In a New York Times op-ed, crime novelist John Grisham writes of the horrible mistreatment of Gitmo/Bagram prisoner Nabil Hadjarab, an Algerian who grew up in France & who does not seem to have ever had any connection to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
Not Our Fault. Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration points to checks and balances from Congress as a key rationale for supporting bulk collection of Americans' telephone communications data, but several lawmakers responsible for overseeing the program in recent years say that they felt limited in their ability to challenge its scope and legality. The administration argued Friday that lawmakers were fully informed of the surveillance program and voted to keep it in place as recently as 2011.... Yet some ... members of the intelligence and judiciary committees ... describe regular classified briefings in which intelligence officials would not volunteer details if questions were not asked with absolute precision.... Additional obstacles stemmed from the classified nature of documents, which lawmakers may read only in specific, secure offices; rules require them to leave their notes behind and restrict their ability to discuss the issues with colleagues, outside experts or their own staff." ...
... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "Perhaps what Snowden did was to remind Obama that invisible checks and balances are not quite what the Founders had in mind." Thanks to contributor cowichan for the link. ...
... Julian Assange of WikiLeaks: "Today [Friday] was a victory of sorts for Edward Snowden and his many supporters. As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur. Well reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude."
** Larry Cashes In. Louise & Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "Among the top contenders for the position [or Fed chair, Lawrence] Summers has by far the most Wall Street experience and the most personal wealth. In addition to rejoining the Harvard faculty in 2011, he jumped into a moneymaking spree.... Mr. Summers, 58, has been employed by the megabank Citigroup and the sprawling hedge fund D. E. Shaw. He works for a firm that advises small banks as well as the exchange company Nasdaq OMX. And he serves on the board of two Silicon Valley start-ups: both financial firms that may pursue initial public offerings in the next year. One of them, Lending Club..., [operates on] a new business model that ... consumer advocates say may lead to risky borrowing.... Some senators ... are raising questions about potential conflicts of interest and noting his role in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall law ... and his opposition to regulating derivatives in the 1990s -- decisions that many critics say contributed to the financial crisis."
Burgess Everett of Politico: The failure in the Senate of a transportation bill, one in which all but one GOP senator -- Susan Collins -- voted "nay," is a sign that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is clamping down on caucus members on fiscal votes. The plan is to push for spending cuts, spending cuts, spending cuts to highlight the party's 2014 campaign message. CW: very original.
"Death Panels!" Paul Krugman: the Wall Street Journal editorial board is "fanatically opposed to Medicaid expansion -- that is, it's eager to make sure that millions have no health coverage at all. On the other side, it claims to be outraged at the notion of setting priorities in spending on those who do manage to qualify for Medicaid. It's OK for people to die for lack of coverage; it's an utter horror if taxpayers decline to pay for marginal care." Krugman wants to know if the board is cynical or nuts. CW: if they're not nuts, Harry Reid is likely to push them over the edge ...
... Karoud DeMirjian of the Las Vegas Sun: Senate Majority Leader Harry "Reid said he thinks the country has to 'work our way past' insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS' program 'Nevada Week in Review.' 'What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever,' Reid said. When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: 'Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes'"; i.e., single-payer. CW: in case you've forgotten what a creep Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Insurance State) is, Reid recalled that Lieberman's opposition to the public option was what killed that plan in 2009. Lieberman also said he favored allowing people 55+ to buy into Medicare until it turned out that would pass with his vote.
Elections Matter. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama's environmental policies are likely to play a prominent role in defining his second term.... Cutting carbon emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change are the biggest environmental policies the president is pursuing, but they are not the only ones. His deputies are laying the groundwork to manage public lands across broad regions, drawing on high-tech mapping to balance energy interests against conservation needs. They also are preparing to weigh in on a controversial mining proposal in Alaska.... The shift has alarmed some industry officials, as well as coal allies."
How Democracy Works -- for a Constituency of Fat Cats. Eric Lipton of the New York Times: freshman congressmembers who score seats on the House Financial Services Committee cash in -- by doing big favors for their financial industry benefactors. It's not entirely their fault as the leadership of both parties stress fundraising & gauge the status of freshmen on how much cash they haul in.
"Fatal Mercies." Frank Bruni is quite good in a column on assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
Maureen Dowd manages to turn an Obama press conference, which had absolutely nothing to do with Hillary Clinton, into a column about Hillary Clinton. Weird. ...
... CW: What I don't get is why Dowd didn't devote her column today to "Hillary the Mini-Series," which is a perfect fit for Dowd's superficial metier. Bill Carter of the New York Times: "While NBC has come under heavy fire, especially from Republican critics, for agreeing to broadcast the series, the project may wind up being produced by another company: Fox Television Studios, the sister company of the conservative favorite, Fox News.... A spokesman for FTVS, as the studio is known, confirmed that NBC is in 'the early stages' of discussions to bring the Fox unit in as the production company on the as yet unnamed mini-series, which will star Diane Lane as Mrs. Clinton." ...
... Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog: "If this happens, it might be in part because [Rupert] Murdoch thinks Hillary would be more of a traditionalist on defense than Rand Paul in particular.... And it's just possible that, by not putting the kibosh on this possible NBC-Fox alliance, Murdoch is subtly tipping his hand right now."
Hunter Walker of TPM: "Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general and Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, told supporters recently they should have no question about his support for E.W. Jackson, the GOP's polarizing nominee for lieutenant governor in that state.... Cuccinelli previously made attempts to distance himself from Jackson, including during a radio interview in June where he said he "absolutely" wants to be judged separately from Jackson and added, "E.W.'s going to have to introduce himself individually to the rest of Virginia.' ... Jackson has made negative, national headlines for past statements criticizing gays, accusing President Barack Obama of harboring 'Muslim sensibilities,' comparing Planned Parenthood to the KKK, praising the Constitution's original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person, and for his efforts in the late 1980's to fight desegregation in Boston." (Jackson is black.)
Eric Russell of the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald: Maine "Gov. Paul LePage made his dislike of the Portland Press Herald abundantly clear Friday while sitting in a fighter jet simulator: He said from the cockpit that he would like to blow up the newspaper's building. The Republican governor made the offhand remark while participating in a fighter jet simulation at Pratt & Whitney, a defense contractor in North Berwick. In video footage from the event, LePage is asked, 'What would you like to do?' He replies: 'I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up.'" CW: in related news, Florida Gov. Rick Scott relinquished his title as America's Worst Governor."
AP: "A harrowing weeklong search for a missing California teenager ended Saturday when FBI agents rescued the girl and shot and killed her apparent kidnapper at a campsite deep in the Idaho wilderness. Hannah Anderson, 16, appeared to be uninjured and will be reunited soon with her father at a hospital, authorities said. Her suspected abductor, James Lee DiMaggio, 40, was killed after his campsite was found in Idaho's rugged Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, roughly 40 miles from the tiny town of Cascade."