The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Tuesday
Oct072014

The Commentariat -- October 8, 2014

Ewen MacAskhill of the Guardian: "The Obama administration is becoming increasingly frustrated over Turkey's inaction against Islamic State (Isis), in particular its failure to intervene to prevent the jihadis overrunning the Syrian border town of Kobani. The US president is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday of the national security council along with the secretary of state, John Kerry, to discuss Turkey's reluctance so far to help in the battle against Isis. The US is especially angry with Turkey because it is a Nato ally and yet it has refused to provide even basic logistical assistance to the US-led coalition, which is hitting Isis positions in Syria with air strikes."

American "Justice," Ctd. Chris Hamby of BuzzFeed: "The Justice Department is claiming, in a little-noticed court filing, that a federal agent had the right to impersonate a young woman ... Sondra Arquiett, who then went by the name Sondra Prince ... online by creating a Facebook page in her name without her knowledge. Government lawyers also are defending the agent's right to scour the woman's seized cell phone and to post photographs -- including racy pictures of her and even one of her young son and niece -- to the phony social media account, which the agent was using to communicate with suspected criminals.... Leading privacy experts told BuzzFeed News they found the case disturbing. 'It reeks of misrepresentation, fraud, and invasion of privacy,' said Anita L. Allen, a professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School." The day after BuzzFeed first published the story, the DOJ said the the practice was "under review." CW: That's comforting. Read the whole story. You don't have to be Rand Paul to find the government's actions -- and subsequent legal claims -- appalling.

Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government in which it asks to be allowed to publish information about government surveillance of users, the company announced today. In the suit, filed in the US district court of Northern California, Twitter requests 'relief from prohibitions on its speech in violation of the first amendment'."

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Prison rules governing the length of facial hair were ridiculed in the supreme court on Tuesday as justices grappled with the question of whether Muslim inmates should be allowed a religious exemption to grow beards. In often surreal exchanges between sceptical justices and lawyers, the question of whether Arkansas convict Gregory Holt should be allowed to keep his half-inch long beard proved less a test of religious freedom than of judicial patience." ...

     ... CW: The photo of the Supremes the Guardian chose to accompany the article is fairly risible, too. It's at least six years old: No Justice Sotomayor, no Kagan. But Souter & Stevens! Maybe e Guardian figures since Sotomayor & Kagan can't grow beards, they would have no idea how to adjudicate this case.

Kimberlee Kruesi & Paul Elias of the AP: "A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in 30 other states. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the two states' bans on gay marriage, ruling they violated equal protection rights." ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "In response to claims by Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the Nevada Coalition to Protect Marriage that equality will make the institution of marriage "more adult-centric and less child-centric," Judge Stephen Reinhardt writes:

[Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs,and rock-and-roll.

     ... CW: Should be an occasion of joy, not only for Iowa & Nevada couples, but also for Gail Collins, who thus has been granted another excuse to write, "Butch Otter."

... Paul Waldman on the Supreme Court's marriage equality non-decision: "When the party bigwigs are saying, 'We really need to talk about something else,' the base is going to conclude that they are once again being betrayed by a bunch of elite Washington Republicans who are perfectly happy consorting with the sodomites who inhabit their metropolis of depravity. Which, to a certain degree, is true. Many of those elite Washington Republicans may still write columns in support of 'traditional marriage,' but they also regularly interact with gay people. They'll come around before long, which will only make the base angrier." ...

... Here's GOP chair Prince Rebus trying unsuccessfully to "talk about something else." CW: Igor Volsky accuses Priebus of calling marriage equality "a threat to our economy & national security," but IMO, that's not really what Priebus said; instead, he mumbled that anti-gay conservatives "are right to be concerned about what's happening here in this country," by which he meant the "something else," if you will, not the icky gay marriage thing. He immediately segued into something about "a strong economy, a strong defense and a strong society, blah-blah"; in other words, the "something else." ...

... CW: Yeah, I noticed this, too. Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "Even [Ted] Cruz's proposal is notable for its modesty. His amendment would still allow states to decide the question of marriage, a stark contrast from the constitutional amendment that President George W. Bush and other party leaders backed in 2004, which would forbid the unions altogether." ...

... Justices Are Just Opinionators, Not Deciders." It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys and judges think that a court ruling is the 'final word.' It most certainly is not. The courts are one branch of government, and equal to the other two, but not superior to either and certainly not to both. Even if the other two branches agree with the ruling, the people's representatives have to pass enabling legislation to authorize same sex marriage, and the President (or Governor in the case of the state) has to sign it. Otherwise, it remains the court's opinion. It is NOT the 'law of the land' as is often heralded. -- Former Arkansas governor & frequent GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, arguing for nullification of the Supreme Court's decision not to hear challenges to marriage equality rulings

I sure wish Al Gore had taken that position & just moved on in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. -- Constant Weader

... Brian Beutler: "When [Ted] Cruz's statement landed on Monday, I assumed it would constitute the right-most bound of the GOP presidential primary debate over same-sex marriage, with [Scott] Walker's fifth-stage of grief constituting the left bound. But thanks to Huckabee et al, we're left with the real possibility that Republican presidential hopefuls will end up debating the merits of ignoring the Supreme Court and enforcing same-sex marriage bans until the National Guard rolls into town and forces clerks to start printing up licenses."

Zachary Warmbrodt & M. J. Lee of Politico have an update on the case AIG has brought against the government for bailing them out under less generous terms than the government afforded some banks.

Andrea Jones writes a long, readable piece in Rolling Stone on mandatory minimum sentencing: "Between 1980 and 2010, state incarceration rates for drug crimes multiplied tenfold, while the federal drug prisoner population ballooned by a factor of 20. Every year, taxpayers shell out $51 billion for drug war spending. Meanwhile, 2.2 million people -- or a quarter of the world's prisoners -- crowd a system that exacts its harshest toll on the most vulnerable. Racism undermines the justice process from initial stop to sentence, and 60 percent of those incarcerated are people of color. Rates of illiteracy, addiction, and mental illness are disproportionately high." ...

