The Ledes

Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Guardian: Ukrainian troops are moving against pro-Russian separatists. The Guardian's liveblog is here.

Washington Post: "Three American medical staff members died when an Afghan security official opened fire Thursday at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul in the latest violence targeting foreigners in Afghanistan."

Guardian: "Pupils at the elite Southbank International School in London were victims of serial paedophile teacher William Vahey, the school has confirmed. The scale of the abuse is expected to be revealed later on Thursday in a letter to parents.... Vahey, a 64-year-old American who taught at Southbank between 2009 and 2013, killed himself after being found with 90 images of boys. The FBI believe the children were drugged with sleeping pills and molested in assaults dating back to 2008."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 24

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jon Stewart raises a good point: Why is this man parading around with the flag of a country he claims doesn't exist? ...

Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "The Hannity-Stewart feud: Day Three. During an 11-minute segment on the 'The Daily Show' Wednesday night, Jon Stewart called out Sean Hannity for what he perceived as hypocrisy on the Cliven Bundy issue and called the Fox News host 'The Arby’s of news.'”

CW: It's worth remembering that Stewart was the guy who brought down CNN's shouting pundits show "Crossfire." Of course the Blitzer Channel is, by comparison to Fox "News," a paragon of journalistic excellence.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

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Super Tuesday Results

The New York Times' interactive primary map is here.

The Washington Post has an updated state-by-state delegate count for all states. Politico's delegate tracker is here.

Maggie Haberman of Politico with five Super Tuesday take-aways.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Romney is in worse shape at this point in the campaign than virtually all recent previous nominees. Demographically, his image among independent voters, the most critical swing group, is more negative now than it was when the primary battle began. He could be hurt among women. He is in trouble with Latinos, a growing part of the electorate that is tilting even more Democratic than it was four years ago. He is not as strong as he needs to be among working-class white voters, among whom President Obama has been consistently weak." ...

... Romney's Got the Richy-Rich Fired Up and Ready-to-Vote. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Exit polls in both Michigan and Ohio show voters making more than $100,000 per year turning out in much higher numbers this year than they did in 2008. And in both cases, they might well have provided the difference for Romney." CW: Sweet.

... Winger John Fund in the National Review: "... it is striking that [Romney] is struggling so much in a state [Ohio] where he carpet-bombed Rick Santorum the way he did. And in Ohio — unlike Michigan — there was no semi-organized effort among Democrats to embarrass him by casting votes for Santorum." ...

... BUT. Ezra Klein: "Though Romney has the worst poll numbers of any presidential nominee in recent history, Obama has the worst poll numbers of any incumbent president running for reelection in recent history. And we remain a closely divided country with a very fragile economy."

NBC News: "Rick Santorum's campaign is calling on conservatives to pressure Newt Gingrich to abandon his bid for the White House, a senior adviser told reporters tonight. Senior campaign strategist John Brabender said the key for the campaign going forward will be creating an opportunity to challenge Mitt Romney one-on-one, though Brabender maintained the Santorum campaign would not directly call on Gingrich to drop out of the race."

CBS News: "With 98 percent of the vote counted in Ohio, Romney has 38 percent support to Santorum's 37 percent. Newt Gingrich is in third place with 15 percent and Ron Paul follows with 9 percent. Mitt Romney has also won primaries in Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as the Idaho caucuses. Rick Santorum won primaries in Tennessee and Oklahoma, and in the North Dakota caucuses. In Georgia, Gingrich clinched his first primary victory since South Carolina's January 21 primary contest."

Politico: "Rick Santorum pocketed victories in Oklahoma and Tennessee on Super Tuesday but narrowly lost Ohio to Mitt Romney. But the performance of the former Pennsylvania senator in the 10 states that voted Tuesday is strong enough to propel his campaign forward into future races, where the battleground will shift South to Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas, which votes on Saturday."

Washington Post: "... with Gingrich’s decisive win in Georgia, Santorum emerges from Super Tuesday having to fend off the former House speaker in the race for second place and will be unable to focus exclusively on Romney."

Alaska. Anchorage Daily News: "Mitt Romney won the Alaska GOP's presidential preference poll Tuesday, edging out Rick Santorum in a race Romney won handily four years ago."

Idaho. Los Angeles Times: "Mitt Romney won the Idaho Republican presidential nominating caucuses, according to The Associated Press."

