Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "As world leaders converge [in Washington, D.C.,] for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most. The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. But they have also highlighted what some in Washington and around the world see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since." ...
... CW: This should serve to remind Villagers that Republican "leaders"' shenanigans are a huge drag on our economy, not only in terms of their uniformly bad policies but also in the image we present to others around the globe. On Sunday, will Chuck Todd wring his hands at the economic turbulence Republicans have caused? Not a chance; instead, he & the bobbleheads at his roundtable will be assessing Scott Walker's "performance" in New Hampshire or something similarly inane.
Peter Baker & Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday directed his diplomats to use 'creative negotiations' to bridge a sharp divide with Iran over the fate of sanctions if it agrees to curb its , signaling flexibility in hopes of keeping a tentative agreement from unraveling.... Mr. Obama said he was 'frankly surprised' that Russia had held back selling the weapons [to Iran] this long, but added that the decision buttressed his argument in favor of a deal because it showed that international solidarity could crumble."
Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "African American and other civil rights leaders infuriated over the stalled confirmation vote on Loretta E. Lynch, the first black woman to be nominated for attorney general, are casting the delay as an issue with racial overtones.... Activists across the country are three days into a hunger strike over the Senate’s failure to vote on Lynch. African American groups have also protested outside the offices of senators who oppose her leading the Justice Department.... In his strongest comments to date about the issue — and his most animated remarks during a press conference Friday with the Italian prime minister — [President Obama] called the Senate’s inaction a 'crazy situation.... There are times when the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far ... Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like that [sic.; this]'”:
... CW: Do take the time to listen to the President's remarks. History will remember the moment when the POTUS finally said "Enough!"
Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The immediate fate of President Obama’s sweeping immigration overhaul now rests with a three-judge appeals panel after an intense legal clash on Friday between lawyers for the federal government and for a 26-state coalition that has challenged the executive actions."
Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "On Wednesday, Justice Samuel Alito temporarily stayed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding Obama administration rules expanding access to birth control. Alito’s order is not particularly surprising, and it only stays the Third Circuit order pending further action by Alito or the Court.... Nevertheless, Alito’s order is a warning that this issue will not remain in the lower courts forever."
Jaime Fuller of New York: "New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation on Wednesday that would recommend that the Treasury Secretary 'convene a panel of citizens' who would debate which woman could replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. A grassroots campaign, Women on 20s, has earned major buzz for pushing this idea — hundreds of thousands of people have voted on the group's website for which woman they would like to see on U.S. currency (Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks are favorites)." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Sahil Kapur of TPM: "In a little-noticed radio interview, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) articulated the GOP's biggest fear if the Supreme Court wipes out Obamacare tax credits for millions of Americans who buy insurance from the federal HealthCare.gov exchange. The fear: President Barack Obama and Democrats will be ready with a one-page bill to restore the subsidies, as well as a slew of attack ads telling horror stories about 'individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer' and lost their coverage, the Republican said." CW Translation: The only thing we have to fear is the truth itself.
Robin McKie of the Guardian: "... last week, one of the three UK scientists who discovered the hole [in the ozone over Antarctica] in 1985 warned that the real lessons of the story had still not been learned. 'Yes, an international treaty was established fairly quickly to deal with the ozone hole, but really the main point about its discovery was that it shows how incredibly rapidly we can produce major changes to our atmosphere and how long it takes for nature to recover from them,' said Jon Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey."
Emily Steel & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "The staff lawyers at the Justice Department reviewing are leaning toward recommending that it be blocked, according to a person with knowledge of the deliberations."’s proposed $45 billion takeover of have raised concerns about the merger and
Dan Roberts & Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Jeb Bush and Chris Christie competed head-to-head to address their perceived character flaws before Republican activists in New Hampshire on Friday during the first big 'cattle call' of the party’s presidential primary race. Speaking within minutes of each other in a small hotel in Nashua, the two heavyweights [(no pun intended) are] seen as closest to the party mainstream.... Inside the room, Christie’s refusal to apologise for who he was appeared to go down better than Bush’s studied humility. Every joke got a laugh. Every applause line landed. Christie spoke like a man enjoying every second, and when he was done the room leapt immediately to their feet. Bush, by contrast, seemed to speak to a spot about 10ft up the back wall. He wandered around the stage as if lost, settling about 5ft to the left of the podium, so the cameras caught him half-offscreen." CW: Maybe Juanito had difficulty because he wasn't speaking Hispanic. ...
