The Wires
The Ledes

Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

Los Angeles Times: "Authorities have arrested a former police officer who is suspected of being one of California’s most prolific serial killers and rapists — the Golden State killer. According to law enforcement sources who were unauthorized to speak publicly about the case, a local and federal task force apprehended the suspect late Tuesday evening. A 72-year-old Citrus Heights resident, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail, according to Sacramento County jail records. In the 40 years since the Original Night Stalker began his campaign of terror in Sacramento and moved south through Oakland, Santa Barbara and Orange counties, he had remained unidentified. The attacker was also dubbed the East Area Rapist and the Golden State killer, and authorities say he is responsible for 12 killings, 45 rapes and more than 120 residential burglaries between 1976 and 1986."

... Guardian: "The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a boy. Kate and Williams’s third child was born at 11.01am at St Mary’s hospital, Paddington, central London. The baby weighed in at 8lb 7oz. The birth was announced to the public by Kensington Palace with a tweet.... The new Prince of Cambridge is fifth in line to the throne, and is Queen Elizabeth II’s sixth great-grandchild."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie on "Why I take my political advice from country & western stars":

I would have voted for [Donald Trump] because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right? -- Shania Twain, a Canadian C&W performer

Especially if you're into very high-end decorative porcelain, here are some highlights of David & Peggy Rockefeller's collection that will go on auction beginning May 1. Unless you're a Rockefeller, your grandmother's curio cabinet never looked quite like this. To access the full Christie's catalog on the Rockefeller estate objets, start here.

Oh Noes! The Local: "Rome's Jewish community is embroiled in a standoff with Israel's top religious authority after it declared the Eternal City's cherished dish of 'carciofi alla giudia' (deep-fried whole artichoke) not kosher. The crisp golden delicacies are a speciality of the Roman-Jewish cuisine and a prominent feature on menus. But Israel's Chief Rabbinate said the method of cooking the artichoke whole made it impossible to clean properly and it didn't therefore adhere to kosher standards. 'The heart of the artichoke is full of worms, there's no way you can clean it,' said the head of imports of Israel's Rabbinate, Yitzhak Arazi, in an interview with national newspaper Haaretz. 'It can't be kosher. It's not our politics, this is Jewish religious law.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This would be a tragedy. I've had Jewish-style artichokes in Rome's old Jewish quarter, & I'm pretty sure god would approve.

New York Times: Turns out the reboot of "Roseanne" is the result of ABC Entertainment's plan to become the Trump Nation's go-to teevee network, a strategy that began to take shape the day after Trump's election. "The top markets for the debut [of "Roseanne"] read like a political pollster’s red-state checklist: Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla. Liberal enclaves like New York and Los Angeles did not crack the top 20." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If, like Medlar & me, you happened to miss the premiere/reboot of the "Roseanne" show, where Roseanne Barr plays a Trump supporter (as she is in real life),

This video is dedicated to the Wives of Trump. Thanks to a friend for the link:

Here's a related story by Avi Selk of the Washington Post: "Deep-sea anglerfish sex ... is an endless horror. Every. Single. Time. A male anglerfish's first and only sexual adventure results in his becoming permanently fused — by his lips, no less — to the side of a relatively gargantuan female that resembles David Cronenberg's nightmare about the shark from 'Jaws.'”

 

An Outsider Artist Who Changed Modern Painting. New York: "In the 1940s, a 16-year-old girl captured the minds of the art world’s elite. The self-taught Algerian artist, Baya Mahieddine (1931-1988) — known as Baya — is finally being celebrated in the first North American exhibition of her work, at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, through March 31. Baya used gouache as her primary medium, depicting a world without men but full of bright images of women, nature, and animals." Baya influenced, among others, Picasso & Matisse, which is kinda obvious.

I posted this for no other reason than this is the first time I've seen it. But the "national policy" Tommy announces is more true today than ever in American history. To those of you too young to have seen a Carson monologue, I apologize:

ObamaTV. New York Times: "Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service.... The Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or Breitbart.com, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media...."

Chicago Tribune: "A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to [American aviator Amelia] Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study 'Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones' by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed." Jantz's conclusion is based on measurements of the bones taken by a medical doctor in 1941.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Wednesday
Jan132016

The Commentariat -- January 14, 2016

David Hendee of the Omaha World-Herald: "In his first full-fledged visit as president to Nebraska, President Barack Obama called on America to reject the politics of doom and gloom and work together to build a stronger and better nation and world":

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "President Barack Obama threw a few more punches at Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP field on Wednesday, condemning hateful language on the campaign trail that feeds Americans' 'worst impulses.' Speaking at the University of Nebraska Omaha, Obama gave a more casual, joke-laced version of his State of the Union address from Tuesday night, warning about the dangers of offensive rhetoric." ...

... Josh Planos of KETV Omaha: "Before his speech at Baxter Arena, President Barack Obama stopped at a Papillion home to speak with a mother who wrote him a letter last year." With video.

... Greg Sargent: "Paul Ryan attacks Barack Obama for agreeing with Paul Ryan."

There's no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide [between Democrats & Republicans], and I guarantee I'll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office. -- President Obama, in his SOTU address ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Obama's wrong. Dead wrong. There's absolutely no reason to believe that either man would have convinced the two parties to sit together around a campfire and sing 'Kumbaya.' Nor, for that matter, is there any reason to think it would have been desirable for Lincoln or Roosevelt to prioritize partisan unity. Indeed, the reason we now remember them as two of our greatest presidents is entirely because they were not afraid to push a bold agenda even though that agenda outraged many entrenched political groups."

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama will roll out a bold set of executive actions during his final year in office, his top adviser said Wednesday. 'We'll do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year, I am confident of that,' White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast."

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The United States will increase the number of refugees it admits to allow in more people fleeing violence in Central America, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday. In a speech at the National Defense University, Kerry said the expansion of the Refugee Admissions Program will be directed toward people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, to 'offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits.'... The admission of more refugees from Central American countries comes amid an immigration crackdown in which women and children from the region were rounded up and deported after they were denied asylum." ...

... Jerry Markon & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The escalating tensions between Democrats and the Obama administration over its deportation raids targeting Central American immigrants burst into public view on Tuesday, with more than 140 House members blasting the round ups and the White House dispatching a top official to Capitol Hill in a vain effort to quell the furor." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

James Downie of the Washington Post: Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), in her response to the State of the Union address, fueled the fear she & anger she pretended to abhor: "Be afraid. That fear and the anger from the GOP establishment's apparent complacency are the reasons behind the strength of Trump, Cruz and others. Platitudes from Nikki Haley and others won't stop that fear as long as they keep feeding it." ...

... Eun Kim of NBC's "Today": "South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended her response to Tuesday's State of the Union, confirming to 'Today''s Matt Lauer she was referring to Donald Trump as one of the 'angriest voices' she mentioned. 'Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,' she told Matt in an interview Wednesday." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Nikki Haley said late Wednesday that she had misspoken when she said that Marco Rubio was for 'amnesty' and that Jeb Bush had passed Common Core, the controversial educational standards." CW: Maybe because (a) her claims weren't true, & (b) "misspeaking" about your party's presidential candidates is not going to help your veepstakes chances.