Read more here:

Ohio. New York Times @ 1:30 am ET: "Mitt Romney appeared to pull off a narrow victory in Ohio on Super Tuesday but lost several other states to Rick Santorum, a split verdict that overshadowed Mr. Romney’s claim of collecting the most delegates and all but ensured another round of intense infighting on the road to the Republican presidential nomination." Story will be updated.

Wyoming. AP: "Mitt Romney added a small margin to his Super Tuesday victories by picking up four delegates in the first round of Wyoming’s Republican presidential caucuses. A fifth delegate ... went to Texas Rep. Ron Paul.... Tuesday’s voting launched a long state GOP process that will choose 29 delegates by the time it’s over at the Republican state convention in April."

North Dakota. Washington Post: "Rick Santorum has been declared the winner of the North Dakota GOP caucuses.... Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had repeatedly said he doesn’t care about winning, only about amassing delegates. But he was eyeing North Dakota as his best chance for a true victory. This caucus state was really a tossup. There was no reliable polling in the small state. All delegates are unpledged, although they are advised to follow caucus results at the convention, and no candidate but Paul spent much time in the state. He even gave his Tuesday-night speech in Fargo."

Oklahoma. AP: "Rick Santorum won Oklahoma's Republican primary Tuesday, faring best among voters who said they sought a 'true conservative' and a candidate with 'strong moral character' to represent the party in this fall's campaign against President Barack Obama. With 75 percent of the state's 1,961 precincts reporting unofficial returns, Santorum had 35 percent of the vote. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 27.3 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 27 percent."

Oklahoma Democratic Primary. Tulsa World: "President Barack Obama won Tuesday’s Oklahoma Democrat primary but didn’t appear to sweep all 45 national convention delegates that were in play.... Obama had 56.43 percent of the vote. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry [CW: and all-around hideous person] had 18.16 percent, getting over the 15 percent threshold for delegations to the convention. Perennial candidate Jim Rogers had 14.17 percent, just short of qualifying for the 16 delegates decided on the statewide vote. Preliminary unofficial results showed Terry and Rogers over the 15 percent threshold in three of the state’s five congressional districts, potentially qualifying both for the 29 national delegates decided on a district level."

Tennessee. The Tennessean: "Rick Santorum has won the Tennessee Republican Party primary. With more than 80 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Santorum led Mitt Romney by 42,643 votes, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. Santorum led in most counties, though he trailed Romney in Davidson County and Williamson County."

Virginia. NBC News: "NBC projects Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won the Virginia primary, where Ron Paul was his only competition on the ballot. With 99 percent of the vote in, Romney had 59 percent. Forty-six delegates were at stake in the commonwealth."

Georgia. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: This page has the county-by-county results. Newt Gingrich won with about 47.4 percent of the vote. Interactive feature.

Massachusetts. New York Times: Mitt Romney wins with about 72 percent of the vote, but the voters are as lukewarm about Romney as he is about them.

Vermont. Sore Winner. Burlington Free Press: "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won more votes in Vermont than his Republican rivals in Tuesday’s presidential primary, but apparently failed to win enough to snare all 17 delegates. The outcome so incensed the Romney campaign that it is calling for an investigation of the results, said Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley, a Romney supporter."

New York Times: "In a primary faceoff between two veteran Democratic incumbents, voters in Ohio delivered a victory to Representative Marcy Kaptur, a progressive from Toledo, over Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, leaving him without a seat in Congress for the first time in 16 years.... The outcome was largely expected. Mr. Kucinich, an antiwar populist from Cleveland who has run for president twice, lost his district when state lawmakers redrew the electoral map after Ohio...." ...

... AP: "An Ohio plumber thrust into national politics during the 2008 presidential campaign has won the Republican nomination in his home state as he makes a bid for Congress. Samuel Wurzelbacher gained the nickname 'Joe the Plumber' for expressing working-class concerns about taxes to then-candidate Barack Obama during a stop to the region. The Toledo-area plumber defeated Steve Kraus, a Sandusky real estate agent, early Wednesday to grab the GOP nomination in Ohio's 9th Congressional District. He faces an uphill climb in the fall against veteran U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who won the Democratic primary."

Burlington Free Press: Miro Weinberger became Burlington's first Democratic mayor in a generation. CW: The article doesn't say so, but Progressives held the seat for 31 years. First Progressive to take the mayoral honrs: Bernie Sanders. Weinberger beat a Republican candidate, Kurt Wright.