... CW Award for This Week's Most Awkward Clause in Political Reporting: "... the room leapt immediately to their feet." Also, too, Chris & Jebbie did not "compete head-to-head" inasmuch as they were not in the room at the same time. ...
... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: " Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Friday once again defended his decision to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman whose death capped an intense national debate about ethics and politics, but also suggested that Medicare recipients should be required to outline end-of-life care plans before accepting the benefits." ...
... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush indicated on Thursday night that President Obama’s choice for attorney general, Loretta E. Lynch, ought to be confirmed – putting him at odds with a number of Senate Republicans who’ve said they would try to block the nomination.... 'I think presidents have the right to pick their team,' Mr. Bush said, in response to a questioner.... 'If someone is supportive of the president’s policies, whether you agree with them or not, there should be some deference to the executive,' Mr. Bush said. 'It should not always be partisan.' ... Mr. Bush made the comments in New Hampshire, at the 'Politics and Pie' town hall-style forum in Concord, N.H., where he seemed loose and engaged, joking with questioners and, at one point, getting hectored by over immigration reform." CW: Maybe he just likes pie. ...
... Get Back to Work, You Lazy Old Coots! Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: "Jeb Bush grabbed one of the third rails of American politics on Friday, declaring that the retirement age for Social Security should be raised and 'in relatively short order.'"
had a ready response: Florida should build a market-based system.... Rubio pushed his no-mandate health insurance exchange, dubbed Florida Health Choices, through the state Legislature that year.... Florida Health Choices, which finally opened last year, now covers 80 people. [Emphasis added.] Obamacare, which Rubio wants to repeal, covers 1.6 million in Florida alone. And 93 percent of them are subsidized.... Rubio spokeswoman Brooke Sammon said the senator continues to support a 'true free-market exchange,' and she blamed Obamacare’s subsidies for luring buyers away from Florida Health Choices." ...In 2008, while Democrats were declaring that the time was right for national health care reform, Marco Rubio, the speaker of the Florida House,
... Charles Gaba: "Divide [those 80 enrollees] into the $2.4 million in taxpayer funding and the cost [of Rubio's program] per enrollee is now back down to a mere $30,000 apiece!" The cost for Healthcare.gov: "That works out to around $210 - $260 per HC.gov enrollee. Let's call it an even $250.... So basically, 7 years after getting started, Rubio and his GOP colleagues have managed to spend 120 times as much per person as the Big Gubm'nt Obamacare." Via Paul Waldman.
he would officially announce his presidential campaign plans May 5 in his -- and former President Bill Clinton's -- hometown of Hope, Ark. Speaking with reporters in Washington earlier in the day, Huckabee insisted he had not made a decision yet about running, although he said that 'things are progressing along' in his preparations. He sounded like an all-but-declared candidate, saying a super PAC has been formed to support his likely candidacy and touting his supporter network in Iowa, home to the nation's first presidential caucuses, which Huckabee won in 2008." ...Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told Fox News Friday
... John McCormack of the Weekly Standard: "As he gears up for another presidential campaign, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is making a big break with the Republican party on the issue of entitlement reform. Meeting with reporters at a hotel in Washington, D.C. [Friday] morning, Huckabee strongly criticized New Jersey governor Chris Christie's proposal to reform Social Security and said he would not sign Paul Ryan's Medicare reform into law if he were president. 'I don't know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don't understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is,' Huckabee said in response to a question about Christie's proposal to gradually raise the retirement age and implement a means test.... 'That's not a reform,' he said. "... We are embracing a government that lied to its people -- that took money from its people under one pretense and then took it away at the time when they started wanting to actually get what they have paid for all these years.'" CW: Huckabee's stance on Social Security & Medicare is reason enough to be glad to see him enter the race. I am looking forward to seeing Huck whack his fellow candidates during debates.