Ezra Klein: Democratic & Republican voters are different: Democrats care about personal issues which the hope the government can help solve; Republicans say they are concerned about abstract issues, like the Constitution. CW: Really? The Constitution? Let's give them a test to see if these concerned citizens know what it says. A 2014 Annenberg survey found that "While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one." I do believe "the Constitution" answer is a smokescreen for darker views.

David Sanger, et al., of the New York Times: "A crisis over the seizing of two American patrol boats in the Persian Gulf was averted Wednesday when Iran returned the craft and released their crews as Pentagon officials struggled to explain how the boats had ended up near a major Iranian naval base. Their quick release was hailed by the Obama administration as an unintended benefit of the new diplomatic relationship with Iran established by the nuclear accord negotiated between Tehran and the United States and five other nations in July. The accord is expected to go into effect next week, ending the oil and financial sanctions imposed on Iran over the past decade, and giving it access to around $100 billion in frozen funds." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Intense U.S.-Iranian diplomacy led to the release early Wednesday of 10 American sailors captured by Iran after they strayed into its territorial waters, a smooth resolution to a potentially fraught incident that the Obama administration attributed to communications channels established during negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. 'We can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago,' Secretary of State John F. Kerry said. He thanked Iranian authorities for their 'cooperation and quick response'..." ...

... CW: And think about how this would have gone down if U.S. Republicans & Bibi Netanyahu had had their way on the Iran nuke deal. Sharon Kavenaugh of Vocativ: "Republican lawmakers and presidential hopefuls quickly seized on Tuesday's incident, claiming it represented yet another humiliation of the United States by Iran. They placed the blame squarely on [President] Obama.... 'This is the latest manifestation of the weakness of Barack Obama, that every bad actor ... views Obama as a laughingstock,' said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.... Jeb Bush tweeted: 'No more bargaining. Obama's humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.' If I'm not mistaken, all the GOP presidential candidates have promised to revoke the Iran nuclear deal. Diplomacy matters. While you're looking for bad actors, Ted, get a mirror. ...

     ... Also, too, it's important to bear in mind that the Navy vessels were in Iran's territorial waters. If Iran floated its boats off the coast of Cape Cod, would the U.S. ignore them? ...

... ** Bryan Bender of Politico: "Wednesday's release of 10 American sailors from Iranian custody put a swift end to the latest confrontation between the U.S. and Tehran -- but not before a chorus of Republicans jumped in to warn that the United States was facing a new hostage crisis.... The immediate political response to the episode, even as details were still trickling in, underscored deep opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear pact with Iran and its broader diplomatic detente with Tehran -- and also cast in stark relief how much national security is imprisoned by partisanship." ...

... Paul Waldman: "Candidates can live in their fantasy world, where they're constantly causing dramatic showdowns they always win because of their steely glare. But fortunately for us (and for those 10 sailors), none of them had the chance to test their theory. At least not this time." CW: Don't miss Waldman's opening grafs. ...

... Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "So now that U.S. sailors and ships have been safely returned in a relatively prompt manner, remember who flew off the handle and who kept their cool."

Louise Story of the New York Times: "Concerned about illicit money flowing into luxury real estate, the Treasury Department said Wednesday that it would begin identifying and tracking secret buyers of high-end properties. The initiative will start in two of the nation's major destinations for global wealth: Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. It will shine a light on the darkest corner of the real estate market: all-cash purchases made by shell companies that often shield purchasers' identities." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Faced with the prospect of definitively resolving the status of Puerto Rico, the Supreme Court on Wednesday explored ways in which to render a narrow decision. But a lawyer for the Obama administration was adamant that the court's decision should be based on the fundamental ground that the commonwealth is a territory of the United States without independent sovereignty.... The question in Wednesday's case, Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, No. 15-108, was whether Puerto Rico was also a separate sovereign and therefore able to pursue a subsequent prosecution for the same crime after a federal conviction. Whether Puerto Rico is a separate sovereign is a deeply contested matter of politics and pride."

John Koblin of the New York Times: "The cable news channel Al Jazeera America, which debuted in 2013 to great fanfare when it promised to cover American news soberly and seriously, will be shutting down by the end of April. The move was announced at a companywide meeting on Wednesday."

Presidential Race

Gail Collins on the relatives of the candidates.

Here's the conversation between MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin & Alex Seitz-Wald, which Ezra Klein referred to in the post linked above. Sarlin & Seitz-Wald switched sides last week; Sarlin had been covering the GOP candidates & Seitz-Wald had covered the Democrats.

The Nation endorses Bernie Sanders. CW: It's a good editorial, worth reading: "Sanders alone proposes to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; to invest in public education, from universal pre-K to tuition-free public college.... He alone proposes to empower workers with a living wage. He alone stands ready to put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and to confront climate change by making the United States a leader in renewable energy. His audacious agenda proves that money in politics doesn't widen debate; rather, it narrows the range of possibility. While Sanders understands this, we fear that his chief rival for the Democratic nomination does not." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton's new barrage against Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential primary opponent she has all but ignored through most of her campaign, is having an effect -- ... Sanders's underdog campaign said it is seeing a surge of contributions as a direct result..., with money coming in at a clip nearly four times the average daily rate reported in the last quarter of 2015.... 'Thanks, Team Clinton,' Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Wednesday afternoon." ...

... CW: There's nothing wrong with Clinton's attacking Sanders on the real differences between them -- tho I don't know how well the gun thing will go down in Iowa & rural New Hampshire -- but her claim that Sanders has proposed to turn healthcare over to the states, specifically to Republican governors, is, as far as a can tell, a baldfaced lie. The best thing that can be said for her is that she's as honest & trustworthy as any GOP presidential candidate, except maybe Kasich. ...

... Pat Garofalo of US News has more on Clinton's "bizarre" & "dishonest" attacks on Sanders' single-payer proposal: "... she's sliming Sanders with the accusation that he wants to take health insurance away from people. It's a garbage attack, and makes even less sense considering that she's going to need Sanders' supporters come November when she (as is still very likely) becomes the Democratic nominee. (Democrats, incidentally, really like single-payer, as do independents.)" ...

... Ryan Cooper of the Week: "... it's obvious what's happening here. Clinton has been flagging in the polls of late, and as usual she's turned to fighting dirty."

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: Sanders strikes back against Clinton's "Karl Rove tactics." ...

... Jim Newell of Slate: "Welcome to the campaign trail, Chelsea Clinton. Got anything on your mind? 'Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,' she said in New Hampshire on Tuesday. 'I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era -- before we had the Affordable Care Act -- that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.'... The arguments [Hillary Clinton's] campaign is using against single-payer health care are earning plenty of griping from progressives, who see this as proof that Clinton will only play nice with them until the precise second that turning on them becomes politically advantageous." Sanders should release his plan now. ...

