Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "n this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Fourth of July. He honored the individuals who, throughout the history of America, have struggled and sacrificed to make this country a better place, from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in uniform serving at home and overseas":

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador’s embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 3

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today (as of 9:45 am ET).

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Constant Comments

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

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

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

Sunday
May122013

The Commentariat -- May 13, 2013

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, has solicited sizable donations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, the tax preparation service, as part of a multimillion-dollar campaign to ensure the success of President Obama's health care law, administration officials said Sunday, even as a leading Senate Republican raised questions about the legality of her efforts.... The senior Republican on the Senate health committee, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said the fund-raising 'may be illegal.' He likened it to efforts by the Reagan administration to raise money for rebels fighting the leftist government of Nicaragua in the 1980s, after Congress had restricted the use of federal money.... Administration officials said private donations were needed because Congress had provided much less money than Mr. Obama requested to publicize the new law and get people enrolled in health plans subsidized by the government." CW: yes, educating Americans about affordable health coverage is just like funneling money to rebels fighting another sovereign nation.

Joseph Stiglitz, in the New York Times: "America is distinctive among advanced industrialized countries in the burden it places on students and their parents for financing higher education. America is also exceptional among comparable countries for the high cost of a college degree, including at public universities.... Total student debt, around $1 trillion, surpassed total credit-card debt last year.... merica — home of the land-grant university, the G.I. Bill and world-class public universities from California to Michigan to Texas — has fallen from the top in terms of university education. With strangling student debt, we are likely to fall further. What economists call “human capital” — investing in people — is a key to long-term growth." ...

... Here's One Reason for the High Cost of Higher Ed. Tamar Lewin of the New York Times: "... the median total compensation for the presidents of public research universities was $441,392, up 4.7 percent from the previous year’s $421,395. The median base salary, $373,800, was up 2 percent from $366,519 the previous year." The highest paid of all last year (largely because of his plum severance deal): "Graham B. Spanier, the president of Pennsylvania State University, who was forced out in November 2011 over his handling of a child sex abuse scandal involving a football coach." Creep.

Jonathan Weisman & Matthew Wald of the New York Times: Republicans plan to turn up the outrage machine over disclosures that some IRS personnel were targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Also, looks as if the IRS (run, don't forget, by a Dubya appointee) didn't quite come clean, providing more material for the outrage machine. ...

... John McKinnon & Siobahn Hughes of the Wall Street Journal have more details on the extent of the IRS's targeting practices & what IRS honchos knew & when they knew it. ...

... Kevin Drum: "... even if, as seems likely, this whole thing turns out to have been mostly a misguided scheme cooked up by some too-clever IRS drones, it doesn't matter. Conservatives are right to be outraged and right to demand a full investigation.... What's really unfortunate about all this is that ... more than likely, though, Congress will step in to neuter them completely on this score, and the current Wild West character of 501(c)4 fundraising will continue unabated."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: Darrell Issa will be subpoenaing (a) any person who can spell Benghazi, (b) any person who cannot spell Benghazi but know it is not the name of a tiny dog. Also, Issa got into an on-air fight with former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering -- a Bush Pere appointee. CW: consider the foregoing a paraphrase. ...

... Kevin Liptak of CNN: Thomas Pickering, "the leader of a panel charged with reviewing September’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, said Sunday that criticism of his report was unfounded and did not accurately reflect how his review was carried out." ...

... Jake Miller of CBS News: "Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, [a Republican,] forcefully defended the Obama administration on Sunday against charges that it did not do enough to prevent the tragedy in Benghazi, telling CBS' 'Face the Nation' that some critics of the administration have a 'cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.'" With video. ...

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) tore into Fox News’ Chris Wallace and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) for obsessing over the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when talking to the media in the days following the attack in Benghazi, Libya rather than focusing on identifying the perpetrators of the killings." With video.

... Jordan Chariton of Mediate: John McCain isn't ready to impeach President Obama over Benghazi, but he'd like to see the House pre-emptively impeach Hillary Clinton. Or something. With video. ...