... Charles Pierce: "It is hard not to conclude that, for the past 30 years, in the 'war' on drugs ... has resulted in a culture of armed impunity within police departments, and a culture within the general community that accepts this situation, as long as it doesn't break down their front doors. No-knock warrants are inherently dangerous, especially if special tactical units are encouraged to treat every raid as though they were landing on Omaha Beach. But, as long as it's Their children getting their noses blown across the room, and not Our children, that's just the way things go.... We want to feel safe. Anonymous and reckless deadly force used by law enforcement is the price we're willing to have other people pay."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Anne D'Innocenzio of the AP: "Wal-Mart ... will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees, or about 5 percent of Wal-Mart's total part-time workforce, but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. It also comes a day after Wal-Mart said it is teaming up with an online health insurance agency called DirectHealth.com to help customers shop for health insurance plans.... Wal-Mart said far more U.S. employees and their families are enrolling in its health care plans than it had expected following rollout of the Affordable Care Act.... [The ACA] also requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty." CW: What WalMart does not contribute to the health care of these part-time employees, you & I will. ...

... MEANWHILE, the Waltons are still The Richest Family in the World. ...

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "American workers have been receiving meager pay increases for so long now that it's reasonable to talk in sweeping terms about the trend. It is the great wage slowdown of the 21st century. The typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn't previously been true since the Great Depression."

Jonathan Chait: "Over the last generation and a half, American politics has been gradually reshaped as the two parties have refashioned themselves from loose coalitions into tightly knit factions.... Washington is awash in nostalgic memories of congenial dinner parties and tales of Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan knocking back drinks together, and largely blind to the cold rationalism undergirding its current circumstances. The good old days are not coming back."...

... CW: This is something the Village Idiots don't seem to get: that in "the good old days," both parties -- especially the Democratic party -- were composed of hard-line internal factions, making Southern Democrats much less likely than New England Republicans to vote with non-Southern Democrats; ergo, "bipartisanship." ...

... The Party of Lincoln. It is on this history, BTW, that modern ultraconservative (&, gee, maybe racist) Republicans routinely hang their claim that "the Democrat party is the racist party." Yeah, if you back to 1964, or 1864 -- as they will -- the Democratic party was the party of slavery & black oppression. Like the guy who wrote the linked story & Rafael Cruz, father of Ted, they are anxious to "educate" ignorant black people on these historical points. If only black people knew what the parties were like in the 1860s, they would vote Republican all the time.

Eric Dolan of the Raw Story: "Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, said Tuesday that one of the reasons that liberals defended Islam was because they shared common enemies: The United States and Jews." ...

... Steve M.: "Catholic League founder apparently forgets that he doesn't particularly like Jews." Steve goes on to cite instances in which Donahue made anti-Semitic remarks.

Epidemiologist David Dausey, in a Washington Post op-ed: "The human errors in this single case [-- Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to Dallas --] highlight why it is urgent that we ban all commercial flights from the impacted countries to all non-affected countries until the outbreak is contained." (See also L.A. Times story lined in yesterday's News Ledes.) ...

Everything Is Obama's Fault, Ctd. This from the top of the Drudge Report. Via Steve M.:

... Ben Shapiro of Truth Revolt: In Southern California, "bumper stickers began appearing on area cars featuring the word Ebola with the Obama logo replacing the letter 'o.' The scathing stickers come on the eve of President Obama's Thursday trip to LA for a fundraiser at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow and on the same day that the LATimes reports that it may be premature for Mr. Obama's government to declare that the deadly Ebola virus is not transmitted by air." Also via Steve M.

Katie Zavadski of New York: After "Madrid's government announced its decision to euthanize a dog owned by a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola out of public-health concerns..., animal-rights activists [are] keeping watch over the owners' house and nearly 200,000 [people have signed] on an online petition for the poor dog." See update in today's News Ledes.

CW: What I Said. Justin Sink & Amy Parnes of the Hill: "Leon Panetta's critique of President Obama turned scalding Tuesday as the former Pentagon and CIA chief ripped the man he once served, bolstering the Republican case against Obama for the midterm elections. In a series of rapid-fire media appearances -- including interviews with CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Yahoo News and USA Today -- Panetta has delivered blow after blow, casting Obama as too willing to 'step back and give up' when confronted by tough problems. During an appearance Tuesday night on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' Panetta doubted whether the president had the will to make tough decisions.... Panetta's broadsides couldn't come at a worse time for Democrats.... Democratic commentator Brent Budowsky, a columnist for The Hill, said it is 'despicable' that Panetta would go after the president so close to the midterm elections. 'It is outrageous and sickening he'd put it out shortly before a midterm to make money on book sales in a way that would hurt Democrats running in Congress as well as the White House,' he said." (Emphasis added.) ...

... Former Obama spokesman Bill Burton on Panetta:

... Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday defended his decision to speak out against President Barack Obama, saying he did so to help the president succeed in his last two years in office." CW: Also, what I hypocritically characterize as "loyalty to the President" is selling a truckload of my books & getting me facetime on O'Reilly. And I really don't give a shit how the midterms turn out. ...

... Piling On. Jonathan Topaz: "Former President Jimmy Carter is criticizing President Barack Obama's Middle East policy, saying he has shifting policies and waited too long to take action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In an interviewed published Tuesday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 39th president said the Obama administration, by not acting sooner, allowed ISIL to build up its strength." ...

... CW: This is just stupid. It's fine to criticize the POTUS, especially if you think your criticism could lead him to change his views. (Carter, in the interview, talks about his opposition to the military's deployment of drones.) But how the hell does it help advance your own policies to criticize a president of your own party, weeks before a national election (which people are already voting in many states), for what he didn't do in the past? (In the interview, Carter suggests he would support Hillary Clinton were she the nominee. Does he think she wouldn't use drones?)...

... Paul Waldman's Tweet of the Day. Finally someone (Farley is a professor of transnational politics) explains the Middle East policy prescription of everyone from Leon Panetta to Lindsey Graham:

Brad Richardson of the Claremont Independent: "Nationally syndicated columnist George Will was slated to speak at the ninth annual Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program [at California's Scripps College], the mission of which is to bring speakers to campus whose political views differ from the majority of students at the all-women's college, but had his invitation rescinded after he wrote a column about sexual assault on college campuses. 'It was in the works and then it wasn't in the works,' Will said in an interview with the Independent. 'They didn't say that the column was the reason, but it was the reason.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Rachel Weiner, et al., of the Washington Post: "A panel of federal judges on Tuesday declared Virginia's congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere. The decision, handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, orders the Virginia General Assembly to draw up new congressional maps by April -- potentially launching a frenzied and highly political battle for survival within Virginia's congressional delegation.... The [state] attorney general's office, in consultation with the Department of Elections, will decide whether to appeal...." CW: Virginia's attorney general, Mark Herring, who won the post by the narrowest of margins, is a Democrat. Elections matter. Your vote counts.