... Liz Kruetz of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton [Tuesday] defended her daughter's attacks against her Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care plan, despite criticism the remark was inaccurate." With video. ...

... CW P.S. Chelsea Clinton is a chip off the old blocks. I can't stomach her, either.

Margaret Hartmann of New York previews tonight's GOP debate. ...

Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "Major GOP donors and fundraisers are wondering whether they're wasting their money on super-PACs. They say they're not ready to abandon the super-PACs, but they're starting to look for ways to make them more effective during a presidential cycle that has challenged conventions about how to spend political donations."

Nick Gass of Politico: Donald Trump "on Wednesday hit back at both [President] Obama and at South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also warned about the dangers of Trump's rhetoric during her GOP response, though also not by name.... Trump, calling in to 'Fox and Friends,' denounced Obama's speech as the words of a man 'living in a fantasy land.'... Trump, a master of the counterpunch, let loose on Haley Wednesday morning. He attacked her as being 'very weak on illegal immigration' and surmised that if he were not running for president, she would be asking him for campaign cash. 'But she's weak on illegal immigration, and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions, 'cause over the years she's asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions...,' he said on 'Fox and Friends.' As far as the prospect of a Trump-Haley ticket? Don't count on it, Trump said. 'Well considering I'm leading in the polls by a lot, I wouldn't say she's off to a good start based on what she has just said,' he said...."

Mike McIntire of the New York Times: When Ted Cruz ran for the Senate in 2012, he & his wife Heidi obtained loans for as much as $750,000 to finance the campaign. One loan came from her employer Goldman Sachs & another from Citibank. The loans are not illegal, but Ted failed to report them to the Federal Election Commission, & that is illegal. Ted has falsely claimed that he & Heidi financed the campaign by liquidating their own assets: "A review of personal financial disclosures that Mr. Cruz filed later with the Senate does not find a liquidation of assets that would have accounted for all the money he spent on his campaign.... All told, the value of their cash and securities in 2012 saw a net increase of as much as $400,000 -- even as the Cruzes were supposedly liquidating everything to finance Mr. Cruz's Senate campaign." His presidential campaign describes his failure to report the large loans as "inadvertent." Very convenient. "... a disclosure might have conveyed the wrong impression for his candidacy. Mr. Cruz ... was campaigning as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president." ...

... Jennifer Rubin, the WashPo's winger blogger, explains why this revelation is "a nightmare" for Cruz, especially at this point in the race. Here are some of her reasons: 1. He is still indebted to Goldman.... 2. He didn't simply 'forget' to file the disclosure; he made up a self-reverential story to go with it.... 3. He is going on stage tonight in a debate against several highly skilled candidates who don't like him to begin with.... 4. Trump is going to have a field day with this one, which is certainly a more solid reason than his birther hooey on which to disqualify Cruz. Cruz has been accusing Trump of embodying 'New York values' -- whatever those are. But if hiding a big loan from a Wall Street firm tied to the housing crisis isn't the essence of 'New York values,' I am not sure what is. 5. Cruz's campaign is built on the populist, anti-establishment narrative.... 6. It is hard to say this is an oversight.... 7. This is precisely the sort of slick, dishonest conduct he accuses professional politicians of undertaking."

... "I Forgot." Katie Zezima of the Washington Post & Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) downplayed a report late Wednesday that he had not listed personal loans he and his wife received before donating roughly the same amount to his 2012 Senate campaign, calling the matter an 'inadvertent filing question.'" ...

... Not a parody. But a classic. Also, could be the first time a presidential candidate was pictured in blackface:

Beyond the Beltway -- Elections Matter

(1) Amy Goodnough of the New York Times: "There is no longer any question that Gov. Matt Bevin [RTP] of Kentucky plans to shut down the health insurance exchange his state built to enroll residents for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Now that he has notified the Obama administration of his intention to do so, the question is, will it change the law's substantial impact there? It is hard to predict, partly because what Mr. Bevin is doing is without precedent. While a few states have been forced to largely rely on the federally run exchange after their own versions failed, Kentucky will be the first to abandon a homegrown exchange that functions well.... A far bigger threat is Mr. Bevin's plan, still vague, to overhaul Kentucky's expansion of Medicaid...."

(2) Elizabeth Cohen & Katherine Grise of CNN: "The state of Florida is putting thousands of children with heart defects at risk, a group of cardiac doctors say, because of a change in policy that came after Tenet Healthcare contributed $200,000 to Florida Republicans. In a widely publicized investigation in June, CNN revealed that a program at a Tenet hospital in Florida had failed to live up to state quality standards for children's heart surgery. Less than two months later, the state decided to get rid of those standards. That decision came after the giant for-profit hospital chain made contributions to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his party that dwarfed those the company made to candidates or parties in other states.... Doctors from around the state say the decision came right from the governor's office."

(3) Mark Guarino of the Washington Post: "Responding to calls that his administration has not done enough to help this city and its lead-poisoned water supply, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) dispatched his state's National Guard on Tuesday to help distribute clean water. More than 30 National Guard troops are expected to be on the ground by Friday, where they will go door to door to hand out water bottles, filters and testing kits to residents in this city of nearly 100,000." (Snyder's administration is responsible for forcing the city to provide contaminated water & for covering up evidence the water contained high levels of lead & other contaminants.)

*****

Rebecca Ruiz of the New York Times: "Top officials running the sport of track and field have for years abused their positions and possibly engaged in criminal behavior, blackmailing athletes who doped and failing to discipline them in a timely fashion, according to a report released on Thursday by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The 89-page report was the result of an investigation by a task force that spent the last year examining allegations of widespread doping and corruption. It raised questions about past leaders of the sport who were already under criminal investigation as well as the sport's celebrated current leader, Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who was in charge of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London."

John Sepuvado & Amanda Peacher of Oregon Public Broadcasting: "Among the militant members who have accessed government computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, one is an Islamic State sympathizer and Adolph Hitler acolyte. While militant leader Ammon Bundy has repeatedly denied government computers were being used by militants, OPB has again confirmed that Department of Interior computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are being accessed, and in this instance, being used to make a website for the occupation. One of the militants occupying the refuge posted video of himself using the computer."

Comedians A. J. Foster & Larry O'Grady re-enact the Whitesboro, New York, town seal. I'd say it's lucky for Foster no Whitesboro cops came upon this scene. Undaunted by the photo & national notoriety, the town voted to keep the "White" in Whitesboro the seal. (The village is 97.69 percent white.) See also yesterday's Commentariat. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link:

Photo by A. J. Foster.

Amanda Holpuch of the Guardian: "A Minnesota archbishop who was forced to resign when his diocese faced criminal and civil charges related to sexual abuse by clergy has been appointed assistant priest at a church in Michigan."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Explosions and gunfire rocked the center of the Indonesian capital on Thursday in what the police called a terrorist attack. At least four people were killed, the police said, along with three of the assailants. The Indonesian National Police said in a statement on Facebook that four other attackers had been arrested." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Militants staged suicide bombings and opened fire in Indonesia's capital on Thursday in possible attempts by Islamic State followers to stage a Paris-style rampage through the teeming streets of Jakarta. Five attackers were among the seven dead." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday, the first time the radical group has targeted the world's most populous Muslim nation."

New York Times: "At least three winning tickets were sold in Wednesday night's record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot."

Guardian: "The World Health Organisation has declared the end of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, with all known chains of transmission of the virus stopped."

New York Times: "Alan Rickman, the British actor who brought an erudite dignity to film roles like Hans Gruber, the nefarious mastermind of 'Die Hard,' and Severus Snape, the dour master of potions in the 'Harry Potter' series, died on Thursday. He was 69."

Washington Post: "For the first time since 1978, a named tropical weather system has formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January. At 4 p.m. today, the National Hurricane Center announced Subtropical Storm Alex had developed over the eastern Atlantic Ocean."

Tuesday
Jan122016

The Commentariat -- January 13, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Jerry Markon & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The escalating tensions between Democrats and the Obama administration over its deportation raids targeting Central American immigrants burst into public view on Tuesday, with more than 140 House members blasting the round ups and the White House dispatching a top official to Capitol Hill in a vain effort to quell the furor."

Louise Story of the New York Times: "Concerned about illicit money flowing into luxury real estate, the Treasury Department said Wednesday that it would begin identifying and tracking secret buyers of high-end properties. The initiative will start in two of the nation's major destinations for global wealth: Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. It will shine a light on the darkest corner of the real estate market: all-cash purchases made by shell companies that often shield purchasers' identities."

*****

... Here is the President's speech as prepared. I'll link a transcript when one becomes available. He did ad lib. Update: Here's the transcript, via the New York Times. ...

... Christi Parsons & Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama launched his final year in office with a valedictory State of the Union address Tuesday night that painted a portrait of a prosperous and secure America but warned of peril ahead if the country can't break the political logjam in Washington." ...

... Julie Pace of the AP: "Eyeing the end of his presidency, Barack Obama urged Americans Tuesday night to rekindle their belief in the promise of change that first carried him to the White House, declaring that the country must not allow election-year fear and division to put economic and security progress at risk." ...

... Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "President Obama focused Tuesday on the pessimism coursing through an electorate now preparing to replace him, recasting the campaign-trail anger as a simple fear of change and a growing danger to the country." ...

... CW: The theme of the SOTU speech, in case you didn't notice, was a restatement of then-state senator Obama's 2004 red-state/blue-state convention speech. An agent of change need not change himself in fundamental ways. ...

... "America Is Great Again Already." Suzy Khimm of the New Republic: "Tuesday night's address was a reprise of the Obama of Hope and Change to counter the culture of fear that Trump has exploited so successfully." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: President Obama "spoke of the possibility that the great U.S. democratic experiment will turn in on itself, in an orgy of partisanship, nativism, and money politics. In delivering this jeremiad, Obama was, in part, merely returning to the platform that he ran on in 2008. But he was also speaking as a wised-up, gray-haired President who has witnessed, firsthand, the consequences of the politics of dysfunction and brutalism -- and who now sees, in the 2016 Presidential race, things going from bad to worse.... Having identified the danger -- Trumpism and all that has given rise to it -- Obama warned that American democracy itself is at stake." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... Trump did not absorb all of Obama's jibes. The president drew clear lines of distinction against the other two leading Republicans, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.... 'American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world  -- except when we kill terrorists; [Cruz] or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling.' [Rubio]"

... David Fahrenthold & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama used his final State of the Union address to consider himself as an ex-president -- talking in conversational, contemplative and backward-looking terms at the country he would leave behind, and warning not-very-subtly that the country shouldn't pick Donald Trump to take his place." ...

... Vice President Biden, in Medium: "Three months ago, I called for a 'moonshot' to cure cancer. Tonight, the President tasked me with leading a new, national mission to get this done. It's personal for me. But it's also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world." ...

... Scott Bixby of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has channeled John Kennedy's space race with the Russians to pledge a new 'moonshot', led by vice-president Joe Biden at 'mission control', for the United States to win a new global health race and find a cure for cancer.... Inspired and led by Biden, who lost his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer last year, the White House's bold pledge follows the path laid forward by the vice-president when he declined to run to replace Obama in the White House." ...

... Dr. Jill Biden & White House staff invite guests to sit with Michelle Obama at the SOTU:

... Oh, that's nice. Anti-gay clerk Kim Davis will be at the SOTU, too, a sort of accidental guest of Rep. Jim Jordan (RTP-Phio). I'm sure she's not the only horrible guest of Congressional Republicans. ...

... Ben Dreyfuss of Mother Jones: "Matt Lauer asked President Barack Obama if he could imagine Donald Trump giving a State of the Union address. His response: 'Well, I can imagine it in a Saturday Night [Live] skit.'... Obama also dismissed Trump's chances of winning the presidency":

... Rachel Bade of Politico: "South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, a potential 2016 vice presidential running-mate for the GOP nominee, offered a not-so-subtle rebuke of Donald Trump's fiery immigration rhetoric as part of her response to President Barack Obama's Tuesday State of the Union speech":

... David Jackson of USA Today: "Another State of the Union tradition played out Tuesday: Criticism of the president from the opposition party, particularly Republican candidates seeking his job this election year." CW: Here's my favorite: "[Rand] Paul, who did not attend speech, tweeted at one point during the president's remarks that 'I just yelled, "you lie" really loud. Good thing I'm not there.'" I guess Li'l Randy remembers how successful Joe Wilson (RTP-S.C.) was in raising funds off his classy 2009 outburst. AND, of course, this was just the kind of childish behavior President Obama admonished politicians to reject. ...

... Ah, well, the usual suspects panned Nikki Haley, too.

We Won't Have Another President Like This. Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "Vice President Biden said in an interview broadcast Monday night that President Obama offered him financial help when his son Beau Biden was suffering from cancer.... 'He said "I'll give you the money. Whatever you need, I'll give you the money. Don't, Joe. Promise me. Promise me,'" Biden told CNN":

Burgess Everett & John Bresnahan of Politico: "King Abdullah of Jordan will spurn the GOP's invitation to address House and Senate Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore on Wednesday night, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Though Abdullah was never confirmed, the optics of meeting with Republicans and not having a face-to-face with President Barack Obama may have proven to be too much. Abdullah met with Vice President Biden today but in the words of a senior administration official, Obama had 'scheduling conflicts, including the State of the Union address' that made a meeting between the two leaders impossible this week."

"The ... 50-State Solution." Thomas Edsall of the New York Times: "While the presidential race captures our attention -- and as the left has withdrawn from low-level combat -- conservatives have overseen the drawing of legislative and congressional districts that will keep Republicans in power over the next decade. In this way, through the most effective gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts in the nation's history, the right has institutionalized a dangerous power vacuum on the left." ...

