The Ledes

"For safety's sake, don't humiliate him."

Just this past week, Akhilleus linked (now I can't find his link) to this clip from "Young Frankenstein":

... and I found myself missing Wilder. I wondered what had happened to him. Now I know. As Gilda would say, one time in the same fatal context, "It's always something."

Monday, August 29, 2016.

New York Times: "Gene Wilder, who established himself as one of America’s foremost comic actors with his delightfully neurotic performances in three films directed by Mel Brooks; his eccentric star turn in the family classic 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'; and his winning chemistry with Richard Pryor in the box-office smash 'Stir Crazy,' died early Monday morning at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83."

New York Times: "An Australian aid worker who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for four months has been released and is doing well, Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said on Monday. The aid worker, Kerry Jane Wilson, who is in her 60s and is also known as Katherine Jane, had been working in Afghanistan for about 20 years and had most recently run Zardozi, an organization that promoted the work of Afghan artisans, particularly women.... Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said in a brief statement that its special forces had carried out a raid to free Ms. Wilson." -- CW 

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 28, 2016.

Washington Post: "James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

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Tuesday
Jun142016

The Commentariat -- June 15, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Democrats Have Had Enough. ('bout Time.) Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) launched a talking filibuster on the Senate floor -- which was quickly joined by fellow Democrats -- in an effort to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks.... Murphy, a top gun-control advocate whose home state saw the massacre of 20 school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, launched the filibuster, and was immediately backed up by colleagues Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) -- the same day presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the National Rifle Association." --

     ... CW Note: The link is to an updated (or different but related) story. The lede: "As Sen. Chris Murphy and his Democratic allies held the Senate floor and filibustered into Wednesday evening to force a debate on gun control, negotiations on legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms were breaking down behind closed doors."

But if they succeed, it will be Trump who will take the credit: Meg Anderson & Domenico Montanaro of NPR<: "In an abrupt shift in message, Donald Trump indicated Wednesday that he might be taking on a Republican tenet: the party's long-standing opposition to gun control. Trump said he would talk to the NRA about not allowing 'people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.' In typical fashion for the presumptive Republican nominee, the announcement came via Twitter: 'I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.'"

The NRA, of course, says it's not their policy to sell weapons to terrorists, but that's a lie. In fact, it's their policy to sell assault weapons to anyone with the cash to pay for them. Their current position is that the FBI has to prove that someone purchasing any kind of weapon is a threat and they only have 72 hours to do it. Clearly that would not have prevented the Orlando massacre. One commenter to the NPR story asked how it is that Trump and the Republicans have to go to the NRA to ask permission for any kind of gun control no matter how tepid and ineffectual. Good point. However, if there is the smallest accommodation, due largely to the current Democratic filibuster, Trump will happily take credit since his poll numbers are dropping due to his attacks on the entire Muslim world as well his oral servicing of NRA poobahs. I'm sure he has to wait in line for that honor.

*****

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "President Barack Obama on Tuesday unleashed a blistering verbal assault on Donald Trump...Obama, sounding infuriated at critiques of his foreign policy, pushed back against criticism for not using the term 'radical Islamic terrorism.'... 'What exactly would using this language accomplish? What exactly would it change?' Obama asked during remarks at the Treasury Department. 'Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans?'...'Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above,' he said. 'Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... The New York Times report, by Patrick Healy & Thomas Kaplan, is here. ...

Shouting "Radical Islamists! Aieee!" is probably not a reasonable strategy, but it's all Trump has. Prepubescent caterwauling doesn't stand up very well in the face of rational, adult thought. ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: President Obama's remarks "turned into perhaps the most important address he has given this year. Indeed, historians may look back on it as one of the defining speeches of his Presidency." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "In a speech on Tuesday to update the nation on the battle against the Islamic State, given against the backdrop of the Orlando, Fla., massacre, President Obama gave the most powerful rebuke yet to the increasingly unreasonable and dangerous ravings of ... Donald Trump.... On Thursday, the president plans to travel to Orlando to bring solace to grieving families and a stricken city. It is all but impossible to imagine the Republicans' leading presidential contender offering similar leadership, or having the ability to bring unity from tragedy. Which is a sign of how far the party has fallen, behind the banner of Donald Trump." -- CW (More under Presidential Race below.) ...

... Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are standing apart from their presumptive presidential nominee yet again -- but this time in the aftermath of a major terror attack on the American homeland, an event that historically has brought parties together, not driven them apart.... [Trump's speech Monday] drew fresh condemnations from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who called Tuesday for 'a security test, not a religious test' for immigrants. 'I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country's interest,' he told reporters. 'I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country.'" -- CW ...

... Erica Werner of the AP: "Dismayed Republicans scrambled for cover Tuesday from Donald Trump's inflammatory response to the Orlando massacre, while President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton delivered fiery denunciations that underscored the potential peril for the GOP. Republican hopes are fading for a new, 'more presidential' Trump as the party's divisions around him grow ever more acute.... One senior Senate Republican, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, went so far as to suggest Trump might not end up as the party's nominee after all." -- CW

Jonathan Chait: "The post-Bush-doctrine Republican Party is no longer guided by an idealistic and impractical vision for defeating radical Islam. All it has left is a residue of fear and nationalism, ripe for manipulation by a demagogue. The logic of Trump's conquest of the Republican Party is most glaringly obvious when it is splayed against the backdrop of the terrorist threat. He has taken control of an empty vessel and steered it toward its only possible course." -- CW

Rep. Jim Hines (D-Conn.), in a Washington Post op-ed: "Instead of staying in the House chamber Tuesday night, I walked out of the moment of silence, joined by some of my colleagues. Other Democrats who remained in the chamber tried to get Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to act on gun control legislation. To no avail. Congress exists to reflect the will of the people. The vast majority of Americans support measures such as universal background checks, keeping people on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons and limits on how ferocious a weapon a civilian can own. But Congress offers only silence." -- CW ...

... Esther Lee of Think Progress: "... it is much more difficult for immigrants to enter the U.S. than it is for a U.S. citizen -- like the killer -- to purchase the gun they need to commit atrocities." -- CW ...

... Anderson Cooper interrogates Florida AG Pamela Bondi (R) on her legal fights against LGBT people. CW: She acquits herself fairly well, especially given what may be her actual prejudices & the SOB she works for:

... Speaking of the SOB she works for, here's how Gov. Rick Scott addressed a reporter's question about gun control, posed after he gave a hearts-and-prayers/act-of-terrorism supposed press conference following the Orlando massacre:

Pete Williams, et al., of NBC News: "The Orlando gunman's wife has told federal agents she tried to talk her husband out of carrying out the attack.... Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Zahi Salman, told the FBI she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said. She told the FBI that she once drove him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out.... Authorities are considering filing criminal charges against Noor for failing to tell them what she knew before the brutal attack, law enforcement officials say, but no decision has been made." -- CW

Emily Crockett of Vox: "One of the best predictors of future violent behavior, researchers say, is past violent behavior. And a crucial warning sign -- one too often ignored -- is domestic violence against intimate partners and other family members.... The majority of what could be called 'mass shootings' are all too predictable -- and many victims are the women and children who find themselves entangled in the lives of violently abusive men." -- CW ...