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "As Virginia currently has a Democratic governor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be able to veto any plan which is unfair to his fellow Democrats, while the GOP-controlled legislature will no doubt push for a map that serves Republican interests. Because the current maps favor Republicans so strongly, however, the likely result will be maps that are much more favorable to Democrats."

We're the ones who gave all y'all the freedoms that you have! -- Blond white lady to Ferguson protesters

Us Against Them. Catherine Thompson of TPM: "In a video that may actually merit a 'this video will destroy your faith in humanity' tagline, St. Louis Cardinals fans taunted protesters demonstrating for Ferguson teen Michael Brown Monday night outside Busch Stadium by chanting the name of the white police officer who fatally shot him.... The baseball fans first countered the protesters' 'Justice For Mike Brown' chants with a 'Let's Go Cardinals' refrain. Then the 'Let's Go Cardinals' chant morphed into shouts of 'Let's Go Darren' and 'Darren Wilson.'" ...

... CW: The gracious blond white lady betrays a central truth of today's white racists -- they fervently believe that black people should be kissing their white asses because white people so generously (also voluntarily!) "gave" black people a measure of "freeeedom," & they deeply resent the failure of blacks to properly appreciate the generosity of their kindly white benefactors. See also, Rafael Cruz. ...

Saeed Ahmed of CNN: "A federal judge has ruled that police in Ferguson, Missouri, violated the Constitution when they told protesters that they had to keep walking and that they couldn't stand still. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction Monday forbidding law enforcement from carrying out the practice because "it is likely that these agencies will again apply this unconstitutional policy. Law enforcement agencies adopted the policy on August 18...." CW: So much for the crime of Standing While Black. ...

... Never Mind. Zachary Roth of NBC News: "Local election officials said last week that 3,287 people had registered to vote in Ferguson since the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown -- a massive spike in a city with a population of 21,000. But Tuesday, the board backtracked, saying that in fact only 128 people had registered." ...

... CW: If you don't recruit qualified, articulate candidates to further your political philosophy & if you don't bother to vote for them, you're not going to get the government you want. Protests against current conditions are fine & noble & maybe cathartic, but in Ferguson, they are falling on the deaf ears of the status quo defenders of police brutality.

National Elections

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Just weeks before elections that will decide control of the Senate and crucial governors' races, a cascade of court rulings about voting rules, issued by judges with an increasingly partisan edge, are sowing confusion and changing voting procedures with the potential to affect outcomes in some states."

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: President Obama "has been reduced to ... an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him." CW Note: The irony to this is that Obama is doubtlessly a better & wiser statesman today than he was back when he was a rock star.

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Former President Bill Clinton on Monday warned Arkansans to avoid taking a 'protest vote' against national Democrats in the midterms, urging them instead to 'vote your heart' and back Democrats running at home. He also blasted the influence of outside money in the races. Drawing rousing applause in a fiery speech here at the University of Central Arkansas, the beloved former governor of this state called on the crowd to vote 'for what you are for, not for what you are against.'"

James Hohmann of Politico: "Democrat Michelle Nunn repeatedly hammered Republican David Perdue for outsourcing jobs in a Georgia Senate debate Tuesday -- even in response to unrelated questions -- a sign her campaign believes the outsourcing story line can narrow a race that favors the GOP. Perdue, meanwhile, linked Nunn with Barack Obama at every opportunity and slammed her over a leaked campaign strategy plan that he said shows she doesn't really care about agriculture. The hourlong debate at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry was broadcast live by WMAZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Macon.... Perdue said in a 2005 deposition, first reported by Politico, that he'd spent most of his career outsourcing." ...

... Charles Pierce on "Debate Night": "If you're not depressed, you're not paying attention."

GOP Cuts Its Losses in Michigan. Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee has cut the remaining television it had reserved in Michigan amid signs former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) is having trouble catching Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). The NRSC's independent expenditure arm has canceled television reservations for the last two weeks of the campaign, pulling more than $850,000 out of the state.... Peters has had a consistent lead over Land in public polling since early summer in the Democratic-leaning state, with a lead outside the margin of error in most recent polling, and Republican strategists privately concede that she's struggled."

Luke Brinker of Salon: "A construction company owned by GOP Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst's father received more than $200,000 in county contracts while she served as auditor of Montgomery County, Iowa, despite a strict conflict of interest code governing the provision of contracts to family members of county officials." Part of Ernst's job as auditor involved "working" bids for country contracts. CW: Aw, let's just put Ernst's "working" Dad's bid as a fine example of Iowa family values. Ernst (R-WayTP) is the Iowa's GOP nominee for U.S. Senate. ...

... Oh, and Joni has a little trouble -- as do many candidates -- separating her "independent" PACs from her campaign.

Greg Sargent: Arkansas Senate nominee Rep. Tom Cotton (RTP) warns Arkansans that ISIS, in collaboration with Mexican drug cartels, whose members apparently roam freely across the porous Mexican-U.S. border, are coming "to attack us right here in places like Arkansas." If anybody votes for Sen. David Pryor (D). You know it must be true because he read it in the Breitbart News. ...

... David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times picked up Sargent's story: "When it comes to rank demagoguery and fear-mongering, this is hard to top.... Cotton wants to attack Pryor on immigration (and connect him with Obama on this issue) and he wants to attack him as weak on foreign policy (again, Obama!), so might as well mix up the two."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The weekslong hunt through the Pocono Mountains for a man wanted in the ambush and killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper took another dramatic turn on Wednesday as police officials revealed chilling reflections recorded in handwritten notes found at a campsite apparently abandoned by the elusive suspect."

