The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Weather Channel: Hurricane Maria, a Category 2 hurricane, is increasingly likely to bring a brush of at least tropical storm-force winds and rain to parts of the East Coast later this week, in addition to its more certain impacts of coastal flooding, high surf, and rip currents."

Public Service Announcement

September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Speaking of Finland, as we were in relation to Donald Trump's complete lack of concern about Russian aggression, a remark he repeated in front of President Sauli Niinistö of neighboring Finland, because who cares?, the Finnish police procedural "Bordertown," which is streaming on Netflix is pretty good. Not sure if it comes dubbed, but Mr. McCrabbie & I like to listen to languages, so we were fine with subtitles. The "bordertown" borders Russia. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Constant Comments

Wednesday
Nov192014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 20, 2014

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "President Obama's impending executive action on immigration is unleashing the fury of Republican governors who now control a clear majority of the nation's statehouses.... The new legal protections that the president is poised to bestow on five million illegal immigrants Thursday will immediately thrust the issue back into the states, forcing dozens of governors who vigorously oppose the move to contemplate a raft of vexing new legal questions of their own, like whether to issue driver's licenses or grant in-state college tuition to such people." See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... New York Times Editors: "Only Congress can create an immigration system that rescues workers and families from unjust laws and creates legal pathways to citizenship. The best Mr. Obama can offer is a reprieve to people trapped by Congress's failures -- temporary permission to live and work without fear.... It has been the immigration system's retreat from sanity, of course, that made Mr. Obama's new plan necessary. Years were wasted, and countless families broken, while Mr. Obama clung to a futile strategy of luring Republicans toward a legislative deal. He has been his own worst enemy -- over the years he stressed his executive impotence, telling advocates that he could not change the system on his own." ...

King Barack to sign royal edict allowing some foreign subjects to live in his kingdom under his protection. Ted Cruz, former subject of Queen Elizabeth, current Prince of a former principality of Spain, France & Mexico, is planning a revolt against the monarchy.... Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Politico Magazine: "... unilaterally decreed ... undermine ... rule of law ... founders repeatedly warned ... dangers ... unlimited power ... executive amnesty ... lawless ... unconstitutional ... defiant and angry ... executive diktat ... monarch ... framers ... dangers ... monarchy ... abuses of power ... monarch ... decrees, dictates ... rules ... fiat power ... monarch ... stop it ... voice of the people ... subverting rule of law ... usurps ... defies ... lawless ... lawless ... President Obama will ... threaten a shutdown ... unilaterally defy the law ... presidential temper tantrum ... lawless President ... amnesty." ...

... CW: I couldn't decide which part of Sen. Cruz's Politico piece was the very most important, so I copied the whole thing & just ellipsodized some small, superfluous words to save space.

Paul Waldman: "... we may be seeing the front end of an evolution in [Republicans'] thinking, not just from 'Shutting down the government would be bad for us' to 'We could shut down the government and be just fine,' but from there all the way to 'Shutting down the government would be genius.' Just you wait." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The Republican Party has had some bad ideas, but it has never come up with a political tactic as obviously stupid as shutting down the federal government to protest President Obama's immigration policies. It is almost a masterpiece of self-sabotage, harnessing the party's most self-destructive short-term political maneuver to its most dangerous long-term demographic liability." ...

... Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg View: "President Barack Obama initially tried to avoid the immigration action that he now seems determined to take. He let the Senate pass its own bill, and quietly waited for months on end for Speaker of the House John Boehner to muster something. When Boehner failed, he rewarded Obama's patience by explaining that Republicans can't pass immigration legislation because the president is untrustworthy, and that the president can't act unilaterally because such action would . . . prevent the House from passing legislation." ...

... Simon Rosenberg in a US News op-ed: "The president’s impending executive actions on immigration will be a winner for him politically if the country comes to believe these steps were taken to advance the national interest and not his party's political fortunes. And I think he has a strong case to make. If news accounts are accurate, the coming actions will grow the U.S. economy, strengthen public safety and improve the border and immigration enforcement system." Via Greg Sargent ...

... Here's Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.), pretty much following Rosenberg's advice on how to make the case for the President's impending action on immigration reform:

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "President Obama's announcement Thursday night of his plans to overhaul the nation's immigration system is scheduled to happen at an opportune time -- at least if the White House is hoping to reach a captive audience of Hispanic television viewers. Obama's 8 p.m. Eastern time announcement will come at the start of the second hour of the 15th annual Latin Grammys, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday on Spanish-language TV network Univision. At least 9.8 million viewers tuned in to all or part of last year's telecast, meaning Univision defeated CBS, Fox and NBC that night." ...