... Lisa Wade, republished in the New Republic: "... in my mind, [Omar] Mateen's crime didn't displace [Brock] Turner's. Yet the media simply replaced one outrage with another, moving our attention away from Stanford and toward Orlando, as if these two crimes were unrelated. They're not.... Sexual violence [on college campuses] is perpetrated disproportionately by 'high-status' men -- fraternity men and certain male athletes in particular. These men are more likely than other men to endorse the sexual double standard.... They are also more likely to promote homophobia, hypermasculinity and male dominance; tolerate violent and sexist jokes; endorse misogynistic attitudes and behaviors; and endorse false beliefs about rape.... Omar Mateen's crime is related to this strand of masculinity.... Anti-gay hate crimes, like violence against women (Mateen also reportedly beat his ex-wife), are tied closely to rigid and hierarchical ideas about masculinity that depend on differentiating 'real' men from women as well as gay and bisexual men." -- CW

Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "House GOP leaders won't allow a vote this week on a proposal to ensure that federal contractors can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." -- CW

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Senate approved an expansive military policy bill that would for the first time require young women to register for the draft. The shift, while fiercely opposed by some conservative lawmakers and interest groups, had surprisingly broad support among Republican leaders and women in both parties.... The debate will now pit the Senate against the House, where the policy change has support but was not included in that chamber's version of the bill."...

... CW: The young cavalier Righty-Right-Right Honorable Sir Ted Cruz, Knight Errant, rose to defend the delicate ladies -- and make sure they knew their place. This is odd, because Sir Ted wants to make sure everybody has a gun, including men accused or convicted of acts of violence against women, & terrorist suspects.

Annals of Journalism. J. K. Trotter of Gawker: Billionaire Peter Thiel's vendetta against Gawker (and possibly other media outlets since he's not revealing what lawsuits he's bankrolling) continues: "Last week, Thiel's lawyer-for-hire, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International's owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that ... [a] story [about Donald Trump's hair] was 'false and defamatory.'" -- CW

Presidential Race

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach. The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC's system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.... The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.... Some of the hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer cleanup campaign, the committee officials and experts said." CW: Nice going, Debbie.

Rebecca Traister of New York: "There is no taming of the Republican who ostensibly staked out extreme positions to grab attention in the primary; there is no pivot to the center from the Democrat supposedly pulled to the left by her primary rival. Democrats and Republicans are making issues of identity and inclusion central to their campaigns, both symbolically and in terms of policy. The contest we're entering feels ever more like a civil war." -- CW

Yamiche Alcindor & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "With little affection or trust between them, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders met privately on Tuesday night to size each other up as they started exploring what kind of alliance they might build for the general election battle against Donald J. Trump.... Setting the stage for their meeting, Mr. Sanders used a news conference here Tuesday afternoon to call for replacing the leaders of the Democratic National Committee, eliminating the role of superdelegates in the party's nomination process, and allowing independents and last-minute registrants to vote in all Democratic primaries." CW: Okay, now Bernie is being a dick (okay, except for the replacing-Li'l-Debbie part). For the good of the country, he should get out in front & give Clinton a full-throated endorsement now. ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "The carefully choreographed meeting ran for nearly two hours.... Afterwards, both candidates released nearly identical statements calling the meeting 'positive' and saying they had agreed to work together to defeat Donald Trump.... Sanders will address supporters Thursday on a teleconference.... No matter what, he has earned a place in shaping the future of the Democratic Party. This weekend, many of his top outside allies will convene in Chicago to plot the future of the Sanders movement, with or without the Vermont senator. Sanders' half-alive candidacy has left the rest of the party in a state of limbo." -- CW

** Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Hillary Clinton has won the final primary of the Democratic nomination race in the District of Columbia, NBC News projected Tuesday." -- CW ...

Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed: "Hillary Clinton assailed Donald Trump for his 'shameful,' 'disrespectful' suggestion after the terrorist attack in Orlando, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, that President Obama sympathized with terrorists.... 'Even in a time of divided politics,' Clinton said, 'this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president of the United States.'" -- CW

Tim Devaney of the Hill: "A former Republican senator is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president after the mass shooting in Orlando, citing her support for gun control. Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) called for universal background checks on all gun sales and an assault weapons ban Monday in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. 'I can't believe I'm endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,' said Pressler...." -- CW

Nazi-in-Chief. Eric Rauchway in the Washington Post: "Donald Trump greeted Twitter on Flag Day with two words in all caps: 'AMERICA FIRST!' He has made this slogan a theme for his campaign, and he has begun using it to contrast himself with President Obama, whose criticism of Trump's rhetoric on Tuesday was answered with a Trump statement promising, 'When I am president, it will always be America first.' He wasn't quite promising 'America über alles,' but it comes close. 'America First' was the motto of Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, and Trump has more than just a catchphrase in common with them.... the general idea of 'America First' remains the same: The United States should arm itself against foreign threats and stay within carefully defined borders, using the might of the state only to defend a very specific, rather white idea of 'America' that excludes certain racial and religious minorities." -- CW

Ben Schreckinger of Politico : "Donald Trump responded to President Barack Obama's criticism of his rhetoric on Islam and terrorism on Tuesday night, accusing the president of directing his anger at him rather than at the perpetrator of Sunday's mass shooting in Florida.... On Monday, Trump repeatedly made vague insinuations about Obama's handling of terrorism, saying, 'He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands.'... Trump also took on ... Hillary Clinton, calling her 'no friend of LGBT Americans' and unpopular with women." -- CW

The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here. -- Donald Trump, in his speech Monday

The bottom line is that the only reason we have Donald Trump in America in the first place was because we allowed his mother to come here. -- Constant Weader

Patrick Healy & Thomas Kaplan: "In his apocalyptic speech on Monday warning that terrorism could wipe out the United States -- 'There will be nothing, absolutely nothing, left,' ... -- Mr. Trump ... said. 'Can you imagine what they'll do in large groups, which we're allowing now to come here?'... Mr. Trump ... has intensified the power of fear in presidential politics by demonizing an entire religious group.... Judging from his speech on Monday, his statements throughout the campaign, and interviews with historians and psychologists, Mr. Trump has committed himself to denigrating, if not steamrolling, the conditioned responses that have long served to help unite the country in times of crisis...." CW: This is a straight news report.

Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker: "Some Americans are more American than others to [Donald Trump], based on their skin color and religion.... Trump's concept of graduated citizenship coexists comfortably with his insistence that collective responsibility be placed on the communities he considers suspicious.... Aas Trump, as a candidate, exemplifies, the greatest threat to American values may come from someone who was, in fact, born here." -- CW

Anora Mahmudova & Carla Mozee of Marketwatch.com: "U.S. stocks slumped Tuesday as jittery investors grappled with lower oil prices, stronger-than-expected retail sales and geopolitical concerns in Europe. Investors were given a dose of optimism in the form of better-than-expected retail sales but the start of a the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting and worries over the threat of the U.K. exiting the European Union dragged stocks lower."-- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ylan Q. Mui of the Washington Post reminds us whose undisciplined rhetoric is helping to sink US stocks. Why, it's Mr. Donald J. Trump, himself. "The potential for a British exit from the European Union -- known as 'Brexit' -- and the acrimonious U.S. presidential election are political flashpoints that could feed back into the real economy. Many analysts are predicting the United Kingdom would fall into recession if it leaves the E.U., throwing financial markets around the globe into turmoil along the way. In the United States, some economists say Trump's policies could spark a trade war with China and cost the country jobs."

...Akhilleus: And who is a big supporter of Brexit, an event that could have seriously damaging effects on US and world markets? Oh, you know who it is...This idiot just gets worse and worse.