The Commentariat -- March 7, 2012

My column in today New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Devil Is in the Details -- Ross Douthat's Vision." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

M. J. Lee of Politico: "Embattled conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday dismissed reports of dozens of advertisers pulling their commercials from his show.... Limbaugh, citing claims he had lost 28 sponsors, said that is 'out of 18,000. That’s like losing a couple of french fries in the container when it’s delivered to you in the drive thru. You don’t even notice it.'”

CW: Expect to see a lot of stories like this. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "Paul Carroll, an 86-year-old World War II veteran who has lived in the same Ohio town for four decades, was denied a chance to vote in the state’s primary contests today after a poll worker denied his form of identification, a recently-acquired photo ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs." BTW, the story doesn't say what Carroll's party affiliation is; he not necessarily a Republican -- Ohio had some Congressional primaries yesterday because of redistricting. Thanks to Kay S. for the link. ...

... Carroll was offered a provisional ballot, which he did not accept because he couldn't read it. More insights on the "provisional ballot" scam from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a former Ohio Secretary of State, via Katy at Balloon Juice.

I meant to post a link to this the other day: Dean Baker has a very good, short post that illuminates what is awry in the deficit hawk's nest. I blame 95 percent of Washington politicians & punkdits (typo I'm letting stand) for this form of "morality" that urges "belt-tightening" in a recession.

President Obama's press conference Tuesday:

     ... Loose Nukes, Loose Cannons. Michael Crowley of Time: "In their speeches to AIPAC [Tuesday], the Republican presidential candidates made clear that they consider an Iranian nuclear weapon a nightmare that must be stopped at all costs. Yet however potentially dangerous Iran may be, there’s something askew about the emphasis on its nuclear program to the near-exclusion of the many other nuclear threats America faces–threats the GOP candidates have spent virtually no time addressing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "I don't think we should ever minimize the political value of carefully bridled contempt. The president ... held a press conference on (Super) Tuesday afternoon in which most of the questions were about the ongoing concerns about the Iranian nuclear program, the issue on which the Republican presidential candidates have become increasingly bellicose.... The president pretty much feels as though he's been pecked at by ducks who really don't have any skin in the actual game, and that he finds their bellicosity not only against the national interest, but also politically offensive. They don't have the courage to stand up against their own compulsion to demagogue the most serious job a president has. Who are the cowards now? ... This was a subtle, deft assault on the notion that anyone on the Republican side has any real idea of the gravity of the job they're running for...." ...

     ... "Feckless." Here Pierce, piece by piece, tears to shreds Mitt Romney's (or whoever's) Washington Post op-ed. The op-ed is here. ...

     ... AND. How Do Iranians Get Those Cute Little Boats to the Strait of Hormuz? Oh, Through Syria! Steve Benen:  "At the most recent debate for the Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney wanted to show off his understanding of international affairs, and told the audience that Syria is Iran's 'key ally' and Iranians' 'route to the sea.' Iran, of course, has 1,520 miles of its own coastline -- and doesn't share a border with Syria.... And yet, the former governor continues to feign expertise on the subject matter. Today he has an op-ed in the Washington Post, calling for Iranian sanctions (which Obama has already imposed); backing Israel (which Obama has also already done); and shaping a U.S. policy towards Iran that's "the same as Ronald Reagan's." Um, Mitt? The Reagan administration sold Iran weapons, in violation of an arms embargo, in order to help illegally finance the Contras in Nicaragua. Reagan also sought a check on Iranian power by cozying up to Saddam Hussein after he used chemical weapons against his own people." ...

     ... Benen has a good piece on President Obama's response to a question about the Limbaugh controversy. (See also Right Wing World.)

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe analyzes the Massachusetts Senate contest between Sen. Scott Brown (R) (instead of hitting "R" there, I kept typing "$" -- just as appropriate) & his likely challenger Elizabeth Warren.

Right Wing World

I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life. I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word. I think the rest of the world is looking at us these days and saying, ‘What are you doing?’ -- Barbara Bush (R), former First Lady

Too Poor to Go to College? Get over It. -- Willard. David Firestone of the New York Times: Romney takes a question from a high school senior worried about rising college tuition costs: "... the advice was pretty brutal: if you can’t afford college, look around for a scholarship (good luck with that), try to graduate in less than four years, or join the military if you want a free education. That’s the face of modern Republican austerity. Don’t talk about the value of higher education to the country’s economic future, and don’t bother to think about ways to make it more accessible to strapped families. Tell students not to take on more debt than they can afford, wish them well, and move on."

