The Ledes

Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Reuters: "Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia on Thursday as Houthi rebels battled with his forces on the outskirts of the southern port city."

CBS News: "A National Guardsman arrested for supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, had allegedly planned an attack on a military post in Illinois, the Justice Department said Thursday. Army National Guard Spc. Hasan Edmonds, 22, was arrested at Chicago Midway International Airport Wednesday night while he was attempting to fly to Cairo to allegedly join ISIS, the department said in a statement."


Guardian: "The UK supreme court has cleared the way for the publication of secret letters written by Prince Charles to British government ministers, declaring that an attempt by the state to keep them concealed was unlawful. The verdict – the culmination of a 10-year legal fight by the Guardian – is a significant blow for the government, which has been battling to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny over his 'particularly frank' interventions on public policy."

Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country. The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "Egypt said Thursday that it was prepared to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led campaign to drive back the Iranian-backed Houthi advance, signaling the growing likelihood of a protracted ground war on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula."

New York Times: "As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a [Germanwings] jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in." ...

     ... ** UPDATE: "The co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the aircraft, French officials said Thursday, pointing to voice recorder evidence that he had locked the captain out of the cockpit, ignored his pleas for re-entry and steered down into the French Alps as passengers were heard screaming. The assertions instantly changed the nature of the Tuesday crash, which obliterated the Airbus A320 and killed all 150 aboard, into a wide-ranging criminal investigation that focused on the co-pilot, a 28-year-old German with no obvious reason to commit mass murder, who had been hired less than two years ago." ...

     ... The Guardian's live updates are here.

... Washington Post: "A mother and daughter from Prince William County were among three Americans who perished when an Airbus jet plunged into a frozen ridge in the French Alps this week, officials said Wednesday. Yvonne Selke, a longtime government contractor, and Emily Selke, a recent graduate of Drexel University, died Tuesday along with 148 others on the Germanwings flight from Spain to Germany."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

New York Times: "On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant [Beau] Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life."

New York Times: "Rescuers on Wednesday resumed the difficult task of searching for the 150 victims of a deadly plane crash in the French Alps, as France’s interior minister said that terrorism was not at the top of the list of potential causes."

Washington Post: "Yemen’s embattled president was pushed deeper into crisis Wednesday after fleeing a last-ditch refuge as advancing Shiite rebels seized a key air base in a push to overrun the country’s second-largest city. The whereabouts of Western-allied President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was not immediately clear."

Put Some Ketchup on that Velveeta. New York Times: "Kraft Foods and H. J. Heinz, two icons of the American food industry, are merging in a blockbuster deal involving the billionaire Warren E. Buffett and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, creating what will be the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world.... Heinz, which is owned by 3G Capital and Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, will control 51 percent of the combined company, while Kraft shareholders will own 49 percent."

AP: "Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. will be released from a federal prison on Thursday and will serve out the remainder of his term in a Washington, D.C., halfway house, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press after visiting Jackson. Kennedy said he spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama, where the son of the civil rights leader has been serving a 2 ½-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items."

CBS New York: "The Connecticut home of the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been demolished, Newtown officials said Tuesday. The 2-acre lot where the 3,100-square-foot house once stood in a leafy, suburban neighborhood will be left as open space under a plan approved by town officials.... Everything inside the home, including rugs and lighting fixtures, had previously been removed and incinerated so that no remnants were available to become memorabilia."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to


New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

"In March 2015, Robert Kenner, the Director of 'Food Inc' and other acclaimed documentaries, will debut his newest, 'Merchants of Doubt'. Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, the film follows the development of sophisticated methods for distorting science, used by the Tobacco industry to hide the poisonous nature of their products, and adapted by the Fossil Fuel industry to distort the science around climate change":

... Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post discusses the documentary: "... Marc Morano, a professional climate-change denier and founder of the Climate Depot Web site ... is, arguably, the star of Kenner’s film. After a stint in the 1990s reporting for Rush Limbaugh, Morano worked briefly as a flack for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who famously called global warming a 'hoax.' He also plays dirty. In 'Doubt,' Morano recounts with glee how he has published the e-mail addresses of climate scientists, subjecting them to intimidation and flaming attacks from anonymous critics. (Several of the abusive e-mails are read aloud in the film by their recipients...."

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.


The Commentariat -- Feb. 6, 2013

** Michael Kugelman, in a New York Times op-ed, on the global land grab: big corporations buying up massive tracts of land in impoverished & strife-torn countries, with no benefit & considerable devastation coming to indigenous people.

Frank Newport of Gallup: "At least two-thirds of Americans favor each of five specific measures designed to address immigration issues -- ranging from 68% who would vote for increased government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders, to 85% who would vote for a requirement that employers verify the immigration status of all new hires. More than seven in 10 would vote for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now living in this country."

