their vastly expanded scale: Billion-dollar presidential campaigns are expected for both parties in 2016, bolstered by super PACs raising hundreds of millions of dollars more.... Founded and still principally owned by labor unions, the 92-year-old bank has signed up hundreds of new political clients, including most of the Democratic Party's major committees, the progressive organizations that align with them, and several of their top Senate recruits."

Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "Whether California's application of the death penalty is so drawn out and arbitrary that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment will be argued on Monday before a federal appeals court in Pasadena. If the lawyers for a condemned man are victorious, the case could bring a reprieve to more than 740 prisoners now on death row at San Quentin State Prison and send legal ripples across the country."

Josh Lederman of the AP: "With melting glaciers and rising seas as his backdrop, President Barack Obama will visit Alaska next week to press for urgent global action to combat climate change, even as he carefully calibrates his message in a state heavily dependent on oil." ...

... Steven Myers of the New York Times: "Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts, and even some government officials say the United States is lagging behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new environmental, economic and geopolitical realities facing the [Alaskan] region."

** Roberto Ferdman of the Washington Post: "... over the next two years, bottled water is expected to eclipse soda as the most consumed packaged drink in the United States.... [Peter Gleick, a sustainable-water researcher, estimates that] only about a third of all bottles of water consumed in the United States are recycled, meaning that about two-thirds end up in the garbage.... As of 2006, it took 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water, according to the Pacific Institute. In other words, before even including the energy required to produce the actual bottles -- which is significant -- bottled water was already three times as inefficient as its unpackaged alternative."

Presidential Race

Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "... Bernie Sanders, riding an updraft of insurgent passion in Iowa, has closed to within 7 points of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race." ...

... Steve M.: "... Ben Carson is only 5 points behind Trump -- and at 18%, he's 10 points ahead of the next two guys, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, who are at 8%. (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are tied for fifth, at 6%.) What's more, Carson has the highest favorable rating among Republicans, at 79%.... He's not an obnoxious sexist blowhard like Trump, but he's the one other candidate in the race who seems as unqualified and ill-informed as Trump, and, in his quiet way, he says plenty of imprudent, outrageous things. Abortion is comparable to human sacrifice! Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery! President Obama acts like a psychopath! The Advance Placement history curriculum is so bad it would inspire students to sign up for ISIS! Who's waiting to seize the GOP lead if Trump falters? Not Bush or Kasich or Rubio or Walker. This guy."

Pied Piper. Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Donald Trump says it’s not all about him. No, seriously. Campaigning in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump on Saturday paid homage to his supporters.... 'This is a movement,' said Trump, who often speaks about himself in campaign appearances. 'I don';t want it to be about me. This is about common sense. It's about doing the right thing.'" ...

... James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "Sharpening his pitch to what he calls 'the silent majority,' Donald Trump presented himself Saturday as the 'law and order' candidate in the 2016 presidential race, pledging to 'get rid' of gangs and give more power to police officers. Speaking to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies for more than an hour, in the heart of a Southern city where student sit-ins helped launch the 1960s-era civil rights movement, the Republican complained that cops are afraid to be tough in the face of more scrutiny over their tactics." ...

Are there any women in this room who are in love with their husbands who wouldn't be telling them everything? -- Donald Trump, on why Hillary Clinton aide Human Abedin should not be trusted with classified information ...

... Jennifer Shutt of Politico: "... Donald Trump alleged late Friday that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin shared classified information with husband Anthony Weiner, while also referring to the former congressman as a pervert.... 'Who is Huma married to? One of the great sleezebags of our time: Anthony Weiner. So now -- think of it -- Huma is getting classified secrets. She is married to Anthony Weiner, who is a perv,' Trump said during a campaign rally in Norwood, Massachusetts.... 'So she's married to Anthony Weiner. Do you think there is even a 5 percent chance she is not telling Anthony Weiner -- now of a public relations firm -- what the hell is coming across?" Trump said. Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill called Trump's comments about Abedin and her marriage 'patently false.'... Hillary for America Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri [wrote,] 'Trump repeated bizarre attack on Huma today. Lots of married men worked at State, why is Huma the one who would pass on secrets to spouse?'" ...

... CW: Wouldn't it be good for a presidential candidate to have, say, a shred of evidence before he accuses someone of espionage?

... Welcome to Dystopia. Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "To create a system that tracks illegal immigrants in the United States, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to look to the way FedEx tracks packages.... 'So here's what I'm going to do as president: I'm going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, to come work for the government for three months at Immigration and Custom Enforcement and show these people,' Christie added. 'We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in, and then when your time is up ... however long your visa is, then we go get you. We tap you on the shoulder and say, 'Thanks for coming. Time to go."'... Christie's campaign spokeswoman, Samantha Smith, is Fred Smith's daughter." CW: Freeedom for me; ankle bracelets for thee. ...