... David Nasaw reviews Jane Mayer's book Dark Money for the New York Times. "When the Supreme Court in the 2010 Citizens United case permitted nonprofits to spend money on political campaigning, the Koch brothers funded their own political machine, which, in size, dollars and sophistication, rivaled that of the two major parties. Their success in the 2010 midterm election was remarkable, and, Ms. Mayer says, took the Democrats by surprise."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker: "... the American far right -- a diverse, sometimes contradictory landscape of radical ideologies -- [is flourishing].

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court found Florida's unique system of imposing a death sentence unconstitutional on Tuesday, saying it gives power to judges that is rightfully reserved for juries.... [In an 8-1 decision,] Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Florida's process reduces the jury's role to an advisory one and leaves the work of finding the special circumstances that render a murderer eligible for the death penalty up to a judge. That is the reverse of what the court in 2002 said was required, she wrote."

Marin Cogan of the New Yorker: Attorney General Loretta Lynch "may be the lowest-profile attorney general in recent memory." But that could change: ... "with just a year left in his administration, no one will be more central to the president's political ambitions and legacy than Lynch."

Richard Kahlenberg in a New York Times op-ed: "Public sector unions — representing teachers, firefighters and the like -- are the remaining bright spot in America's once-thriving trade union movement. In the case before the Supreme Court, Rebecca Friedrichs, a dissident teacher in Southern California, argues that she should be able to accept the higher wages and benefits the union negotiates, but not help pay for the costs.... During the Cold War, Republicans as well as Democrats fought for union endorsements and recognized that unions were critical civic organizations because they serve as a check on arbitrary government power; help sustain a middle-class society necessary for a stable democracy; serve to acculturate workers to democratic norms; and, in the case of teachers unions, support a public school system that helps children become thoughtful and reflective citizens." ...

... Steve M.: "Kahlenberg appears to be under the mistaken impression that modern conservatives actually want to strengthen democracy. They want no such thing. Conservatism thrives when economic inequality is increasing. The formula is simple: Take good jobs at good wages from blue-collar whites. When they express anger and anxiety, blame non-white recipients of social services provided by 'big government.' Lather. Rinse. Repeat, ad infinitum."

Thomas Gibbons-Neff & Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "Two small U.S. Navy vessels appear to be in Iranian custody, but their crews will be released promptly, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday. Two U.S. naval craft were en route from Kuwait to Bahrain when they disappeared from the Navy's scopes. The incident marks the latest run-in between Iranian and U.S. crews." ...

     ... AP Update: "Iran accused the sailors of trespassing but American officials said Tehran has assured them that the crew and vessels would be returned safely and promptly." ...

     ... Update 2: Ali Dareini & Adam Schreck of the AP: "All 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters a day earlier have been freed, the U.S. and Iran said Wednesday. The Navy said the American crewmembers returned safely and there were no indications they had been harmed while in custody.... The sailors departed [Farsi Island] at 0843 GMT aboard the boats they were detained with, the Navy said."

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times: "Powerball fever has gripped the country, as one might expect with a jackpot of $1.5 billion at stake in Wednesday's drawing.... Powerball officials can't be surprised; they changed the rules last July precisely to produce this outcome -- a huge pot, and a stampede of buyers.... It's also well-understood that in economic terms, the people who are exploited by this mismatch of expectations tend to be disproportionately low-income and less educated. Yes, lotteries are effectively a tax on the poor."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Sydney Ember of the New York Times: "H.F. Lenfest, the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, announced on Tuesday that he had donated the publications to a newly formed nonprofit journalism institute. With the agreement, Mr. Lenfest cedes ownership of Philadelphia Media Network, which controls the three news outlets, to The Institute for Journalism in New Media. The institute was created at Mr. Lenfest's behest and will operate under the Philadelphia Foundation. The publications will run independently."

Presidential Race

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders is breaking away from Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and is edging ahead of her in Iowa, according to new polls that show him solidifying the support of Democrats ahead the first two 2016 presidential primary election contests." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post analyzes the Sanders-Clinton polls. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic suggests some of the possible reasons for Sanders' surge. ...

... Patrick Healy & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Iowa Democrats are displaying far less passion for Hillary Clinton than for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont three weeks before the presidential caucuses, creating anxiety inside the Clinton campaign as she scrambles to energize supporters and to court wavering voters. The enthusiasm gap spilled abundantly into view in recent days, from the cheering crowds and emotional outpourings that greeted Mr. Sanders, and in interviews with more than 50 Iowans at campaign stops for both candidates. Voters have mobbed Mr. Sanders at events since Friday, some jumping over chairs to shake his hand, snap a selfie or thank him for speaking about the middle class." ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The liberal political group MoveOn.org threw its endorsement to Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential contest, backing him after its officials spent months in search of an alternative to Hillary Clinton and invested $1 million in ads to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren for the race." ...

... Ilya Sheyman of MoveOn.org: "With a record-setting 78.6 percent of 340,665 votes cast by the MoveOn membership, Senator Bernie Sanders has won MoveOn.org Political Action's endorsement for president with the largest total and widest margin in MoveOn history."

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union will endorse Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, giving the Democratic candidate a welcome boost as polls in Iowa and New Hampshire show Senator Bernie Sanders gaining ground." ...

... Stupid Question. Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "... Hillary Clinton declined on Monday to say if she has been in communication with any of the women involved in the sex scandals during Bill Clinton's presidency. Asked if she has had any interactions with them, or feels empathy for any of them, Clinton told The Des Moines Register: 'No, I have nothing to say and I will leave it to voters to determine whether any of that is at all relevant to their decision.'" ...

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Hillary Clinton on Tuesday dismissed the notion from Bernie Sanders that her campaign is in 'serious trouble.' But at the same time, she signaled she was hunkering down for a 'long, hard, challenging' primary ahead -- a marked contrast from the optimism her campaign was projecting last fall." ...

... Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "With Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont taking the lead in a new Iowa caucus poll, Hillary Clinton sharply challenged his core political message on Tuesday, saying his denunciations of big-money special interests were undercut by his 2005 congressional vote for a bill granting legal immunity for gun manufacturers -- a bill backed by the National Rifle Association." ...

... When the Going Gets Tough, Clinton Gets Nasty. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "With her lead in the Democratic presidential race in Iowa effectively vanished, Hillary Clinton tore into insurgent rival Bernie Sanders [in Ames, Iowa,] Tuesday over a litany of issues from health care to gun control.... Clinton's speech to a few hundred supporters on the campus of Iowa State University was striking in its sharp tone and the breadth of her attacks against Sanders.... Clinton appeared to relish laying into Sanders." ...

... CW: This is the Hillary Clinton you didn't vote for in the 2008 primary. ...