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek expects Congressional Republicans to try to impeach President Obama over Benghazi. ...

"SIX POINT THREE TRILLION DOLLARS!" Bill Keller: the Heritage Foundation's anti-immigration report "is an unusually stark sign of the transformation of Washington’s think tank culture into a more partisan archipelago of propaganda factories."

Alan Cowell of the New York Times: "A potentially toxic clamor for Britain to consider quitting the European Union appeared to be spreading within the dominant Conservative Party on Monday, even as its leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, prepared to meet with President Obama in Washington as an advocate of closer trade ties between the United States and the European bloc."

"E Pluribus Me." Tim Egan: Ted Cruz may consider himself to be the smartest guy in the room -- no matter what the room -- but his positions are illogical & inconsistent. "Senator Cruz probably doesn’t mind the title that’s been hung on him — most hated man in the Senate. I suspect he also relishes being called a 'wacko bird' (John McCain’s term) because, for now, it’s the avian wing that dominates his party."

Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Two major tech leaders have resigned from Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, FWD.us, in protest of the organization’s controversial decision to bankroll ads supporting Keystone XL and drilling in the Arctic National Refuge.... The strategy has alienated Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and David Sacks, the founder of Yammer."

Sunday
May122013

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Maureen Dowd is right about this much:

... in this hottest of hot spots, the State Department’s minimum security requirements were not met, requests for more security were rejected, and contingency plans were not drawn up, despite the portentous date of 9/11 and cascading warnings from the C.I.A., which had more personnel in Benghazi than State did and vetted the feckless Libyan Praetorian Guard. When the Pentagon called an elite Special Forces team three hours into the attack, it was training in Croatia — decidedly not a hot spot.

Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Chris Stevens were rushing to make the flimsy Benghazi post permanent as a sign of good faith with Libyans, even as it sat ringed by enemies.

The hierarchies at State and Defense had a plodding response, failing to make any superhuman effort as the siege waxed and waned over eight hours.

This isn't new or newsy. In December,

an outside accountability review board has released its report on the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.... Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired the outside accountability review board.... Overall, the report found that, 'Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies resulted in a security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.' ...

In a letter that accompanied the full report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it 'a clear-eyed look at serious, systemic challenges that we have already begun to fix.' She said she accepted all of the recommendations. The report didn't single out specific individuals, but three State Department officials ... resigned....

(The unclassified version of the report is here.)

Dowd goes on to theorize about the Benghazi talking points, and here too her suppositions may be partially right:

In the midst of a re-election campaign, Obama aides wanted to promote the mythology that the president who killed Osama was vanquishing terror. So they deemed it problematic to mention any possible Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi attack.

Looking ahead to 2016, Hillaryland needed to shore up the mythology that Clinton was a stellar secretary of state. Prepared talking points about the attack included mentions of Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group, but the State Department got those references struck.

But Dowd undercuts her own hypothesis when she reveals that the State Department staff who "got those references struck" was "Victoria Nuland, a former Cheney aide." Raise your hand if you think a former Cheney aide was totally into bolstering Hillary Clinton's presidential creds. No, I don't think Nuland was a Cheney mole determined to undermine Hillary's future political career. But Nuland's first inclination, having worked on the dark side, would certainly be toward more opacity, not less.

However, since we're looking for motivations, we should acknowledge that the talking points are a subject of discussion whose sole purpose is political. They were first an issue Fox and Friends raised to undermine President Obama's chance for re-election in 2012. Mitt Romney's debate meltdown put an end to that. (And thanks again, Candy Crowley.) So now, the National Republicans Congressional Committee and Karl Rove are moving on dot org to 2016:

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News explains, at least in part, why Darrell Issa, et al., have been so enamored of Susan Rice's talking points:

Unlike Whitewater, a convoluted, shady-sounding and quite possibly greasy real-estate investment deal, Benghazi consists of a discrete event, a brief aftermath and not much of a paper trail. After all, how much paper is produced in the course of a frantic night of violence in a faraway place?