New York Times: "Gun battles and explosions echoed from the embattled Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on Wednesday, as Islamic State militants detonated a car bomb and new American-led airstrikes hit the northern edge of the town, close to the Turkish border. A Kurdish official in Kobani, Assi Abdullah, said that despite the bombing, Islamic State fighters had managed to enter new areas of the town and move north, closer to the border." ...

... Guardian: "The White House has admitted that military advances by the Islamic State in Syria show the limits of American policy to 'roll back' its fighters without committing US ground troops, but insisted a long-term coalition strategy will still defeat the militant group."

New York Times: "Federal officials said Wednesday that they would begin temperature screenings of passengers arriving from West Africa at five American airports, beginning with Kennedy International in New York as early as this weekend, as the United States races to respond to a deadly Ebola outbreak. Travelers at the four other airports -- Washington Dulles International, O'Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson International and Newark Liberty International -- will be screened starting next week, according to federal officials."

USA Today: "Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died Wednesday at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said." ...

     ... The New York Times story is here. ...

     ... Washington Post: "... for the first time, officials in America will take on the grim and dangerous task of handling the remains of an Ebola victim, a complicated procedure that can be a critical moment in stopping the transmission of the disease."

... New York Times: "A dog named Excalibur who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse was euthanized on Wednesday, even as protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the Madrid home of the nurse and her husband. A online petition calling for the dog's life to be spared had drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures. The furor came amid questions about whether dogs can get and transmit the disease."

Guardian: "The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday. Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Three days of legal arguments concluded Wednesday in the first-ever court challenge to the controversial US practice of forcibly feeding hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo Bay."

Washington Post: "The 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va. Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Germany), and William E. Moerner of Stanford University for their work in overcoming the limitations of the traditional light microscope."

Monday
Oct062014

The Commentariat -- October 7, 2014

New Yorker illustration.Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog analyzes the practical effects of the Supreme Court's decision not to hear any of the marriage equality cases & explains why their decision was a surprise. ...

... The Washington Post has an interactive graphic of the each state's status re: gay marriage. ...

... Rick Hasen sees a done deal: "... you may think that this could well be reversed once there is a circuit split, perhaps in a case from the 5th or 6th Circuit. But remember, there will now be all of these children from legal same sex marriages performed until the Supreme Court could decide to take a case from another circuit. The idea that Justice Kennedy would let that happen, knowing there could well be a reversal down the line seems unlikely. ...

... Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "I don't see how [Monday's] decision doesn't signal that even within the Court, the fight is over.... The four dissenters in United States v. Windsor -- the Defense of Marriage Act case -- may have looked around the conference table last week and realized they would never get five votes to overturn the lower courts; that is, that Justice Anthony Kennedy was committed to taking his Windsor opinion to its fullest extent." ...

... Jeff Toobin: "Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land -- inevitably but not immediately." Toobin thinks the reason for the Court's deciding not to decide is that neither the four ultra-conservative justices nor the four more liberal justices trusted Justice Kennedy to be their fifth vote. Conservative justices, in Toobin's view, are hoping a Republican president will replace Justice Ginsburg, tipping the balance of the Court even further their way, while the more liberal justices are hoping the momentum gay equality rights has gained will force the Court in future years to rule with public opinion. ...

... Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) conceded that the state of Wisconsin lost its fight to ban same sex marriage on Monday when the Supreme Court declined to hear gay marriage cases in multiple states.With the Supreme Court's punt back to the appeals court that struck down the ban, county clerks in Wisconsin have started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. And Walker seems to have accepted that this is the end of the road for the state's ban." (CW Update: Yeah, but Walker had a good day, all-in-all. See links further down the page on the 7th Circuit's ruling upholding Wisconsin's voter ID law, estimated to disenfranchise some 300K likely-Democratic-leaning voters.) ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... so long as there is an opportunist or two in the [GOP] presidential field who's frantic for right-wing support (I'm looking at you, Bobby Jindal!), the odds of this issue being 'off the table' in Iowa are very low." CW: Oh, Ed, I do believe I've found us just such an opportunist. ...

The Supreme Court's decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible. By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing. This is judicial activism at its worst.... When Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas) ...

Because inaction is just another word for "activism" in upside-down Right Wing World. -- Constant Weader

MEANWHILE, Kate Nocera of BuzzFeed; "... hardly any Republicans have reacted to the news.... Sen. Mike Lee was one of the few GOP members to issue a statement. His home state of Utah was one of the states where a marriage ban was overturned by an appeals court and the state is now moving forward with allowing same-sex couples to marry. Lee called the Supreme Court decision to not review the appeals 'disappointing.'" ...

     ... NEW. Charles Pierce is not too sure of Mike Lee's powers of legal analysis. ...

... CW: I'm not a fan of Andrew Sullivan's, but today he expressed my own sense of why we have enjoyed such remarkable progress in the extension of gay rights: "The reason we persuaded so many in so short a time is that so many unknown private individuals [[ from Thanksgiving tables to church meetings to office cubicles to locker rooms -- simply told the truth about who we really are. It took immense personal courage at times -- and each moment someone came out, more light, more reality, seeped into the debate."

CW: Worth remembering: a mere two-and-a-half years ago, we had a Democratic President who was "still evolving" on gay marriage. ...

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "... while this is a massive win for gay marriage, it could surely have been done so much more bravely. For all practical purposes, it kicks the question of same-sex marriage down the road yet again. It's a big, big win but achieved in a small way, and possibly for very wrong reasons.... The court should not be in the business of gingerly surfing public opinion until it's safe enough to ride that wave into shore." ...

     ... CW: Besides, by deciding not to decide, The court has deprived us of a classic, entertaining Scalia rant. ...

... Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "It is a day to note and to celebrate a civil-rights revolution that is nearing a complete victory. But it is also a moment when other progressive causes are losing ground in the Supreme Court. On race and voting rights, the Roberts Court's likely direction is all too clear." ...

... CW: Something that struck me immediately about the Court's decision to, at the very least, kick the gay marriage can down the road, was this: What John Roberts cares most about is increasing the already-outsized advantages of elites, particularly moneyed elites. Preserving gay marriage bans matters very little within that framework. Voter suppression, on the other hand, aims to keep liberal-leaning voters from electing marginally reformist/inclusive Democrats. The same is true of Roberts' quest to undo anti-discrimination laws & policies. The outlier is his choice to support most of the ACA; the only way I can connect that to my supposition on his overarching philosophy is to posit that he believed a victory for the inane "broccoli argument" would undermine the institution of the Court itself. The one elitist Roberts most wants to protect is himself.