... AND Joe whacks Hillary:

Trump Nation. Don't Let the Kids Out. Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: "Officials in Virginia's largest jurisdiction want to close public schools during the Super Tuesday presidential primary elections, saying they fear supporters of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump could cause mayhem at the polls. The concerns stem mainly from a Republican Party of Virginia requirement that the March 1 primary voters affirm they are Republicans before voting for a presidential candidate.... Trump has blasted the pledge on social media.... Trump supporters have sued both the state and the state party, saying the pledge violates their civil rights. [Fairfax County electoral board chairman Katherine] Hanley said the potential for arguments or fights over the issue unnecessarily places schoolchildren at risk inside the 167 schools that will be used as polling stations." ...

     ... Nolan McCaskill: "Fairfax County is denying a Washington Post report that it may close its public schools during Virginia's primary voting for fear of Donald Trump supporters causing chaos at the polls." ...

... Birtherism, Ctd. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Now that he has raised questions about Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) Canadian birth and American citizenship, Donald Trump has started playing Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' before campaign rallies...." ...

... No-Information Voters. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Iowa poll continues to find a very close Republican race in the state- Donald Trump's at 28% to 26% for Ted Cruz, 13% for Marco Rubio, 8% for Ben Carson, and 6% for Jeb Bush. … The poll finds that the 'birther issue' has the potential to really hurt Ted Cruz. [pdf] Only 32% of Iowa Republicans think someone born in another country should be allowed to serve as President, to 47% who think such a person shouldn't be allowed to serve as President.... Despite all the attention to this issue in the last week, still only 46% of Iowa Republicans are aware that Cruz was not born in the United States. In fact, there are more GOP voters in the state who think Cruz (34%) was born in the United States than think Barack Obama (28%) was. Donald Trump knows what he's doing when he repeatedly brings up this issue...." ...

... Mary Brigid McManamon, a constitutional law professor, in the Washington Post: "Donald Trump is actually right about something: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is not a natural-born citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president or vice president of the United States.... The concept of 'natural born' comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept's definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are 'such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,' while aliens are 'such as are born out of it.'... Congress simply does not have the power to convert someone born outside the United States into a natural-born citizen." ...

... Laurence Tribe, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "This narrow definition reflected 18th-century fears of a tyrannical takeover of our nation by someone loyal to a foreign power -- fears that no longer make sense. But the same could be said of fears that a tyrannical federal army might overrun our state militias. Yet that doesn't lead Cruz -- or, more importantly, the conservative jurists he admires -- to discard the Second Amendment's 'right to bear arms' as a historical relic, or to limit that right to arms-bearing by members of today's 'state militias,' the national guard.... When Cruz was my constitutional law student at Harvard, he aced the course after making a big point of opposing my views in class -- arguing stridently for sticking with the 'original meaning' against the idea of a more elastic 'living Constitution' whenever such ideas came up.... At least he was consistent in those days. Now, he seems to be a fair weather originalist, abandoning that method's narrow constraints when it suits his ambition." ...

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "If some people want to be sticklers, I think they have that right. I don't feel like being a stickler.... I will laugh my ass off if the Republicans discover that after falsely accusing the current president of being born in another country they wind up having a problem electing a president because he actually was born in another country." ...

... Steve M.: "I don't like Ted Cruz, but I don't believe this decision [in the Haley case David Brooks cited in a column linked in yesterday's Commentariat] was his alone to make. Attorney General Greg Abbott was in his corner. And then so was the Supreme Court, including two liberal justices [Ginsburg & Breyer]. That's our system. There's brutalism all around." ...

... Paul Campos in LG&M: "What’s interesting about all this is that we can pretty safely assume that Brooks is carrying water for the GOP establishment (I'm pretty sure this obscure 12-year-old case didn't pop up for Brooks during some random internet surfing).... This suggests that, to some of the powers that be at least, Trump is actually preferable to Cruz." ...

... CW: There's no doubt that "Brooks is carrying water for the GOP establishment," but that doesn't mean he favors Trump over Cruz -- much more likely Kasich over Cruz.

... Amanda Marcotte in Salon: David Brooks' "latest column, titled 'The Brutalism of Ted Cruz,' [is] a piece that so hilariously misunderstands the motives of Christian conservatives that it leads one to wonder if Brooks has ever, in all his travels, met a single member of this tribe that his beloved Republican Party relies on for votes.... 'Compassionate conservatism' was never a real thing. It was always a feint, a beautiful sheep costume layered over the flea-bitten hide of the zealotry-driven wolves of Christian conservatism.... Brooks isn't wrong that Christianity is supposed to espouse 'humility, mercy, compassion and grace,' but for the Christian right, that's always just been a handy disguise to wear while working on the true mission, which is control, punishment, deprivation, and abuse." ...

... CW: Actually, I know & have known some very nice Christian conservatives. We disagree on most issues, but I don't consider them less "decent" than I am. And they do exhibit "humility, mercy, compassion & grace." (Update: ... which is sorta what President Obama said in his SOTU address.) One of the nice Christian conservatives I know is not Ben Carson, (a) because I don't know him, & (b) because he's not very nice. ...

... AP: "... Ben Carson is criticizing President Barack Obama for allowing representatives of a Muslim civic group to attend the State of the Union address, saying their actions are 'not pro-American.' Democratic lawmakers have invited two members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to attend Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday night. Speaking to CNN Tuesday morning, Carson said he has called for an investigation of the group...." ...

... As I was saying. Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: "In a rambling interview with a Catholic news network over the weekend..., Ben Carson derided marriage equality and protections for transgender people as 'extra rights' for 'a few people who perhaps are abnormal,' warning that if the next president's Supreme Court nominees protect LGBT rights, you can 'say goodbye to America.'"

Matt Arco of NJ.com: "Boasting about saving New Jersey from the brink of economic calamity, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday credited Republican principles and his bold leadership with making the state 'strong and growing stronger every day.' In a State of the State address aimed at a national audience as he campaigns for president, Christie also warned the state's gains are in jeopardy if the Democratic-controlled Legislature strays from the path he forged over the last six years."

Beyond the Beltway

Elections Matter. Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Louisiana's new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, on Tuesday signed an executive order to expand Medicaid in the state under ObamaCare.... President Obama will be touting Louisiana's move on Medicaid expansion, which the White House says will provide coverage to 193,000 uninsured people, when he visits the state on Thursday as part of his post-State of the Union travel."

Luke Hammill of the Oregonian: "The armed militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge announced Tuesday morning that they will drive into Burns at the end of the week to hold a community meeting and inform residents when they will leave." CW: Lah-de-dah. ...

... Les Zaitz of the Oregonian: Police believe militants are following local people who have some family connection to law enforcement or opposition to the militants' causes. Zaitz cites several individuals' accounts. ...

... Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian on why the feds don't try to oust the militia. CW: I'm not buying some of the "it's just protesters" excuse. I'm pretty sure if I commandeered a federal building, however remote, the "authorities" would oust me right quick. ...

... Sam Levin of the Guardian: "A local judge in Oregon has raised the prospect of making the armed militia occupying a federal wildlife refuge pay as much as $75,000 a day for the toll the standoff is costing the rural county. Harney County judge Steve Grasty, a vocal critic of the militia, estimates that the armed occupation led by cattle rancher Ammon Bundy cost the community roughly $60,000 to $75,000 each day of the first week of the occupation. Grasty, an administrative judge, proposed making Bundy and his associates pay the expenses at a community meeting on Monday night in Burns, the closest town to the ongoing occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge."

