ConservoHillary. Amy Chozick of the New York Times: Hillary "Clinton's campaign is repositioning itself, after a year of staking out liberal positions and focusing largely on minority voters, to appeal to independent and Republican-leaning white voters turned off by Mr. Trump.... Mrs. Clinton has broadened her economic message, devoted days to apologizing for a comment she previously made that angered working-class whites, and has pledged that her husband ... would 'come out of retirement and be in charge' of creating jobs in places that have been particularly hard hit. The effort is a striking turn after she spent the past year trying to to mobilize the liberal wing and labor leaders in the Democratic Party." -- CW
The Narcissist at Work. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "During a joyful, victorious rally speech in West Virginia on Thursday night, Trump told his crowd of 13,000 that they no longer had to vote in Tuesday's Republican primary --even though there are still a number of contested local races on the ballot." -- CW
Scott Shane & Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "The anonymous source behind the huge leak of documents known as the Panama Papers has offered to aid law enforcement officials in prosecutions related to offshore money laundering and tax evasion, but only if he is assured that he will not be punished. 'Legitimate whistle-blowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution,' the source, who has still not revealed a name or nationality, said in a statement issued Thursday night." -- CW
Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 inmates Thursday as part of his ongoing initiative to release federal prisoners who have received severe mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses.... Obama [now] has granted clemency to a total 306 inmates, 110 of whom were serving life sentences. Obama has said he will continue granting commutations during his final months in office to inmates who meet certain criteria set out by the Justice Department." -- CW
Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "The Food and Drug Administration made final sweeping new rules that for the first time extend federal regulatory authority to e-cigarettes, popular nicotine delivery devices that have grown into a multibillion-dollar business with virtually no federal oversight or protections for American consumers. The 499-page regulatory road map has broad implications for public health, the tobacco industry and the nation's 40 million smokers. The new regulations would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to Americans under 18...." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Shane Harrisof The Daily Beast: "Two senior U.S. intelligence officials said recently that defense and intelligence employees have an 'unbelievable' amount of child pornography on their work computers and devices, and that child porn has been found on the systems of the National Security Agency, the country's biggest intelligence organization. But the NSA, which is responsible for keeping tabs on its own computers as well as military and intelligence agency networks, cannot say...how many times such cases have been referred to law enforcement for investigation and potential criminal prosecution." --safari
"Jesus Didn't Wear a Rolex." Garrison Keillor, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Every time Bob McDonnell talks about his corruption conviction in Virginia, he mentions how Jesus Christ is sticking with him all the way, which surely is true.... The Lord has always been there for thieves and malefactors, but this is mercy; it doesn't mean that Jesus approves of taking more than $150,000 in gifts from a man cozying up to a governor, as Mr. McDonnell seems to suggest.... His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations. And wherever two Corinthians are gathered together, there He is in the midst of them." -- CW
Lori Aratani & Paul Duggan of the Washington Post: "The commutes of hundreds of thousands of Washington-area residents will be upended when Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld on Friday unveils his long-awaited plan for a massive overhaul of the struggling rail system." -- CW
Olga Oxman of the Guardian: "A group of more than 2,000 physicians is calling for the establishment of a universal government-run health system in the US, in a paper in the American Journal of Public Health. According to the proposal released Thursday, the Affordable Care Act did not go far enough in removing barriers to healthcare access. The physicians' bold plan calls for implementing a single-payer system similar to Canada's, called the National Health Program, that would guarantee all residents healthcare." CW: Hmmm. Sounds familiar.
Vann Newkirk of The Atlantic: "...Maybe some of the difficulty in talking about race today is attributable to the unhelpful euphemisms of 'racial conflict,' 'racial tension,' and other phrases that suggest an equal amount of instigation across racial groups, if not a perfectly balanced battle. But not all 'racial conflicts' or 'racially fraught' sentiments are the same. Equating them even via casual euphemism dilutes the potency of a truth that has undergirded every aspect of American society for as long as American society has existed." --safari
Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. David Roberts of Vox: "... that whole superstructure of US politics built around two balanced sides, there will be a tidal pull to normalize this election.... So there will be a push to lift Donald Trump up and bring Hillary Clinton down, until they are at least something approximating two equivalent choices.... No institution needs a competitive election more than the media.... What's more, the campaign media's self-image is built on not being partisan, which precludes adjudicating political disputes.... To date, the anti-Trump position has been safely inside the Washington consensus. That will change once the GOP apparatus inevitably swings around behind Trump and begins accusing journalists who write critical stories of bias." -- CW ... (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...