Bomb First, Think Later. Maureen Dowd: with GOP warmongers -- i.e., most of the GOP --  hubris trumps humility.

Confessions of a Campaign Volunteer. Charles Pierce campaigns for Rick Santorum. Really. If you've ever worked on a campaign, you'll see yourself in Pierce's post.

"I'm Not Prejudiced, But...." Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times: Mitt Romney just doesn't click in the rural, religious South. CW: this is because the rural, religious South is full of well-informed, intellectual geniuses, to wit:

On Romney: Christ is the head of my church, and his was some Smith guy who claimed to be a latter-day prophet. I'm not prejudiced against a Mormon. It's just some of their beliefs that I'm against. -- Don Teikling, The Barber of Oneonta (Alabama)

On Obama: It's not that he's black, It's that he's not an American citizen. -- Don Teikling

On Obama: I got no use for Obama, and it's not because of the color of his skin. It's his socialist government and all the money he's throwing away. -- Leldon Thomas, Retired Truck Repairman, Tobacco Chewer, Wal-Mart Shopper & Savant

Paper Tigers. Gene Robinson: "Asked to comment [on Rush Limbaugh's slander of Georgetown Law stud Sandra Fluke], the leading Republican presidential candidates — who bray constantly about 'courage' and 'leadership' — run from the bully and hide.... These guys want us to believe they’re ready to face down Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Eun, the Taliban and what’s left of al-Qaeda. Yet they’re so scared of a talk-radio buffoon that they ignore or excuse an eruption of venom that some of Limbaugh’s advertisers ... find inexcusable." ...

... Upping the Stakes:

... Mizz Murkowski Regrets.... Julia O'Malley of the Anchorage Daily News: "Over the weekend, Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-Alaska] learned the hard way not to get between women and birth control. Back from Washington, D.C...., the senator kept running into female voters who wrote in her name in the last election.... These women were coming unglued. The reason: Murkowski's support for a measure that would have allowed not just religious employers, but any employer, to opt out of providing birth control or other health insurance coverage.... Regrets are one thing, but real votes in the Senate are another. If she's a moderate, she should vote like one."

Murkoski: I have never had a vote I've taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me.

O'Malley: If you had it to do over again, having had the weekend that you had with women being upset about the vote, do you think you would have voted the same?

Murkowski: No. ...

... Greg Sargent: Murkowski's vote "exposes yet again the hollowness of the complaints by GOP 'centrists' about how both sides are responsible for creating a polarized atmosphere in Washington that has made bipartisan compromise impossible."

Dreaming of the Moon??? --

News Ledes

Virginia Is for Lovers. CBS News: "Amid continued protests from Democrats, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell on Wednesday signed into law a controversial bill requiring Virginia women to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion."

New York Times: "President Obama has asked the Pentagon for military options on Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told the Senate on Wednesday.But both General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the administration still believed that diplomatic and economic pressure was the best solution for protecting Syrians from the Assad regime."

New York Times: "The United Nations’s top relief official visited the ravaged Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday as part of her assessment of emergency needs in swathes of the country devastated by a year-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad."

Reuters: "The pace of job creation by private employers in the United States accelerated more than expected in February, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday. The private sector added 216,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed, topping economists’ expectations for a gain of 208,000."

Guardian: "Six British soldiers are missing, believed killed, after an explosion hit an armoured vehicle in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said. The five soldiers from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and one from the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment were on mounted patrol when their Warrior armoured fighting vehicle was struck on Tuesday in Helmand province. If they are dead it will take the number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 to more than 400 and intensify debate about the timetable for withdrawal of troops."

Guardian: "Allen Stanford, the Texan financier, knight of Antigua, Washington power player and billionaire benefactor of English cricket, has been found guilty of orchestrating a $7bn Ponzi scheme. After a six-week trial in Houston, Texas, a jury found him guilty of conspiracy and 12 other criminal charges including obstruction. He was acquitted of one wire fraud charge. Stanford ... faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced." ...

... Houston Chronicle: "Jurors in the R. Allen Stanford case return today to federal court, perhaps for the last time, to consider whether international accounts held by the one-time billionaire and cricket mogul’s Antigua bank should be forfeited. Yesterday, the same jury convicted Stanford on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts against him that accused him of masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme through his offshore bank’s certificates of deposit, or CDs sold to customers worldwide. He now faces up to 230 years in prison." CW: hmm, not sure if that's 20 or 230 years.