So paper production is the first order of business. We will need lots and lots of documents citing multiple sources whose large and small discrepancies in memory, perspective and testimony can subsequently be magnified, scrutinized and exploded into controversies.

What's a scandal without a paper trail? A Congressional scandalmonger needs something to subpoena, preferably something that the executive branch can claim is privileged or too classified for the likes of Darrell Issa to view. Hooray! More wrangling with the administration. More facetime on Fox!

Forget all that. The real question goes back to the beginning: WTF was Ambassador Chris Stevens doing at an unsecured consulate in Benghazi -- "this hottest of hot spots" -- on September 11? It suits no one's political purpose to lay the blame where it belongs, so Stevens is portrayed, even in the Accountability Review Board (ARB) Report, as an heroic martyr to Libyan democracy and American values.

In fact, Chris Stevens was a hotdogger who put himself, his staff and his security personnel at undue risk. He is a tragic figure only in the classical sense: he was directly reponsible for his own death and -- the deaths of three others. The ARB obliquely acknowledges this: "Embassy Tripoli did not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with Washington for increased security for Special Mission Benghazi" and describes the facility as having an "insufficient ... security platform." The Benghazi staff consisted of

relatively inexperienced American personnel often on temporary assignments of 40 days or less.... Plans for the Ambassador's trip [to Benghazi] provided for minimal close protection security support and were not shared thoroughly with the Embassy's country team, who were not fully aware of planned movements off compound. The Ambassador did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature....

Notice how the report employs the passive voice and substitutes "Embassy Tripoli" for "Stevens." What the Board means is that Stevens put inexperienced temps in a dangerous facility with an "insufficient security platform," then popped off to join them (or whatever) without a proper security detail and without even telling staff where he was going and what he was doing because, you know, he just didn't think anybody in an unstable Muslim country would want to kill an American ambassador on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The evidence is that Chris Stevens saw himself as a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia, with "his knowledge of Arabic, his ability to move in all sectors of the population, and his wide circle of friends, particularly in Benghazi." Well, maybe not "all sectors" and maybe his circle of friends was not quite as wide as he imagined. As the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Stevens had a primary responsibility to protect Americans in Libya. But that responsibility conflicted with his dream of a horde of enthusiastic Libyans shouting, "Ste-VENS! Ste-VENS! Ste-VENS!" He put his personal ambitions before the safety of those in his charge. Stevens -- and other Americans -- are dead only because Stevens himself was woefully irresponsible.

The real scandal is the one that dare not speak its name.


P.S. Please feel free to use the Comments section to vehemently disagree with me.

Sunday
May122013

The Commentariat -- May 12, 2013

See also commentary from MAG & safari in yesterday's Commentariat that got spammed & is now despamified.

Obama 2.Zero. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Just days after Republicans used Senate rules to block two nominees from moving to the next step in the confirmation process despite the fact that both have the support of a majority of senators, Democrats are planning to force committee votes without Republican consent. If Democrats do push the nominees through to the full Senate, they would almost certainly set off a Republican filibuster, which would jeopardize the confirmations and, for now, leave vacancies at the top of two federal agencies."

** What Republicans Are Doing While We're Not Looking. Teresa Tritch of the New York Times: "There are two good things to say about the Working Families Flexibility Act, which passed the House this week with 220 Republican and three Democratic votes. One, the bill is bound to go nowhere in the Senate and, two, even if it did advance, the White House has threatened to veto it. The bill, in brief, is worse than meritless; it is a fraud.... The bill would amend long-standing labor law by allowing private-sector employers to offer compensatory time off in lieu of time-and-a-half pay for overtime.... There is nothing to stop an employer from discriminating against those who prefer payment by cutting back on their overtime hours. Nor would employers face any real deterrent against forcing unpaid overtime on workers who fear losing their jobs if they object. The recourse for coerced workers would be to sue, a far-fetched and unaffordable option for most people." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the heads-up. ...