Scooby-Two. Maggie Haberman: "Hillary Rodham Clinton’s finance team will go on a fund-raising road trip next week, holding a series of meetings with hundreds of small donors on the East Coast as a way to engage supporters ahead of larger planned events aimed at those who are expected to bundle donations and collect a larger number of checks. The meetings — in Washington, Virginia, Maryland and New York — reflect the desire of the Clinton campaign to be inclusive and have a slow ramp-up, without major fund-raisers scheduled until May."
AND Donald Trump continues to be the most disgusting person pretending to run for president. CW: I know I'm going to have to keep linking to stories about this pig, but I'm going to do so as sparingly as possible. If you think I've missed some "newsworthy" story about Trump, maybe I've just given it a pass, the way I so often do when Sarah Palin says something stupid enough to garner media attention.
Beyond the Beltway
Tom Dart of the Guardian: "Texas lawmakers are on the brink of passing 'open carry' gun legislation that critics say will put the public at risk. The Texas House voted 96-35 to provisionally approve the bill in Austin on Friday night. It will allow firearms owners in Texas who have concealed handgun permits –some 850,000 people – to openly carry their weapons in public in a hip or shoulder holster."
AP: "Oklahoma became the first US state to approve nitrogen gas for executions under a measure Governor Mary Fallin signed into law Friday that provides an alternative death penalty method if lethal injections aren’t possible, either because of a court ruling or a drug shortage. Executions are on hold in Oklahoma while the US supreme court considers whether the state’s current three-drug method of lethal injection is constitutional."
Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Clarence W. Habersham Jr., the first officer to arrive on the scene after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man named Walter L. Scott, is drawing intense scrutiny both for the questions surrounding his response to the shooting and for what his role has illuminated about the pressures and expectations black officers face in largely white police departments."
he will sue the federal government for allegedly coercing Florida to expand Medicaid.... '... it is difficult to understand how suing CMS on Day 45 of a 60-day session regarding an issue the state has been aware of for the last 12 months will yield a timely resolution to the critical health care challenges facing our state," Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said...." ...of the Tampa Bay Times & Miami Herald: "Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday
... Brian Beutler does an excellent job of explaining the background for the suit. Ultimately, "Scott’s argument is transparently frivolous, but it underscores the extent to which the GOP’s deranged resistance to Obamacare is boomeranging on itself.... Scott is suing the federal government to bail him out of a self-made crisis. This isn’t an anomaly, but a pattern. Across the country, Republican governors are coping with the consequences of their own Obamacare intransigence — staring into a future where their insurance markets get destroyed by virtue of their refusal to help implement Obamacare and their unwillingness to take on the right as it pursued litigation." ...
... From a Flip-Flop-Flip to the Absurd. Steve Benen: "This is actually one of the more amazing political fights in the country right now, and it’s worth appreciating why.... The bottom line in this little farce is that Rick Scott is going to extraordinary lengths – embracing and rejecting money, pitting the GOP-led state House against the GOP-led state Senate, dividing his allies, ignoring the needs of hundreds of thousands of his constituents, undermining his own state budget, even turning down tax cuts – because he finds it necessary to be against 'Obamacare.' There’s no real substance to any of this... The consequences are predictably absurd." ...
... OR, as Joan McCarter of Daily Kos succinctly explains, "Rick Scott says he'll sue to get federal money that doesn't have Obamacare cooties."
Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times makes the well-taken point that Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) is using the poor as scapegoats for his terrible economic policies. CW: A person who blames the most vulnerable for his own failings is nothing but a bully.
Re: a comment by Akhilleus in yesterday's thread, here's Shirley Jackson's "The Daemon Lover."