AP: "With yet another obstacle removed for the Keystone XL pipeline, opponents of the project are pressing forward with a lawsuit, public protests and an effort to inject the issue into the November midterm elections."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in a Washington Post op-ed, on why he is retiring from Congress.
Steve Mufson & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Labor leaders who have spent months lobbying unsuccessfully for special protections under the Affordable Care Act warned this week that the White House's continued refusal to help is dampening union support for Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections. Leaders of two major unions, including the first to endorse Obama in 2008, said they have been betrayed by an administration that wooed their support for the 2009 legislation with promises to later address the peculiar needs of union-negotiated insurance plans that cover millions of workers." ...
... The New York Times Editors note that the Republican health insurance "reform" plan sucks. They explain the many reasons why.
Dear John Roberts, et al.: Be careful what you wish for. Matea Gold & Dan Keating of the Washington Post: "An unexpected legacy of Citizens United: more money to finance the GOP's intraparty war.... Republicans are now far more likely than Democrats to field attacks by independent groups in their primaries. In 2012, super PACs and nonprofit groups reported spending nearly $36 million in GOP congressional primaries, compared with less than $10 million in congressional Democratic primaries, according to a Washington Post analysis.... The attacks by the GOP's tea party flank are spurring a financial arms race, as major center-right groups and business organizations step forward to bolster incumbents.... Many of the conservative groups active in elections this cycle predated Citizens United, but they relied largely on traditional political action committees, which can only accept donations of up to $5,000. In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court said that corporations could spend unlimited sums on political activity." ...
... Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Insurgent conservatives seeking to pull the Republican Party to the right raised more money last year than the groups controlled by the party establishment, whose bulging bank accounts and ties to major donors have been their most potent advantage in the running struggle over the party's future, according to new campaign disclosures and interviews with officials."
Returning to the Scene of the Crime. Again. Maureen Dowd uses Rand Paul's comments about the Clintons to write about -- the Clintons.
Eric Lipton & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Federal ethics rules are intended to limit lobbying by former senior officials within one year after they leave the government. Yet even after the ethics rules were revised in 2007 following a lobbying scandal, more than 1,650 congressional aides have registered to lobby within a year of leaving Capitol Hill, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from LegiStorm, an online database that tracks congressional staff members and lobbying. At least half of those departing aides, the analysis shows, faced no restrictions at all."
Many thanks to contributor Janice for this!
... Tom Paxton remembers (link fixed) Pete Seeger, in a Washington Post op-ed. CW: I think this is the "Rainbow Quest" session to which Paxton refers:
Jaweed Kaleem in the Huffington Post: "'As Americans tune in to the Super Bowl this year, fully half of fans -- as many as 70 million Americans -- believe there may be a twelfth man on the field influencing the outcome,' Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert Jones said in a statement. 'Significant numbers of American sports fans believe in invoking assistance from God on behalf of their favorite team, or believe the divine may be playing out its own purpose in the game.'" Via Steve Benen. CW: Yup. If you believe in a god who is paying attention to you -- he's gonna find out if you're naughty or nice (oh, that's Santa Claus) -- it's perfectly reasonable to suspect that nosy parker cares about football results, too.
Mike Allen & Maggie Haberman of the Politico: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, after a low-key initial response to Friday's explosive allegations about his involvement in a bridge-closing scandal, mounted an aggressive defense late Saturday afternoon, attacking The New York Times and a former political ally in an email to friends and allies...." The e-mail is here. CW: It's sort of hilarious; it reads like the "and you're one, too" stuff of junior high kids. Oh, wait, that's what it is. One bit of "evidence" Christie cites: one of Wildstein's high school teachers said Wildstein was "deceptive." ...
... The New York Times story, by Kate Zernicke, is here. Here's a fun bit: "The governor was booed at a Super Bowl event in Times Square on Saturday, where he sat on stage with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. While the other three beamed and waved, Mr. Christie looked down.... At ceremony's end, reporters pushed toward the stage and Mr. Christie stepped to the back. When coaxed to the front by Ms. Brewer to pose for a photo, reporters asked Mr. Christie a barrage of questions." ...
... CW: As we now know, thanks to Christie, he was a big athletic star & class president in high school, while Wildstein (even his social studies teacher despised him!) was one of those kids you can't remember at the reunion. Now that schmuck Wildstein has ruined the former champ's big Superbowl moment.
It is true that I met David in 1977 in high school. He's a year older than me. David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even acquaintances in high school. I knew who David Wildstein was.... We didn't travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don't know what David was doing during that period of time. -- Chris Christie, during his January marathon press conference
If you can't translate that, you didn't go to high school. Or grade school. -- Constant Weader
... Some interesting context from Prof. Brian Murphy, writing in TPM.
If evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today. -- Rita Rourke, Sabine Parish, Louisiana, teacher ...
"Education" in Bobby Jindal Country. Nicole Flatow of Think Progress: "A Louisiana teacher who taught her sixth grade class that evolution is 'impossible' and that the bible is '100 percent true' ridiculed a Buddhist student during class and announced that those who don't believe in god are 'stupid,' according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. When the child's parents reported the incidents, the Sabine Parish superintendent allegedly told them 'this is the Bible Belt,' and asked whether the child ... could either change his faith or transfer to a school where 'there are more Asians.'" Read the whole story; it isn't only one teacher who's teaching Bible study classes in this public school district. Via Steve Benen.
New York Post: New York City "Mayor [Bill] de Blasio received an ominous letter last week that threatened a 'nuclear attack against New York City,' the same day five hotels near the Super Bowl site received similar mail, police sources said Sunday."
New York Times: "Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation, who gave three-dimensional nuance to a wide range of sidekicks, villains and leading men on screen and embraced some of the theater's most burdensome roles on Broadway, died Sunday at an apartment in Greenwich Village. He was 46. The death, apparently from a drug overdose, was confirmed by the police."
AP: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's warning against a growing boycott movement against the Jewish state should peace talks with the Palestinians fail, saying the stance undermined Israel's legitimacy and the chances of reaching a peace agreement. The latest brush-up with the United States comes as Israel is negotiating with the Palestinians against a backdrop of increasing international pressure to reach a deal, coupled with a growing call for boycotting Israel over its settlements in areas it captured in the 1967 Middle East war." ...
... AFP: "The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories criticised Israel's demolition of 36 homes in the Jordan Valley and urged a halt to such actions in the West Bank."
Los Angeles Times: "Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, 83, whose portrayal of a defense attorney in the 1961 drama Judgment at Nuremberg' earned him an Academy Award, died Friday in a hospital in Innsbruck...."
Washington Post: "At 7:25 a.m. Sunday, a raw, cloudy and damp morning, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pa. The appearance of Phil's shadow means winter will extend well into March, according to folklore." CW: Also, the Easter Bunny will leave you chocolate candy icons of himself. And climate change is fake.