AP: "President Barack Obama told business leaders Tuesday that the nation needs to reform its tax system to help boost the economy, saying the American people 'instinctually understand' that the U.S. needs a more balanced approach to solve its economic problems."


The Commentariat -- March 6, 2012

I'll have a column up on the New York Times eXaminer soon, on Stanley Fish's defense of Rick Santorum. It is not posted yet (at 12:30 pm ET), but there IS other good stuff linked on the NYTX front page. ...

     ... Update: here's my column. AND excellent stuff in today's & yesterday's comments sections!

The Rich Get Richer. Emmanuel Saez via Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery....It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011 as the stock market has continued to recover....This suggests that the Great Recession will only depress top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s."

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible." Holder made a distinction between "due process" and "judicial process," asserting that the Constitution guarantees the former, not the latter. The justification was pretty damned vague -- no footnotes, no case law. ...

... ** Adam Serwer of Mother Jones translates and elaborates. "Who decides when an American citizen has had enough due process and the Hellfire missile fairy pays them a visit? Presumably the group of top national security officials — that, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, decides who is targetable and forwards its findings to the president, who gives final approval." ...

... AND Glenn Greenwald: President Obama makes the case for preventive war.

The "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011” has nothing to do with Mitt Romney's employment of undocumented workers to maintain the lawn on one of his estates, for Pete's sake. The bill -- which passed the House 388-3, with Ron Paul among the three dissenters, & which passed the Senate by voice vote, with no "nays" -- makes it a felony to remain in an area the Secret Service designates "restricted" and covers any person protected by the Secret Service (some presidential candidates). The President has not yet signed it. Some are calling it the anti-Occupy law; Paul says it "could make the First Amendment illegal." Well, that's a stretch; the Constitution trumps Congressional law, but of course it's up to the Supremes to decide whether or not the law is unconstitutional, and they won't be making any decision prior to the party conventions this summer....

     ... AND/BUT according to Gene Howington, a guest blogger on Jonathan Turley's blog, the language is so vague that "This would allow for the arrest of protesters just about anywhere. Outside political rallies, near the hotels of visiting foreign dignitaries, outside sporting or other public events like the Super Bowl." The bill has received somewhere around zero mainstream media attention. Just thought you'd want to know. Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the heads-up.

The State of Missouriogyny. CW: I don't usually link to Daily Caller stories, but this one by Caroline May is worth reading: "... the Missouri State Capitol will be honoring [Rush] Limbaugh with a bust of his likeness in the Hall of Famous Missourians.... Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s 2012 senate campaign penned and began circulating a petition to prevent Limbaugh from being inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians. 'No one who disrespects women in this way deserves such an honor. The State of Missouri should condemn this kind of language, not honor it,' read McCaskill’s statement." ...

Adam Peck of Think Progress: Twelve commercial sponsors "have pulled ads from [Limbaugh's] program, and several others are considering following their lead." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "Rush Limbaugh is really sorry that he had to apologize.... House Speaker John Boehner called Mr. Limbaugh’s language (just the language, not the substance) 'inappropriate' – a formulation that the columnist George Will later mocked as 'comical.' Mr. Will said: 'Using a salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate.'" ...

... Open Salon: "... does Limbaugh's brand of misogyny really have a place on government-funded airwaves? Particularly when it's beamed to a military where some 30% of American servicewomen are sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers at some point in their deployment?" The post links to this White House petition, which I also linked the other day.

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Two polls out this past weekend show Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) pulling ahead of challenger Elizabeth Warren (D) in the Massachusetts Senate race."

Right Wing World

Here's the New York Times' quick guide to Super Tuesday, state by state.

We can be poor in spirit, and I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow. How I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people that I care about in my life, and that’s where my values are and that’s where my riches are. -- Ann Romney

Seriously, Platitudes mean more than Cadillacs. And yes indeedy, Mrs. Williard, a Platitude is a very interesting thing. Even if you can't drive your Platitutde to your lousy job. -- Constant Weader

When Even Billions Are Not Enough. Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: the Cato Institute, a libertarian "think" tank bought & paid for by Charles Koch, et al., is resisting his & Bubba's "attempts to install their own people on the institute’s 16-member board and to establish a more direct pipeline between Cato and the family’s Republican political outlets, including groups that Democrats complain have mounted a multimillion-dollar assault on President Obama. Tensions reached a new level with a lawsuit filed last week by the Kochs against Cato over its governing structure." CW: It is a joy to see the jester turn on the king. Of course, the king(s) may win the round, but the cracks in their kingdom are beginning to show. ...