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama on Wednesday will nominate business executive and former engineer Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department, an administration official said. Jewell is the president and chief executive officer at the outdoors company Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor adventures with more than 100 stores across the country. Prior to joining REI in 2000, Jewell worked in commercial banking and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation." CW: why is it that I think a CEO & former oil company engineer might not be the best choice for secretary of the interior? ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post has more on Jewell. ...

     ... UPDATE. John Broder of the New York Times: "President Obama has selected Sally Jewell, the chief executive of Recreational Equipment Inc., to lead the Interior Department, White House officials said Wednesday."

Robert Worth, et al., of the New York Times: "... the [U.S.'s] clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama's nominee for C.I.A. director." ...

... Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama's plan to install his counterterrorism adviser as director of the CIA has opened the administration to new scrutiny over the targeted-killing policies it has fought to keep hidden from the public, as well as the existence of a previously secret drone base in Saudi Arabia."

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "The summary memo is a chilling document, full of twisted definitions, gaping loopholes and hints that the White House still isn't sharing its full justification for killing citizens without due process.... Fortunately, the president's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA gives the Senate an ideal opportunity to demand that the White House be more forthcoming.... If the White House doesn't hand over the memos, then the Senate should strongly consider delaying Brennan's confirmation."

... New York Times Editors: "... the newly disclosed 'white paper' offering a legal reasoning behind the claim that President Obama has the power to order the killing of American citizens who are believed to be part of Al Qaeda ... had the air of a legal justification written after the fact for a policy decision that had already been made, and brought back unwelcome memories of memos written for President George W. Bush to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture.... This dispute goes to the fundamental nature of our democracy, to the relationship among the branches of government and to their responsibility to the public."

Michael Shear & Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday called on lawmakers to quickly pass a new package of limited spending cuts and tax changes that can head off the automatic, across-the-board reductions set to begin March 1":

... Lori Montgomery & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "As Obama spoke, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office rolled out new projections showing that the spending battles of the past two years have helped shrink record budget deficits but have also hampered economic growth. The deficit — the annual gap between taxes and spending -- is projected to fall to $845 billion this year, the first time it has come in under $1 trillion since 2008." ...

... CW: yesterday the Cantor crowd accused President Obama of stepping on Cantor's speech when he (Obama) made brief remarks in the White House briefing room. However, I suspect Cantor's speech was itself an effort to cover up the CBO report to Congress. Why muzzle the CBO? How about this? -- Steve Benen: "The conversation on Capitol Hill is so ridiculous, it no longer resembles reality in any meaningful way. Congressional Republicans insist they want to improve the strength of the recovery. How? By cutting spending that undermines the strength of the recovery." Read Benen's whole post & you have to come away realizing it is not just the crop of House Tea Party Republicans who are crazy -- it's the "mainstream" leadership, too. (I originally typed that "meanstream"; shoulda left it. ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "... debt reduction just isn't a five-alarm fire kind of problem, no matter how loudly the Pete Petersons of the world claim otherwise.... If we rein in healthcare spending, we're in good shape. If we don't, we have problems." ...

... AND Brian Beutler of TPM explains one reason not to rely on the CBO report: "... this particular budget and economic forecast is highly uncertain, even in the short term. Looming fights over the sequester, government appropriations, and the debt limit could dramatically alter the fiscal outlook and thus the economic forecast, for the year and coming decade. Similarly, deficits will be higher than projected if Congress, as it routinely does, extends expiring tax credits and overrides a 25 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates before the end of the year."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to travel to Israel this spring for the first time since taking office, as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the last four years now that both have won re-election."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Two Democrats and two Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would create a dedicated federal anti-gun-trafficking law while further cracking down on people who buy firearms for someone else and lie about it on federal background check forms."

Eric Cantor's big speech. Text of remarks as prepared. ...

... Ed Kilgore has video of Cantor's "bad speech, poorly delivered." Still, Cantor had an experienced speechwriter -- Barack Obama:

... Jonathan Easley of Politics USA: "Eric Cantor wanted to attach the same stale Republican ideas to the language of Obama. A side by side comparison of the two speeches reveals the hollowness of this technique. Obama's speech in Topeka followed the language with examples and policy proposals. Eric Cantor's speech was full of attempts to relate to the common man and families, but specific ideas were mostly missing. This omission was intentional. Cantor is only interested in changing the tone of the Republican Party, not the policies." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "If Republicans are actually proud of this essay in policy minimalism..., then they are further away from any real reinvention of themselves than even hostile observers like me thought possible." ...

... Headline of the Week: "Eric Cantor Puts Old Whine in New Bottles." (Mark 2:22) Charles Pierce was not impressed with the "details." Because there weren't any. ...