... Judith Warner of Time has more.

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "Republican members of Congress raised no objections when they first saw internal emails detailing the evolution of the administration's talking points on Benghazi almost two months ago, senior administration officials said..., and House Speaker John Boehner declined to attend or send a representative to that briefing." ...

... CW: I wish I had time to watch this discussion among Bill Maher, Joy Reid, Glenn Greenwald & Charlie Cooke on Benghazzzzzzi. I hope you do.

Lauren French of Politico: "Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew employees were singling out conservative groups for extra scrutiny as early as 2011, according to a watchdog agency's report set to be released next week, POLITICO has confirmed from a congressional source. The disclosure that senior officials knew agents were flagging applications containing the words 'patriot' or 'tea party' contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. He repeatedly denied that his agency was targeting conservative groups when asked by Congress last year." CW: Keep in mind this little factoid French doesn't mention: Shulman is a Dubya appointee. But she does write this: "The disclosures are guaranteed to heighten Republican fears that the agency is targeting the administration's political enemies and hands the GOP a fresh issue to use in attacking President Barack Obama's administration." ...

... Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP writes a more balanced report.

Aqua Buddha Is Still Crazy. Ezra Klein: Sen. Rand Paul (RTP-Ky.) claims in a fundraiser e-mail that President Obama "is working with 'anti-American globalists plot[ting] against our Constitution.' This [U.N. Small Arms] treaty, [which is the subject of Paul's scary e-mail] at least as described here, is total fantasy. The hoax-busters at Snopes.com will catch you up, and just for good measure, PolitiFact gave similar claims the old pants-on-fire. This is black helicopter stuff from Paul."

Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog summarizes the shocking scandals and "the dangerous Satanic power of Barack Obama." Such a quick read I have a sneaking suspicion Steve is not sufficiently scandalized.

This post by Evan McMurry of Mediate about a Koch-BuzzFeed immigration forum is mostly inside-baseball stuff, but McMurry ends with a lovely knock at the Heritage Foundation: "If you classify everything to the left of 'immigrants are inherently dumb' as amnesty, the world will indeed look like a conspiracy in favor of it."

Judge John d'Amico, writing in Salon, notes that the Tea Party doesn't seem to understand our founding documents.

Gail Collins on corrupt state legislatures. Pathetic &, as usual, funny.

Saturday
May112013

The Commentariat -- May 11, 2013

The President's Weekly Address:

     The transcript is here.

Why Jim Inhofe Isn't Funny Any More. Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years." ...

... GOP Climate Change Civil War. Coral Davenport of the National Journal: "... deep fissures are emerging between, on one side, a base of ideological voters and lawmakers with strong ties to powerful tea-party groups and super PACs funded by the fossil-fuel industry who see climate change as a false threat concocted by liberals to justify greater government control; and on the other side, a quiet group of moderates, younger voters, and leading conservative intellectuals who fear that if Republicans continue to dismiss or deny climate change, the party will become irrelevant."

Aw, Shucks. Dave Weigel: Jason (Hispanics Are Dumb) Richwine resigned his position at the Heritage Foundation, & evidently Jim DeMint graciously accepted. Plus, Richwine fan Charles (Blacks Are Dumb) Murray reacts: DeMint has no integrity, loyalty or balls. CW: that's not a news flash, Chuckie. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: the Richwine/Heritage/racist/nativist debacle pretty much assures the passage of immigration reform.

... CW: So is a Not-Totally-Insane wing of the GOP emerging? -- one that rejects the climate-change-as-hoax nonsense & one that sez immigrants are our friends, fer instance? I don't see how moderation of nuttiness & nastiness can happen as long as every Republican member of Congress in every Republican-leaning district is subject to a Tea Party challenge.