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "The White House is exasperated with the major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- for skipping out on President Barack Obama's Thursday primetime address on his executive actions on immigration. 'In 2006, Bush gave a 17 minute speech that was televised by all three networks that was about deploying 6000 national guard troops to the border. Obama is making a 10 minute speech that will have a vastly greater impact on the issue. And none of the networks are doing it. We can't believe they were aggrieved that we announced this on Facebook,' a senior administration official told Politico." ...

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "A little-known provision of the Patriot Act, overlooked by lawmakers and administration officials alike, appears to give President Obama a possible way to keep the National Security Agency's bulk phone records program going indefinitely -- even if Congress allows the law on which it is based to expire next year." ...

... ** Ken Dilanian of the AP: "Dissenters within the National Security Agency, led by a senior agency executive, warned in 2009 that the program to secretly collect American phone records wasn't providing enough intelligence to justify the backlash it would cause if revealed, current and former intelligence officials say. The NSA took the concerns seriously, and many senior officials shared them. But after an internal debate that has not been previously reported, NSA leaders, White House officials and key lawmakers opted to continue the collection and storage of American calling records, a domestic surveillance program without parallel in the agency's recent history."

Gail Collins on sex, penguins & Mitch McConnell.

Benedict Carey of the New York Times: "The case of a Navy medical officer who refused to force-feed prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prompted the country's largest nursing organization on Wednesday to petition the Defense Department for leniency, citing professional ethical guidelines that support the officer's decision. The officer is a nurse and 18-year Navy veteran whose commander has called for an internal inquiry into the refusal, his lawyer said."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "CIA Director John Brennan is considering sweeping organizational changes that could include breaking up the separate spying and analysis divisions that have been in place for decades to create hybrid units focused on individual regions and threats to U.S. security, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. The proposal would essentially replicate the structure of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and other similar entities in the agency -- an idea that reflects the CTC's expanded role and influence since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd. Boer Deng & Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "At every turn, it seems that some system failed [Scott] Panetti, whether it was the mental health system, the courts, the prison system, or the political branches. It is almost incomprehensible that Texas is about to go through with the execution, but the failures, feints, technicalities, and errors chronicled below have created a situation in which a man with three decades of profound mental illness will be sent to the death chamber" on December 3.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

Nathaniel Popper & Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "A two-year Senate-led investigation is throwing back the curtain on the outsize and sometimes hidden sway that Wall Street banks have gained over the markets for essential commodities like oil, aluminum and coal. The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase assumed a role of such significance in the commodities markets that it became possible for the banks to influence the prices that consumers pay while also securing inside information about the markets that could be used by the banks' own traders."

I don't think anyone should question our motives or what we are attempting to accomplish. -- William Dudley, President of the New York Federal Reserve ...

... Jessica Silver-Greenberg, et al., of the New York Times: The revolving door between big banks, particularly Goldman-Sachs, & the New York Fed "has long fostered a culture of coziness that, even without direct evidence of impropriety, generated a public perception that regulators and bankers form unholy alliances. But the new accounts of a regulator and a banker actually sharing confidential documents -- violating a cardinal rule of the regulatory world -- suggest that those impressions may no longer be purely hypothetical. The leak strikes at the heart of questions about the ability of the New York Fed -- the public's eyes and ears on Wall Street -- to maintain its independence from the banks it regulates. It also comes as a popular image of Goldman as a bank that puts profit above all has begun to fade."

** Nick Hanauer in Politico Magazine: "... what's changed since the 1960s and '70s? Overtime pay, in part.... It turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.... And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all. In my defense, I'm only playing by the rules -- rules written by and for wealthy capitalists like me. But the main point is this: These are rules that President Barack Obama has the power to change with the stroke of a pen, and with no prior congressional approval." ...

... The Hanauer piece via Charles Pierce, who -- like me -- thinks Hanauer has a great idea (even if it does come via Politico): "The screams of the market fundamentalists, and of the oligarchs who pay their honoraria, would be audible on Neptune, but this would be a genuine populist act for the president to take. Again, we say -- go big or go home."


Dana Milbank
: "What is [Sen. Cory] Booker afraid of?... He could use his star power to do most anything, yet he is acting like a conventional pol." ...

... CW: Cory Booker is a conventional pol.

E. J. Dionne wants Jeb Bush to save the Republican party from itself. ...

... Sorry, E.J., but Bush, too, is a conventional pol. "Practical" politicians who want to be president (e.g., Jeb, Hillary, Cory) are not crusaders for truth, justice & a new American way.

Presidential Election

Ed Kilgore lets some conservatives assess Gov. Scott Walker's (RTP-Wis.) 2016 presidential prospects.

Tuesday
Nov182014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 19, 2014

Coral Davenport & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Senate Democrats, by a single vote, stopped legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the most fractious and expensive environmental battles of the Obama presidency.... Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who is facing a runoff election Dec. 6, had pleaded with her colleagues throughout the day, leading to a rare suspense-filled roll call in the Senate.... The bill was defeated with 59 votes in favor and 41 against, with Ms. Landrieu needing 60 votes to proceed. The vote was also a reflection of how a once-obscure pipeline blew up into an expensive national political battle between environmentalists and the oil industry. Although TransCanada proposed the pipeline in 2005, it generated so little attention that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was poised to approve it in 2011 with little fanfare."

Mitch Is Watching You. Charlie Savage & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans' phone calls in bulk. Democrats and a handful of Republicans who supported the measure fell two votes short of the 60 votes they needed to take up the legislation, which sponsors named the U.S.A. Freedom Act. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, worked hard to defeat the bill, which had the support of the Obama administration and a coalition of technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo."

Emmarie Heutteman of the New York Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California was chosen [by House Democrats] to serve as minority leader for another two years despite quiet dissent within the party resulting from the net loss of an additional 12 seats in the Republican-controlled House.... But another challenge to Ms. Pelosi's authority remained, as the House Democratic Caucus was expected to vote Wednesday on the next senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Representative Anna G. Eshoo of California, a friend and the preferred pick of Ms. Pelosi, and Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, a member with more seniority, are vying for the post vacated by retiring Representative Henry A. Waxman."

Court of Public Opinion? Lauren French of Politico: "House Republicans have hired ... noted constitutional lawyer [Jonathan Turley] to oversee a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for alleged executive overreach.... This is Republicans' third lawyer since the suit was initially passed in July. Two previous lawyers dropped the case and the House has yet to file the lawsuit in federal court. 'Even for $500-per-hour in taxpayer dollars, Speaker Boehner has had to scour Washington to find a lawyer willing to file this meritless lawsuit against the president,' said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Minority Leader Pelosi. 'Now, he's hired a TV personality for this latest episode of his distraction and dysfunction.'" Thanks to Haley S. for giving us the heads-up on this very early yesterday.

** Jamelle Bouie of Slate: Republicans keep pushing a liberal agenda. You read that right (or left!). Thanks, Mitch. ...

... ** Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "What's coming will be painful, frustrating, and dangerous -- and it will illustrate a constitutional malfunction unforeseen in 1787. The country will survive, and it's possible it can even make progress -- but at tremendous cost in polarization and missed opportunity.... So we might profitably put a six-month moratorium on paeans to the wisdom of the Framers. The problem of divided government is a bug, not a feature, and the Constitution itself provides no guidance on how to work around it.... I don't think any of [the Framers] anticipated that the two branches would ever clash over which represented the will of the voters.' The voters weren't all that important in their design. The House was the only branch directly elected by voters." ...

... Steve M. notes that "The editorial board of The Washington Post is appalled" that President Obama plans to unilaterally relax the enforcement of immigration laws. So Steve wonders why it is nobody seemed "appalled" when Mitt Romney made central to his campaign a pledge to unilaterally gut ObamaCare "on Day One" and "on Day Two," he planned to totally repeal the ACA with a party-line Congressional "reconciliation" vote. "... no 'mantle of bipartisanship there. And no mainstream chatterer expressed the slightest bit of outrage."

GruberGate, Ctd. CW: If readers would like to know why I seldom link anything Steve Rattner has written, even when he writes something useful, here's a good example. If Gruber is a blowhard who makes up shit to make himself appear more important, Rattner is a BLOWHARD WHO MAKES UP SHIT SO HE CAN KEEP BEING ON THE TEEVEE. ...

...Aaron Sharockman of PolitiFact: "Since Nov. 10, Fox News Channel has referenced Gruber at least 779 times on air, while MSNBC has referred to Gruber 79 times. CNN has mentioned Gruber just 27 times over the same period."

... Let's give Jonathan Cohn the Last Word on Gruber (till we have to add some more words). Cohn provides an honest & accurate portrayal of Gruber's input into the ACA.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.
(Because There's No Bounty on Dirtbags)

Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times: "Success appears to have bred arrogance and vindictiveness at Uber. That is the only conclusion to draw from the news that a senior executive [Emil Michael] at the company said it planned to uncover and spread personal information about journalists who wrote critical articles.... on Tuesday, the chief executive of Uber, Travis Kalanick, apologized for Mr. Michael's statements but said he would not be fired for them." ...

Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily: Uber "is way worse than anyone on our team could have expected." Lacy reprises some of the stories her site's reporters have written about Uber. Here's a good one: "... CEO Travis Kalanick ... calls the company 'boober' because of all the tail he gets since running it."

Katie Benner of Bloomberg View: "The rideshare company Uber ... is dealing with a public-relations nightmare of cartoonish proportions.... Venture investors, who often double as directors, generally don't care in the slightest about the public perception of startups or bad behavior within their portfolio companies so long as there's a chance that a profitable exit can be secured..... Companies potentially destined for Facebook-like success, including Uber, tend to become impervious to sour press."

Kara Swisher of Vanity Fair profiles Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: "One of Uber's earliest investors explains Kalanick's pugnacious reputation in more matter-of-fact terms: 'It's hard to be a disrupter and not be an asshole.'"

Max Read of Gawker: "If Uber has an 'asshole problem,' so does all of capitalism.... Insofar as it's considered spying on an oppositional journalist, Uber is acting exactly like a major company. Like, say, Hewlett-Packard.... Or Wal-Mart.... Or Fox News."

News Ledes

USA Today: "A 41-year-old Iowa man was arrested near the White House Wednesday after the Secret Service recovered a shotgun, ammunition and a knife from his vehicle, officials said. R.J. Kapheim of Davenport allegedly initiated a conversation with a uniformed Secret Service officer near the White House, saying that 'someone in Iowa' had directed him to drive to D.C., Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said."

New York Times: "President Obama will speak to the nation in a prime-time address on Thursday, asserting his authority to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, the White House said, and setting in motion an immediate confrontation with Republicans about the limits of a president's executive powers."..

.. New York Times: "Millions of undocumented immigrants who are set to be granted a form of legal status by President Obama as early as this week will not receive one key benefit: government subsidies for health care available under the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama is preparing to use his executive authority to provide work permits for up to five million people who are in the United States illegally, and to shield them from deportation."

Monday
Nov172014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 18, 2014

Karen Tumulty & Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama's expected action lifting the threat of deportation from millions of undocumented immigrants, which could come as early as this week, will expand the authority of the executive branch into murky, uncharted territory. The path is built on the long-accepted principle, going at least as far back as the 1970s, that any administration should have wide discretion over how it deals with those who are in this country illegally. However, Obama is poised to take that leeway significantly farther than before." ...

... Andrew Taylor of the AP: "Two presidents have acted unilaterally on immigration -- and both were Republican. Ronald Reagan and his successor George H.W. Bush extended amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. Neither faced the political uproar widely anticipated if and when President Barack Obama uses his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from deportation." ...

... Steve Benen: "Congress considered expanding the [Reagan-era] law, but the effort ended up failing, prompting Reagan to act on his own. Congress, rather than throwing a tantrum and impeaching the president, codified Bush's policy into law soon after.... While the narrow, limited orders related to Nicaraguan and Chinese immigrants are different from what Obama intends to do, these other measures from Reagan and Bush are actually quite similar." ...

... One Reason Republicans Oppose Immigration Reform. Simon Miloy of Salon: "The nativists of the conservative movement ... beliieve that birthright citizenship was never intended to be U.S. policy, and that the courts and the government have been misinterpreting the 14th Amendment these past 150 years. As you might have guessed, this is a radical idea that has little to no precedent or legal theory to back it up.... To address the problem of undocumented immigration, the base of the Republican Party and its loudest megaphone -- talk radio -- want to change the Constitution, dismantle a century and a half of citizenship policy, and alter one of the fundamental notions of American identity. This, in their minds, is a practical thing to do." CW: Perhaps worth noting, Laura Ingraham, radio host & ABC News contributor, who is a leading advocate of this view, clerked for Clarence Thomas.

Andrew Nikiforuk in a New York Times op-ed describes the devastation caused by & stupidity of mining tar sands for "garbage crude": "The reclamation of ... blown-up forests remains a nightmarish challenge. Nobody really knows how to put a boreal forest back together once it has been stripped of its trees, soil, wetlands and fish-bearing rivers."

Save Me! Save Me! (Screw the Planet.) Coral Davenport & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana pushed hard on Monday to round up votes for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, part of a last-minute effort to help her survive a close runoff and one of the toughest battles of her political career. Even if the Senate supports building the pipeline in a vote on Tuesday night, President Obama is likely to veto the measure on the grounds that an environmental review of the process remains incomplete." ...

... Dana Milbank on "purity politics, Democratic style." CW: I'd love to know what readers think about this debate.

Johana Bhuiyan & Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "The CEO of Uber said Friday that Obamacare has played a crucial role for his army of drivers, an unusual, partial endorsement of the president's signature policy from a man often cast as a hero of anti-government libertarianism.... 'It's huge,' Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO and co-founder, said in response to a question about Uber and Obamacare at a dinner in Manhattan. Kalanick didn't comment on the specifics of the health care policy, but said he sees little sense in the traditional link between employment and health care; he said he believes all Americans should have access to some health care safety net, without losing the option of paying more money for private care. And he said the success of Obamacare's core goal -- creating a functioning individual market for health care -- is very much in sync with Uber's vision of a liberated work force. 'The democratization of those types of benefits allow people to have more flexible ways to make a living,' Kalanick said. 'They don't have to be working for The Man.'" ...

     ... CW: In other words, Kalanick makes mincemeat of the central GOP economic argument against ObamaCare. "Jobs killer?" Not hardly, as we say in Red State Country. ...

... Jonathan Chait elaborates: "What makes Kalanick's comments not just cutting but a knife thrust to the Republican heart is that Uber is the very model of the sort of firm the party covets. Republicans actually circulated a pro-Uber petition and sought to brand itself in general as the party of Uber."

... Related. Maya Kosoff of Business Insider (Nov. 14): "Members of Congress and their staffers use Uber to travel more than any other form of ground transportation, according to a study released this week...." ...

... CW: Maybe the most shocking part of Kalanick's remarks is that a billionaire actually suggests he gives a fuck about the health of the workers upon whom his business model depends. ...

... However, Kalanick's "interest" in ObamaCare is completely self-serving. Jason Millman of the Washington Post: "By not paying for employees' health insurance, Uber saves tons of money, just as it also cuts costs by putting the costs of car ownership onto its drivers. The whole issue of how Uber treats its drivers lies at the heart of class action lawsuits filed in California and Massachusetts courts over the summer. The suits argue that Uber improperly classifies its drivers at independent contractors, when they should be counted as full employees entitled to employer-provided benefits, including health insurance. It's pretty unclear how much money Uber's drivers actually make, but if they're on the lower end of the scale, taxpayers could be helping to cover their insurance under the health-care law.... The question is whether Uber should be providing drivers with health insurance in the first place -- and if not, whether American taxpayers should help cover the cost." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a strong supporter of health care reform. But his careless comments at academic forums last year, caught on videotapes that surfaced recently, can only harm the reform cause.... [His] comments are doubly offensive. First, they insult ordinary Americans. And they're largely wrong.... His comments should not be taken as evidence that the reform law was hatched in secrecy and foisted on the public by trickery." ...

... AND I just came across this excellent new GOP plan to kill poor working people. Congressional Republicans have rendered rhetorical the question, "Have you no sense of decency, Sir?" ...

... ALSO, Chait takes down a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Tevi Troy, a former Dubya official, who's horrified by the ObamaCare "Cadillac tax." "Gruber, something, something, Gruber." (Paraphrase of op-ed.) CW: You don't need to read all the nitty-gritty of Chait's piece (or any of Troy's) to get the idea: When Republicans propose a plan, it's innovative & sensible; when Democrats institute the same plan, it's "the evilest, sneakiest, failing-est, and most unconstitutional assault of freedom ever" (Chait). Moreover, when Republicans make these charges, it is not necessary for the Wall Street Journal to reveal the opinionators' conflicts of interests. ...

     ... Steve Lemieux: "I could do without Gruber's condescension myself, but when it comes to insulting people's intelligence he's got nothing on the parade of hacks attacking him." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

... CW: I seldom read anything by Ron Fournier of the National Journal (& formerly the AP's top dog in Washington) because Ron Fournier is stupid. Last week, however, I linked to a column by Fournier in which he got something right, & I warned it wouldn't happen again this year. Sure enough, the next day he wrote something stupid about GruberGate. Not satisfied with standard stupid, Fournier wrote another column, the core of which Matt Yglesias argues, are "The worst two paragraphs about American politics you'll read today ... in which he explains that the big problem with Obama's approach was failing to take a page from the Massachusetts universal health care program that is in fact the model for Obamacare." You'll have to read Yglesias's full post to get how astoundingly stupid Fournier is. ...

... ** UPDATE. Better yet, Adam Weinstein of Gawker has written a masterful takedown of Fournier ("the Thomas Friedman of Helen Thomases") & a thorough but funny rebuttal to Fournier's ridiculous ObamaCare/RomneyCare column: "National Journal's editorial director and senior political columnist. Longtime AP politics guru. Author of Applebee's America. Honorable mention in a David Brooks essay contest. All of these are true statements about Ron Fournier, but none of them really captures his genius. Ron Fournier is America's palpitating heart, a folksy war addict who hates long wars, a critic of government spending who hates budget cuts, a squared circle who really gets your disgust with all these danged partisans, especially when you're voting for them en masse." ...

... Paul Krugman: "I've know for years that many political pundits don't think that understanding policy is part of their job. But this is still extreme. And I'm sorry to go after an individual here -- but for God's sake, don't you have to know something about the actual content of a policy you critique? And what's actually going on here is worse than ignorance. It's pretty clear that we're watching a rule of thumb according to which if Republicans are against a proposal, that means it must be leftist and extreme, and the burden on the White House is to find a way to make the GOP happy. Needless to say, this rewards obstructionism...." Thanks to Nisky Guy for the link. ...

... CW: There is no greater facilitator of the Republican party than the mainstream media's adherence to he-said/she said "journalism." Here's Jay Rosen (in 2011) trying to explain to NPR what he-said/she-said reporting is, and the NPR people just don't get it. They really can't (or won't) understand the difference between editorializing & facts-gathering, the latter of which is apparently too hard to do.

... BTW, Rosen wrote a good piece last week on the "Republicans have to show they can govern" wish that reporters & some pundits accept -- and write -- as fact. Read to the bottom to see who agrees with him. CW: I didn't link to any of the opinion pieces or reports (with the possible exception of Jeremy Peters' NYT report, which I might have thought included some useful info) which Rosen mentions, because I believe that Republicans, unlike Democrats, are immune from results tests.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

David Gelles of the New York Times: "Stocks are surging, corporate executives are ambitious and debt is cheap. The result is one of the biggest booms ever in mergers and acquisitions. Mergers worth $100 billion, made on Monday, put Wall Street on pace for a year of deal-making rivaling those during the dot-com bubble and the private equity upsurge just before the financial crisis."

David Dayen in Salon: "... you would be wrong to assume that anything has changed in our foreclosure courts. New evidence over the last month shows that [bank loan] servicers employ virtually the same improper techniques when foreclosing. Instead of robo-signers, they use robo-witnesses, or robo-verifiers; more on them in a moment. Regardless, they are breaking laws and degrading the integrity of the courts to kick people out of their homes, a sad and enduring legacy of the destruction of the nation's property system during the housing bubble years."

FINALLY, Another Super-Uber Plan. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: Emil Michael, "a senior executive at Uber, suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media -- and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.... Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of 'sexism and misogyny' ... after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service." One way Uber has already tracked a BuzzFeed reporter's personal activities, despite a stated policy against it: "looking at journalists' travel logs." See Nixon, Richard.

Beyond the Beltway

Mike Levine, et al., of ABC News: "As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision 'will likely' lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents. Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called 'hacktivists' like the group 'Anonymous' could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities." ...

... Virginia Young of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Citing 'the possibility of expanded unrest,' Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday declared a state of emergency and prepared to send the Missouri National Guard to help maintain order in the St. Louis region when a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case." ... CW: I had an awful time getting this page to load; it presented every kind of mess. The Reuters story, by Scott Malone, is here. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Make no mistake. This is a threat, pure and simple, and it is not aimed at people on both sides of this issue. In fact, it is a rather clear indication that Nixon feels that the grand jury is going to no-bill Wilson, and that Nixon is telling anyone who may be angered by that development that he is willing to do almost anything to keep their responses in check." Also, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, channeling Joe McCarthy, is "concerned" about "Black Panthers or communist activists."

... Adam Weinstein of Gawker: "Spurred on by a Tennessee resident who is "concerned" about the Ferguson protesters and their catchy chants, supporters of police officer Darren Wilson have donated more than enough money to post a billboard in the heart of the St. Louis suburb reading '#PantsUPDontLoot.' The phrase and hashtag, popularized by pearl-clutching National Review conservatives as a retort to the protesters' 'Hands up, don't shoot' rallying cry, apparently seeks to redirect attention from alleged excessive police force to alleged 'violence and mayhem' by demonstrators." ...

... AND Brandie Piper of KSDK-TV: "A 29-year-old Ferguson corrections officer is accused of having sex with an inmate at the city jail, whom he later allegedly allowed to escape. Jaris Hayden is charged with public servant acceding to corruption, two counts of sexual contact with an inmate, and permitting escape.... The inmate has not been identified, but filed a lawsuit against Hayden, alleging he raped her and forced her to give him oral sex after she was taken to jail for giving an officer a false name after she was pulled over for driving a vehicle with an expired license plate."

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray rejected a proposal by federal prosecutors in September that he plead guilty to a single felony count in connection with their long-running investigation of his 2010 campaign, a person with knowledge of the talks said. Prosecutors have also re-interviewed key witnesses in recent weeks, several individuals familiar with the case said -- a further indication that authorities are marching toward an indictment of the outgoing mayor."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on ISIS's murder of American humanitarian Peter Kassig: "Conversion [to Islam] was never protection. It was not ISIS's goal to make Kassig a Muslim, nor was it in its interest to acknowledge him as one. They wanted to murder an American, and they did."

November Elections

Chris Moody of CNN: "Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.... A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.... Groups ... [that] had access to the information posted to the accounts ... include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP." Via Paul Waldman.

Presidential Election

"The New Clinton Map." Dylan Scott of TPM writes a piece on the geniuses who are mapping out Hillary Clinton's Electoral College Path to Victory! They're planning to pick off some red states that Obama lost by appealing to working-class whites. "Clinton has already been testing a 2016 message that heavily emphasizes wage growth and expanding the middle class." CW: Mind you, neither Hillary nor these savants give a fuck about workers; they just think Clinton can "appeal" to them rubes by knocking down a few beers & repeating her "test message." You know, maybe voters aren't as stupid as Jonathan Gruber thinks & will sense that Hillary is as authentic as Mitt Romney.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Two assailants armed with a gun, knives and axes stormed a synagogue complex in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, killing at least four worshipers during morning prayers, according to the police. The attack was one of the deadliest in the city in several years."