... CW: Saturday while I was doing some gruntwork, I occupied myself with thinking up ludicrous ways Republican could enforce their ideology. People-tracking chips came to mind. Meanwhile, not far up the road from me, a GOP presidential candidate was actually proposing to physically track visitors "from the moment they come in" into this country. Christie makes the Patriot Act look like a milquetoast measure. Republicans are scary. ...

... Daniel Politi of Slate: "The United States issued 9,932,480 nonimmigrant visas last year, according to the State Department." CW: Richard Nixon had only 20 people on his infamous enemies list; Christie plans to put 10 million ordinary people on his. ...

... Peter Whoriskey of the Washington Post: "In 2010, in his first months as governor, [Christie] favored securing the border as well as 'a common sense path to citizenship for people.' But earlier this year, Christie said he no longer supported the path to citizenship for undocumented residents and, in fact, criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton's plan as 'pandering.'"

Jessica Winter of Slate: "Wisconsin governor Scott Walker -- who has framed the fight for equal pay as 'pit[ting] one group of Americans versus another,' who has called abortions performed to save a woman's life the result of a 'false choice,' who has indicated support for forcing C-sections on women who require a medically necessary abortion, and who has cited his assault on teachers' and nurses' unions aspreparation for taking on ISIS as president -- has a gift designed just for the ladies.... It's a shirt!" CW: Yeah, who wants equal pay & reproductive rights when she can get a shirt (that reportedly will really show her curves as it runs two sizes too small) in Reagan Red.

Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly was upset by all the GOP hatemongering, so she turned to a source of hope & inspiration: President Obama.

Beyond the Beltway

Rebecca Santana & Kevin McGill of the AP: "The Gulf Coast and New Orleans observed the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest storms in American history, in ways both devout and festive. Church bells rang and brass bands played as people across the storm-ravaged coast remembered the past and looked to the future."

Liam Stack & Nate Scwerber of the New York Times: "A bystander accidentally shot by an undercover New York City police officer on Friday afternoon during an illegal firearms sting gone awry has died, the Police Department said on Saturday. The bystander, identified as Felix Kumi, 61, was shot twice in the torso as the officer fired at a man involved in the botched sting. That man, a 37-year old who was not immediately named, was hit three times and hospitalized in serious condition. Mr. Kumi died early Saturday at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, according to the police. The New York Police Department said that in the midst of the sting, a suspect pulled a gun on the undercover officer, stole the cash changing hands in the transaction and ran. When the officer opened fire, police officials and witnesses said, he shot the suspect, but he also hit Mr. Kumi, 61, who was walking to retrieve his van from a nearby repair shop."

AP: "The Kentucky clerk at the centre of a conflict over same-sex marriage closed her office on Saturday, ahead of a rally protesting her refusal to issue marriage licenses. The protest came a day after Rowan County clerk Kim Davis asked the US supreme court to grant her 'asylum for her conscience'."

Manny Fernandez & David Montgomery of the New York Times: "Law enforcement officials said Saturday that a 30-year-old Houston man had been arrested in the fatal shooting the night before of a sheriff's deputy as he filled the gas tank of his patrol car.... Even as officials at an earlier news conference stressed that they had not established a motive, they tied the attack to the wave of protests across the country over police shootings, including the demonstrations after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner on Staten Island." ...

     ... Update: St. John Barned-Smith & John D. Harden of the Houston Chronicle: "Shannon J. Miles was arrested and charged in the death of Deputy Darren Goforth after authorities spent much of the day questioning him. Miles walked up behind Goforth at the gas station at Telge and West at about 8:20 p.m. Friday and shot him repeatedly in the back without any apparent provocation or motive, said Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman...."

Way Beyond

Griff Witte & Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post: "The smugglers responsible for driving 71 migrants to their deaths in the back of a cramped, unventilated truck in Austria were part of a vast international syndicate that has been a subject of multiple criminal investigations, a leading European law enforcement official said Saturday. So far, just four relatively low-level operatives have been arrested in connection with the deaths...."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Iran's judiciary sentenced two people to 10 years in prison on Sunday for spying for the United States and Israel, but their names were not released, local media reported. It was not clear if the Iranian-American reporter Jason Rezaian, who faces similar charges, was one of them." ...

     ... AP Update: "Leila Ahsan..., The lawyer for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was tried for espionage in a Revolutionary Court..., says the court has yet to issue its verdict on Rezaian."

New York Times: "Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain's strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,' using his patients' disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 82." ...

... Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times: "Dr. Sacks ... was a polymath and an ardent humanist, and whether he was writing about his patients, or his love of chemistry or the power of music, he leapfrogged among disciplines, shedding light on the strange and wonderful interconnectedness of life -- the connections between science and art, physiology and psychology, the beauty and economy of the natural world and the magic of the human imagination."

AP: "Los Angeles and the U.S. Olympic Committee have struck a deal that will make the city America's 2024 Olympic bidder pending approval by the city council next week. If the council approves the deal at a meeting Tuesday, the USOC will announce Los Angeles as its candidate, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press."

AP: "Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said that late on Friday the jets began attacking Isis targets across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey."