Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President continued his call for our nation to rally around an economic patriotism that says rather than protecting wasteful tax loopholes for a few at the top, we should be investing in things like education and job training that grow the economy for everybody":

The Ledes

Saturday, July 26, 2014.

AP: "The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said."

Washington Post: "Large Palestinian protests against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip spread across the West Bank on Friday, as U.S.-led talks to secure a lasting truce sputtered. But a brief 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire did begin as promised Saturday and ambulances rushed into no-go zones to look for dead and wounded." ...

... AP: "Israeli aircraft struck 30 houses in the Gaza Strip early Friday, killing a leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group and two of his sons, as Israel's Security Cabinet was to decide whether to expand its operation or consider ideas for a cease-fire."

AP: "The European Union on Friday extended its Ukraine-related sanctions to target top Russian intelligence officials and leaders of the pro-Russia revolt in eastern Ukraine, official documents showed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, July 25, 2014.

** New York Times: "Russia has increased its direct involvement in fighting between the Ukrainian military and separatist insurgents, moving more of its own troops to the border and preparing to arm the rebels with ever more potent weapons, including high-powered Tornado rocket launchers, American and Ukrainian officials said on Friday."

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday, an official involved in the negotiations said on Friday. As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending." ...

     ... Update: "Israel agreed to halt its military offensive in Gaza for 12 hours starting Saturday morning amid intense international efforts to seal a broader cease-fire deal and a new explosion of violence in the West Bank.... The announcement by the military came early Saturday, hours after Israel’s security cabinet rejected Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a seven-day cease-fire in Gaza and further talks...."

... AFP: "Israeli fire Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce."

AFP: "The United States on Thursday said it had evidence Russian forces were firing artillery from inside Russia on Ukrainian troops, in what officials called a 'clear escalation' of the conflict. Moscow is also planning to 'deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers' to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, US deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said." ...

... AFP: "Ukraine's prime minister resigned after his governing coalition collapsed, plunging the former Soviet state into political limbo as it struggles to quell a deadly rebellion in the east.... Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he was stepping down over the "dissolution of the parliamentary coalition and the blocking of government initiatives" after several parties walked out on the ruling group. The collapse of the ruling coalition paves the way for early elections to be called by President Petro Poroshenko within 30 days."

New York Times: "As a detachment of French soldiers reached the crash site in Mali of an Air Algérie jetliner, officials in Paris said Friday that the accident was most likely weather-related and that the distribution of the wreckage over a limited area suggested that the plane probably hit the ground intact."

 

Guardian: "The Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran has been arrested along with his Iranian wife and two American photojournalists. Iranian judicial offficials confirmed on Friday that Jason Rezaian, who holds dual American and Iranian citizenship, had been detained and is under investigation."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 25

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

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Wednesday
May072014

The Commentariat -- May 8, 2014

CW: Light postings today & in the near future. I'm veddy, veddy busy. I'll do my best, but "best" won't be optimal.

They Have No Shame. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The House voted Wednesday to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official who is the focus of multiple investigations into whether the agency targeted President Obama's opponents. The vote gives a politically charged issue new prominence in an election year. In a contentious debate before the vote, Republicans made allegations of a Watergate-style inside job to cover up high crimes that helped steal a presidential election. Democrats invoked former Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and delusions of widespread conspiracy." ...

... Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said the special committee he'll lead on Benghazi could continue into the 2016 campaign, when Hillary Clinton might be running for the White House. Asked about that possibility Wednesday on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Gowdy said the length of his work would depend on the administration's level of cooperation.... Some Democrats suspect Republicans want to keep Benghazi in the news to try to hurt Clinton if she runs for the White House in 2016, as expected. " CW: "Some Democrats"? How about "every sentient political observer"? ...

... Dan Merica of CNN: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she is 'absolutely' satisfied with what she knows about the Benghazi terror attack, and cast doubt on the intentions of House Republicans spearheading a select committee to investigate it."

... They Got Nothin'. Ed Kilgore: "All along, the underlying GOP J'Accuse! seems to be that the administration was ignoring an upsurge of al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist violence, the relative absence of which since then would seem to be a show-trial-stopper if the inquisitors hadn't already moved along to second- and third-order questions about who 'covered up' what when." ...

... USA Today Editors: "After 13 inquiries, a select committee on Benghazi hardly seems the best way for Congress to spend its time." ...

... Even Tuck Chodd agrees "It looks like nothing more than a partisan stunt":

... Olivia Kittel, et al., of Media Matters answer anew "The Already Asked-And-Answered Questions Fox Wants To Know From The Benghazi Select Committee." Useful, if you need to counter your Foxbot brother-in-law.

ObamaCare Aversion Syndrome, Ctd. Robert Pear of the New York Times: "House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it. Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted. Indeed, several insurers said their stock prices had increased in the last few years. The executives also declined to endorse Republican predictions of a sharp increase in insurance premiums next year, saying they did not have enough data or experience to forecast prices." ....

... CW: The GOP committee members' apparent surprise at the execs' testimony is an indicator that the bubbleheads actually do live in a bubble. They believe their own fake talking points. ..

... Jonathan Chait recaps "some of the predictions made by the critics [of ObamaCare] that have taken a factual beating.... They still have many predictions of doom that cannot be falsified for years and years to come.... But if they truly believe the arguments they have made -- that the law not only should not but cannot work -- shouldn't they be expressing, at minimum, some serious doubts?"