Guardian: "American and Iranian negotiators have arrived in Vienna at the start of the last scheduled week of talks on Iran's nuclear programme with the outcome still in the balance."

New York Times: "With his once-vaunted plan for reviving Japan's economy now faltering, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on Tuesday that he would dissolve Parliament and hold national elections next month, saying he wants a new mandate from voters."

Sunday
Nov162014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 17, 2014

"A Freakout Foretold." Charles Pierce: "This may wind up being the most pivotal week of the president's administration. First, he may take the executive action on immigration that he should have taken before the election. Then, the Congress may send him a pro forma bill supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which he may then veto, even though that action may deprive the Republic of the services of Mary Landrieu, for whom some K Street lobbying firm likely already is clearing out an office, and despite the fact that it may very well occasion the launching of another Indian War in the West."

** Paul Krugman: "Conservatives want you to believe that while the goals of public programs on health, energy and more may be laudable, experience shows that such programs are doomed to failure. Don't believe them. Yes, sometimes government officials, being human, get things wrong. But we're actually surrounded by examples of government success, which they don't want you to notice." ...

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said 100,000 people submitted applications for coverage under the Affordable Care Act on Saturday, the first day of the law's second enrollment period."

Charles Blow: "Congressional Republicans have been sent to Washington with a mandate not so much to conduct business but rather to collect a bounty, to do what they promised and what their supporters expect: Stop Obama at any cost and at every turn, to erase his name or at least put an asterisk by it." ...

... No Surprise. Steve M.: "Republicans are planning to blame Democrats again for a GOP government shutdown." Surprise. Chuck Todd said to Bobby Jindal, "You're twisting my question."

E. J. Dionne: "On immigration, Boehner has lost all credibility to claim he wants to act in a bipartisan way. In his heart of hearts, might he like to pass a bill? Sure. But the speaker's heart is not what's at stake here. A willingness to take heat from the right wing of his caucus to pass a bill is what matters. And this is something he has showed, again and again, that he just won't do." CW: Another guy who mentioned the House's yearslong footdragging: Barack Obama.

Washington Post Editors: "... since the election Republican leaders have continued to indulge in hysterical 'war on coal' rhetoric, and they attacked the climate breakthrough in Beijing. They still appear determined to repeal the country's climate policies rather than replacing those policies with cheaper and more effective options, such as the market-based carbon-pricing programs that authentic conservatives would favor.... Whether out of cynicism, callousness or ignorance, Republicans over the past decade have ... indulged and encouraged shortsighted naysayers and climate conspiracists in the face of grave climate forecasts."

... Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: At the G-20 meeting, President "Obama put Australia's climate-denying Prime Minister [Tony Abbott] on the spot." ...

... Don Lee of the Los Angeles Times: "Criticized for being long on promises and short on delivery, leaders of the Group of 20 major economies set a target of lifting global economic output by at least 2% over five years -- an ambitious goal that would add $2 trillion to the world economy and millions of new jobs. To achieve that, the U.S. and other G-20 countries presented more than 800 specific projects and policy reforms that would, for instance, build more roads, improve trade and bring more women into the workforce." ...

... Here's video of the full press conference which President Obama held in Brisbane, Australia, at the close of the G-20 summit there:

Danielle Kurtzleben of Vox: "The latest jobs report showed the unemployment rate was at its lowest level in six years, 5.8 percent. But Americans aren't convinced that things are nearly that good. In a recent Ipsos-MORI poll, 1,001 Americans were asked, 'Out of every 100 people of working age, how many do you think are unemployed and looking for work?' Their average response was 32." ...

... CW: When (and if) the average American thinks one-third of potential workers are unemployed, the political party in power -- especially the party that holds the White House -- is in deep trouble. Misperceptions cause voters to make a lot of bad decisions. Ergo, Senator-Elect Joni Ernst. ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "That has an impact, for instance, on immigration policy: no one believes that undocumented immigrants are taking high-wage jobs, so you'll b likelier to oppose immigration reform if you believe that there just aren't enough even low-wage jobs...." ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic: Activists confront the Federal Reserve. And Janet Yellen listens. CW: (a) Elections matter. (b) Thanks to everyone who forced President Obama to choose Yellen to head the Fed over his preferred choice, Larry Summers. Really, would Summers have listened to "little people"? I don't think so.

Eric Segall in Slate: "Taking law seriously -- as opposed to making decisions based mostly on personal values -- is what distinguishes judges from other political officials. On that basis, Supreme Court justices are simply not judges.... We have unelected, life-tenured politicians masquerading as judges, making important decisions that affect us all. It is important to recognize the court for the purely political institution it is, and to acknowledge that it is not a court of law...." ...