... Paul Krugman writes what Roberts writes, & adds a bit about the racism that drove the Tea Party & is the prime force behind Trumpism. "I can almost guarantee that we'll see attempts to sanitize the positions and motives of Trump supporters, to downplay the racism that is at the heart of the movement and pretend that what voters really care about are the priorities of D.C. insiders.... That is, after all, what happened after the rise of the Tea Party." -- CW
Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Here's one reason Bernie Sanders is reluctant to give up the fight: May is shaping up to be a pretty good month for him. On the heels of his Indiana victory Tuesday, Sanders is well-positioned for wins in the upcoming West Virginia and Oregon primaries.... For Hillary Clinton, the prospect of additional Sanders wins is more headache than threat." -- CW
Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday vowed to invest billions of dollars in coal-mining communities to create jobs, seizing on the issue as Hillary Clinton faces a backlash for promising to put coal companies out of business. The Vermont senator brought up the future of coal miners while campaigning across West Virginia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and spoke about poverty at a food bank in Kimball." -- CW
The Los Angeles Times editors interviewed Hillary Clinton. Here's the transcript. -- CW
Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors and FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence that the leading Democratic presidential candidate intended to break classification rules, though they are still probing the case aggressively with an eye on interviewing Clinton herself, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter." -- CW ...
... Del Wilber of the Los Angeles Times: "Huma Abedin, a close aide to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, was questioned last month by FBI agents investigating whether classified material was mishandled on the private email server used by the former secretary of State and her aides, according to a person familiar with the investigation." -- CW
** How to Tank the Economy in One Idiotic Remark. Benyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "One day after assuring Americans he is not running for president 'to make things unstable for the country'..., Donald J. Trump said in a television interview Thursday that he might seek to reduce the national debt by persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment. Asked whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, 'I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.'... Such remarks by a major presidential candidate have no modern precedent. The United States government is able to borrow money at very low interest rates because Treasury securities are regarded as a safe investment, and any cracks in investor confidence have a long history of costing American taxpayers a lot of money." -- CW ..
... Unbelievably, this is from the same interview. Eric Levitz of New York: "Appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box, Trump reiterated his commitment to a massive increase in infrastructure spending. 'Maybe my greatest strength is the economy, jobs, and building,' Trump said. 'We do have to rebuild our infrastructure.'" CW: There will be no infrastructure spending if nobody will buy U.S. Treasury notes, you bonehead.
Benjy Sarlin of MSNBC: "Two days into his general election campaign, Donald Trump has already signaled he may abandon his positions on two major policy issues: a minimum wage increase and tax cuts for the rich.... Trump's willingness to blithely abandon past positions has made conservative activists deeply skeptical, but it also presents a general election challenge for Democrats: How do you hold a candidate accountable for his positions after he has looked Americans in the eyes during a debate and, with a straight face, denied he ever held contrary views?" ...
... CW: I'll tell you how: you just point out that the poor old codger suffers from dementia. Of course he can't remember what he said last month, & of course he imagines he saw things that never happened (like imagining New Jersey Muslims cheering the 9/11 terrorist attack). As you know, I'm serious about this. ...