... CW: one thing about this "rebranding" -- borrowing Obama's language without embracing any of Obama's policies -- is that in his borrowing, Cantor implicitly acknowledges that Obama won the election, & polls show he won because Americans like Obama's policies better than they liked the GOP's. Moreover, in this speech Cantor muttered what Republicans haven't said since Saint Ronald decreed "government is the problem": while the bulk of Cantor's speech was the usual boilerplate "get government out of the way of hardworking, self-sufficient Americans," Cantor also admitted that government does have a role to play beyond killing people in foreign lands, & even got semi-specific once; to wit: "There is an appropriate and necessary role for the federal government to ensure funding for basic medical research." One small step from a guy who last year wasn't sure he could vote for disaster aid. ...

... MEANWHILE, Dana Milbank can't help but notice the duplicity of a man who recites Emma Lazarus but claims he has no idea what Senate Republicans are doing about immigration & talks about the evils of ObamaCare without acknowledging that standard-issue Republicans like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio -- a former colleague of Cantor's -- were buying into ObamaCare. Maybe a better biblical reference would be Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." ...

... Perhaps Steve Benen best gets to the heart of Cantor's insurmountable problem: "Cantor seems to realize that another 'government is evil' speech is pointless -- for all the assumptions about the 'center-right nation,' he realizes that the American mainstream sees a role for a healthy public sector that promotes the general welfare. But the problem with this latest rebranding campaign is that Cantor wants to present a Republican agenda that will 'benefit families across the nation,' but he can't fill in the blanks. There's a reason for this, which the right generally prefers not to admit: conservatism isn't an effective governing philosophy when it comes to using government to make a positive material difference in the lives of working families."

Brian Beutler of TPM re: that recent Washington, D.C. Circuit Court decision nullifying President Obama's NLRB recess appointments: "The Congressional Research Service found a total of 329 intrasession recess appointments -- appointments that occurred when the Senate adjourned in the middle of a session -- since 1981. By the terms of Noel Canning v. NLRB, all of those appointments would have been invalid." CW: the D.C. court is so extreme, they claim every president in recent history -- including those who appointed them -- has routinely violated the Constitution while no one objected. Funny this never came up before.

Here's a news quiz from the Pew Research Center. CW: I missed the same question contributor P. D. Pepe missed. Fifty-seven percent of those who took the quiz got the right answer. So we're not so smart. Thanks to James S. for the link.

Nicole Perlroth for the New York Times: at "the Kaspersky Annual Summit in San Juan, P.R..., one of the scarier presentations was delivered by Ang Cui, a Columbia Ph.D. student, who demonstrated how to spy on calls made with Cisco's VoIP phone. Yes, that is the same phone ... President Obama [uses] aboard Air Force One." Cisco tried repeatedly to patch their system, but Cui found work-arounds every time. Cisco gave up. ...

... Perlroth: "Phil Zimmermann, the creator of the widely used Pretty Good Privacy e-mail encryption software, recently unveiled Silent Circle, which adds security features to phone, video and text messages sent by smartphones. The new service, which charges a monthly fee, could emerge as a more secure rival to Snapchat and Skype."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Roveland. Jed Lewison: Karl Rove's new SuperPAC to stop crazy Republicans from winning primaries boasts about have just re-elected the same crazy Republican they held up as the poster Boy of All Crazy Republicans: Rep. Steve King of Iowa. CW: if you think this makes absolutely no sense, remember that you're in Right Wing World where making sense is against the law.

Local News

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Maryland appears likely in the next few weeks to join the growing list of states that have abolished capital punishment. Some longtime death penalty opponents say no one in the country has done more to advance that cause than [Kirk Noble] Bloodsworth. But ending executions in Maryland, the state that once was determined to kill him, would be a personal victory for him." CW: Bloodsworth, the first death-row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence, has a compelling story to tell, & Shane tells it.

America's Worst Governor Makes Plans for a Second Term. Alexander Burns & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Rick Scott is preparing to defend his Florida governorship with the most expensive reelection campaign in state history, drawing up plans for a battleship-sized political operation aimed at overcoming the Republican's deep personal unpopularity. The anticipated price tag, according to sources familiar with Scott’s plans: $100 million." Scott's possible opponent -- Republican-turned-Democrat & former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS makes a pre-emptive strike against actor Ashley Judd, who has expressed an interest in running against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. Kevin Cerilli of Politico has the backstory:

News Ledes

Boy Scouts Not Prepared. AP: "... the Boy Scouts of America is retreating until May from a decision about whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it's likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting."

AP: "The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says. In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August."...

     ... New York Times Update: "Saying it needed to take drastic steps to stem billions of dollars in losses, the Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would seek to stop Saturday delivery of letters, a sweeping change in the way the agency operates that immediately drew criticism from postal unions and some businesses."

Guardian: "The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives."

New York Times: "A leading Tunisian opposition politician, [Chokri Belaid,] who had been critical of the Islamist-led government was fatally shot outside his home in Tunis Wednesday, the government news agency said." ...