The Man without a Dog Whistle. Paul Waldman: "What Trump doesn't seem to understand is that politicians clothe their ugliest appeals in subtle rhetoric so they can maintain deniability not just for themselves, but for those who would vote for them as well.... We want to see ourselves as reasonable, informed, and unbiased. Almost no one wants to think they're filled with hatred or prejudice. But Trump doesn't allow you to make a generous interpretation of your own motivations. If you're truly with him, you want to build those walls, keep people who don't look like you out of the country, and turn back the clock to a bygone time.... That could wind up being one of his biggest impediments to Trump winning a majority, even if his unsubtle appeal was why he won the Republican nomination." -- CW

CW: I don't think Ken Burns likes Donald Trump. Speaking at Stanford's commencement, June 12:

Beyond the Beltway (& Over the Bridge)

My e-mails? Oh, that's different. Andrea Bernstein and Max Katz of WNYC: "Gov. Chris Christie's cell phone, text messages and emails from three separate accounts are missing or have been destroyed, Bridgegate defendants allege in a pair of explosive briefs filed late Monday in federal court in New Jersey. They say Christie's taxpayer-funded lawyers are hiding information about his knowledge of the politically-motivated 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

...Akhilleus: Lost e-mails are only a scandal when they're connected to a Democrat, right Chris?

Paul Elias of the AP: "A Northern California judge at the center of a recall campaign after his handling of a Stanford University sexual assault case was removed from a new sexual assault case Tuesday by the local district attorney. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen used a prosecutor's authority to disqualify a judge to block transfer of the new sexual assault case to Judge Aaron Persky." -- CW

News Ledes

AP: "Authorities were searching early Wednesday for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney's upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. -- CW ...

... The Washington Post story is here. ...

     ... Orlando Sentinel Update: "Orange County[, Florida,] Sheriff Jerry Demings said the Nebraska boy missing after being snatched by an alligator at a hotel near Disney is likely dead. The 2-year-old child was attacked and dragged into the water by an alligator on the shores of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa about 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night. Deputies are in the water and air, trying to recover his body." -- CW ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "The body of a 2-year-old boy snatched by an alligator at a Disney resort in Florida has been found, ending a desperate 18-hour search that began as a rescue operation and eventually became a grim recovery effort, officials said late Wednesday afternoon." -- CW

Monday
Jun132016

The Commentariat -- June 14, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "President Barack Obama on Tuesday unleashed a blistering verbal assault on Donald Trump...Obama, sounding infuriated at critiques of his foreign policy, pushed back against criticism for not using the term 'radical Islamic terrorism'...'What exactly would using this language accomplish? What exactly would it change?' Obama asked during remarks at the Treasury Department. 'Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans?'...'Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above,' he said. 'Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.'" ...

... Akhilleus: Shouting "Radical Islamists! Aieee!" is probably not a reasonable strategy, but it's all Trump has. Prepubescent caterwauling doesn't stand up very well in the face of rational, adult thought.

Anora Mahmudova and Carla Mozee of Marketwatch.com: "U.S. stocks slumped Tuesday as jittery investors grappled with lower oil prices, stronger-than-expected retail sales and geopolitical concerns in Europe. Investors were given a dose of optimism in the form of better-than-expected retail sales but the start of a the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting and worries over the threat of the U.K. exiting the European Union dragged stocks lower."-- Akhilleus

Ylan Q. Mui of the Washington Post reminds us whose undisciplined rhetoric is helping to sink US stocks. Why, it's Mr. Donald J. Trump, himself. "The potential for a British exit from the European Union -- known as 'Brexit' -- and the acrimonious U.S. presidential election are political flashpoints that could feed back into the real economy. Many analysts are predicting the United Kingdom would fall into recession if it leaves the E.U., throwing financial markets around the globe into turmoil along the way. In the United States, some economists say Trump's policies could spark a trade war with China and cost the country jobs." ...

... Akhilleus: And who is a big supporter of Brexit, an event that could have seriously damaging effects on US and world markets? Oh, you know who it is...This idiot just gets worse and worse.

Brian Fung of the Washington Post reports on a big win for supporters of Net Neutrality: "A federal appeals court has voted to uphold a series of strict new rules for Internet providers, handing a major victory to regulators in the fight over net neutrality and ensuring that one of the most sweeping changes to hit the industry in recent years will likely remain on the books. The 2-1 court ruling Tuesday forces Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast to obey federal regulations that ban the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic to consumers." -- Akhilleus

My E-mails? Oh, That's Different. Andrea Bernstein &Max Katz of WNYC: "Gov. Chris Christie's cell phone, text messages and emails from three separate accounts are missing or have been destroyed, Bridgegate defendants allege in a pair of explosive briefs filed late Monday in federal court in New Jersey. They say Christie's taxpayer-funded lawyers are hiding information about his knowledge of the politically-motivated 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge."

... Akhilleus: Lost e-mails are only a scandal when they're connected to a Democrat, right Chris?

*****

Adam Goldman, et al., of the Washington Post: "The FBI investigated the Orlando shooter for 10 months beginning in 2013, putting him under surveillance, recording his calls and using confidential informants to gauge whether he had been radicalized after the suspect talked at work about his connections with al-Qaeda and dying as a martyr. As part of the investigation, Omar Mateen ... was placed on a terrorism watch list and interviewed twice before the probe was closed in March 2014 because agents concluded he was not a threat, FBI Director James B. Comey said Monday in an interview.... Several months later, in July 2014, Mateen surfaced in another investigation into the first American to die as a suicide bomber in Syria, a fellow Floridian. And, again, investigators moved on." -- CW ...

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama said Monday that while the gunman in the Orlando massacre had declared allegiance to the Islamic State and appeared to have been inspired by extremist information on the internet, there was no clear evidence that he had been part of a wider plot directed by the terrorist group.... Still, Mr. Obama said the attack underscored the Islamic State's power to inspire hateful acts":

... NEW. Palm Beach Post: "A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out." -- CW

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "The gunman who attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday was a frequent visitor to the establishment, according to one regular visitor." -- CW ...

... Tucker Reals of CBS News: "The Orlando gay club gunman's father has well-known anti-American views and is an ideological supporter of the Afghan Taliban. A new message posted by the father on Facebook early Monday morning also makes it clear he could have passed anti-homosexual views onto his son.... The elder Mateen says he was saddened by his son's actions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He then adds: 'God will punish those involved in homosexuality," saying it's, "not an issue that humans should deal with.'" -- CW ...

... Amanda Marcotte of Salon: "... toxic masculinity [is a] ...persistent pressure to constantly be proving manhood and warding off anything considered feminine or emasculating is the main reason why we have so many damn shootings in the United States. Whether it's Islamic terrorism or Columbine-style shootings or, as is the case with some of the most common but least covered mass shootings, an act of domestic violence by a man who would rather kill his family than lose control, the common theme is this toxic masculinity, a desire on the part of the shooter to show off how much power and control he has, to take male dominance to the level of exerting control over life and death itself." -- CW

... Steve Benen at MSNBC demonstrates how Republicans are making hay while the blood's still wet: "GOP officials, including staunch opponents of gay rights, were eager to condemn the mass shooting, but most were silent on the fact that the gunman targeted not just Americans in general, but LGBT Americans specifically.... Republicans in general were loath to mention the role of anti-LGBT attitudes in the Orlando attack, but [Ted] Cruz saw an opportunity -- not because of his sympathies, but because the slayings might be a wedge issue." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... Akhilleus: Any chance to turn bloodshed to his advantage, Lyin' Ted will hop to it. Despicable is too nice a word. ...

... Words Fail Me. Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "One day after the worst mass shooting in American history, Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R) said he plans to give away two AR-15 assault rifles -- the same kind of weapon used in the massacre -- as a 'door prize' at an upcoming political fundraiser. Holt, a self-described conservative Christian, had announced last week that he would give away one AR-15 at ... a barbeque fundraiser on his farm.... But when reporters asked him after the Orlando, Florida, shooting on Sunday whether he still planned to give away the assault weapon, he told reporters that he now wants to give away two instead of one." Thanks to P.D. Pepe for the link. I guess -- CW ...