... Russell Burman of The Atlantic: "Trump's slipperiness on policy details has been a theme of his candidacy and, quite possibly, a core part of his appeal to voters. He's a dealmaker, and as he has said repeatedly when pressed about his positions, 'Everything is negotiable.'...Yet Trump's ability to be a political chameleon has significant implications for how Democrats go after him in the fall. 'This is what makes @realdonaldtrump an elusive target,' David Axelrod, President Obama's former top strategist, tweeted on Thursday. 'He believes in himself. Everything else is fungible.' --safari
Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast: "For someone so inclined to overshare -- about his penis size, his sexual prowess, his wife's bathroom habits, her lack of cellulite -- Donald Trump is an intensely private person. He's so private that the privacy terms he forces those in his orbit to agree to verge on unconstitutional, and his opaque plans to enforce privacy measures of undisclosed range as President of the United States have potentially grave implications for the Republic." --safari
Tim Egan on the "new" Donald Trump. -- CW
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: ""The Candidate": "What do we do now?" -- CW
Trump and the mob. Tom Robbins in The Marshall Project (April 27th): "...One helpful lens for determining Trump's views on crime and law enforcement is via his past encounters with those alleged to be on the wrong side of the law. That's his history with the mob. And for all of his tough law and order rhetoric, the record shows the GOP frontrunner has been remarkably tolerant. In the course of his forty years of business deals, Trump has encountered a steady stream of mob-tainted offers that he apparently couldn't refuse." --safari...
...If you prefer video, here is Tom Robbins explaining Trump's mob connections via Democracy Now! (The interview starts around 4:45)
Sam Thielman of the Guardian: "Donald Trump has named an ex-Goldman Sachs partner, Hollywood financier and former Hillary Clinton supporter as his national finance chairman. Steven Mnuchin brings with him an impressive list of contacts in Hollywood and Wall Street. The founder of film finance company Dune Capital, he backed action movies including the X-Men franchise and James Cameron's box office record-breaker, Avatar." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "On his social media accounts, including Twitter, Mr. Trump shared on Thursday afternoon a photo of himself eating what he called a taco bowl and offering a thumbs up at his desk in Trump Tower, along with the message: 'Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!'... The Tower Grill does not, in fact, offer taco bowls, but the Trump Café has them on Thursday's Cinco de Mayo menu as a 'Taco fiesta!'" -- CW ...
... Chris Plante of the Verge illuminates "everything terrible about Donald Trump's taco bowl tweet." Here's one thing Plante learned on the Intertubes from a guy named Benny: "Donald Trump is eating a taco salad on top of a bikini-clad photo of his ex-wife, Marla Maples." (See circled area of photo.) CW: I'm pretty sure "taco bowls" (which I'll admit I never heard of) are more a Tex-Mex thing than a traditional "Hispanic" favorite.
Robert Costa of the Washington Post interviewed Donald Trump, who, you know, "said a lot of things." Like, Cruz & Kasich "did a great thing for the party because we can now start on all the things that we have to start on." -- CW
Greg Miller of the Washington Post: Donald "Trump will soon be getting briefings from U.S. spy agencies. It might not go well.... 'It beggars the imagination,' said former CIA director Michael V. Hayden, who was among those who briefed President Obama after the 2008 election. 'Given that [Trump's] public persona seems to reflect a lack of understanding or care about global issues, how do you arrange these presentations to learn what are the true depths of his understanding?'... The decision on how much to share and when are traditionally made by the sitting president." -- CW
Paul Ryan Not Yet Ready to Back Trump. Eric Bradner of CNN: "House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he cannot yet support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's presidential campaign. 'I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now,' Ryan's position makes him the highest-level GOP official to reject Trump...Ryan's comments were striking because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday night that he'd back Trump." ... (Also linked yesterday.)
... Akhilleus: There must be some kind of logical fallacy term for the situation in which one self-promoting fraud opts out of supporting another self-promoting fraud. Not to mention a situation in which a different self-promoting fraud DOES decide to support self-promoting fraud number one. Republicans are so confusing!. ...
... Maggie Haberman: "Donald J. Trump said on Friday that he was 'surprised' by the rebuke from Representative Paul D. Ryan..., on Thursday, and added that the party needed to come together.... He confirmed that there were efforts to broker a meeting between the two men next Wednesday in Washington, although he cautioned that there are 'a lot of days' from now till then." CW: It is somewhat surprising that Short Fingers didn't know how many days there are between now & Wednesday, because you can count five days on one hand, no matter how stumpy the fingers. Trump should consider "a lot of days" to be six or more. ...