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "A Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission called Wednesday on the agency's chairman [Tom Wheeler ]to delay a proposal for new net neutrality rules, throwing into doubt whether the chairman will be able to muster enough votes at an F.C.C. meeting next week to issue proposed rules. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission, said in a speech Wednesday that a delay was warranted because of a 'torrent of public response' to the idea that the commission's rules might create a fast lane on the Internet for companies willing to pay for it."

Digby, in Salon, on one effect of open carry laws: "... in the wake of the new Georgia law that pretty much makes it legal to carry deadly weapons at all times in all places, parents were alarmed when an armed man showed up at the park where their kids were playing little league baseball and waved his gun around shouting, 'Look at my gun!' and 'There's nothing you can do about it.' The police were called and when they arrived they found the man had broken no laws and was perfectly within his rights to do what he did.... Common sense tells anyone that a man waving a gun around in public is dangerous so the parents had no choice but to leave the park. Freedom for the man with the gun trumps freedom for the parents of kids who feel endangered by him.

... CW: The majority of the Supremes may declare these open-carry laws constitutional, but they clearly violate the central tenet of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness." Anyone who feels "free" to pursue his bliss while a guy is waving a gun in his face is as crazy as the gunman. A person without a gun is not "equal" to or "independent" from a loon with a loaded firearm. Too bad the Declaration carries no weight of law.

** Adam Weinstein of Gawker: "In all the furor over Tal Fortgang -- the privileged white Princeton freshman who wrote so passionately about how he's not a privileged white guy -- no one, not even the New York Times, noted that his post was made possible by a conservative group that bankrolls and grooms college kids for right-wing leadership."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who is in a difficult race for re-election, invited President Obama to visit the tornado-devastated town of Vilonia, despite Obama's unpopularity in Arkansas. "Mr. Pryor, a two-term incumbent, stood right behind Mr. Obama as he made his remarks, and the president made sure to point out the senator's leadership role in the tornado recovery efforts. He praised Mr. Pryor; Vilonia's mayor, James Firestone; and Gov. Mike Beebe and Representative Tim Griffin, for being 'hands-on, on the ground throughout these difficult days.'"

Lisa Desjardins of CNN: " The election-year attention on women lands directly on the House floor Wednesday, after Republican leaders decided to allow a vote on a National Women's History Museum, changing their approach to the issue. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, has pushed the idea of a national women's museum for over 17 years. Her bill to trigger the first step, a museum commission, has passed the House and Senate before, but during separate sessions of Congress. In each case a Democratic majority in one chamber approved the museum commission but Republicans in the other blocked it.... Maloney is quick to credit her bipartisan cosponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, who personally made the case for the museum to key GOP leaders in the House." CW: Turns out Blackburn is good for something, even if it is any election-year ploy.

Gail Collins: often their gone-viral videos outlast the candidates. Collins reprises several outrageous campaign videos, but concentrates on this one, which I've embedded before:

... Afterword. (By Collins): "Winteregg's employer, a conservative Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio, was not amused and fired him from his job as adjunct professor of French. It's always unfortunate when educators get punished for their outside political activities. On the other hand, I believe I speak for all of us who have been adjunct professors when I say it's unlikely that we are talking about losing a living wage."

Annals of American Journalism, Ctd.

Jonathan Cohn demonstrates once again that if your only source of news is the Right Wing World Gazette, you will be ignorant.

Joe Strupp of Media Matters: "News veterans and journalism ethicists are urging CBS News to reopen the investigation into the discredited 60 Minutes Benghazi report following new questions about correspondent Lara Logan's actions and concerns that an earlier internal review did not do enough to reveal all the facts.... This week, New York magazine uncovered [also linked on the Commentariat a few days ago] new internal details about the report and how it got on air, several of which were inconsistent with what was found in CBS' internal review.... According to New York, Logan relied heavily on a highly partisan source, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, when crafting her report, while internal CBS office politics allowed the story to air without standard vetting - neither of which were disclosed by the initial internal review."

Eating Their Young. Amanda Marcotte in Salon: Over there at Fox "News," where the median-age viewer is 68 (great demographic), the new "war" is a war on young people. It seems -- for the first time in history! -- the kids are going on spring break where they wear skimpy bathing suits, get drunk & have sex. Tut, tut and tut.

Gubernatorial Race

Peas in a Pod. Chris Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, traveled to Maine today to stump for Gov. Paul LePage. Christie promised to spend big for LePage, who is in a three-way race. Mario Maretto of the Bangor Daily News: "Democrats on Wednesday agreed LePage and Christie were cut from the same cloth. 'They both claim to be straight talkers who tell it how they see it, but as we've all learned the hard way, they're masters of the absurd tirade, which have embarrassed the people of their states,' [Vermont Gov. Peter] Shumlin[, head of the Democratic Governors Association,] said during a conference call with reporters. Shumlin and the Democratic Governors Association highlighted LePage's record of inflammatory comments and notable controversies ... including when he called the IRS the 'new Gestapo' and told the NAACP they could 'kiss my butt,' as well as a document-shredding scandal at the state Center for Disease Control."