Soaking the Poor to Attract the Rich. John Hechinger & Janet Lorin of Bloomberg News: "U.S. colleges ... are using financial aid to lure rich students while shortchanging the poor, forcing those most in need to take on heavy debt, a report found. Almost two-thirds of private institutions require students from families making $30,000 or less annually to pay more than $15,000 a year, according to the report released today by the Washington-based New America Foundation. The research ... undercuts the claims of many wealthy colleges that financial-aid practices make their institutions affordable, said Stephen Burd, the report's author. He singled out schools -- including Boston University and George Washington University -- that appear especially pricey for poor families."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "A long-simmering dispute over the White House's account of the deadly assault on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, flared up on Friday, with a disclosure of e-mails that show the White House was more deeply involved in revising talking points about the attack than officials have previously acknowledged. The e-mails, which the administration turned over to Congress, show the White House coordinating an intensive process with the State Department, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and other agencies to obtain the final version of the talking points, used by Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, in television appearances after the attack." ...

... Jeremy Holden of Media Matters: "ABC News is buying into right-wing scandal mongering over the tragic September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, with an 'exclusive' report that doesn't stand up to minimal scrutiny, with flaws that are being used by the right to call for a major investigation.... None of this largely rehashed debate disproves what Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified in November: that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups." ...

... Probably You Had No Idea This Would Happen. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "The National Republican Congressional Committee is using the debate over Benghazi to raise money." ...

... Here's the original fundraiser flyer, which some draft changes Jamison Foser found. Via Jonathan Bernstein:

Oh, Crap. Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: " The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday. Organizations were singled out because they included the words 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.... Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice." CW: we are nevah, evah gonna hear the end of this. ...

... For starters, Charles Pierce points us to Michelle Malkin: "Obama IRS admits witch hunt against Tea Party, patriot groups." ...

... Good golly, Miss Malkin, you plumb forgot to mention this. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "The IRS Commissioner at the time was Douglas Shulman, who had been appointed by President George W. Bush." ...

... Ezra Klein: "The problem wasn't that the IRS was skeptical of tea party groups registering as 501(c)4s. It's that it hasn't been skeptical of Organizing for America, Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA and Heritage Action Fund registering as 501(c)4s. The IRS should be treating all these groups equally and appropriately -- which would mean much more harshly."

Texas Injustice. New York Times Editors: "... racial bias in [the Duane Buck death penalty] case reflects a wide and disturbing pattern in death penalty prosecutions in Harris County, Tex., where Mr. Buck was tried. A recent study found that from 1992 to 1999 the county prosecutor was three times as likely to seek the death penalty for blacks in murder cases as they were for whites, and juries were twice as likely to impose capital punishment."

Sarah Mervosh, et al., of the Dallas Morning News: "Federal bomb possession charges against a [West, Texas,] paramedic Friday spurred a new state and local criminal investigation into the deadly fertilizer plant fire and explosion. But authorities said there weren't yet any indications of a connection between the blast and the arrest of a man who responded to it. Bryce Reed, 31, previously told The Dallas Morning News that he assumed radio command of the April 17 incident after the explosion killed his superiors and colleagues. He is now accused of giving a pipe bomb to an unnamed person in nearby Abbott on April 26, the day after he played a prominent role in the memorial service for 12 emergency responders killed in the blast.... [ATF] agents spent hours at the Waco home of [Reed's] in-laws. Meanwhile, West officials for the first time told the state agency that licenses paramedics that Reed was let go two days after the explosion. A reason wasn't given." Via Charles Pierce.

"Sonnet from the GOP." How do we obstruct thee? Andrew Rosenthal counts the ways.

Aw, Shucks. Dave Weigel: Jason (Hispanics Are Dumb) Richwine resigned his position at the Heritage Foundation, & evidently Jim DeMint graciously accepted. Plus, Richwine fan Charles (Blacks Are Dumb) Murray reacts: DeMint has no integrity, loyalty or balls. CW: that's not a news flash, Chuckie. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: the Richwine/Heritage/racist/nativist debacle pretty much assures the passage of immigration reform.