... Reuters: "Thousands of protesters gathered in Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, after a prominent secular opponent of Tunisia's moderate Islamist-led government was shot dead on Wednesday."

Reuters: "Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland will pay U.S. and British authorities $615 million and plead guilty to wire fraud in Japan to settle allegations it manipulated global benchmark interest rates."

AP: "As FBI and police negotiators sought for days to coax an Alabama man into freeing a kindergartner held hostage in an underground bunker, the captor was planning for violence.... He rigged the bunker with explosives, tried to reinforce it against any raid, and when SWAT agents stormed the shelter Monday to rescue the boy, Jimmy Lee Dykes engaged in a firefight that left the captor dead, the FBI and officials said."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 5, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton, in Politico, on the Family & Medical Leave Act, which he signed into law 20 years ago today.

President Obama spoke Monday in Minneapolis about controlling gun violence:

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama traveled to the nation's heartland to press his case for tougher gun laws on Monday, even as evidence mounted in Washington that expanded background checks on gun sales may emerge as a legislative compromise in the bitterly divisive cultural debate." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post is not impressed with the NRA's repeated claim that there are thousands of gun laws that are not being enforced: "It may well be the case that there are 'thousands' of laws, but what does that mean? What does counting statutes, or local regulations, say about the quality or effectiveness of those laws? ... This 20,000 figure appears to be an ancient guesstimate that has hardened over the decades into a constantly repeated, never-questioned talking point."

Jim Abrams of the AP: "Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, on Monday launched a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans. The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8.... Advocates hope that Republicans [in the House], smarting from election losses among women voters in November, won't repeat their resistance last year to the Senate approach." ...

... Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The Senators who voted against moving to debate on the bill were: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID)."

Manu Raju & David Rogers of Politico: "Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. The Arizona Republican ... said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel's confirmation."

Julia Preston & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, said on Monday that a series of hearings he will schedule in the coming months would examine ... a possible overhaul of the immigration system, including proposals for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.... Mr. Goodlatte ... has established a solid record of opposition to any measures he regarded as amnesty for illegal immigrants. But he said the Judiciary hearings would include scrutiny of proposals to offer legal status to most of the immigrants living illegally in the country."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans.... White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in his State of the Union address next week." CW: Please do look at the accompanying charts of how long it took different groups to vote. I am so very proud of the bottom line -- the length of time it took to vote in Florida relative to other states. Go Rick Scott! ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A new study by Princeton molecular biologist and neuroscientist Sam Wang digs deeper into the effect of the Republican gerrymander, and finds that the gerrymanders in seven states were so powerful that they are the equivalent of 1.7 million Democrats simply deciding not to show up at the polls.... Such gerrymanders can exist because five conservative justices refused to block partisan redistricting in a case called Vieth v. Jubelirer."

"Republicans v. Consumers." Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to President Obama, cosigned by 42 other Senators, insisting on 'structural changes' to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... Unless those changes are made, Mr. McConnell said, the Senate by golly is not going to approve the appointment of a director." ...

... ** Nullification. Jamelle Bouie: "Republicans have decided to simply block any attempt at enforcing laws they don't like. For the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], this means blocking confirmation for its director -- former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray -- until the administration agrees to gut the agency and leave consumers more vulnerable to predatory financial practices.... Blanket objections to any nominee -- out of opposition to the agency itself -- is an unacceptable and unprecedented abuse of Senate powers. Far from offering 'advice and consent,' GOP senators are using the confirmation process to block implementation of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president." ...

... ** Charles Pierce: "the Republicans seem to be arguing over whether they will be the Party Of Plutocracy or the Party Of The Stupid Rapey Guys. Will they represent the interests that stole most of the economy and wrecked what was left, or will they be the party of the people obsessed with snowflake Jeebus zygotes? ... (It's not the Tea Party that's trying to castrate the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. It's 'establishment Republicans' like Mitch McConnell.... They're acting in the interest of the mountebanks in the new financial establishment, all of them independent political actors.)" CW: I've got news for Pierce. There are plenty of elected GOP officials -- like Paul Ryan -- who represent both wings. ...

... Pierce also wrote an excellent translation of Carly Fiorina's economic philosophy, as expressed in an exchange we saw in yesterday's Commentariat: "Krugman and Fiorina got into it about the best way to put people to work, and Fiorina carefully explained to the Nobel Prize-winning economist that, in her experience at cratering companies and walking away with a big score, public sector employees don't do real jobs and are not paid in real money. They are paid in Magic Federal Dollars which are stolen from the rest of us.... Yes. You see that guy out there with the shovel, filling in the potholes on your street? His salary, such as it is, is not the same thing, and not even remotely as 'efficient,' as paying someone $21 million to clean out their desk."

Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be 'senior operational leaders' of al-Qaida or 'an associated force' -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo ... provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's ... dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan."

New York Times: "The Justice Department, along with state prosecutors, plans to file civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, accusing the firm of fraudulently rating mortgage bonds that led to the financial crisis, people briefed on the plan said Monday. A suit against S.&P. -- expected to filed this week -- would be the first the government has brought against the credit ratings agencies related to the financial crisis, despite continued questions about the agencies' conflicts of interest and role in creating a housing bubble."

Stephen Colbert interviews Justice Sonia Sotomayor. An excellent value:

Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he will accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, becoming the fifth Republican governor to embrace the provision of the health care reform law that the Supreme Court made optional. The governor unveiled the decision as part of his budget proposal."

Rachel Maddow & Frank Rich talk about Republican infighting:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post has what I thought was a fairly good piece on the continuing criticisms of Michelle Obama's physique. Thompson ledes with the story of an Alabama high school football coach -- Bob Grisham -- who, according to Thompson said, "Fat butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight." Thompson even cites a couple of people who -- accurately -- attribute the remarks to racism. But inexplicably Thompson does not report the clearest racist remark Grisham made -- that Obama is "a fat gorilla." ...

     ... CW Update: I've since listened to the audio tape, & Grisham was not the one who made the "fat gorilla" comment, as reported in the Huff Post & elsewhere, though he certainly did not challenge the remark, which might have been made by a student.

... Grisham also made extremely derogatory remarks about gays. According to the AP, "... Grisham has been suspended without pay for 10 days and is ordered to attend sensitivity training for four days." CW: I'm pretty sure whatever "sensitivity training" Coach Bubba gets in Alabama will turn him into a notable civil rights advocate. ...

Bob Grisham. Times-Daily photo.... Update: in response to JJG's comment today, I've posted a picture of Grisham, which unfortunately does not include a shot of his posterior. Nonetheless, the headshot suggests the man is not svelte. The other two people Thompson mentions who have made public remarks criticizing Michelle Obama's body are Rush Limbaugh & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.). ...

In case you don't know what Jim Sensenbrenner looks like, here's his official portrait; that is, what he thinks he looks like:

Now let's see what Sensenbrenner really looks like:

Re: JJG's comment on the obesity rate in Alabama: at 32 percent, it's one of the highest in the nation.

Justin Sink of The Hill: "Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) broke his silence on an alleged prostitution scandal for the first time Monday, dismissing the allegations that he solicited women during trips to the Dominican Republic as 'totally unsubstantiated' and 'absolutely false.' ... One of the women cited ... was interviewed Monday by Univision, and denied having ever worked as a prostitute or having met Menendez."

CW: Rachel Maddow explores a subject I touched on the other day. You cannot confuse wingers with the facts. Also, it's worth noting that over there is Right Wing World, it isn't just Michelle Obama who is too fate; so is her husband (unless he photoshopped in that little tummy the way he did the gun & the smoke & the Mom jeans, etc.):

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: it seems people are outraged at this tweet by former Rep. Ron Paul, the presidential candidate & libertarian dahling: "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense." CW: It seems to me Paul was just stating the obvious, tho because I am always reticent to speak ill of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their deaths, I would have kept my mouth shut on this, too. At least for now. Well-meaning people make mistakes every day, even in their efforts to help others. But those mistakes usually aren't fatal -- unless lethal weapons are involved. ...

... One of those upset: the latest Paul presidential candidate -- Li'l Randy.

The Smoking Gun: "Paul Guaschino was driving Friday when a fellow motorist spotted an 'Impeach Obama' bumper sticker on the 62-year-old Connecticut resident's vehicle. According to cops, the other driver apparently did not appreciate the bumper sticker and 'displayed his dislike by showing his middle finger.' In response, Guaschino allegedly followed the other driver to a traffic light, where he exited his car -- baseball bat in hand -- and struck the trunk of the middle finger-waving driver. The second motorist 'fled in fear of his safety,' police reported." CW Safety Tip of the Day: Do not challenge wingers. They are crazy. Some of them are crazy-violent. They carry weapons. They are prone to using the weapons. ...

... CW: Speaking of guns & Kentucky (see Paul, Rand), this PCCC ad against Mitch McConnell is, IMHO, extremely effective:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lived for decades with a stunning secret -- that she was the interracial daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist who never acknowledged her publicly as his child — died Monday in a nursing home near Columbia, S.C. She was 87."

AP: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, marking a historic departure from years of frigid ties between the two regional heavyweights. Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on the tarmac at Cairo airport, shaking the Iranian's hand and exchanging a kiss on each cheek as a military honor guard stood at attention."