Presidential Race

Philip Elliott of the AP: "The Republican National Committee wants to take more control over how the party picks a White House nominee. The RNC was to meet Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, to choose members who will effectively set the calendar for 2016's long list of potential presidential contenders. If the party's chairman, Reince Priebus gets his way, the GOP will pick its nominee more quickly than during past contests and have fewer debates in which candidates could criticize each other. The RNC also was expected to put penalties in place for candidates who don't follow the committee's plans."

Beyond the Beltway

... Whitewash Is Expensive. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "The cost to New Jersey taxpayers for Gov. Chris Christie's internal inquiry into lane closings at the George Washington Bridge is likely to reach several million dollars, outpacing early estimates and touching off urgent attempts to reduce the cost, according to newly available documents and interviews."

Patrick Marley, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "After 24 hours of legal maneuvering in a politically charged investigation of Gov. Scott Walker and his allies, an appeals court late Wednesday handed prosecutors a victory, preventing for now the destruction of evidence from the case. The three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago stayed U.S. District Court Rudolph Randa's preliminary injunction from Tuesday stopping the John Doe investigation, saying he had overstepped his authority. The appeals court ruling also said Randa cannot order prosecutors to destroy evidence they have collected in the five-county probe."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine vowed Thursday to press ahead with a referendum on independence, defying Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise call for Sunday's vote to be postponed."

Guardian: "A majority of the jurors who this week convicted [Cecily McMillan,] an Occupy Wall Street activist, of assaulting a New York police officer have asked the judge in her case to not send her to prison."

Tuesday
May062014

The Commentariat -- May 7, 2014

Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.... The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday. The White House, which released the report, wants to maximize its impact to drum up a sense of urgency among Americans about climate change -- and thus to build political support for a contentious new climate change regulation that President Obama plans to issue in June." ...

... CW: Here's President Obama's "Climate Action Plan." Hmm, I wonder who is "contentious" about it. ...

... Kevin Liptak, et al., of CNN: "Republican critics immediately pounced on new report as a political tool for Obama to try to impose a regulatory agenda that would hurt the economy. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky mocked what he described as the hypocritical stance of 'liberal elites' who demand strong action on climate change while failing to reduce their own carbon footprint." ...

... Here's President Obama speaking to Seattle's KING 5 meteorologist Jeff Renner:

... Laura Barron-Lopez & Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "An impasse over amendments is threatening to scuttle a vote on legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline, despite Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) insistence Tuesday that she is within two or three votes of a filibuster-proof majority. The deal offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave Keystone supporters a vote on their pipeline, but only if Republicans allowed an up-or-down vote on an energy efficiency bill now on the Senate floor. Republicans are now demanding votes on five GOP amendments to the energy efficiency bill, and Reid on Tuesday said he would not allow any of them."

Finally, Some Democrats Who Can Handle the Truth

Kathryn Wolfe of Politico: "Sen. Jay Rockefeller unloaded on lawmakers Tuesday, accusing some of blocking efforts to solve urgent problems during Barack Obama's presidency 'because he's the wrong color.' Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who will retire at the end of the year, made his comments during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on transportation funding, saying he's confounded by the 'lack of will to keep ourselves from dropping into rivers and rolling over bridges that are no longer there.'" ...

... Jordan Fabian of Fusion: "Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) said Tuesday that a 'big reason' why he left the Republican Party was because many in the GOP were hostile to President Obama due to his race. Crist, who is running for his old office against Gov. Rick Scott (R), said in an interview with Fusion's Jorge Ramos that he felt uncomfortable with his previous party affiliation. Republicans are perceived as 'anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, [and] anti-gay,' he said, and they refuse to compromise with Obama. The ex-governor said he feels, 'liberated as a Democrat.' ... [Crist] He holds a double-digit lead in at least one poll over Scott, who suffers from poor approval ratings." With video.


Edward-Isaac Dovere
of Politico: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday indicated he would comply with a House GOP subpoena to testify about Benghazi and other questions from the new select committee appointed by House Speaker John Boehner. But in his first comments on the topic since renewed attention to it began in the last week, Kerry batted away the inquiry into the September 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi as a 'partisan' effort that won't bring forward anything that isn't already known."

Monica Lewinsky writes a (firewalled) piece for Vanity Fair, reflecting on her relationship with President Clinton, etc. The editors provide an overview here. ...

... The woman Lewinsky calls Moremean Dowdy is on the story. Natch. MoDo is fairly unkind to Lewinsky, but she sure jumped at the chance for yet another Return to ClintonWorld, a place she's never left behind. ...

... Ruth Marcus thinks Lewinsky did Hillary Clinton a favor by writing about the affair now, well before Clinton announces her candidacy for president & by disputing Rand Paul's criticism of Bill Clinton. ...

... The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "With Hillary Clinton almost assuredly running for president in 2016, Monica Lewinsky's Vanity Fair piece ... set off a lot of people's conspiratorial alarm bells, with some suspicion anti-Clinton forces might have been behind it. But on The O’Reilly Factor tonight, Lynne Cheney suggested it might have actually been pushed by Clinton's team themselves.... She said, 'I really wonder if this isn't an effort on the Clintons' part to get that story out of the way. Would Vanity Fair publish anything of Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton wouldn't want in Vanity Fair?'"

Jason Leopold of Al Jazeera: "Email exchanges between National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt suggest a far cozier working relationship between some tech firms and the U.S. government than was implied by Silicon Valley brass after last year's revelations about NSA spying."