Paul Waldman reviews what the current conservative justices said during their confirmation hearings about their possible pro-choiciness. You might think they were obfuscating.

Voter Suppression, Ctd. Scott Bauer of the AP: "A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Wisconsin's requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls is constitutional, a decision that was not surprising after the court last month allowed for the law to be implemented while it considered the case. State elections officials are preparing for the photo ID law to be in effect for the Nov. 4 election.... The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to take emergency action and block the law." Thanks to Nadd2 for the link. ...

... Rick Hasen: "Regardless of where you stand on the merits of the constitutional and voter id problem, it is unconscionable to roll out voter id without adequate time for everyone who wants to get id to do so.... As a matter of substance, this is vintage Judge [Frank] Easterbrook: crisp writing but heartless and dismissive. Judge Easterbrook picks out the evidence from the record he likes, and dismisses the evidence he does not like." Do read the whole post. I probably should title this graf "Our Corrupt Judiciary." When a court has to write falsehood after falsehood to justify it's position, just maybe the position is untenable. ...

... CW: One thing to bear in mind on all these voter suppression laws is that voting is not a Constitutional right in the U.S. (as it is in many [most??] other countries). The 26th Amendment (1971) reads, "

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

     ... Now wouldn't it be nice if that phrase "on accunt of age" had been omitted? I don't know if the 26th Amendment has ever been cited to counter voter-suppression laws, where the purpose & effect is to disenfranchise college students, but it sure as hell should be.


Steve M
. "What we should worry about with regard to Ebola is not that ISIS and the Zeta drug gang will conspire to send infected bioterrorists across the Rio Grande, or whatever the hell it is Fox viewers fear. What we should worry about is that the outbreak in West Africa won't be contained soon despite the fact that we know how to contain Ebola outbreaks. If the delivery of protective gear is being delayed by petty bureaucrats [in Sierra Leone] engaged in partisan politics, those petty bureaucrats are multiple murderers."

Ben Protess & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: "The Justice Department is preparing a fresh round of attacks on the world's biggest banks, again questioning Wall Street's role in a broad array of financial markets. With evidence mounting that a number of foreign and American banks colluded to alter the price of foreign currencies, the largest and least regulated financial market, prosecutors are aiming to file charges against at least one bank by the end of the year, according to interviews with lawyers briefed on the matter. Ultimately, several banks are expected to plead guilty."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker profiles Larry Lessig, whose quixotic attempts to secure campaign finance reform a/k/a "corruption of the system" remains, well, quixotic. CW Hint: If you want this to work, Larry, you must bring some talented crooked politicians into the fold. They know how the system works & they know how to exploit it. There are many to choose from, although a few would have to work from jail.

Peter Baker of the New York Times reviews Panetta's Complaint. ...

... Dana Milbank: Panetta's "level of disloyalty is stunning, even though it is softened with praise for Obama's intellect."

Hadas Gold of Politico: "New York Times reporter James Risen said Sunday that none of the current leak investigations would be happening if President Barack Obama did not hate the media so much, the Morning Sentinel of Maine reports. 'I don't think any of this would be happening under the Obama administration if Obama didn't want to do it,' Risen said at Colby College in Maine after he received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy award for journalism. 'I think Obama hates the press. I think he doesn't like the press and he hates leaks.'"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Max Fisher of Vox: "Author and former Democratic political consultant Naomi Wolf published a series of Facebook posts on Saturday in which she questioned the veracity of the ISIS videos showing the murders and beheadings of two Americans and two Britons, strongly implying that the videos had been staged by the US government and that the victims and their parents were actors. Wolf published a separate Facebook post, also on Saturday, suggesting that the US was sending troops to West Africa not to assist with Ebola treatment but to bring Ebola back to the US to justify a military takeover of American society...." ...

... Dave Weigel, now with Bloomberg Politics (thus a colleague of Mark Halperin's!), has more. ...

... CW: A while back, some readers were accusing me of being a right-wing mole since I never (or almost never) linked Wolf's stuff. I believe I responded that I thought her views were fairly batty. Well, case closed. ...

... In Wolf's defense, Rush Limbaugh has an opinion not far removed from hers on the Ebola crisis. Limbaugh's theory is that Obama has indeed arranged to bring Ebola into the U.S. in order to sicken white Americans because they enslaved Africans. (To be fair to Rush, he expresses his theory in a lot of abstruse blather.) Jonathan Chait has a nice little survey of Rush's obsession with slavery. Rush thinks whites got a bum rap; not that many people of European descent kept slaves, Rush notes, & white Americans even fought a war to free their slaves. ...

... CW: In addition, the similarities between the name of the President & the name of the virus are so striking that one can hardly assume a mere coincidence: (1) Both have five letters; (2) Both have three syllables; (3) Both begin with a vowel; (4) The 2nd letter of both is "b"; (5) Both end in the letter "a"; (6) Both are African words.

Ed Kilgore gets some more mileage out of Mark Halperin's debut "scoop" for Bloomberg Politics: "Halperin suggests ... Jeb [Not-His-Real-Name Bush] would be insane not to run, such are his vast talents and the hosts of important people (e.g., donors) 'panting' (Halperin's own word for one of them) to make him president.... The problem here is in considering Halperin a 'journalist' in the normal meaning of the term. His niche is to serve as a courtier and a vanity mirror for what Digby so aptly labeled The Village, the small group of elite beltway-centered movers and shakers who want to form the political world in their own image.... Does any of this make sense from the point of view of honest journalism? No, but that's not Halperin's gig, and I am quite confident he does not care about our mockery."

Senate Race

Out with the Old? James Carroll of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "After two polls in his favor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has slipped behind Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in his re-election bid, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll. Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, now leads the five-term senator 46 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, the survey found. Libertarian candidate David Patterson had 3 percent support in the poll, while 7 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.... Perhaps the most alarming number for McConnell is that 57 percent of registered voters surveyed said that after 30 years in office, it's time for him to be replaced. That sentiment was shared by 33 percent of conservatives and 27 percent of Republicans." CW: I'm not getting my hopes up. Much.