Worse Than the Washington Redskins. Elizabeth Doran of the Syracuse Post-Standard: "Whitesboro[, New York,] residents voted Monday night to keep the village's controversial seal, rather than replace it with a new image. Of 212 votes cast, 157 of them were in favor of retaining the current seal.... The controversial village seal, which dates back to 1883, shows a white settler with his hands apparently choking a Native American man." CW: It's tradition!

CW: AND NOW I must go paint the ceiling in my in-progress new solarium.

Monday
Jan112016

The Commentariat -- Jan. 12, 2016

Josh Lederman of the AP: "President Barack Obama will deliver a final State of the Union address Tuesday brimming with optimism -- far more than most Americans possess."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court seemed poised on Monday to deliver a severe blow to organized labor. The justices appeared divided along familiar lines during an extended argument over whether government workers who choose not to join unions may nonetheless be required to help pay for collective bargaining. The court's conservative majority appeared ready to say that such compelled financial support violates the First Amendment.... The best hope for a victory for the unions had rested with Justice Antonin Scalia, who has written and said things sympathetic to their position. But he was consistently hostile on Monday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Dana Milbank: "Just in time for the 2016 election, the Roberts Court has found yet another way to stack the deck in favor of the rich. By all appearances at Monday's argument, the five Republican-appointed justices are ready to upend a 40-year precedent guiding labor relations in favor of a new approach that will deplete public-sector unions' finances and reduce their political clout. The case, from California, involves arcane issues of 'agency fees' and member opt-outs, but make no mistake: This is about campaign finance, and, in particular, propping up the Republican Party.... The only real counterweight to Republican super PACs in this new era is union money. And the Supreme Court is about to attack that, too." Read the whole column.

Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times: "A military veteran persuaded a federal appeals court Monday to overturn his conviction for wearing a medal he didn't earn. An 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a portion of a federal law that made it a crime to wear an unearned military medal violated freedom of speech rights. The panel found that wearing a medal conveys a message, which is protected by the 1st Amendment."

Jared Bernstein in the Washington Post: "One of the most destructive ideas in poverty policy is what supporters, such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, call 'opportunity grants' and what the rest of us call block grants.... The main reason this idea is so destructive is that it undermines the essence of the safety net.... So back off Jeb! et al. SNAP works. In fact, it ... works for a lifetime, as research tracking children who received nutritional support when they were kids finds a spate of positive outcomes in adulthood...." ...

... Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post:In reality, block-granting is just a way federal politicians can strip poor people of much-needed services without actually taking the blame for the resulting suffering.... In recent decades, Washington has created 13 block-grant programs targeting low-income Americans. According to a recent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study, in all but one case the program shrank substantially in inflation-adjusted terms. This happened despite initial assurances that block-grant programs would get the same funding as the programs being replaced.... Just throwing up your hands and telling the states 'I dunno, you fix it' isn't leadership. It's cowardice."

Niraj Chokshi of the Washington Post: "From Republican front-runner Donald Trump to evangelical Franklin Graham, many on the political right are pointing to the shocking wave of sexual assaults in Germany as a justification of their concerns of Muslim immigration." See also Tim Hume's CNN report linked under Way Beyond the Beltway.

Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "Almost 75 years after they were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the remains of five U.S. sailors who perished when their battleship was sunk have been identified, the Pentagon said Monday. The five men, who were exhumed last year from their graves in Hawaii and examined in special military laboratories, were among 429 sailors and Marines killed when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed and capsized. They had been buried as 'unknowns.'" (Also linked yesterday.)

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler, according to a new history of the Kochs and other wealthy families. The book, 'Dark Money,' by Jane Mayer, traces the rise of the modern conservative movement through the activism and money of a handful of rich donors: among them Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune, and Harry and Lynde Bradley, brothers who became wealthy in part from military contracts but poured millions into anti-government philanthropy." ...

... Nazi Boyz. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "... Mayer writes that the family patriarch, Fred Koch, admired German discipline so much in the 1930s that he hired a fervent Nazi as a governess for his eldest boys. 'Dark Money' suggests that the experience of being toilet trained by a Nazi may have contributed to Charles Koch's antipathy toward government today."

** Kevin Drum: "My Right to Die."

Susan Svrluga of the Washington Post: "George Washington University's president announced Monday that the honorary degree presented to Bill Cosby in the 1990s would be revoked,... GW's decision was an about-face from the position the university took in the fall...."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. The Whims of a Wealthy Young Man. Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder who bought The New Republic in 2012 and prompted a revolt among staff members and contributors when he tried to remake it, said on Monday that he had decided to put the magazine up for sale." ...

... "Chainsaw Chris." Josh Marshall of TPM: "... it's hard not to see this as a perfect inversion of the classic private equity model: a few years of transformative ownership in which his team managed to radically increase costs while completely destroying the company's brand equity.... The New Republic, as anything like what it's been for a century, was never going to be a profit-making operation, certainly not a vertically integrated media cineplex or whatever they were trying to make it.... I will say that having decided to upend the entire operation and trigger a radical disruption and disjuncture with its history going back a generation, it seems a bit precipitous and unlovely for Hughes to kick it to the corner now and deprive it of the deep pockets which is now really its only asset." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "... it's not a shock that [Hughes's] attempt to bring a TOTALLY DISRUPTIVE new proactive paradigm to a field he knew nothing about was a spectacular failure on its own terms. (I hope his next move isn't to get involved with higher ed.)"

Presidential Race

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton ... and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who are locked into close primary races in Iowa and New Hampshire, sharpened their attacks on one another over gun control, tax policy and Wall Street reform at the Iowa Black and Brown Forum, hosted by Univision at Drake University in Des Moines on Monday.... Yet the presidential forum drew as many laughs as contrasts.... When asked if it was 'off-brand' for a democratic socialist to live in a mansion like the White House, Sanders replied: 'I would consider it more like public housing.'" ...

... Making Up Stuff. Abby Phillip & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "After days of attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders over his record on guns, Hillary Clinton on Monday expanded her critique of the Vermont Senator to include his health-care plan. Speaking at an event in Iowa, Clinton pointedly contrasted her health-care plan with Sanders's, claiming that his proposal would turn over health insurance to Republican governors." ...

... Paul Waldman: "Sanders says he has no idea what she's talking about, because he hasn't proposed turning health insurance over to the states, other than a general commitment to a federal single-payer program. Indeed, he doesn't have an actual health care plan at all. Also strange: I always assume that when Clinton comes out with a new line like this, her campaign has polled it within an inch of its life, but I find it hard to believe that a single-payer plan isn't quite popular with Democratic voters." ...

... Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Intensifying her gun control argument against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton will accept the endorsement of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa on Tuesday, according to a campaign aide." ...