So You Think You Want to Live in ... Russia. Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "Russia has taken another major step toward restricting its once freewheeling Internet, as President Vladimir V. Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular online voices to register with the government, a measure that lawyers, Internet pioneers and political activists said Tuesday would give the government a much wider ability to track who said what online. Mr. Putin's action on Monday, just weeks after he disparaged the Internet as 'a special C.I.A. project,' borrowed a page from the restrictive Internet playbooks of many governments around the world that have been steadily smothering online freedoms.... Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted over the previous six months." ...

... ALSO, no dirty words.

Annals of American Journalism, Ctd.

The Liberal Media. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: "A majority of American journalists identify themselves as political independents although among those who choose a side Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one, according to a new study of the media conducted by two Indiana University professors."

... This report drives wingnut paranoia. ...

... Steve M.: "Right-wingers don't go into journalism because they're propagandized to hate journalism. Don't blame liberals, or the 'liberal media,' for that."

Congressional Races

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The Republican establishment scored a major win when North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis won the nomination for U.S. Senate with 46 percent of the vote. By avoiding a runoff election, he can focus on his campaign against vulnerable Democratic Senator Kay Hagan. House Speaker John Boehner easily beat his three primary opponents in Ohio, and tea party candidates were mostly unsuccessful in the two states' other House primaries." ...

... CW: Hey, let's see what kind of guy is an "establishment Republican":

... Greg Sargent: Tillis, an arch-conservative, has his vulnerabilities. Fer instance, in a 2011 video, being circulated today by Sen. Kay Hagan's campaign, "Tillis said we have to 'divide and conquer' those on public assistance, by getting those who really need it -- the sick -- to turn on and look down at those who 'choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.' Speaking of that latter category, Tillis added: 'At some point, you're on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we're not going to take care of you.' ... Tillis not only opposed the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which would have expanded coverage to 500,000 people he would represent; he also boasted in an ad that he was personally responsible for stopping that outcome 'cold.'" ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... what Tillis is talking about is pitting people with disabilities against those who can't find work or sufficient wages to live on -- getting the former, in fact, to look down on the latter. That's a new one, to me at least.... What a nasty, nasty piece of work. And this is the 'Republican Establishment' candidate for the Senate. Tells you a lot about them, eh?" ...

... Brian Beutler on the Tillis video: "Class warfare? Check. Racist dog whistle? Check. A belabored explication of the political utility of racist dog whistling? Check.... His statement is an implicit admission that the road to building majority support for a conservative policy agenda runs through the exploitation of white racial resentment":

Thom Tillis. Also looks like a serial killer. Maybe all white Southern politicians look like serial killers.... Kate Nocera of BuzzFeed: "Tillis, who has generally led in polling, has gotten enormous support from Karl Rove's group American Crossroads, the Chamber of Commerce, and Mitt Romney.... The notion that Tillis is just a part of the get-along establishment has baffled some in the state. When Tillis became speaker of the House, he passed sweeping conservative reforms to education, and blocked medication expansion in the state. He passed anti-abortion legislation and voting reforms that have enraged Democrats in the state, spurring large weekly protests known as 'Moral Mondays.'"

Eliana Dockterman of Time: "Former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken was ahead in the North Carolina Democratic congressional primary by a slim margin Wednesday morning. The former singer led his opponent, former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, by only 372 votes with all precincts reporting, making the race too close to call according to the Associated Press."

Give Me My Shoes or Give Me. Death. Now this is going to sound outrageous, I'd rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen.... And as a Constitutional conservative, it angers me that we are giving up our liberty to the bureaucratic TSA and spying on our own people in the name of false security and that has to stop. -- Bob Johnson (R), Georgia Congressional candidate (the primary is May 20)

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Bice & Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "A federal judge ordered a halt Tuesday to the John Doe investigation into campaign spending and fundraising by Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and conservative groups, saying the effort appeared to violate one of the group's free speech rights. In his 26-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee told prosecutors to immediately stop the long-running, five-county probe into possible illegal coordination between Walker's campaign, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and a host of others during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.... The plaintiffs have been shut out of the political process merely by association with conservative politicians,' wrote Randa, who was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush. 'This cannot square with the First Amendment and what it was meant to protect.' ... Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat," plans to appeal. Thanks to Nadd2 for the link.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to take steps Wednesday to pull Ukraine back from an escalating cycle of violence, asking pro-Russian separatists in the country to postpone a Sunday referendum on independence and indicating that he may be willing to recognize a national election later this month. The effort marked a significant shift in tone from the hard line that Putin and other top Russian officials have taken for months toward the acting government in Kiev...."

New York Times: "Islamist insurgents have killed hundreds in a town in Nigeria's northeast this week, the area's senator, a resident and the Nigerian news media reported on Wednesday, as more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the militants, known as Boko Haram, remained missing."

Washington Post: "The man arrested Tuesday afternoon when he followed the Obama daughters' motorcade made a mistake and was simply confused about D.C. roads, the U.S. Secret Service confirmed Wednesday. An Internal Revenue Service computer worker, the man does not come to downtown Washington often and did not realize he was trailing a Secret Service motorcade."

New York Times: "A Thai court on Wednesday ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra removed from office, a highly divisive move and a victory for the powerful antigovernment movement that has sought to overthrow the government in Bangkok for the last six months."