... Alex Pareene of Salon: "Cato is mostly antiwar, decidedly anti-drug war, and sponsors a lot of good work on civil liberties. That … is basically what the Kochs don’t like about them, because white papers on decriminalization don’t help Republicans get elected. As Jonah Goldberg complains in a post that otherwise resolutely refuses to come to a conclusion or have a point, Cato has an annoying habit of not always seeing itself as a natural member of the glorious Republican coalition. (Current Cato headline: 'It’s Not Obama’s Fault That Crude Oil Prices Have Increased.)'”

News Ledes

New Jersey Star-Ledger: "U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the elder statesman of New Jersey's congressional delegation, died after a months-long battle with colon cancer today, according to his office. The longtime politician was 77."

President Obama will hold a press conference at 1:15 pm ET today. AP: "In his first full news conference of the year Tuesday, Obama was to announce plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "President Obama challenged his Republican critics to make a case to the American people for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if they really believe that is the right course to follow, throwing down an election-year challenge to the men who are vying to succeed him and who say that his Iran policy has been too weak." Washington Post: "President Obama sharply criticized his Republican presidential rivals Tuesday for talking 'casually' about going to war with Iran, saying that when such decisions are made for political reasons, 'we make mistakes. What is said on the campaign trail — those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,' Obama said during an afternoon news conference. 'They are not commander in chief. When I see the casualness with which those folks talk about war, I am reminded of the costs involved in war'.” See Wednesday's Commentariat for video of the full presser. ...

     ... AND Washington Post: "President Obama on Tuesday unveiled two new housing initiatives intended to assist Americans with government-insured loans and members of the military.... Obama announced a new plan to cut refinancing fees for any loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The president also outlined a new agreement with banks to review foreclosures for members of the military that have taken place since 2006 and provide compensation to anyone who wrongfully lost a home. Neither proposal requires Congress's approval."

Today is the GOP's Super Tuesday. Here is the New York Times story about it. Here is the Washington Post story, which I am leaving in single-page mode so you can see the accompanying dorky video in which hyperactive Chris Cillizza explains voting to dummies. ...

     ... NBC Update: here's absolutely everything you could possibly want to know about Super Tuesday. And then some. Oh, and it's a pdf.

Reuters: "Iran said it will give the U.N. nuclear watchdog access to its Parchin military complex, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday, a site where the agency believes Tehran pursued high explosives research relevant to nuclear weapons." ...

... Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, invoked the spectre of Auschwitz as he chided those who question whether Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapon and warned that 'none of us can afford to wait much longer' to act against Tehran. In an address to the powerful pro-Israel lobby [AIPAC] in Washington, Netanyahu derided the effectiveness of sanctions hours after a meeting with Barack Obama at which the US president appealed for time for diplomacy to pressure Iran to open up its nuclear programme to inspection."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters> angry over fee hikes and budget cuts at California's public universities were arrested on Monday night during a boisterous but peaceful demonstration inside the state Capitol building. The arrests capped a day in which hundreds of students and others marched on the statehouse and rallied outside the Capitol before many of the activists moved the demonstration inside the building, clogging hallways in and around the rotunda." The Sacramento Bee story is here.


The Commentariat -- March 5, 2012

Paul Krugman writes the anti-Olympia Snowe column (he doesn't mention her, but ...): "... we can take a big step toward full employment just by using the federal government’s low borrowing costs to help state and local governments rehire the schoolteachers and police officers they laid off, while restarting the road repair and improvement projects they canceled or put on hold." ...

... Here was Matt Yglesias of Slate last week on Snowe's "feckless" impact on the 2009 stimulus: "She chose to use her influence to trim down the spending side of the package, with a particular focus on reducing federal financial assistance to state and local governments."

Steven Sloan & Kathleen Hunter of Bloomberg News: "Senate Democrats are considering a debate on ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners before the November election because they think they’re in a stronger position than in 2010, said Senator Charles Schumer."

President Obama's Ode to Israel speech to AIPAC yesterday contained a fairly blunt warning to his GOP rivals:

     ... Helene Cooper of the New York Tiimes: "As Republicans on the campaign trail ramped up their support for Israel in a possible military strike on Iran, President Obama used a speech before a pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday to warn against the 'loose talk of war' that could serve to speed Iran toward a nuclear weapon." ...