... Dana Bash of CNN: "Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told CNN Thursday he will support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee and will do everything he can do to help him get elected.... When Perry was a candidate for president earlier in the 2016 cycle, he was the first to come out and criticize Trump and question his conservative credentials, calling his candidacy a 'cancer on conservatism.'" --safari
... BUT. David Sanger & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "Alarmed by Donald J. Trump's grip on the Republican presidential nomination, world leaders are wrestling with the possibility that, even if he loses the general election, his ascent reflects a strain of American public opinion that could profoundly reshape the way the United States addresses security alliances and trade. From Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul to the headquarters of NATO in Brussels and the vulnerable Baltic nations along Russia's western border, officials and analysts said in interviews that they saw the success of Mr. Trump's 'America first' platform as a harbinger of pressure for allies to pay up or make trade concessions in return for military protection." -- CW
Dahlia Lithwick remembers Ted Cruz from their days on the college debate circuit & from his turn as Texas solicitor general. Entertaining. -- CW
Beyond the Beltway
Alan Blinder & Richard Fausset of the New York Times: "The Republican leaders of North Carolina's General Assembly defiantly announced Thursday that they would not meet a Monday deadline to suspend or repeal a state law limiting bathroom access for transgender people, setting up a potential legal showdown over what has become one of the nation's most explosive cultural issues. 'We will take no action by Monday,' said Tim Moore, the speaker of the State House of Representatives, referring to the deadline the Justice Department gave the state to tell federal officials whether the law would stand." -- CW
Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could lead to nearly 400 death-row prisoners receiving life sentences, a move experts say could be the country's single biggest jettisoning of death sentences in decades.... The uncertain situation dates back to January, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's unique system of imposing death sentences as unconstitutional because it let judges, rather than juries, make the final call. Florida promptly revamped its death penalty, which Gov. Rick Scott (R) said at the time would 'allow families of these horrific crimes to get the closure they deserve.' Left unanswered, though, was whether this Supreme Court ruling was retroactive...." -- CW
Charles Thompson of Pennlive: "A new bombshell dropped in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal Thursday. It came in the form of a single line in a court order on a related insurance coverage case involving Penn State.... The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky." --safari
Tim Arango & Ceylan Yeginsu of the New York Times: "In pursuit of more power, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has purged the judiciary of enemies, jailed journalists and crushed anti-government protests. Now, he has ousted his closest political ally, the country's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, whose modest effort to check Mr. Erdogan’s ambition was too much for the president. Mr. Davutoglu, publicly loyal to Mr. Erdogan even as he pushed back privately on some of his excesses, said Thursday that he would step aside as the leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., and give up his position as prime minister." -- CW ... (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
... Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker: "Erdoğan is well on his way to becoming a dictator, if he isn't one already.... [President] Obama and Erdoğan are supposed to meet today in Washington. Let's hope President Obama skips the diplomatic language and goes straight to the point: that any leader who jails journalists -- and arms Al Qaeda and bombs the Kurds and jails his opponents -- is no friend of the United States." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Washington Post: "Police said three people have been shot at Westfield Montgomery Mall at 7101 Democracy Blvd. in Bethesda on Friday morning and that a suspect is at large. Soon after, a woman was fatally shot at a grocery store several miles away, and authorities are investigating whether the incidents are linked." -- CW ...
... Washington Post Update: "A frantic 22 hours of mayhem at a school, a mall and a grocery store jolted two counties as it left three dead and three wounded before a suspect was captured Friday afternoon in a Maryland parking lot near the scene of the final killing. The arrest of Eulalio 'Leo' Tordil, a 62-year-old federal law enforcement officer, followed a manhunt that forced Montgomery County schools, government buildings and retail establishments to lock down." -- CW
New York Times: "After months of gravity-defying gains, the American jobs machine cooled slightly in April, as employers took their cue from other signs that economic growth was slowing by easing up on new hiring. The 160,000 increase in payrolls in April reported by the Labor Department on Friday comes after the best two-year stretch for the job market since the tech-fueled boom of the late 1990s. The unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent." -- CW