AP: "Access to the White House complex was halted for about an hour Tuesday after a vehicle followed a motorcade carrying President Barack Obama's daughters through the gates. Uniformed agents immediately stopped the vehicle after it trailed in behind the motorcade at about 4:40 p.m. EDT, the Secret Service said. The driver, identified as Mathew Evan Goldstein, 55, was arrested and charged with unlawful entry."

Monday
May052014

The Commentariat -- May 6, 2014

Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has signed up for eight interviews with TV meteorologists on Tuesday to defend a landmark report against those who deny climate change. The interviews were scheduled as part of a carefully co-ordinated rollout of the National Climate Assessment. The exhaustively detailed account of the impact of climate change on America will be formally launched at the White House on Tuesday."

Conservative Justices: Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones.... Social science calls this kind of thing 'in-group bias.' ... Lee Epstein, a political scientist and law professor who conducted the new study with two colleagues, said it showed the justices to be 'opportunistic free speech advocates.' ... The Roberts court's more liberal members 'present a more complex story,' the study found. All supported free expression more often when the speaker was liberal, but the results were statistically significant only for Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010. In the case of Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the difference was negligible." ...

... Conservative Justices: Freedom of Religion for Me but Not for Thee. Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "Stopping just short of abandoning a historic barrier to religion in government activity, a deeply divided Supreme Court ruled on Monday that local governments may open their meetings with prayers that are explicitly religious and may turn out to be largely confined to expressing the beliefs of one faith." (Emphasis added.)

... what we find here is that the principal dissent's objection, in the end, is really quite niggling. -- Justice Samuel Alito, on Justice Elena Kagan's dissent, in an opinion concurring with Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in Greece v. Galloway

An accurate translation is too offensive to write. -- Constant Weader

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "... not only did the court move the goal posts — from now on sectarian prayer will be permissible until it isn't -- but it also threw out the rule book and benched all the refs.... From now on we just do as the religious majorities say, so long as nobody is being damned or converted.... Alito and Kennedy ... [ha]ve reimagined the refusal of dissenters to either pray along or remove themselves from the room -- but in any event to stop kvetching -- as civic rudeness." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "In what legal experts are calling a landmark decision, on Monday the United States Supreme Court struck down what many believe to be the main reason the country was started. By a five-to-four vote, the Court eliminated what grade-school children have traditionally been taught was one of the key rationales for founding the United States in the first place. 'The separation of church and state has been a cornerstone of American democracy for over two hundred years,' said Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority. 'Getting rid of it was long overdue.'"

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court Monday decided once again to stay out of the legal battle over whether some states are too restrictive in issuing permits to carry a handgun outside the home. The justices without comment turned down a request to review whether New Jersey's law requiring 'justifiable need' to get a handgun permit infringes on Second Amendment rights."

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country's first experiment with universal coverage -- and the model for crucial parts of President Obama's health care law...." ...

... Nick Budnick of the Oregonian (Friday): "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened at least a preliminary inquiry into Cover Oregon.... The law enforcement arm of the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also launched at least a preliminary inquiry into potential spillover from Cover Oregon into the state's Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan, The Oregonian has learned. Meanwhile, both the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. House oversight committee [that would be Darrell Issa] have announced their own investigations." ...

... Liz Kowalczyk of the Boston Globe: "Massachusetts plans to completely scrap the state's dysfunctional online health insurance website, deciding that it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix the overwhelming number of flaws. Instead, officials will buy an off-the-shelf product used by several other states to enroll residents in health plans, while simultaneously preparing to join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace if that product fails." ...

... CW: It's hard to remain as baffled by the Healthcare.gov meltdown when you learn that state exchanges, which should be relatively easier to design, had such major fails, too. (Maryland is giving up on their system, too.) ...

... Jenna Levy of Gallup: "The uninsured rate for U.S. adults in April was 13.4%, down from 15.0% in March. This is the lowest monthly uninsured rate recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in January 2008.... This downward trend in the uninsured rate coincided with the health insurance marketplace exchanges opening in October 2013, and accelerated as the March 31 deadline to purchase health insurance coverage approached...." ...

... Reducing the number of uninsured Americans is not a goal in itself. The point of helping people get health insurance is to protect them from crippling medical bills, stabilize their finances, and give them access to health care when they need it. Raw numbers on coverage are just one indicator of progress towards that goal. But they're a pretty important one. -- Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic

Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory [sic] sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s. -- Tennessee State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) ...

... Apparently this sick fuck elected official has not apologized. -- Constant Weader ...

... And he won't. Steve M. has some background on this sick fuck "obsessive-compulsive troll" elected official.

... Mark Trumbull of the Christian Science Monitor: "The American public is now evenly split in its opinion of the Affordable Care Act, an improvement in the law's standing, according to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll. Some 47 percent of American adults support the law known as Obamacare, and 47 percent are opposed, finds the poll, conducted between April 26 and May 1."

Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post: Michele Leonhart, "the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is refusing to support a bill backed by the Obama administration that would lower the length of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, putting her at odds with her boss Attorney General Eric Holder on one of the criminal justice reform initiatives he hopes to make a centerpiece of his legacy.... Leonhart was originally confirmed as deputy administrator of the DEA during the Bush administration in 2004, but was nominated to take over the agency by President Barack Obama over the objections of many drug policy reformers."