... CW: I would add to that a point made some time back, I forget by which writer (Jonathan Bernstein??), that not only do these political justices have life tenure, if they aren't carried out in a coffin, they decide when to retire based entirely on strategic political considerations, so their "life" tenure can actually continue for many generations, in their like-minded replacements. Ruth Ginsburg, David Souter (although Souter said he "probably" would have retired anyway if McCain had won the 2008 election) & Sandra O'Connor all made clear that politics determined their retirement decisions.

Nicholas Kristof: "... one element of white privilege today is obliviousness to privilege, including a blithe disregard of the way past subjugation shapes present disadvantage."

Sally Jenkins & Rick Maese of the Washington Post: "Federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of National Football League team medical staffs on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league. The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act...."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: Maybe I fooled you into thinking Chuck Todd had turned over a new leaf when he objected to Bobby's Jindal's twisting his words (see above). Nah. As Driftglass documents, Press the Meat was a veritable beauty pageant for wingers. My favorite: Carly Fiorina, who deigned to allow her man Chuck to break some big news: she cannot avoid considering a presidential run because "Well, when people ask you over and over again, you have to pause and reflect. So I'll pause and reflect at the right time." Thank you, California, for not electing this harridan as your representative to the greatest deliberative body on earth (TM).

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Yes, Bill Keller Is Doing Something Useful. Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focused on the American criminal justice system and led by Bill Keller, a former executive editor of The New York Times, went live this weekend, the latest in a crop of start-ups seeking a place in an increasingly fragmented journalism landscape." ...

... Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

Here's the Marshall Project debut story, by Ken Armstrong, published in the Washington Post. Armstrong covers the failure of some lawyers to file timely petitions for habeas corpus in capital cases, "arguably the most critical safeguard in the United States' system of capital punishment.... Just last month, Mark Christeson, a Missouri inmate whose lawyers missed the habeas deadline in 2005, received a stay of execution from the Supreme Court just hours before he was set to die by lethal injection. In a court brief filed on Christeson's behalf, 15 former state and federal judges emphasized that he had not even met the appellate attorneys handling his federal case until after the filing deadline had passed. 'Cases, including this one, are falling through the cracks of the system,' they wrote. 'And when the stakes are this high, such failures unacceptably threaten the very legitimacy of the judicial process.'" ...

     ... CW: Once again, thanks, Newt Gingrich & Bill Clinton, and all you other phony "law & order" turkeys. ...

... Here's Part 2 of Anderson's report: "... an investigation by The Marshall Project has found that in at least 80 capital cases in which lawyers have missed the deadline -- sometimes through remarkable incompetence or neglect -- it is almost always the prisoner alone who suffers the consequences.... The lack of oversight or accountability has left many of the lawyers who missed the habeas deadlines free to seek appointment by the federal courts to new death-penalty appeals." ...

AND here's another death penalty horror story, courtesy of Paige Williams of the New Yorker. This one, not surprisingly, comes out of Alabama, where a judge can capriciously, it seems, override a jury's recommendation not to impose the death penalty, even as he questions whether or not the convicted man is even guilty.

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Video footage has emerged showing Darren Wilson -- the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri -- threatening and arresting a resident who refused to stop filming him with a cellphone. Wilson is seen standing near his Ferguson police SUV and warning Mike Arman: 'If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I'm gonna lock your ass up.' Arman, who had requested Wilson's name, replies: 'Sir, I'm not taking a picture, I'm recording this incident sir.'... Filming police officers carrying out their duties is widely considered to be legal and protected by the first amendment of the US constitution."

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "A lawyer for Bill Cosby said on Sunday the comedian would not make any comment on 'decade-old, discredited' allegations of sexual abuse." Here's the full statement, published on BillCosby.com.

News Ledes

AP: "The cold-eyed militants lined up behind their victims in the latest Islamic State video appear to come from outside the Middle East, including one from France and possibly two from Britain, as the extremist group tries to show a global reach. The grisly video -- clearly aimed at a Western audience -- lingers as much on the faces of the camouflaged extremists as the men who are beheaded. The victims include American aid worker Peter Kassig and more than a dozen Syrian soldiers."

Reuters: "Former customers of Bernard Madoff may soon recover an additional $496.8 million as a result of a settlement with two 'feeder funds' that was announced on Monday by the trustee liquidating the swindler's firm. The settlement, with the Herald Fund SPC and Primeo Fund, both based in the Cayman Islands, is one of the largest obtained by the trustee, Irving Picard, since the failure of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in December 2008."

Washington Post: "Martin Salia, a doctor who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Sierra Leone, died on Monday while receiving treatment in Omaha. Salia was in 'extremely critical condition' after he was evacuated in a specially equipped air ambulance for treatment in the United States at the Nebraska Medical Center, which has a state-of-the-art isolation facility equipped for treating Ebola patients. A native of Sierra Leone with ties to Maryland, Salia had initially tested negative for the virus; but a subsequent test came back positive on Nov. 10."