... Katherine Krueger of TPM: "After 49 people were gunned down in an Orlando gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, [supposedly Christian] pastors in California and Arizona praised the gunman for massacring 'perverted predators' and 'pedophiles.'" -- CW

... Pete Williams of NBC News: "That suspected terrorists can legally purchase weapons in the U.S. has been a fierce point of contention in Congress and among gun-control advocates.... The Senate voted down an amendment in December that would block suspected terrorists from buying guns and explosives. The amendment, which needed 60 votes to pass due to procedural rules, failed 45-54. Five days later Senate Democrats tried and failed to force consideration of the bill.... U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin [D-Ill.] said Congress 'makes itself complicit' in mass killings by failing to enact change the laws.... Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said 'we cannot fall into the trap set by the gun lobby that says if you can't stop every shooting ... you should not try to stop any.'" -- CW ...

... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "... the Supreme Court hasn't tied the hands of members of Congress; rather, the legislators have chosen to preserve the status quo -- with the results, in Orlando and elsewhere, evident to all." -- CW ...

... Gene Robinson: "The only reasonable response to the massacre in Orlando is to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons. All else, I'm afraid, is just noise." CW: I would add that it should be a felony to manufacture (in a factory or in one's basement), sell. buy or own devices or kits to convert firearms to semi-automatics or automatics. ...

...Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "[T]he current interpretation of the Second Amendment -- the one held onto by -- [Ben] Carson, and Donald Trump, and practically the entire Republican Party -- is a hoax. Outside of the GOP, this is widely understood. But what we fail to comprehend, as we bury more of our dead in the name of freedom, is that it is a triple-decker hoax: A lie wrapped in a fabrication, lacquered over with a falsehood. That we chose to wrap it around our necks as a symbol of our own liberty is our own fault and shame.... It is a sick joke of our democracy that after every mass shooting we must tell our children that the Framers gave us this precious gift of liberty, more valuable than their lives, and that we are stuck with it. This is the opposite of freedom. It is slavery by choice." --safari...

... Exceptional America. Kevin Quealy & Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times: "Gun homicides are a common cause of death in the United States, killing about as many people as car crashes.... This level of violence makes the United States an extreme outlier when measured against the experience of other advanced countries. Around the world, those countries have substantially lower rates of deaths from gun homicide." -- CW

Samantha Bee takes on American gun culture --safari

Dan Mangan of CNBC: "If the next president and Congress repeals Obamacare -- as many Republican elected officials want to do -- there could end up being more people without health insurance than before the law went into effect, new study says. A total of 24 million more people would lose health coverage by 2021 if the Affordable Care Act was repealed, according to the study issued Monday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute. As a result, the uninsured rate would nearly double, to 19.4 percent of the U.S. population by 2021, according to the study." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Akhilleus: What a victory that would be for Republicans. I'm sure they'd all be so proud. Those nasty moochers would be back waiting to gasp their last breath on an emergency room gurney. The Republican Way.

NEW. Cecilia Kang of the New York Times: "High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, a decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users. The decision from a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday comes in a case about rules applying to a doctrine known as net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.... The court's ruling was a slam-dunk for the F.C.C." -- CW

Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Monday left intact a key Obama administration environmental regulation, refusing to take up an appeal from 20 states to block rules that limit the emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal. The high court's decision leaves in place a lower-court ruling that found that the regulations, put in place several years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency, could remain in effect while the agency revised the way it had calculated the potential industry compliance costs. The EPA finalized its updated cost analysis in April." CW: Pity the poor polluters & their pimps.

Adam Liptak & Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an effort in Puerto Rico to allow public utilities there to restructure $20 billion in debt, striking down a 2014 Puerto Rico law. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority in the 5-to-2 decision, said the law was at odds with the federal bankruptcy code, which bars states and lower units of government from enacting their own versions of bankruptcy law.... In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the majority's approach was too mechanical and failed to take into account the purpose of the bankruptcy law and the impact of its decision." -- CW

Adam Liptak: "How unusual is the Republican blockade of the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court? After a comprehensive look at every past Supreme Court vacancy, two law professors [-- Robin Bradley Kar and Jason Mazzone --] have concluded that it is an unprecedented development.... The Senate has never before transferred a president's appointment power in comparable circumstances to an unknown successor, they said -- an argument that many Democratic lawmakers have also made. In every one of the 103 earlier Supreme Court vacancies, the professors wrote, the president was able to both nominate and appoint a replacement with the Senate's advice and consent. This did not always happen on the first try, they wrote, but it always happened." -- CW

Presidential Race

Democrats hold the last primary election of the season today in Washington, D.C., which should mean our long national nightmare is close to over. ...

... Yamiche Alcindor & Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "What will Mr. Sanders ... do next? Thus far, the only certainty is that he and Mrs. Clinton plan to hold a private meeting on Tuesday.... Several people close to the senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity..., say he will try to get assurances from Mrs. Clinton that she will fight for many of his campaign policy proposals, including a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, a jobs program tied to repairing the country's infrastructure, and tuition-free public colleges and universities. At this point, Mr. Sanders is refusing to concede defeat and release his delegates to vote for Mrs. Clinton, which some think could avoid a sense of disunity at the Democratic convention. His refusal could be a negotiating tactic for winning concessions on the party's platform." -- CW

Amy Chozick & Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the massacre in Orlando justified his call for a ban on Muslim immigration and warned that if Hillary Clinton were elected president, thousands of potential Islamic terrorists would flood into the country with the intention of slaughtering innocent Americans. Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, warned that Mr. Trump's anti-Muslim stances were damaging efforts to defeat terrorism and vowed to step up airstrikes against the Islamic State while working with the private sector to root out so-called lone wolf terrorists who are often recruited or inspired online." -- CW...

... NEW. Kyle Cheney & John Bresnahan of Politico: "Donald Trump’s combative anti-terrorism speech Monday flouted the typical post-tragedy script and left Republican insiders fretting that the business mogul is unprepared to play a crucial presidential role: national healer. Some wondered whether he failed to harness a moment to elevate himself and pass what one Republican called the 'desk test' -- the ability to picture Trump in the Oval Office in a time of crisis. And on Capitol Hill, his renewed call for a ban on Muslim immigration drew quick condemnations from GOP lawmakers, even as they struggled to stand by their presumptive nominee." -- CW ...

... ** NEW. Greg Sargent: Even Republicans agree: Trump failed his first leadership test miserably.... That is striking: The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wondered aloud whether the GOP standard bearer's high profile response to a major terrorist attack might actually exacerbate terror recruitment. And the Number Two Republican in the House flatly declared the GOP standard bearer's main policy proposal on terrorism to be an unacceptable religious test that would never make it to the House floor." -- CW ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: Even when he "sticks to the script," as he did in his speech yesterday, Donald Trump's "performance Monday was remarkably demagogic.... Mitch McConnell has expressed his frustration with Trump explicitly as a matter of his undisciplined conduct. Trump, he says, needs to use 'prepared texts' and 'get on message.'... His ... speech Monday ... showed he can be just as odious as when he ad-libs. His scripts, it turns out, are sometimes just transcribed versions of the improvised comments McConnell finds so politically damaging." -- CW ...

Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. No good. Not going to happen, folks. Not going to happen. -- Donald Trump, in his speech Monday

Jesus H. Christ on a firing range, how many times is he going to say this before someone hits him with a polo mallet for being such an absurd man? Presidents cannot abolish constitutional amendments. -- Charles Pierce

The bad news -- Trumpolini might actually abolish any number of Constitutional provisions. -- Constant Weader

David Graham of The Atlantic: Obama Involved in Orlando Nightclub Shooting. "In an almost entirely unprecedented moment, Donald Trump ... suggested in interviews Monday morning that President Obama may have somehow been involved in Sunday's massacre in Orlando. Trump's suggestion came by implication, but the message is unmistakable: The president may have somehow known about or been involved in the shooting." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Akhilleus: Off the rails, into the woods, and over a cliff. You might as well vote for the guy on the subway who talks to himself. ...