... The president chose his economic team, and when there was only so much time and so much money to go around, his economic team chose Wall Street instead of American families who were in trouble. -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a HuffPost interview

... Greg Gordon of McClatchy News: "Declaring that 'there is no such thing as "too big to jail,'" Attorney General Eric Holder hinted on May 5th that the Justice Department is ready and willing to impose criminal sanctions on major banks or other financial institutions":

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The White House has pressured the chief executives of some of America's largest energy, financial and industrial corporations into canceling plans to attend an international economic forum in Russia to be hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin this month, the latest effort to isolate Moscow in retaliation for its intervention in Ukraine."

Alex Rogers of Time: "Congressional Democrats launched a unified attack on Monday against the newly announced special House committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks as a political ploy that will waste taxpayer money, while Republicans defended the committee as a necessary next step in the investigation of a terrorist attack that killed a U.S. ambassador." ...

... ** Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "If you compare the costs of the Reagan Administration's serial security lapses in Beirut to the costs of Benghazi, it's clear what has really deteriorated in the intervening three decades. It's not the security of American government personnel working abroad. It's the behavior of American congressmen at home." CW: A must-read.

Dean Obeidallah of the Daily Beast: "... when I first heard the outrage from some on the right to comedian Joel McHale and President Obama's jokes at the WHCD, I could only assume they were joking.... I might have more sympathy for the conservatives upset by Obama and McHale’s 'mean' jokes if I heard them denounce the truly hateful crap spewed in the past by people in their camp. Instead, we heard Rush Limbaugh's despicable comments calling Sandra Fluke a 'slut' and a 'prostitute' defended by Rick Santorum because he views Limbaugh as an 'entertainer.'" ...

... Speaking of Santorum: Let's not make this argument that we're for the blue-collar guy but we're against any minimum wage increase ever. It just makes no sense.... If the Republicans want to go out and say, 'we're against the minimum wage,' then go out and make the argument to the American public and the 80-some percent of the American public who believes we should have a minimum wage. -- Rick Santorum, in a "Morning Joe" appearance

Rick Santorum is more liberal than the vast majority of current U.S. Senators. That's heartening. -- Constant Weader ...

... AND Here's a Movie Santorum Should Watch. Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "Emily Letts, a 25-year-old abortion counselor at a clinic in New Jersey, knew that she wanted to use her own abortion story to help other woman making their own decisions about whether to end a pregnancy.... In an essay published on Cosmopolitan.com, Letts explains that she decided to film her procedure after trying and failing to find a video of a surgical abortion online.... Her video ... shows her doing some deep breathing and humming during the short procedure, as well as talking things over with the staff in the room." ...

... In her Cosmopolitian essay, Letts writes, "I had never been political about abortion rights before, but the idea of helping women through an abortion and supporting them and reassuring them that they are still wonderful and beautiful resoated deeply with me." ...

... Letts says in the video, "I just want to share my story." So we're sharing:

Annals of American "Journalism," Ctd.

To Fox "News," "Those People" All Look Alike. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: In a story about the Korean ferry's sinking, Fox "News" aired footage of Nepalese mourning the loss of Sherpa guides in a Mount Everest avalanche.

To the New York Times, Conservatives & Liberals All Look Alike. CW: After you read Adam Liptak's story on the justices' biases, linked above, read what Steve M. has to say about the way Liptak frames the results for conservative & liberal justices. Steve is absolutely right. I had to cherrypick Liptak's story to present an accurate picture of the findings of the study he's reporting.

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "These numbers, pulled from every Fox transcript on Nexis for the dates in question, tells the story of what happens when it becomes clear that Obamacare is succeeding." Thanks to James S. for the link:

Beyond the Beltway

John Clarke of Reuters: "Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Monday approved a gradual hike in the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour as fellow Democrats seek to make raising the wage an issue ahead of this year's midterm congressional elections.... Maryland joins California, Hawaii, Connecticut and the District of Columbia in passing legislation or signing into law increases in the minimum wage."

CW: Aw, I just cain't keep up with the Bundys. Joe Schoenmann of the Las Vegas Sun: "Surrounded by reporters and supporters, Cliven Bundy's family protested peacefully in front of the Metro Police department this morning and filed criminal complaints against the federal Bureau of Land Management for assault and other alleged offenses." ...

     ... Among their complaints: BLM officers were impersonating police officers. The story by Henry Brean of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is more detailed, but I'm not citing it because the company that owns the paper is a well-known "copyright troll," "named after its practice of scouring the internet for 'violations' in order to make a profit." The Review-Journal owner loses in court, but I can't afford the nuisance suit.

It is not our practice to take crime reports on law enforcement agencies conducting a law enforcement function. In this case, the Bureau of Land Management is a recognized federal law enforcement agency. -- Las Vegas Metro police, in a statement

Mireya Navarro & Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times: "New York City will commit $8.2 billion in public funds to a 10-year housing plan that could transform the cityscape from Cypress Hills in Brooklyn to the shores of the Harlem River, while providing affordable homes to thousands of low- to middle-income residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. In embracing a vision for a denser New York, the mayor intends to require, not simply encourage, developers to include affordable units in residential projects in newly rezoned areas around the city."