New York Times: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files last Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago to make the painful history public. But it now appears that the files the church released with much fanfare are incomplete and many are unaccounted for, according to the abuse victims' lawyers. In addition, on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, in apparent violation of a judge's order." "Astronomers should dramatically ramp up the sky surveys, not only to better prepare for threats to Earth [by asteroid hits] but also to exploit asteroids' contents, scientists say."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 4, 2013

The Inconsistent Client. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: President Obama's shifting stance on gay marriage creates challenges for his lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Virrelli, who must argue two cases on the issue before the Supreme Court this term.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: "... the release of her new memoir, 'My Beloved World,' suggests that [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] has broader ambitions than her colleagues, to play a larger and more personal role on the public stage."

Lindsey Bourma of CBS News: "President Obama said today there's 'no doubt' additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit, but believes lawmakers can do it 'without raising taxes again'":

Republicans = "Friends of Fraud." Paul Krugman on GOP efforts to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "... just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again."

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "... the Labor Department's latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath. These Americans in their 50s and early 60s -- those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security -- have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to ... a data analysis company." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: but, see, boomers' vulnerability is a big cost-savings for "entitlement" programs. "Failure to provide adequate social services to unemploy[ed] 61 year-olds not only saves money because you don't need to pay for the benefits, it saves even more money when it leads to that guy dying at 71 rather than 74." CW: it's the GOP Die Quickly Plan that Rep. Alan Grayson [D-Fla.] outlined about 4 years ago.

... Digby: "This is why I so love Pete Peterson and Alan Simpson for launching their generational war.... In fact, they should look at what happened to this baby boom generation as an object lesson in timing. You just never know when the bottom is going to fall out and all your best laid plans for saving and accumulating wealth are shot to hell because a bunch of greedy bankers and financiers decided to gamble with other people's money. Most of those who wind up depending on Social Security are hard-working people who did everything right. And that's why these millionaire plutocrats are such con artists. They are trying to preserve America for the young, alright. But it's for their own heirs. That's how moneyed elites turn themselves into Aristocrats."

** NEW. Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: "Take a seat, balloon boy. Paul Krugman has become the first human I've ever witnessed escaping from the gravitational pull of something with black hole-like density: Joe Scarborough and his gang of deficit hacks.... This is not an issue of right-versus-left ideological conflicts. This is a right-versus-wrong conflict, pure and simple. It's a Beltway bubble versus real-world conflict. It's a data-tested versus magical-thinking conflict."

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: "The $178 billion wireless industry is fiercely lobbying against the federal government's plan to create powerful WiFi networks across the nation, but Google, Microsoft say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark major innovation."

David Sanger & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: The Obama administration is moving, "in the next few weeks, to approve the nation's first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack."

NEW. Steve Benen: "In LaPierre's mind, it doesn't matter what officials say their position is, and it doesn't matter what policymakers include in legislation. What really matters is the paranoid imagination of Wayne LaPierre -- who apparently can read minds and ascertain what Democrats secretly have in mind." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The NRA is now revealed as an insane organization." Krugman lets some GOP backbencher have it, & Carly Fiorina lies about what Krugman said less than 2 minutes after he said it. How can anyone abide her?:

... ALSO, Fiorina goes off on one of her myth-repeating rants, & Krugman calls her out for it:

     ... CW: Fiorina's smug girly-girl/schoolmarm demeanor is insufferable, especially because she adopts the pose to make her smoke-blowing seem like heart-rending truthtelling. Wouldn't it be nice if Snuffolopogus were able to fact-check her instead of sitting there mute while she spews disinformation? ...

... CW: One thing to always bear in mind about arguments from the denizens of Right Wing World -- you cannot win because they always grossly distort what their opponents say, whether they're pulling a Fiorina & arguing against something you didn't say or pulling a LaPierre & "reading your mind" and/or calling you a duplicitous liar. Combine this with their uncanny ability to make up "facts" & "statistics" that suit them, & it is pointless to speak to these people.

Law Prof. Shirley Katzen has a very good op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the faulty reasoning behind the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to void President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB. For one thing, the Court has no business interfering at all.

Please, Moroni, Let This Be True. Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Tagg Romney, son of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is considering a Senate run in Massachusetts's upcoming special election, according to the Boston Herald." ...

    ... UPDATE: Crap, there is no Angel Moroni. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Two sources close to both Tagg and his father Mitt tell ABC News it's not going to happen. One consideration for Tagg Romney may be that his father lost the Bay State in last year’s presidential election by 23 points."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Right Wing World. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (and Fox "News"): "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate.The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: American "Crossroads president Steven Law told the New York Times that Crossroads allies are creating the new organization to oppose candidates such as former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who lost a once-competitive Senate race last year. Both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund -- two of the most prominent groups that have boosted candidates on the right -- mocked the new initiative as yet another hapless establishment-side attempt to muzzle the GOP base. Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, branded it the 'Conservative Defeat Project.'" ...