     ... Constant Weader: The difference between Trump& the guy on the subway is that Trump doesn't take the subway. ...

... digby: "This is demented, taking things way beyond anything we've seen before in a presidential candidate.... This is a straight-up madman." -- CW ...

... Benjy Sarlin & Katy Tur of NBC News: "Donald Trump waded into the fever swamps on Monday, suggesting in two interviews that President Obama may have a secret agenda that prevents him from combating Islamic terrorists. The comments added to a long list of conspiracy theories from the presumptive GOP nominee about the president's religion, birthplace and worldview. They also sent a clear message to Republicans who have begged Trump to soften his rhetoric that he's not changing his ways anytime soon." -- CW ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump said people can figure out for themselves what he meant when he said Monday morning that 'there's something going on' when President Obama talks about Islamic terrorism.... 'There was certainly not a lot of passion,' continued Trump. 'There was certainly not a lot of anger. You know, I'll let that, we'll let people figure it out. But it's very, very, it's a very sad situation when we have the kind of a tragedy that we had and we have a president that gave a press conference and talks about gun control. This was a licensed person, who could have had a gun anyway.' [CW: That's the point, Lunkhead.] Earlier in the interview, Trump said President Obama was angrier with him than he was at ISIS." -- CW ...

... Hey, Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post Figured it Out! "... during that [Fox 'News"] interview, Trump repeated a four-word phrase that has come to define his conspiratorial campaign.... 'There's something going on,' Trump said. "It's inconceivable. There's something going on.' That phrase, according to political scientists who study conspiracy theories, is characteristic of politicians who seek to exploit the psychology of suspicion and cynicism to win votes.... [Trump] said the same thing with reference to the deadly attack in San Bernardino last year at a debate in January. 'There's something going on there,' Trump told MSNBC's Morning Joe in November when asked whether Islam is a violent religion. 'There's something definitely going on.'... Polling during the primary showed that Trump was especially popular with Republicans who endorsed conspiracy theories." -- CW ...

... As have a number of other reporters and pundits, Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post wrote yesterday, "Donald Trump seemed to repeatedly accuse President Obama on Monday of identifying with radicalized Muslims who have carried out terrorist attacks in the United States and being complicit in the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend.... On the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly stated as fact conspiracy theories about the president, his rivals and Muslims, often refusing to back down from his assertions even when they are proven to be false." ...

     ... SO THEN ... Ed Kilgore: "Team Trump did reach a new and hilarious low today by banning ... the Washington Post ... from coverage of his events or direct receipt of his propaganda ... because the paper tried to make sense of rambling Trump remarks about President's Obama's reaction to the Orlando massacre...." -- CW ...

     ... Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker recalls other news outlets & reporters whom Trump has banned. -- CW ...

... Los Angeles Times Editors: "Donald J. Trump, the loose cannon who would be president, hinted Monday that President Obama might be complicit in terror attacks by Islamic extremists, including Sunday's bloodbath in Orlando, Fla. That accusation by innuendo marks a new and repugnant low for Trump, who along with his surrogates is engaged in a smear campaign reminiscent of the dark days of McCarthyism." -- CW

... ISIS-Recruiter-in-Chief. Dana Milbank: "... exploiting the weekend's massacre in Orlando, Trump is claiming 'thousands' of American Muslims, protected and hidden by their coreligionists, are prepared to commit even greater carnage.... If that were too subtle, Roger Stone, Trump's confidant and informal adviser, said on Sirius XM that Huma Abedin, a Muslim who is a top Hillary Clinton adviser, could be a Saudi spy or a 'terrorist agent.' Trump also floated, again, the notion that President Obama is in cahoots with the terrorist enemy -- thus accusing the commander in chief of the capital crime of treason.... Trump has long floated versions of Obama-as-Muslim-traitor conspiracy theories.... Trump warned Monday that the terrorism seen in Orlando 'is going to get worse and worse' -- and, thanks to him, that's probably true." -- CW ...

... David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "Even by Donald Trump's standards, his comments about the Orlando shooting have been reckless and self-serving. They are also dangerous for the country.... Trump's polarizing rhetoric ... may be the best thing the Islamic State has going for it, according to some leading U.S. and foreign counter-terrorism experts.... The strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts, argue senior intelligence strategists for the U.S.-led coalition.... It's breathtaking that a serious presidential candidate would call on a sitting president to resign following a terrorist attack, because 'he doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands.' What's that supposed to mean, if not a slur against Obama's loyalty?" -- CW ...

... Not to put too fine a point on it, William Saletan of Slate: Donald Trump is "an ISIS stooge." -- CW

New Clinton Trump E-Mail Scandal! Paul Singer of USA Today: "In 2006, when a judge ordered Donald Trump's casino operation to hand over several years' worth of emails, the ... The Trump Organization [said it] routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.... Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld was stunned.... 'If somebody starts to put forth as a fact something that doesn't make any sense to me and causes me to have a concern about their credibility in the discovery process, that's not a good direction to go, and I am really having a hard time with this.'" Trump has called Clinton a "criminal" and "guilty" of deleting e-mails when she was secretary of state. -- CW

** Trump could become a dictator. -- CW

CW: Assuming there will never be a President Trump, I am looking forward to "Trump, the Opera Buffa."

Capitalism is Awesome

Adam Edelman of the Daily News reminds us that gun manufacturers win no matter what: "Shares of gunmakers shot up Monday as investors anticipated a new wave of weapons purchases in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.... The spikes came one day after a lone gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS opened fire inside an Orlando nightclub killing at least 49 people and injuring 53, sparking renewed fears among gun owners of future gun control measures." ...

... Akhilleus: After each new atrocity (they coming with increasing frequency), the gun knobbers get the Red Alert: Horrible Nee-Groe sending black helicopters and beret-wearing UN Frenchies to grab your guns! Danger! Those in dire need of brains panic and race out to purchase more firepower than on display at Bastogne during the height of the Battle of the Bulge. After the rush on guns and ammo, Republicans kill any attempt at gun control and everyone settles in to fondling their new weaponry until the next atrocity when it's DANGER! all over again. Mass murder or not quite mass murder, or just a simple case of road rage or wife killing, the gun lobby wins and the gun manufacturers take it to the bank.

Beyond the Beltway

American "Justice" Ctd. Les Zaitz of The Orgegonian: "A deputy protected his relatives from blame in a random shooting by arresting the 911 caller who reported it, resulting in a foul-up that raises fresh questions about embattled Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer. The district attorney didn't pursue a case, instead rebuking Palmer and his deputy. The county quietly paid the caller $12,000 from its insurer to fend off a lawsuit. 'This incident is the most egregious abuse of power I have ever seen,' said attorney Edie Rogoway, who represented the arrested man." Via RawStory--safari

Way Beyond

Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian: "President François Hollande has convened crisis talks after a man convicted for terrorist offences and claiming allegiance to the Islamic State stabbed a French police commander to death in front of his house outside Paris, then killed his partner who also worked for the police." -- CW

Sunday
Jun122016

The Commentariat -- June 13, 2016

Afternoon Update:

David Graham in The Atlantic: Obama Involved in Orlando Nightclub Shooting. "In an almost entirely unprecedented moment, Donald Trump ... suggested in interviews Monday morning that President Obama may have somehow been involved in Sunday's massacre in Orlando. Trump's suggestion came by implication, but the message is unmistakable: The president may have somehow known about or been involved in the shooting." ...

     ... : Off the rails, into the woods, and over a cliff. You might as well vote for the guy on the subway who talks to himself.