Beyond the Beltway

Charles Pierce details the atrocities of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (i.e., school board), which in a secret session yesterday, tossed the teachers' union contract, established work rules that will remind you of the conditions under which tenant farmers & company-town denizens lived in the bad old days, & cut benefits to retired teachers. The governor appoints three of the commission's members & the mayor appoints two. Thanks to MAG for the link.

Okra Bust. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man's garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor's Task Force for Drug Suppression spotted suspicious-looking plants on the man's property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes.... Marijuana eradication programs, like the one that sent the helicopter up above the Georgia man's house, are typically funded partly via the Drug Enforcement Agency's Cannabis Eradication Program. Many of these funds come from the controversial asset forfeiture programs, which allow law enforcement officials to seize property from citizens never even charged - much less convicted - of a crime."

Randal Archibold of the New York Times tells the horrifying story of Mexican policy likely slaughtering high school boys last month. "The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala -- the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred -- containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies. The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang.... The students were not known to have criminal ties.... The mayor and the police chief of Iguala are now on the run...."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: Some Ebola experts are concerned the current strain of the virus may spread more readily than has been assumed.

New York Times: "Warplanes from the American-led coalition fighting militants of the Islamic State were reported on Tuesday to have struck targets in Syria near the Turkish border in support of Kurdish forces locked in street fighting with the militants. If confirmed, the reports could indicate an escalation in American-led efforts to help the Kurds resist, if not repel, an onslaught by the Sunni militants whose forces control portions of Syria and Iraq."

Washington Post: "At an announcement in Stockholm on Tuesday, the Nobel Prize committee awarded this year's prize in physics to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura. The three men -- Akasaki from Meijo University, Amano from Nagoya University (both in Nagoya, Japan) and Nakamura from UC Santa Barbara -- produced blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s." The Los Angeles Times story is here.

Sunday
Oct052014

The Commentariat -- October 6, 2014

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

Evan McMurry of AlterNet, in Salon: "Since Edmund Burke conservatism has been the defense of the distressed elite disguised as populism. [Ayn] Rand was a perfect iteration of this. Born into wealth in St. Petersburg, she formed an early sense of disenfranchisement when her father's chemistry shop was seized by the Soviets and her family was plunked into the proletariat.... Burke had the Jacobins; Rand had the Democrats. The philosophy she forged was a counterattack on behalf of an aristocracy she thought threatened, first by Lenin, later by LBJ.... Almost seventy years after she first became involved in the American political process, Rand has finally made it into the halls of power. She has the extreme right wing to thank.... Paul Ryan (R-WI) ... has labored the hardest to legitimize Rand ... [in furtherance of] his strategy to preserve the conservative elite.... Thanks to the Supreme Court, it's also now a legal theory of corporate personhood that includes religious rights, showing just how far Rand's theory of wealth as morality has spread."

Economist Jeff Madrick in the New York Times: "Starting in the 1970s..., under the influence of free-market enthusiasts like Milton Friedman, economists urged further removal of barriers to trade and capital flows, hoping to turn the world into one highly efficient market, unobstructed by government. The results were often disastrous.... Every free-trade agreement should come with a plan to strengthen the social safety net, through job training, help for displaced workers, and longer-term and higher unemployment benefits. Free-trade deals must also be accompanied by policies to stimulate growth through infrastructure investments, subsidies for clean energy and, perhaps, other industries, as well as loans to small businesses, and even wage subsidies."

Paul Krugman: If Republicans take control of the Senate, they'll be able to "impose their will on the Congressional Budget Office, heretofore a nonpartisan referee on policy proposals. As a result, we may soon find ourselves in deep voodoo.... Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is dropping broad hints that after the election he and his colleagues will ... try to push the budget office into adopting 'dynamic scoring,' that is, assuming a big economic payoff from tax cuts."

MEANWHILE, Fred Hiatt -- Washington Post editorial-page editor & deficit-hawk extraordinaire, the same guy who saw fit to run an op-ed suggesting that Obama-hater & scary wingnut Allen West be appointed to run the Secret Service & "protect" the President & his family -- has written a column chastising President Obama for falsely declaring "victory over the deficit" because the deficit will rise again, beginning a few years after Obama leaves office. Hiatt is right about this, assuming the Congress does not make the tax structure more progressive, & especially if Republicans take charge & make the tax code even more regressive, as they are wont to do, god bless the "jobs-creators."

Cops as Capitalists. John Oliver follows up on a three-part Washington Post investigation titled "Stop & Seize." Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, which I linked here at time of publication. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link to the Oliver video:


Supremes Finally End Long Summer Vacation
. During which we learned that Ruth Ginsburg doesn't think Obama can appoint anybody as great as she is & Nino Scalia believes the framers wanted everybody to go to church. ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday returns to work to face a rich and varied docket, including cases on First Amendment rights in the digital age, religious freedom behind bars and the status of Jerusalem.... In the coming weeks, the justices will most likely agree to decide whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a question they ducked in 2013. They will also soon consider whether to hear a fresh and potent challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which barely survived its last encounter with the court in 2012. ...

... Ben Goad of the Hill lists five cases to watch. ...

... Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: The federal government filed a brief late Friday urging the Supremes not to get involved in the latest ObummerCare challenge until the full D.C. Appeals Court has reheard Halbig v. Burwell, a case in which the full court set aside a three-judge panel decision favoring the plaintiffs. ...

... Garrett Epps of the Atlantic, who can make the mundane exciting, on the case of Heien v. North Carolina, which is being argued before the Supreme Court today. The question: is there a "Barney Fife Loophole" to the 4th Amendment; that is, if an officer pulls over someone for what turns out not to be unlawful, can the "poisonous fruit" found as a result of that stop be used against the driver or vehicle occupants?North Carolina law requires only that a vehicle have one "stop lamp." The cop pulled the vehicle over because one of two brake lights didn't work. He'd been following the car because he thought the driver looked "suspicious." That is, the driver's name was Vasquez. ...

... ** UPDATE. Mark Sherman of the AP: "The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions. The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The court's order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states should be able to get married in short order." ...