... AND Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... it's possible the Conservative Victory Fund could save the GOP a few seats in 2014, [but] there's also the potential that its existence will only strengthen the right's resolve to fight the party establishment -- and to help the very candidates it's designed to stop."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs finds "an absolutely blatant, in your face example of how the right wing blogs tell each other lies, circulate them, and turn them into unquestionable articles of faith. It's a microcosm of the reality-denying reactionary sickness at the heart of the conservative movement." No Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not say waterboarding led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Michael Harlin of the right-wing American Thinker (a blog name apparently not meant to be comedic) in a post titled "Seven Reasons Why It's a Photoshop." CW: Right Wing World is so predictable, their "journalists" could save a lot of trouble by hiring liberals to write parodies of what they are definitely going to write themselves, then publish the parodies as straight copy & call it a day. ...

... AND Daniel Halper of the Winger Weekly Standard had the Scoop of the Day: the White House released the photo with this caveat: "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House." ...

... CW: Yo, Danny Boy, that standard copyright language goes on every photo the White House makes available for publication. But great catch anyway. Asshole. Apparently Halper has never sought out a depiction of President Obama that doesn't look more-or-less like the WS's "official" portrait. ...

... P.S. Halper's revelation was such big news over there In Right Wing World that -- as is common practice -- it made the rounds. Assholes. ...

... P.P.S.: of course the law-abiding, Constitooshun-loving denizens of Right Wing World couldn't wait to violate the copyright, which -- on accounta they're violating a specific government regulation -- is a federal offense. Instead of throwing 'em all in Club Fed, let's send them to those re-education camps that concerned Michele Bachman. I'll be the teacher. ...

... Michael Shaw of Bag News points out a delicious irony re: the photo release: "... critics and conservatives short-sightedly forced Obama into releasing one of the most advantageous photos of his presidency. We know, of course, that such a photo, unilaterally released by the White House, would have been skewered as an epic example of pandering, in the caliber of 'Dukakis in the tank,' with skeet shooting sure to be derided by NRA-types as sissy stuff. Instead however, forced into releasing the photo as a STFU and evidence he's inhaled fired, the Administration, with absolutely no negative consequence, has inserted this amazing visual into the public record."

News Ledes

Lavonne Paire Davis, known as Pepper Paire. Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.New York Times: "Lavonne Paire Davis, a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 1950s and a consultant for the hit movie 'A League of Their Own,' died on Saturday in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. She was 88.... Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944..."

AP: "President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government's borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation's debt until later this year."

ABC News: "A week-long Alabama standoff in which a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement. 'FBI Agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference. The agent said negotiations with the suspect Richard Lee Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours."

New York Times: "Edward I. Koch, the three-term New York City mayor..., was celebrated on Monday as a transformational figure in the city's history and a quintessential New Yorker."

New York Times: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reported for duty Monday, acknowledging that as Hillary Rodham Clinton's successor he has 'big heels to fill' and promising to protect U.S. foreign service workers from terrorist attacks overseas."

AP: President "Obama will pitch his proposals to stem gun violence Monday in Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state where officials have been studying ways to reduce gun-related attacks and accidents for several years."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 3, 2013

Skeetergate Ends! -- President Exonerated!
Until Conspiracy Theorists Determine Photo Is Faked
Which They Surely Already Have

... Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time. -- President Obama, to The New Republic, January 2013 ...

... A funny segment:

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post puts the President to the Pinocchio test: "The evidence suggests that until Obama had access to a shooting range as president, he never went skeet shooting. He certainly did not speak like a politician who had once used a firearm." Kessler did not award any Pinocchios because he did "not have enough information." Kessler has since updated his post & awarded the President a "Geppetto." ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "Pro tip: if you want to be taken seriously as a fact checker, maybe you should avoid writing absolutely ridiculous articles like [Kessler's].... A 'Gepetto Checkmark' for the president. I'm sure he'll cherish it always." ...

... Peter Baker & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... on Saturday, the White House tried to silence the skeptics by releasing a photograph of Mr. Obama shooting on the range at Camp David in August." ...

... CW: Clearly (1) an Obama look-alike; (2) Photoshopped: (3) Taken yesterday. I do believe it will be necessary to put White House photographer Pete Souza under oath to settle this. ...

... Sure enough, an actual smoking gun is not good enough for skeetergaters. Max Rivlin-Nadler of Gawker provides a few examples. ...

... CW P.S. To those wingers who are saying "Yeah but Obama can't be a very good shot because blah-blah-blah," let me just note that, unlike Dick Cheney, Obama did not shoot any Republicans in the face. That we know of.