... Bernie Becker of Politico: "Hillary Clinton [Monday] proposed a 4 percent surtax on the highest-earning Americans, as she seeks to boost taxes for the wealthiest Americans. The proposal, which she announced in Iowa, would raise an estimated $150 billion over a decade, a Clinton aide said, and comes after the Democratic front-runner said that she would build on the so-called Buffett Rule that seeks to ensure that the middle class doesn't pay a higher tax rate than top earners.... Clinton's camp says she will roll out more proposals this week to force the wealthy to pay more in taxes." CW: Obviously, the latest intra-party polls shook up Hillary. ...

     ... Update. CW: Gee, Bernie agrees with me. (He so often does.) Liz Goodwin of Yahoo News: "Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Hillary Clinton of taking an increasingly aggressive stance against him because she's nervous that he is beating her in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. 'It could be that the inevitable candidate for the Democratic nomination may not be so inevitable today,' Sanders said at the Iowa Brown & Black Forum in Des Moines Monday night."

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal judge has dismissed a pair of lawsuits aimed at forcing the government to act more aggressively to recover emails that Hillary Clinton kept on a private server while serving as secretary of state. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the suits filed by two conservative organizations are moot because the State Department and the National Archives have done all they are legally required to do to obtain messages pertaining to her four-year tenure as America's top diplomat." ...

... Josh Gerstein: "The State Department has agreed to process for public release an archive of 29,000 pages of emails longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin sent or received on a private account while working as deputy chief of staff to Clinton from 2009 to 2013."

Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump on Monday pleaded, with slight jest, for the FBI to go after Hillary Clinton for exclusively using a private email server which she was secretary of state, declaring that he would rather run against Bernie Sanders in the general election." ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells in the New Yorker: "In many ways, [Donald Trump's] argument is that government should be run more directly by élites. Trump's complaint with Washington is that it sends 'political hacks' to negotiate with foreign countries, rather than ... the smartest guys on Wall Street.' Trump's version of the Oval Office is one in which Carl Icahn will appear from behind a door to solve any crisis. What strange form of populism is this?"

David Corn of Mother Jones: "On Friday night, New York Times columnist David Brooks, a mild conservative, and I were on the PBS Newshour, and our discussion of [Ted] Cruz's recent surge in Iowa really ticked off some within the right-wing press.... I don't know about Brooks, but I was besieged on Twitter by conservatives who hurled angry how-dare-you tweets at me. Some accused me of committing a hate crime (the victims: Christians). But this was yet another exercise of false right-wing outrage, and a demonstration of rather poor reading comprehension on the right." ...

... CW: Okay, I guess I have to run this (I avoided it yesterday):

     ... ** UPDATE: In today's NYT column, Brooks eviscerates Ted Cruz. You wouldn't let Cruz take out your garbage or clean your gutters after reading Brooks' column.

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: Jeb! was a lousy candidate in 1994, too, when he ran -- and lost -- for governor of Florida. Then, he had the excuse of being a rookie. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

And Then There Were Seven. Steven Shepard & Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina have been booted to the undercard in Thursday night's Republican primary debate as the number of main-stage candidates was cut to seven by stricter polling criteria. Paul, who is struggling to gain traction in the presidential race, immediately cried foul, and vowed to not participate in the event. Fox Business Network, which will televise the sixth GOP presidential debate this week, announced the debate fields on Monday evening, after weeks of speculation that Paul would for the first time not make the cut for the primetime event. The seven candidates who will appear on the main stage in North Charleston, S.C., are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. Kasich qualified as a result of his strength in New Hampshire." ...

... Speaking of Fiorina, as we seldom do nowadays ... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Carly Fiorina says she finds it odd it took so long for Ted Cruz to renounce his Canadian citizenship, and listed his renouncement in 2014 as one of the reasons people are so fed up with politicians."

Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg: "The super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush plans to spend nearly $3 million on a TV ad campaign painting Marco Rubio as 'just another Washington politician' who has repeatedly changed his mind on immigration. The ad campaign by Right to Rise PAC represents an escalation of a long-simmering feud between the two Floridians vying for the Republican presidential nomination. The ad will run starting Monday night in Iowa and South Carolina, and on Fox News nationally...."

CW response to D.C. Clark, in today's thread: Total disqualifer:

Beyond the Beltway

David Roberts of Vox: The Aliso Canyon gas leak "is widely being hailed as the worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill. And SoCal Gas says the leak likely won't be contained until March at the earliest." Roberts explains the details. ...

Another American Tragedy. Paul Kix of the New Yorker on how a wrongful conviction in Texas led to criminal justice reform. And Rick Perry signed the bills!

Kate Mather of the Los Angeles Times: "Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck has recommended criminal charges against an officer who killed an unarmed homeless man in Venice, marking the first time as chief that Beck has called for charges in a fatal on-duty shooting. LAPD investigators concluded that Brendon Glenn was on his stomach, attempting to push himself off the ground, when Officer Clifford Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting the 29-year-old in the back, Beck told The Times." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Luke Hammill of the Oregonian: "Militants presiding over an armed occupation of a federal bird sanctuary destroyed a portion of a fence Monday afternoon that they said was installed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- using the agency's own equipment." ...

... Fedor Zarkhin of the Oregonian: "Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward accused militias Monday of harassing law enforcement officials and federal employees. Though there haven't been physical threats, he said, the alleged behavior is clearly meant to intimidate.... Since the occupation began, there have been reports of law enforcement being followed home or watched, Sheriff Ward said in a written statement."

The LePage Fan Club Has a New Member. Sara Jerde of TPM: "Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on Friday said Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) was right to say that drug dealers, who Duke referred to as 'Puff Diddies,' who travel from New York defile white women in the state."

Way Beyond

Tim Hume, et al., of CNN: "Gangs of men have attacked and injured two Pakistanis and a Syrian man in Cologne, Germany, in the aftermath of an unprecedented wave of mob sex assaults on women in the city on New Year's Eve. Cologne police said a gang of 20 men attacked at least six Pakistani nationals Sunday, with two of the victims hospitalized. Five men later attacked and injured a man of Syrian descent, police said." CW: So now I'm waiting for Donald Trump & Franklin Graham to propose banning German immigrants -- or maybe Christian immigrants, if we find out members of these gangs are Christians. Oh, hell, just build that wall around the whole damned country.

News Ledes

AP: "Mexico is investigating the meeting that then-fugitive drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman held with Sean Penn and actress Kate del Castillo in October to see if any crimes were committed."

AP: "A suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the heart of Istanbul's historic district on Tuesday, killing 10 foreigners -- most of them German tourists -- and wounding 15 other people in the latest in a string of attacks by the Islamic extremists targeting Westerners.... Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the bomber was a member of IS and pledged to battle the militant group until it no longer 'remains a threat' to Turkey or the world."

Los Angeles Times: "Oil prices tumbled to their lowest level in 12 years Tuesday -- at one point dropping below $30 a barrel -- in response to fears of slumping demand in China and a strengthening U.S. dollar."