     ... Adam Liptak: "The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban." ...

     ... CW: It takes only four justices to agree to hear a case; i.e., issue a writ of certiorari. This means that at least two, count'em two, of the conservative justices voted against hearing each of these cases. This makes me think Anthony Kennedy told his buddies he would decide against state gay marriage bans.

Driftglass reviews the Sunday shows. Ferinstance, "Peggy Noonan expressed her fluttery, merlot-glazed concern that something untoward may be happening to her friend's maid's health insurance." ...

... David of Crooks & Liars: Republican party chair Prince Rebus explains to Tuck Chodd that Republicans -- the deregulation party -- regulated most of Texas's abortion-providing clinics out of business because the party believes "women deserve compassion, respect, counselling." Also, taxpayer-funded abortions. (The clinics don't get "taxpayer funds" for providing abortions, but never mind.) Also ""Obamacare, jobs, the economy, Keystone pipeline." Yeah.

Sean McElwee in Salon on "Why the GOP hates U.S. history." Because, um, facts. Worth reading, if only for McElwee's inclusion of this astonishing citation:

Slavery Was Swell. No free workers enjoyed a comparable social security system from birth until death.... Masters ... encouraged the family unit which basically remained intact.... Slavery appears such a relatively mild business that one begins to wonder why Frederick Douglass and so many other ever tried to escape.... In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well. -- Dinesh D'Souza, The End of Racism, an actual book

First, Kill All the (Black) Victims. CW: Scott Kaufman of the Raw Story: Here's a tweet from Todd Kincannon, "the former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party," who is "vehemently pro-life":

     ... Kaufman has more of Kincannon's tweets along this line. Like this one: "The people of Africa are to blame for why it's so shitty. They could stop eating each other and learn calculus at any time." AND this (partial): "We need to be napalming [Ebola-ravaged] villages from the air right now." On the other hand, Kincannon seems okay with saving non-black Ebola victims: responding to another tweeter, he writes, "Not all Ebola victims die. You would kill the medical workers we brought back? The cameraman?" But black victims, they should be "put down" like lame horses or rabid dogs. "Humanely," of course. What a sick fuck. This is the Republican party today. ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Miles O'Brien, the science correspondent for PBS Newshour, lamented on Sunday that he was embarrassed at some of the coverage of Ebola on Fox News that had a 'racial component,' and seemed intended to scare viewers." CW: "Racial component," you say? Oh, come now: "... Fox News host Andrea Tantaros ... had warned viewers that West Africans might come to the U.S. infected with Ebola, and then go to a 'witch doctor' instead of the hospital." Includes video. ...

... Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: "Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday cast doubt on concerns that undocumented immigrants will cross the southern border into the United States with Ebola or that terrorists will use the disease as a weapon. Lawmakers, candidates and pundits have expressed concern that the disease will enter the U.S. either from immigrants or due to terrorism, prompting 'Fox News Sunday- host Chris Wallace to ask Fauci about potential threats." ...

... CW: I am pretty sure if you vote for members of the party of the African-American President, they will make sure you get Ebola & die. Oh, wait. It was the Republican-led House that cut hundreds of millions from the CDC & NIH budgets. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post (October 1): The CDC's "current budget, in fact, is nearly $600 million lower than it was in 2010" the year Republicans won the House.... And a memo the CDC released on sequestration highlighted a number of areas that would suffer with less funding. At the top of the list: 'Reduced ability to ensure global disease protection.'"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve M.: "I'll save you the trouble of reading Mark Halperin's 2,228-word article [titled "The Truth about Jeb Bush's Presidential Ambitions"] addressing the question of whether Jeb Bush will really run for president in 2016: Um, Halperin's not sure.... Wow, thanks, Mark! I'll definitely keep returning to the new Bloomberg Politics site if it continues to deliver breaking news like this! ... Halperin's claiming insider knowledge when he hasn't even bothered to Google the relevant polls. But he's being exactly what you'd expect him to be: a cheerleader for the pre-Tea Party GOP establishment."

Senate Races

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "The fight for control of the Senate is stable and tight, with Republicans maintaining the inside track to a majority in the latest round of data from the New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online panel of more than 100,000 respondents."

Extreme GOTV, Alaska Edition. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is running "an expensive, sophisticated political field operation that reaches into tiny villages along rivers and in mountain ranges throughout the vast Last Frontier. The Begich ground game -- which the senator and his campaign detailed for the first time to The Washington Post -- is on a scale far beyond anything that has been tried here before."

News Ledes

Guardian: "Three neuroscientists, including a married couple from Norway, have won the 2014 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the brain's internal GPS. Their work, which collectively spans four decades, revealed the existence of nerve cells that build up a map of the space around us and then track our progress as we move around." Norwegians May-Britt & Edvard Moser shared the prize with John O'Keefe, a U.S.-British citizen.

Guardian: "Warships from the rival Koreas exchanged warning shots after a North Korean ship briefly violated the disputed western sea boundary, the South has announced. The shots were fired into the sea and there were no reports of injuries or damage on either side, a defence official said."

Washington Post: "President Obama said Monday the U.S. government would increase passenger screenings in the United States and Africa to detect the Ebola virus, even as he resisted calls to impose a ban on those traveling from the three countries most affected by the outbreak."

Guardian: "A nurse in Spain has tested positive for the Ebola virus after treating a patient repatriated to Madrid from Sierra Leone, the country's health authorities said on Monday. The nurse is thought to be the first person to have contracted the virus outside west Africa."

Guardian: "... Hong Kong democracy protests ... dwindled [today] and exhaustion began to set in. Schools reopened and government employees returned to work - one or two wearing yellow ribbons, a symbol of support for the movement - as the number of demonstrators dropped to the hundreds. At its peak, the movement saw more than 100,000 people take to the streets of the city."

Saturday
Oct042014

The Commentariat -- October 5, 2014

Andrew Bacevich in the Washington Post: "... Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that's just since 1980.... Even if we win, we lose. Defeating the Islamic State would only commit the United States more deeply to a decades-old enterprise that has proved costly and counterproductive.... By inadvertently sowing instability, the United States has played directly into the hands of anti-Western radical Islamists intent on supplanting the European-imposed post-Ottoman order...." ...