Comparatively Irrelevant News & Commentary

Chris Wallace tore into Wayne LaPierre on "Fox 'News' Sunday." Wallace demonstrated just how ridiculous is the NRA's attempts to make gun safety a "class warfare" issue & to label the President an elitist because his children have Secret Service protection & yours don't. Via Igor Volsky of Think Progress:

David Nakamura & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "President Obama is aiming to grant same-sex couples ... equal immigration rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The proposal could allow up to 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to apply for legal residency and, potentially, U.S. citizenship. But the measure has inspired fierce pushback from congressional Republicans and some religious groups, who say it could sink hopes for a comprehensive agreement aimed at providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants." ...

... NEW. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry [Reid] (D-NV) expressed support for including gay and lesbian families in comprehensive immigration reform, during an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday, insisting that they should have the same protections as everyone else." ...

     ... UPDATE: video of full interview:

Will Weissert of the AP: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry said emphatically Saturday that the Boy Scouts of America shouldn't soften its strict no-gays membership policy, and dismissed the idea of bending the organization to the whims of 'popular culture.' Perry is an Eagle Scout and in 2008 he authored the book 'On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.'"

Mark Landler & Michael Gordon of the New York Times interviewed Hillary Clinton on Thursday. ...

... Landler & Gordon: "As she leaves the State Department, the simplest yardstick for measuring Mrs. Clinton's legacy has been her tireless travels: 112 countries, nearly a million miles, 401 days on the road. Historians will point to how she expanded the State Department's agenda to embrace issues like gender violence and the use of social media in diplomacy."

What a Friend We Had in Timmy. Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times on some reasons the big banks were lucky to have Tim Geithner at Treasury -- and the rest of us were not. Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

Don Walton of the Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star: "Sen. Mike Johanns [R-Neb.] said Saturday he will vote to confirm Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense. In the wake of Hagel's contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, the green light from Nebraska's senior Republican senator could be timely and pivotal in helping pave the way for additional Republican support in the Senate." ...

... Steve Erickson of the American Prospect in Salon on "John McCain's sad, bitter twilight," much of which Erickson says is a function of his hatred of the upstart Obama. CW: when Obama pisses you off -- as he invariably will do -- just remember that he saved us from McCain & McRomney. ...

... Frank Rich comments on the foibles & fantasies of McCain & Co.

"Cockroach Ideas." Paul Krugman complains about people's continually repeating the same economic myths. ...

... Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has a summary of Krugman's remarks. The page also has a link to audio of the program. (I've listened to the audio, & it's quite good.)

Alex Pareene of Salon: "... deficit fear-mongering succeeded in getting 57 percent of survey respondents to believe that Social Security is a 'crisis or significant problem,' until they learned that minor tax increases would make it totally sustainable for 75 years, at which point 74 percent of Americans were like 'Oh, really? Then it seems fine, why don't they ever put it like that on the news.' ... This news will presumably enrage and baffle Joe Scarborough, because everyone he knows knows that we must Do Something About Entitlements."

Zeke Emanuel in the New York Times: "... bending the health care cost curve will actually spur the economy forward."

Jake Miller of CBS News: "Republican Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after the disclosure of thousands of 'late night telephone calls' Sheehy placed to four women, none of whom were his wife, during the last four years. His resignation was announced at a morning press conference by Gov. Dave Heinemann, also a Republican, who said that Sheehy had broken 'the public trust.' ... His wife, Connie Sheehy, filed for divorce last July...." CW: how is it possible that the lieutenant governor of a state with a population of less than 2 million has so much to do that having phone sex with multiple women would interfere with his public duties?

News Ledes

So apparently the Ravens beat the 49ers in a "Super Bowl thriller," CBS reports. I was nevermore thrilled.

AP: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in phone calls this weekend, assuring them the Obama administration will continue to pursue a Mideast peace agreement while recognizing the individual concerns on both sides."

Odd News. New York Times: "The story of an emaciated, ragged man found wandering barefoot in the middle of a quiet country road last week in County Leitrim, near the border with Northern Ireland, continues to confound the police, even after he was identified as a missing Irish property tycoon who said he was abducted eight months ago and tortured during his captivity." The Irish Times has related stories here.

New York Times: "The Israeli attack last week on a Syrian convoy of antiaircraft weapons appears to have also hit the country's main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons, according to American officials who are sorting through intelligence reports."

AP: "Former Navy SEAL and 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle was fatally shot along with another man Saturday on a Texas gun range, a sheriff told local newspapers." ...

     ... New York Times Update: police have identified a suspect in the shooting -- Eddie Ray Routh, a veteran whom Kyle & a friend had taken to a shooting range. Routh allegedly also shot & killed Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield.

New York Times: "Egypt's interior minister offered a rare apology on Saturday after officers under his command were seen on television beating a naked man two blocks from the presidential palace. But under what his family said was police coercion, the victim, Hamada Saber, said in an interview later that the officers had been helping rather than attacking him."

AP: "Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said."

New York: former President Bill Clinton & New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will eulogize former Mayor Ed Koch tomorrow.