Steve Benen of MSNBC demonstrates how Republicans are making hay while the blood's still wet: "GOP officials, including staunch opponents of gay rights, were eager to condemn the mass shooting, but most were silent on the fact that the gunman targeted not just Americans in general, but LGBT Americans specifically.... Republicans in general were loath to mention the role of anti-LGBT attitudes in the Orlando attack, but [Ted] Cruz saw an opportunity -- not because of his sympathies, but because the slayings might be a wedge issue." ...

     ... : Any chance to turn bloodshed to his advantage, Lyin' Ted will hop to it. Despicable is too nice a word.

Dan Mangan of CNBC: "If the next president and Congress repeals Obamacare -- as many Republican elected officials want to do -- there could end up being more people without health insurance than before the law went into effect, a new study says. A total of 24 million more people would lose health coverage by 2021 if the Affordable Care Act was repealed, according to the study issued Monday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute. As a result, the uninsured rate would nearly double, to 19.4 percent of the U.S. population by 2021, according to the study." ...

     ... : What a victory that would be for Republicans. I'm sure they'd all be so proud. Those nasty moochers would be back waiting to gasp their last breath on an emergency room gurney. The Republican Way.

*****

Christal Hayes, et al., of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation three times interviewed Omar Mateen for having alleged terrorist ties before he killed 50 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. The names of several people he killed have been released. ...

... The Sentinel is liveblogging developments here. ...

... The New York Times story, by Lizette Alvarez & Richard Perez-Pena, is here. ...

... Max Bearak of the Washington Post: "The father of Omar Mateen, identified by police as the man behind the carnage at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning, is an Afghan man who holds strong political views, including support for the Afghan Taliban. In a video he posted on Saturday, he appears to be portraying himself as the president of Afghanistan. Seddique Mateen ... hosted the 'Durand Jirga Show' on a channel called Payam-e-Afghan, which broadcasts from California. In it, the elder Mateen speaks in the Dari language on a variety of political subjects. He doesn't always make much sense.... On Sunday morning, Mateen told NBC News that his son's rampage 'has nothing to do with religion.' Instead, he offered another possible motive. He said his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a few months ago." -- CW ...

... Anthony Westbury, et al., of Florida Today: "A former Fort Pierce police officer who once worked with 29-year-old Omar Mateen ... said he was 'unhinged and unstable.' Daniel Gilroy said ... Mateen frequently made homophobic and racial comments. Gilroy said he complained to his employer several times but it did nothing because he was Muslim. Gilroy quit after he said Mateen began stalking him via multiple text messages -- 20 or 30 a day. He also sent Gilroy 13 to 15 phone messages a day, he said.... 'He talked of killing people.' Gilroy said this shooting didn't come as a surprise to him." -- CW ...

...Katie Zavadski of The Daily Beast: "Years before he shot up an Orlando gay club in what became the largest mass shooting in American history, Omar Mateen regularly picked up lunch from a drag queen at Ruby Tuesday. He may have even gone to see a drag show or two, a former high school classmate told The Daily Beast.... Mateen was a few years out of playing football in high school while King [the former classmate], who is openly gay, had long, flowing extensions, and prettier hair than most of his female co-workers.... King saw none of that homophobia. Quite the opposite: He said Mateen knew that he and many of his co-workers at Ruby Tuesday were gay, and didn't seem to have a problem with it." --safari...

... Adam Goldman, et al., of the Washington Post: "The ex-wife of the 29-year-old man who is believed to have killed 50 people in an Orlando nightclub early Sunday said that he was violent and mentally unstable and beat her repeatedly while they were married." -- CW ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama expressed the anguish of a nation on Sunday as he condemned the worst mass shooting in United States history and vowed to respond forcefully to the devastating 'act of terror' at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla":

... Mike Weisser of the Huffington Post in a New York Times op-ed: "When 50 people were shot and killed last night at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the toll from gun murders this year rose to somewhere around 6,000 deaths, which means if the trend continues, this year may end up with the highest gun homicide count since Barack Obama took office in 2009. Add to the homicide number the 550 or so victims of police shootings, roughly the same number of accidental gun deaths and the 21,000+ Americans who use a gun to end their own lives, and the total gun mortality number this year may go above 35,000.... By my calculations, we currently suffer more gun deaths than occurred during the bloodiest war in our entire history, and it has been going on for far longer than the fifty months of the Civil War." -- CW ...

... Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "One common denominator behind ... high-casualty mass shootings in recent years is the use of assault style rifles, capable of firing many rounds of ammunition in a relatively short period of time, with high accuracy. And their use in these types of shooting is becoming more common: There have been eight high-profile public mass shootings since July of last year, according to a database compiled by Mother Jones magazine. Assault-style rifles were used in seven of those.... Gun rights proponents point out that rifles, of any type, are rarely used to kill people in the U.S.... Terrorist groups have taken note of the widespread availability of assault rifles and other guns in the U.S. In 2011, al-Qaeda encouraged its followers to take advantage of lax guns laws, purchase assault-style weapons and use them to shoot people.... Indeed, federal law allows people on terror watch lists to purchase guns, and thousands of them have done so." -- CW ...

... Larry Buchanan, et al., of the New York Times: "The vast majority of guns used in 16 recent mass shootings, including two guns believed to be used in the Orlando attack, were bought legally and with a federal background check. At least eight gunmen had criminal histories or documented mental health problems that did not prevent them from obtaining their weapons." The reporters catalog the sources of guns used in these calamities. -- CW ...

...Jane C. Timm of NBC News: "Former Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who led the war in Afghanistan, endorsed strong gun control laws Tuesday on Morning Joe...'We've got to take a serious look -- I understand everyone's desire to have whatever they want -- but we;ve got to protect our children, we've got to protect our police, we’ve got to protect our population,' McChrystal said. 'Serious action is necessary. Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don't think that;s enough." --safari

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Sunday pounced on the news of the massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub to underscore his presidential campaign's central message -- that the United States needs to be tougher to combat Islamist terrorism. 'When will this stop?' Mr. Trump ...wrote in a Twitter post shortly before noon. 'When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?' About an hour later, he amplified that point, writing: 'Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!'... A tragedy in the middle of a presidential race would typically force restraint on candidates.... Hillary Clinton initially responded with caution Sunday morning, offering on Twitter her thoughts to those affected 'as we wait for more information.' But after Mr. Obama spoke, she issued a longer statement echoing the president: 'This was an act of terror.'... Friday, Mr. Trump used an address to a Christian conservative group to criticize Mrs. Clinton for refusing 'to even say the words radical Islam.' 'This alone makes her unfit to be president,' he said." -- CW ...

... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "In the first hours since the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Democratic politicians have been far more likely than Republicans to note that the target seemed to be the LGBT community. While suspect Omar Mateen's father suggested that anti-gay animus may have motivated him, only a handful of Republicans mentioned that aspect of the shooting; nearly every Democrat did." CW: And of course the MoC who made the biggest ass of himself was Ted Cruz. ...

... There's Something About Texans. Jessica Hamilton of the Houston Chronicle: "A 'reap what you sow' tweet from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that went out hours after approximately 50 people were killed at a Florida LGBT nightclub has been deleted amid backlash.... Patrick's adviser Allen Blakemore issued a statement explaining that the tweet was an unfortunate coincidence." CW: Uh-huh. ...

Steve M. sez: "Follow Igor Volsky of Center for American Progress on Twitter for constant updates on all the US congresspersons and senators who have taken campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association and voted against every kind of gun control legislation" but are offering "thoughts and prayers." -- CW

... safari: after all the reports and warnings about the rise of right wing extremists, the GOP continues to play with fire, threatening the very lives of Americans they claim to cherish so. It's repulsive and sadistic. ...