     ... ** Amir Oren of Haaretz: "After a speech like that, [President Obama's] meeting with [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu on Monday is almost superfluous: It already seems clear that Obama is determined not to grant him anything. Obama sent a complex, multifaceted message. He is a loyal friend of Israel, as evidenced by both the record of his actions over the last three years and the testimony of an eminent witness, President Shimon Peres. He is absolutely and unequivocally opposed to Iran having nuclear weapons. But he is first and foremost the U.S. president, whose commitment to do everything possible to thwart Iran's nuclear program has properly been given to the citizens of his own country -- the ones who will pay the price of any war with their lives and their wallets -- rather than to the impudent leader of a foreign country." Read the whole piece.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: President Transparency is mighty opaque -- a sorry assessment of the administration's so-called efforts to create "the most open and transparent government in history." ...

Obama Administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders. They’ve also wielded anti-transparency arguments even bolder than those asserted by the Bush administration. -- Josh Gerstein

Sari Horwtiz & Peter Finn of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday plans to provide the most detailed account to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad, as it did in last year’s airstrike against an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, officials said. The rationale Holder plans to offer resembles, in its broad strokes, those previously offered by lower-ranking officials. But his speech Monday will mark a new and higher-profile phase of the administration’s campaign to justify lethal action in those rare instances in which U.S. citizens, such as New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, join terrorist causes devoted to harming their homeland."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "Every version of the Supreme Court is different from the one that came before, and the current edition, it has been widely noted, is unusual in many ways."

NEW. Sandra Fluke appears on ABC's "The View":

video platform video management video solutions video player

     ... NEW. Media Matters has some excellent posts on the Limbaugh remarks and his "apology." Here is the post Fluke mentioned in her interview -- Justin Berrier & Eric Schroeck name some of the wingers who rushed to Rush's defense. Here is a roundup of commentators who criticize Limbaugh's "apology"; e.g., conservative David Frum calls it "about the most graceless apology ever": includes videos of commentary. And this one, by Chelsea Rudman, which might be titled, "Explaining Birth Control Methods to Misogynists & Health Insurance to Dummies." ...

Art by David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times.... NEW. David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times: on Limbaugh's attack on Fluke: "But it is nothing new. This is how he has 'entertained' day after day for years. He doesn’t debate. He doesn’t inform. He vilifies, insults, smears, slanders, distorts and misleads. Rush is a schoolyard bully who specializes in picking on girls – or 'feminazis,' as he loves to call them. Limbaugh has led the way in destroying civility in politics. It’s bad enough that his overbearing pseudo-patriotism has been emulated by other right-wing radio and TV commentators; worse is the fact he has become the oracle of the dominant wing of the Republican Party."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times: "On Sunday, a seventh company, ProFlowers, said that it was suspending all of its advertising on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' despite his apologetic statement a day earlier.... Mr. Limbaugh ... is estimated to make $50 million a year and whose program is a profit center for Premiere Radio Networks, the company that syndicates it. The program makes money both through ads and through fees paid by local radio stations." ...

... Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chair, speaks about Limbaugh & contraception coverage:

... has a petition urging Sec. Panetta to take Limbaugh off Armed Forces Radio. You have to establish a White House account to sign the petition. ...

... Will Dunham of Reuters: "... Ron Paul expressed doubt on Sunday that conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh truly meant it when he apologized for calling a law student a 'slut' over her support for President Barack Obama's new policy on insurance coverage of contraceptives. 'I don't think he's very apologetic. He's doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line that he was concerned about,' Paul told the CBS program 'Face the Nation.'"

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "The wave of incriminating headlines and the surging stock price reflect the cognitive dissonance generated by News Corporation’s phone hacking scandal."

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. -- Mitt Romney, Oracle of Detroit, in a New York Times op-ed, November 18, 2008. Thanks to Greg Sargent for the Reminder ...

... Yo, Willard! Chris Bury of ABC News: Arthur J. Gonzales, "the federal judge who presided over Chrysler’s bankruptcy, told ABC News ... that the ailing company could not have survived without taxpayer money.... President Obama is taking credit for saving more than a million jobs because of the bailouts, while Republican candidates have voiced their opposition to the government loans.... Mitt Romney insists, 'It was the wrong way to go,' and that General Motors and Chrysler should have gone through 'a private bankruptcy process.' ... The former chief judge also denied that the speedy bankruptcy hearing somehow prevented private investors from stepping up, pointing out that the government and Chrysler’s creditors had been seeking a solution for 18 months, to no avail."