... Don't worry, Andrew. The "war against ISIS" will be over in a month. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) argued on Sunday that President Obama has declared war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in order to help Democrats win the midterm elections in November and expressed concern that he would abandon the fight in the new year."

Matthew Dallek, in the Washington Post, on the history of high security at the White House. "It was after Dec. 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor, that the White House truly ceased to be the 'people's house.'" ...

... Maureen Dowd: Julia Pierson "earned her abrupt exit fair and square. It's no blot on the copybook of women. She withheld crucial information and helped paper over fiascos at an agency where mismanagement and denial put the president's life (and his family's lives) in jeopardy."

God News

Shadee Ashtari of the Huffington Post: "The separation of church and state doesn't mean 'the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,' Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued during a speech at Colorado Christian University on Wednesday.... Defending his strict adherence to the plain text of the Constitution, Scalia knocked secular qualms over the role of religion in the public sphere as 'utterly absurd,' arguing that the Constitution is only obligated to protect freedom of religion -- not freedom from it." ...

... Steve Benen: "If U.S. policymakers passed a law that deliberately treated American atheists as second-class citizens, Scalia seems to believe that's perfectly permissible under the Constitution. Of course, there is nothing in the Constitution that empowers the state to favor religion over irreligion, but Scalia has apparently morphed the document to comport with his preferred vision of a government that blurs the church-state line.... The strict constructionist just made up his own rules, based on what he wishes the Constitution says, but doesn't. It's what happens when someone starts with an answer, then works backwards in the hopes of reaching an agreed upon conclusion." ...

... ** Rob Boston, in the American Constitution Society: "... for all this bluster, Scalia isn't really harkening back to the founding document of the Constitution. Nothing there provides comfort for his view of a religion-tinged government. In fact, Scalia is endorsing a much more modern theory of church-state relations: It's what scholars call 'ceremonial deism.' The idea behind ceremonial deism seems to be that government can endorse religion as long as it's not terribly serious about it and no one faith is endorsed over others." Via Benen.

Here's the big argument between Bill Maher & Sam Harris on the one side & Ben Affleck on the other, re: radical Islam:

... Esther Lee of Think Progress provides some context. ...

... Here's some more context, extracted from an extensive Pew Research study. ...

... There are more Pew findings here. ...

... digby backs Affleck.

Jack Jenkins of Think Progress: "Pope Francis had some harsh words for religious extremists this weekend, voicing his strongest condemnation yet for those who use religion to justify violence. Speaking on Sunday to an audience that included the President, governmental authorities, and diplomatic corps of Albania, where he is spending a one-day apostolic visit, the first Argentinean pope directly addressed the growing issue of religious violence. Francis first praised the 'climate of respect' in Albania -- which is a Muslim-majority country -- between Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, saying the culture of tolerance was a 'precious gift.' He then expressed firm criticism for those who cite faith as grounds for killing others."

AP: "An American nun credited with curing a boy's eye disease moved a step closer to sainthood Saturday in what church officials said was the first beatification Mass held in the United States. A beatification Mass for Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, who died in 1927, was led by Cardinal Angelo Amato at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Beatification is the third in a four-step process toward sainthood."

Congressional Races

Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Independent candidate Greg Orman is leading incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas by 10 points, while Democrats have a slim lead in North Carolina's contest and both candidates are in a dead heat in Iowa's Senate race, new NBC News/Marist polls find."

Don't you ever touch me. Don't ever touch me. The last guy who touched me ended up on the ground dead. -- Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), to Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar, when, just prior to a debate, Dunbar lightly touched Young on the arm during a conversation

Gubernatorial Race

Jason Salzman of the Huffington Post (October 2): "During a debate Tuesday against Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said he thinks intrauterine devices (IUDs) cause abortions, and he would not use public funds on them.... 'These comments illustrate how little Bob Beauprez really understands about women's health,' said Cathy Alderman of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, in a news release issued after the debate." CW: Sorry I missed this earlier. Beauprez's view isn't about opposition to abortion; it's about opposition to women, especially poor women -- women who would benefit from receiving "public funds" to obtain IUDs. ...

... Today's Rant. Pardon my paranoia, but I have long thought that a fundamental reason for opposition to abortion is to maintain income & "class" inequality. Higher-income women can afford to practice family planning. If they accidentally get pregnant at an inconvenient time in their lives or under other undesirable circumstances, they can obtain abortions even if they live in Texas 150 miles from the nearest abortion provider. Not so for poorer women & families, who may find themselves saddled with child-rearing responsibilities when they are financially &/or otherwise ill-equipped to do so. Unplanned children may prove to be joys to their parents, but the expense & time it takes to rear them necessarily limit the mothers' or families' opportunities for upward mobility. I think there are many abortion opponents who are right pleased with that disparity. They probably see family planning as one of the perks of wealth -- another way to distinguish themselves from "those people," & to make sure "those people" remain in the underclass. -- Constant Weader

Presidential Race

Dana Milbank: The GOP presidential primary lineup is beginning to look like a police lineup, so many of the potential candidates are under investigation for criminal activities.

When "Madame President" Was Unthinkable

A man must be protected while he is the President of the United States. -- Eleanor Roosevelt, in her autobiography, published 1961

If all of us except Frances were killed we would have a woman president. -- Franklin Roosevelt, ca. 1942, on how a White House dinner with his Cabinet could have an absurd result (Both citations from Matthew Dallek's article, linked above)

News Ledes

Guardian: "The parents of Peter Kassig, an American aid worker held hostage by Islamic State (Isis) militants, have appealed for his release in a statement and video message that highlighted his aid work and mentioned his conversion to Islam."

Guardian: "Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have vowed to keep up their occupation as a Monday deadline fast approaches, but are seeking compromise by offering to open access lanes."

Guardian: "The condition of Thomas Duncan, the first patient ever to be diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa, was reported to have worsened on Saturday as health officials in Texas said they were closely monitoring nine people who had close contact with him before he was admitted to hospital."

New York Times: "Jerrie Mock, who as a relatively untested pilot accomplished in 1964 what Amelia Earhart could not -- becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world -- died on Tuesday at her home in Quincy, Fla., near Tallahassee. She was 88."