... Gary Younge of the Guardian: "Those who hoped a tragedy of this nature might be extracted from partisan politics will be sorely disappointed...The array of initial reactions illustrates just how confused the political response might become...Just 48 hours after America laid its most famous Muslim, Muhammad Ali, to rest in a spirit of celebration and pride, the entire Muslim community faced finding itself under collective suspicion, not only of terrorism but of homophobia." --safari...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "In the hours after midnight Sunday in an Orlando nightclub, three of the most contentious questions in American culture and politics -- gay rights, gun control and terrorism -- collided in a horrific way.... Since [9/11], calamity seems only to drive the left and the right further apart, while faith in the nation's institutions deteriorates further." -- CW ...

... ** Juan Cole: "The great thing about this definition [of 'terrorism'] is that it focuses on the motive behind the act. And it specifies that the motive has to be to coerce people or influence or affect government policy...We know the FBI investigated him twice and found no reason to pursue the inquiry or to keep him on a terrorist watch list. So this person looks as though he was unbalanced and extremely prejudiced individual who bought two semi-automatic weapons only last week and then committed a mass shooting against a group against which he was bigoted. He may have invoked Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) as he began his mayhem, but there is no reason at the moment to think that he was involved with them in any practical way. He was about to commit a mass murder that he must have known would likely end in his own death as well." --safari

...Tom Boggioni of RawStory: "A Florida Imam who went on CNN Sunday morning to express condolences to the victims and families of the horrific shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando is now on the receiving end of threats and attacks on social media...At a press conference, Muhammad Musri, the President of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, disavowed contact with 29-year-old Omar Mateen and praised emergency workers.... Respondents on Twitter did not share the sentiment, with one commenter telling him, 'Leave the USA.'" --safari

Bureaucracy Hell, brought to by Washington. Laura Kwerel of The Atlantic: "Massive budget cuts and hiring freezes in the last few years have turned the Social Security Administration into one of the most understaffed and overburdened agencies in the federal government. As of June, it had a backlog of more than 1 million unresolved disability claims, the highest in the agency’s history. The average wait time to get one of these claims adjudicated is more than a year...Unfortunately, when it comes to customer service, many government agencies that serve the poor are being asked to do more with less, and the SSA has faced particularly hard times." --safari

Screwing the Poor, Vol. XXVII. Eric Markowitz of NewsWeek: "In America, jail and prison payphones are an important source of funding for local jurisdictions. For years, cash-strapped sheriffs and law enforcement officials across the country have signed contracts with third-party vendors -- phone companies, commissaries, even medical providers to take a cut of the proceeds paid by inmates and their families...Part of the reason the calls are so expensive is that a private company, Securus Technologies, has an exclusive contract to operate the jail's phone and video system. But the major reason for the high cost of the calls is that the local sheriff's office takes a cut.... But over time, critics say, the ways in which prisons and jail officials spend this money has expanded beyond recognition." Read on. --safari

Presidential Race

** He Took the Money & Ran, Ctd. Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "It was promoted as the chance of a lifetime: Mom-and-pop investors could buy shares in celebrity businessman Donald Trump's first public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts. Their investments were quickly depleted. The company known by Trump&'s initials, DJT, crumbled into a penny stock and filed for bankruptcy after less than a decade, costing shareholders millions of dollars, even as other casino companies soared.... Despite losing money every year under Trump's leadership, the company paid Trump handsomely, including a $5 million bonus in the year the company's stock plummeted 70 percent.... Interviews with former shareholders and analysts as well as years of financial filings reveal a striking characteristic of his business record: Even when his endeavors failed and other people lost money, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee found a way to make money for himself...." (Emphasis added.) CW: Read on. What a horrible human being. ...

... ** GOP = Grifters on Parade. Paul Krugman: "... my question, as Democrats gleefully tear into the Trump business record, is why rival Republicans never did the same. How did someone who looks so much like a cheap con man bulldoze right through the G.O.P. nomination process?... Were they just incompetent, or is there something structural about the modern Republican Party that makes it unable to confront grifters?... There has always been a close association between the [conservative] movement and the operations of snake-oil salesmen.... The con job that lies at the heart of so much Republican politics makes it hard to go after other, more commercial cons." -- CW

The Anniversary of Drumpf. Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast: "According to those who know him, [Trump] wanted to run just to prove he could; he wanted to poll respectably, be taken seriously. Then, he wanted to go back to NBC's The Apprentice, the popular program he'd hosted for twelve years. It didn't work out that way, of course.... A lot can happen in a year. Life can end, or begin; love can be lost, or found; the democratic process as we know it can be fundamentally changed; the Republican Party damaged beyond all recognition...Perhaps it's because in a single year, Trump created a lifetime's worth of news." --safari

Fearmongerer in Chief. Jonathan Chait of New York: "[O]n the subject of Islamic terrorism, Trump has not hijacked orthodox conservatism. He has intensified it, given it a more explicit policy objective, and brought its ideas closer to their logical conclusion. Sunday's mass murder in Orlando, and the political response that has ensued, reveal Trump as a true conservative thought leader, and further reveal the ugliness of those thoughts." --safari...

...Eric Levitz of New York: "One day after calling for Obama to resign in recompense for his failure to say the words "radical Islamic terror,"Trump suggested there could be an unspeakable motive behind that failure. 'He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It's one or the other,' Trump said of Obama on Fox & Friends Monday morning. 'We're led by a man who is a very -- look, we're led by a man that either is, is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind. And the something else in mind, you know, people can't believe it...By saying Obama may have "something else in mind" with regard to Orlando, something "inconceivable," Trump is winking at the darkest corner of the far-right fever swamp...To appreciate how profoundly irresponsible it is for the Republican nominee to make such insinuations, please review [Trump's] butler's various fantasies about hanging the first black president on the White House lawn." --safari...

...safari: Let's take a moment to contemplate the stark reality that Donald Trump is supposedly running a Presidential campaign as the leader of the GOP, and this latest episode of absolute absurdity will hardly cause a wave in the cesspool of DC politics.

Beyond the Beltway

Joel Rubin, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Authorities on Sunday were trying to determine the intentions of an Indiana man with a cache of weapons, ammunition and explosive-making materials in his car and apparent plans to attend the L.A. Pride festival in West Hollywood. Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said on Twitter that the 20-year-old man told one of her officers after he was arrested that he wanted 'to harm Gay Pride event.' But she did not provide any details, and officials said they are still trying to sort out his motives." -- CW...

... Sarah Burris of RawStory : "The man arrested en route to the Los Angeles LGBT Pride festival with weapons, James Wesley Howell, of Indiana, has a criminal past involving guns..., Unlike the Orlando, Florida shooter, Howell is a young, white, midwestern man with a history of right-wing ideology, if his social media is any indication. He posted both anti-Hillary Clinton and anti-Barack Obama things on his social media as well as support for marjuana legalization. His last post on Facebook shows a meme comparing the Democratic presidential candidate to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler." --safari

Rong-Gong Lin of the Los Angeles Times: "A handful of graduating Stanford seniors waved signs at Sunday's commencement ceremony showing support for victims of sexual assault and urging the university to do more to protect potential victims. -- CW

News Lede

AP: "A Dutch woman held in Qatar for nearly three months after telling police she had been raped there was released on Monday after receiving a one-year suspended prison sentence, a Dutch diplomat said." -- CW

Saturday
Jun112016

The Commentariat -- June 12, 2016

Orlando Sentinel: "A shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub has resulted in mass casualties. Dozens of emergency vehicles surrounded the chaotic scene at the club at 1912 S. Orange Ave. after the 2 a.m. shooting and rescue squads were transporting multiple victims to area hospitals.... Police reported just before 6 a.m. that the shooter inside the club was dead." CW: This is a breaking story (at 6 am ET).