Right Wing World

Prof. Neil Gross in the New York Times: Research indicates that attending college does not actually make you more liberal and less religious. The main reason this idea took hold is that it suited the conservative cause: "... attacking liberal professors as elitists ... helps position the conservative movement as a populist enterprise by identifying a predatory elite to which conservatism stands opposed — an otherwise difficult task for a movement strongly backed by holders of economic power."

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker provides an historical overview of how extremists took over the Republican party; short version: public participation.

Mark Murray of NBC News: "Four in 10 of all adults say the GOP nominating process has given them a less favorable impression of the Republican Party, versus just slightly more than one in 10 with a more favorable opinion."

Art by Bob Staake.

Steve Holland & Jeremy Pelofsky of Reuters: "Mitt Romney closed in on Rick Santorum in Ohio and picked up a crucial endorsement in Virginia on Sunday as he grows in strength ahead of 'Super Tuesday,' the biggest day yet in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination."

CW: just around to reading this New York Times article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg & Laurie Goodstein on the evolution of Rick Santorum's faith. It's interesting -- and scary, if you think he could be president. ...

... Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico interviews Karen Santorum. ...

A conservative, a liberal, and a moderate walk into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Hi, Mitt.' -- Foster Friess, Rick Santorum's sugar daddy

Ha! Romney Advised Obama to Use the Individual Mandate. Alec Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "... Mitt Romney often ... says his [healthcare] plan was done on a state level, where the central theme to both plans, the individual mandate, was actually a conservative approach. But in a July 2009 op-ed in USA Today Romney thought the President could learn a thing or two from the plan he signed into law in Massachusetts, including using the individual mandate as an incentive for people to buy insurance."

David Brooks explains how Mitt Romney decided to run for president:

There he was a few years ago sitting on the front porch of his fourth summer home innocently wondering why the trees of New England are so unpleasantly tall, and he turns to his buddies, who own Nascar teams, hotel chains, political parties and various small emirates, and he asks them if it would be a good idea if he ran for president. They point out that a presidential campaign would allow him to recite obscure verses of patriotic songs all across America, so he agrees to do it.

News Ledes 

New York Times: "Syria's government made diplomatic gestures on Monday toward seeking an end to the uprising that has convulsed the country, agreeing for the first time to allow visits by the top United Nations relief official and by the newly designated envoy who represents the United Nations and the Arab League."

When One (Afghanistan) or Two (Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran) Wars Are Not Enough. Politico: "Arizona Republican John McCain on Monday will become the first U.S. senator to call for U.S.-led air strikes to stop the slaughter of unarmed civilians being carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."

New York Times: "With Israel warning that it may mount a military strike against Iran, President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to the White House, but signaled that he would press for more time for a campaign of economic sanctions to work on Tehran." Story has been updated.

Guardian: "Al-Qaida militants have launched a surprise attack against army bases in southern Yemen, killing 78 soldiers, military officials say. The scale of Sunday's attack in Abyan province points to the militants' combat readiness as they launch more and more attacks in a region that the US considers a key battleground in the war on al-Qaida."

Haaretz: "Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and the UN nuclear watchdog has 'serious concerns' about possible military dimensions to Tehran's atomic activities, the agency's chief said on Monday. Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors about the lack of progress in two rounds of talks between the Vienna-based UN agency and Tehran this year."

Reuters: "American International Group (AIG) is selling part of its stake in AIA Group to raise about $6 billion to help the U.S. insurer repay a huge federal government bail-out."

Al Jazeera: "Russia's presidential elections were 'clearly skewed' in favour of Vladimir Putin and 'lacked fairness', international election monitors have reported as Putin celebrated returning to the Kremlin for a third term. In a statement issued on Monday, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said that voting had been 'assessed positively overall and had produced a clear winner with an absolute majority'. But it said: 'Voter's choice was limited, electoral competition lacked fairness and an impartial referee was missing.'" ...

     ... New York Times Update: "While Mr. Putin was still celebrating his win, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in a city square to blast his victory as illegitimate, chanting 'Russia without Putin,' and 'Putin is a thief; we are the government!' When riot police demanded the crowd disperse an hour later, dozens of demonstrators encircled the blogger Aleksei Navalny, the most charismatic figure to emerge in this wave of activism, but officers detained him and pushed him into a police van along with most of the movement’s other prominent leaders. Dozens of other arrests were reported, while determined protesters tried to keep regrouping."