William Rashbaum & Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have issued a grand jury subpoena seeking emails, text messages and other records from all the members of the anticorruption commission that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo abruptly shut down in March, three people briefed on the matter said on Monday. The action by prosecutors from the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, comes just weeks after he took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the governor's shutdown of the panel and took possession of its investigative files."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "An Occupy Wall Street activist is facing up to seven years in prison after being convicted by a jury in Manhattan of assaulting a New York police officer as he led her out of a protest. Cecily McMillan was on Monday afternoon found guilty of deliberately elbowing Officer Grantley Bovell in the face in March 2012. After a trial lasting more than four weeks, the jury of eight women and four men reached their verdict in about three hours." ...

... ** Molly Knefel of the Guardian: "While this is nothing new for the over-policed communities of New York City, what happened to McMillan reveals just how powerful and unrestrained a massive police force can be...."

Congressional Races

Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "The primary season is truly upon us as North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana host primaries today. Twenty-five states will hold primaries in the next six weeks and today's key one to watch will take us into a fight that will play out all over this country in the coming weeks: the establishment GOP vs. the Tea Party and whether the establishment can finally put down the Tea Party rebellion and re-take the Senate. We'll also watch as a possible 2016 proxy fight between Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and even Mike Huckabee erupts in North Carolina."

Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "A slew of May primary battles begins Tuesday as the Republican establishment looks to reassert its control over a divided GOP in a number of states. Its first big test comes in North Carolina, where business-friendly GOP groups have gone all-in for House Speaker Thom Tillis as he seeks to avoid a primary election runoff and turn his focus to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). The race is a top priority for the GOP as it seeks to win back the Senate."

Presidential Race

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Fearful of a third successive Democratic triumph, concerned Senate Republicans are turning against 2016 presidential bids by upstart hopefuls within their own ranks. In forceful comments to The Hill, GOP senators made it plain that they would much prefer their party nominate a current or former governor over Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.) or Rand Paul (Ky.). CW: Bolton gets senators on the record arguing that senators don't make good candidates."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "An international uproar mounted Tuesday over the fate of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants in mid-April, with the Obama administration preparing to send a team of specialists to Nigeria to help recover the missing girls and U.N. officials warning that the kidnappers could face arrest, prosecution and prison under international law."

Guardian: "Ukraine is close to war, the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has warned in interviews published in four European newspapers on Tuesday. Dozens are feared to have died in clashes outside Slavyansk on Monday as Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russia separatists."

Sunday
May042014

The Commentariat -- May 5, 2014

NPR: Cinco de Mayo is mostly a U.S. production. Except in the village of Puebla, Mexico, the holiday in not celebrated by Mexicans.

Christian Nation, Ctd. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York may begin its public meetings with a prayer from a 'chaplain of the month.' Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said 'ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.' In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town's practices could not be reconciled 'with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.'"

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "A group of wealthy liberal donors who helped bankroll the Center for American Progress and other major advocacy groups on the left is developing a new big-money strategy that could boost state-level Democratic candidates and mobilize core party voters. The plan, being crafted in private by a group of about 100 donors that includes billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros and San Francisco venture capitalist Rob McKay, seeks to give Democrats a stronger hand in the redrawing of district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House."

E. J. Dionne: "The roughly one-eighth of voters who disapprove of [President] Obama but nonetheless support [Hillary] Clinton for 2016 may be the most important group in the electorate. If Democratic candidates can collectively manage to corral Clinton's share of the national electorate this fall, the party would likely keep control of the Senate and might take over the House of Representatives."

Paul Krugman: " On Thursday, House Republicans released a deliberately misleading report on the status of health reform, crudely rigging the numbers to sustain the illusion of failure in the face of unexpected success.... Mainstream politicians didn't always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies and — in this case -- bogus statistics. And the fact that this has become standard operating procedure for a major party bodes ill for America's future."

Digby, in Salon: "Benghazi!™ is about portraying the Obama administration as being wimpy on terrorism, of course. But ... the Obama administration is the one that killed bin Laden and is taking down terrorists -- and anyone who might accidentally look like one, which is a whole other story -- with drone strikes all over the Middle East and Africa. (It's true that he's failed to invade a random country just to prove America's manhood, but he's still got a couple of years.) ... The Obama administration has made not one single move on terrorism with which the right would normally quarrel. But they simply cannot admit that this or one of their most important organizing principles is off the table: National security is as fundamental to them as low taxes and gun rights.... So they're ... making a national security scandal up out of whole cloth. But this isn't about Obama, not really. They have another Clinton to kick around and her involvement in Benghazi!™ as secretary of state gave them a perfect opportunity to dust off the old scandal sheet music and brush up on those old songs." ...

... Michael Hirsh of Politico: "The Benghazi-Industrial Complex is here to stay, fueled by a mania on the right to somehow, in some way, validate Issa's declaration that Obama is the 'one of the most corrupt presidents of modern times' and, above all, to tarnish Clinton ahead of 2016 by linking the former secretary of state directly to the deaths of [Ambassador Chris] Stevens and the others." ...

... John Bresnahan, et al., of Politico explain what-all the House "select committee" on Benghaaaazi! will be doing. Nancy Pelosi may not even name Democrats to the committee. CW: Even Politico writers seem to regard this latest "investigative" effort as a joke.

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "David G. Blanchflower, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, and Adam S. Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, argue in a new paper that the slow pace of wage growth is the best indicator of an incomplete economic recovery. Until wages start rising more quickly, the economy remains far from healthy. The two men also argue that the federal Reserve should focus on wage growth in calibrating its stimulus campaign because wage growth effectively summarizes other measures like unemployment and participation."