     ... New Lede: (9:10 am ET) "Twenty people are dead after a shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub in what investigators are calling an act of terrorism, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a morning news conference.... Officers killed the gunman, who has not been identified, in a shoot out and referred to him as a "lone wolf." He was carrying an assault rifle, a handgun and was possibly wearing an explosive 'device.'... The Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation. Agent Ron Hopper said they cannot rule this out as an act of domestic terrorism and that the suspect, who is not from Orlando, may have leanings toward extreme Islamic ideologies." -- CW ...

     ... New Lede: (11:30 am ET) "A lone gunman armed with a pistol and an assault rifle killed 50 people and injured 53 more at a gay Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Federal and local authorities are investigating the massacre as a possible terrorist attack and say the gunman may have ties to extremist Islamic ideologies. The man, whom officials have identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, was killed after a shootout with Orlando police." -- CW ...

... The New York Times has live updates here. -- CW

Presidential Race

Kristen East of Politico: "Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard encouraged her followers on Saturday to sign a petition ending the Democratic Part's use of superdelegates." ...

... CW: For the record, I favor some system of superdelegates, although I'm not sure how their votes should best be weighted. In a representative democracy, it isn't horrible for elected representatives to have an outsized roll in choosing the party's candidate for president. If the GOP had more than a few superdelegates, it's likely we wouldn't have "presumptive presidential nominee Donald J. Trump."

The Insult Campaign, Ctd. Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: In Tampa, Florida, "Donald Trump called for the Republican Party to fall in line behind his presidential bid Saturday during campaign swings through Florida and Pennsylvania, attacking skeptical members of his own party along with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton." -- CW

Tom Boggioni of RawStory: "The most powerful media companies in the U.S. have joined forces in a lawsuit asking a California court to release videotaped depositions given by Donald Trump taken as part of a fraud lawsuit related to his failed Trump University. According to LawNewz, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times filed suit late Friday, requesting access to the videos of Trump speaking under oath which were recorded between December 10 and January 21." --safari

** He Took the Money & Ran. Robert Buettner & Charles Bagli of the New York Times: "On the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Trump ... often boasts of his success in Atlantic City.... A central argument of his candidacy is that he would bring the same business prowess to the Oval Office, doing for America what he did for his companies.... But a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump's casino business was a protracted failure.... Even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen." -- CW

Liar-in-Chief, Ctd. Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "When Donald Trump boasted in an interview aired on Sunday that he 'made a lot of money' in a 2009 deal to rent a New York-area estate to Libya's then-dictator, Muammar Qadhafi, he did not specify what he did with that money. But back in 2011, when pressed on the matter, Trump assured a reporter that the money had all gone to charity, a claim that Politico has been unable to verify and that his campaign is unwilling to confirm. The episode adds to a series of unverified or exaggerated claims of charitable giving that have been dogging the presumptive Republican nominee.... Trump's past pledges that the proceeds of his ill-fated vodka line, Trump Vodka, and of his 2015 campaign book, 'Crippled America,' would go to charity are now also coming under scrutiny because of a lack of evidence that he followed through on them." -- CW

Cautionary Tales. Carlos Lozado of the Washington Post: "... two novels depicting homegrown strongmen have become ways to interpret Trump's campaign and to imagine his presidency. Sinclair Lewis's 'It Can't Happen Here' (1935) features a populist Democratic senator named Berzelius 'Buzz' Windrip who wins the White House 'in the late 1930s on a redistributionist platform -- with a generous side order of racism -- and quickly fashions a totalitarian regime purporting to speak for the nation's Forgotten Men.... Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' (2004) offers a similarly harsh vision of that era, imagining the slow implosion of a working-class Jewish family when the Republican Party nominates aviator Charles Lindbergh for the presidency in 1940. The victorious Lindy strikes a pact with Hitler, launches federal programs that break apart and resettle Jewish communities, and promotes anti-Semitic thuggery.... Reading these works in this moment, it is impossible to miss the similarities between Trump and totalitarian figures in American literature -- in rhetoric, personal style and even substance." -- CW

... Robert Becker of Salon compares Donald Trump to "Charles Foster Kane, the impulsive, narcissistic target of satire in Orson Welles' classic 'Citizen Kane.'" Thanks to Nancy for the link.

Dream Big. Michael Cohen in the Guardian: "Quite simply, the Republican electorate looks nothing like the rest of the American electorate.... Trump has shifted his attacks from foreign targets to actual American citizens, making it harder for even Republicans to defend them...Ironically, Trump's rise, rather than signalling a turn toward nativist, authoritarian politics in the US, could, in the electorate's rejection of him, usher in a more progressive political era." --safari

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "During a question-and-answer session with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer before around 250 Republican donors gathered [in Park City, Utah,] for the Romney-hosted Experts and Enthusiasts summit..., [Mitt Romney] said this year's group of [Republican] primary candidates misplayed their hand. By spending months attacking each other and ignoring Trump, he argued, they made a severe tactical error that allowed Trump -- who Romney has criticized as a 'con man' and a 'fraud' -- to escape unharmed.... Romney reserved particular scorn for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who Romney endorsed late in the primary process. The Texas senator, he pointed out, spent extensive time during the campaign praising Trump. He also said Ohio Gov. John Kasich had divided the anti-Trump vote by remaining in the race long after it had become clear he didn't have a realistic pathway to the nomination -- a message he said had relayed personally to the Ohio governor. And Romney chided Right to Rise, the $100 million-plus Jeb Bush super PAC that spent heavily to tear down Bush rivals other than Trump." -- CW

... Ines de la Cuetara of ABC News: "Republican donor Meg Whitman, the high-profile Hewlett PackardEnterprise president and CEO, indicated at Mitt Romney's closed-door summit on Friday that she would likely be supporting Hillary Clinton in November, according to multiple sources who were in the room.... Whitman served as Romney's finance co-chair in 2012." -- CW ...

... Theodore Schleifer of CNN: "Republican fund-raisers are beginning to fret that Donald Trump does not comprehend the magnitude of the challenge before him, warning that if he fails to execute the basic tasks of fund-raising during a critical six-week stretch, he will find himself badly outgunned this fall." -- CW ...

... Chas Danner of New York provides a good summary of the fractious meetings at the Romney event. ...

... AND more of the same from Philip Rucker of the Washington Post. CW: It appears the lords of the castle were sleeping when the pitchforks forged in their own factories surrounded their fortress, & the crude battering rams of the raging hordes smashed down the doors of their smug complacency as the effete Prince Rebus & Sir Paul de Ryan attempted in vain to broker the peace.

Beyond the Beltway

Caitlin Dineen of the Orlando Sentinel: "Singer Christina Grimmie, who was shot and killed after her show in Orlando[, Florida,] Friday night, did not know the man who shot her, Orlando police said. The 27-year-old man, who police identified as Kevin James Loibl of St. Petersburg, travelled to The Plaza Live theater with two small-caliber handguns Friday night.... Grimmie's brother, Marcus Grimmie, immediately tackled the suspect. The suspect then shot and killed himself, [Orlando Police Chief John] Mina said." -- CW

... The Cowboy & the Bicycle Thief. Julia Moore of KDRF-TV: "Police say that a woman was yelling about her bike being stolen [in front of an Eagle Point, Oregon, WalMart] and a nearby man [-- Robert Borba --] unloaded a horse from a trailer, lassoed the man and pulled him back toward the store.... Eagle Point Police arrived on scene and arrested the man, identified as 22-year-old Victorino Arellano-Sanchez. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail." Includes video. CW: Outstanding. Fewer guns, more lassoes, please.