Alec MacGillis of the New Republic on what a stupendously lackadaisical regulator SEC chair Mary Jo White is. Not too surprising:

I believe there is too much bias toward Wall Street among regulators. At the time, I said I hoped she would prove me wrong. But I'm still waiting for the S.E.C. to break from the status quo and demand accountability from the financial institutions it oversees. It's time we find watchdogs outside of the very industry that they are meant to police. -- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), after voting against White's confirmation

... CW: White & her husband got super-rich defending Wall Street muckamucks. Her husband is still working his day job, as far as I know. White was a horrible choice, but I think Obama knew just what he was doing. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link to MacGillis's piece.

Gene Robinson, the former Episcopalian Bishop of New Hampshire, announces his pending divorce in the Daily Beast.

Katie McDonough of Salon tries to explain racism to a privileged white racist Princeton freshman. Good luck with that: "... like many white people he doesn't want to confront racism and white privilege because those things have -- and will continue to -- really, really help him out in life. And the reality is that he doesn't have to confront this stuff, either.... That's exactly how white privilege works."

Elizabeth Barber of Reuters: "Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush showed courage in breaking his 'read my lips: no new taxes' campaign pledge to broker a 1990 budget compromise that may have cost him re-election two years later, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said on Sunday. The organization honored the 41st U.S. president with its 2014 Profile in Courage Award, praising the Republican leader's 'decision to put country above party and political prospects' in the deal with congressional Democrats."

Must-Not-Read "Journalism." Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, political journalists known for their detailed, gossip-filled books on the past two presidential campaigns, will join Bloomberg in the coming days to start a new site that will focus on American politics and policy." ...

... Speaking of lousy journalists, Joe Hagan has a profile in New York of Lara Logan. Numerous "Friends of Lara" at CBS "News" diss her -- anonymously, of course. Profiles in courage -- not. ...

... Driftglass sums up the excellent journalism evident on the Sunday shows in one sentence: "It was a Benghaaaazi-fest, with breadcrumb filler." ...

     ... AND he links to this post by Emily Smith, no doubt an excellent gossip journalist at the New York Post's Page Six: "David Gregory's tenure at 'Meet the Press' has suffered another blow after the show's long-standing producer, Chris Donovan, quit after 12 years and defected to work for ABC rival George Stephanopoulos at 'This Week.' Donovan, who started at ABC last week, was fed up with embattled Gregory and the direction of 'Meet the Press,' sources tell Page Six, which has sunk to third place in the ratings, behind CBS' 'Face the Nation' and ABC's 'This Week.'" ...

... Charles Pierce has a much longer review of "Sunday Showz" "journalism." He wants to see more entertainers & sports figures on the shows. His fave this week:

I did a little bit of research, more whites believe in ghosts than believe in racism. That's why ... why we have shows like Ghostbusters and don't have shows like Racistbuster. You know, it's something that's still part of our culture and people hold on to some of these ideas and practices just out of habit and saying that well that's the way it always was. But things have to change. -- Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, on "This Week"

I totally would watch Racistbusters. If the first episode was a two-parter at the Bundy Ranch, the ratings would be through the roof. -- Charles Pierce

... CW: Maybe Driftglass & Pierce should have watched Univision's Sunday show, where Jorge Ramos repeatedly pressed Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee on Republicans' immigration policy. As Greg Sargent reads Goodlatte's evasive, but still telling, answers, "Republicans have effectively defined their policy stance as follows: Obama is not deporting enough low level offenders with lives here, so therefore we won't embrace any form of legal status for them."

Beyond the Beltway

Tim Devaney of the Hill: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Sunday blamed the state of Oklahoma for a 'botched' execution of a death row inmate last week, but said his state will proceed with the death penalty without pause.... Texas currently has 273 people on death row. The Lone Star State has executed more than 500 people -- the most of any state -- since the Supreme Court reaffirmed the death penalty in 1976."

Congressional Races

Susan Page & Kendall Breitman of USA Today: "A nationwide USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll shows the strongest tilt to Republican candidates at this point in a midterm year in at least two decades, including before partisan 'waves' in 1994 and 2010 that swept the GOP into power."

Presidential Election

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: Rand Paul's Very Special Guest at the Kentucky Derby: Rupert Murdoch. "There is a great tradition of political theater and back-room dealing at the Kentucky Derby, and the pageant involving Mr. Murdoch fit right in."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Pro-Russian insurgents shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter as heavy fighting re-erupted around a key rebel stronghold on Monday, leaving at least eight people dead and dozens wounded. The fierce fighting in Slovyansk, a separatist stronghold, broke out as the Ukrainian government sought to regain control of the key Black Sea port of Odessa, dispatching a special police unit to that city after deadly clashes there between rival mobs supporting Ukraine and Russia." ...

... Reuters: "Switzerland's federal prosecutor has frozen 170 million Swiss francs ($193.34 million) of assets in Swiss bank accounts belonging to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich and people close to him, a Swiss newspaper reported on Sunday."

Reuters: "The trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff's firm on Monday began distributing another $351.6 million to the swindler's former customers, boosting the amount recouped to nearly $6 billion."

Chicago Tribune: "Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago whom colleagues called one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, died over the weekend. He was 83." ...

     ... Becker's New York Times obituary is here.